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The New Master Wizard

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Merleawe, they decided a long time ago, was a lot like Sylthfarn. They first realised during her speech on the balcony on the King's fifty fifth birthday. But perhaps it was more fair to say that Sylthfarn had moments where he acted like Merleawe. Because Slyth was a prankster, he could be kind yes but most of the time he was blunt and almost cold. Merleawe was always kind. Her kindness is what got her in to the whole imposter situation upon her arrival in the city. And now her kindness had brought her back to the castle, to be their Master Wizard for real.

Vaith would never admit it, but seeing Merleawe underneath that armour had rekindled, rebirthed, reincarnated, whatever the correct word was, a part of him he thought was long since dead. For years after he started dying his hair he had been looking for a reason to quit the Black Knights. Getting arrested for something he hadn't even done seemed like a good a way as any to do it. He hadn't wanted to follow anyone's orders again. He trusted Sylth, and if he was alive he knows he still would. But Sylth's order to never talk about what happened to his troops had hurt him. Not only him either, it hurt a lot of families and even one of Merleawe's friends. So he wasn't eager to put himself in that position again even if Yue had refused to take his title from him. But he trusted that Merleawe would never put him in that situation, she was too kind hearted. She'd never be able to forgive herself for being the reason that those families didn't get closure. Which is why he had spoken up when she revealed herself. Why he told Yue that he didn't mind coming back if it was under her orders. Because he didn't. She was the only one he would trust to give him orders. 

Yue would admit it if he had to, that he was happy to see Merleawe under that armour. He was angry and concerned when Lenolora announced that the King of Caldia wished to put forth a candidate for Master Wizard. But to see Merleawe remove that helmet eased all of his fears. He knew instantly that she wasn't a puppet that Lenolora or Caldia would be able to control or manipulate. He was almost relieved when she revealed herself, this made everything so much easier. But it was a very sudden decision, but then Vaith declared he would return to his job if it was her he was acting under. Before Yue could say much else, the King was asking for her name and offering her the position. Her accepting the position didn't come as a surprise.

Glenn would gladly admit that he was happy to have Merleawe back as a permanent part of their lives. In fact he had already told her as much. Once they left the throne room, when it was just the people who knew about the imposter plan (minus Fern unfortunately) he told her how glad he was to have her back for good now. He wasn't surprised when a day later, she asked how she could bring Fern back as well. So he tells her about the process to getting a body double and after getting all the paperwork sorted out, they take it to the King immediately. He reads it over once before looking up at her. "Are you sure you want the same body double as Sylthfarn?" 

Merleawe nods her head quickly. "I'm sure. I've heard rumours of the Hahze while on my journeys. Fern's Master died before him and as a result is most likely receiving terrible treatment from his village. He deserves a second chance. It's not his fault that Sylthfarn released him from the binding spell." 

The King nods his head in understanding. "I agree. The late Master Wizard was a strange man indeed. It is indeed not his double's fault that he outlived his Master. I will put the request through at once."

Merleawe bows in respect and thanks to him. "Thank you, your Majesty. I appreciate your kindness, I am sure Fern will as well." The King smiles at them both kindly before they excuse themselves. 

Seraphia is waiting for them as they leave the room. "Merleawe! Won't you have tea with me? It's been ever so long since we last spoke and I'd love to catch up." 

A bright smile stretches across Merleawe's face. "Of course I will Princess!" She turns slightly to look at Glenn. "You don't mind do you?" 

Glenn smiles sweetly at her. "Of course not. You girls go have fun. I will tell Yue and Vaith about Fern's nearing return." Merleawe smiles at him in thanks as Seraphia leads them out to the gardens. He holds back a laugh as he hears Seraphia complaining about Merleawe not calling her by her name, so reminiscent of their first meeting. Down to the way Merleawe immediately placates Seraphia by using her name in her apology."

As the two girls make their way out in to the garden, Seraphia looks up at the clouds above them. "I fear we may have to move out tea inside, Merleawe. It looks like it's about to rain." 

Merleawe smiles at her before stepping under one of the glass canopies. "Don't you remember our first tea time Seraphia?" She holds her hands out to the sides and uses her flower magic to summon bushes of flowers all in full bloom. "Flowers look even more beautiful in the rain." 

Seraphia smiles brightly at her. "You're right Mel. Let's sit, we have much to talk about." 

