Rana laughed as she slowed Duchess down, walking her as she looked around the place. “Over there, that looks like a good spot. You brought a picnic right?”

“Snuck out from the kitchens fresh this morning.”

Rana laughed as they walked the horses over and gave them a drink of water. They let the horses graze as they set up a blanket and Caleb spread out what he had stolen from the kitchen’s that morning.

“So, you’ll stay in touch right? I mean, there’s not a range on these amulets is there?”

“No. They should work over any distance. I’ll keep in touch, although I think it’s just going to be a lot of travelling. It’s going to be fairly boring without you there to keep me company.”

“Yeah. You know, I could just come with you.” He gave her a sly look.

Rana looked at him, and then pushed him away with one hand, sticking her tongue out at him. “Your parents would flip out. And you do have things to do here.”

He sighed. “I know, I know.” He raised his hand defensively. “It’s just I wished I could come with you. Even if it’s just fetching a book for Gaius, it’s still an adventure.”

“I’ll try to no have too much fun without you there.”

“You really think it’s not going to be fun?”

“Not really, but I’ll still try.”

“Liar.”

“I know. But what can we do? I mean, I want you to come with me, but I know that your duty has to come first.”

Caleb sighed. “Yeah, duty. I want to be a good prince, but I just don’t get a lot of time to do my own thing, you know? I’d love to come with you for a few weeks and just camp out under the stars every night. That sounds amazing, even if nothing else happens. Just to be out of the city for that long.” He sounded wistful as he talked.

Rana reached over and squeezed his hand. “Maybe some other time. And at least you’ll still be in range of a warm bed and good food. I’ve got travelling rations, which look dire at best.”

“Enjoy this picnic while it lasts then.” Caleb said as he handed her a dish full of fresh fruit.

They lingered over the food, talking to each other until eventually they had to part as the sun was moving through the sky. Caleb gathered up the remains of the picnic, and they both mounted up. Turning Duke back towards the city in the South, Caleb said his goodbye.

“See you when you get back. Try and be in time for the ball, okay?”

“Sure. Caleb?” She walked Duchess up to Duke and leaned over to kiss Caleb on the cheek as he turned to her. “Try not to get into too much trouble without me, okay?” She said as she turned to the North and clicked her tongue to get Duchess into a trot.

She forced herself to not look back at Caleb, who had raised a hand to his cheek, looking utterly confused at the parting gift.

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