Chapter 2

Eve's mind drifted as she stared into the crackling fire. She felt so safe and warm lying here in Varia's nothing in the world could ever come close to hurting her again. "Everyone should have a chance to feel like this." she whispered softly to no one in particular.

"Huh?" replied Varia, turning her head to face her lover.

Eve sighed and burrowed deeper into the queen's shoulder. "Oh nothing...I was just thinking out loud I guess."

"Oh you were, were you?" Varia chuckled softly. "Somehow I am believing there is more to that thought than just thinking it out loud."

"Maybe there is..."

A groan.

Eve smiled. "Don't do that. I hate it when you get pessimistic about my ideas before I even tell them to you."

"Well, maybe it's your track record dear. It sort of speaks for itself. Ooof!" Varia grunted as she caught the receiving end of a playful elbow to her side. "Ok, ok. Let's hear it."

"Stop rolling your eyes and I'll think about it." replied Eve and Varia chuckled at having been caught in her infamous impatient mannerism. "What did you notice when we visited Rose this morning?"

Varia thought for a moment. "Notice? Hmmmm, nothing out of the ordinary, why?"

"That's exactly my point. Every time we have been to visit her it's always been the same. Nothing ever changes with her. Work work work work and more work. She never does anything BUT work!" A pause as she let this information sink into her partner's brain. "So I did a little investigative work while you were running sword drills today..."

"What kind of 'investigative work'?"

"Well..." replied Eve, snuggling closer. "It seems she has been living completely alone for about six winters now."

"Yes, since her betrothed left her and the tribe." replied the queen with a slight frown.

"No one should have to live like that sweetheart."

Varia cringed, knowing what was coming next. "And let me guess, you're planning to do something about this right?"

"I was hoping you would help me out."

The queen laughed heartily. "ME? Darling, you know how I feel about meddling in other people's lives."

Eve frowned just a little bit. "It's not meddling! All I want to do is sorta give her a little push in a different, hopefully happier direction."

"And just how do you plan on doing that?" replied Varia, a tad interested now. After all, Rose was a dear friend and she really couldn't find a reason to not want see her happy if it was possible.

"I was thinking maybe we could introduce her to some new friends. Some of the single ones. What do you think?"

Varia scrunched her eyebrows as if in deep thought. "Possibly. What about Sarina? I mean, the daughter of a goddess should be at least mildly interesting to Rose. I know she likes smart gals, and Sarina is one of the smartest I know."

Eve tapped her fingers on Varia's chest as she thought about the match. "I think that's a very good place to start. Long blonde hair, awesome green eyes, killer smile and a body to die for. If Rose can't get interested in THAT, then there really is no hope for her whatsoever. Ok, I'll take a ride home tomorrow and invite her up here to help me prepare."

"I hope this works Eve. I really would like to see her happy."

"Me too." replied the slim brunette. "But for the moment I would like to see you happy."

"But I'm already happy." said Varia, giving her lover a squeeze.

Eve's face suddenly sprouted a very wicked grin as she propped herself up on one elbow to look into the queen's eyes. "Not quite the kind of happy I was referring to...I was thinking something along these lines..." Varia's breath caught as hot, soft lips firmly attached themselves to the hollow of her neck. She gulped. "Gods Eve...." The lips slowly moved along the curve of her jaw and up the opposite side to her other ear. "Are you happy now?" was whispered softly into that ear. Varia smiled. "Oh no....I'm soooooo unhappy."

"Guess I'll have to change that grim outlook then, won't I?" said Eve softly.

"I'm counting on it." replied Varia with a smile. "Definitely counting on that."


"So tell me again why you need me to come with you my Princess?" inquired Sarina as they neared the border to Varia's village.

Eve gave the weaponmaster a wry look before replying. "Because you are the only one I trust to sweat the details my friend." She sighed quietly. "Anyone else I have given important tasks to has failed miserably, and it's starting to tick me off!"

"I see." replied the blonde.

"And aside from that..." the princess reached over and patted her friend's shoulder. "I miss you!" She that was returned in like. She took on a pensive look for a moment before speaking again. "We're going to be putting you up at the blacksmith's hut for the next week. It's far away from the hustle and bustle of the village. I thought you might like the chance at some peace and quiet for a change."

"So nice of you to be thinking of my state of mind during your wedding preparations." the weaponmaster chuckled. "That's great though, it could be like a mini vacation."


"So your smith doesn't mind then?" asked Sarina.

