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The Lessons That Spelled 'I Love You'
By Myra

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bullet   I stepped inside and smelled a lovely aroma in the air.  I couldn't quite
put my finger on it though.  I was actually pretty amazed at how two people
could set up a tent and such a beautiful interior within a few short hours,
but I figured them being young and two of them I suppose anything was
possible.  There were many different colors in the tent.  The most dominant
ones were blue, purple, and gold.  Other colors were just spots or painted
parts on different objects.  Deep blue rugs on the floor, and purple sheets
on their portable beds and many small figures of gold all over the tent.
Some figures were of animals such as elephants and horses, others were just of different people that they had probably met with throughout their time.  I
really didn't feel like expressing my shock on the beauty of the place, it
would make the two temporary residents feel as though I had accepted them, which I hadn't yet.
    The furniture in the tent was nice as well and I wondered how they
carried all this stuff and why I hadn't seen it when I bumped into Ariel and
then saw Pipes who she was chasing after.  (Of course, I was only occupied
with the fact that she had bumped me and didn't pay attention to much else.)
There were only a couple chairs and a small table at a very low level.  I
tried to determine the purpose of such a design on a dinner table but forgot
about it quickly.  The furniture was so pleasant in a simple way that I
only wished I had such an amazing instinct for design sense.  I also saw some of Ariel's dresses laying out.  They matched the rugs and sheets of the tent.  For some reason they looked similar to my dresses, which infuriated me.  My dresses were hand made by my mother so how could she have dresses that resembled mine so closely?
    I kept looking at the dresses when Clopin interrupted my observations.
"I don't believe you had a very good introduction with each other.  Herli,
darling, these are my old friends Pipes and Ariel."  Clopin had already told
me their names and I remember quite well who they were, but I think that he wanted to forget the events of the first time he tried the same greeting.
    They both stuck out their hands and I shook them quickly.  As Ariel
looked at me I almost screamed, not only were those eyes burning into me but she was also wearing a bit of make up.  Who did this girl think she was?  I am the rebel of this Court, never have I been challenged for this position
until now.
    "Pleasure to meet you," Ariel said to me.  Her voice was soft, yet raspy
and still soothing.  She talked with a great flow and the words rolled off
her tongue in a pleasing tone.  The sickening thing was that when she said
this to me I believe she actually meant it.
    We sat on small dark green pillows at the table, which explained why it
was so low. The pillows were only object of this color in the tent.  The trim
on them was gold cord and had tassels on each corner.  Sitting on the pillows the table was at a perfect level.  I hadn't noticed the small portable stove in the corner until Ariel went to get the chicken that she was cooking.  It smelled delicious and my stomach growled hungrily.  Clopin, sitting next to me, had his hand on my knee.  I smiled a bit forgetting all my pain and
rubbed the top of his hand, signifying I was alright.
    We began to eat and I looked around the tent some more with my eyes
wandering from decoration to decoration, color to color.  My eyes fell on
some objects I'd only saw only a few times in my life.  Small rectangular
objects with strange designs on the side and a hard outer covering.  I
believed they were called books.  Something I'd never looked into in depth
and never owned.  I had always wondered what it would be like to be able to read and write.  I suppose I'd never know.  I started to think of the wonders of such things when Clopin tried to start light conversation.
    "So where have you traveled since I last saw you two?"  They looked at
each other, mentally deciding who should go first.  Pipes began to speak.
    "All over Europe.  We've stopped at Germany and stayed a couple weeks in Prague.  Though I still believe Paris has out best audiences, even if they
are pale."  I looked at my hands and lightly touched my cheek when he said
that but I forgot about his remark knowing what he really meant.  I actually
admired him as he spoke.  His jaw muscle even fascinated me.  The build of
his body was so perfect.  He had much strength within him, I could just tell.
 His eyes were very deep, similar to Clopin's.  But still, his were
different.  Don't get me wrong, I still loved Clopin more than anything but
other strong handsome males that came around  always catch my eye, - but not in the same way they catch other women's eyes - it is more as though I am admiring them as one would a beautiful sculpture. It is an aesthetic pleasure I imagine .  Though I noticed a lot about Pipes, I didn't watch him long.  He kept talking but his words went in one ear and right out the other, and I didn't want him to stop talking and catch me looking at him.  I saw Ariel looking at me and I made a very exaggerated smile at her.  She took it as a warm affection and smiled back, but hers actually had some kind of meaning.  I couldn't help but notice her eyes wandering to Clopin quite often, I rolled my eyes.  Well it starts. Although I was sure Clopin was and always will be completely faithful to me and had no worries.
