forty-four

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"WE'RE NOT DOING IT, CELESTIA," said Theo.

"Yes, we are."

"I'm not training with you while you're injured," he argued.

She rolled her eyes. "That was two days ago. I'm practically fine now."

"You're hurt, darling. I don't want to make it worse," he offered softly.

"I get it, but I'm fine. We haven't sparred in days, and we need to. If anything, the injury makes it more realistic. What happens if I get injured in a fight? I can't just give up," she said. "Plus, you saw how I reacted with the werewolf. I don't want that to happen again."

His jaw unhinged in contemplation, and she knew she had him. She stepped closer to him, softening her eyes when his met hers.

"Please, Theo," she begged.

He tilted his head back, his breath puffing out of him. "Okay, fine, we can train." She grinned, and he groaned. "Merlin, why did you manipulate me? And why did I let you?"

"Because it was harmless manipulating?" she tried.

"Yeah, tell me it's harmless once you fall on your arse," he muttered. "No magic, though."

"I hate to manipulate you further," she said, "but we're using wands."

There ensued a stare down. His hazel eyes clashed with the grey of hers. His, everchanging depending on the light and surroundings. Hers, an everlasting storm that never faltered.

Right now, his eyes were closer to a sage colour, the gold bursting around his pupils. She'd never been more fascinated by his eyes than she was in that moment, and she took a step closer to get a better look.

His eyes narrowed slightly at the movement, as if thinking the action was a trick on her part. He was equally entranced by her irises, the grey moving in her eyes almost like they were clouds.

There was a beat where the atmosphere seemed to change, and it lasted a second, only a second, but she felt it surer than her own heartbeat.

"Fine," he relented.

The smile that overtook her face then was worth it, even if he really didn't want to practice with her while she was injured. He wouldn't go easy on her, though. She'd probably kill him if he did.

They quickly moved off to get their weapons from their respective rooms, and Celestia picked more than she'd usually use. Unsurprisingly, her sword was in her back holster. She slid the dagger Theo gave her months ago into her boot, and put a pocket knife in one of her pockets.

She realised her mistake here. Theo had bought more than one scabbard; he had ones not only for his forearms, but for his calves as well. Who knew how many blades he was carrying on his body at one moment.

Completely disregarding the amount of blades he was carrying, he was still a better swordsman than her. In every way, he outmatched her. But hell if she wouldn't go down fighting.

Celestia met him outside of the tent, and the two of them walked a couple metres away so they didn't damage the tent while they sparred. Draco, most likely, was still asleep in his room. They'd stayed up late again last night planning.

"Ready?" asked Theo, pulling his sword from his waist.

"I've been waiting to kick your arse all week," she responded.

"You're cute when you're trying to act cocky."

Her lips drew down into a frown. "I'm not acting cocky. I am cocky."

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