Eve's face scrunched up. "Wellllll, I sort of still have to tell her." She cringed.

"WHAT?!?" Sarina's face could not hide her suprise. "You mean we're just going to ride up and spring it on her?" The princess shook her head up and down. "By the gods woman, have you no tact?"

The brunette chuckled softly. "I really have no choice Sar! If I ask her, she'll just say no. Do you remember how Pony used to be when you were young?"

"You mean all stoic and that? Yeah..."

"Well Rose is sorta like that, so when dealing with her you need to just dump it in her lap and let her deal with it right then and there. It's really the only way." Eve swallowed nervously.

"Oh this is just peachy!" quipped the weaponmaster. "Suprise a stoic, grumpy mean person and then spring it on them that someone is invading their privacy for a week. Lovely. She's going to hate me Eve!" Sarina frowned. "Thanks EVER so much...I'll remember this one." She kicked her horse into a gallop and shot off ahead down the trail.

"That's what I'm hoping for my dear." Said the princess to no one but herself. "Well at least she didn't turn her horse around and head home hehe..."


It was about mid afternoon and Rose was out in her workshop making new shoes for the horses in the 1st Scouting Patrol. She heard the hoofbeats coming up the path and put her hammer down. She quickly grabbed a clean cloth, wiped the sweat from her face and headed out front to greet her visitors.

Princess Eve was the first one to round the bend, followed by some strange amazon she had never met before. As they pulled their mounts up short, Rose noticed the weaponmaster's adornment on the blonde's left shoulder. 'Must be from her home village' she thought. She watched quietly as they tethered their horses and walked over to her.

"Hail Rose!" Eve extended her arm as she reached the smith.

"Greetings Princess." replied Rose, extending her arm as well. "What service can I provide for ya this fine day?" Her gaze traveled to the other rider. "And who's yer friend?"

Eve grinned. "This is Sarina, weaponmaster in my mother's tribe. She's here to help me get everything in order for the joining ceremony."

The blonde bowed and held out her arm to the smith. Rose smiled and went to take the offered greeting...

"She'll be staying with you until we leave for Arboria."

Rose drew her hand back as if it had just been burned. "WHAT?!?" The smith glared at her angrily. "You KNOW I don't like company my princess!" She spared a glance at the newcomer. "Nothing personal."

The princess frowned. "Excuse us for a minute Sar, but Rose and I need to have a little chat. We'll just be a moment." Eve took the smith by the elbow and guided her a few paces away.

Sarina cast an annoyed glance at her princess as they stepped away. Oh this was not going well at all. She stood quietly, drawing designs in the dirt with the toe of her boot while Eve and Rose spoke to each other, or rather while the smith admonished the princess. She took this opportunity to size up her hostess. 'Great hair, great eyes, great body...but oh that attitude needs a little work I must admit.' At that moment they seemed to reach some sort of agreement. Finally.

Rose took a step toward the weaponmaster and extended her arm once more. "My apologies. Please be welcome in my home."

Sarina reached out and took the arm, and this time it wasn't snatched back. "Thank you." She smiled warmly. "I promise I won't be any trouble at all...I can cook too!"

"Well then, I suggest ya get moving cuz supper is drawing near." Rose pointed at the forest.

The weaponmaster glared at her princess, grabbed her bow and headed off into the foliage.

Eve narrowed her eyes as she addressed the smith. "Now Rose, that was so uncalled for."

"Twas just wanting to make her feel needed my princess." And with a sly grin and a flip of her dark curls, she turned and strode off in the direction from whence she had come.

Now it was Eve's turn to roll her eyes. Chuckling, she mounted her horse and headed towards the village to find Varia.


A candlemark later found Sarina trudging back though the forest to Rose's hut, two plump rabbits thrown over her shoulder and some fresh raspberries in her belt pouch. She entered the clearing behind the small barn and cast her eyes around the perimeter for her hostess.


She followed the sound of the hammer striking the anvil. Rounding one corner of the barn, she stopped short as she spied Rose at work in her shop. 'Whoa!' Her eyes widened at the sight before her, and she backed up a few paces so she was peering out from behind the corner of the building. She watched in wonder as the smith worked...the muscles in her tanned arms tensing and moving as the hammer rose and fell methodically. Sure, she had seen other smiths craft their wares, but this was somehow different. There was something unbelievably sexy in the way her sweat soaked leathers clung to her, the way her hair was blowing in the soft breeze....

"So are ya just gonna stand there and ogle, or did ya catch us something edible?" inquired the smith without a pause in her task at hand.

