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Guiding Star

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Guiding Star

CHAPTER XV : The Gazebo


“I’m done, I’m leaving!” Anya exclaimed, pushing away her mostly eaten plate of breakfast.


“Already?” Loid asked, surprised, “It’s still so early. The bus won’t be here.”


“I’m going on foot, I’ll be fine!” she continued, gathering her bag and winter coat.


“Why are you going to early? It’s unusual for you…” Yor asked, while still spoon-feeding Rosaura.


“Oh! I… uh… I’m going to study early! For the exams!” she answered quickly, adding some snacks in her bag.


Loid and Yor glanced at each other. Distracted by the conversation with Anya, Yor didn’t notice that Rosie was leaning forward, waving her hands towards the plate. She opened and closed her mouth, her way of asking for another spoonful. Anya quickly kissed her baby sister on the forehead, then her parents’ cheeks, and ran off.


“…She’s hiding something from us.” Loid said, frowning.


“Don’t worry, I’m sure she’s just a little stressed for the exams.”


“Anya? Stressed? For exams?” he repeated, shaking his head, “No, something must have happened at the academy… Why is she not simply telling us? We could help if she has any trouble…”


Yor smiled at her little girl, opening and closing her mouth to encourage her baby to keep eating. Rosie eagerly took the next spoonful.


“We can trust Anya, she never hid anything from us. She will tell us what she needs to, when she will be ready,” Yor continued with a smile.




“Don’t go spying on her, Loid.” Yor warned, sending him a harsh look.


“I would never!!” He exclaimed, looking guilty.


Yor was not impressed by his attempt and she kept staring at him until he threw his hands to the sky.


“Alright! I won’t spy on Anya at the academy!”


“Good, otherwise we will go back to keeping secrets from one another and we don’t want that.”




“Another mouthful for my beautiful girl?” Yor asked in a cocooning voice.


Rosie giggled excitedly, opening her mouth once more. As lovely as the sight was, Loid was now too worried about his older daughter. He had said he wouldn’t spy on her… but it wasn’t… a promise, right?


He shook his head. No, he would not spy on Anya, he would trust her.


Anya arrived far earlier than usual at the academy. The grounds were still mostly empty of students, beside a few of the residents who were doing some morning running or doing last minute revisions. But as expected, most of them were still getting ready and were escaping the cold.


Her breathing was forming white fog. She breathed into her hands, snow had been forecasted a few days later. She had been in such a hurry that she had forgotten her gloves. She looked around, not finding the person she was looking for. She walked past the buildings to wander into the vast park of Eden Academy. Some students were running around despite the harsh cold but she didn’t look at them, too focused on reaching the big metal gazebo that stood in the gardens.


In spring and summer, students would almost fight to get a spot in this gazebo as it provided shadow from the climbing vines that surrounded the metal frame. In winter it was a very sad view from the outside, but it still kept whatever was happening inside the gazebo hidden from plain sight.


She climbed the few stairs and smiled when she found Damian Desmond sitting on the bench, reading a book. He looked up when he heard her and smiled back.


“It’s freezing!” She exclaimed, hurrying next to him.


The gazebo seemed to have trapped last night’s cold and humidity. Even with her thick winter coat and her Imperial Scholar cape, she could feel it sink into her bones.


“How long have you been waiting here?” she asked.


“Long enough to know we are in serious need of those,” Damian answered, handing her a cup of warm hot cocoa.


“Oh! Perfect!” she said, grabbing it and using the cup to warm her hands.


She opened the lid and gasped when she saw a few marshmallows floating there. She kicked her legs in the air excitedly, making Damian’s smile widen.


He brought his own cup, of coffee, to his lips, taking a sip, without ever taking his eyes off her.


“You look cheerful,” he commented.


“How can I not when I have received such a wonderful offering for my efforts to come here an hour before the beginning of classes!”


But her joyful expression dimmed a little. Damian immediately worried.


“What is it? Did you have trouble coming here without the bus?”


“No… it’s just… I think my parents are starting to suspect something…” Anya admitted.




Although their relationship had evolved, they hadn’t quite put a label on it yet. They were together, but what should they tell their families? That they were courting, as the Desmond family would expect of Damian? That they were a couple already?


Eden was really strict on relationships, not only because it was an elite academy, but also because most of their students came from wealthy, powerful and influential families that were, quite frankly, a little old-fashioned. It didn’t forbid courting or dating, but it was an unspoken rule that any couple that formed during the time at the academy ought to be serious enough that an engagement would follow a few years after graduation. Some of the famous and successful graduates were couples that had formed there. More importantly, any show of affection was strictly forbidden. Any professor catching students being intimate would not hesitate to give warnings and Tonitrus bolts – although they had been relaxing enough to let couples hold hands and kiss (on the cheek). It made relationship a hardship that wasn’t truly worth it. Most Eden relationships were encouraged by the families first, then the gentleman would court the lady, and then the relationship would be officialised by the respective families who would have had an earlier agreement.


