Prologue

The young girl clutched a red stone protectively in her hand, staring at her fingers. Above her, her lover paced and raged, spouting curses and threats, reasons and resolutions, pleas and adoration. She did not look up at him as he persuaded her not to go. Not to take up with the other man she'd just told him about.

The man with a secure future and a solid inheritance.

"I'm sorry, Valentin," she finally said, glancing up. "It's for both of us. For the good of you and I."

"Both of us?!" he burst. "It's for the good of you. You will live in riches and glory, and I will live in the dirt as I always have." His dark green eyes were furious.

"But Valentin... we would be so unhappy together." Her voice softened, and she stood from the rock she'd been perched on. Closing the distance between them, she took his face in her hands and caressed his cheek. "We fight so much, my love. We would kill each other."

He turned away. "But we would be together." His tone was broken. "We would love every bit as much as we rage."

"No," she said, catching his sleeve. "We would fight, and the fighting would never end. It is how we are."

The twitch of his jaw ceased, and his head bowed. "Don't leave me," he pleaded. "Please."

She took his chin, made him face her. "I must." And she kissed him. Every ounce of the love in her body poured into him, searing her memory- their memories- into his heart. She said goodbye with that embrace, and he did not try to stop her. No argument in the world could stop her when she had set her mind to something. That, he knew.

Still, as he stared after her, he vowed that one day he would have her back. Whatever it took. He would repay her this moment, and the years that would separate them. It would be made right, no matter the cost. No matter the wait.

One day, she would be forever his.

___

A/N: This is a story I started about three years ago that I'd completely forgotten about until yesterday. Last night, I read through the entire 18,000 words I'd written three years ago, and I loved it so much that I had to start working on it again. I've since written 6,000 words more. But until the fourth chapter, it's mostly old bits with a few new paragraphs or changes made only where I thought they should be.

And I know... another story started?

But really, I'm finishing it. It's what I'm working on, and it'll keep y'all from getting bored while you wait for me to update other stories.

Enjoy!