Just a warning, this is just a little bit more PG-13 than the last one. This won't be a regular occurrence though, and the next part will have more action-type stuff, don't worry.
After the incident in Silvermoon, Kaled was no longer sure of exactly how he felt about Khaotic. When one of his new friends told him about it, thinking it a great joke on the elder, he laughed along with the other elf but inwardly he felt a bit confused. He had never known anyone that would do something like that for him, and it changed his opinion of her quite a bit.
Khaotic was relieved when several days had passed and the elder didn't seem interested in gaining revenge for the embarrassment she gave him. The attitude in the city had changed again, but this time definitely for the better. Her friends in town took great pains to greet her every time she came there, and she was even stopped by people she didn't know to exchange a few words. The topper came when the shopkeeper that had humiliated himself before, actually asked her one day about Kaled. She was so surprised it took her a minute to answer. All this gave her hope that Kaled was finally being given his due.
The next day that they needed to order supplies, Khaotic made Kaled come with her, though he argued quite a bit, obviously not wanting to. They went to the same store they had stopped at before, where Khaotic announced that Kaled would go place their order while she waited outside. Kaled stared at her in surprise for several seconds, then shook himself, swallowed hard, and ducked inside the shop. To his further shock, the clerk greeted him warmly and asked how he was doing. He stuttered an answer, then gave him the list and arranged the delivery. He stepped outside where Khaotic waited with a knowing smile on her face. "Now do you still believe that they would prefer you were dead?" she asked him. He shook his head, still incredulous. "Feels good to know someone cares about you, doesn't it?" she continued, and his eyes came up to meet hers. "Yeah," he said softly, his mood changing in a blink as something in his mind clicked into place. She seemed a bit surprised at his response, and stared hard at him for a second. "Let's head on back," she told him, and quickly started off, leaving him to catch up.
Kaled was beginning to realize how much his feelings toward his mentor were changing. When she asked that question, he suddenly thought of their last few months together, how she had taken him in and helped him when he couldn't have done anything to pay her back. And how she had stood up for him, not only against that elder, but against everyone, even a few of her friends. He had never imagined he would have a friend like this. And he thought that he just might be falling in love with her.
Khaotic was mildly disturbed by Kaled's reaction, and watched him closely the next few days without letting him notice. She didn't know exactly what was bothering her, though. The next few days, as she and Kaled continued their daily regimen, she tried to remain distant. Then one day her friend Jakobi said something that shook her up all over again.
Jakobi had come with his sister and another friend for supper. As Kaled chatted with the other two, he went with Khaotic into the kitchen to help. As he rummaged in her pantry, he casually asked, "So, do you love him?" Khaotic stopped slicing vegetables and stared at him. "What kind of question is that?" she demanded. He shrugged. "You do live with him, you know. You two are hardly seen apart, and people talk. Just rumors I'm sure, but there you go." He looked at her for a minute, then added, "I'm also simply curious, especially since if you don't have any claims on him, I think Silandril would like a go at him." He nodded out to the main room, where his sister was sitting very close to Kaled. Khaotic noticed that Kaled looked rather uncomfortable. "I... I don't know," she finally answered. "I just want to help him. It's not something I've thought about before." "Well," Jakobi replied. "You might want to, before someone else catches his eye." Khaotic kept silent the rest of the evening, responding only to questions directed to her.
She did think about it after that. Kaled was bright, open-minded, and amazingly intelligent, as well as quite good-looking. But she wasn't sure if she even wanted a mate, and Kaled still had some issues to deal with from his upbringing in Silvermoon. Still, the dilemma gnawed at her.
A few days later, she decided to work at swords with Kaled. The Farstriders had not neglected his weapon training in what he had wanted to learn, but hadn't expanded much on the things he didn't show interest in. Until Khaotic had started teaching him, he had used either two-handed weapons, or a single one-hander. Khaotic had been teaching him to dual-wield two swords at once, and although he was usually a fast learner, this was causing him some difficulty. It was a beautiful day; autumn was well along and nights were chilly but the days were still usually warm, and this was no exception. Khaotic was drilling Kaled hard, and both were quickly sweating. She came at him with both of her swords, which were dulled practice blades. He parried but she twisted her swords around his, forcing his weapons out wide. She quickly retracted one of her blades and poked him in the stomach. "You're dead again, Kaled," she informed him as he wheezed a bit from the blow. He shook his head ruefully. "You'd think I would have this down by now," he said. "You're shifting your grip again," she told him. "Look, I've told you a dozen times, hold the hilt like this." She stepped in close, adjusting his grip on his blades until he had it right. "Now, don't shift from that grip again, mister," she said, then looked up at his face. As their eyes met, they both realized just how close they were to each other.
Kaled suddenly found it hard to breathe. Time seemed to stand still as he hesitated, then leaned in slightly and kissed her.
Khaotic did not respond, but neither did she pull away. When he pulled back and looked at her, she was staring at him, her expression partly surprised, but mostly unreadable. He stepped back slowly as she gave herself a slight shake, then abruptly bent and picked up her blades. "I think that's enough practice for today," she said quietly as she turned to go. She paused and started to say something, then stopped herself and walked off.
Kaled could only watch her go. He knew now that he loved her, and wanted her with him for the rest of his life. He had no idea what she thought of him, though, and hoped he hadn't ruined everything by his moment of lost control. But he could still feel her lips on his as he gathered his gear and put it away.
After stowing her own gear, Khaotic went off by herself, to try and sort out her confused thoughts. She realized that he wouldn't have dared something like that just a few short months ago; he would have been too afraid of her response, too afraid of losing her approval. He had come a long way, from the shy, cringing young man she had met, to a confident, intelligent, full-fledged hunter. She thought back to the question Jakobi had asked her: Do you love him? She realized, now, the answer was yes. She went to find Kaled.
She found him by the beach, watching Ashke and Gul romp in the fading daylight. He glanced over briefly as she came up quietly behind him, then started slightly as she took his hand. "You can probably guess that Khaotic isn't my real name," she said. "My given name is Veldora. Only my family and a few close friends know it. I keep it secret, to avoid getting close to people. It's hard to trust when your life is one battle after another, among soldiers that you never get to know, because you don't know who will be alive at the end of the day, and who will be dead. Do you understand, Kaled?" Mutely, he nodded, then took her hand in both of his, rubbing it gently. "Thank you," he said finally. They stood like that for a few long minutes, then turned and went back to the house.
That night, Kaled lay in bed in his room, thinking about what she had told him. A whisper of sound at his door caught his attention. In the darkness he could see a shadow that he recognized as Khaotic. Veldora, he told himself. He sat up, letting her know he was still awake. She came and sat on the edge of his bed, then reached out and found his hand. "I lost my heart, during the wars, never thinking I would have a friend, or even knowing if I would be alive at the end of the day. I think I've finally found it again," she said softly. Her other hand came up to stroke his face, and he reached for her and pulled her close as she joined him on the bed.
After she had fallen asleep in his arms, Kaled lay awake for a long time, thinking. He knew she was a warrior, and he had to be her equal; anything else wouldn't be fair to either of them. As sleep finally took him, he resolved to make himself worthy of her.
Part 4 is already pretty much done in my head, just need to type it out. I'm also thinking of Gwyn's part 4, will post whichever of those I finish first in the next few days.