Ryn and I both sat at the top of the hill, leaning up against a large oak. It was rewarding to finally rest my tired bones. We had trekked across all four Regions for so long, and now we could finally rest.

A soft breeze blew over the hill, rustling through the lush grass and up through the delicate leaves of the oak. The sun was beginning to set, leaving a golden glow on the entire field. In the distance, below the hill, I could see the village of Tavan, Ryn’s hometown.

The small cottages and cabbage gardens were a pleasant sight, much more pleasant in contrast to well—everything during the war. But sometimes I wondered if being close to home was more painful to Ryn then it was healing.

I looked to Ryn. She was looking into the distance calmly, but there was a tiredness in her eyes. The wind blew through her wild, frizzy curls, covering parts of her face. Ever since we had left the North, they had begun to lose their golden color, but I liked it better that way. Suddenly I could feel a deep, sickening feeling in my gut, like something was poisoning me from the inside out.

I would miss her so much.

We had been through everything. We had been through a war together, just to separate? What would I do without her?

I noticed Ryn was looking up at me now, smiling painfully. Her voice, which was always louder then what I thought it should be, overcame the whispers of the wind. “It’s going to be so dull without you here.”

Her accent seemed to be crisper here. Maybe it was the fact that this was where she belonged.

I stared at her. It was all I could do to keep myself from feeling even more sick.

“Ah—you’ll find trouble to get into soon enough. I’m sure of it.” I croaked.

Ryn smiled wider so that her teeth showed. “I’ll have no one to get me out of it.”

“You’ll have your sister.”

Ryn’s mouth tightened, like she had tasted something sour. She paused awhile before saying, “I don’t even recognize her.”

“Well, that’s what happens when you haven’t seen someone in ten years.”

She nodded slightly. “Sometimes I wish I had never left this place. But it’s good to be back”



Just like I’m leaving her_._



_I’m leaving her._

And she’ll never know how much I love her.

She looked up, her eyes hesitant. “Just—don’t do anything stupid without me when you’re back in the North. Strategists are mighty important.”

I nodded.

We both looked forward again.

Two children were running in the field below us. They were giggling innocently, chasing each other over the rough landscape with dirt clumps and clovers. I couldn’t help seeing Ryn and me in them.

“Willis, do you think…do you think we were in love?”

The question hung in the air, her clouded eyes full of question. The statement caught me off guard. It felt like someone had just ripped open my chest, peeled out my ribcage, grabbed my heart and clenched it.

*Were* was a special word. Like we *were* in love and hadn’t even noticed. Like it was too late to save the relationship we might have had.

I replayed the countless times we fell into each other’s arms, giddy, joyful. I remembered how many times Ryn got us into trouble and how I was always the one to get us out. I recalled the many times we had fought, argued, only to forgive each other again.

I remembered when Ryn let her outer appearance, a frisky, no good thief fade, showing me who she truly was—a thoughtful, loyal, courageous, beautiful girl who promised me she’d fight death itself if it meant seeing me smile again.

Ryn was the type who would burn her fingers for the privilege of playing with fire.

“I think so.” I said quietly.

Ryn sighed, glancing up from the grass beneath her. “It’s too late though, isn’t it.”

I thought on that carefully.

Ryn was going to Fallon, Capital of the West to be the First Mate on Captain Arckon’s ship. She was finally going to fulfill her dreams of conquering the great waters, of capturing great beasts, and succeeding in battles that would go down in the books.

As for me, I was going to return to the North. My aunt, Queen Tassandra promised me rewards and an honorable position in her Strategy Court as a Prince of the North. I was finally going to be able to connect with the people of Etlenta, to heal the hearts of the people who had been so long abused. To prepare a way that would keep Etlenta and the entire North from ever falling into the hands of darkness again.

Our paths would not cross. Ever.

But it was where we belonged.

The sky was a beautiful pink and purple now, shades of vibrant oranges and yellows covering the village below us. I remembered what Emerson Fawnwood had said that day about goodbyes.

“It is difficult to say goodbye to someone we’ve known and shared our souls with our entire lives. But when the time comes, we Westerns seal our goodbyes with an embrace, a valedictory to love, a goodbye to a part of us that we will never be given back.”

And as I left that next morning, my clothes freshly washed, my horse prepared to take me all the way across to the North, I held onto Ryn like it was the only thing I had left to hold onto.

The morning air was crisp and bright—too beautiful for such a painful day. As I walked away down the dirt road by the sea, I tried to keep my gaze on her for as long as I could. To keep her in my memories, glowing angelically, wild hair in front of her face, wind so constant she didn’t even try to tuck it behind her ears. She didn’t bother to wave. Just stared, hands crossed in front of her body, wind whipping at the edges of her clothes. I wanted to remember her like that forever.

Every cell in my body seemed to scream, claw, _wait, wait._ I ignored the blaring sirens in my mind. A force tried to push me back toward her like gravity, but I pressed against it as I walked along the gravel road towards my awaiting horse and my awaiting future that would take me mountains away from her.

I’m moving on.



in case you didn’t notice, Ryn is the same gal from The Day She Stopped Waiting. Yep, after her mom died her life kinda went kerplunk. But there’s a happy (ish?) ending. Anyways, this story has been living in my head for years. I love writing out little scenes like this :).

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