And a Song Someone Sings

The crisp air of autumn had given way quite recently to the biting cold of winter that Orion remembered from when he was just a small pup. He wasn't the gawky teenager that he had been in the summer, he was coming into his own. Four long legs carried the wolf over the thin layer of snow that blanketed the earth, his tracks laying out single file behind him as his coat billowed around him, whipped and buffeted by the wind. There was an exhilarating sense of freedom offered to the young wolf in being out on his own like this, no cloak to weigh down his shoulders and stick his pelt to him, no barrier to keep the biting cold off his pelt, no fire to warm his whiskers and toes by, he didn't want any of that.

Coming to a stop by the border of his packs territory, the dark furred boy sat and bellowed and bayed at the flakes that fell all around him and turned his world white. He loved the white snow, the patches where dark pine needles and tree bark peaked out in spots, it all reminded him of the girl he only remembered in his dreams now, for all he knew maybe she had only ever been a dream, but she was still beautiful to him and that was all that he knew for sure.

There weren't too many things that the wolf found beautiful, but running on four legs, the wind that whipped through the trees and through his fur, the stars, the sun glancing off the glassy surface of deep waters, and the girl. He didn't know her, he didn't pine and ponder and yearn for her presence, but he did think about her often. He didn't grieve for her absence like a love struck pup, but still he wondered if he would ever get to see her again.

The sound of crunching pad-falls off to one side of him had the dark wolf ducking behind some snow covered brush, but it was of no use, sticking out as he did like a dark smudge against the snow, but still, he smelled a few Cavaliers, and a couple outsiders alike. Curiosity got the better of the wolf and he did not respectfully stay out of their path as another wolf might have done, but instead came closer to see who it was. He indeed recognized a few of them, having seen them around the pack. This group was all silver and white, perhaps they were related, a family, but green-gold eyes widened as he actually registered who all was standing there. Apart from the ones he'd recognized as members of Casa, or perhaps now past members, there stood the girl from a distant memory.

"красота..." He couldn't help but murmur.

Well, their family was all back together again now, so that was something to be happy about. It was good seeing Nomos and Seira again, now that they were so much bigger than she remembered them. Then again, she had grown now too, and wasn't the child they knew anymore. Her brothers, whom she only met on trips to Casa and whenever they came to visit, seemed to be kind and sweet towards her, if not a bit distant. One more so than the other, she thought as she furrowed her brow, anxious that they were holding something back that might bubble up. Maybe she was just looking into things, but the small clan was in a tenuous situation at best.

Her frame began to droop, holding her arm by the joint as she huffed, so confused and concerned for the future. What were they gonna do now? Her parents said again and again that they have it all under control, but to Johanna it felt like they were just going to head out into the wilds and wander around. Well, she supposed that is what wolves would typically do, but there was just something about having a place to roost. And then of course, there was, him. The Einar man had been despondent when she told him she was leaving, but for him to turn around and say such things.. It was a strange feeling. One that she couldn't shake, with as much excitement as trepidation. Looking down to her legs as she crunched through the snow on two feet, she couldn't help but feel like the dress was getting smaller on her, bit by bit. Or maybe, she was outgrowing it. Her life was running away from her faster than she could catch it, and it felt like the only thing to do now was hope that she made the right choice when it came.

Her father in the lead began to slow, causing a chain reaction as all of her relatives to follow suit. Not entirely able to see over their broad shoulders, Johanna peeked and pried around the pack before she wriggled her way through to see what caused the convoy to halt. Something was probably blocking the road, of course, and the youngest of the group was curious as to what block-headed creature it was. The first thing she thought when she saw what was going on was Oh, it's that one goof. Her next thought was some sort of confused expletive, as he spouted more nonsense at them.

Lukos' eyes narrowed in recollection, knowing the dark figure as the kid that butted into Johanna and himself when they were out training on hunting. He seemed a little off balance back then, and even now the veteran could tell that the boy wasn't interested in the gathering as a whole... Tracing the lines and connecting the dots, something sparked behind his yellowed eyes, and wrapped around two long arms around as much of his family as he could fit. "You know what, I thought I saw something interesting over in this direction.." The wolf, with much of a nefarious grin, gave a glint of a look to his mate before pushing the clan off in another direction, abandoning the ashen haired daughter with eyes that could both murder and plead.

Dismayed and confused that her entire family had just suddenly abandoned her, Johanna creaked her limbs back to face the cavalier that stood in their path before, giving him a very uneasy glance with a poorly concealing smile. "... So, uhhh..." she hummed, still trying to figure out what just happened. "What uh... brings you here?" she asked, gaze darting around with a frenzy. For a moment she debated running after her dad and dive-bombing them for ditching her, but the thought of it brought a twinge of guilt towards this guy that can't even talk right. Maybe at the first sign of stupid she could break off and make a run for it. Yeah, that would work.
The large dark furred lupus form sat back on his haunches in the snow as he looked up at the ashen snow girl, her tumbles of grey hair blowing about her shoulders in the breeze. It was only after the word had left his maw that the male had remembered that it had irritated this girl last time he'd uttered the word to her. "I-I'm sorry, I uh, I live here..." The wolf gave an awkward start to the conversation as he replied to her question, his ears seemingly unable to settle between a back or forward position atop his skull as he looked at her and watched the rest of her family swiftly take their leave, leaving the two youngest alone together.

"Russian... I ah... The word I said to you before, it's another language that my grandpa spoke around the den when he was alive..." He muttered, hoping that she wouldn't get mad again like his father did whenever the lad slipped back into his other tongue around him. "S..Sorry.." He murmured, tail laying limp in the snow, but his ears finally settling on a pricked forward position. Conveniently, the male failed to tell her what it was that he actually said to her, and he hoped she didn't ask if he was being honest.

"So ah, um, what are you doing with the twins? Are they your family? Where did your family go just now?" He asked, thinking that perhaps if he could fill the silence just a bit, she might be more interested in him in return, she might have a fond impression of him, unlike the last time they'd met when the youngsters reaction to their chance encounter had nearly cost them each a hunt. Restless paws shuffled in the fresh snow, dark claws revealing the dark earth beneath them as he waited for her answer, waited to see if anything could become of this chance second encounter.
The awkward teen watched the other more awkward teen as he rested on his hind end, not sure whether to be uncomfortable or slightly annoyed with the situation. To the dark male's defense however, it wasn't his fault directly that she was ditched so that her father could play whatever mind games he wanted to. It seemed that the first stupid drawn was from her though, as the Cavalier pointed out the obvious that they were standing in Cavalier territory. Cringing from the lack of foresight, she laughed nervously and glanced off in the direction of her family, weakly adding "Haha, yeah, that's right.." before drawing her muzzle into a thin smile.

