Chapter five

He stared at her like she'd grown a second head, at least that's how his steady, searching gaze on her made her feel.

"Your parents must know. You can't leave without them knowing." He said calmly, before looking away from her, staring into nothing and then looking back at her. 

He tilted his head- she found he did that when he had something worth wondering about on his mind- He reached out for her hair and held a handful of curls in his hand.

"Some of the hair will have to go." And she was right, about the crazy.

Her eyes grew wide as she took in his words. He might as well have asked her to her to cut off a finger. Perhaps it was vain, but she took great joy in the long length of her curls.

"Why?!" She shrieked.

"Because, hair like this will be noticeable wherever we go. Any one will be able to spot you easily. We don't need you being noticeable. Not that you're very hard to notice." He added the last part albeit a bit grudgingly, and she wanted to grin.

Good God, she thought, he made her want to grin, regardless of her heartache. But she didn't say anything, she simply nodded, before getting up.

"It's late, we need our rest and thereafter, we need to prepare." Jasper said to her, she just nodded again. She looked like she was taking it all in stride, God knew she was trying to. Jasper didn’t think her spirit was gone. He knew the news he brought had left shaking. He knew regardless of the fact she wanted to take this journey with him, it was not an altogether easy choice for her. He knew all these and couldn’t help but be in awe of the little woman in front him.

He looked up at her, before standing to his feet as well. facing her, he said quietly,

"Your courage is a beautiful thing, morning will come soon. Goodnight princess." He fought the urge to kiss her forehead, had to fight looking away from those big beautiful brown eyes that all but screamed “save me!” And then turned on his heels and leaving her there alone in the old supply room.

And then she whispered, "Thank you,” knowing he wouldn't hear her.

*****

Morning came too quick, Jasper thought to himself. He woke up in his assigned chambers, feeling rested, however wanting to close the curtains and turn his head into his pillow.

He did not want to face the king and Queen.

But he knew he had to eventually. Painstakingly he got up from bed and walked to the window. He looked up to the morning sky and sighed. The sun was rising, and it was beautiful, creation was beautiful. It made him think of the creator.

"Are you here for all of this?"

But he didn't hear anything, aside from the birds chirping and the rustle of leaves. He took a moment to take in his scenery before finally walking to the bathroom.

 He stood in front of a mirror placed above a sink and scraped off his overgrown beard. He dipped a brush in some tooth powder and brushed his teeth, Before shedding his clothes and walking to the tub. He picked up a bar of soap with a lemon and pine scent and washed .

He walked back into the room a few minutes later, and walked to the chair on which a bag sat, filled with a few clean clothes. He brought out a shirt and a pair of pants and put them on and set out to look for the princess. He wanted to know how she fared, make plans about her departure, if she hadn't changed her mind, that is, if her parents permitted. And then he walked out of the room with no sense of direction at all.

                                               ~~~~

The princess had spent all night in the library, trying to find out what she could about the Athànatoi.

Had to know the enemy, she figured.

She had come across a book titled 'The Athànatoi through the times,' according to the book they had lived among mortals, the only distinction was the colour of their eyes, they were red, deep bloody red. They lived among men, did everything like they did, but they only mated with their own kind. She'd gotten to the part where the book began to talk about why the Athànatoi parted with man in the first place, but those parts were in a language she didn't understand, she stewed in her frustration and slept in it.

Now it was just the wink of dawn and she was groggy and instead of feeling rested, she was slightly irritable. But it was a new day, it held new possibilities, so she told herself. She got up from the spot beside a tall shelf where she had fallen asleep and slipped the book back into its place on the shelf, and turned to leave.

She was going to have a bath, then she was going to go over the ways she would tell her parents of her departure. They would fight tooth and nail against the idea, but she was just as stubborn, she would fight back. In a nut shell, she just had to convince them that leaving the castle was the best line of action toward her safety. But if they didn't buy into the idea, she would bring Jasper into her little plan. She smiled at the thought of him, remembering how he'd held her, comforted her. She liked him, he was good, in a quiet sort of way. When he wasn’t tying her tummy in knots.

He intrigued her. He had made her angry, yes. But he had also been there for her even if she didn't want him there, nor had she expected him there.

"Watch where you're going milady." His said mildly, his hands holding her firmly by her shoulders, to keep her from colliding with him. She looked up at him, her hands resting on his chest. She had been lost in her world of thoughts and hadn't been paying attention. She had been thinking about him.

She dropped her hands a little bit too quickly, but he didn't let go of the hold he had on her shoulders.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention." He eyed her curiously noting the dark circles beneath, but decidedly said nothing about them.

"I was looking for you." Was all he said, after some time.

"For me?"

"For you." He answered, finally dropping his hands from her shoulders.

"Well, let me have a bath first, then we'll break our fasts together. You can come with me, to my chambers." And just like that she sounded a little bit Like the mischievous little princess that had begun to grow on him.

                                          ~~~~~

They walked wordlessly to her chambers, with her stopping once to address a blond maid, telling the starry eyed maid, “to bring both of their breakfast to her chambers." If the request had the maid's interest piqued, Jasper had to hand it to her, she hid it well.

But He was sure that other ears would hear of his breakfast with the princess. Not that there was much of anything to it, but he knew how these things could be.

"I'll be done quickly, just sit over there." She pointed to a chair that sat by the window of her chambers, before walking to the bathroom door.

She stopped and turned around as though wanting to say something then just turned around and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

He wasn't surprised when 'quickly' passed and she was still in the bathroom, breakfast had come in, a few minutes after she had gone into the bathroom and it'd been a while since then.

He got up from the chair and walked to the door. He didn't hear water running. If he was being honest, H

e didn't hear a thing.

What was she doing in there? He thought to himself.

He rose his hand to knock, and quickly dropped it. What was he doing?

 He stood there unsure, and felt his heart drop into his stomach as the door opened to reveal the princess with a towel wrapped around her chest, and another around her head.

What was he doing there? What indeed?

She stood there, her eyes wide and his eyes wider.

" I- you took longer than I expected, I-"

"You?" She asked, a sly grin forming at her lips, and he almost sighed with relief.

"I'm sorry, milady. Er, would you like me to excuse you while you dress?"

"No, I have a changing screen." She walked past him, to her wardrobe and got a dress before walking behind the changing screen.

He walked back to his chair and called out to her, "breakfast came."

"Okay." she called back.

He tried his best not to think about an undressed princess, tried his best to look anywhere but the direction of the changing screen, but try as he might his gaze still wandered in that direction, from time to time. the screen was not see through, but he could see the silhouette of her form and it was with great effort he finally pulled his gaze away, and kept it that way.

She soon stepped out from behind the screen and walked to her bed to sit.

"Breakfast?" He asked.

"Please." And he walked to where it sat on a table and carried the tray, laying it gently on the bed, then sitting across from her, with the tray between them. It was a breakfast of Orange juice with cakes alongside a bowl of blueberries. The princess loved her blueberries.

"We will have to be careful, so we don't stain the sheets. Madam Kayla wouldn't like that."

"Madam Kayla is the huffy woman with the big bossoms?"

"Kayla isn't huffy." Hannah gasped out and he chuckled at her.

"No? But I'm definitely right about the other Part."

"About her bosoms?" She asked mildly, her eyes boring deeply into his. she could have been asking if he loved her. He nodded, not sure which question he was answering at that point.

"Yes, I suppose they are." She answered seriously, it made him smile, bringing him out of his momentary stupor.

She smiled as well, and her smile made him think of quiet rainy mornings. They ate in comfortable silence. The reason he'd set out looking for her, for that moment, temporarily forgotten.

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