The Davenport homestead is anything but
quiet in the middle of the night. Creatures of the dark wake to carry on their
activities with noises to match.
Crickets and frogs chirp and croak their
songs; bushes and leaves shift in steady breezes; and the brook close to the manor babbles quietly away. It’s here that
you find yourself able to think — able to breath unrestrained and clear your
head. And so you sit atop the bridge overlooking the water, legs overhanging
between rungs of the side rails.
With all the hubbub and bustle during the day, it’s…
nice to have some peace. Some solitude.
not be out on your own at night.”
Peace flees and embarrassment intrudes when you try to hide your
surprised flinch. Maybe if it were another person, they wouldn’t
have noticed in the cover of darkness with gentle moonlight beaming overhead.
But this is Connor. His senses are honed and little escapes his
notice — even if he is polite enough
to not mention it. You turn, seeing him standing at the start of the bridge.
breathe his name and he shifts his shoulders.
It’s late. Very late. He shouldn’t
be out or even awake at this hour. Granted, neither should you, but he’s come out to find you, no lantern in hand, with only the moonlight guiding him.
“I did not
mean to intrude,” he starts. “I only saw you were not in the house and grew concerned.”
Had he been able to track you down in the damned dark? That’s
impressive, frighteningly so, but you have your reasons for leaving.
The manor grows busier and louder with people by the day as the homestead’s familial ties strengthen. Connor’s
kindness toward others, especially after Achilles’ passing, hasn’t dissipated in the least.
Which is good… mostly.
It’s good that he’s still himself and does not let his
sadness and regret swallow him. But at the same time, the constant company and
noise becomes a tiresome sensory overload.
Out here, you’re not quite alone with nature
surrounding, but for the most part it’s just you and your thoughts to mingle
for as long as you like.
“I just— I
was just, uh, enjoying the night is all, Connor. Nothing to worry over. Really,
From here, you can just barely make out the lower half of his face
with that hood pulled up. His mouth is pressed into a firm and unconvinced
line. Definitely not buying it. You could make an ass of yourself and insist
for him to leave, but this is Connor.
He’s a bit calmer, a bit more reserved than
the others. If anyone is going to provide wordless company, it’s him. And if it
will ease his friendly concern…
You wrap your hand around a wooden rail and wave him over with
the other. “You can come sit with me if you like,
Connor. It’s a nice night.”
His lip line softens and he takes a step onto the wooden bridge,
hesitates, and takes another. “The night is enjoyable, but it also holds
many dangers. It is good to take care.”
Those footsteps come closer and the mountain of a man sits an
arm’s length away from you. He even copies how
you sit and drapes his legs over the edge, pulling his hood off his head and
breathing in deep. The water that passes below is shallow, but it’s fresh and
smells clean. Homesteaders and travelers are always commenting on how much they
love the water here on this prime piece of land. And you, too, have come to
enjoy it for reasons of your own.
Not to pan for minerals or to fish, but to simply enjoy the
company of water that softly babbles away. It’s a sweet
sound, a one-sided conversation, that plays on endlessly. During sleepless
nights, like this one, the sound is usually enough to relax your body for
another attempt at sleeping. Although, on more than one occasion you’ve found
yourself nodding off while seated at the water’s edge.
Doesn’t look like that will happen tonight.
you say?” He nods to your question so you’ll ask another. “Should I be cautious
of prowling wolves and bears? Or maybe the damned mosquitoes?”
This time he shakes his head, smiling softly. “There
is little that can abate mosquitoes, and while larger creatures like those are
not likely to wander this close to the property, there is still danger from
travelers passing through who may see an opportunity to overtake a person alone
in the dark.”
It’s your turn to smile. “That’s a dastardly
thing for someone to do, but — for now, at least — I’m not alone in the dark, hmm?”
He smiles a warm and comfortable smile, even in the chill of the
night. Little by little, that warmth reaches you, too, until you smile. “No,
you are not.”
further words need to be spoken as silence is all the two of you can add to the
symphony of the night. It plays on, lulling you both into sleepy calm with
tender moonlight above and still waters below. Eventually, the melody of sleep
grows too much to bear and you depart together for home and for bed.
“It won’t do, Rand.” Elayne tightened her hands on her skirts to keep herself from shaking a finger at him. Or a fist; she was not sure which it would be. The other sisters? The real Aes Sedai, he had been about to say. How dare he? And his friends in the Tower! Could he still believe Alviarin’s strange letter? Her voice was cool and firm and steady, brooking no nonsense. “None of that matters a hair, not now. You and Aviendha and Min and I are what we need to talk about. And we will. We all will, Rand al’Thor, and you are not leaving the Palace until we do!”
For the longest time, he simply looked at her, his expression never changing.
Then he inhaled audibly, and his face turned to granite. “I love you, Elayne.”
Without a pause, he went on, words rushing out of him, water from a burst dam. And his face a stone wall. “I love you, Aviendha. I love you, Min. And not one a whisker more or less than the other two. I don’t just want one of you, I want all three. So there you have it. I’m a lecher. Now you can walk away and not look back. It’s madness, anyway. I can’t afford to love anybody!”
“Rand al’Thor,” Nynaeve shrieked, “that is the most outrageous thing I ever heard out of your mouth! The very idea of telling three women you love them! You’re worse than a lecher! You apologize right now!” Lan had snatched his pipe from his mouth and was staring at Rand.
“I love you, Rand,” Elayne said simply, “and although you haven’t asked, I want to marry you.” She blushed faintly, but she intended to be much more forward before very long, so she supposed this hardly counted. Nynaeve’s mouth worked, but no sound came out.
“My heart is in your hands, Rand,” Aviendha said, treating his name like something rare and precious. “If you make a bridal wreath for my firstsister and me, I will pick it up.” And she blushed, too, trying to cover it in bending to take her shawl from the floor and arranging it on her arms. By Aiel customs, she should never had said any of that. Nynaeve finally got a sound out. A squeak.
“If you don’t know by this time that I love you,” Min said, “then you’re blind, deaf and dead!” She certainly did not blush; there was a mischievous light in her dark eyes, and she seemed ready to laugh. “And as for marriage, well, we’ll work that out between the three of us, so there!” Nynaeve took a grip on her braid with both hands and gave it a steady pull, breathing heavily through her nose. Lan had begun an intense study of the contents of his pipe’s bowl.
Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time: Winter’s Heart, Page 284/285