>> Friday, January 23, 2009
Amberle had just built up the campfire and sat down in front of it when out of the darkness, Ash Stratton appeared. The light from the fire lit up his pale face as he came within the ring of its warmth. "This seat taken?"
"No; please." Amberle gestured to the sand next to her with a smile. Although she hadn't seen him since long before the Great Move, Amberle's memories of Ash were fond ones. He had been the first person to welcome her when she had first moved out on her own which meant he was also the first (other than the woman she had called "mother") to be truly kind to her. It was not something she was likely to forget.
"Where is your wife?" Amberle said as she absentmindedly itched at her sun burned skin.
"At home with the kids-- er, well I mean the girls. They aren't exactly kids anymore, and so they didn't want to come. Said something about us embarrassing them. Aurora stayed behind to keep an eye on them."
Amberle smiled at him, but the mention of his wife and children brought up a twinge of jealousy that surprised her. Had she known she would have that reaction, she would not have brought the subject up.
Ash didn't help when he said, "So are you married yet?" He smiled at his joke without realizing just how cruel it was.
"Well, no. Dating is... still very awkward."
He waved his hand, his smile gone now. "Don't feel bad. It's always awkward. If it isn't, then you've either found your perfect mate or you've found someone too practiced."
They sat quietly for a while with the fire crackling at their feet. Amberle could almost imagine it telling her a story in an attempt to comfort her in her loneliness. None of that would be necessary, she thought towards the fire, if he hadn't shown up.
Perhaps it was partially her fault as well; she should have known better than to come back. She remembered his words, harshly spoken in her memory. "We're not worried about the Sims, we're more worried about your return," he had said. She wasn't sure if he was honestly worried about the Sims knowing the location of the elves or if he was only taking a dig at her famously (and very un-elven like) bad luck.
Of course he had also mentioned the council. "You know the Council needs to approve of the settlement here." What would they do if they didn't approve? Amberle's experience with "her people" (if she could really count herself among them) had been limited, but she knew of the council. They made tough decisions and then had others carry them out. She was not sure what they were capable of doing because what was done depended on who was chosen to do it.
Despite the heat from the fire, Amberle shivered. She tried to pull herself back into the present where Ash was asking her if she was ok and others were joining them around the small fire, but she found that she couldn't look them in the eyes while worrying about something she knew that they didn't.
She excused herself and headed up the hill towards the road. Those at the campfire sweetly smiled and bid her good bye as if they had always known her even though she only knew Ash formally. It was a gesture that strengthened her love for the people she called neighbors and made her promise that she would do whatever she could to protect them.