Anya and Damian had forgone all these steps.


Demetrius’ reaction would probably be a disaster and Damian hadn’t had the courage to tell him anything. Anya believed that her parents would be encouraging, albeit a little awkward because he was a Desmond and their hands weren’t exactly cleaned when it came to Donovan’s downfall…


And just thinking of it made Anya feel a heavy weight settle on her chest. She had let her feelings take over and she was happy every moment she spent with Damian, but when she wasn’t with him, all she could see was the bloody body of his father at her feet. How could she date him, how could she openly love him when… she had had such a pivotal role in his father’s death? How could she ever reveal him she had played a part in it? That she could read minds?


“Hey,” Damian said, taking her hand in his when he noticed the shadows on her face.


He was wearing gloves, which made his large hand even warmer than expected. Anya squeezed his hand back, looking up.


“It’ll be alright. We’ll figure it out.” He said with a confident look on his face, “I… thought about it and… I’ll think I’ll tell my brother and mother the next time I see them. About us.”


“R-really?” Anya hesitated, “But… you were so worried…?”


It had only been a week since they had kissed. Only their close friends knew about them, most of their classroom suspected it, but both Anya and Damian had carefully distracted them. The next time Damian would see his family would be during the winter break, which was coming in just two weeks. It was a really big step, coming really quickly.


I can’t let her know how scared I am. Demetrius will not be happy, but he won’t react badly… The other day, mother asked about Anya over the phone… She might be easier to convince… If I talk to mother first, then Demetrius, perhaps it’ll be alright…


Anya squeezed his hand once more, her own heart warming up to know that he was so bravely trying to put up a strong face in front of her. He didn’t want her to worry. He had no idea she was aware of everything that went through his head.


“It’ll be fine,” Damian said, raising his chin, “After all, even if Demetrius is the head of the family now, it’s not like he can disown me.”


But Anya knew it was what he feared most. To lose everything.


“If your brother disowns you, I’ll personally go give him one of my best punches,” Anya said.


Damian chuckled, looking back at her. His shoulder dropped a little. It made Anya smile again.


“In that case, he’ll definitely disown me for good.” He continued, but his voice was light enough for it to be a joke.


“Then you’ll just have to stay with me! I don’t care about your name or money, anyway!”


One of the many things he had always loved about her.


Damian leaned over, brushing his lips against her forehead. It surprised Anya enough that she startled.


“You have no idea how grateful I am that you… don’t see anything else but me,” he said in a voice shaky from unexpected emotions.


Anya took one marshmallow from her cup and dropped it in his. He opened his lips to complain but she leaned against his side and kissed his cheek. It stopped him completely. Their cheeks flushed, not from the cold this time.


“Thank you for the hot cocoa, and the marshmallows. I appreciate your gratefulness.”


“I, um, yes, well. Mmm…”


He glanced at her, a little sheepishly.


“I could show you my gratefulness in other ways, you just have to ask.”


“Why ask when I know you can’t resist?” she murmured cheekily.


The redness in his cheeks intensified. They stared at each other, challenge sparkled between them. Damian frowned, Anya smirked.


She won.


He went down, eagerly kissing her lips. She chuckled into his mouth before leaning against him. They put down their warm cups of drinks, hands still holding, and focused on kissing and only kissing. Anya’s free hand went up to his cheek, but Damian pulled away suddenly.


“Your hands are still so cold, what did you do with your gloves?” he grumbled.


“I forgot them. I had to get away from my parents before they’d figure out everything,” Anya answered.


“You klutz,” he continued, taking off his gloves.


He forced them on her hands, even though they were far too big, but they were warm. He enthusiastically rubbed her tiny gloved hands, trying to warm them as much as possible.


“That’s very sweet, thank you, but I don’t think we will be very inconspicuous if I show up at class wearing your gloves…”


“Mm, mmm. Is this better?” he asked instead, ignoring her remark.


She grinned and took his face in her hands. She felt a little clumsy with these big gloves, and she regretted not feeling the touch of his skin, but at least he wasn’t jumping away from her because her hands were too cold. She didn’t want him so far away, she wanted him kissing her some more.


She pulled him down, their lips meeting. He tasted of coffee. She believed she must have been tasting of chocolate. It must have been tantalizing enough because Damian slipped his tongue between her lips. She melted, almost too warm now.


It was incredible how good they had become at kissing, after only a week. They had had a lot of practice, after all.




Anya and Damian moved away, blushing, and panicked. They whipped towards the sound of the voice and froze when they saw Bill Watkins standing there.


He was wearing his sports outfit and he was a little sweaty.


Bill saw red. He frowned, immediately ready to charge.


Oh crap


“What are you doing to her, Desmond?!” Bill exclaimed, taking a few menacing steps even though he was almost as tall as the gazebo.


“W-wait, Bill!” Damian started, raising his hands to pacify the giant.


“It is unacceptable that you would attack such an innocent young woman in such mannerless regard–”


“BILL! Wait!!” Anya exclaimed.


