“I did no such thing.”

“Ebony.”

“I never even read the message.”

“Ebony.”

“How would I even–”

“Ebony!”

Ebony whirled around. “What?”

Ivory would have glared at her, but Ivory never glared at anyone. He gave her a grieved but patient look and vacated his window seat to join her where she paced before the fireplace.

“Ebony, you don’t have to explain yourself to me.” he reminded her gently.

Ebony made a frustrated snorting noise in the back of her throat. “I know. I don’t know why I keep doing that.” she said, despite knowing exactly why she kept doing that, having figured it out months ago.

“But no-one else will believe I’m innocent, will they?” she sighed.

“I’m sorry, Ebony.”

Ivory leaned against the mantlepiece. His unearthly azure eyes absorbed the dancing intensity of the fire as he stared into it. “Ebony.” he began.

“Twenty-two.” said Ebony promptly.

“What?” said Ivory, baffled.

Ebony grinned. “You’ve said my name twenty-two times during this conversation, Ivy darling.”

“Well, you’ve been quite distracted during this conversation.” Ivory explained.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Ivory met her eyes. Then he averted them and blurted, “Also, your name is my favourite word.”

Ebony blinked at him.

Ivory’s cheeks, though usually graced with an angelic pink tint, where positively cerise. He cleared his throat delicately. “Anyway, even if no-one believes you’re innocent, they can’t do more than spite you until they have solid proof against you.”

Ebony thoughtfully chewed on her lip, only half paying attention to what he was saying. “Good.”

Ivory pushed away from the mantlepiece and gave her a look of hesitation.

Ebony raised her eyebrows. “Spit it out, darling.”

Ivory raked his fingers through his strawberry blonde hair, scattering tiny flowers everywhere. “Still, someone might make an attempt on your life.”

Ebony chuckled. “Ivory, I can more than handle a few angry peasants with pitchforks. I’ll be fine.”

“And I’ll be fretting over your safety all hours of the day and night.” Ivory retorted.

Ebony paused once more, regarding her tall blonde compatriot curiously. He was courteous and considerate with all of his associates, possessing a gallantry and kindness Ebony would never have, but this was different from his usual generosity.

He was being… Protective, Ebony realized.

Ivory wanting to protect her and not the other way around was a foreign setup to Ebony, but a surprisingly touching one.

“So what? You’ll assign bodyguards to my protection? Have my lodgings in town guarded? That would hardly help.” she scoffed, but without any real rebuff in her tone, her dark eyes full of silent, tell-tale laughter.

“What if I invited you to lodge here, in my household? You are among my oldest and dearest friends after all.” Ivory offered hopefully.

“I would be unable to refuse that invitation.”

“Really?” Ivory said with sparkling eyes.

Ebony took two steps forward and kissed his cheek. “Really.”

Written 8th March 2020

© Helen C. Viorel

Artwork by cocoparisienne

https://pixabay.com/users/cocoparisienne-127419/

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