An Impossible Choice

Written as part of the A TRIAD IN THREE ACTS/FULL CIRCLE release tour in August 2016 for The Novel Approach

 

Ianys sat cross­legged with his back against the slim trunk of a weeping sellin tree, balancing his sandwiches on his knees. The long hanging branches with their large purple leaves hid him from view of the village centre, though he could still see the other elves through the gaps. He’d meant to eat at the forge, like he had more often than not lately, but Master Gosse had an appointment and sent Ianys away for lunch. He could have gone home, but he didn’t want his mother to ask questions he didn’t have answers to. He was such a coward.

He stared across the centre, where Kel sat with his mentor and the guide. The sunlight brought out the red tones in Kel’s deep brown hair, which was loosely bound at the nape of his neck. A stray lock hung in his face, and Kel kept blowing it away. Ianys itched to tuck it behind his ear. Then Kel smiled at something the guide said, and Ianys could barely breathe. He seemed so relaxed and happy.

Was it any wonder Ianys couldn’t bring himself to tell Kel? He would be hurt if he knew, and Ianys couldn’t bear to see Kel in pain. The longer Ianys said nothing, lied even, the more he was going to hurt Kel. So, Ianys hid here, avoiding Kel, hoping to gather his thoughts and make a decision. He had to make a choice.

With a sigh, Ianys lowered his eyes to the grass as he ate a sandwich. Ianys normally loved cheese sandwiches, but these tasted of nothing but dust and clay. Bread crumbs scratched his throat, causing him to cough. He should have poured himself tea before crawling up here, before Kel arrived, but Naia had already been at the centre.

He glanced to where Naia watched over the young ones while their parents ate. Though she’d been talking to a friend earlier, Ianys hadn’t wanted her to know he was here. Not after telling her that he was too busy at the forge to join her for lunch.

Naia’s blond curls danced playfully in the breeze as she read a story to the children. She was good with them. With children. Ianys swallowed against the lump in his throat and closed his eyes.

That was what had gotten him in this mess. He wanted children of his own, wanted to raise a family. But Kel… Kel wasn’t as interested. Whenever Ianys raised the issue, Kel would shrug and say he didn’t mind not having any. It wasn’t a no, but it wasn’t the yes Ianys was hoping for, either. And then he met Naia…

There had been no reason for Ianys not to tell Kel about Naia. He should have done so from the start. Kel would understand if Ianys wanted to see someone besides him. Yet, soon a moon had passed without a word. Even when he realised he was seriously falling for Naia, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it to Kel.

And now? Now he had an impossible choice to make, and with every day that passed, it became harder to reach a decision.

When he started seeing Naia, he could never have thought that Naia wouldn’t like Kel, or rather, didn’t like Ianys being with Kel while also seeing her. Naia didn’t share. That’s what she’d said. And if Ianys wanted to be with Naia, he couldn’t be with Kel.

Ianys sighed and opened his eyes just in time to see Kel walk off with his mentor. Ianys stared at Kel’s lithe form, mesmerised by the way his folded wings moved with every step. He remembered the way Kel had looked when they last shared a bed, the way he kissed, the way he stretched his wings before taking flight. The way he made Ianys’ heart skip a beat when he smiled. Then he thought about seeing him every day, yet not being able to be with him, and his stomach turned. He couldn’t do it. He loved Kel.

But he loved Naia, too. She was lithe, like Kel, but unlike Kel, Naia barely reached his shoulders. He liked the way she fitted against him, and how she scrunched up her nose when she was concentrating. Ianys scanned the centre to find her still sitting with the young ones. He liked how she wanted children as much as he did.

But no matter how much he loved Naia, the thought of leaving Kel made his heart race and he couldn’t breathe.

He looked away, clenching and unclenching his fists as he tried to calm himself. If only there was a way he could hold on to both of them. If only he could convince Naia. He rose and wiped the remains of his sandwiches from his clothes. He’d talk to Naia tonight. Give it one more try. He left his hiding place and made his way back to the forge.

“Ianys?”

Caught at the last moment. Ianys turned to face Naia. He motioned towards the forge. “I was—” He stopped as Naia ran a hand across her stomach.

She smiled when she noticed him looking and repeated the motion. Then her expression turned serious. “We need to talk.”