Poor Sarina was caught totally offguard and sheepishly stepped out from behind the corner of the barn. She cleared her throat as she reached the smith. "Ummm...yes. Two nice rabbits in fact." She stopped and stood next to Rose, opened her belt pouch and pulled out some of the berries. "And I found these. Thought they would be nice for a bit of dessert."

Rose grunted as the hammer came down again. She stopped, set it down next to her, pulled out a fresh cloth and wiped her brow as she casually turned to see what Sarina had in her hand. "I'll be done here in about a half candlemark. Best ya get started with supper then." She turned back to her anvil, grabbed her hammer and picked up where she had left off.

The shy smile Sarina had been unknowingly sporting dissipated into nothingness as she realized the smith didn't really care about her berry suprise. Completely deflated, she turned and strode off to get the cooking fire started. So engrossed in her hurt feelings was she, that she didn't notice the smith turn around and watch her walk away.


Dinner was eaten in near silence...the weaponmaster afraid to talk, and the smith not really wanting to anyways. Sarina stood up, walked over to the smith and picked up the dirty plate and utensils. "I'll just go clean these now." Rose nodded.

It wasn't that Rose hadn't noticed how beautiful her houseguest was, because she had. But past experiences were not allowing her to put much stock into this attraction she was feeling. First of all, she was a bit suprised she was feeling anything at all. She hadn't in so long! Her eyes wandered over to the stream and found the blonde as she washed the dishes off. She marveled at the way the woman's blonde curls fell onto her shoulder, the way they framed her face. Her deep green eyes were so captivating that Rose had caught herself staring into them twice now. Rose shook her head and looked away. Remembering what had happened the last time she looked at a woman like that brought her back in line with the indifferent woman she had become in recent years. She did not have the time nor the energy to deal with affairs of the heart anymore. It was all just too painful in the end...wasn't it?

She was startled out of her musings by the sound of the blonde's voice from behind her. "Dinar for your thoughts." chuckled the weaponmaster as she passed by the smith with the clean dishes. Rose scowled.

Dishes put away, Sarina grabbed two mugs and returned to the fire. Pulling out her pack, she rummaged inside until she found a small pouch. Opening it, she poured half the contents into one mug, half into the other, grabbed the hot water pot from the fire and filled the mugs nearly to the brims. She swirled the contents around for a few moments before handing one to the smith.

"What's this?" asked Rose as she reached for the mug. Putting it under her nose, she sniffed it. "It smells funny."

The weaponmaster smiled. "Just something I picked up in Athens. Go ahead...try it. I guarantee you'll like it."

Rose eyed the cup suspiciously then cast a wary eye on the blonde. "How do I know you ain't tryin to poison me or something?" She eyed the cup again.

Sarina chuckled heartily. "Oh yes...I came all the way here to kill a person I've never even met before. That makes such perfect sense." She pointed to the mug Rose was still holding a safe distance away from her body. "Will you just try it please?"

The smith tentatively brought the mug to her lips and carefully sipped just the teeniest bit of the liquid. Her eyebrows shot up. It was sweet and smooth, and when she swallowed it felt nice and warm all the way down. She looked to the blonde again. "What is this?"

"They call it chocolate. I take it you've never had it before?"

Rose felt suddenly embarassed by her lack of knowledge and hung her head. "No." She sipped more of the dark liquid.

"Well then I'm glad I brought it with me." Sarina smiled. "You know, they say that when someone shares their chocolate with you, you're not supposed to hate them anymore."

Rose smiled secretly behind her mug. "Oh that's what they say, is it?"

"So I've heard...but it's only heresay."

The smith eyed her guest, amused with how hard this woman was trying to make nice. Maybe she was being too hard on her. "I don't hate you."

"Coulda fooled me." The blonde looked over at the smith.

Rose felt the eyes on her and knew she was expected to have an explanation now. She sighed softly. "I'm just not a people person."

"You don't have to be a 'people person' to be a nice person."

The smith grimaced. She hated logic at times. "I know." She mustered her courage and looked into those endless depths of green..."I'm sorry." She returned her gaze to the mug of warm liquid in her hands.

Sarina could not stop herself from reaching over and placing her hand on the smith's shoulder. "It's ok." She leaned back again, removing her hand. "I'm over it." She smiled.

This time Rose could not hide the smile that graced her features. "Glad someone is." She grumbled and returned her attention to her mug, wondering about why her shoulder was tingling.


Chapter 3