Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a young couple wondering whether to take that first step.
Ashwin and Hazel have known one another since Cradle School. Ash now works for his father Teak, the grumpy charburner. Until very recently he's had no time for courting, although he occasionally sees Hazel and her cousin, Rowan. He is grateful to both girls as they have never given up on him. Rowan is having problems and the slightly-younger Hazel is getting restless. Ash's father, about to re-marry, has got it into his head that Ash ought to court Hazel. Ash goes to visit Hazel. By the way, HAYSACKING is a courting custom in this society.
Hazel said, “If she doesn't remember, you must be unmemorable. Would you think it was a good idea to go haysacking with me?”
“What, now?” Ash asked.
“Not now. Sometime, though.”
Ash grinned with an effort. “I don’t expect so. I’d wake with no ears, because you would have talked them off me. Are you saying you’d like to?”
“After that insult, not in a million summers,” Hazel said, her lips tipping into a genuine smile.
“Now I’m insulted, too,” he responded.
“No doubt. It’s inconvenient, since our fathers have been talking about matching us before next Summerfeste. Just think if we agreed with their plans. You’d be earless, and I’d be forgetting all about your best efforts at lovering…”
Ash groaned, only half in fun, but he liked her now more than he ever had before. “I told Da I’d do my own courting when I was ready. Why’s he got to pick now to get interested in me, after all the years I was nothing to him but a convenient apprentice?”
Hazel pounced on this admission. “So, you did know about their plans. Did you agree with them?”
“I didn’t say no right out.”
She looked at him expectantly. “Why not?”
“Because no is no and can’t be undone.”
“That’s the way I feel. If it’s not no, it’s yes or at least it’s maybe. You’re taking long enough to begin with the courting if it’s yes.” She gave him a saucy kiss on the cheek, and he turned his face to kiss her nose. Hazel giggled, put her arms around his neck, and blew hard into the skin below his jaw. Ash tickled her ribs in retaliation, and they wrestled together like puppies. She smelled of milk and hay with a touch of fine soap.
Sorrel [Hazel's mother] came by to check on the calf and smiled at them indulgently. “You finally have time to visit a maid, Ashwin Coleman, and all you can do is fight with her?”
They broke apart, and Hazel giggled again. “It was in fun, Mam.”
“Hmm. I didn’t think Ashwin had the time for fun.”
“I never did before,” Ash said. He caught Hazel’s arms when she launched at him again, but she was quick as an eel and landed a kiss on his neck. It was a wet one, and he exclaimed in disgust while she and Sorrel laughed at him.
This scene is from Summerfeste, which is upcoming from Devine Destinies. Read about the series at the Garlands of Thorn and May homepage HERE