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by: Coraline Larson
Tristan’s response to her praise for him was lost on her as she lost herself in unwrapping and admiring her gift. Cora beamed at him when he laughed and commented on their last day at the beach, giggling as she grinned at him playfully. “You were so, you big liar!” she accused with a laugh. “You called me lobster the whole rest of my visit! Your mum finally heard you and told you to quit it!” Cora devolved into a fit of nostalgic laughter at the memory, her pale green eyes shining with mirth. Merlin, it was so good to laugh again…

“If you already made lunch plans for us, why don’t we keep those and we can take our tour when we finish?” she suggested, trying to be polite and not ruin any plans he had already gone to the trouble of making. “The tour around the island will only take about 4 hours, so even after lunch, we should have plenty of time to get back before dinner, right?” Cora got to her feet and pulled out her phone again, frowning at the screen before pulling her attention back to Tristan. “Let me call a friend to arrange the boat and we’ll head down to the marina?”

The petite witch withdrew to the shaded terrace off the sitting room and made a call to an old contact who ran a luxury tour company on the island. The conversation lasted only a few minutes in very spirited Italian, though it appeared from the tone and Cora’s occasional laughter that it was a friendly kind of spirited. Once the boat rental was squared away the witch made another call, this one a little longer, in English, and more subdued, but ended with a decidedly more upbeat note and when she returned to the sitting room Cora was smiling.

“Well, our boat is all set up and should be ready for us by the time we finish our lunch,” she declared with a warm smile. “Speaking of which… what did you have planned, Tris?”
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by: Tristan Viridian
He blushed. So she wasn't about to forget the fact that he laughed at her, and he had to admit it was pretty messed up even if he didn't mean it out of malice, he was just teasing his best friend. "Alright, alright. I was a foul git then, innit. For what it's worth then, my dear lobster, I'm sorry for what teenage me did all those years ago." Tristan chuckled, as he stood from his chair and stretched out again. Even though he'd been up and about for a little while, he'd been stationery in the bar, in the plane and now in the villa so it felt good on his muscles.

"We can do whatever you like. I said, the day is yours." He repeated, and it wasn't a lie. Tristan brought her here for holiday to help break her out of her shell a bit as she seemed a little bit unlike herself since he met up with her. Of course, as she'd explained, it was because of what she'd been going through, but holiday was the best way to de-stress.

He unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves, trying to take a page out of her book and look a little more casual to the area. Sure, he'd dressed down from his usual suit and tie, but it was still a lot more London and not enough Italy. She'd called to her friend and made the arrangements and he chuckled a bit, huffing through his nose with a slight smirk as he'd clearly understood what she was saying in the fluent and melodically flowing Italian.

"Lunch then tour, then home to rest some for dinner. We can visit the shops along the way if you want to, I'm on holiday just like you are so no real agenda. I suppose I can put away the work for a day or so if that's what it takes to do this fabled thing and 'relax'," He laughed, "So it already sounds like a fine day to me. Shall we?" Tristan was at the door with his hand extended, ready to venture out for the day.
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by: Coraline Larson
“You weren’t foul or a git!” Cora laughed as she laced her arm through Tristan’s. “You were a teenage boy, and beyond that, you were a teenage boy out with his best friend who had given you ample ammunition to tease her with!” she added, barely containing her laughter at the memories now. “But, I suppose that means turnabout is fair play now?” Cora beamed a playful grin up at her friend as they headed out for the day, still marveling over the turn of events that had not only reunited her with her friend, but had brought them to their childhood paradise together at last.


The spray from the crystalline blue water misted back across the deck of the small yacht, just enough to counter the blazing heat of the afternoon sun overhead as they made their way back to the marina. The tour around the island had been just as beautiful as Cora remembered, made even moreso by being able to share it with Tristan after having talked about it for so long with him as children. They had gone all the way around the island from Marina Grande to the Blue and Green Grottos to Marina Piccola and the Faraglioni, and no matter how many times she had seen them before, Cora’s breath was taken away anew every tour she took around the island. It was truly gorgeous. Cora was surprised she had even managed to convince Tristan to go swimming with her to go into the Green Grotto, which could only be reached by swimmers or kayaks. The witch smiled contently and felt the dampness of her bathing suit still even with laying in the sun on the yacht’s deck as they made their way back to get ready for dinner.