Bill grabbed Damian by the collar, forcing him on his feet. He gasped, grabbing the muscled wrists.


How can he have such massive hands?! He’s going to turn me into a pulp with a single squeeze!


Anya intervened, jumping between the two of them, raising her hands.


“Stop it! Stop, Bill!!”


“He had his hands all over you, the scoundrel! I will denounce him to the headmaster!”


“No, no, no!”


“We’re together! Damiana and I are together!!” Anya screamed.


That didn’t stop Bill who kept glaring at Damian, whose life was flashing in front of his eyes.


“He must have persuaded you with his vile money and–”


I kissed him! I’m the one who kissed him because I’m in love with him!!” Anya exclaimed, holding onto Bill’s arm for dear life.


Bill froze, eyes widening. He blinked, looking down at her.


She finally managed to gather enough strength to pull Bill’s arm away from Damian’s far-too-tight collar. The latter stumbled away, panting.


Anya kept her hold onto the large man’s arm, not trusting him not to go berserk again.


“You’re… in love with him?” Bill repeated, stunned.


“I was surprised too,” Damian whizzed.


Bill glared at him, but Anya jumped in between the two.


“Please, don’t hurt him!” Anya continued.


“…You’re in love with him?”


But I thought she liked me? She smiled to me? So often? We were meant to be? We were… perfect for each other? I was a perfect gentleman? Why did she choose the one who insults and berates her on a daily basis?


His confusion was endearing, and Anya realised for the first time that Bill had genuinely liked her. It wasn’t just a silly infatuation because she had been beating him so often.


Anya stared at Bill, a knot in her throat. She threw her arms to the sides.


“I am! As surprising as it is, he’s… he’s the one that I fell in love with. Years ago. You never had a chance, Bill…”


He stared at here, blue eyes shining fiercely. He tightened his lips.


“I’m sorry…” Anya added.


Damian finally straightened up, glancing between the two. He had been jealous, he was angry that Bill had even thought possible that Anya could ever like him but… it wasn’t a discussion he was meant to participate in. He swallowed back his bitter remarks and remained one step behind, arms crossed over his chest.


“…I’m the one who is sorry.” Bill admitted, looking down, “If I had known, I would have never caused you so much trouble…”


“It was no trouble at all,” Anya replied, finally relaxing.


“Umpf!” Damian scoffed, rolling his eyes behind her but she ignored him.


Bill glared at him. Damian didn’t back down, sending the glare back tenfold.


“How long?” Bill asked between gritted teeth, “How long have you been fooling me?”


The anger and the hurt were too familiar to Damian and he relaxed a little.


“Calm down, it’s only been for less than a week. No one else knows yet.”


Except Emile and Ewen who didn’t shut up about it the other day, and Blackbell is too nosy not to know, and she’s Anya’s best friend, he added in his mind.


But the half-lie seemed to appease Bill a little. His shoulders dropped and he looked disheartened, disappointed.


“I see.”


Anya hesitated, then took a step forward:


“I really like you, Bill,” she started which made Damian startle, ready to open his mouth to express his possessiveness, but once again she ignored him, “But only as a friend. I never considered you as anything else but a friend. I’m sorry if… I made you think otherwise.”


“…I see.”


He looked down and tightened his fists. Anya opened her lips to apologise again but Damian had had enough. He stepped forward and draped one around her shoulders. She looked up, blushing, as his hand tightened on her shoulder.


“I know you are feeling hurt and betrayed, but don’t make the mistake of telling anyone about Anya and I. You never saw us kissing here. And you never attacked me. Understood?” he said in a harsher voice than needed.


Anya glanced back towards Bill who sent a death glare at Damian, but she knew it was the prideful tone used more than the words that had hurt him.


“…Understood. I won’t say anything about you two, for Anya’s sake.”


And he turned away, running to the dorms to take a shower and get changed. And recover from his unexpected heartbreak.


Anya let out a heavy breath.


“Well… that turned out better than expected.”


“Talk for yourself,” Damian muttered, pulling at his tie.


“…Wait until my parents find out… It’s going to be way worse.” Anya answered, suddenly worried.


Damian blanched. He looked over to the academy buildings. More and more students could be seen arriving. He checked his watch.


“…Let’s finish our drinks before they freeze.”


He sat back down, gulping down his coffee quickly. Anya joined him but the sweet mood was gone, replaced by worry.


If Watkins knows, he risks telling people. Worse, he might tell his family. They’re too close to mine and my brother will know in less than a day. I’ll have to talk again to Watkins before the end of the day. I’ll order some flowers for his family as apology. Damn, we can’t take too many risks, this place is too open after all… Maybe a secondary library would be better? But with the exams, it’ll be too crowded and will make it impossible to meet…


Anya watched her two marshmallows that were floating in a half-cold cocoa. They looked sad, now.


Damian’s biggest worry was losing his family. But hers was losing him if he ever found out the truth about his father’s death. How could she ever tell him the truth?