Morgan only surprised him for a moment, though, before Cefin’s own defenses were up, and he was pushing back. She shut her eyes tight and concentrated. She couldn’t let him in. He couldn’t find out. It would ruin everything, everything would change. She was already mad at herself for letting anything slip at all. She couldn’t let anything else go, not now.
Maybe her desperation weakened her resolve, made her sloppy. Maybe she did underestimate the power of stubborn determination. Maybe in her cockiness and self-assurance she hadn’t realized that Cefin had gotten stronger than her, or was more on his game these days. But Cefin started to win, to beat her. The number of times that had happened could be counted on one hand.
He pushed her back, bit by bit, slowly gaining ground until she began to think that the outcome was inevitable. She opened her eyes again to look at him. His eyes were still their dark brown, but the edges were tinted with the yellow in his magic. He looked so determined when they fought, and she had to wonder if this was really about finding out who she was in love with or just the bragging right of making it a full five times in their lives he’d won. He was beautiful, kind, a good person, and, yes, technically guilty of the high crimes of the kingdom for practicing magic as a boy, but she would never hold that against him. Of course she loved him, and of course he was going to find out. How else had she expected this to play out? She laughed out loud, and he faltered. She regained some ground, but instead of pressing her sudden advantage, she dropped all her defenses, and Cefin’s magic tumbled in. Within seconds, he knew everything.
He blinked twice rapidly and looked at Morgan with only brown eyes. “Mor.”
“Fin.” She was acutely aware of the fact that he was still standing very close to her, their hands still clasped tightly together. They stood close for a moment longer before, like a flash of lightning, Cefin was gone, pacing away from her.
“Fuck.” He balled his hands in his hair, “Fuck, it wasn’t supposed be me. It was supposed to be some low ranking official or someone in your father’s household that I could sit back and hate from a far. I could watch you get married and know that it didn’t much matter that I had never said anything because you loved whoever the fuck it was. Fuck, it wasn’t supposed to be me.” He sent a wave of energy at his earlier practice tree and all the color faded back to its original state in a bright flash of light.
Morgan took a step towards him. “Never said what?” She asked quietly.
“What?” He replied, still looking half mad with one of his hands tangled in his hair.
“You could watch me get married, knowing it didn’t matter that you had never said what?”
“Oh.” Cefin dropped his hands to his side. “Right. I saw you. But—“ Cefin blinked again, and looked at her with yellow eyes, holding out his hand gently to her. She took it and closed her eyes, knowing if she opened them again then they would shine red. But in that second, before she could even open her eyes again, she saw everything too. She saw the way he looked at her. The way that magic had only really become important to him when she showed him what he could really do. She knew that every time he had to meet with the woman his mother wanted him to marry, all he could think about was how he’d rather be out in the woods with Morgan. She knew that more than a dozen dozen times, he wanted to ask her to just run away with him, to leave the kingdom and run away over the mountains to the south, where legend had it that anyone could practice magic and that life wasn’t just about climbing the political ladder, even though he knew she was a princess, and that she’d never go. He’d silently loved her just as long as she’d silently loved him.
And before she knew it, she was kissing him. She didn’t even know if there was red in her eyes anymore, all she could think about was holding him and him holding her, finally, letting both of them be with each other. She couldn’t have stopped even if she thought she might want to.
Thankfully, Cefin managed to keep some of his wits about him. With a literal spark of energy, he pulled himself away from her. Breathing heavily, he stood about a foot away from her, looking more conflicted than Morgan had ever seen him, even more than that time she was trying to talk him into breaking the highest law in the land. When he finally spoke he said, “This doesn’t end well for us.”
“What?” Morgan felt like she was saying that a lot today.
“I’ve known for a very long time that you could possibly be the death of me. You have this amazing level of pull of me and I find it very hard to say no to you. Every time I met here with you I took a risk into my own hand, exposing myself to jail and death. But, if we do this, if we do anything, I’m dragging you down with me. I can’t do that. I can’t be the death of you. It’s too big a risk.”
Morgan didn’t step towards him, but she did hold out her hand. “I started taking risks with you at the age of seven. I broke the rules I was only half aware existed. I’ve broken a whole hell of a lot of rules since. I have literally risked life and limb to make sure that you stay safe and your secret stays protected. I wouldn’t change a second of it. You are the best risk I’ve ever taken, and as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as too big a risk to take with you.” She reached a little further towards him, and without meaning to, sent an arc of yellow light between her pinky and her thumb.
They both watched the light until it faded away. Cefin licked his lips and then nodded. “If we do this, we have to go slowly, and carefully. We have to minimize as much of the danger as possible. We have to be very careful, eliminate all unnecessary risks. Agreed?”
“Cefin, we’ve literally been getting away with treason for a majority of our lives. I think we can handle the little affairs that almost every teenager gets away with.” Morgan laughed. Only Cefin would be more worried about this than that.
Cefin gave her a desperate look. “Please, Mor, don’t make this a joke. Promise me?”
“Sorry, Fin. Of course, we’ll be careful. Of course, we’ll be as safe as we can.”
He nodded and reached out to interlace his finger in her outstretched ones. In spite of themselves, they couldn’t help but wonder if they’d both just signed their death warrants, and they couldn’t decide whether or not they cared.