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The Lessons That Spelled 'I Love You'
By Myra

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bullet I  finished my lesson, worried Herli would realize my later than usual arrival and question my where abouts.  I didn't run to my tent, that would
attract more attention toward me and everyone would see where I had come from, alone.
    I strolled into the tent as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
Herlikin's head jolted up from the pot she was studying on to give me half a
smile.  "Hmmm," she gave me as a welcome.  I slipped behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist, trying to divert her attention from the fact I came in after she had expected.  To put it bluntly-it didn't work, my little devil could not have the thoughts on her mind erased by a simple act of affection.
    "You're awful quiet...to be you," I joker, her attitude didn't lighten.
    "Yes, well, there's just nothing much to talk about that's all.  You're a
bit later than usual."  She moved away from the stove and me to sit by the
dining table.  She crossed her smooth, pale, yet enticing, legs which showed the slit in her dress.  It was one of my favorites on her.  I wanted to tell
her how enchanting and amazing she looked but knew there were other more important matters to explain and excuse first.
    She wasn't giving me the silent treatment but it was almost just as bad.
Everytime Herli didn't run into my arms when I came home I took it as a
problem was bothering her or as a sign of being angry for some reason.  I
didn't want her to know that I sensed something amiss and just went on with
some conversation as I sat down on the bed.
    "I made more money the usual today.  That crowd is just getting larger
and larger."  I shook my pouch with the coins rattling against each other.
    "Oh?  That's odd.  Well, it's just for the better."  She tapped her
fingers on the table and looked around.  I narrowed my eyes, trying to
determine what she was hiding, planning, or maybe just afraid to tell me.
    "Ma charie, we are going out!" I declared spontaneously. I walked over
and swept her out of the chair she was stubbornly sitting in.  I started
walking out of the tent when she twisted her head around to blow out the
flame under the pot.  I chuckled and made large strides through the Court.
    "What in the name of all that is decent, which is certainly not you, are
you doing?"  She shouted protesting, though she still held onto me.
    "We don't spend enough time together.  Let's stay out all night and watch
the sun rise!"  The reason for this minor trip I'll never know, but it struck
me suddenly and knew it had to be done.
    "I sleep with you every night, isn't that enough you selfish brute!"  She
tried to get down but we had headed into the catacombs and I put her over my shoulder.
    "But the children!  We have to put them to bed.  You can thank your good
fortune that I already fed them."  She stopped struggling seeing as it was
getting her no where and became motionless.  "I'm only letting you take me
because I don't feel like hurting the King of Gypsies.  You'd be thoroughly
embarrassed if I tried to get away!"  I laughed even more than before at her
and patted her behind.  She tried to kick me but failed.  "Let's go Clopin, I
had your dinner all prepared and now it's going to spoil!"  I walked through
the tavern with her over my shoulder and I didn't even need to look at her to
know her cheeks had gone red.  I set her down outside, it had gotten dark
which was an advantage to me since I had not changed out of my performing outfit.  She started back to the tavern immediately after her feet touched
the ground.  I grabbed her wrist.
    "Herlikin Trouillefou! I am making an honest attempt to spend time with
you, the least you can do is try and act enthusiastic."  I didn't want to
scold her like a child but she was acting like one.  I gave her my pleading
look that I knew she couldn't resist and her expression softened, she even
smiled.  I held her hands and she moved closer to me.
    "All right, I'll try to make an effort."  She kissed me sweetly, only for a
moment.  "But in order to have me, you must catch me first!"  She pulled my
hat over my eyes and took off through the dimly lit streets.  I growled and
ripped my hat off sprinting in the direction I heard her footsteps patting
against the cobblestone.  We ran for a while and after catching her twice
(she got away with some tickling and little bit of unfair below the belt
action) I caught her again on a hill away from the city.  We both fell on top
of each other in the grass and laughed, out of breath from running.  I was on
top of Herlikin and she looked up at me, eyes were lit up by the
moonlight. I could have sworn two gems were placed inside them.  She reached her head up and kissed me, it lasted longer than the one in front of the tavern.  I became overjoyed with my victory and happily returned the kiss.
    "I caught you," I teased, smugly.  She grinned up at me in the same
manner.
    "So you have, and what a prize you have captured."  She kissed me again.  "But I could have hurt you back and there, and also, I let you catch me."  She raised an eyebrow and smirked.
    "Ha!  My love, I let you get away."  I would never admit what a quick
runner she was.  I liked giving her a little satisfaction of getting away
anyhow.  She giggled softly and closed her eyes ready to plant another kiss
on my lips but I beat her to it.
    I'm not sure how long we stayed there, continuing what we started, but I
loved every minute.  It was nice to pretend we were newly weds again.
Afterwards we sat on top of the hill and the sun rose over the horizon and
its beams all around us, it was almost unreal.  Herli leaned her head on my
shoulder and grasped my hand.  I didn't want this moment to end.  Seeing my wife next to me was the only thing I needed to make me happy.
    We started back to the Court and Herli yawned.  "Tired my pet?"  I
stroked her hair but she pushed my hand away.
    "I am not you pet, I am your wife, and though you might consider them the same thing I do not.  So please address me correctly."  I had to sigh happily
at her retort.  Never letting her guard down, never letting anyone think she
was weak.  To me, there was not a weak bone in her body, but if I found one, I wouldn't let her know anyway.