Oh. Great. And now it comes out that she insulted his dead grandfather. Spectacular. Half blocking her vision of the dark wolf, she coughed in an embarrassed tone, feeling more and more like she was being the idiot out of the two of them. "I um, I'm sorry, to hear that." she said, thinking that she got the condolences part right. She had only dealt with death at most once before, and that occasion wasn't exactly a remorseful event, although somber. "It's fine, honestly." she assured him, not wanting to upset the male. If that's something that he had to remember his grandpa by, it wasn't her place to discourage him. She honestly felt the urge to crack a joke about how at least she knew it wasn't gibberish now, but shame and fear of further embarrassing both of them told her it'd be better to stop before things got worse.

The Cavalier provided an alternate topic, possibly for himself or for her, but Johanna jumped on the chance. "Yeah, they're my older brothers, apparently. Mom and Dad wanted to get the family back together, supposedly we're heading north. And where they went, I'd love to know." she replied, conveniently leaving out her own explanation for the reason she was told they were leaving. Wasn't really something to tell every passing stranger, and not like it mattered why or where they were headed. It was just away, is all.
[please excuse the short length of this post :>]

Things seemed to be going further down hill by the moment as Orion sat there and the pair of them tried to make small talk, but there was something in the young male that urged him to keep trying, in the very least, to make the situation less awkward if not to leave behind a good impression. "Hey, it's okay. Let's start over." He urged, green gold eyes darting to one side for a moment before he changed the subject to her family and what they were up to.

She seemed relieved that the Cavalier had turned the topic elsewhere, but she was still tense. "Yeah, it was kind of weird how your dad just grabbed everyone and walked away, but uh..." Standing, the wolf began to shift up into his two legged form as quickly as he could.

"Hang on a second..." He muttered as he watched his front digits grow in length, the bones stretching and the muscles changing shape to adapt to their new orientation. Legs lengthened past the length of his arms, and so he pushed off of the ground with his hands and began to straighten his spine, tail falling to his ankles as tumbles of long dark hair spilled over his shoulders.

"Is this better?" He asked now looking down at the ashen snow girl from well above her head, and offering a rough padded hand for her to take in greeting. "I don't know if I introduced myself last time but, I am Orion. The uh, hunt, that was fun, I've wondered if I'd ever run into you again." He offered with earnest eyes and a neutral expression on his face.
[It's a wonderful post ^4^]

Once the two of them had thoroughly made things unbearably awkward, the Cavalier was polite enough to start again, which was a refreshing change of pace. "Fine by me." she told him, with a sigh of relief. In the initial phase of the conversation, it was hard to even look him in those golden green eyes at first, but maybe if they started from the beginning it wouldn't feel like pulling fangs. On the changing of topic, her expression soured a bit, not happy about how she was finally at the tail end of one of her father's antics. They had all heard a story or two of when he was young and a trouble-maker, though he always shared such stories with a strange glint in his eyes.

"Dad is the type of person that smiles and laughs if all you call him is 'weird'." she said with a sardonic tone. He had a lot of strange habits, and if the mood was right he would mock anyone who chose to throw down with him then and there. He'd done so a handful of times whenever he personally trained her, always grinning and giggling like a little pup as he taunted her. When it came down to the actual sparring though, at times he was actually scarier than her mom, for different reasons. Sufficiently having been lost in her own thoughts, Johanna returned to the present to notice that the male was halfway through shifting forms. The image in her head clashed with what she was seeing, as the Cavalier steadily grew more and more, taller and taller as he stood up from the ground abruptly, nearly a foot taller than her.

Looking at him now, it seemed to click with the current reality check that he was actually bigger than her when they were both in Lupus form, but having only seen him in said form, she always kind of saw him as small because of it. It was a little daunting actually, that she was so casually chatting with someone that looked even a little taller than her dad. Looking him up and down though, she couldn't help but notice he was a bit on the scrawny side, so intimidation factor was lessened. "Well, it's not as easy to look down on you." she said, with a joking look that would say she'd manage anyhow.

The male reached out a worn hand, now that he had one, and offered to formerly introduce himself. However, the Greyfire girl couldn't help but stifle a spot of laughter, making it more of a snort at the time. "Ah, yes, I was wondering when I'd get the chance to think of you by another name than 'Deer Bait'." she said, gingerly taking his hand as she giggled into a fist. Straightening up, her deep blue eyes locked with his, putting on that formal mask she'd been cultivating. "Johanna Greyfire, of the Greyfire clan, formerly Ashen of the Order." she stated, though with a glimmer of sadness in that last title. Brushing aside the still wounded feelings, she tried to compose herself.

"So, Orion, Cavalier, why wonder if you'd meet me again?" she asked bluntly, probing what was probably the most interesting point laid bare. If they were going to stand here and yak to each other for however long it took for her family to give up the game, she might as well know why this guy had an interest in seeing her again.
The air between them seemed to grow slightly easier as they moved past a terribly awkward first greeting and the ice, if not entirely broken yet, had been chipped at and thinned to a degree. "Psh, I wish my dad was more like that, I think he's got a stick up his tail with how stiff he is." The dark furred Cavalier noted, flicking his torn ear and scratching the back of his neck. Her next line, a joking jab about how it as less easy to look down on him, drew an easy grin to the boys face, his smile sheepish and with good humor about the situation. "I'm sure you can find a way."

As she announced the nickname she'd thought up for him, the wolf scoffed with a dramatic expression, clutching his chest with his free hand as he held hers for a brief moment. "I'm hurt, I'd like to think I played a better role than deer bait!" The wolf jokingly protested, but with proper introductions underway, the act was put away for a later time. "Ashen, huh? That sounds like a fitting title." He pondered; the wolf was interested to hear what she had to say to him.

