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Dairine walked up the cashier with a cart full of chocolate. She had bought every Hershey’s bar there was and their entire stock of bags of Hershey’s kisses too. She had already stopped at a local chocolate shop and bought all the milk and dark chocolate truffles they had in stock. The cashier gives her a strange look.

 

Before she had the chance to ask, Dairine is explaining, “my boyfriend is trying to help out a friend of his who needs a lot of chocolate for a proposal.”

“I see,” says the wide eyed cashier.

 

It’s almost true. In Wellakhit culture, proposals are done with chocolate, but the planet has an unfortunate lack of the stuff as compared to demand. When Dairine had first proposed the plan, Roshaun had been strangely reluctant to let her spend her pocket money on chocolate for his subjects, but they had eventually come to a compromise: Dairine would supply the planetary chocolate master with chocolate once a month in exchange for pay equal to half the value of chocolate on the intergalactic market until the time came for the opening of Carmela and Ronan’s store. It was a deal that worked for everyone involved. Wellakh would have a more dependable, cheaper supply of chocolate, Dairine would make money, and Carmela and Ronan wouldn’t lose any business when their store opened. Roshaun had also created the condition that the chocolate master would have to be blackmailed so he would not reveal her as the source of the chocolate increase until the right moment. In order to assure this, Roshaun had threatened the man, telling him how if he revealed Dairine, he would receive no more deliveries and be blacklisted from the best chocolate dealer in the galaxies.

 

Assessing her stock, Dairine realizes a problem. There is far too much chocolate here for her to carry home. She could theoretically put some of it in her claudication, but bags of chocolate randomly disappearing into the air might cause some suspicion. 

 

She groans internally, already regretting what she’s about to do. She calls silently for Spot and he appears with a soft bang she disguises with a couple coughs. She then pretends to be answering a Skype call, but actually dials Kit.

 

“Hey,” is his greeting, “what’s up?”

“Kit! Just the person I was unfortunately looking for. Uh, I’m at the store without a car and I bought the chocolate for Roshaun so could you come pick me up?”

Kit begins laughing hysterically, “is the great Dairine Callahan asking for help?”

“I despise you. I’m hanging up.”

He’s still laughing, “no, stay there. I’ll come get you.” 

“I’m not gonna thank you.”

“Were you planning on doing it in the first place?” 

“Touché.”

 

She turns her attention back to the cashier, “sorry for uh not counting how many I bought.”

The cashier shrugs, “I’ve seen weirder, believe it or not. Your boyfriend must be very thankful.”

She laughs wryly, “not as much as you’d think.” Wasn’t that an understatement. Roshaun was keen on trying to keep the number of people who knew her very low. It was sweet in a way, because she knew it meant that he was only trying to protect her from the (sometimes life threatening) judgement he received on a daily basis, but nonetheless unnecessary. 

 

“Your total is $117.73. How would you like to pay?”

“Cash,” Dairine answers, pulling out her wallet and forking over six twenties.

“Two dollars and twenty three cents is your change. Thank you for your business.”

Dairine is about to push out her load when she stops and turns to the girl, “I’ll be back next month around the same time if you want to let your manager know so he can stock up. The two months after that too and then not anymore.”

The girl gives her a look that is at best questioning, but she nods. 

 

Dairine has perfect timing. She wheels the cart into the lot just as Kit drives his beat up old truck into the parking lot. He parks and Dairine rolls her cart up to his car. He even graciously helps her load in the bags of chocolate. Of course, he does poke fun at her mercilessly on the drive back to her house, and leaves her to get all the bags out in favor of making out with Nita, but one can only ask so much. 

 

She does manage to get all her bags in herself and sets them on the kitchen table. She then grabs the two large duffle like things Roshaun had given her for this express purpose and begins loading in her merchandise. The bags are, of course, blindingly gold, but all the chocolate fits in them. She then makes a third, smaller bag for the more expensive chocolates. Thus satisfied, she lugs the bags to the gardening shed and plops them in the wheelbarrow. Once everything is in, she starts the trek to her father’s flower shop. 

