Hopeless Expectations
by StarWarrior (Rie)

Always I leave you behind. Always I fear. You have no idea. My task complete I gallop back to you, smiling as the wind caresses my hair.

The smell of jasmine fills the air. I breathe it in. It reminds me of you. Impatient I spur Argo onwards. I smile. Thoughts of red-gold hair, freckles, and emerald green eyes fill my mind. I hear your voice...so golden sweet it makes me ache.

My smile deepens. I picture you so clearly. Walking beside me, talking, hands gesturing wildly...later with your head bent low over a scroll and your hair glowing in the firelight, you write your version of our latest adventure...always glossing over your part. You are so full of life...so exuberant, no matter what you are doing. Everyone that meets you hopelessly smitten.

Abruptly my smile disappears. I swallow. My fears return. I frown. I am almost there. The village is in sight. I slow to a walk. My heart pounds. I try to maintain my calm facade. What if this time you want to stay? Always you say, "Don't forget me. Come back for me." Always my eyes smile into yours. "I won't forget. I will." I reply confidently, but what of my fear?

I enter the village and automatically scan the crowd for you. I see you standing next to a young man. My heart skips a beat. I am afraid. Always you talk of finding your man - Is this the man you want? I move slowly into the village. My heart is beating wildly. You see me and smiling run to greet me.

I can't resist. I show off - as much as to impress you as your young friend. I do a flip off Argo to land gracefully at your feet, accepting your warm hug as though I were accustomed to them. In truth I wish I were...you step back. I breathe a sigh of relief.

"It's over?" I hear you ask, as your eyes scan my body looking for wounds. It feels good knowing someone cares. An unexpected warmth floods through my body. I nod, my eyes narrowing at the man that is walking towards us. Why do I feel threatened? He's just a boy...but she likes boys. A voice whispers in my ear. I frown.

You reach to touch me. I stiffen. Your hand falls to your side. You pull back never knowing how much I long for your touch. But you my friend are a true innocent. I have no doubt that I could take you...please you...in ways you never dreamed of, but it would be wrong. You followed me out of Potidaea because you longed for escape and trusted me to protect you. I will not use my experience to take your innocence from you. You've made it clear that you search for a man. So though I long for your touch I must hold myself apart or lose the battle for goodness. Looking into your eyes...seeing your pain at my withdrawal...my resolve falters, but the man reaches us.

Your smile returns. It cuts my soul. I scowl. You introduce us. His name barely registers. I want to rip that smile off his face. My eyes linger on his hand touching your shoulder. Are my fears well founded?

I turn my attention back to your words. What do you mean kept you company while you waited for my return? I bite my tongue to keep from asking. "A Bard?" I glance at him. No wonder you hung around him. He likes your stories. "Of course he does - you're very good!" My heart warms at your smile. "Didn't notice?" Of course I noticed!" I let my concern shine in my eyes. "He told you to do what? Tell them in Taverns and inns? Did you say with him?" Suddenly I feel ill. I glare angrily at the young man. He steps back. "Oh, like him."

My hear t soars, as you ask "When do we leave?"

I grin. "Get your things. We'll buy more parchment and get underway." You return my grin, say good-bye to your newest friend, and skip away. I follow slowly behind, watching as you greet everyone we meet. I know that one day you will leave me, but I don't have to worry about it today. My step is light, all is right with my world.


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