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CH 2 | My Life and Yours (Part 3)

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  1. At the beginning of the autumn season when the days were still warm, Asha was intently focused on the dark leather cords in her hands. Earlier, she had successfully convinced her mother to let her have some to practice braiding with. This was true, but what was more truthful was the desire to make a gift for Darrah. She had decided on making him a leather bracelet, along with one for herself. Asha was certain they were friends now and wanted something to signify it. However, what she thought would only take at most an hour took a few more because she wanted both of them to be perfect.

    The leather cords had been woven and unwoven several times until she was satisfied. Her own bracelet had green beads woven into it, her favorite color and only made better that it matched the large oak leaves of the Great Forest. For Darrah's, she wove light-blue and amber beads into it. By the time she finished and tied off hers, as she had finished Darrah's long before, it was some time past sunset. Looking out a window, shock and worry crossed her face as she then stowed the bracelets in her satchel and blew out the candle on her desk.

    Asha then listened for any sounds that would indicate that her mother was still awake, and used them to let her eyes adjust to the darkness as well. After a few minutes of this, Asha relaxed a little more and believed that her mother was asleep. With this surety in mind, she then snuck out of her room, careful about the old wood of the upper floor and stairs so they wouldn't creak on her. It wasn't until Asha was out the back door that breathed a small sigh of relief to calm her nerves. The moon and full and bright, easily lighting her way through the Great Forest toward Darrah's tower.

    Darrah heard the quick steps of Asha’s feet as she rushed up the stairs to the top of the tower. He glanced out one of the large windows that was so only because most of it was crumbling and a part stretched towards the floor. The full moon was young in the sky, but the Crow Lord had little time to wonder as to why Asha would visit at this hour when suddenly her hands grasped one of his own as she attempted to lead him somewhere.

    “Come on, Darrah!” Asha said in a hurried tone and managed to get him to move a few steps.

    “And where exactly are you wishing to go at this time of night?” He questioned her calmly, to which she replied in her same haste, “We’re going to miss the stars if we wait up! I know where the perfect viewing spot is in the valley!”

    Darrah then relented and allowed her to lead him. “You stayed up late this night to watch stars?”

    “Not just stargazing,” Asha explained as they went down the spiraling stairs. “I want to stargaze with you.”

    It was a moment before Darrah replied, his tone confused “Why?”

    Asha simply laughed softly. “Because I like sharing special things with my friends and you, Darrah, are my friend last I checked.”

    The Crow Lord could not find the words to make a reply, feeling a warmth in his chest, and was suddenly yanked forward once they reached the bottom of the tower. Asha was now running, forcing him to run as well to keep up and he couldn’t help but notice the wide smile she flashed him when she looked back at him.

    “Come on, we don’t want to miss them!”

    Asha eventually stopped in a clearing of the forest that was on top of a hill, a good mile or so from the village. The hill wasn’t so high that there was no grass, in fact, the grass was thick here and Asha promptly sat down. In doing this, however, she dragged the Crow Lord down with her as she had not let go of his hand. Though surprised, Darrah kept his calm demeanor as he sat with Asha and looked at her.

    Her smile was still bright as she looked up at the sky. It was still early in the night but the stars were soon to appear, and her smile did not falter even at the sight of a few wisps of clouds. Darrah then looked down at the joined hands and found it a curious thing. He wondered at something that crossed his mind, and he voiced it to her.

    “What makes seeing the stars special?”

    Asha turned her eyes away from the sky, looking into the darkness of his cowl as she replied, “I know you’re a Forest God and have seen the stars many times before. They are special, though probably not as special to you as they are to mortals. No, what makes this-" she gestured to everything around them to emphasize her point, "-special is that I am sharing this experience with you. Sharing makes even the little things special.”

    That warm feeling returned, and he understood just as she looked up to the sky again and gasped in delight.

    “There they are!”

    The Crow Lord too as about to look up when suddenly he was pulled down onto his back. Glancing over at Asha, she was also on her back and her eyes focused on the sky above them. If it were possible, her smile had grown larger and brighter and her happiness could be felt even by him. Darrah now looked to the sky, and stars had certainly shown themselves on the black canvas of the night. They were brilliant, scattered across the heavens in a display that both Forest Gods and mortals admired.

    “Amazing, isn’t it?” She asked him in a breathless tone, and he nodded.

    “It is.”

    Asha laughed, one filled with heart. “See? Everything can be seen in a new light, you just need someone to show you.”

    And indeed, Darrah saw things in the new light revealed to him by her. They lied there on the thick grass of the hill in the forest, gazing at the stars deep into the hours of the night. At some point, Asha looked away from the slowly moving stars and at Darrah. Her eyes widened, as his hood was down. His profile was thin, his nose just as much and a little on the long side, and his face was almost enough to be called gaunt. The moonlight showed him to be almost unhealthily pale, his hair strikingly black against his skin, and the inner light of the eye she could see - the one of dark-amber - seemed to shine more brightly in this moment.

    Asha nudged Darrah slightly with her elbow, and at the prompting, he looked over at her. She then spoke in a hushed, and though she did not want to disturb the peace too much.

    "I have something for you."

    "Something?"

    "A gift, Darrah. You know what a gift is, right?"

    "I am not that ignorant, but why?"

    Asha tried her best to hold in her laughter. "Because we're friends and I wanted something that both of us could have to prove that. It's silly, I know, but I put a lot of though into this gift so you better accept it."

    There was no real bite in her threat, and he sat up as she did when she reached for her satchel at her side. It didn't take her long to pull out the woven bracelets, and showed him her own before it was slid onto her wrist. But it was when she held out the one for him she suddenly felt unsure. Darrah stared at it for a moment before carefully taking it and inspecting it more closely. When he looked at her again, he had a soft smile and a look of wonder in his eyes.

    "This is beautiful work, Asha. I would be honored to accept it."

    She returned the smile, but it faltered when he then said, "But I think they are incomplete."

    "What do you mean?"

    Darrah took the edge of his cloak and plucked two long black feathers from it. He then held out his free hand for the one with her bracelet. She complied, and with deft fingers, he attached one of the feathers to it. Afterward, Darrah held out his bracelet and the remaining feather to her.

    "Would you do the honor?"

    Asha beamed and fastened the feather to his bracelet before handing it back to him. His smile had widened after he slid it onto his wrist and returned his mismatched gaze to hers.

    "There, now they are complete."

    "They are."

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