 

Dairine enters through the back entrance, so as not to be seen by customers. In fact, no one sees her at all, so she pops up front to tell her dad where she’s going and then slings one big bag over each shoulder and stuffs the third in her claudication. She then steps through the world gate and into the private transportation room. 

Roshaun! She calls to him in her mind, I brought chocolate.

Very well. Meet me in my chambers and we can discuss how this endeavor will proceed.

Fine.

 

His room is not too far away and it’s best not to be seen taking too many air cars to the King’s personal chambers, so she decides to make the walk. He’s already there when she arrives, though he seems more harried than usual. She drops the bags immediately. 

 

He glances at the sun, “we don’t have much time, so I will just tell you what to do. Wear this,” he thrusts something into her hands. It’s all black. “And yes, you must wear the veil over your face,” she sticks her tongue out at him, but he continues, “the chocolate master is not aware of your precise arrival time, but he knows to expect you over a general time frame of his next few shop openings. Here is the card that will allow you access to the back door,” he hands it to her, “I have already taken the liberty of sending you the coordinates.”

She smiles at him and stands on her tiptoes to give him a brief kiss, “go on and do what needs doing. I’ll be fine.”

He relaxes almost imperceptibly, “perhaps afterwards…” he lets the statement hang.

She smirks at him, “you’ll just have to see if I stick around.” 

He gives her a superior frown, but another glance at the sun has him hurrying off to do whatever it is he needs to do. 

 

Not wanting to take any chances, Dairine steps behind the changing screen to put on the outfit as specified. She even grudgingly pulls the veil over her face and hair. The total effect makes her look like a young widower in the medieval ages, but she supposes she’s worn worse. She has Spot snap a photo so she can prove to Roshaun that she did actually wear the outfit like he wanted. She then grabs the bags once more and asks Spot to take them to the coordinates from Roshaun. 

 

They pop out in what is probably best considered a Wellakhit alley. Before she scans the card, Dairine takes a moment to compose herself. Walking in burdened by two awkward and kind of heavy bags will not look very respectable, so she performs a small wizardry to make her bags float gently behind her. Then, she swipes the card and lets herself in. A man comes rushing back almost immediately. 

 

He bows to her, “you must be the chocolate dealer.”

“I am she,” Dairine says in Kings Speech.  

“I am most honored to make your acquaintance,” he greets her. 

“The honor is all mine. I take you to be the chocolate master?”

“Yes. This is my shop. It is the only place on the planet that sells genuine chocolates.”

“A feat you must be proud of.”

“Indeed.”

“Perhaps you would like to look at what I have brought you?”

“With pleasure.”

 

Dairine whispers a few words and the bags float gently to the counter just behind the old man. The lighting in the back room they seem to be in is horrible, a stark contrast from the rooms Dairine has seen at the palace. 

 

“I have brought with me four slightly different types of chocolate. The bag closest to you is filled with Hershey’s bars, which is a very standard chocolate and is relatively good for melting, as I’ve been informed you do a lot of. The bag next to that of the same size is filled with Hershey’s Kisses, which are the same kind of chocolate but shaped in pyramidal drops. The last bag contains a more high-end chocolate of two varieties, a standard flavoring and one more potent.”

As she describes the contents, the chocolate master looks at them all, “this is most gracious.”

“Of course. You may try them, if you like, so you are aware of how they taste and can make an informed decision.”

 

He bows to her, reverence in his eyes. It’s very odd, seeing that look in someone’s eyes who is so much older than her, “I thank you for that most generous offer, my lady, but I must decline for I would find it dishonest to eat a product before I had purchased it.”

“Please, sir, consider it a way for me to assure you of my sincerity.”

“I am assured, my lady, but if you desire me to try a chocolate I ask only that you advise me on which to sample.”