That was, until she actually said what was interesting her. With that, the wolf's expression changed and he stiffened, turning his face up and to the side as his eyes followed suit, his arms crossing over his chest. "Oh, you know, no reason." He lied, attempting to play it off as though it as nothing at all, but he was a bad liar, his ears drew back as he eyed her again, his tail tucked against his leg. "I-I ah, I just.. um.. well.. I thought, you were... (pretty)" He mumbled the last word in such a way that it was almost inaudible, unable to be made out, before he sprang up and backed away a couple paces. "WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE SUN, IT'S GONNA SET SOON, MUST BE GETTING LATE, EHEHEH." He tried to blurt out some excuse to flee, but his feet wouldn't carry him away, he merely stood there stiff as a board, golden green eyes darting between her and the surrounding scenery.
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The two eventually managed to get on the topic of their fathers, and it sounded like their respective dads couldn't be more different than each other. With a snort, Johanna folded her arms for comfort, giving a grin as she looked off to the side. "Dad can be stubborn, but I've never known him to be stuck up. Maybe your dad should learn to take a breath?" she said, with a smirk. The smile faltered though, as her brow furrowed and she glanced at the Cavalier. "Well, not that I really got to know him, during that one time." She thought maybe she shouldn't have said anything now, she didn't want to seem like a snotty brat that made snap judgements about people.

The tall wolf seemed to take her comment rather lightheartedly, giving a dorky smile and saying something similar to her own thoughts. It made her laugh a little, hearing him say what was on her mind. A curious thing to be sure, and maybe that's why it felt funny to hear. His acting was funny as well, if not a bit over dramatic. She smirked as he exclaimed greater valor than just being deer bait, giving a glint to Johanna's eyes. "Oh yes, you also spooked the deer well enough before we started hunting." she teased with a smile, before catching the feeling that he was growing serious again when introductions were given. He noted the nature of her title, which deepened the bittersweet taste in the air, halfheartedly shrugging at his comment. "Yeah, I guess." she mumbled, twirling a lock of grey in her fingers before letting it fall down. "It fit in line with the family theme, at least. Always fire, fire, fire. Guess mine's supposed to mean what comes after or something." she said with a scrunched brow, throwing her hands in the air. "I never really learned if my name was just about my looks or if there was more to it, though sometimes I wonder if they put any thought into it at all, and thought it'd just fit in with the others." she said, crossing her arms and shifting her weight, the dress swishing around her legs.

"But what about you then?" she said, hastily changing the subject. "Is it just Orion, or do you have any fancy titles as well?" she said, leaning more towards him with curiosity. "Actually, what does Orion even mean? Any significance?" she asked with the tilt of her head. The silver Greyfire was pretty sure Johanna just meant Johanna, but she knew that sometimes people had a story behind their names. Maybe it would be interesting? Though what was certainly interesting was his response to her other question. Just about his entire body told her that the boy was lying, from his prone ears to his ashamed tail. "Come on, there had to be some reason." she said, crossing her arms once more, dominantly this time as she angled her side over to him. The cavalier mumbled something out, with snowy ears rotating to try and hear him better before he suddenly sprang back to life as well as a foot away.

Puzzled, she knew that she could barely make out the sentence, but that last bit she couldn't catch. If he had actually opened his mouth more and stopped trying to seem all small for someone so large she might've made it out. But of course immediately after he started blurting some nonsense, making the loner girl flinch from how loud he suddenly became, as she twisted away from him. Suspicion and annoyance were plastered all over her features, as she raised an eyebrow at him. "Yeah, it kinda does that every day." she said, eyeing the odd male. "Listen, if you didn't want to tell me, then don't hurt yourself trying, okay?" she said with a huff, he looked like he was about to trip over himself or something. He kept looking at something or some things, behind her, as he glanced to her and then away. Her head listed back and forth over her shoulders, and gave Orion another quizzical look. "Is there something behind me? I can't really see anything, but you look like there's a bear just behind the next shrub." Gods, whenever she meets this guy he's always acting like this. He's a completely different vibe than from him, that's for sure.
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Orion thought it was funny, charming in a strange way, how his female counterpart would keep saying her mind, and then back tracking for fear of offending him. She wasn't as standoffish as she would have him believe, she cared what he thought of her in a way, and how her words affected him, despite her outwardly snarky attitude. "Oh, be glad that you don't know him, he takes plenty of breaths, but they all come with scoldings attached." The dark wolf admitted with a roll of his golden green eyes. "You must have seen it the one time you did meet him." He smiled sheepishly and tangled his fingers through his dark dust colored mane, raking the long hairs back out of his eyes as best he could.

There was a fierce light to her eyes as they began to joke back and forth, a small banter developing between the two yearlings, her comment about how he spooked the deer would be met with his own snappy comeback. "If I recall, you spoke loud enough to get the whole herds attention too." He offered with a wink and a grin.

They exchanged greetings and formal introductions, the banter having been put on the back burner for the time being, but his tail swayed easily behind him as they spoke, the tension from earlier seeming to have dissipated for the most part as far as he could tell. He was on cloud nine, finally being able to talk to and get to know the wolf who'd been on his mind, at least for a brief few moments until her family returned for her or she left t catch up with them. On the topic of names and titles as far as their introductions went, he couldn't tell precisely, but it seemed as though she wasn't quite fond of her former title, or perhaps it was something else. He listened intently as she spoke about it, his notched ears tipping forward to show her that he was listening. "Well, we're all given names in the beginning, because no one knows who we are then, or who we're gonna become, right?" He started, scratching an arm and looking off to the side for a moment before his eyes caught hers again. "Maybe it was because of your looks, like ash and snow, but it's up to you to figure out what title and what role fit you now if that one doesn't anymore."

"Me? I'm Orion Knight, Second Cadet of Casa di Cavalieri, but, you don't need to be so formal." He gave her a shy smile with his words, "It's Knight like the soldier, but my mothers name is Night, and so me and my sister have names of stars, at least I was told it has something to do with stars. And my rank is a low one in the pack." He said a bit sheepishly, but the next marker in the conversation had his entire countenance shifting to one of panic and avoidance.

He made a spectacle of himself, and once again, things between the pair were as awkward as ever. "I-i-i-it's, w-well, I just, um, it's not that I, don't, want to tell you it's just that, um, I just..." His start was as graceful as ever as he pulled his hand down over his muzzle in shame and exasperation for his own inability to get the words out. "I, no, it's just that, I.." He kept stammering, until at last his gaze hit the ground and a sheepish look took over his features as he took a deep shuddering breath and loud exhale. "It's because you're pretty... and... I wondered what it would be like to get to know you better..." He mumbled, but more audibly this time. "Eheh..."
[WORDS]: 988
The cavalier didn't seem to take offense to her comment about his father, which was good. Her own family taught her the value of your relations, so she couldn't be too careful when it came to unknown territory about familial bonds. The dark giant seemed all to eager to share her sentiments however, as he came back with his own remark about the older cavalier. She smiled and nodded sagely, as if she had any idea what that was like. Truth be told, the most that her parents ever scolded her was when she talked back to them, or during a particularly painful training session.