The two girls remain in the garden even when it does start to rain, so Mel recasts her flower spell. They end up sitting out there for so long, that Yue and Glenn come out to get them. Merleawe apologises for being away from her new duties for so long before saying her goodbye's to Seraphia and following Yue inside the castle. 

She's only been Master Wizard for a few days now, so Yue is still explaining what all of her duties entail. Though Lecto, her old class president, assures her that once Yue believes she understands her duties, he'll trust her enough to do them on her own so he'll back off a little bit. So she'll get a bit more time to herself. 

A week after her and Glenn's audience with the King, does Fern arrive at the castle. He's dressed in his Hahze clothes, and he looks shocked to see Merleawe. "It's actually you. You really managed it." 

Merleawe smiles down at him happily. "I'm glad you're back with us Fern. You don't have to be my body double. I'll be honest I still don't love the idea of having one. But you can stay here none the less." 

Fern shakes his head and moves to stand in front of her. "No. I want to be your body double, Mel. You're the only one who could ever take Sylth's place as Master Wizard. You're the only one who could ever replace him as my Master as well." 

Mel smiles at him happily. "I'm happy to know you think that Fern. It's so nice to finally have everyone back together." 

Fern looks around and snorts in amusement. "Well. Almost everyone. Where is that idiot Vaith this time?" 

Rolling her eyes lightly at the light teasing, Mel shrugs her shoulders. "I'm not sure. He's usually training with his Knights at this time I believe. Do you want to go see him?" 

Despite knowing what his answer would be, she laughs a little at his reaction anyway. "Why would I want to go see him first upon my return?" 

Glenn and Mel laugh a little at his reaction, but Glenn tries to placate him as always. "Come now, Fern. I know you and Vaith must have missed each other during the past years." Fern grumbles in denial but follows Glenn towards where the knights are training anyway. 

Vaith, unsurprisingly is the first one to notice their arrival and he calls a stop to his match. "To what do I owe the honour of a visit from the new Master Wizard?" 

Merleawe smiles at him even as she rolls her eyes lightly. "Fern came back today so Yue gave me the afternoon off so we could catch up. If you wanted to join us I can give you the rest of the day off as well? Considering you came back to work under me that's something I can do." 

A mischievous shine is reflected in Vaith's eyes as he looks at Merleawe. "You're going to continue bringing that up forever aren't you?" 

A stern nod from Mel is the only answer he gets for a second, before she folds her arms and cocks her hip. "I think it's only fair I get to keep bringing up how you said you'd come back if it was under me, because of how rude you were to me when I was pretending to be Master Sylthfarn. You couldn't go three seconds without saying how thankful you were for my physique." 

Despite himself, a light blush starts creeping up Vaith's cheeks. He wishes he could take back every comment he ever made about Mel's looks and physique because she grew up in the five years she was gone and she came back beautiful. Funny how he always used to tease her about not falling in love with him because of him being Leader of the Black Knights. Yet here he is falling head over heels for her as soon as she revealed her identity in the throne room a week ago. Which is why, despite now working under her (technically for her) he's been spending most of his time this past week and a half out in this field with his men. He's hoping that if he beats them each in a fight enough times his feelings for Mel will fade. But it isn't working well because she keeps coming to check on him, like today. 

The blush doesn't escape Fern or Glenn's attention and they look between the two of them for a few seconds. Fern's smirk turns sharp and Vaith glares at him in response. "I suppose I can grant the Master Wizard my presence." He turns back to his men away from Merleawe. "The Master Wizard is asking for my presence. Continue your drills for the day and then you're dismissed." His men all shout an acceptance as he walks away with the three. Merleawe and Glenn walk slightly ahead of Fern and Vaith, which is on purpose on Fern's part because he's absolutely going to tease Vaith about his feelings for Merleawe. After all, he used to tease him for being in love with Sylth despite how many times Fern had tried to tell him otherwise. (He really hadn't liked Sylth that way, not really.) So now it's his turn to tease Vaith about falling in love with Veigald's Master Wizard. 

Fern grabs on to Vaith's sleeve and stops walking for a minute so that Vaith will slow down and wait for him. He keeps walking for a few more steps despite Fern's small claws starting to dig into his arm. “What is it, Fern?”

Fern doesn’t know why Vaith is bothering to act stupid. He knows that Vaith knows what he’s talking about. Especially considering the look on Vaith’s face, which is begging him to shut up even though he hasn’t even said anything yet. “Nuh uh. After all the shit you gave me about liking Sylth, you get to suffer the same fate. I can’t believe you’re in love with her! She’s been back what, a week?” 