She very nearly shrugs, but stops herself at the last moment, “perhaps one of the Hershey’s Kisses? They are individually wrapped so they may be easiest.”

“I shall do just that. Thank you again my lady,” he bows once more. 

 

The Chocolate Master carefully peels back the crinkled silver wrapping and slices off a piece of the candy. He then puts that fraction of a piece in his mouth, “I think this may be the most divine chocolate I have ever tasted. Much fresher than the pieces I have dared sample in the past.”

“I am most overjoyed to hear that, good sir. Please do not feel ashamed to finish the rest of the piece. Should your conscious make you wary, I will bring you another bag.”

“That will be hardly necessary. You have been incredibly accommodating already. I spoke with the Sunlord about payments...I assumed him to be in jest when he spoke to me of the price you requested.”

“I am prepared to accept half of the intergalactic market price for these sweets.”

The man’s jaw actually dropped, “with all due respect, my lady, but are you quite sure about that price.”

“Quite. Please evaluate what you believe to be a fair value of these products on the intergalactic market and then halve that number.”

“If you are sure.”

“Quite.”

“You are certain?”

“I am a wizard, sir, we do not speak with dishonest intent.”

 

The Chocolate Master then begins examining all of the products, counting and adding prices on a calculator. It seems to take forever, but Dairine stands patiently and properly, hands clasped in front of her. After what seems like forever, he hands her a slip of paper indicating a price. She glances at it and has to fight to keep the shock from her face. The number here is easily six times as much as she paid for the goods in the first place. 

 

“Very good sir. Your sum is fair,” she agrees. By the shocked look on his face, she’s guessing this is a low price, but it’s not like she cares because she’s making quite a lot on it. He rushes to give her the money, which she does inspect to make sure it is legit. It is, so she takes her leave, disappearing out the back as if she was never there. She does a transport back to Roshaun’s rooms and plops down on a couch. She doesn’t really have a concept for how long it will be until Roshaun gets done with whatever it is that he’s doing, but she spent a fairly long period of time at the chocolate shop or whatever it was called. 

 

There wasn’t too much for her to do while she waited for Roshaun. She’d already changed and most of her wizardry projects involved him now, and the ones that didn’t were mainly on location. Being that she has nothing better to do and it is summer so she can afford to do nothing, Dairine calls Spot over. It’s time for Star Wars. 

 

She’s a little under halfway through when Roshaun stalks into the room in his usual overbearing manner. He crosses the room and then sits beside her with his customary grace.

 

“Star Wars again?” he lifts a brow in judgment. 

She glares at him, then smirks, “why? You jealous that I like Luke Skywalker more than you?”

Both brows raise at that statement, “on the contrary, I am jealous of him because he does not have to deal with you on a daily basis.”

“Well it’s not like you’re a barrel of sunshine yourself.”

His expression changes to one of confusion, “I fail to see how sunshine can be contained in a barrel.”

“An idiom.”

“The analogy is still nonsensical. What most species agree upon to be sunshine is little more than light, which exists in all habitable domain.”

“Again, it’s an expression. It’s not meant to be interpreted literally.”

His frown deepens, “even as such, I fail to see how that is at all relevant to me.”

Dairine’s expression turns amused, “because it suits you in more ways than one, most especially used ironically. It means someone who is cheery and easy to get along with, neither of which apply to you.”

“That is most untrue.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Barrel of Sunshine. You’ve earned a new nickname.”

“To retaliate in kind, perhaps I shall call you tekeh siliica whai khaikeh.”

“Beloved silica water girl?” Dairine asks, completely confused. 

“Someone who thinks better of themselves than deserved.”

“So someone like you then?”

He gives her a superior frown, “impure water typically has silica in it on our planet.”

“Okay? That still seems like it applies to you more than me,” Dairine says stubbornly. 

“Should you be quiet long enough for a proper explanation, I am certain it would make more sense.”