She felt rather indignant at his own jab at her pride, though she supposed it was all in good fun since she drew first blood. Heavily rolling her eyes at Orion, Johanna folded her arms in and cocked her hips in an indignant manner, smirking all the while. "Hey, using a different form of language means you could've been saying anything, I'm supposed to just let it slide?" she taunted him, sticking her tongue out playfully.

But then surprisingly, when she became a little despondent the other wolf started getting all poetic on her. Jo's expression scrunched up a bit at his words, but gave him a gentle smile for his kind words. "No, I'm sure it fits me plenty. Guess I was just wondering about the meaning of it all. But, thank you, I suppose." she told him sincerely, since he at least gave her something to think about. She couldn't help but raise her brow at his own formal introduction, with the corners of her mouth turning upwards. "Knight, huh? Kind of a fitting last name for the pack, don'tcha think? Who started the name I wonder?" she mused, finding it kind of funny that a family named Knight lived in a pack full of warrior horsemen. That couldn't be a coincidence, could it? The naming conventions for his given name, however, that was interesting as well. She wondered how many stars there were out there with names that could be given to kids.

He seemed a bit embarrassed when it came to his rank, and maybe given his recent kindness, she felt a little bad for him. Unsure of how to console him for a moment, she swished her skirt to feel the fabric brush up against her before she had a thought. Clasping her arm behind her back, Johanna swayed a bit slower as she began to read it out in her head, before looking directly at Orion. "Cadet huh? Well, you're still pretty young, and you seem like a good and brave person. If you stick with it, I'm sure you could get promoted and have a fancier title in no time, so, just do your best." she told him, trying to sound however people sounded when they were being sweet.

But still, bringing up what he said in that other tongue seemed to hit a nerve, and then pressuring him out of annoyance seemed to fluster the poor thing even further. She couldn't really keep a smirk off her face when it was for sure that he was spiraling out of control over her questions, even going so far as to stutter worse than her mama did. The Knight started and stopped himself more than once, and at this point Jo was beginning to lean in his direction in anticipation of what he was going to say. What came out of his mouth though, was far from expected.

Johanna stood still for a moment, staring at this relative stranger, before she started laughing to the point she was clutching her gut. It just kinda, sprung up out of her, she couldn't help it or anything. She ended up doubling over, trying to breathe through her nose and stop long enough to catch her breath. Aware that without context, this looked really bad, so she raised a struggling hand to wave away his concerns. "Hehehe, nononono, hehe, wait, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, hhehehehe, ahahahaha!" she said, beginning to calm down from the heaves in her chest, wiping away tears from her eyes.

"It's, it's just, ahaha, I wasn't expecting you to think I'm pretty, is all." she told him hastily, before he got the wrong impression. She didn't really know what to make of the cavalier, it was only her second time meeting him, but the last thing she wanted was to tear him down when he already seemed so awkward. Trying to perform deep breaths to steady herself, Johanna looked at him with a bit of embarrassment, for both her reaction and her thoughts. "I um, don't really consider myself pretty. I mean, I'm not, ugly, but I'm kind of just, me, ya know? It's not really a consideration, even when I don't feel.." She lingered for a moment, slowly getting more crestfallen. Why is she saying this to someone she barely knew? It's not like it mattered, anyways.

Quickly wanting to change the subject, ocean blue eyes glanced back up to Orion, as she cleared her throat and weakly smiled again before a small giggle escaped. "I don't want to be mean, not right after that awful display, but I um... I kind of thought of another nickname for you." she hummed, twisting her hands behind her dress, not really sure if she was making things better or worse. Despite the awkwardness and the rough start, for the first time in a hot minute, she was kind of enjoying herself, talking to this guy. Now that she was actually kinda having fun, the last thing she wanted was to make him feel so bad that he ended up walking out. It was pretty funny though, to her at least.
[Word Count: 1507]

It was refreshing, even disregarding the fact that Orion had been rather preoccupied in the past with thoughts of the snow and ash girl that stood before him in that moment, it was also a breath of fresh air for the male to be able to have a conversation with someone outside of his own pack, his own clan. Day after day Orion was tired with his lot in life, facing the doldrums of pack life and only ever interacting with the only people he got to interact with, only his family, his pack mates, no one ever new and interesting came into his life since he was a boy just meeting everyone in his pack for the first time. Those people did not hold much interest for the Cavalier, yes he may have cared for them, and would do what he could to keep them safe if the need to do so should arise, he was tired of that life. That was why he came out into the wilds so often, where his four paws could meet the ground, where his fur could meet the wind, where the earth met the sky and he could run between them forever.

They bantered back and forth about Orion's own father, an act in and of itself that Orion knew would earn him a proper tongue lashing should Remus be here to hear what they had to say, but at the time, Orion could finally take a deep breath and let go of that care. He was having fun, and he didn't care what kind of trouble that could have gotten him into. They moved on to joking and jabbing at each other about the one time that they had met prior, about who caused the most problems in their little hunting party, about pridefulness and pretending as though they were each so haughty and indignant about the matter.

Orion crossed his own arms and straightened up in response to her shifting all her weight to one leg and smirking, his own maw stretching into the facade of a grin of superiority, looking down at the sapphire blue eyed girl down his muzzle through yellow stained emeralds. "Well, if you'd like I could try to teach you that language." He said in a somewhat boasting tone, though it was all airs to meet the indignant look of the girl, trying to meet her tit for tat in their little verbal sparring match.

Despite their teasing, and Orion's desire to impress the girl by showing that he could be as quick witted as she was, when it seemed like her guard was lowering a bit and she expressed some genuine feeling of wonderment about her title and whether it fit her, he tried to be as genuine as he could as well, his brows knitting together when the girl began to appear somewhat crestfallen and doing his best to reassure her. At the little, genuinely sweet smile that she offered, Orion could feel his heart skip a beat or two and a warmth rose to his cheeks, but returned his own sheepish smile to her as he reached a hand up to scratch the back of his neck a bit.