    My eyes wandered over to the table with the books on it again.  I noticed
the different colors over the outer coverings.  Some were gray and another
red.  The markings on them were different styles and colors as well.  One
style was many curls and black while another was very straight and blue.  My curiosity started to rise and all of a sudden I had the urge to go up and
flip through the paper and absorb it all and see what was so wonderful about them that Ariel and Pipes had so many.  More questions ran through my mind when yet again Clopin interrupted my thoughts.
    "Haven't you darling?"  I saw Clopin staring at me, a wide grin on his
face, his teeth sparkling white even in the dimly lit tent.  I realized I had
missed the entire premise of the conversation.
    "What?"  I blinked a few times and looked back at him.
    "You enjoyed living in India didn't you?"  Clopin gave me a questioning
look of despair, begging me not to mess this one up for him.  I thought
thoroughly before I spoke so I didn't make Clopin upset and completely ruin
my entire impression on them.
    "Oh yes, India was my home and all my family is there.  I think my
stories from there could easily beat any of Clopin's puppet tales he tells in
so many details.  I also used to have a tiger from there, but sadly he's
passed away," I lowered my voice on the thought of my beautiful tiger who had left the world, "but Abigail's monkey reminds me of home enough."  I stopped talking, realizing I was rambling, I heard Clopin make a sigh of relief and then Pipes chimed in.
    "That old girl's still around?  Why, she's going to outlive me!"  We all
laughed and I actually meant it.
    "Yes, she's alive and quite well at that.  I see her living many more
years."  Clopin trailed off a bit thinking of the wise woman.  I decided I
should visit her within the next few days.  Maybe she could tell me the real
reason for Pipes and Ariel's visit.
    By this time we had finished dinner and had second helpings.  I was quite
full and Clopin stood up.  I prepared to leave when he just walked farther
into the tent.  The other three had started another conversation while I
gallivanted around the tent looking at the gold figures, picking some up and
examining them.  I hoped neither of our visitors noticed me snooping, nor
Clopin for that matter.  I looked at a small wooden figure.  It looked
misplaced out of all the elegant trinkets.  It was a small tiger.  It looked
as if it had been painted but scratched off from age.  It's tail was still
slightly colored, white.
    I picked up a book and started to flip though it.  I saw a few
illustrations of a castle and a man in heavy armor, only he looked more
friendly than the soldiers that roamed the streets of Paris.  I saw another
picture of a horrible looking creature with wings and spikes and long tail.
I just wished all these pictures were in color.
    "What are you doing?"  A friendly voice scared me as I quickly shut the
book with nothing but unfamiliar lines.  I turned around to the face Pipes
but kept my hands holding the book behind my back.  Pipes smiled, trying to
see what I was up to, I refused to let him.
    "Oh, just admiring your table cloth. It really is very beautiful." I
hadn't actually even glanced at it before but I turned back around praying it
wasn't an old scrap of material or worse, there was nothing on the table at
all, but actually there was and it was rather nice.  A dark purple with small
tassels hanging in a row all along the edges.  I slid my hand over the soft
material and looked at Pipes, his eyes staring into mine.  I was mesmerized
and couldn't speak.
    "So do you have anything like this in your tent?"
I sighed quietly.   "Yes, my maman gave me many things before I came here to live."  He nodded, still smiling.
    "Come on back to the group."  He put his hand on my back and guided me over to Clopin and Ariel, which made me feel better since now I could keep a close eye on my always charming husband.  I walked over and linked my arm through Clopin's.
    "I didn't know it was so beautiful in Germany.  The sights there sound
amazing."  Clopin actually sounded interested in Ariel's descriptions.
    I always try not to be jealous of other women who have a love interest in
Clopin, or have had such a past with him and I decided the same with this
unoriginal.  She wouldn't get to me in such a way.  She was only a test and I
was only determined to love Clopin more and show it as well.
    While I stood with Clopin, arm in arm I actually got a good look at
Ariel.  Her figure was very similar to mine.  Only she was taller, which was
no surprise since I was so short.  Ariel's hair fell past her shoulders and
she had small curls which fell sporadically over her face.  Her dress was a
dark blue and flattered her greatly.  Every curve in her body was outlined in
her semi-curved dress.  She had a slightly lighter blue skirt covering the
lower part of her dress, but not quite reaching the edge of her dress.  Her
sheer cover was outlined in a gold trim.  She obviously was very fond of gold and found ways to compliment everything with it, making it even more
beautiful than it already was.  I wondered what these two must do for a
living in order to be able to afford such finery and material to make such
simple, elegant dresses.
