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Apolitical Assassination

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She aimed slightly to the left.

Too slow, Chelsea tells herself, reproachful, and her footwork was all wrong. Really, she only has herself to blame.

And it’s not like Woodrow’s ever made himself an easy target, anyway. Nothing ever caught him off-guard. Not wild animals or marriage proposals or an arrow well-poised for the heart. He had good reflexes, and a better instinct; a lifetime spent climbing mountains and wandering lonely places made sure of that.

She’d resent him for being difficult, if it were anything new. But it isn’t, and she’s never been able to stay mad at him for long, so when he turns to her, thick fingers absently shaking the snow off his hair, she’s far too distracted by the momentary warmth of his attention to think about the what-ifs. What if he hadn’t looked over his shoulder? What if the arrow had hit? What if he leaves and never comes back?

She clings to him on the way home—it seems like the obvious thing to do. He doesn’t shake her off, because she always gets lost and he never does, and though the irony isn’t lost to her, there’s still a lilt of rapture to her voice when she flutters, squeaks, “Lord Woodrow! Is this practice for when we’re married?”

“Come on, let’s hurry. It’s getting dark.”

Her hand curls inside his, “I’m the happiest girl in the world!”

If only this could last forever…! a part of her thinks.

But of course victory is made all the sweeter if it is earned. So Chelsea smiles serenely, her bow securely put away, and assures herself that the next time she takes aim, she’ll surely remember not to hesitate, not even a little bit.