Once the topic of the conversation switched back over to Orion himself, he became bit by bit more uncomfortable, he began fidgeting and wishing for the topic to change, after all he'd been hoping to impress the girl in whatever way, but the more he revealed about his largely unimpressive self, the more questions she began to ask him. "Who came up with the name?" The wolf repeated the question as he pondered what his answer would be for the briefest of moments. "Some old dead guy I guess, maybe my great great grandfather, there are a lot of us though, in the pack. I think the Knights created Casa di Cavalieri." The poor boy let out a breath of air as he continued to ramble about it for just a bit. "It's pretty cheesy, isn't it?"

He breathed again, a long sigh, as Johanna pondered what to say to him about his rank, subconsciously mirroring her stance as he too clasped his hands behind his back and rock on his feet ever so slightly. "You think so?" He asked at last after she had finished her part about how he could overcome his rank with a bit of determination and youthful vigor. "Well I'm not younger than you." He started almost indignantly but with a bashful look about him, his tail and ripped ear twitching as he looked to the side of him. "And I'm not really sure that that's what I want, in all honesty." He admitted, letting his hands go to fall freely at his sides. "I don't see myself having a future here, I think I might leave this place some day too." and maybe I'll go to wherever you are, and we can be friends. He finished the sentiment with a silent thought as he looked at her.

When the tide turned even further, Orion began to feel as though he might drown in his shame with how things were unfolding. His tail and ears practically disappeared with how forcefully they tucked themselves away as he stammered and fell all over himself, random words seeming to fall out of his mouth like yesterday's lunch as the other girl grew impatient and rather snippy with him in his attempts to answer her question. Right then and there, he wanted to die, to just decay away into the ground and become one with the soil rather than standing there and enduring his own shame.

When at last the dark coated male had collected himself just rightly enough that he could blurt out what he had intended to say in the first place, she didn't move, not at first, just staring at him with this blank expression that made him want to be able to disappear even more so, like a raindrop falling and vanishing into a great lake with no trace that it ever existed in it's singularity. He thought that nothing could make this moment worse for him, until he was proven wrong yet again, and the girl he had just told that he found pretty began to cackle wildly at his admission, doubling over and nearly falling onto the ground with the force of the humor that she found in his humiliation.

Orion frowned in such a way that creased his face, squaring his shoulders and puffing up his chest with his fists balled at his side and his tail and spine fur all bristling like the quills of a porcupine. Through fits of breathless giggling, the girl began to spill apologies and make the attempt to calm herself, but the male was already puffy as he crossed his arms over his chest and more or less pouted at her. "Yeah, what's that supposed to mean then?" The wolf huffed, his ears now pushed forward like his eyebrows which were knitted together in the middle of his forehead.

With a heavy sigh, after a moment's frustration had gripped him, the wolf closed his eyes and uncrossed his arms before looking at her again, his puffed up fur relaxing back into place, though he still looked just a bit hurt behind his gold flecked emerald gaze. The after image of a pout lingered on the tall male's face for a while more as she began to explain herself, and he didn't look directly at her as she spoke, feeling indignant and a bit immature in the way he wished to react. "Yeah well you're not supposed to find yourself pretty, people who do end up growing big heads." He stated a bit bluntly in his tone, glancing over at her at last as she started a sentence and then didn't finish it.

"Wait a second, hey, you made me say that, now you have to finish what you were going to say!" The adolescent Cavalier insisted, looking at her directly now and expectant in his gaze as he waited for her to finish what she had started to say. "Even when you don't feel what?" The male could tell that she didn't want to finish her words, but he'd already suffered enough embarrassment to want to seek a bit of retribution in trying to make her spit out what she was going to tell him. "I won't let you get out of this one that easily after you laughed at me like that, so after that we can both tell each other the new nicknames we came up with, how bout that?" The wolf finished with a huff, sticking his tongue out at the girl his age with a crinkle of his nose and a lighthearted sneer. He wasn't one to hold grudges. After he got his revenge, that was.
[WORDS]: 1091
Well, he certainly knew how to play along, that was for sure. The cavalier met her tit-for-tat, raising himself up to have an air of dominance, Johanna unphased as he stared down at her. "Haha, I'm not sure that'd work all that much, I can hardly get my low-speech right sometimes." she told him with a shrug and a smile, knowing she still had to practice speaking to birds. How her mother does it she'll never know, maybe it's something in the throat you'd have to use.

She could tell by the way he was shifting and fumbling with his hands that the male was becoming uncomfortable at her probing, but she really was interested in learning about him and his heritage. Orion himself didn't seem to entirely know, giving the Greyfire only vague answers, but she perked up a bit when he suggested that his family founded their pack. While he seemed embarrassed about what that meant, Johanna looked at him with sparkling eyes, a little impressed that he descended from the first cavaliers. "In that context, I don't think it's cheesy at all! Cause you know, wouldn't that make your family like nobility, right? So then you'd be a noble too, kinda. Back when my parents were in a pack, their leaders started calling themselves 'kings' after a while, and since Mom was adopted by the first king that kinda makes all of us royalty, in a way. So I think it's pretty neat~" she said, finally finished gushing about her wild ideas on how they were technically high class. He might not appreciate her seeming uncool, so Johanna quickly cleared her throat, brushing back some hair and instead tried to cheer his spirits talking about his rank.

When he expressed that he didn't entirely want to pursue a higher rank in his own pack though, the teen couldn't help but look at him in disbelief for a moment. She had the Order once, and as dear to her as it was the loner band couldn't compete with a large pack like Casa di Cavalieri. To give up his home, his pack, his family? The very thought puzzled her, but Jo guessed that not everyone would be like her. Some people might just crave the unknown, the unfamiliar, while she... Johanna longed for somewhere to belong to, a purpose to hold for her own. Her family was with her, and of course she needed them too, but they needed something greater, something that had meaning in the world. A place like Casa, you could find that there. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean, but hopefully you find what makes you happy." she said meekly, trying to be considerate amidst the teasing.

