Chapter 4 – Past and present

“I know who she is.”
“You what? What are you talking about at all?”
“The girl you used to be with. The one you were together with, but she didn’t want to leave her boyfriend. Also, I’m quite sure, the only woman you’ve ever slept with. I know who she is.”
He sat down next to me. He did not argue, neither did he try to make me utter my guess. Frustrated at his lack of reaction, I went on.
“You could have said something! I mean …. I wore her dresses in front of you! I joked about the two of you going on a date instead, when you complained about me spending the evening with her. Hell, I even told the Dragon that you two probably had an affair, but I only said that because I was being silly. Why didn’t you tell me? I could have been a little more considerate.”
“Well, I still have the element of doubt, do I?”
“No, you don’t.”

Maybe I should have felt bad for confronting him only two days after I had ensured Snow White that this would remain between the two of us. She had probably been worried about hurting the Witcher’s feelings once again by telling me. But having to hide from him that I knew had somehow brought a distance between us that I could no longer bear. I had felt close to bursting in my urgent need to get it off my chest, and my guilty curiosity about his reaction.
There was hardly any reaction at all. He remained silent for some time, then went on like our talk never happened. I don’t know what I had expected, but definitely more than that. It left me alone trying to figure out how I felt about this.

First of all, it struck me that he had never mentioned her name. Neither had he ever openly confirmed my guess about who she was. Clever man. It could have been a bluff from my side. I am the kind of person who does these things. I had never mentioned a name either, as I was sure that we both knew who we were talking about. Still, I was sure he could tell that I was not bluffing.
About Snow White… honestly, I was not unhappy that it had been her. It was strange, yes. Sometimes I had wondered how it would be to meet this mysterious woman, and if I would do my usual thing trying to proof to myself that I was better than her. But Snow White… she is just perfect. I could not feel bitter towards her, or begrudging or resentful. Yes, of all the girls in the world that could have been his past love, I was glad it was her. And did I really ever expect anything less? She is pretty, smart, nerdy, strong-headed and charming. The Witcher would rather stay alone for years than settle for anything less.

The Witcher. He was the real problem I had. Was he okay with me still being best friends with her? Did he feel betrayed? How had he felt about it, during all this time where I had been unaware, often spending time with her or talking about her?

I know he did not want to talk about it, but I could not let this go just yet…
“So, how am I supposed to handle this?! I really like her.”
We were sitting on a bench under a tree in one of the numerous courtyards of the University he sometimes lectured at. I did not look at him as I talked, instead fixed my gaze on the small fountain in front of us.
He sighed.
“I like her too. Why do make such a big deal about this?”
“You do? Strange, as I never seem to see the two of you talking. Don’t you understand? I want to stay friends with her, but it feels so inconsiderate towards you.”
“I would never request of you not to be friends with anyone, especially not her. I do not expect or want you to change anything about the way things have been up till now. Listen, this whole thing has been a long time ago. Why don’t you let it go?”

So I did.
All in all, I had not lost anything, but earned a lot: the trust between Snow White and me was on a new level now. As we both shared a common secret, hers past, mine present.
All along, she had known. About her, and also about me. When we had first met – she had been the first to approach me when we were at the hotel in the mountains, years ago – she had noticed the die on my necklace and decided I would be perfect for the Witcher. Maybe I should have wondered earlier why she had never sat on my table, making room for the Witcher instead. When I got pregnant and married the Knight she told the Witcher openly that she had always expected the two of us would end up together. And when we were at this hotel again, sharing a room, and I always stayed out late playing games or watching movies with the Witcher, she had assumed it had happened after all. I could have stayed away all night and she would never have told anyone. She was surprised when I told her the Witcher and me were just friends, in a stretched yet pragmatic definition of the word. She confided in me that there was another man in her life as well, apart from her long time boyfriend, and she loved and was happy with both, as they were so different to each other yet both so important that she felt no need to choose. Her boyfriend did not openly know, yet she assumed he did, as she could stay away for days and he just kept telling her to “Do whatever feels right to you.”. She said this one sentece is what makes her love him most.
I envy her.

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