“Well, I think you did finally manage to relax a bit…” she teased Tristan with an easy smile, turning her head and shading her eyes to look at him. “I’m oh-so-proud of you, mo ridire galánta.” Cora giggled and sat up to take a drink of water. It had been a long while since she had felt so at ease and relaxed and she hoped that Tris was just as much at peace. "Are you going to tell me what you have planned for dinner now?" she teased him.
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by: Tristan Viridian
The way she bounced from here to there, just glowing with glee made Tristan smile. The trip was eventful, as she'd guided him through places he'd never seen before unless it was in some travel magazine he picked up at an airport. Such gorgeous scenery, and such a lovely time he was having with oldest friend. The sea felt nice against his skin; He hadn't been swimming in quite sometime in a place that wasn't his pool at home, and even then it was mostly for a workout, not for leisure.

Tristan dragged the towel in his hair, shaking out some of the sand as he dried off. A smile curled his lips as she mentioned relaxing, because it was true. He was finally feeling like he was really on holiday. "Guess I have, haven't I?" He chuckled as he sat back against the railing. They were on their way back to shore, and his stomach had been grumbling since they'd eaten lunch a while ago and he was already prepared for their evening meal.

He shrugged, "Well, they're preparing a nice seafood meal, fresh catches from today. All of your favorites--and if I got anything wrong or missed anything, it shouldn't be a problem to fetch something quick. And I know you say relaxing and all that, but I figured a nice elegant dinner would be refreshing for both of us, you know? So I might have fashioned a surprise for you... and much like your luggage, if you hate it, you don't have to do what you used to do and smile and bear it." Tristan teased. At school, he'd often surprise her with a meal or treat he made on his own, and even when it wasn't the greatest, she would smile at him, ruffle his hair and say that she loved it.
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by: Coraline Larson
She chuckled at his polite thoughtfulness. Even twenty years later the man was still just the same as the boy she remembered: polite, almost to the point of obsession, thoughtful, and over-thinking just about everything it seemed. But it was sweet, as usual when it came to Tristan, which made it all the more endearing.

“Tris, let’s be honest here; there’s not really a seafood dish I’ve met that I haven’t liked,” she reassured him as he insisted that they could find anything that wasn’t served. “It sounds like you’ve got everything more than well planned out, and I’m sure it’s going to be lovely. The more you overthink it, the more you’re just going to undo all the relaxing we’ve done today, and then we’ll just have start all over again,” she teased him, a musical peal of laughter escaping her as she playfully shoved him.

“And an elegant dinner, eh? Ooohh, what kind of surprise? Are ya gonna tell me? You know I hate surprises….” she giggled. Her grey-green eyes glinted in the sunlight, reflecting the color of the waves and making them seem more emerald as she smiled at her friend. She smacked his arm playfully at his accusation of grinning and bearing it from when they were younger, laughing with an expression of feigned indignation. “And I never just grinned and bore anything! I told you it was wonderful because you made it for me and that made it wonderful, ya right brat!” Cora laughed again, reaching to ruffle his hair playfully like she used to do when they were young.
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by: Tristan Viridian
"Yeah, so said your face that one time I tried to make an English trifle! You didn't even have to say anything, and it's okay if you hated it. Come on, it's been years, you can admit it now." He snickered, adjusting the frames of his Ray Bans that were sliding off of his nose from the sweat and seawater. Tristan was relaxed, just like she said, and the conversation with smiles and reminiscing old times was such a refreshing moment found in a time where he felt lost or secluded from most people. Granted, he'd done that to himself; King always had a task for him and he always had his nose in his work, but making that impromptu decision to step out of the country and forget about everything revolving around the business was the best thing he could possibly do.

He gave her a cheeky grin and just shook his head when she said she hated surprises. "No spoilers, Cor. I'm banking on you enjoying it."


Once they arrived back at the Villa, the sun was already setting, casting a gorgeous orange glow along the horizon. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the walls of the lower floor were relaxing. Tristan had excused himself to prepare himself for the evening, and for some reason, he was nervous about this. Even though he'd spent the entire day with this woman, he was nervous about having dinner with her. Why? They had a lovely lunch, talking about school and exams and whatnot, and he even filled her in on the non-classified stories he could tell her about the time he served with the Marines. It was natural conversation that he used to divert her from talking about anything she didn't want to say about what had been going on with her as of late, since he wanted her to be comfortable expressing any thoughts or scenarios on her own. He supposed he could just do that, try to lead in with topics as if they were picking up where those conversations left off to make sure there wasn't any awkward dead time at dinner.