At first, she thought that they were still just having fun, but the more curious she got the more uncomfortable Orion looked. She wanted to know what he said, but still it really wasn't that big of a deal. He acted like she just caught him swiping a bottle from the adults cupboard, not what he said in another tongue. The more she leaned towards him though, and the more he stammered, the dots started to connect themselves, and it was when he finally spit out what he meant that the full picture was revealed to the young wolf. For the longest time she was stunned, was this guy for real? They met only twice now, and already he was saying ludicrous things. She didn't say anything, because what was she supposed to say to that? Though, anything could've been better than what shock and nerves provided. After the torrent of laughter subsided, and she tried to explain herself, the good feelings slowly ebbed away, fixed on his expression. This wasn't an act anymore, this was real, raw, and she had actually offended him now. And how could she not have, after that breach of character. Unable to look his golden green eyes directly, Johanna dropped her muzzle, feeling like the biggest bitch in the world right then.

Ash-tipped ears wilted, flattening to the side as he snapped at her in a wounded tone. "Heheh, yeah, you're probably right." she mumbled, her laugh more forced now than it was before. In the very least, Orion seemed to defuse himself a little after he vented a little, though as she stopped saying how she felt he demanded that she finish her sentence. Now on the backpedal herself, Johanna peeped up to him, before lowering her gaze to her wringing hands. "I, um..." she fumbled, knowing that he had her caught dead to rights. He started out talking forcefully towards her, wanting the white wolf to spill the beans, but he cooled a bit and tried to make it more of a fun little counter act like before, even if bringing up how she treated him just then was a bit of a twist of the knife. "Uh, okay, then.." she agreed, hoping he'd move on after she said her part and they traded names.

With a heavy huff, Johanna traced a paw on the ground, not looking up as she spoke. "I um... It's not that I'd even consider being pretty, even if I didn't feel like..." she froze, before taking a deep breath and pushing out the last bit in her head. " I don't deserve to be pretty. Like, I didn't do anything to warrant it. I'm not above average, I haven't done anything with my life, I'm not even capable of living apart from my parents..." she spoke lowly, letting out a shaky breath. She hated that there was no reason for her to be attractive to anyone, but she hated even more that she was fessing up to it. The most optimistic thing she felt about the current topic was that she didn't freak out or run away, even though this was the first time she actually told someone how she really felt.

With a desparate smile, Johanna finally made eye contact once more, rocking on the back of her feet as she cleared the trembling out of her throat. "So, uh, you first. What's my nickname?" she asked cheerfully, wanting to be done with what just happened. Hopefully, he would oblige and they could go blissfully forward without ever having to talk about deep seeded things again.
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Orion puzzled for a moment over the mention of Low-speech as the two briefly touched on the topic of language. "Low speech? I guess I can understand a couple things in horse, but other than that, I couldn't tell you... Then hey, maybe you can practice and if we ever meet up again, we can trade, my Russian for your Low-speech." he offered with a half way charming chuckle as his head tipped back just slightly with the motion of the laughter.

He was surprised however when the conversation had turned to his lineage, and the girl started talking about how the both of them could be considered noble or even royal if one looked at the leader of a pack as a king. He smiled, a subtle narrowing of his eyes and softening of his features as he saw how excited she seemed by the notion of what she'd said. "Oh, I don't doubt your royalty, Princess." The Cavalier teased back in a subtly mocking yet playful and sweet tone. "Not for a moment."

But he didn't really care about all that, whether he was royalty, the grandson of the Lune, a soldier from a fabled bloodline, or just a regular old wolf. All he really knew, was that right now, he was not free to choose his own path, and he already knew what path he wished he could travel, though he'd dare not say it, not yet. But he simply shrugged with a smile instead of replying to her.

But his smile faded as the topic turned to one of embarrassment for the dark earthen wolf-dog. She wanted to know what he'd said that time, and, in turn, it meant she would learn how he felt about her. He didn't know why he was so embarrassed, only that he'd never felt that way about anyone he'd known in his pack or in his life so far, and that he wanted to get to know her better before he felt ready to admit any feelings of that sort to her openly. He didn't know when that would be, or how he would do it, or even if he would ever get the chance to, but after many painful moments of awkwardness that seemed to stretch on into forever, he'd managed to blurt out what shamed him, and be royally laughed at as a result.

It stung, but the wolf didn't let this blow to his pride get the better of him for long. Soon, he'd answer in kind by demanding that the other finish what she was going to say as well, and, through some embarrassment of her own, she sheepishly complied. There was a thoughtful expression on the face of the boy as he heard what Johanna had had to say, and pondered over what his response would be, but it seemed that the female was in a rush to change the subject in turn. "Well, then your highness, I'll go first if that's your royal decree." He started, a glint in his eyes as he bowed mockingly to the girl and smiled again, though it was a bit of a sad look, not the haughty teasing look he'd possessed before, but a melancholic attempt at recreating it.

"Your new nickname is Mockingbird." He finished with a sticking out of his tongue and a light crinkling of his nose. "I think it's pretty fitting, don't you?" He asked with a solitary swish of his tail behind him. He waited to see what nickname the ashen female had thought up to grace him with as well, before he hesitated and looked at her more in earnest. "You know, you don't have to, do, anything to be pretty, right? You don't have to do anything drastic to earn peoples affection or respect either... I don't know what made you feel that way, but, usually people will come to like you by just getting to know you, and letting someone get to know you, sometimes letting your guard down, is all you have to do to be pretty too."
[WORDS]: 1145
In a way, it was kind of admirable, how determined the Knight was. Even after she said that it wouldn't be likely that she could learn a new dialect, he persisted, even going so far as to propose a trade. Truth was, she mostly understood the raptors, with their own unique little inflections, but because of Erebus that they practiced low-speech for horses as well. Johanna wasn't exactly skilled in either one, so she'd have to ask her mom for help if she was going to be of any use. "If you really want to suffer through both teaching and learning from me, be my guest." she chuckled back, forgetting the nature of her family's visit and the likeliness of ever coming back this way.

Orion didn't seem to exactly share her enthusiasm with the far-fetched theory that they could be considered of noble blood, in a technical sense, but he seemed keen on teasing her about it. "Hey, I was serious, sorta. I mean, kind of.." she said with a hint of annoyed embarrassment, flabbergasted at his provocation. She might've sounded a bit crazy, but he didn't have to be so... Well, maybe he was being serious. Still, he didn't have to sound so, so, so haughty about it. Johanna crossed her arms defensively, huffing out a breath of air as she stared at the offending patch of dirt to the side. He said the weirdest things sometimes, but what was weird about it was how it got under her skin. One would think that she could rise above such a teasing jab.