Vaith glares at him, not noticing Mel peeling away from Glenn’s side to walk over to them. “Vaith, Fern. Please tell me you aren’t fighting already?” 

Mel crosses her arms as she looks between them and Vaith turns to her with a smile. “Fighting?  Us? Never. Come on Mel, you know us better than that.”

A smile crosses her face even as she raises an eyebrow at them. “You’re right. I do know you better than that. Which is how I know you’re almost certainly fighting. Or at least teasing each other.” Vaith smirks at her, his usual charm shining through. “Leave each other alone today? For me? I know I haven’t seen Fern in five years, but none of you have seen each other in that time either. You can go back to your usual bickering tomorrow, but just for today can you get along? Even Seraphia was excited to see Fern again."

Fern sends one last smirk up at Vaith, before nodding  his head. “Alright Mel. We’ll behave today. But I won’t forget about this conversation Vaith.” 

Once Vaith nods his head in acceptance of his fate, Fern moves further up to walk beside Glenn. “Everything okay, Vaith?” The Knight turns his head to look at her in question. “It’s just…. You’ve been spending a lot of time on the field with your men since I came back. I was worried if despite what you said that day, you weren’t happy working for me, or me becoming the Master Wizard. Or if I had done something to offend you since I came back.” 

A second of silence passes as Vaith starts walking after the other two, leaving Mel to catch up after him. "You haven’t done anything wrong Mel and I meant everything I said that day. I just haven’t been on active duty for a few years now and didn’t want to stay so out of practice now that I’m taking orders again.” Mel stares at him for a second as they pass through the castle doors, trying to figure out if he’s lying. She can see something is wrong with him but she doesn’t know what. Before she can push the issue any further though, Seraphia calls out to Mel. “Mel! Thank you for allowing me to join you all today! It’s been so long since I’ve seen Fern. I cannot believe how much he’s grown.” 

Mel narrows her eyes at Vaith for a few more seconds in worry, before turning to address the Princess. “You’re welcome to join me for tea anytime Seraphia. And I know! Not to mention how long his hair is now! It’s almost as long as mine!” Seraphia giggles and takes Mel by the arm to lead her into the parlour. She turns her head to look at Vaith as Seraphia drags her away to make sure that Vaith is following them inside. Happy to see that Vaith is still behind her, she turns back around to address Seraphia. 

Waiting a few seconds, Vaith follows them inside, trying not to let his gaze wander to Mel when he feels her turn to look at him. Fern looks over at him, a cup of hot chocolate in front of him and half a biscuit in his mouth. He looks happy, but Vaith soon banishes any thought of happiness at Fern’s obvious joy when he sees the glint in his eyes. It’s too similar to the one Sylth used to wear when he was planning to prank someone. But before he can try anything, Mel is bringing them all into her and Glenn’s conversation. Vaith had never been so thankful for Mel’s infectious personality. 

They spend a few hours in the parlour before Mel announces that she needs to leave. “I’m afraid Yue only allowed me the afternoon. So I need to get back to work. Hopefully he’ll trust me enough to be able to do all of my work so that I can stay longer.” She stands up from her chair, making sure to push it back in after her. “I’ll see you all later. Oh and Fern, I’ll be honest. I don’t know what having a body double means for you or for me but feel free to do whatever you want. You don’t need to follow me everywhere like the King’s does.”

Fern looks up to face her. “I appreciate that Mel. But please tell me if you’re planning to go away somewhere. You don’t have to tell me what your plan is or why you’re going. But please don’t just disappear on me.”

Merleawe’s face softens immediately. “Oh Fern.” She moves around the table to kneel in front of him. “I know that what happened with Master Sylthfarn probably hurt and upset you so I promise you that unless I’m kidnapped, I will never just disappear on you without a word.” She holds her hand out, with her pinkie stretched up towards Fern. “Pinkie promise. And those are unbreakable so you know I mean it.” 

Fern laughs at her, but wraps his pinkie around hers anyway. “Thank you. Merleawe.” His voice is wet with unshed tears that he harshly wipes away as soon as he takes his hand back. “I’m going to hold you to that promise though. After all, you’re the Master Wizard now. Surely you can keep one little promise.” Mel laughs kindly as she nods her head before standing up again. 

Once she reaches the door, she turns back to the room. “I’ll see you all tomorrow.” 