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bullet I had no idea why Clopin had decided to kidnap me and pretend we were seventeen again but I didn't complain afterward.  It was a sign of his love.I tried to hide my satisfaction from last night but the more I thought aboutit the harder it was.  I ended up beaming as we approached the Bells and Motley.  Clopin looked down on me.
    "What are you so happy about, kitten?"  He looked with a grin, waiting
for the answer he was anticipating.
    "At how much I want to tweak your large nose!" I said to surprise him.  I
did and ran off through the tavern toward the back room with Clopin close at
my heels.  We passed Cosette with an astonished look on her face as we
hurried past her without the slightest 'hello.'
    I tripped at the door to the catacombs and made a cry which sounded like
an animal that had just been sliced with a sword.  My injury wasn't that bad,
I had just slightly bumped where I had twisted a few days ago and now
discovered it was still a bit tender.
    I was about to get away again when I was picked up into Clopin's arms.
He made a tsk tsk sound with his tongue.  "Now, now, tripping is a small
price to pay for hurting your handsome husband's best feature."  He replied
with a wry smile on his face as he continued to hold me.
    "You know as well as I do that I did not hurt you in the least.  Your
nose can stand much more pain than I gave it as well as your knobby knees and your thin, frail, body."  He put a hand over my mouth to stop me and shook a finger.
    "My dear Herlikin, you must stop at once, for you are sounding as nothing
less then an ass because you know how strong my muscular, attractive body is.  You know by spending your nights pressed against it and feeling its lovely shape with your hands."  At this he threw me down.  I was enjoying our
playful fight and continued onward with it.
    "Well sir, you are as vain as ever which makes you less appealing than
you already are not."  He tugged at my hair and I slapped his hand.  "I'm
sorry, but this hair is reserved for my loving husband, someone you're
certainly not"  I had to struggle to hide my smile and started down into the
catacombs.  He followed but said nothing.  We were still in our clothes from
yesterday so I'm sure we were quite a sight.
    As we came into the light of the Court I strayed from the walkway to our
tent.  I went right to the small river canal that was dug and stood on the
edge, Clopin stood first.
    "Why, madam, here is some water to wash yourself.  You have a dirty face and need some water, for if you don't wash it, it will be thought that you
were in a fight, clawing at your partner on the ground.  Or perhaps you were
with the same fellow who passed you on the street and was to your liking and so as flirtatious as you are, you both ended up on the ground."  He knew just how to push my patience and humor to the limit and I leaned down, splashing him with water and then running off before he had a chance to recover.
    I went straight to the washing tent and undressed quickly, how dirty was
I?  No matter, as I hopped into the water.  I made sure to scrub every inch
of my body with soap, three times over.
    I wished I had stopped in our tent to get another dress to change into
and check on the children.  I suddenly felt so guilty for leaving them, had
they cried, had they ran into other people's tent looking for us?  I shook
off the feeling knowing I'd be at the tent soon and looked at my already worn dress, it'll do until I get back to the tent I suppose.  I'll just wear it
home and then I'll change.
    I was drying off when I figure passed me.  I looked up and saw Colombine.  She averted her eyes from mine and muttered a greeting.  I decided the best way to resolve this was to act as if nothing had happened at all.
    "Hey Colombs!"  Her head shot up as she stared into my eyes, trying to
see my thoughts.
    She stuttered a bit.  "How.....how are you?"  I shook my head.
    "Horribly tired!  Clopin decided to play sweet last night and take me
away past the city.  We were out all night."
    Colombine giggled.  "Oh, is that where you were?  Tante Marie was all in
a fuss when she saw your kids alone and you two no where to be found.  You're the talk of the Court today!  Not to mention you're in for quite a scolding from Tante Marie herself."
    "Were my kids crying or running around trying to find us?"  That fear
came back of them being afraid.  This time she shook her head.
    "No, they had already eaten and were getting ready for bed by themselves, but Tante Marie refused to see that they were fine and focused on the fact you two were absent from taking care of them at that very second!"  I sighed at the fact of Tante Marie and also that Colombine didn't hold a grudge.  Once she got into talking about the latest gossip she couldn't help but forget everything else in mind.
    "Tante Marie, I won't worry about her, she will just blow her hot air at
me and I'll act as though I was sorry and knew what I did was wrong.  But, my dear, I must be off."  I gave her my famous charming smile to clinch that
everything was all right between us, she smiled back.  "I need a short nap
and then I will talk more with you, good-bye!"  She waved and I went back to my tent.  Clopin was there, laying in bed.
    "I missed you."  He grinned at me.
    "Could it be my real husband?  Not that conceited old brute who was
outside I hope."  He made an exaggerated shake of his head.  "Good, I missed you."
    "They are all fine, let's lay down for a little while."  He yawned, then
laughed. "And I hear Tante Marie is angry with us both."
    I chuckled heatedly.  "I heard as well form Madame Gossip herself,
Colombine."  I saw Clopin had an odd expression on his face, but he was
smiling nonetheless.  "What is it pleasing you so?"
    "I know you and Colombine would make up.  Everything all right now?"  I
nodded, but wondered how he knew.  I didn't remember telling him.  Perhaps Colombine had confided in him.
    I laid in the bed and Clopin fell asleep faster than I could say 'King of
Gypsies.'  I tried to sleep as well.

