A/N: Heeeey everyone. I was in a fluffy mood this Valentine's Day, so here's a little something I whipped up. Hopefully it will hold you over til the weekend when I update Just Out of Reach. For anyone else reading this that hasn't read that yet, it's sort of a companion piece or something. But it can stand alone. Enjoy!

A Month's Absence

Sometimes, a month isn't such a long time. After waiting eight months for a baby to be born, what's one more? After waiting eleven for a birthday, one more month isn't long at all. After waiting an entire lifetime to find love, one month is but a grain in the hourglass. But other times, a month is an eternity. A month away from Kieran crept by torturously. Kieran was his life, his heartbeat, the breath that filled his lungs, and the strength that propelled him through adversity. A soft voice, like wind dancing through leaves on a tree, swirled around in his head, asking him when he would be coming home. Would it be soon? Why had he been away for so long? He could only hope that Kieran was wondering those things back at home. They were things that he knew Kieran would never ask out loud. Patiently and silently Kieran would wait, as though he hadn't even noticed Fidele's absence. As the last stroke fell, the last enemy struck down and the last spark of danger snuffed out, Fidele knew that Kieran was sitting at that round table in the library that had been collected for no purpose other than to please the prince, immersed in a manuscript, or perhaps engaged in a game of corners with his cousin across the table, sparing not a second thought to Fidele's whereabouts.

Kieran always won corners. He hadn't asked Fidele to play with him for years now; it was too easy for him to win. Watching Kieran from across the table, the way his dark eyes studied the board, taking in the entirety of the playing field all while not missing the slightest detail. Fidele missed that. He missed the way those brown orbs drifted back and forth over lines of text, and that faraway stare into nothingness as Kieran became lost in some whimsical maze of musings. He missed the way Kieran would catch his gaze and then offer a delicate grin. When Kieran smiled, it was soft and reserved. Fidele always had wondered just what the boy was holding back. Was he showing mercy to the world, hiding his true face? He was beautiful. Perhaps a better word was stunning. When the prince lowered his guard enough to laugh genuinely and sincerely, his glittering eyes and his ruddy lips, his exquisite features melted the hopeless frost blanketing the cold world. Only for a moment, though. Only until he had exhausted his musical merriment.

As Fidele passed through the city gates upon the back of his horse, he wondered if Kieran would smile when they were reunited. It was the only thing that he wanted. He was hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, but Fidele didn't care about food, drink, or bed. All he wanted was to know that Kieran was happy to have him back.

The ride through the city to the steps of the castle seemed to have lasted longer even than the entire month Fidele had been away. The closer he came to reaching his goal, the more time seemed to slow.

"Fidele, take the day to rest yourself and recuperate before returning to your duties. Kieran will be fine without you for one more day. You have earned respite," the queen said to him after he had finished reporting the mission's success.

"Thank you, Your Highness," Fidele refused with a shake of his head. How could he confess that Kieran was the only thing he wanted? He chose his words carefully. "But I have been away from his majesty's side for long enough. It is impossible to say when danger may present itself. I will go to him now, if you'll tell me where he is."

He watched one of the queen's dark eyebrows rise slowly. Kieran made that same expression whenever Fidele tried fruitlessly to argue with him. Usually about how much the clever boy should be eating. He never ate enough. That was why he was so scrawny.

"Are you sure you won't even take the time to shave before you see him?" the queen asked. "You know how he feels about your beard."

Fidele lifted a hand to feel just how overgrown his beard had become over the past month. The red-tinted hair was hanging from his chin in a scraggly mess. Kieran would never smile if he saw Fidele looking like this. With a nod, he decided to take the queen's advice and retreated to his quarters to scrape the coarse hair from his jaw. It was a somewhat painful process that left his fair skin colored pink with irritation, but after splashing some icy water on his cheeks to cool them, Fidele headed for Kieran's study. He couldn't wait any longer.

The library smelled like parchment. Fidele didn't know what parchment was made of, or how it was made, but he had come to recognize the smell of it having spent so many hours in this place with Kieran. The chair that he sat in was empty. The entire room was empty of anyone other than Kieran. Fidele's entire world. The perceptive prince knew that someone else had entered his library, but he didn't look up just yet. He was in the middle of a sentence; he couldn't just stop reading to entertain whoever had interrupted him.

For a few more moments, Fidele stood underneath the door arch, watching Kieran and waiting for him to realize. He had never seen anyone who could sit so perfectly still for so long. A fourteen-year-old boy with the patience and poise of someone five times his age. Fidele hadn't such virtues. He cleared his throat to draw the prince's attention.

Kieran recognized that sound. He lifted his eyes from the page before him and turned his head to see if it really was who he thought. Slowly, elation tugged the corners of his lips upward as he pressed the leather-bound book in his hands closed and placed it on the table.

Fidele saw Kieran's face light up. The room lit up. The world lit up. Kieran's thin arms were wrapped around Fidele, his head resting on Fidele's chest, his ear right over the top of Fidele's hammering heart. He had never heard a heart beat so rapidly. He pulled his head from where it lay and looked up at Fidele, a slight wrinkle of worry in his brow. "Are you feeling well?" he asked.

Fidele wasn't sure he had ever heard a heart flutter that frantically, either. Certainly not his own. But he knew what a feverish heartbeat meant. "I'm fine, Your Majesty," he replied. "The best I've felt in a month." His hand found its way to brush aside the fringe of dark hair from Kieran's eyes.

A/N: That took me two hours to write. Now you understand why it takes me so long to finish chapters haha. Anyway, as always, I would like to hear from you. Just tell me that you love me because it's Valentine's Day. Love you guys! Thanks for visiting!