Vaith stands up as well as she turns back around. “I should probably get back to work as well if you’re being so dedicated.” 

Mel turns around to face him with a smile. “I gave you the whole day off, Vaith. Yue may currently control my schedule but I still have complete control over yours and it’s been emptied for the rest of the day.” 

Feeling Fern's eyes on him he turns to look over at him. To see, as he feared, a sharp toothy smirk on his face. Vaith sticks his tongue out at Fern before turning his attention back to Merleawe. "Well I'll use the rest of my day off to accompany the Master Wizard."

A smile spreads across Merleawe's face as she turns back to the door. "Okay. But I can't say that Yue will be happy to see you." 

With that, they leave their friends behind in the parlour and start walking towards Yue's office. Merleawe looks up at Vaith as they walk through the halls. Vaith waits for her to say what's on her mind, but he wasn't expecting the words that came out of her mouth. "You should stop dying your hair. Only if you're comfortable with it of course, but I know Glenn would like to see your natural hair again and I'd like to see it too. I know that your hair is naturally meant to be white but I've never seen so much as a stray root."

Silence reigns for a few seconds as Vaith reboots. "Is that an order, Mel?" 

Merleawe snaps her head up to look at him in horror. "No! No, of course not! I'd never order you to do something like that, not unless it would somehow save your life and I'd explain everything if that was the case." 

Vaith rests his hand on her head to calm her down. "Relax, Mel. I was joking, I know you'd never order me to do something like that." Of course he does, it's why he's willing to take orders from her at all. "But if you want to see my real hair so bad then I'll think about not dying it any longer." Merleawe smiles up at him brightly as they reach the door of Yue's office. "Come on. You can be happy about that later. If Yue thinks you're late he'll be mad and he'll supervise you for even longer and then you'll never get any free time." 

Yue sits Mel down in front of his desk and drops a massive pile of documents in front of her. "You will usually have less work than this at this time of day. But the King insisted on holding a celebration for you becoming the new Master Wizard we needed. Sylthfarn never filled out or read over these but it is part of the job." Mel nods her head in understanding. "I will walk you through the first few documents and explain what you need to do, and then I will leave you to fill out the rest of them. Supervised of course. If you do well then I will allow you to try your duties next week on your own." 

Nodding her head in determination, Mel waits for Yue to start talking again. Vaith laughs to himself about how Yue has just completely ignored his presence in the room. He stands in the corner silently as Yue teaches Mel. Every word he says goes in one ear and out the other. Most people would be bored by standing there and doing nothing, and sure, Vaith is often one of those people. But him being a Black Knight means he often has to stand guard at events the King is holding. So he's used to it. 

Two hours later and Mel passes the last document over to Yue. He skims through them all quickly before nodding his head once in approval. "Good. They're all filled out and signed. So I will allow you to complete your work next week on your own. But if you have any questions I will of course answer them.” 

Merleawe looks up at him happily. “You think I’m ready to do it on my own?!” When he nods his head in agreement, her smile grows even brighter. “I promise you’ll I’ll do all my work properly! I won’t disappoint you!” She sees the small smile that Yue immediately covers up but she decides not to mention it. 

Vaith walks Merleawe back to her room (she ended up moving into Sylth’s old room permanently). “Vaith, don’t avoid me so much okay? I understand if you want some space and that’s okay. But I know you’ve been avoiding me this week. I can tell.” 

Looking down at her sad smile, Vaith feels terrible for avoiding her. “You’re right Mel. I have been avoiding you a bit. I promise it’s not anything you’ve done wrong.” 

Silently, Mel stares up at him for a few seconds before nodding her head. “Okay, I believe you.” She turns around slightly to open her door. “Goodnight Vaith.” 

He smiles down at her, hoping his fondness isn’t too obvious. “Night Mel.” He waits for a second after she’s closed her door to turn around, to see Fern waiting behind him. “Fern! What the hell, when did you get there?” 

Fern smiles up at him, his fangs peeking out slightly. “I told you you weren’t escaping this conversation.” 

Vaith frowns down at him and picks him up before walking away from Mel’s door, completely ignoring Fern’s complaints. After rounding a few corners he deems them far enough away and drops Fern back on to his feet. “Vaith what the hell!” 

He glares down at him. “I know you want pay back but I always made sure to tease you out of Sylth’s earshot.”

