An excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. Martin Septim and Alix de Feu have only known each other a few days: but it's been a very intense few days. An entire city has been destroyed in an attempt to assassinate Martin, who has just found out he's the Emperor's last remaining son and heir to the throne; and they have each saved the other's life a couple of times already. This is the scene where they acknowledge their friendship and hug, somewhat awkwardly. Oh, and it's set in the world of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion . All of this text is original to me, though. --------------------------------------------Martin was easy to find. It was obvious from touring the Temple the previous day that his biggest interest was in the library. Both of his previous vocations - first a mage, then a priest – were career paths that you simply didn't get into unless you loved learning. I wondered if he was going to teach himself how to be Emperor by reading. By the Nine, if there were any book to teach a person how to run the Empire, it would be in Cloud Ruler Temple! The priest... heir, whatever, was sitting at a table on the only high-backed chair in the room, with a good-natured though slightly quizzical expression on his face, as Blades brought him books from the shelves and bowed low. "Hello, my friend," he said, as I approached. He patted the stool next to him, bidding me sit down. "Am I your friend now?" I teased. Martin responded in kind. "I think, after everything you've done for me, that it's the least I can call you. Would you prefer 'Protector'? 'Guardian Angel'? How about 'Most Noble Companion'?" "'Friend' will do fine," I smiled. "Isn't that quite an honour, though? I got the impression that you don't have many friends." The heir was suddenly more serious. "That's true. I... I wouldn't call you 'friend' if I didn't mean it, Alix. Don't... betray my honour." "I would never betray you," I said, in all sincerity, looking directly into his eyes. He smiled, reassured. "I heard that you're leaving for the Imperial City today. Jauffre said he's sending you on a mission. Is that true?" "Yes. He asked me to join the Blades and I accepted." "Good," Martin replied. "At least that means I'll get to see you again. I hope." "Unless I get killed in your service," I quipped. Martin looked very agitated. "Gods. Don't say that. It's one thing to have people I've barely met telling me that they'd lay down their lives for me, quite another to have someone I care about saying it. I've lost enough friends already. Don't you dare die." I smiled, to break the tension. "I'll do my best." "Please do." Martin ran his hands through his hair, awkwardly. "This whole business of being heir to the throne is very strange. Everyone keeps calling me 'sire'. I tell them my name is Martin and they say 'Yes, sire'. I'm just a man, and yet they bow to me. I swear that only the gods deserve such obeisance." "Well, maybe you'll be able to change their minds in time." Why was I still talking? I had a mission to get on with, two days of riding ahead of me, and friends who were waiting for me to be ready so we could ride back to Chorrol together. Martin obviously had work of his own to do – I was sure that large pile of books hadn't been gathered only to pass the time. But he also seemed unwilling to let me go. "I'll... miss you, you know." The uncomfortable expression on his face, as he tried to look everywhere but at me, was endearing. He stretched, seeming all elbows. "I'll miss you too". I started to reach towards him but stopped, suddenly unsure what kind of relationship we had, exactly. I tried to hide the movement by standing up, as if preparing to depart. Martin stood up with me. "Um..." The heir was blushing. "Alix, you... you hug your friends, don't you?" "Oh! Um, yes. I do." I felt my face heat up as well. That was possibly the clumsiest request I'd ever heard. If it was a request. "Then, erm... can we?" Eloquency seemed to have slipped out of the window. We both felt ridiculously self-conscious, even though the Blades were all very carefully Not Looking in our direction. That almost made it worse. Was anyone else going to hug the poor soul? No. They were all too overwhelmed by his lineage, by the great Dragon Blood, by all of the rules and regulations carefully laid down over centuries. Could they even see that this man they were hailing as their Emperor was grieving, anxious, in shock – desperately afraid to have the fate of the world suddenly placed upon his shoulders? I held my arms out to him. "Come here," I said. He took the single step towards me, both of us blushing like maidens. I wrapped my arms around his back, pulling him tight. After a heartbeat, he reciprocated, putting both arms around me, dropping his head onto my shoulder, and inhaling the scent of my hair. Surreptitiously, I did the same. Gods, he smelled... like home. "Don't worry about me, my friend. I know I'm in good hands here," he whispered in my ear. He stepped back, moving his hands down to my arms so we could look each other in the eyes. "Go with Akatosh. I'll pray for your safe return." "Take care, Martin. I'll see you soon." I deliberately let go, while I still could. "Farewell, Alix." He gave a little wave. I ran from the room, knowing that if I looked back I wouldn't want to leave. Poor Martin. Looking for a way to stop Oblivion itself from spilling into Mundus, and all I could give him was a hug. --------------------------------------------If you read this and enjoy it, please comment .