BOOK TWO : CHAPTER SEVEN ( eighteen )

It did not sink in until the next morning that he had kissed her good night. The warmth of her skin against his lips was a feeling that would not go away. He tried to distract himself with what must have been a million books, and when reading them didn't help he started hitting his head with them. Eventually he gave up and gave in, rolling over on his bed and trying to fall asleep. Comyn decided to sleep in, hoping that logic would sink in and erase the blush from his cheeks. He did not want Acair teasing him about how he was getting worked up over something so trivial.

To get his mind off of it, Comyn decided to visit Reine and Sebastienne. It would, after all, be his last chance to visit them. He was clearly not thinking straight, or he'd have known better than to expect those two to get his mind off gushy lovey things.

"Master Comyn. What a pleasant surprise." Sebastienne gave a soft smile when she opened the door to greet him. He could smell sweet pastries baking in the kitchen and heard the chink of a tea cup. When he found the living room set for a tea party he hardly believed that it had truly been a surprise. Raine had used her sneaky foresight to predict this and arrange for it.

"So, to what do I owe the honor?" Raine's tone was more teasing than genuine, "You haven't come to visit me in ages. You've left poor Sebastienne waiting."

"Oh, I do not mind." Sebastienne assured her, "Master Comyn is taking on a difficult task."

One he had nearly forgotten about. Comyn felt terrible. In the midst of his Silicon-related troubles he had completely forgotten about Sebastienne's request. At least the two topics crossed over enough that he could pretend to have researched it.

"I haven't learned very much." Comyn admitted, "I got in contact with two of the researchers who worked on your experiment."

"Finella and Filib?" Sebastienne knew right away, "I see. But they didn't have much to say?"

Comyn shook his head, "Sorry. It doesn't sound like they know how to help either."

"Hmm..." She sounded disappointed. He didn't blame her. "But I'm sure they helped with Silicon?"

"A little bit." Comyn admitted, "We found out that she blew up the facility. Her and the Magnesium guy escaped and lived somewhere else for a while, before Silicon got caught."

"That's a shame..." Sebastienne sighed, "I'm sorry to hear it. Poor Silicon."

"Mm..." Comyn had taken a seat. It was an automatic action and one he felt guilty for taking. He had made such little process on Sebastienne's case and now he was about to abandon her. "Sorry. I don't think I can help much more..."

She was silent. Then nodded and smiled. "I didn't expect it, to be honest. M'lady warned me that there was no answer yet."

"Huh?" Comyn sounded surprised, "Then why bother asking me to find it?!"

"Yet." Raine repeated, "You'll find it. I'm certain of that."

"But... But I'm leaving..." Comyn reminded them, "I don't know if I'll ever come back here."

"You will." Raine answered as if it were a question, "Don't doubt my foresight, Comyn."

"We'll be okay." Sebastienne assured him, "Now then. It is about time for our other guests to arrive..."

"Other guests?" Comyn repeated. Now that he was thinking about it, the tea party was more elaborate than he was used to. He barely had any more time to wonder before the doorbell rang. Sebastienne vanished as always, presumably appearing at the door since it opened seconds later. Two familiar voices spoke in accidental warning.

"I've never been to Lady Raine's house before..."

"You don't go much of anywhere, Allison. You're rather reclusive."

"A, am not..."

It was Allison and Melinda. Comyn felt the urge to bolt. His head was already very confused by everything Raine had just said. He was not ready for the guilt that came with these two upper class girls. Unfortunately, Comyn did not have Sebastienne's perfect teleportation magic. He could not escape without going out the front door, which would mean awkwardly crossing paths with the girls anyway. At least by accepting his fate and sitting where he was he got free pastries and sweet teas.

"You plotted this." He grumbled at Raine.

She giggled, "I sure did. Sit and enjoy your food."

He was still grouchy. Not even the delight on Allison's face could change that fact. The poor girl nearly fainted from surprise when she saw him sitting at the table, but her excitement fed her a quick recovery.

