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It's not unusual for Melia to be awake in the middle of the night. She's grown used to listening to the silence and staring into the dark, wondering when the sun will show itself again. More often than not, it's not soon enough.

Tonight is another long night.

Next to where she sits lies Fen, fast asleep. It's funny, she muses. All that cold, stern look befitting the head of general staff of Gramenia during the day, yet when he sleeps he's the most gentle thing. Melia watches his chest rise and fall with each breath, watches the way his lashes flutter when the wind blows too strong.

Soft, she thinks. Vulnerable.

Melia strokes Fen's hair, feeling the golden strands against her fingers, then letting them slip down. Her movements are light, as to not wake him up. She touches him the way he would touch her. Tender, caring, affectionate. She feels his cheek, her fingers making the lightest brushes.

I love him, she thinks. Feels it in her aching heart. I love him.

How she wished it wasn't true.

A thousand times imagining herself coming clean, confessing everything to Fen. Telling him about La Riiz, about her allegiance, about the things she'd done in secret against him and against their friends.

Imagining the look on his face.

Hours and days spent planning her disappearance from his life altogether. To run away from La Riiz and Gramenia and all the politics in between.

Wondering if that'd be enough.

Every conversation, every moment spent together, wishing that he'd see right through her. To figure her out, like he'd done to so many of his foes.

Finding in his eyes only the look of absolute, unmoving trust. His declaration of love. Feeling her heart break into pieces each time.

How she wished none of it was true.


Her reality stirs awake with her name on his lips, and Melia flinches. She had been unknowingly clutching on to his shirt. She hastily lets go. Her hand leaves wrinkles in the fabric.


The curtains drawn over the windows don’t quite keep out the moonlight. It's enough to draw Fen's attention to the tears on her face.

“Did you have a nightmare again?”

Fen's voice is full of concern. Their eyes meet, and a sob escapes Melia's mouth before she can stop herself.

“You should’ve woken me up sooner.”

Fen sits up, and pulls Melia into his arms in a practiced motion. The warm, comforting embrace in the middle of the night is all too familiar for the two. Only, it's not the nightmares of her past in La Riiz that keeps her up anymore.

"You know I'm here for you," he murmurs. "I'm here, Melia."

“I know,” she can only manage. “I know.”