Asphodel spent the next few days in confusion. Her mother reprimanded her several times for forgetting little things.
‘Really, Aspholessaria,’ she said, ‘Anyone would think you were in love. What’s wrong with you?’
Her father laughed.
‘Perhaps she is in love,’ he joked. ‘She’s at that age.’
Her mother turned to her husband.
‘She’s of House Royal. She can’t be allowed to fall in love.’
Asphodel thought, ‘Am I in love?’
She wandered out into the city. She had an errand to do for her mother anyway, but she found her steps taking her towards where Linn lived. As she passed his house, the two young men came out.
‘Asphodel,’ called Vass. ‘I’m so glad we’ve seen you. Are you and Sissi going to Allimissoro’s tonight? Liss and I are, and I’d very much like it if you were there too.’
‘I don’t know,’ replied the girl. ‘I’ve not seen Sissi for a couple of days. I’ll go and ask her later, when I’ve done the jobs mother wants me to do.’
Later, Sissi agreed to go to Allimissoro’s that evening to meet the two young men. Asphodel was still in confusion. Vass had said he would like it if they were there, but did he mean her, Sissi or both of them?
Later that evening, it became apparent that Vass’s interest was in Asphodel. He danced with her all evening and hardly took his eyes from her when he was not dancing. That evening he walked her home without the accompaniment of Sissi and Liss, who walked home separately.
Half-way to Asphodel’s home, their hands touched. Asphodel’s stomach turned over again as Vass took her hand in his. They walked along in silence, each happy in the other’s company. The world around them had vanished. There was only Vass in the world as far as Asphodel was concerned.
All too soon the walk ended and they stood outside Asphodel’s home. Vass put a fnger under Asphodel’s chin and lifted her face, then he bent his head to kiss her. When his lips met hers she thought she would faint with pleasure.
The kiss seemed to go on for ever, but finished all too soon as far as Asphodel was concerned. She leaned against Vass’s chest and he held her close.
‘You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,’ he told her. ‘I wish we could stay like this for always.’
Asphodel sighed and her practical side came to the fore.
‘So do I, Vass,’ she told him, ‘but my mother will be wondering where I am soon. I’m afraid I must go in.’
Vass bent his head once more and delivered a passionate kiss on Asphodel’s mouth, then stood and watched as she walked up the ramp leading to her home in the trees.
Asphodel and Sissi’s visits to Allimissoro’s became more frequent over the next few months. She did not deliberately keep her relationship with Vass secret from her parents, but she just never bothered to tell them. It didn’t seem important they should know.
She was engrossed in her growing relationship with Vass. That was all that seemed important to the girl. He was kind and attentive and always complemented her on how she looked. Soon the pair took to meeting other than at Allimissoro’s and took frequent walks in the land outside the city. If her mother thought anything, she assumed her daughter was out with Sissi somewhere.
One day, after Asphodel and Varr had been seeing one another for almost a year, Asphodel’s father called her into his study.
‘I have something to tell you,’ he said. ‘You remember Frishillondor? He came here not long ago, to eat with us as I had business with him and wanted to help it along. Well, it seems he was quite taken with you and he’s asked me for your hand in marriage.’
‘Yes, it’s quite a surprise, isn’t it? And quite an honour too. Your mother is thrilled. He’s nearer in blood to the Elflord than even we are. His sister is the Elflord’s mother. Fancy that! So of course I agreed immediately.’
‘No,’ Asphodel cried. ‘I can’t marry him. He’s old. I won’t marry him.’
‘Now, now, child,’ her father replied gently. ‘He’s not so old. He’s younger than me. Anyway, I insist on this marriage. It’ll be a big boost to our family. All our businesses will benefit greatly with him as a sponsor.’
Asphodel stamped her foot.
‘I said I won’t marry him, and I meant it,’ she said as she ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
Will Asphodel have to marry Frishillondor? What will happen to her love for Vass? Come back on the first Tuesday of November to find out.
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