The Hahze falls silent for a few seconds as he thinks back. “You’re right. Okay I’ll make sure only to tease you when Mel isn’t around. But Mel isn’t around now so don’t even think of running away.” He stares up at Vaith for a few seconds, happy when he doesn’t try to walk off. “Now can you explain to me how you fell for her in a week's time?” 

Grumbling as he crosses his arms, Vaith refuses to answer for a few seconds. “It wasn’t a week. It happened practically as soon as she appeared in the throne room.” Fern bites his lip to keep his smile under control. “Shut up, Fern. At least I’m not running away from my feelings.” 

Fern lets out a noise of offence as he glares up at the Knight. “You aren’t doing anything about them though are you?!” Vaith looks off to the side, refusing to answer. Because Fern is right. Sure he may have accepted that he has feelings for Merleawe, but he’s far from doing anything about it. In fact he’s spent every day since her return avoiding her in the hope that the feelings will go away on their own. Fern stands on his tiptoes to get closer to Vaith’s eyeline. “Please tell me that you are going to tell her right? You won’t just ignore them?” When Vaith still doesn’t answer, Fern reaches out to pull Vaith down closer to him, forcing him to look at him. “If you don’t tell her I’ll go to Glenn about it. He’ll be so happy for you that he’ll never shut up about it. And if that isn’t enough of a threat, I’ll go to the Princess about it. You know for a fact that she’ll never shut up about it any time you two are in the same room together.” He lets go of Vaith’s coat allowing him to stand back up to his full height. “I know you can be an idiot sometimes. And you like to play at being a bad boy. But that’s not what you’re really like. Clearly not or Mel would never be anywhere near you. She isn’t the type to hang around with those sorts of people.” 

Vaith nods his head in acceptance. “Fern. You’ve known me for long enough to know that I’m  not the type to settle down.” 

A glare forms on Fern’s face again. “I’ve known you long enough to know you’re scared of settling down. Which is stupid! Merleawe is the kindest person any of us have ever met! And you can’t tell me settling down with her would be boring.” 

Tilting his head side to side, Vaith thinks about what Fern is saying. “I’ll think about it, alright? Will you get off my back now?” Fern nods his head firmly, but Vaith knows there’s a time limit on Fern’s acceptance. If he gets bored at any point Fern will make good on his promise to go to either Glenn or Seraphia about this. “Right well. Yue said he trusts Mel to do her duties on her own now so she’ll probably spend the day with you tomorrow. Night Fern.” With that he turns around and walks through the halls towards his own room.  

Three weeks have passed since Yue allowed Merleawe to start performing her duties as Master Wizard on her own. She was a bit nervous for the first few days but she adapted to the role perfectly and is now doing her job with no trouble at all. Seeing that Merleawe is comfortable in her job and now has some more free time, Seraphia invites Mel to spend the afternoon with her. 

Mel accepts immediately and meets Seraphia in her room. A few hours go by as they talk about this and that and how well Merleawe is settling in, before the topic shifts. “Seraphia, do you still love Master Sylthfarn?” 

Seraphia stops laughing and looks across the table at Mel. “I do. I don’t believe I’ll ever find someone who could replace him. She places her teacup down as she assesses her. “Why do you ask, Mel?” 

No answer comes for a few seconds as Mel runs her finger along the top of her teacup. “I was just wondering if you thought you could ever be happy with anyone else? I know that Master Sylthfarn meant a lot to you all.” Seraphia narrows her eyes at Mel for a few seconds, she can tell that there’s something else. Something that Mel isn’t telling her. “It’s just…. Sometimes I feel like I’m still a replacement for him. Not in regards to you anymore, but for the others. Vaith, Fern, Yue and Glenn. I feel like they look at me sometimes and all they can see is Master Sylthfarn. I know that the resemblance is still there, and that if they are still seeing him in me that it’s not on purpose and they don’t mean to upset me. But I feel like a placeholder sometimes. For someone who’s never going to come back no matter how much I wish you could all have him back in your lives.” 

Instantly, Seraphia stands up from her seat and moves around the table to hug her friend. “Merleawe what brought this on? I miss Sylth, yes, we all do. But you’re a dear friend as well.” 