Still, after having made each other well good and awkward, the Greyfire girl was ready to move on from such topics. In a timely manner of fashion, no less. She supposed that fair was fair, after all, but that didn't make it hurt less. Regardless of how this blemished the moment, they soon enough got past the awkward stage once more, as Orion continued to goof off after he was satisfied. He didn't seem as cheerful as he originally was though, as she began to fear that now he thought less of her. Which was probably absurd, considering that how she felt about herself shouldn't have any bearing on how others saw her. But all the same, she didn't know, and inside her the desire to remain in the dark was strong.

Almost sighing with relief, she chuckled a bit as he kept up the noble charade. "It is, so stop messing with me." she laughed, a smirk growing from her muzzle. She could get used to this royalty thing, but only if he laid off on how thick he was trying to butter her up. She wasn't sure what his goal was, as she watched the Knight antagonize her some more, but maybe he was trying to be funny in his own way. To his credit as well, it was kind of entertaining, and she got a certain power high from hearing him address her in such a manner. She was so delighted in fact it put her into a good mood in regards to her new nickname.

Orion declared his prowess for wit, now showing his comical attitude in his face as well as his words. "I think it's pretty, alright. Well, since you've been so kind, I shall bestow upon you the nickname I have chosen." she said in an affluent, airhead tone. She lowered her muzzle a bit and gave a blep of the tongue, before grinning as she sweetly hummed. "Your name, iiiiiiiiiissssss..." she had drawn out, intent on torturing him a bit more before giving him a reveal. Clasping her hands together, Johanna leaned in and smiled, with a gleam in oceans blue as she looked at him. "Starstruck~" she told him, fixing her posture with a pleased grin. "Get it? Cause you said you and your sibling are named after stars, right? I think it's pretty fitting myself, if you ask me." she said while putting an assertive hand to her chest, trying to conjure up what she thought was a dignified expression.

She was brimming with pride after that, which was an unusual and foreign feeling in all honesty. Yet then Orion had gone and done something strange once again, as he started to confront her on her own views. It felt, a little uncomfortable, to have suddenly switched back onto this topic. And everything he was saying sounded pretty nice, it was just... too idealistic, she felt. Everyone in her family has something that makes them stand out, Seira's sweet nature, Nomos' protectiveness over her, Besekel was calm and thoughtful, while Uriah could be passionate and stubborn. And their parents? Their parents had lived over double a life of even the eldest of her siblings, both literally and figuratively. As the youngest of five kids, and the daughter of two battle-hardened warriors, what in her life did she have to compare? All of them even looked gorgeous too, and Johanna had hardly grown past puppyhood. And that's just in her family, people from the Order, people from Casa, they all looked so imposing and respectable. How is she supposed to fill someone with awe, or even stand out enough to be considered 'pretty'?

As always though, the Knight was ever persistent, and even as Johanna hung her head mutely he was trying to cheer her up. Maybe, for a moment, she could just, let him do just that. If only for a second. "..Thanks." she mumbled, not really sure where to go from there. Stealing furtive glances towards the dark male, she felt like she had to say something, though the topic eluded her. Eventually, she ended up staring at him, her head turned to the side like she was pretending she was looking the other way. Eventually, her gaze dropped, as she started to poke the tips of her fingers together. She had come up with something to say, but at that point she wasn't sure if she should. Standing there awkwardly wasn't going to help the situation, so she chose to use the less vulgar expression that could be said and went 'screw it'.

"You're... pretty too, I think." She muttered, before clearing her throat and looking off to the side. "Objectively speaking, you have an appealing quality about you." the wolf stated more officially, crossing her arms and wondering if she was being a hypocrite now. Well, the worst he could do is laugh at her, she supposed. That might even tip the scale of needing an apology back to her side, for a moment. Gods, he was going to hold this over her head now wasn't he. That might've been a mistake.
[Word Count: 1099]

With as persistent as he was, the Greyfire girl didn't seem to be very confident at all in her abilities to learn new things such as language despite the young Knight's volunteering to teach her, and even asking her for lessons in the variations of Low-speech that she had and would come to know in exchange for the lessons. While the two of them were largely teasing and joking with each other, the male half smirked at the thought of what Johanna said next, that to teach her and to learn from her would be cause for suffering. Orion laughed with a squinty eyed, wrinkly nosed sincerity as she answered him. "Then it's a deal." he replied in kind, his tone laced with laughter.

Orion enjoyed teasing the girl when the topic of their shared supposed royal lineages reared it's head. She seemed so excited about the notion that the two of them could be something like nobility, and Orion found it endearing, and cute. There were so many emotions and feelings that the wolf got about this girl that he'd never felt before about anyone else, and it was confusing, it made him happy, excited, awkward, riled up, he jabbed at her and laughed with affection at her returns and her pouts when they came. "Of course you were serious, Princess, so was I~" He said with a chuckle as he wiped a tear from his laughter scrunched golden green eyes.

Once the moment of joy passed into genuine embarrassment and frustration for the young Knight, it was a struggle for the dark furred wolf to regain his composure and try to pull the encounter back from the edge, though not without a taste of revenge, that wound up being bittersweet at best. Still, the moment was salvageable, he thought, and she demanded to know what the nickname was that Orion had come up with for her. He was a bit relieved to move past the heaviness of the situation, but even as he tried to, he found that he couldn't. Still, it could wait a moment longer before he addressed it.

"As you wish, Sire.~" Was the final jab he offered with a wink before at last telling the girl the nickname that he'd thought up for her on the spot. He was rather proud of himself, she had a sharp tongue, and she was pretty like a bird, what name could there be to fit her better than this one? Yet, it was then time for Orion to receive his own nickname from the pretty mockingbird, and, with no small amount of build up leading up to it's reveal, the male sure to become thoroughly flustered as she leaned into him with sparkling blue eyes like the ocean, she told him that his new nickname would be Starstruck, and immediately the wolf became embarrassed by how starstruck he had been by her eyes just a moment prior. Shaking his head quickly as if to try to clear it of thoughts, the wolf's torn ear twitched and he let out a dramatic huff as he crossed his arms. "That's not fair." he pretended to pout, eyeing the ashen femme from the side. "Just cuz I called you pretty and my name has to do with stars, now you're teasing me again."