“Make me,” Dairine says, a little bit daring.

Roshaun seems to miss the point, “make you be quiet? I fail to see how I might achieve that.”

Dairine rolls her eyes and takes matters into her own hands, setting Spot aside and climbing onto his lap, “yeah, well I have a few ideas.”

 

Roshaun seems more than willing to comply, bringing his hands quickly up to tangle in her hair. She’d do the same, but she’s not sure if he has anymore public duties for the day and his hair is a pain to brush through. She knows this from experience, unfortunately. Her own hair, being much shorter, does not tangle hopelessly the way Roshaun’s is liable to. 

 

Although the kiss had started out almost desperately, both craving connection with one another after a long few days apart, and neither knowing how long they would have this time, the feverishness gradually disappeared and gave way to a slower, more deliberate exploration of mouths. She can’t say how long it’s been when they break for air, only that they’re both completely breathless. 

 

She rests her forehead against his own and traces her hand down his jawline once, “hey,” she grins. 

His smile matches her own, “hey.”

 

For a moment, neither of them move, but then he kisses her sweetly. She smiles even wider against his lips. Then, smirking, she pushes him down and sideways so he’s laying on the couch, her positioned over him. Her hair falls in front of her face and he reaches up a hand to smooth it back, then lets it linger there. She props her chin up on her hand, placing her elbow on the couch near his head for support. She lets her eyes roam his face, unashamedly admiring him. It’s a perfect quiet moment, so Dairine really shouldn’t be surprised when the door opens with its customary loud squeak. 

 

Still, she’s surprised enough to half leap half fall off the couch and roll under the table nearby. It’s probably too late to pretend like they were being “just good friends” now anyway, but perhaps she can do a quick beam me up spell and at least make whoever it is question what they saw.

 

Her plan flies out the window when she hears Roshaun though, “mother!” He sounds annoyed, embarrassed, and exasperated. Dairine lets out the breath she’d been holding, having forgotten people can only access Roshaun’s room who have permission to do just that, and anyone else has to be let in by Roshaun himself. It’s a matter of safety, obviously. 

 

Dairine crawls out from under the table, her face the same color as her hair, and goes to stand sheepishly next to Roshaun. Miril’s glance is amused, “I was hoping to find the both of you.”

“You succeeded,” Roshaun’s tone is perhaps a bit curt. 

“Your chocolate venture was a success Dairine, tekeh?”

“I guess we’ll see,” she shrugs, face still hot. 

“Well I’ve come to offer you to stay for our evening meal, should you like.”

Dairine glances down at her watch, dismayed by the time, “my father should be expecting me for our own meal, I’m afraid. In fact, I’m probably already late.” 

“Perhaps some other time, then?”

“I’d be honored,” Dairine smiles. Lady Miril is always so sweet. Sometimes she feels like her mother, not that anyone could replace Dairine’s actual mom. 

“And before you take your leave, I would acquaint yourself with one of my son’s many hairbrushes.”

Dairine turns bright red again, and Roshaun, too, flushes, “motherrrrrr!”

Lady Miril’s smile is mischievous, “you do have so very many and I’m certain Harry would probably not approve of Dairine coming home in a less pristine state than when she left.”

Dairine takes Miril’s hands and places them on her forehead, “thank you very much for your advice and kind offer. I’ll see you soon.”

“Indeed you will. Perhaps I will visit with you after Nelaid concludes your training on your next visit.”

“I should like that.”

Miril gives them one last smile before turning elegantly and floating out the door. Dairine turns back to Roshaun’s, grinning, “you were going to have a hairbrush for me?”

 

~*~

 

Later that night, as Dairine gets ready for bed, she looks up the name that Roshaun had called her. Siliica whai khaikeh the manual reads, a name used to refer to a woman who claims to be more flawless than she is. Typically used in a joking manner. Dairine grins to herself. Just as she had thought, the word “beloved” was nowhere to be found.