Tristan had a nice warm shower to wash away the sand and salt from his skin and hair, and groomed himself for the evening. Combed his hair, trimmed his facial hair, the works. He was wearing a tuxedo tonight, which was hardly going to compare to the gown he'd bought Cora... Speaking of, he wondered if the gown was to her liking, and the accessories he purchased to match. Again, he reiterated to himself how bad he was at buying things like that for women, especially when they hadn't had a chance to discuss whether or not she would actually wear something like that. He based it on her tastes throughout his knowing her, and hoped for the best. She had earrings, a shawl, a clutch and even jeweled hair clips to go with her outfit. One accessory, however, a necklace with an Alexandrite pendant surrounded by green garnet and rare green sapphires on a delicate silver chain was saved for last. It was packed away in a small black velvet box that Tristan made sure to tuck into his pocket before leaving his room.

His blue-green eyes looked over to the door to Cora's room but he didn't want to rush her. She'd come down when she was ready. He took a deep breath and walked down the stairs, already entranced by the exhilarating smells coming from the kitchen. Tristan walked over and greeted the cook and housekeeper, thanking them in Italian and telling them that everything smelled delicious. They had already set the table facing the open door and balcony that lead to a beautiful view of the ocean. It was already prepared with the finest china and glassware, and a bottle of their best, locally made wine. Tristan made sure everything as perfectly in place as he lit the candles on and around the table.
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by: Coraline Larson
By the time they had docked back in Marina Grande and made their way back to the villa on the cliffs the sun was setting, casting long purple shadows through the lemon trees and painting the sky in vibrant oranges, reds, and pinks. Cora gazed at the beautiful scene over the turquoise-blue waves fondly, relaxed and at peace for the first time in a long time. Even her trip to Paris with Matt - had that really only been 2 days ago?- had been marred by their argument at the end of the trip, leaving her feeling more wound up and stressed than ever particularly in regard to their relationship. But at least they had spoken on the phone earlier and everything seemed alright between them now. As Tristan excused himself to shower and get ready for their evening, Cora idly wondered if she should tell him that she knew Matty or just leave that until later, however, the sight of the gown and accessories laying out on her bed quickly drove all other thoughts from her head.

The gown itself was perfect. Delicate layers of pale pink chiffon gave the garment a sense of flowing movement even just hanging on its hanger, and the amazing detail of the rose and baby’s breath design on the bodice and skirt was astounding. A wide band of plain pink chiffon around the waist finished the elegant look into something that simply left Cora speechless when she saw it. She excitedly stripped out of her salt- and sand-crusted bathing suit and went into her bathroom to shower thoroughly, taking her time to wash the salt out of her hair and off her skin before getting into the lovely gown. The gown fit her like a glove and she couldn’t help but admire herself in the mirror briefly before taking her wand and spelling her hair into a delicate chignon, leaving one raven curl tumbled artfully down over her right shoulder. A crystalline hairclip went into the back of her hair next, followed by the earrings that looked to be diamonds of the same delicate pink of her dress. With just the barest touch of makeup on her eyes and lips, Cora pronounced herself ready and headed downstairs to meet Tristan.
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by: Tristan Viridian
He heard footsteps coming down the stairs when he finished lighting the last candle, and he was pleased that the aesthetic of the room filled with string-luminaries and the candles gave an effect of fireflies in the room. Tristan set down the lighter and turned to face the stairwell, when he saw her...and it took his breath away. Even more so than before when she'd gotten ready for the day out on the town, Tristan was completely awestruck by the sight of the woman in her flowing gown, floating down the steps like an angel. His heart skipped a beat. His mouth was agape as he watched, nearly breathlessly as she descended, and he smiled. He didn't say anything aloud this time, though his mind was swimming with awe.

Once he found his words, he strolled over to greet her as those tending the kitchen brought a few items to the table. Tristan didn't realize how badly he'd been racked with nerves until he was just a step away, and he held his hand out to her. "Buonosera..." He whispered, and if she took his hand and let him move in closer, he would plant a kiss on each cheek. "Sei bellissima." He was grinning like an idiot, so much that his face hurt. The gown fit her perfectly and the accessories were shimmering in the amber hue of candelight. Tristan extended his arm to her, allowing her to take it as he'd guide her the short trip over toward the table that had been set near the open window, hearing the lovely chorus of crashing waves along the edge of the rocks where the villa was built. "Well...surprise?" He chuckled, pulling her chair out for her and gesturing for her to take a seat.

