Chapter 18: somewhere I have never travled,gladly beyond

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“Are you off to see Harold again?” Eric asks as I collect packs of crackers from the commissary.

“Just like every other Tuesday this month,” I say, stowing the food in a green duffle.

It’s become a routine, whether or not I’m on the schedule for patrol, I make sure to see Harold once a week; mostly it’s been Tuesdays. The weather has warmed up, melting what little snow we got over the winter, and forcing sprouts of green out of the ground. It’s still pretty cool out, and freezing at night, but I don’t worry so much about Harold finding a warm place to sleep.

“I won’t be gone long,” I tell Eric. “I’m taking the train.”

“Be careful,” he whispers against my lips. “Don’t fall off.”

“I never do.”

He smiles and kisses me a few more times, before insisting that I take another jacket. I won’t tell him that I plan on leaving it with Harold.

***

Harold is already waiting on the platform when I jump and roll from the train car. He claps slowly as I pick myself up and dust off my shirt; I duck down and bow theatrically, slipping the canvas sack off my shoulders in the process. Harold looks healthier than he did a few months ago; his face is a little fuller, and the blue under his eyes says that he might be getting just a little more sleep. I toss him the ruck sack and let him sling it over his own shoulders before we scale down from the train platform and head in whichever direction he chooses.

Having Harold back these last few months has put me almost right. I’m sleeping better even though I wasn’t sleeping badly, and I’ve been able to put on a bit more muscle that what I had at the end of initiation. Tobias and I are on good terms, and Eric and I seem to be connected at the hip sometimes, and everything is just going well.  I’ve reached a balance, and it’s a balance I’m very happy with.

We head out towards the edge of Dauntless territory, where Harold has been spending most of his time these days, passed the broken buildings and cracking sidewalks to where the asphalt ends and the grass begins in the mile long stretch between the city and the fence. I flop down on my back, content to lie in the sun and feel the grass like I was never allowed to in Abnegation. Harold joins me, though he doesn’t lie down, and we talk for hours like we never had the time to.

“So,” he says in the middle of a pause.

“Yes, Old Earth?”

“Tell me about the boy.”

“What boy?”

Your boy, Starshine.”

I feel a smile split my face so wide my cheeks hurt and a blush burns down my neck. I sit up and let myself be bashful for a moment before I can make my tongue work again.

“His name is Eric,” I say.

Harold rolls his eyes.

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