James led Freya back to the tavern without a word. Freya didn’t try to pull away but instead let him lead her. She was silent, unsure of what to say. James was fuming, that she knew. He walked with authority and purpose. Anyone that tried to catch his attention was cut off by a simple raise of his hand.
This was not good.
They entered the now empty tavern, and Freya shut the door behind them. James reached for the nearest chair and, yelling, flung it across the room. It hit against a table, one of the legs breaking off and the back splitting.
He turned on a heel and stared at Freya. “Why?”
Freya felt her defenses raise once more. “Excuse me?”
James turned back to Freya, a sharpness to his eyes. “Why try to hit him? Sometimes I wish that you knew how to control your anger.” He raised an agitated finger towards the door, “That man,” the word left James’ tongue as if it were acid, “is not one to mess with. But you know that!” James threw another chair, this one splintered into multiple pieces on the floor.
Freya moved forward, gesturing to the broken wood, “This all coming from the man who destroyed two chairs for no reason.”
“I wanted to break his neck Freya!” James flipped a table.
A man opened the door to come in but Freya quickly ushered him out. “That would not have ended well,” she said, moving slowly towards him. “A broken nose would have been good.” Freya said it with an air of jest. James was clearly upset by the whole mess.
“Stop joking around,” he turned on a boot heel and stared at her as she moved towards him. “You would have been put in the stocks, or worse.”
“So?” Freya asked.
“So? SO!” James threw yet another chair. “Are you serious? How many times do I have to watch you do these things to yourself? I can’t protect you if…”
Freya cut him off, “It isn’t up to you to protect me anymore!” Freya moved forward, her anger rising. “By the Gods James, I am no longer your charge!”
“If you think that I was going to stand there and let him do anything to you then you are a fool Freya!” James took a step forward, his eyes pinned to hers.
Freya moved closer, not releasing his gaze. “I can take care of myself! How many times do we have to go through this? You said you would trust me!”
James moved another step closer, placing his right hand over his heart, “I do trust you! I swear on my name that I do.”
Freya could hear the truth in his words. But there was something he wasn’t saying. Freya moved up to him and gently placed her hand utop his, still placed on his chest. “Then why do you still feel that you need to protect me?”
James took in a breath, steadying himself. Freya waited for him to meet her eyes. What if Samson was right? What if James felt the same? A long lost flutter sprang up in Freya’s stomach as she waited.
James finally met her gaze.
Her heartbeat skipped.
James looked away and didn’t say a word. They stood in silence for a few moments. Freya waited for him to say something, anything. But he didn’t.
She whispered, still holding onto his hand, “Why did you kiss me?”
She could see him struggling with himself. She too had been doing it for so long that there was now no ignoring it. When he looked upon her once more, she knew he wouldn’t tell her. The look he gave her was one of regret.
Freya pulled away from him.
She waited another moment for him to finally tell her everything that she had wanted to hear. But he simply stood there. Freya was done with it all. She turned on a heel and headed for the stairs to the rooms. At the base of the staircase she turned back to face James.
“I have waited too long,” Freya could feel the tears welling up, but she held them back. “You once asked me to wait for you a long time ago. I did, even when you returned a different man. I still waited.” Freya wiped at her face. “I was also different, I don’t deny that.” Freya looked over at James, he wouldn’t meet her eyes. “But I have been waiting for too long, James.” She started to make her way up the stairs.
Before turning the corner she left him with one final thought, something she couldn’t hold in any more. Something she no longer wanted to keep to herself.
“I love you.” She saw him still standing there, unmoving, as she vanished around the corner.
She walked silently to her room, and leaned against the door after closing it behind her. There, alone, a single tear escaped down her cheek.
Things had not gone the way she had hoped, but at least she was free of the weight of silence. A few more tears fell.
What a relief it was. There was no need to pretend anymore. No need to worry about if he chose someone else. If he did, at least then she would know how he felt. At least then she would know everything she needed to. Standing there Freya let her tears fall.
A few silent moments passed. After a few final thoughts of loneliness and heartache Freya finally made up her mind. She wouldn’t lie to herself again. There had been so much silence! So many unspoken words, it was exhausting!
She was tired of it all. It had to end.
There was a knock on her door. Freya wiped away the tears and composed herself. Unlocking the door she opened it slightly.
James was standing there, patiently waiting.
“Can we talk?” He asked taking a step forward.
Freya let out a sigh. At first she almost just let him in out of habit, but she remembered how tired she was. No more lies. Whatever he had to say she didn’t want to hear it. “I think that I’m all talked out for the evening. Goodnight, James.”
Freya, catching a glimpse of James’ wounded face, closed the door. There was no need for him to explain. She didn’t have the heart right now to listen to him try to justify why they couldn’t be together. She understood they were not who they once were.
As Freya went to lock the door James was suddenly pushing it open, rushing into the room. He shut the door behind him as Freya took a few steps back, startled by his appearance.
“Sure, come on in!” Freya stated sarcastically,fuming, as she moved further into the room. She rubbed her forehead with her hand, a headache starting to bloom. “James, it has been a long day and I am not in the mood to waste time on a conversat…” Her words were cut short as James pulled her into his arms. His lips found hers and all of her thoughts vanished.
He pulled back from her. “Nor am I,” he whispered.
“Then why did you…” Again his lips cut off her words. For a few moments there was nothing but their lips and longing. There was nothing but the unspoken words between them. They slowly moved in a circle, his hands tracing over her back, her hands running up and down his arms and through his hair.
He pulled back once more, this time with more difficulty. “To answer you, I protect you because I don’t trust the world with you. It doesn’t deserve you.” He ran a hand over her cheek. She smiled, tears coming to her eyes once more. “Secondly, and don’t get mad, but I kissed you mainly because it was the best way to shut you up.”
Freya raised her voice, “I can’t believe you would…!”, she reached back to punch him but he gracefully grabbed her hand mid swing and kissed her again. Slowly the kiss became deeper, more hungry.
Again he pulled away and gazed into her eyes as their foreheads touched. “But I also wanted to,” he whispered. He held her hips and gently walked her backwards, coming to a stop against the door. “You were right, you have waited too long.” He placed his hands on either side of her against the door. His eyes never left hers. She stood still, barely breathing. “As have I. I love you, Freya. I always have and I always will. I have loved you since we were little. I don’t want you to …”
“Oh shut up!” Freya said, interrupting him, as she flung her arms around his neck and her lips found his.
There was nothing else left to say as the two slowly entwined. There was nothing but this moment and each other. As both of them had dreamed it could be.
Now it was. And it was everything.