"I did purposefully forget one bit of the accessories for your gown tonight, and that's only because I wanted to present it now..." He pulled the velvet box out of his jacket pocket, and offered it to her, the nerves intensifying within him as he hoped that she'd at least like this gift as well.
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by: Coraline Larson
The smells from the kitchen were mouth-watering as she came down the stairs, but the decorations that had been put up were what caught her eye the most. Luminaries and tiny lights were strung across the parlor and the terrace where their dining table had been set up and with the candles and fresh flowers as well, the villa had been transformed into a magical setting indeed. A delighted smile broke across Cora’s face and a musical peal of laughter bubbled out of the small brunette as she greeted Tristan with a double-kiss as well.

“Buona sera, mio caro amico,” she answered him, taking his arm easily as he led her toward the beautifully set table. “Questo sembra meraviglioso! È semplicemente magico!” Cora exclaimed, too enchanted by the surprise to realize she was still speaking Italian and hadn’t switched back to English. She sat when he pulled her chair out for her and smiled demurely when he pulled out another gift for her. It was a long, thin velvet box that looked suspiciously like the sort of box one would use to gift jewelry or the like and she took it with a slightly reproachful look at her companion.

“Tris… this is all too much,” she said gently, caressing the soft velvet absently in her hands. “I hardly deserve all this. Oh, but please don’t think I don’t appreciate it! I do, really! It’s just… so much…” Cora trailed off with a small gasp as she opened the gift box and saw the necklace within. It was in a word, stunning. Beautifully cut emeralds and small accent stones were arranged in a delicate motif that almost resembled vines or flowers and the thoughtfulness put into the gift nearly brought tears to her eyes. Cora blinked hurriedly and looked up at Tristan a little bit stunned. “It’s… oh, it’s amazing, Tristan,” she murmured as she admired the necklace. "Thank you."

(Good evening, my dearest friend. This looks wonderful! It is just magical!)
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by: Tristan Viridian
"Too much?" He smirked, "It's nothing. Consider it a gesture to make up for all the dinners we missed while we were away, hm?" It had been years since he had a chance to spend any time with Cora since they parted ways, both after he'd left for the military and of course the time while they were otherwise preoccupied when they were working with the Death Eaters. This wasn't as grand as he could have made it, but given the prep time he'd been given on their impromptu holiday, he was the best he could have whipped up at short notice.

"As far as I'm concerned, you deserve the world." And he meant every word of it. The two of them were so close in their years at school, having looked after each other through some trying times and some typical adolescent nonsense, and considering she'd had such a rough time as of late, he wanted her to be as comfortable as possible, and by all means treated like a princess.

Once she was seated, and if she allowed, Tristan took the necklace and wrapped it around her neck. He made sure it was centered before clasping it at the back. It went perfectly with her elaborate attire, and it looked stunning on her. "There we are." He smiled, giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze before making his way to his side of the table. He made sure to put his napkin over his lap, and moved out of the way when the help arrived with the first course of their meal. He thanked them with a slight nod. "Grazie, mile."

When the right amount of time had passed on aerating the wine, he poured them both a glass. He gripped the crystalline glassware in his fingers and held up his glass, when his azure eyes settled on her face. "Well...I must say this little getaway has been much needed, not only to take a nice refreshing break from the City, but to reminisce on some fantastic old times together. Here's to other evenings like this--er, even if they're not us running away from London, but maybe a meal or a drink or something more often than once every couple of decades then?" It was a pathetic attempt at a toast, but his company was making it difficult to conjure up a speech more eloquent to suit the mood. Tristan was just elated to be with a friend, in a quiet location away from the city hubbub, and felt a toast was in order anyhow. "Cheers to bonds that might never be broken?"
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by: Coraline Larson
“Tristan, this is hardly ‘nothing’!” she laughed in disbelief. “My God, this dress alone was at least a small fortune, AND the necklace, AND the jewelry, AND the villa…” Cora shook her head and smiled at her friend as she tallied up everything he had done thus far. It was truly incredible to her, although she supposed Tristan always had been generous even when they were kids. Always doing small things for her like charming her books to carry themselves when she was tired, refilling her inkwell when she inevitably forgot to do it because she was distracted reading or working on some bit of research for Professor Sprout, or just surprising her with a picnic on the grounds because it was a sunny day and he wanted to spend it with her. He was truly one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people Cora had ever met and it pained her to remember all the time they had been forced to spend apart because of things neither of them had had any real control over.

