Chapter Three

The train screeched to a halt like it always did. Avian was already half awake and this was his stop, so he got up and stretched out. He could see Celeste standing outside of the train waiting for him. They locked eyes and she waved at him with a smile. They greeted each other casually by the train, but as soon as they got away from the crowds they embraced each other with a kiss.

The truth is that they loved each other. They behaved with discretion in pubic because they had to. Not only was she his commander, but the king had princess Celeste promised to the prince of Warrick. It was a strategic move with a valuable relationship at stake. A lot of people knew that Avian and Celeste where together, but most people respected their privacy. After all, they had been together since before the academy. Avian and Celeste were happy just as long as the king wasn’t focused on their relationship. So, discretion was the name of the game.

“I’ve missed you.” Said Celeste as they hugged each other.

“I’ve missed you too. These extra patrols we’re on give us little time for anything else.”

“No thanks to you, Commander.” He added with a smirk.

Celeste gave him a look.

“I have my orders just as you have yours, Sir Avian. More patrols are required in order for us to find out what the enemy is up to.”

She could dish it right back. It was one of the things that Avian liked about her. She was smart, funny and very strong willed. Celeste was the only person who Avian felt could best him at almost everything. It was madding, but it was also admirable. He loved her and respected her. They walked together along the road until the cobblestone turned to dirt. The lower you got in the city the more farm like and natural things became.

They got to where Avian’s mother lived, his childhood home. It always felt warm and welcoming even from the outside. Vines grew up the walls and on the fence that surrounded the side yard. Half of the yard was tilled and the other half was full of growing fruits and vegetables. When Avian was a child he would run through the yard a pluck every flower from his mother’s garden. He would bundle them together and present them as a gift to his mother. She tried so hard not to be mad at him for killing her flowers. She would accept his gift gracefully, remind him not to pick anymore flowers and off he’d go.

Avian knocked on the front door and waited for a response. His mother opened the door and greeted him with a hug.

“Oh Avian. Thank you for stopping by and Celeste it’s so good to see you. Come inside. Please come inside.”

“Thank you, mom. It’s good to see you too. You’re looking well.”

“You’re too kind. I’ve been keeping busy with the home and the garden.”

“Everything looks great and smells great too!” added Celeste.

That won her a smile. Dinner was ready for them. The table was all set, so they sat down together and ate. Avian tried to make it home for dinner as often as possible. Especially during the last few months while the fighting had stopped. They did their best to not mention his father. It was just too painful to bring it up. Instead they just wanted to be with each other in the moment. Still, thanks to the nature of things the war was never too far out of conversation.

“Any updates from the capital?” Avian’s mother was looking at Celeste hoping for good news.

“Nothing that Avian hasn’t already said. Unless we receive a raven at the capital, we’re getting our news from the front lines the same way as everyone else.”

It was the truth. There had been no news and no known enemy movement for the last month. The idea of another pending attack was starting to weigh on people. The squadrons and the army were using this time to regroup and rebuild their forces. It was only a matter of time.

“Everyday we’re building more aircraft and training more pilots. The kingdom of Skaryth and its forces will be put to the test against us and the armies of Hardhelm.”

“I just don’t understand the people of Skaryth. Why do they follow Magnus and worship the creatures that mean to enslave them?” asked his mother with frustration. She wasn’t seeking an answer. She was just tired of this conflict that seemed to exist since the beginning of time.

“I know. It doesn’t make any sense to us. Perhaps if we understood each other, then maybe there wouldn’t be a need for war.”

“No.” Celeste spoke the sobering truth, “There’s still another dragon out there and Magnus is at the helm. He will stop at nothing to take this city, regardless of what people believe.”

With that they changed the subject and spoke about merrier things. Their visit came to an end as the fire in the fireplace began to dwindle. They said goodnight and Avian’s mother gave both Avian and Celeste a big hug before sending them on their way. It was dark out and the city was quiet. Most people had already gone to bed. Tomorrow was an early morning for Avian, but that didn’t stop him from spending time with Celeste. He pulled her close and they walked down the street together hand in hand.

The royal family owned several properties inside of the capital city. The villa was close enough to Avian’s mother’s house for them to walk. Avian lived by the airfield with members of his squadron and the king stayed in his castle, so the villa was the perfect place for Avian and Celeste to be alone together. Once inside the villa, they headed to Celeste’s room to lay down for the night. They were fighting off the urge to sleep because nights like this were becoming rare.

“I love you” he said, “and I cherish these moments that we have together.”

“I love you too. I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life.”

“It kills me to have to leave in the morning. I wish tonight could last forever.”

“I know. I hate it too. You will always be with me. In my heart.”

She took his hand and placed it over her heart and they fell asleep holding each other close.

Avian woke up early the next morning. He had to catch the first train back to the airfield because it was his turn to take the watch and patrol the kingdom. Poor Seraph was out there all night and it was his turn to get some rest. Celeste was still asleep. He made sure to get ready quietly, so not to wake her. He kissed her forehead gently and whispered goodbye. He stepped out into the crisp morning air and headed towards the mess.

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