Sniffling back a few tears, Mel returns the hug. They stay like that for a few more seconds before Mel pulls away. “I’m sorry, Seraphia. I didn’t mean to bring the mood down.” Seraphia shakes her head instantly before prompting her to explain. She waits for the Princess to be seated again before explaining. “Before I explain, can you keep a secret for me?” Seraphia nods instantly so Mel continues. “I’m in love with Vaith. But he’s been avoiding me since I came back and I don’t know why. He says I’ve not done anything to anger or upset him so I can’t figure out why he’s avoiding me. But no matter which one of them I’m with it feels like I’m trying to replace Master Sylthfarn. I’m not, I know I never could and I’d never try to. But Fern is my body double, I’m in charge of Vaith and his orders, and I technically out rank Yue even though I would never dream of being so presumptuous as to say such a thing. Glenn is the only one where I don’t feel like I’m trying to take Master Sylthfarn’s place. But even he looks at me sometimes like he’s looking straight through me, or he’s seeing someone else in my place.” Merleawe can no longer hold the tears back and they roll silently down her cheeks. “The worst part is Vaith though, even though it’s unlikely, if he did like me back how would I know he likes me or the parts of Master Sylthfarn that they all constantly look for?”

Without hesitating, Seraphia reaches across the table to pick up Merleawe's hand. She squeezes it once smiling slightly when she gets a squeeze back. "I'm so sorry you feel like that Merleawe. But they aren't trying to use you to replace him. Sure you may remind them of Sylth every now and then but they aren't using you as a replacement for him." She squeezes her hand again when Mel gives her a shaky nod. "And despite Vaith's persona, you know he wouldn't do that. If anything comes of your feelings for him he won't be using or tricking you. I'm sorry I haven't noticed your fears though. I would've made sure to comfort and reassure you before now." 

A second passes in silence as Mel smiles up at Seraphia. Squeezing her hand once more, Mel nods her head in acceptance. "You're right. I'm sorry. I did not mean to paint them in a bad light." Seraphia simply tightens her grip in understanding. "Thank you, Seraphia. I think I really needed to talk about this with someone. So I appreciate you listening to me."

Seraphia places her other hand on top of Mel's. "You don't need to thank me. You're my friend, of course I'll listen to you." The two share another smile before Mel starts pulling her hand back. "Are you planning to tell Vaith?" 

Mel stares at her for a few seconds. "I don't think so. Not until he stops avoiding me at least. I know he's said it's nothing to do with me but I don't believe him when he says that. Not completely. He says I haven't done anything to make him avoid me, never that it wasn't because of me." 

The Princess smiles sadly at her friend. "Well for whatever it's worth, I say you should at least think about telling him. Maybe it will help finally put your fears to rest." 

A few seconds pass as Mel tries to deny the truth behind what Seraphia is saying. “I suppose you’re right, yes. But I don’t think I’m going to tell him anything just yet.” Seraphia just smiles at her kindly as they sit silently and finish their tea. As Merleawe places her cup down, she looks back up at the other girl. “I’m afraid I still have some work to finish before the end of the day so I must leave you here. I will definitely invite you for tea again soon though.” 

Seraphia stands up with her. “I must be going as well, I have dinner planned with my grandfather. But yes, we must have tea again together soon.” They part ways as soon as they leave the parlour. With Seraphia heading for the King’s chambers while Mel heads towards the castle room that quickly became her office after Yue allowed her to do her own work.

Merleawe really did mean what she said to Seraphia. She was perfectly content to wait for Vaith to stop ignoring her before confronting him about her feelings. But after three straight weeks of Vaith ignoring her despite Mel telling him not to, well she was running out of patience. Which was saying something considering she's an incredibly patient person. But Vaith is starting to push his luck. Because despite having told her that she's done nothing wrong, he's still running out of a room when she enters it. Yet his behaviour hasn't changed when he's around the others. So she knows it is her that he has a problem with. Meaning that she's finding it quite difficult to wait patiently for him to stop avoiding her because it doesn't look like he ever will.

Not wanting to make rash decisions and risk making Vaith's behaviour worse and make him even more avoidant, she gives him a few more days to stop ignoring her. But when there's still no change in his behaviour by the end of the week, Mel decides it's about time she takes matters into her own hands. 

Getting Seraphia on board with her plan was easy. The Princess was more than eager to help Merleawe, so there was no fight when she asked Seraphia to get her a spare key to Vaith's room. Asking Yue to give her her work for the next few days at once made him a bit suspicious but he complied nonetheless. 