It had been a relief for her to fully explain what had happened to her that had caused their friendship to be paused for nearly twenty years. All things considered, the conversation could certainly have gone worse than it had. She had stuttered and struggled against intrusive memories and things she hated to have to tell him, but Tris had just hugged her and told her he understood and that none of it was her fault. He had said that, while it was good to finally know what had happened to his little pixie, ultimately it didn’t matter because it was the past and here they were together again. It was so good to know that at least someone from her past was willing to care for her and still cherished her friendship. She did feel a bit badly though that she hadn’t told him about knowing his old Marine buddy Matt though; there just hadn’t seemed like the right moment while they were out catching up today. She would tell him as soon as she could.

‘As far as I’m concerned, you deserve the world…’

Tristan’s declaration brought her back out of her reverie abruptly. She smiled shyly at him and simply shook her head a bit, knowing they could easily argue the point all night. Now he sounded just like Matt, she thought with a bit of amusement. It was still incredibly hard for her to believe she deserved anything good, especially after the way Teague had reacted to hearing the truth from her, but between Matt’s gentle and sometimes blunt reassurances and now Tristan’s grand gestures and stalwart affection it was getting at least somewhat easier to believe.

Speaking of grand gestures… Cora couldn’t help the shy giggle that escaped her while Tris fastened the exquisite necklace around her neck, reaching up to caress the gift almost as soon as it was nestled in the hollow of her throat. “Thank you, mo ridire galanta,” she thanked him again, pale green eyes full of affection and gratitude. She smiled politely at the kitchen staff who served them what Cora was certain was merely the first course of their meal, knowing Tristan and his tendency to indulge in his friends. The delicate seafood salad smelled like it had a lovely fresh lemon vinaigrette and nearly made her mouth water just looking at it. She held off on tasting it for the moment however, as Tristan poured their wine and gave the sweetest toast.

“Definitely,” Cora laughed at his suggestion of getting together more often than every decade. She raised her glass to gently clink against his. “To bonds that might never be broken,” she agreed, smiling brightly at her best friend.
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by: Tristan Viridian
Her gushing at the grandiose gesture he'd done for her just made her light up, and in turn it filled him with such content. The dinner breezed by, with conversation and more reflection on the old days, intertwined with more recent experiences that they had, sights they'd seen while they were apart, and even some moments throughout their day. Laughter was contagious and the chatter warmed his heart, and before he knew it, the dinner was over. The butler and cook cleared the table as they continued talking, so much that they'd missed in each other's lives, so much that he had missed about her. Once they were alone again, Tristan rose from his seat, putting his napkin on the open table and he walked over to her with his hand extended. He had one last surprise to top off the night.

He was beaming, when the musicians entered, right on cue. A gentle serenade of live acoustic guitar was their soothing soundtrack to an open dance floor that was really just their balcony outside the sitting room. If she took his hand, he would lead her to the doorway and open the double doors to show that it was now decorated in sparkling lights, cascading through the beams and around the open balcony that gave the illusion of fireflies. He welcomed the salty sea air that blew through, and the stars above was a perfect canopy to the already spectacular decor.

"Well, since we never had our chance at the Yule Ball, or... any other dance that we were too busy to go to or... or really that I was just too lowly to have a date... Coraline, would you do me the honor?" Tristan held his hand out to her again, this time hoping she would accept and he would twirl her into his arms, and hold her as they danced. "Since we're reliving so much of the past, I just wanted to give you something that we'd missed out on. I hope this is alright with you..."

Ever the gentleman. His mother would be proud, he hoped, that he was for once at peace, relaxing after years of tension and being buried in nothing but his work.
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by: Coraline Larson
If relaxation had been Tristan’s goal for their trip, Merlin did he deliver. Cora genuinely couldn’t remember the last time she had been so relaxed or at peace in someone else’s company. There were no expectations, no worrying about enemies or fugitives, no hiding from the authorities, just two old friends laughing and chattering to their hearts’ content. They talked about everything from places they had traveled and things they had seen to their favorite books and teasing each other for still being so predictable in their reading after all these years, and it just warmed Cora’s fragile heart to no end. If she hadn’t been afraid of making her companion think she was upset, she might’ve even given in to the emotional urge to cry she was so happy. She curtailed the urge for tears however, and finished her wine as Tristan stood up to come over to her side of the table, looking up at him curiously.

