This takes place in the same universe as last week’s scribble. On a side note, happy mother’s day to all out there!
Kachina turned to glance at the threshold of her room, her hands idly fidgeting with one of the cloaks that she had been given while with the Watchers. She returned Jeharraz’s bright smile with a crooked one of her own until the prince’s gaze went toward the backpack on her bed, open and in the middle of being packed.
Jeharraz’s smile faltered as he walked further into the room. “Are you leaving?”
“Don’t worry,” Kachina said, rolling up the cloak and stuffing it into the pack. “I was planning on saying good-bye first this time.”
“Why are you leaving?” Jeharraz asked. He reached out, putting a hand atop of her own, and she swallowed hard at the contact.
“I’m not used to staying in one place for too long,” Kachina said. “I need to explore, to move. Cecil and I were planning on heading towards the other side of the country.” She paused before adding, “Well, I was planning. I figured I would give Cecil the choice in the matter, considering how well she’s doing here. And I know she’d be safe with you.”
The prince’s fingers entwined with her own, and Kachina couldn’t pull away.
“While I appreciate the trust you put in us for Cecil’s safety, know that you’d be safe here as well,” Jeharraz said. “You’re one of us. Last I heard from Mother, you had a job with us. I don’t want you to just leave.”
“Thank you,” Kachina said, “but I’m going stir-crazy here, waiting for you, Ellery, and the others to piece the Perion court back together. This isn’t me. I appreciate and love the Watchers, I’ve learned to somehow among that whole mess of a journey, and I had hoped that I would have been able to stay with you guys. But my feet are itching to explore more. It’s a hard habit to break and… I don’t think I want to break it.”
He brought her fingers to his lips. “Then I’ll go with you.”
Her eyebrows raised in wonder and alarm. “Aren’t you needed here? You’re the prince.”
“But I’m not the king.” The cheeky answer was accompanied by a roguish grin and a soft, sad gaze. “Ellery and Viola have this all in hand, I’m sure. If my brother ever does need a handful of mercenaries at his back, the Watchers will return and be there for him. Other than that, however, I’m sure he won’t mind us exploring and putting a good name out there for Perion’s royalty.”
“Wait.” Kachina finally had the strength to pull her hand away from the prince. “You speak as if the entire group of Watchers is coming as well.”
“It’s what I came to find you for,” Jeharraz said, leaning lazily against her bedpost. “The Watchers have broken their exclusive contract with the Perion royalty. I’d hope we’d always still be on Perion’s side, of course, if sides ever needed to be chosen again, but for the most part, we’re free to do as we please.”
“Why?” Kachina’s head was reeling from this new information, and she sat heavily on her bed next to her pack.
“Well, we weren’t sure if you’d like to be so heavily tied to one country after roaming about on your own for years,” Jeharraz said. “It was Cecil who brought it up, actually. After all, the Watchers are your group.”
“My group?” Her echo was soft, confused.
Jeharraz nodded. “I lost my head in the final battle,” he said, his voice just as soft as he bent down to sit beside Kachina. “I wanted nothing more than to kill whoever was responsible for the theft of the scale, the death of my mother, the kidnappings of my brother and friends… You were the one who kept her head on straight, Kachina. You were the one who issued orders that kept us alive when I was the one who was supposed to have done that. The Watchers are yours to command, Kachina, should you wish to have them.” He hesitated before adding, “I really hope you do…”
She sat, unsure as to what to say as her mind rolled around with the many thoughts Jeharraz had thrown its way. Kachina, the leader of a mercenary group? She hadn’t even been able to keep Cecil safe throughout the majority of this journey. Granted, Cecil and she had lived in relative comfort and safety for most of their lives, but Kachina wasn’t sure how she felt about leading an entire group of people. And to lead a prince? That would just feel strange. If she hadn’t known Jeharraz as well as she did now, she probably wouldn’t have given it a thought one way or the other, yet after being with him for so long, bossing around a member of the royal family would just be odd.
She did understand what he meant, though. She was the one who had kept her head on her shoulders, just as Queen Pearl had predicted all that time ago when the queen had chosen Kachina to help lead the Watchers in their quest. Still, to continue to lead was a bit of an overwhelming thought.
Kachina supposed she had been taking too long to think on the idea, for Jeharraz suddenly shifted so his torso was angled toward her and said, “Let me tell you something else, Kachina. Whether or not you decide to officially take up the reins of the leader of the Watchers, you’re going to have the lot of us at your heels anyway.”
He grinned at her perplexed expression. “Cecil will go with you,” he said, “even if you did give her a choice in the matter. I have no doubt she’ll follow you to the end of the world. If Cecil goes, then Burnan will probably follow. He seems to be smitten with her, if you haven’t noticed, and he can get a bit protective, especially after his sister had fallen…” The prince cleared his throat and continued. “If Burnan goes, Reyna will follow. He’s her best friend, the closest friend she’s gotten, and she’s going to stick close to him, not that he would mind. If Reyna goes, Tarrant will come. He seems to feel some sort of responsibility both for Reyna and for yourself, might I add, probably since he met you two at his little wyvern village.
“And I’ll be right by your side,” Jeharraz said, a soft smile adorning his features. “You won’t be getting rid of me that easily.”
Kachina did not expect the warmth that bloomed in her chest at hearing Jeharraz’s declarations. She ducked her head and chuckled lowly before saying, “I don’t really have too much of a choice, do I? I’m stuck with you lot, it sounds like. I’m not entirely comfortable with the role of leader, though… Not just yet.”
“I’ll be there to help you along,” Jeharraz said, reaching out to hold her hand again.
She hesitated to lace their fingers together again. “I… I don’t know if I can be what you want either… This is all new to me, and I’m not sure if I understand these feelings…”
“I can wait,” the prince said. He gave her that roguish grin again and leaned in closer. “Forgive me, though, if I continue to try to persuade you…”
His lips captured hers, and her packing was all but forgotten.