Valeria enters the Abbey Theatre and takes a look around, waiting for Jenner to arrive. "Well, it's not Pix's...but I think I can get used to it." She frowns, putting a finger pensively to her lips. "Still trying to get all this into perspective..." she sighs. Then, she takes a closer look at her surroundings and tries to lighten her mood. "It looks a little bare, though...maybe I can find somebody to help dress things up a little." She concentrates and a chimerical gown of silver and black replaces her shirt and jeans.
As she sits alone in the theater, a wave of memories washes over her. As if by some inner prompting, a chimerical silver coronet appears on her brow. "Well, at least now I look the part, even if I don't feel like it," she sighs.
"Princess," says a just-arriving Jenner, giving her a courtly bow. Then, looking rather embarrassed, like a schoolboy, "Val..."
Startled, she whirls.
"Hello," Jenner says softly. He walks over, not knowing if he should greet her as anything more than a friend.
Val blushes as she plucks awkwardly at the folds of her chimerical gown. "Ummmm..."
"Do you remember the other night?" asks Jenner, clearly blushing.
Val nods. "Do you still mean what you said?" She bites at her lip, visibly nervous.
"Yes, Val, I did," Jenner returns,"...er, um...and I do." His voice drops. "I'm just afraid of saying it again, lest the words lose their strength."
Shaking, Val takes a deep breath. "I don't know what to think...are these my feelings, or someone else's? I'm starting to remember things that don't seem real..."
A hint of pain washes over Jenner's craggy features. "Val, that's the curse of our people. Don't you see? All the memories that reside within you are yours...even if they aren't from this lifetime."
With a bemused smile, Val touches her coronet absently. "Then there's a reason this feels so...right. Maybe there's a reason I chose to dress this way." She indicates her chimerical gown.
"You look stunning, Val," says Jenner with an appreciative smile as he eyes her outfit.
Suddenly, Val gasps, going rigid as a strange expression washes over her face.
Jenner leaps to his feet. "Val, what's wrong?!?" Holding her in case she should collapse, he pleads, "Val, talk to me...please."
Val's eyes clear, and she smiles. "It's not what's wrong, Jenner...it's what's right."
Jenner takes her hands in his and looks at her with pleading eyes. "Valeria...what's going on?"
"I know who I am now..." Val says softly, her voice pregnant with wonder. "Valeriana ni Scathach, Princess of the House. I remember!"
Flustered, Jenner mutters, "Nothing...never mind."
Val touches him gently on the cheek. "What is it?"
"Do you remember what happened last night?" Jenner asks.
"I remember you telling me about Bedlam, and knowing that I love you..." replies Val. "I still do."
He seems to melt at hearing those words. "Oh, Val."
Her eyes are full of tears as she continues. "And now I know why. What was once---can it be again?"
"Please don't cry, love...please..." Jenner soothes, his words barely audible.
Val wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand, and whispers, "Just hold me..."
Jenner complies to her wish, saying, "Do you know how many lifetimes I've waited for you? And now that we're together, how long can it last?"
She snuggles into his chest. "Ssshhh. Don't think about that. We've found one another again...that's all that matters, isn't it?"
Jenner holds her close, but cannot stop speaking. "I've spent generations searching for a way back into Arcadia so that I could find you. I forgot so much, I even invented chimera to take your place...Albright and Lysander were barely able to keep my mind in the years that I've searched."
Lulled by the beating of his heart, Val nestles closer to him as he continues:
"I even found my way back...but the war against mad King Ironheart...I fought for an eternity, and nearly lost myself to the Dreaming." He pauses. "And when I found my way back to our homeland, only to find that you were gone, I nearly lost my will to return, to stay whole..."
"Hush, love," Val soothes, resting her head on his chest. "It's all right. We're together now."
"I went mad with grief," Jenner says quietly. "And perhaps in madness do I lie, even now..."
As he finishes, Val looks up at him. "Can I ask you something?"
She takes a deep breath, and asks, "What I asked for last night...will you give it to me?"
"What more can I give you?" asks Jenner, puzzled.
"I am a knight, and a princess," Val whispers, "but...I ask that, tonight, you teach me to be human, my love. Teach me to be a woman."
Jenner is clearly taken aback. "But..."
"Please..." Val whispers. "Just for tonight, there's no Dame Valeria, no Princess, no Valerie...just Val Grey, who's been searching for you for a very long time."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Jenner says soberly. "Valerie doesn't even know me."
Val's eyes are half-closed, unfocused. Her voice seems to come from deep inside her. "I remember a night in the forests of Arcadia, under a full moon, with all the stars above us..."
"I remember the sunrise," Jenner returns. Then, he frowns as a wave of pain and doubt washes over his face. "I remember, but memories betray. Tell me, Val...was it I who sat with you so many nights? You remember what happened, but do you remember with whom it occurred?"
Val nods. "Do you need to ask?" She kisses him. As their lips meet, she suddenly makes contact with Jenner's soul. Generations of visions and adventures fill her mind, and, overwhelmed, she sits down heavily, her head reeling.
Distressed, Jenner takes her in his arms. "Val! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to..."
"It's okay..." Val murmurs. "Now I understand. Oh, my poor Jenner..." She is overwhelmed by what he has gone through, and tears spring to her eyes. "My brave one...all that's happened to you since the time we knew one another..." Her throat closes up.
"May I ask a question, Val?" asks Jenner, more than slightly afraid.
"Where did you go?" he asks her. "I promised you that I would always find you. Why didn't you wait for me?" His face becomes ashen. "I was so disheartened when I finally found my way home, only to discover that you were no longer there."
"I looked for you..." Val says softly. "I thought perhaps you might have been reborn here." She holds up her hands apologetically, feeling helpless. "I'm sorry."
Jenner takes her hand in his. "It's all right, love...it's all right."
Val is still lost in her memories. "And when I came here, my memories were gone..."
Jenner smiles at her. "And for the first time, it seems as though mine are returning."
Val shudders with self-loathing. "Can you forgive me?"
"Did you even have to ask?" Jenner chides gently. He kisses her deeply, and the same sensation Val felt earlier washes over her again. Only now, it has changed. Val feels only Jenner's joy. His honor. His valor. And finally, his utter devotion to her.
Overcome with joy, Val embraces him. "You've come back to me!"
"I swear I shall be true," says Jenner.
"And I swear I shall be true, as well," Val returns. "'Blood for blood, bone for bone, life for life...' It means more, now."
"You're right," Jenner returns. Then, he sobers. "But what if all this is just a dream?"
Distressed, Val briefly presses a hand against his lips. "Don't...please, don't think about it. Just let us have this night, together again."
"Where do we go from here, Val?" Jenner asks.
Val frowns. "You mentioned King Ironheart...is there a way to stop him?"
"Yes, there is." Jenner answers. Then, sighing, he continues: "But Arcadia is divided. Arcadian nobles have grown complacent. There are no strong leaders."
"Then we should discuss it as soon as we can tomorrow," says Val decisively. Then, she barely catches a yawn, and blushes. "It's been a long night..." she says by way of apology.
"If we are to return to Arcadia one day, we will need support," Jenner says thoughtfully. "I'm sure that I can find the right trods." Then he looks down at the tired sidhe beside him, and smiles tenderly. "But all of that can wait for a new day. Sleep now, my love."
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