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I found him in the Frozen Hearth Inn with a serving wench on his knee.  As I approached the table, he pushed her from his lap, gave her a resounding smack on the ass and said, “Go get us some drinks, love.”  Love.

I bristled as I took a seat next to him and he turned his wide smile on me, not because he was happy to see me, but because he was deep in his cups.  This is not his usual behavior.  He’s been this way since the Sea of Ghosts too his parents several months ago.  He’d written to them telling them of our engagement and they responded enthusiastically, saying they were coming from Solstheim to meet me.  That was their last correspondence before eh tragedy.  Ever since, he’s buried himself in his studies at the College and in drink here at the inn every night.  And while I may have long suspected that he might be seeking solace in the arms of other women, this was the closest I’d come to finding any actual evidence to support my suspicion, though it really isn’t proof of anything at all.  Still.  It was enough.

I glanced over at Soren and Ray, our closest and his oldest friends, who were watching tensely but they avoided my eyes.  He’s been shutting them out, too, but they each oave the look of someone who kows something they shouldn’t and is terrified they will be forced to admit it.

I avert my gaze to the ring on my finger.  For months I have held on, waiting for things to get better, waiting for him to come back to me, for him to stop blaming himself and possibly me for his parents’ death.  He hasn’t said it, but I see it in his eyes every time he looks at me.  I know he’s thinking about how they wouldn’t have been on that ship if they hadn’t been coming to meet me, if he hadn’t told them he was marrying me. 

I twist the ring around my finger.  For months, I have been patient, but tonight my patience has reached its end.  I slide the ring along my digit and set it on the table in front of Belwas.  He looks at me for a moment and nods.  “Probably best,” he says and takes another drink from his stein. 

Ray shakes his head and looks away.  Soren closes his eyes.  They seem more hurt than he does.  “Perhaps it will fit better on your bar maid,” I say as I stand.  I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it.  I walk away from the table, blinking back tears.  My throat constricts painfully and I feel like I’m going to be sick.  It’s everything I can do not to run, but I manage it, at least until I step outside into the falling snow.

As soon as the door closes behind me, I break into a sprint.  My heart shatters with every step I take.  My tars flow freely and freeze against my face to be swiped away with a frustrated hand.  My sobs are carried away on the wind.  I run until I reach the main courtyard and drop to my knees trying to catch my breath and fill my burning lungs.  I don’t care who sees me and the tears blurring my vision ensures I won’t see them.  It’s better this way, I know.  Or at least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself. 

I don’t know how long it was before I finally stood and went into the Hall of Attainment.  But eventually, I find my way to my bed.  Maybe tomorrow will be better, though I seriously doubt it.

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