A year or so ago when Westel and I were barely friends we held several conversations on how impossible it would be for us to ever be more than friends. We agreed, and quite soundly, that we were simply too different. I am a lady of style and elegance; he is a scruffy soldier and a working man. He is adorned with tattoos from head to toe and jewelry up and down both ears; I wouldn’t dream of marking myself and have only the standard ear piercings. I’m a noblewoman and a diplomat; he wants nothing to do with high society, and only involves himself in politics for sake of self-protection. He is a staunch advocate of monogamy as the cornerstone of a healthy relationship; I see it as an outdated convention wholly unnecessary in a relationship based on trust, honesty and open communication. Though I’ve little skill with machines and mechanical devices I am fascinated and enthralled by them, and he complains that my motorbike is over-loud and ‘pollutes the environment’. He is in love with everything natural and I am a wielder of forces decidedly unnatural. When I wish to be left alone I relax with a glass of wine and an hour of needlepoint; Westel goes out into the forest and howls at the moon.
Of course being such opposites it was practically inevitable that a raging attraction would spark between us. Really it’s only surprising that it didn’t happen sooner… and that it’s lasted this long. For it turns out we’ve both quite a bit in common as well. We’re both idealistic and stubborn, willing to fight for what we believe in. We’re both dedicated to our families, to the point of sacrificing a great deal of ourselves for their welfare and happiness. We’ve similar parenting philosophies and senses of humor. We both love dancing. And now that we’re having it, the sex is fantastic.
Of course we’ve both had to make compromises – Westel most significantly, on the polyamory issue. I’ve tried to keep an open mind about the new experiences he’s introduced to me and we’ve both been unusually successful in communicating our needs to the other without resorting to silly mind games. And yet, there’s one thing I almost feel that we need to talk about, very desperately… that I cannot. I don’t know how.
Westel wants to marry me.
No, he’s not asked; he’s not even directly admitted it. But I’ve known for some time that Westel longs for a wife and a companion, and a mother for Anais. He has directly said that he loves me and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He tattooed my initial on his wrist! And then while helping Westel unpack his new home I accidentally uncovered a velvet box with a gleaming diamond ring inside – probably worth more than the rest of his belongings piled together, and my darling West is not made of money. He’s seeing no one else seriously. I admit I can be oblivious at the most ridiculous of times but I’m not stupid.
Westel’s not stupid either, which is why he hasn’t said anything to me. Honestly were I single merely this evidence of intent might just scare me away. But I’m very much already married… and so the ring, his longing, the tattoo and my fears are all entirely moot.
I’ve not told Westel this – I’ve not told anyone this – but I know, deep in my heart, there’s a not-insignificant chance that Bareris will not return to me. I love him as fiercely as I ever have… but we’ve not been getting along lately. Connecting with him has been so difficult. And though I’ve never doubted him… he walked away from a family once before. From his son. His spontaneous decision to embark on an extended archaeological excursion a week before our daughter’s first birthday and a month before our anniversary, with no contact since… well, Bareris has always been an odd duck, and not always the most sensitive man; this is who he is, and I love him as he is. But also, as I said before, I’m not stupid. For now I am continuing as I have and hoping for the best… but if one of these days I get a letter with his ring inside, well, it won’t be like I didn’t see it coming.
Time was, with a sword like that hanging over my head I would have ended it myself rather than live with the uncertainty. But after what happened to him… to us… I can’t. I have to trust him. I have to trust him.
Were I to suddenly find myself unmarried again I do trust and believe that Westel would be as supportive of me and Laurelia as he possibly could. He knows I love Bareris, and I believe he does want my happiness; though he hates Bareris, Westel would do his best to be sympathetic for the appropriate period of time. But once that period had passed, I expect I would turn around one day to see Westel on his knee and… and I don’t know what I would say. How I would find the words to tell him no.
I love Westel. Dearly, honestly, truly. I adore Anais! She and Laurelia are like peas in a pod. I think Westel is a fine father to his daughter and would be a faithful and reliable husband. He steals a kiss, or calls me doll; I lay in his arms, or I see him smile from across the market, and I think… I could be happy with this man. I am happy with him.
But everything that we found so different about us, while they were proven not to preclude a most torrid and passionate affair after all, would in fact still be obstacles to marriage. Enormous ones! He detests living in Silvermoon and Eversong, and even if I were to consider moving to Silverpine (?!) or Gilneas (??!?!?!!) myself, I could never move Laurelia there! Oh, certainly we could perhaps find a location of compromise… but would either of us truly be happy? Both of us? Could we, together…?
I love him, and I love being with him. But we are so different. We could not last. I fear we cannot last. And so all I can do is resolve to enjoy him, for as long as I may have him… and hope the day we must part is a long time in coming.