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by Pirate Turner



        The Dwarf sighed as his wide, dark eyes continued to gaze at the deck down below. A soft, deep voice lined with concern abruptly shattered his thoughts. "Don't tell me you're finally getting seasick on me, Sebastian."

        "Never, Malachi," he answered quickly. "You know I've always loved the sea."

        The other Dwarf nodded in thoughtful response as he stepped forward to stand beside his best friend. He folded his arms over the railing and crossed his booted feet nonchalantly. "So you want to tell me why you've been holed up here all day?"

Sebastian was silent for a while, but Malachi knew to be patient with his friend. After several minutes, the younger man finally answered in an awed breath of a whisper, "She's so beautiful."

        The older Dwarf's eyebrows shot up in question. "Who?" he asked even as he followed his companion's gaze only to have his eyes fall on who he already suspected was the center of his friend's thoughts. "Miranda?" Sebastian sighed again but nodded in response. "Why don't you tell her that?"

        "Because that would let her know that I'm in love with her."

        "But aren't you lovesick for the girl?"

        "Yes," Sebastian admitted, "but she's a human."

        "So?" Malachi questioned patiently.

        "I'm a Dwarf."

        "Yeah, and so am I."

        Sebastian shook his head, but his adoring gaze did not lift from the beautiful blonde. "That's not what I mean. She's a human, a Princess. The prophecy chose her and her family. I'm just a Dwarf, a lowly shiphand. I've nothing to offer her."

        "You have yourself, your heart . . . " Malachi began comfortingly only to have his wise words interrupted.

        "But what good is a Dwarf's heart to a creature as gorgeous and magnificent as Miranda Ainsling?" Sebastian questioned. "None. You know it took her the longest to believe, to accept what is real. Do you have any ideal how she would react if she even suspected that I'm watching her, that I care about her, that I love her? She would panic. She would want nothing more to do with me or any of the rest of our world. I can't tell her how I feel, Malachi. I'd rather just watch her from afar than ever risk losing her."

        "You risk losing her every moment, Sebastian. You know the Trolls could return at any time, that she, you, or any of us could die at any second until the prophecy has been revealed."

        He sighed but admitted quietly, "I know, my friend, but it's not the same. If -- Gods forbid -- that should happen, it won't be her choice, but the other would be. I don't want her to run, screaming and terrified, away from me, and I know that's what she'll do if I approach her. She almost did already when she first met us. You saw the way she acted. She may have grown comfortable with us since then and might even care about us, but she'll never be able to love me or any other one of our kind, anything other than a human."

        "Sebastian, I . . ."

        "Don't," he said, turning and holding up a single hand to stop his dearest friend from saying anything further. "Please don't, Malachi. I know you only mean well, but I know the truth. I've seen it in the way she acts, in her beautiful face, in her eyes that any warm-hearted man could fall into and drown forever whilst never caring to attempt to pull himself free. As I said, I'd rather love her forever from afar than ever have her learn what she means to me and then never want anything further to do with me, so please, old friend, just leave me to my thoughts." Sebastian turned and walked away, his head hung low as a lone, unseen tear drifted down the Dwarf's face.

        Malachi sighed as he watched the companion who had come to mean more to him than any blood brother ever could have walk away, his heart crying out in sympathetic pain for the younger Dwarf. His eyes turned to look back down at Miranda, and he wondered if she had any ideal as to just how strongly Sebastian felt for her and rather or not his friend was right about the human girl. He'd like nothing more than to be able to tell Miranda how Sebastian felt for her, watch her face light up with joy and requited love, and see the pair bloom into a couple in love, but he knew that he could not tell another soul how his friend truly felt. Their bond and trust kept him from being able to say a single word to Miranda or any one else about it and instead forced him to have to watch the two, both lovesick but neither daring to approach the other with the truth.

The End