    Tried, and without success at that. I wanted to go out and learn more how
to read.  And so I would!  I got out of bed quietly, trying to not to shake
the bed as well, and got dressed in a bright red dress and headed out.
Making sure not to attract too much attention to myself.  I sneakily hurried
myself over to Ariel's tent and slipped inside.  Drinking some tea Ariel
looked up and a small smile crossed her dark face as she went on with her tea.
    "I've been waiting for you.  The talk of the Court was that you and
Clopin had taken away to the countryside for sometime.  I'm happy to see you home so soon, and in one piece at that."  She chuckled to herself at the
thought of otherwise.  Why all of a sudden she was acting in such a concerned manner toward my life was beyond me, but I decided not to think much of it.  It was probably nothing more than an effort to be better friends.  Trust, that's what she wanted and I needed to give it.
    "Yes, well, Tante Marie likes to say many things and the few that are
true are extended beyond the truth.  A lesson I will teach you is that you
must not believe a word she says until you get the root of the rumor and ask
that person if it is true, much more reliable I assure you."  I nodded as
though I had more knowledge than her at my brief speech and looked away from her stare.
    "I suppose we had better start our lesson.  I'll start teaching you how
to write simple things."  She pulled out her board and writing utensil, which
she later told me was chalk.  Then she also pulled out two other objects.
One was like chalk, only it wrote in black.  I knew it wrote black because
she wrote on the other object, a rectangular white thin object, called paper.
 She showed me a letter on the black board and then I tried on my paper.  It
was so difficult though, it felt so odd.  She would make her letters so
beautiful and with ease am then I would make a scraggly, sorry excuse for a
copy.  I became frustrated and discouraged.  I tried to make an A again and
again as beautiful as hers but it didn't work.  I threw down the pen with a
growl of anger.
    "Why can't mine look as nice as yours? You make it look so simple!"  I
said it without the least but of playfulness.  She saw this and her eyebrows
lowered, creasing her forehead.  She shook her head with a look of confusion.
    "I don't understand why this is so difficult, this should be easier then
when I was first trying to teach you these letters not more than thirty-six
hours ago.  I don't understand."  She was talking more to herself than me.
For only being my second lesson I was already feeling defeated.  Something
that looked so wonderful had turned out to be an enemy.  I crossed my arms
and stood up, composing myself.
    "I think I'll end our session for today.  It was short, but maybe
tomorrow we'll continue with my reading?"  I waited for an answer while she pondered her failure for the day.
    "Yes, yes, tomorrow."  Her voice trailed off at the end and she went back
to thinking.  Obviously a woman expecting none other than perfect from her students and herself.
    I walked out of her tent without a good-bye and trotted back to my tent,
slightly hoping Clopin would still be sleeping.  No such luck.  I got back
and Clopin was sitting in the bed quietly.  He looked up and saw me.  He got
out of bed and put on his robe, walking over to me.
    "Where have you been?" He didn't have a smile on his face, he looked
pretty worried.  Though, it was easy to tell he hadn't gone out to look for
me, which made it easier to make up a false answer.
    "Just talking with Colombine.  I couldn't sleep and I didn't want to wake
you."  I felt a bit guilty lying to my beloved but I just told myself it
would all be with it in the end.  Though if I made progress like I did today
I'd be in a bit of a bind.
    I made an early dinner for the children who ate as they all questioned
mine and Clopin's where abouts last night.  We made up our different excuses and they forgot all about it.  After finishing they went back to their tent, kissing me before they headed back.  Clopin began eating and I began to prepare my own meal when Ariel burst in.
    "Greetings Clopin, I must speak with your wife."  He looked quite
surprised at that but didn't protest as his stomach became more full with
each second.
    Ariel beckoned me to come outside of the tent and I did.  Then she
grabbed me and dragged me to her tent.  "I have figured out the solution to
your dilemma!"  The giddy look on her face showed how pleased she was with herself.
    "Well, what is it?"  I shouted as she shoved the pen into my hand.
    "Try again."  I did as she said and grinned as I produced a beautiful
letter A.

 

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