"Found and Lost"
Dervin was helping him pack. The others were off at the endless rounds of lessons, but Dervin had asked, and been excused, and Tallis tried to be pleased for it, for these last few minutes of companionship, but the awkwardness of it plucked jangled notes from tensed nerves. It was too obvious that his friend was trying to avoid meeting his eyes.
"What's this?" Nearly all the accumulated layers had been emptied from the chest, either transferred to the satchel or left for whoever wanted them, but Dervin had seized a small rock from the far right corner, and with it yet another excuse to talk about objects instead of feelings.
Tallis started to explain. "It's..."
Dervin shifted it, and the window's light caught on the crystal streak in the granite and opened the past.
It's a sign from Dorander. It's the reason I came. I wasn't sure, I couldn't decide, and I went walking to think, kicking up rocks, and this one bounced far ahead, straight ahead, right down the path. When it stopped, it glowed in the sunlight as if lit from inside, and I picked it up, and I knew, I knew what to do, I knew this was meant for me.
But I failed.
"It's just a rock I found once." Tallis turned away.
Dervin looked curiously at the stone. "It's like... this bit here? It looks just like a sword!"
"Yeah." Tallis looked at the real sword hung above his bed, the reminder of what he'd lost. The weapons weren't his. They'd wait here, patiently, for the next boy accepted for training. He closed the latches on the satchel. The rock hadn't been meant for him either. "Keep it, if you want."
Dervin glanced at him, directly, for the first time that day. "I'll miss you," he said simply.
Tallis coloured. "Yeah, uh, me, too," he managed to say. His hand jerked up a little and Dervin met it with his own, and they gripped hands together tightly, letting that convey what words couldn't, before breaking apart in the embarrassment of youth.
"I'll help carry." Dervin picked up a bulky armload of winter cloak wrapped around Tallis's own gambeson and started towards the stairs. Tallis fought the urge to look around the room a final time, to fix it in his memory (...but this is done, this is over...) and then followed, down to where the wagon would be waiting, and the road back home.