Jareth was beginning to get worried that something was hurting her or that it was because he didn't treat her well?
"Is is your injuries?" He questioned her for the umpteenth time, watching her every move.
She was already loosening up and relaxing but at the mention of her injuries, she tensed at his words.
Honestly speaking, he had never treated any girl before this incident, as he didn't like getting close to anyone let alone a girl. So even though he knew how to treat a wound, he was skeptical about it now that she was hurting.
With his right hand, he cupped her chin and turned her head lightly in his direction, to look him in the eyes. They now looked at each other in the eyes.
"Did I do something wrong? Are your injuries hurting so much?" His eyes searched hers frantically for answers, any possible sign to ease his worry and the pain she felt.
'Do not tell me you do not know what you did, Jareth? Must I say it out? It is already too hard as it is; please do not make me say it, please.' She pleaded inwardly at him but that was what she could only do, talk inwardly.
The only thing our speechless, embarrassed, Astrid could do was only nod her head as her way of replying his incessant questions.
"I am so sorry. Come, I would take a look at it and maybe you treated property," Jareth apologized and offered his help.
He thought that would fix the problem, but what he did not expect was her reaction to his offer.
Astrid clutched her hands to her chest and turned her gaze away from his. Rather than look at him, she decided to get herself distracted instead and her gaze moved past him to land at the little White Tiger-Phoenix beast.
The little beast had stopped baring its fangs at Jareth and calmed down. Right now it was just listening attentively and watching them intensely.
Jareth felt a sharp pain by sudden withdrawal from him. He had thought they were over this issue and she was longer scared of him.
For some reason, she could sense his pain to an extent and her eyes went back to his. She held his gaze as she slowly unveiled the truth to him.
"I am not hurt physically, Jareth."
Immediately she said that, she could see the relief in his eyes, like a glimmer of hope and joy.
'But mentally, yes!'
"It is just…" she continued, finding the right way to say this that wouldn't hurt them both. "I–I know you did that to treat me, but well, y–you…You know…how did you do that on your own? Did you…Y–You saw…?"
'So that is why she is all flushed like a tomato! All these commotions is because I treated her, and here I was thinking I didn't treat her well.' He sighed lightly, as the uneasy feeling washed away completely.
She averted her eyes from his. Now that she had explained to him, she needed not to look him in the eyes again.
"What did I see? Astrid, your words are confusing me," he lied.
She turned her gaze back to his, her eyes wide open and screaming the words she couldn't utter herself. 'What!'
'So you mean all my explanations were for nought!' she said to herself. It felt as though she should just disappear if she had to say it herself.
'She really is so cute. If only she knew how red and lovely she looked right now.'
Seeing as she wouldn't bring herself to haying it, he decided to help her out. "You are worried I saw what I wasn't supposed to see by striping you and dressing your wounds?"
"Ahhh! My poor ears, say no more, please." She quickly covered her small ears with her hands and shook her head with her eyes closed.
"Well, I thought you wanted to know how I treated you."
"It is okay, I do not want to know anymore."
"Are you sure? I could tell you in great detail how I did it?"
"No," she replied abruptly.
Little White-Fire simply ignored them and went back to sleep as it was already used to this, Jareth teasing her and its master, blushing like crazy.
Jareth sat down on his legs, releasing her shoulders as he stared at her. "And here I was, thinking that I did do something wrong or something bad happened."
"Well, something bad did happen. You did something wrong!"
"Oh, I see, I should have left you and not stopped the bleeding, huh? Is that what you would have wanted? For me to leave you like that, so you could either die of blood loss or your wound get infected."
"You would what?" Astrid didn't reply further, rather she clamped her lips shut. "I thought so, you wouldn't want that. Rather than thanking me, you are bothered about me seeing your body."
'As if I haven't seen you before!'
The moment he said that an image of her bathing flashed before his eyes and that familiar feeling came back. His eyes raked her whole body as though he was looking at the bathing Astrid.
He gulped when he felt a slight bulge in his pants. 'Damn it! Not now, please.' He pleaded with himself as his gaze went down in between his legs.
"I'm sorry," she apologized out of the blue.
His head went back up and their eyes met at the same time.
"There is nothing to be sorry for."
In actual truth, he had not seen her body when he dressed her wounds. He only cleaned the wound from where her clothes got torn by the sword and arrow. After that, he did pull her gown downwards, but he did all these and dressed the wound with his eyes closed.
He should have told her, but he enjoyed seeing her embarrassed self. Besides, she would lash out at him for making her feel worried.
Perhaps he would tell her about it, but later. For now, he just wanted to enjoy this while it lasted.
Everyone fell into silence; no one spoke as they battled with their own thoughts.
He finally broke the silence and asked, "How are your injuries?" His face straight and void of any emotion.
She raised her head and faced him. "It should be fine, thank you."
She was still shy though, he could clearly see her embarrassment in her beautiful black eyes.
"That is good. You can check it out later, yourself."
"I will, but how did you get the poison out?"
"Let's just say I borrowed the antidote from one of the soldiers after you got hit by the arrow."
"That was sneaky and smart," she said with a smile.
"Why thank you," he said leisurely.
His eyes studied her face and he noticed her expression fell. Her eyes narrowed as she stared blankly ahead. She seemed to be deep in thoughts.
He didn't want to disturb her but he also wanted to know what was going on in her mind. Just as he was about to ask her what was wrong, Astrid spoke first.
"I am sorry for causing you so much trouble and making your people brand you a traitor."
'So that is what she is worried about!'
"It is okay, I cannot change what they think anymore."
"What about if you tell them the truth, you didn't do anything wrong?"
"No. They would not believe even if I did tell them that you never meant any harm being in the forest. You only wanted to deliver the White Tiger-Phoenix beasts to their home," he explained.
"You killing those men and your power surge was just because those men attacked us. It was an act of self-defence and nothing more. But now, it is something else entirely, a mage in Elven lands, sided by an elf. Now that is not what they would easily let go off."
'Till now he still thinks they are after me because of that earlier incident with my power surge. He still doesn't know the truth. I feel bad about having to lie to him and keeping my identity a secret, but with everything that has happened, I do not know if I should. If I do, would he still accompany me? Would he expose me? But I doubt he would, he knows I am a mage but he is still by my side.'
"It's all because of me. If you had not decided to help me earlier on, then you wouldn't be in this mess."
"No, do not blame yourself. If there is anything, you are a good person. You risked a lot to journey to the forest peak and take them home. That is noble and kind."
"You also did the same, Jareth. You risked something bigger."
When she put it like that, what could he say? Both of them stared at each other, appreciating the silence for some time.
Her eyes were so tender and held so much warmth in them. Everything about her changed and melted him. She was so good, so pure and so innocent. It was just painful that they would not be together long.