"If I'd known you were coming than I'd have put on make-up!" She blurted.

"I don't see a difference." Comyn admitted. It must have been the right thing to say, since Allison's smile just grew bigger and she leaned in close to Melinda's ear.

"He thinks I'm pretty with or without make-up!" She squealed in her friend's ear.

"Or that make-up can't save you." Melinda whispered back. Allison stomped her friend's foot, an action that Comyn observed out of context. He couldn't hear the soft squealing.

"Um, to what do we owe the pleasure?" Allison asked, then shuffling to take a seat across from Comyn. This ended up making a very awkward seating order, where the girls sat on one side and Comyn sat on the other. This felt very much like an interrogation.

"I was just in the area." Comyn shrugged, trying not to seem nervous, "You?"

"Huh? Um, Lady Raine invited us." Allison squeaked.

"Just call her 'Raine.'" Comyn insisted. Lady Raine is too much for a brat like her.

"That's not your choice to make." Raine spoke behind a laugh, though her eyes spoke of the intent to kill Comyn if he wasn't careful.

Being careful was not his style, so he returned the look and laugh, "But you're so friendly, Raine. Everyone should treat you like their best friend."

"Ohohoho. Comyn, how silly of you." Raine kept her smile, "It's only you I let address me so closely, dear."

"You're on such good terms?"

"Dear?!"

Allison looked shocked. Comyn did not realize until it was too late that Raine had turned the tables on him.

"Why, yes. It was meant to be a secret, but I suppose..." Raine smiled shyly, "It can stay between us girls, right? Comyn has been visiting me for tea lately..."

"What?!" Allison squeaked.

"So that's why he visited your house so frequently." Melinda observed, "Not for stealing, but for midnight dates."

"Nooo! Way no, no way!" Allison wailed, "M, Mas- Comyn, that isn't true, right?"

"I-It ins't!" Comyn was blushing now, "I swear!"

"Your red face says otherwise." Melinda noted, "I can't say that I saw this one coming."

"No, really!" Comyn insisted, "Raine and I are barely even friends!"

"That hurt." Raine pouted, "You're getting too worked up. Our relationship is fated."

"Sh, she's right." Allison whispered in horrific understanding, "You're both the heir to a fortune left behind by your parents. By marrying each other you won't have in-laws to influence the future of your estate... How could I be so stupid? It's been so obvious!"

"It's not like that!" Comyn protested, "It's someone other than Raine that I want to marry!"

The party got quite quiet quite quickly. Comyn could probably have heard a pin drop. Instead he heard the steps of Sebastienne's heels as she brought in a plate of strawberry muffins. Her smile suggested that she was completely oblivious to her poor timing.

"Fresh out of the oven." She assured them as she set it down, "May I get anyone anything?"

"S, some water..." Allison whispered, "Please."

"Right away, M'lady." Sebastienne turned and left, restoring awkward silence to the tea party.

"I, is that true?" Allison asked Comyn quietly. He felt his face go red and nodded slowly. This was not how he had expected to first admit to his love for Silicon, even if he had not yet relieved exactly who he was pining for.

"I see... I'm sorry!" She squeaked, "I was being kind of forward and pushy! I never imagined- I should have imagined, but I never did, I-"

"Don't apologize, Allison." Melinda was the one to scold her, "Is she a foreigner, Comyn?"

He couldn't answer.

"A commoner?"

He couldn't answer that either. He didn't really know if Silicon counted as either of those things.

"She's a person." He settled for that, "A very important person."

"I see..." Melinda sighed, "Well then... Good luck."

Comyn lifted his head and gave Melinda a bewildered expression.

"What?"

"Good. Luck." She repeated, "I'll admit, I've never dealt with a boy's gushy feelings before... But I imagine both boys and girls deserve the blessing of their friends in this matter."

"Mm... Good luck, Comyn." Allison agreed quietly, "It's nice to be in love, right?"