With her work all piled up on her desk she got to work. It might take her all day to finish all of it, but if all goes well she'll have the rest of the week to prepare for and execute her plan. Taking a page out of Vaith's book she ignores him for the next few days. She goes to Yue when she needs his signature for a few specific documents and joins Seraphia for tea in the garden once she's done with the work, even asking Fern to join the two of them (which he agreed to less begrudgingly then she thought he would) and joins Glenn on his trip to visit the children in the lower town.

But whenever Vaith comes into view, she turns away from him and ignores him. Leaves the room as quickly (and politely) as possible. He seems to catch on to what she's doing pretty quickly which doesn't surprise her. Nor does it surprise her when he doesn't do anything about it. Mel supposes he thinks he deserves it after ignoring her for over a month, which she wouldn't exactly disagree with. But she's not done. There's a reason that she asked Seraphia to get her a copy of Vaith's room key and she supposes it's nearly time to use it. 

After deciding to start the last part of her plan, she retires early to her room, feigning tiredness and light headedness. When in reality, she is returning to her room to grab the spare key to Vaith's. Key in hand she walks through the castle as quietly as possible towards Vaith's room. 

When she finds it empty she smiles to herself and sits at Vaith's desk to wait for his return. Knowing that she's most likely in for a long wait, she begins practicing some magic. She doesn't exactly need to at this point, her magic is much better than it was when she first lived in the castle. But she likes to keep practicing so that her skill never drops to the level it was when she was 14. 

The sky has grown dark when she finally hears the door open. As soon as Vaith enters his room he turns to lock the door behind him. As quietly as she can, Mel sneaks up behind him and snatches the key from his hand as soon as the door is locked. "What the…!" He spins quickly to get a look at the person in his room. "Mel? How did you get in here?"

Mel holds up the spare key. "I got Seraphia to give me a spare key. Because I'm tired of waiting for you to stop avoiding me so we're going to talk about this and then I'll give you back your key and get rid of the spare." Vaith stares at her silently. "I'm sorry for invading your privacy like this. But this is exactly what I'm talking about! Rather than getting angry or annoyed about this you're just staring at me!" 

Vaith just stares at her for a few more seconds before nodding his head. "Okay. I'll talk to you."

A breath of relief escapes her. "Thank you. Can you start with why you've been ignoring me for over a month?"

Another few seconds pass in silence as Mel waits for him to start talking. "I owe you an apology Mel. I wasn't lying when I said you hadn't done anything wrong but I made you think you had. That's my bad and I'm honestly sorry about that. As for the reason I was avoiding you, well it was stupid really, but I was hoping if I avoided you that these feelings would just go away on their own." 

Staring up at him in disbelief, Mel raises an eyebrow at him. "What feelings? And why did you need them to go away?" 

Nothing gets said as Vaith moves to sit in the chair Mel recently vacated. "I like you Mel. I probably have for a while but I've been in love with you basically since you showed back up." Mel takes a breath as Vaith pauses. "That's why I've been avoiding you. I was hoping the feelings would go away on their own so that things weren't weird between us but that seems to have had the opposite effect. Because my avoiding you has annoyed and probably upset you." Mel goes to deny that last part but Vaith just powers on. "Please don't try and tell me it didn't I heard you crying last week when you were with Princess Seraphia." 

Not wanting to let him carry on in this fashion, Mel walks across the room to stand right in front of him. "Vaith did you hear anything of what I was talking to her about?" He shakes his head in denial after a few seconds. "Firstly I was crying for a stupid reason anyway but it didn't have anything to do with you ignoring me. I was crying because I felt like I was trying to replace Master Sylthfarn. I'm not but I've effectively taken his place in the castle now and it felt like that's what I was trying to do. That's why I was crying." She takes a small step closer and holds her hand out next to Vaith's cheek, waiting for his approval to make contact. When she gets a small nod in response she gently rests her hand on his cheek. "And you should have just come to talk to me Vaith." She strokes Vaith's cheek softly with her thumb. "I've been in love with you for some time now as well. You didn't need to avoid me." Resting her thumb back on his cheekbone, she pushes his head slightly so that he's making eye contact with her. "Will you tell me properly now that we've cleared everything up?"

Vaith moves his hand up to place it on top of hers. "I love you, Mel. And I'm sorry I was so stupid about it." 

Merleawe smiles down at him. "It's alright Vaith, I forgive you." She sticks her tongue out at him. "Still a bit annoyed you thought the best plan was to avoid me but it's okay." They spend the rest of the night sat together on Vaith's bed as they talk about what they both got up to over the last five years.