    I suddenly wanted Clopin to make it evident that he was mine.  This
girl's beauty was beyond anything that I'd ever seen.  My skin seemed so
pale, more than usual, and my hair was drastically out of place.  I supposed
it was jealousy, but only of her looks and nothing else, and that passed
quickly as well.  Now there was no question Clopin had been with her in years before I came to the Court.  She was irresistible.  Of course, if Pipes was married to Ariel perhaps she hadn't been with Clopin and I was completely over reacting.  I couldn't ask of their relation so blatantly and out of place so I simply would ask Clopin tonight in our tent.
    I glanced up to see Pipes looking at me.  He gave me a friendly grin.
But it wasn't some type of look that showed he wished I would cheat on my
husband, it was different.  Like a smile showing he had knowledge, as if he
had something to tell me or share with me.  I wanted desperately to talk with him to see if my predictions were true, but couldn't and also at the same
time I didn't feel like talking right then about anything in depth with him.
No, it would have to wait until a later date.
    I wondered what type of expression I had on my face while I thought and
observed all of this.  I finally paid attention to the actual conversation
going on, and just in time too.
    "Well, I believe it's time Herlikin and I should leave.  I'm so glad your
here and safe and will be staying for the time being.  Thank you for dinner
and we shall converse again later.  Good night."  He shook Pipes' hand firmly and took Ariel's hand in a completely opposite fashion and kissed it gently
as he bowed.  I thought quickly.  If I had any chance to talk with Pipes I
needed to be nice to both of them.  I put on a smile and gently shook Ariel's
hand, she seemed surprised but pleased and a friendly smile crossed her dark face.  Pipes took my hand in the same way as Clopin had taken Ariel's and he kissed it.  I curtsied a little and thanked them both for the delicious meal.
 They said good-bye and Clopin looked at me.  I could tell by his expression
that he was as shocked as Ariel by my friendliness but also overjoyed I had
come around to be kind to them, even if it was right before we left.  We both
walked out, Clopin grabbing my hand, interlocking our fingers.
    "Thank you, that is for not being too much of a devil."  He smiled as I
looked at him, my expression had turned serious.  "What is it Herli?"  I
decided that to get the information that I wanted I needed to play dumb.
    "How long have Pipes and Ariel been married?" I asked innocently. I
thought he would be serious with the question to match my mood but he simply laughed.
    "Oh goodness Herli they're not married!  They're cousins, but they grew
up together so they're best friends and more like brother and sister."  He
chuckled a bit more, recalling what I had asked.  I didn't lighten my mood at
all, in fact I grew a bit more tense.  I stopped walking and I turned to him
so we were facing each other.
    "Have you, um," it was hard for me to say it, "ever been with Ariel?  I
mean I know you were quite popular with the ladies before I came and I just
wondered..." I usually had no problem telling people my thoughts and asking things openly but it was hard confronting him.  But I had to know.
    "I thought we wouldn't discuss my past like this.  What's important is
now, today.  You are mine and I am yours.  And I love you, nothing can change that and you're the only one now and forever."  His words seemed so cliche yet so perfect.  I couldn't help but melt at the sound of them, he made them sound so right.  I wrapped my arms his neck, which was a bit out of  reach, but I still held him close.  He held me just as tight and I knew what he said was true and he meant every word.  He looked at me and lifted my chin with his strong hand and kissed me softly.  I closed my eyes, absorbing the moment.  I'm sure we were quite a sight for the spectators who were doing trivial chores and had spotted us right there in the middle of the narrow walking area.  I knew later that everyone, especially the ladies, would gossip about it, how I was such a devil for forcing my husband into public intimacy.  But I didn't care.  Clopin was showing that he did care, about me.
    Our lips parted and he put his arm around my shoulder as we casually
walked back to our tent.  I held my arm around his thin torso and placed my
head against his chest as we continued to walk.  I was pleased and the little
pain that I felt from my ankle didn't seem to matter anymore.  I ran my hands
across my sun and moon pendant that I wore around my neck quickly with my free hand.  I grinned as we reached our tent.  I went inside first and we
both undressed, getting ready for bed.  We slipped under the covers and
Clopin placed his arms around me, holding me tight until he fell asleep,
which didn't take him long.  I waited for about twenty minutes until I
quickly took Clopin's arm off of me and got up.  I put on an orange silk robe
I had and lit a small candle on the table.  I moved a chair near it and then
went to where I had sloppily laid my clothes after undressing and knelt down.
 I felt underneath the clothes until I found what I was looking for.  The
hard cover with indents from the designs on the front.  I looked at the book
I had stolen from Pipes and Ariel's tent, went back to my chair and eagerly
began to skim through it.
 

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