"Right, Comyn?" Raine echoed. Her two cents did not seem as sincere as the other two girls. In fact, it almost felt like she was mocking him, "We girls gotta stick together."

"I'm not a girl!"

"Whoops. Slip of my tongue." Raine giggled, "But you do need their encouragement. You haven't even thought about confessing to your girl, have you?"

"You haven't?" Allison asked in surprise, "Comyn, you should get on that! She must be popular if she got your attention!"

"Your chance might slip away." Melinda summarized, "I'll be disappointed if you put us through this for nothing."

"I'm not asking you to go through anything..."

"But we are anyway!" Allison reminded him, "Because we're friends. That's what we do."

"I'm still not asking..." Comyn sighed. Friends was a strange and guilty word for them to use. It reminded him of how bad a friend he was to these girls. Raine and Sebastienne seemed to understand that something, the rebellion, was coming. These two, Allison and Melinda, did not. Comyn wondered if it would do him any good to tell them. If the rebellion unraveled expectantly then his friends would definitely be executed. Then again, the upper class members of society were just as likely to die either way. They had secrets too, secrets that might help them to get along with the rebelling forces more than with the royal family.

He looked up again. There was a similar conflict on Allison's face. Admittedly Comyn did not understand how she could be so smitten with him, but it was clear that she had somehow found a way to like him a lot. Her smile was strained and her eyes glossy, though she wiped the tears before they could fall. Encouraging him to chase another girl must have stung for her. He vaguely knew what it was like, having seen Silicon gush over her prince.

"A, actually... About the friend thing..." He started slowly. The friend thing... He had other friends than these girls. In fact, his other friends were people that he knew much better than these girls. If he told these girls what he knew then those other friends might suffer from it.

"The friend thing?" Allison repeated, not following his unspoken train of thought.

"What about it, Comyn?" Raine asked.

"There's something I need to tell you... Something you've gotta trust me about," Comyn took a deep breathe. He didn't want to see these girls die. He didn't want to see anyone die. His guilt was what finally dragged the words out of his mouth, "You need to get out of Sevia. Fast."

In the end he wondered if he should have kept his mouth shut. Comyn excused himself from the tea party to let the girls do as girls are ought to do. They hadn't questioned his advice. Allison especially had been sure to shut down any attempts the other girls made to pry more details. She had thanked him and promised to take the advice to heart. Comyn found her love for him very strange, but he appreciated this part of her personality. After excusing himself, Sebastienne led him to the door and gave him a box of treats.

"Take care, Comyn." She kept her voice soft so that the other girls would not hear, "We will meet again. Look after Silicon for me."

"What does she have to do with you?" Comyn ended up asking, before realizing that had been rude.

Sebastienne smiled sadly. "She's like my sister, right? I don't have much in the way of family, after all."

Comyn left on that note, feeling worse than ever. He returned to his home and collapsed on the bed, too tired and stressed to bother reading anything. Had telling those girls been a mistake? Granted, he hadn't told them very much. It wasn't even like he had been specifically forbidden from telling those specific girls about the rebellion. So he could probably have convinced himself that he was guilt-free.

So why did the guilt keep coming back?

Saving people shouldn't be making him feel so bad.

"This whole rebellion thing sucks." He sighed, pressing his face against a pillow, "Why does everyone have to get involved when we're only mad at the royal family?"

He remembered that Allison had told him at their first party. Her family made their fortune by using magic to create gold. That was wrong. There was a good reason right there for the less fortunate to hate her family. The same went for Raine and Melinda, who were using magic in their family businesses.

These were just more reasons to justify hurting them in the rebellion, yet he still couldn't get behind it. Comyn stressed over these thoughts all day and all night. When he woke up next it was the middle of the night. His early sleep had resulted in him waking absurdly early as well. He tried to convince himself he had woken up to a very nice day that would not stress him out, until he remembered.

"This is the last day before the wedding." He rolled over again, "Dammit."

He just wasn't ready for this.