There had been a time when Eddie could entertain the thought of making things work with Jill, but that time had long passed. She was no longer just an eager Moroi, friends with Rose and Lissa, ready and wiling to learn how to fight. She was one of the few Moroi that itched to fight, to prove herself, to look after herself rather than leaving it up to the Guardians. It was something he had found admirable right off the bat, something that he could never quite get off his mind. It had always been foolish, given their standings, given his background, but it had been a possibility, no matter how vague.
But times had changed.
She was a Princess, he was disgraced, and she deserved much better than what he could offer her. She deserved someone of her standing, someone that could truly make her happy. There were already whispers following her when she stepped foot in the Court, everyone amazed that she came out of nowhere, the blazing Dragomir Princess that allowed Lissa to take her rightful spot as Queen. She didn’t need anymore whispers, any other reason to feel insecure with every step she took. Eddie couldn’t do that to her, no matter what he was feeling.
He had become practically professional at pushing his feelings down, after all. Ever since Mason’s death, of which Eddie felt responsible, he’d managed to become nothing more and nothing less than the stoic Guardian he was meant to be. With every mistake he made, he didn’t let it show. Every time he felt his heart pang for Jill, he insisted on pushing it down, ignoring it. Perhaps Sydney had been able to see right through him, not fooled by his hard look and set jaw like everyone else.
Not that it mattered. Eddie ensured that it didn’t matter. He was Guardian, he was even friend, but being anything else would be irresponsible. Unfair.
Eddie nodded along as she explained, not surprised by any of that. While he always hoped someone else would be around, it seemed unlikely lately. Sydney’s abrupt disappearance had thrown a wrench into everyone’s behaviour. “I can’t complain about the last one,” Eddie teased, a smile curling around his lips, though slightly nervous. “I can’t say I feel like dealing with her today.” He might have acted cordial to her face, unsure what else to do, but it didn’t mean he enjoyed being looked at like he was an abomination.
"So…" Eddie muttered, taking a bite of his sandwich. He chewed slowly, giving himself a moment of silence to think about what to say to Jill. It still felt so awkward and strained, but something told him she would allow the two of them to sit in silence if he didn’t say something. "How have you been?" he finally asked, genuinely curious. It was hard to believe he hardly knew what was going on with her, other than the obvious. There had been a time where he knew every small detail of her life, and he had to admit he truly missed that.
Jill’s eyes rested on his lips when he smiled. It may not have been a wide one but she couldn’t help but wonder when was the last time she’d actually seen Eddie smile. He’d always been so good at covering up what he really felt. She used to pride herself in being able to see through that but as of late, he was truly a brick wall to her. She thought in that heated moment that she was making things better by finally admitting (and showing) how she felt about him but now Jill almost wanted to regret it. The kiss didn’t bring them together; it further distanced them.
She just wanted her Eddie back.
Toying with her fork, Jill pushed the salad all around her plate, not having much of an appetite for human food. She knew the next feeding day was tomorrow but she couldn’t help but wish that it was today. She was tired. Not only was she carrying her own exhaustion but Adrian’s as well. She was caught in his whirlwind of pain — the drunken stupors, the excessive use of magic when he’s sober enough, the anger at himself. It was hard to take but Jill bore it. If their positions were reversed, Adrian would have probably done the same.
"I’m fine." It was her usual response, her thin polite smile in place. It was the expression she used when speaking to Court people. It was stuffy and not her but it limited the amount of questions tossed in her direction. Because to Jill, she wasn’t what was important. Finding Sydney, helping Adrian, keeping an eye on Eddie and Angelina and Neil — that was what was important to the princess.
"I’m just worried about Adrian." She added on softly, unable to keep the frown from crossing her face. He was relatively quiet in her head right now which made her think he’d passed out from all that whiskey some time during the late afternoon. "I wish I could go see him right now but I know I have to wait until tomorrow." Stabbing at a cucumber with her fork, she sighed, shaking her head before glancing up at Eddie, her eyes wide and full of concern.
"How are you? Really.”