His tone was obviously one of fake hurt, but the fact that he'd brought up again the fact that he found her pretty reminded the wolf of the previous topic that they had discussed, and served as the segue into his next topic of discussion. He wanted to make her see, to at least leave some sort of impression on the negative image that she held of herself. He wanted to convince her that you didn't have to do any great deeds in order to be pretty, or liked, and that you didn't have to do anything to be deserving of those things either. She didn't seem like she believed him, or that she wanted to believe him, he could see the wheels inside her head turning as she gazed off in silence, but at last, she uttered a soft word of gratitude, not looking at him, or so he thought, until he caught a glimpse of her deep blue eyes looking in his direction.

At first, he didn't even register that she had begun to speak to him, for a split second, his ears perked forwards, and his gold flecked emeralds bore into her as he waited for what she was going to say, but when at last she did finish that sentence, Orion was floored. He almost felt as though he had been struck to the gut with how suddenly he couldn't seem to draw in a breath, his eyes going wider. Both of the males hands came to his face, palms pressed flatly against his cheeks and the sides of his muzzle with just enough space between his fingers for his shocked eyes to continue staring at her, some kind of noise coming from his mouth as though he were starting to say something but got stuck on the first sound far too many times.

"Y-you don't- you don't mean that!" He blurted out at last, his hands pushing back along his face until fingers raked back into tangled hair and gripped it at the back of his head, his mouth stuck half way open and his eyes wide as dinner plates. "I- I mean- I..." He let out a long breath and his hands came back to vigorously scrub at his face with his palms as though he were washing mud off in a stream. "I-I mean, I, that's not what I mean, I just, uh, I, wasn't expecting-" He looked off to the side now with his lips parsed into a thin line and his eyes still wide. "Th-thank you... But I..." he started, before looking at her, dread clear on his face about what he was about to say to her. "I didn't, exactly, tell the whole truth..." He started, his tail tucking as he continued on to mumble, "What I said to you was 'красота'..." He started, looking at the ground in front of her before he eventually looked up into her deep ocean blues again.

"That means beauty... And... even if you hate me now... even if you don't agree... there is at least one person here who thinks you are beautiful..."
She admitted, after hearing how he thought of her looks, Johanna couldn't help but mess with the poor Knight by playing into it a bit. It was cruel, and maybe a bit out of taste, but there was some small joy she got from watching him squirm, some happy murmur in her chest. And besides, while she was having a bit of honest, innocent fun with the cavalier, he was asking for it, egging her on like that. There's only so many times that someone can have a tongue stuck out at them before it becomes a contest, to which she conveniently ignored who started the banter in the first place, yet again. On top of that as well, he wasn't letting up with all this Princess/your Highness stuff, so really it was his fault. All his compliments and smooth talking, he was only encouraging her to tease him more.

The Greyfire girl giggled as he objected in a silly fashion, accusing her of being unfair. "Well, if I'm supposed to be a Mockingbird, it only makes sense that I fit the name. Besides," she leered at him with a smile, "its not like you're guilt-free of teasing either." she declared, making her thoughts known. Though of course, he launched into another heartfelt talk, which made things awkward again. For all her teasing and mocking, mostly it was to cover up that feeling, right there. She had never been good at taking a compliment, especially one that was unwarranted. So talking about this, whether she deserved to been seen as pretty or not, it all felt like putting squares in round holes. It didn't make sense, because the question itself was flawed. Or the subject, at least. Still, he was... sweet, for trying.

To try and thank him too for his kindness, Johanna's attempt at a compliment seemed to be a faltering one by how it looked. Perplexed was a good start to describe her expression, as her eyebrows skewed up from how his hands flew to his face. He uh... hm. Seemed to be either having a meltdown, or, like, doing an impression? Vocal warm-ups? Whatever he was doing, it was definitely on the stranger side of things. Finally he barked out what he was trying to say, as Johanna's eyes fluttered at the outburst, her ears pulling back. Did she do it wrong? She was pretty sure that she had said the words right. Maybe it was the delivery that mattered? She thought he'd have been happy to hear her say that, like he had tried to make her. The cavalier steamrolled right on through this carriage-wreck, stumbling over himself exponentially more than before. Eventually, he got to the point where he looked and sounded ashamed, bringing up the Russian word from before.

As he explained the true meaning to the word, a snowy tail bristled, her fur fluffing up as she bundled her arms together, Johanna's face scrunching up in an indignant expression. Her skin had got all hot, in a way that wasn't quite anger, and not quite confusion. "Well, I...!" she exclaimed, the emotion rising in her voice but unable to form the thought to finish it. Turning back and forth, she eventually flung her arms in the air in a curt growl, only to cross them again as she faced away from him in a huff. For the sake of the gods, they just went over this.

"Well, then, I, rrgh!" she snarled, a white hand clutching at her ashen locks as she pressed her wrist into her forehead. With an irritated sigh, she dropped her hands back down to her sides, glaring off to the side. "Just don't lie to me again, okay?" she huffed, not wanting to look at him right now. Why was this so complicated, and why was he so persistent? Geez, she'd really have to get him to make up for all this nonsense he had her thinking, before she gets full of herself. Being all nice and, and friendly! The nerve of him, trying to flatter her constantly. She'd get him back for all of it, just wait.
As the tide continued to push and pull between the pair of odd yearlings, their conversation flowing between bouts of merciless verbal jabs, and agonizingly awkward attempts at heartfelt conversation, the ice had undoubtedly been broken between them, but now they both tread helplessly in the water, both as of yet unsure of how to swim.

When Orion finally admitted the true meaning of what he had spoken to the sapphire eyed beauty, his shame finally allowing himself room to breathe, it was then her turn to get upset once more, turning away from the male and flailing her arms about in a helpless fashion, Orion's ears fell back against his head as he watched, but he made no sound or move to get closer to her or any attempt to calm the female. Was she really that upset with him? Had he messed up so grandly that now he could not be forgiven by the silver touched girl?

It was a tense few moments as Orion began a slow descent into despair at the reaction of the ashen girl to his admission, but, much to his relief, despite him wishing that she would calm down completely and they could go back to laughing, she turned away and muttered something to him. She asked him not to lie to her again. "Right, I, I'm sorry.." The Russian wolf uttered, scratching at his jaw line while his eyes found something particularly interesting off up in the trees somewhere to look at.

"Then I give you my word, as a Knight, a prince, whatever kind of honor I have, I wont lie to you." He said with a little bow of his head, even if she couldn't see it as she faced away from him. "So don't be too mad, okay..?"

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