Was that…? Cora took his hand easily and looked around when the musicians began to play quietly. She couldn’t help the giggle of pure delighted surprise that escaped her when Tris led them out on the balcony and she saw the breathtaking decorations and setup. “Tris… this is… oh, this is beautiful!” she managed to stammer, delicately dabbing the tears from her eyes. The gentle sea breeze played through the twinkling lights draped around the balcony and the pergola above, making them sway and dance like fireflies in the moonlight. Coupled with the soft musical accompaniment, the scene could have easily been from a muggle movie or maybe even a romance novel, she thought, positively beaming at Tristan as he explained.

“It’s the most thoughtful thing I think you’ve ever done for me,” she laughed in delight as she took his hand. He twirled her into form as the musicians started a stately tune perfect for dancing. “And considering all you’ve done for me over the years we’ve known each other, that’s impressive,” she teased him a bit. Cora beamed up at him as they danced, pale eyes shining with joy. “How is it you haven’t used these charms to find yourself a wife and dote on her?” she teased him playfully. “Oh, wait! I know the answer already, don’t I? You’ve been too busy with work, right?” she giggled, teasing her best friend with the good-natured jab.
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by: Tristan Viridian
His heart fluttered when she twirled into his arms. Tristan grasped her hand and put his left one at her hip, and together they swayed to the serenade of beautifully played live music. He nodded at her comment, knowing that he'd pulled out all the stops for her on more than one occasion, but none to this degree. "If you say so," He playfully winked, playing the same old bashful sort he'd been back in the day. They were small things before, like bringing her lunch when she'd forgotten to eat since she was buried under mounds of books in the library, carried her to her room and tucked her in (with the help of her roommates) in the dorm when she fell asleep in the commons, or the classic story of him carrying her on piggy back when she was too tired to walk when they'd stolen her shoes. All of those gestures was just him being a friend, a gentleman, and things he would never ask for anything in return.

The query about a wife caught him off-guard, and with widened eyes, he blushed. A nervous chuckle followed by a shrug pulled at his shoulders as he continued to lead them in their private dance. "Oh, I dunno--" She'd cut him off with the remark about work, and he laughed. "Oh come on! Am I that transparent?" Tristan rolled his eyes, though he wasn't offended in the least. It was the truth, after all. Something he'd been so focused on was in fact, his business, and Cora wasn't the first one to bring that up. In fact, Maeve had just been ribbing him about that very thing...

Guilt washed over him briefly, a severe twist in his gut as he realized he'd left her at home with only a brief text to let her know he was out of town. But she wouldn't mind that, right? She wouldn't mind the fact that he'd run off 'on business'?

Before he could lose himself in those thoughts, Tristan locked his azure gaze with hers again and gave a nervous smile. "Business is business. Keeps me busy... The dating scene is just... a little much for me. Besides, who would want a stubborn old sop, a bloody workaholic like me, eh?" It was hard not to lose himself in those eyes... those grey-green pools of beautiful wonder, the way she blinked with her long lashes fluttering like butterflies. He twirled her out and then pulled her back in again, bringing her even closer to him as she returned.
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by: Coraline Larson
“Oh for Merlin’s sake…” Cora laughed at his bashful act, playfully smacking his shoulder then returning it to the proper form, beaming up at him. “Transparent? Tristan, you used to spend so much time working on your studies I was surprised you ever had time for me! The two weeks leading up to exams, I would practically have to force you to leave the library just to go eat!” Cora giggled at her friend as they danced, enjoying the teasing and reminiscing of the old days immensely.

“Too much for you?” she asked, raising a brow slightly at his excuse. “Tris, you’re wonderful. You have nothing to be worried about with dating. Any woman would be tripping over herself to date you, or they bloody well should be,” she added firmly, punctuating the sentiment with a sharp nod of her head. “You’re the kindest, most gentle, caring man I’ve ever met. Or one of two anyway,” she smiled, thinking of Matt briefly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, mo ridire galanta…”

Tristan twirled her out and back into his arms once more, this time bringing her closer to him. Cora didn’t think anything of it, honestly, and settled comfortably against his broad chest, tucking her head gently under his chin with a soft sigh. ‘Merlin, what could possibly ruin this night?’ she thought contently.
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