Love Story — Sal’s Version

I came into the room to find Lori digging through her clothes trying to find something she wanted to wear to the play we were getting ready to go to. I wish I could be that pretty, I thought staring at my best friend’s lovely body. I always tell her she’s pretty, and she’s always so quick to tell me I am too, but I know she’s just being sweet – well, Niam seems to think I am too. They’re both crazy, I concluded as these thoughts passed my mind.

It took Lori a few moments to realise I was there but when she did she gave me the greatest shock of my life as she said, “Kaularnè” and wrapped her slender arms around me and kissed me. The hug and kiss were normal enough, we’ve said hello that way since we were tiny, but this was a closer hug, a longer, deeper kiss – and above all she hadn’t said the friendly ‘kautarsè’. My Xentoran wasn’t exactly perfect, but I knew that what she’d said was a greeting between lovers of some kind.

I could feel a blush starting and knew I must’ve been blue to the points of my ears. “Kaularnè?” I asked praying I wouldn’t embarrass her more than she obviously had done to herself already, but I had to know. I felt ill as I realised that, now I’d acknowledged her word, I had no choice but to ask the next question no matter how terrified I was to hear the answer, even if I didn’t know what I was afraid of. “D-Do you really feel that way, Lori?”

I squeezed her hands a bit tighter than I meant to in my nervousness, but I didn’t notice as I tried to look deep into both of her eyes at once. I have no idea, now, what I hoped she’d say next. I have no idea what it was I wanted, nor what I was so afraid of, but what she said next surprised me more than anything that she’s ever said since, and certainly more than she ever had said before.

“Yes,” she answered softly looking me deep in my eyes. Her own eyes were shining a gorgeous shade of amethyst as she said the next words, the words that would change my life forever, “You’ve always been my dearest love, my seireau, you know that … but one day I realised I felt more. I wanted nothing more than to call you laeryí, my dearest lover, my soul,” then she began to cry. I was in shock far too deep to cry. That she’d fallen in love with me, I half-way expected. The other half of me expected her to say she’d not been thinking clearly and said the wrong thing – or mistook me for her latest boyfriend, or girlfriend … I’d never, for even a moment, thought that she felt like that toward me. I was stunned – I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do anything as my hearts started sending messages to my brain I love you too, Lori. I always have – I didn’t know it, but I have. But I couldn’t say it. I couldn’t speak.

Lori went on speaking, went on crying while I stood there like some kind of surprised statue, “I haven’t said anything. All this time, I’ve just used those feelings to cement the depth of our friendship because I’ve never felt love from you other than the kind you feel for Sarah, or Claxxy. I couldn’t bear the thought of making you unhappy. You’re so sweet and sensitive I was afraid that if you know how I feel how I love you you’d be devastated, eaten up inside by the fact you don’t feel the same way. I could never do that, I’d die a thousand times in every horrible way before I’d see you hurt in any way – especially by anything I might do.”

I nearly fainted. That’s when I started breathing again. I felt her grip suddenly tighten as my own fingers went slack. I couldn’t imagine why, but she was crying even harder. Very slowly her words found their way into my brain and … I couldn’t believe them. How could she think that loving me would ever hurt me? How I could ever do anything but love her back? And the thing I began to realise – I did love her back. I realised, then, why she was crying – she was terrified. She really thought I’d be upset by her loving me. She’d kept it to herself all this time because the last thing in the world she’d want is to hurt me and she had convinced herself that this would do exactly that. Instead of lying, or … She told me everything, even though she felt it would mean losing me forever.

I didn’t think, I couldn’t. My mind was a blur, all I had left was feeling. All I had left was how very much I loved this beautiful crying creature before me and how much I wanted to tell her that she had no reason to cry, that I would be hers for as long as she’d have me and gladly. I leaned forward and with my lips just barely touching hers, or maybe they weren’t and I was just close enough to feel the heat of them, I couldn’t tell. I just prayed to my ancestors for guidance and they responded by helping me find enough breath and enough voice to whisper “Kaularnè si à laeryí qashirè níå fathyro,” and meant it more than I’ve ever meant anything else in my life as I closed the gap and kissed Lorixa, my love, with all the passion and emotion my Kivanian hearts could produce. I felt lightheaded with the rush of blood as both hearts began to race. The kiss didn’t really last very long, a mere eternity or two and according to the clock not even a full saen.

I’m not sure when or how it’d happened, but when the kiss broke we were sitting on the edge of her bed, she was in my lap and I held her close. I held her and felt warmth flow through me like I’d never felt before, I was in love and there was no doubt in my mind that this girl was someone I would spend every moment till the end of time with if the gods would be so generous – that I’d spent ten years with her as my friend, and these moments with her as my love was more generosity than I could ever hope to repay and far more than I could believe I’d ever earned.

Finally I gave her a hug and, having calmed down enough to remember how to speak I said, “Darling, silly, Lorixa … I love you. You’re a damned fool at times and I love you the more for it since it keeps life interesting. I could never love you less or differently than you would have me love you. I would have gladly lived my life never more than your seireau, and I’m honoured and thrilled beyond words that you would call me laeryí. Love is when another’s happiness, hopes, dreams, and feelings are the most important things in all the universe. My love, if it would make you smile that I be yours – and if that meant you had to be mine as well then, darling, that is an offer I’d be the biggest idiot on the planet to refuse. Nothing could make me happier than to call you laeryí, and mean it with every fabric of my being; and by all my ancestors, I do.”

After that we kissed again. I don’t know who started it and we’ve never cared. We never did go to see that play. We made love, so sweetly, so passionately, so… we stopped being. We were each other, we were one, we were nothing but emotion no more flesh and blood. I fell asleep in her arms after what must have been nulaire of the greatest happiness I’d ever known.

Around the middle of the next day I woke up briefly to find Lori looking at me with tears in her eyes.

“Was it so bad?” I asked her, teasing.

She smiled, laughed, and kissed my lips saying “It was that wonderful.”

I smiled as I felt a blush creep up my face and I snuggled back against her and fell asleep simply thinking how wonderful it was going to be to wake up and fall asleep with her in my arms for the rest of my life.