How long had he been watching? He remembered her as a child, a tiny thing almost lost in the drifts in which she played. Her giggles echoing across the distance like crystal bells on a frosty morning. He had looked on as she grew and changed, becoming her own person, confident in herself and her abilities.
It was with a bitter smile that he moved to his usual place beneath a towering pine. The lower branches touching the ground, keeping the space beneath free from snow. A deep layer of needles forming a soft cushion on which to sit. There were times when this place seemed more home to him than his own rooms, the scent of pine and cool winter air mixing with memories of cold stone, cotton, and wool.
He adjusted his cloak and settled against the trunk, letting his thoughts float free.He didn’t realize he had drifted off until the sound of a footstep startled him awake. He reached for his knife knowing it was already too late.
“It isn’t there,” said a soft, feminine voice.
He opened his eyes to find himself looking into blue eyes as hard and cold as ice.
The word slipped from his lips before he thought it. If possible, her eyes became harder, colder.
“It seems you have me at a disadvantage.” It was a statement, as flat and metallic as her gaze.
She didn’t know how true her statement was. However, now was not the time or place for her to learn that lesson. The issue now was going to be communication, he had the means to understand her but without a little help she wouldn’t be able to understand him and all he could do was hope she wasn’t skittish or their first face to face meeting wouldn’t end very well. He slowly opened his arms away from his body and then pointed toward his ear with one hand.
A scowl crossed her face, turning her lips downward.
He repeated the gesture, bringing his hand closer to his ear. She didn’t relax in the least, backing up a few steps, his own knife held steady in her hand. Again he reached up and touched a loop clipped to the outside of his ear. He raised a questioning brow.
She never wavered, simply giving him a single, tense nod.
He slipped the ring from his ear and extended his hand toward her. Not taking her eyes from his, she reached out and took it then slipped it onto her own ear.
“Can you understand me?” He asked and watched her eyes widen slightly, though it was the only sign of her surprise.
“Good,” he said, relaxing a little. It was a beginning.