He gaped at me in disbelief. "When were you going to tell me? Did you think I'd rat you out?"
I chuckled at how childish our conversation sounded. It was as if we were back in training camp. "Honestly, I hoped it wouldn't be noticed."
His expression turned to one of disappointment. "He was a dead man. I expected to come back and find you waiting with a body. Even still, I never suspected Star Tears. They're not on the front line enough to be a possibility. Zeke gave them to you, didn't he?"
It still felt too early to discuss it. I had no idea what kind of retribution I would be facing or if anyone else might be punished along side me. I never meant for others to be pulled into the mess. What was so wrong about saving a life?
"You're not going to talk about it, are you?"
"Zacairus, I don't want you to take any blame for this. Maybe …"
"I have your back and you have mine. I would have helped you. We could have figured something out."
I flashed a nervous smile to keep a frown at bay. I never doubted Zacairus' heart. He would stand beside me every step of the way. But we were from two different worlds. What I did while being veiled would not have any effect on my destiny. My path was cut for me before I was born. Zacairus' life was still unfolding. I couldn't let him risk his future for something I was going to do on my own.
"All right," he said with a pat on my shoulder. "Have it your way. Just let me know if there is anything I can do to help."
I shook my head, "Thank you, but … There is something you could do for me."
"Could you check in on Corbin? See if there is anything he needs. He didn't do anything wrong."
He puffed out a laugh and dropped his hands to his sides. "You are facing the wrath of our captain and a band of officials and you are still worrying about the guy you don't know anything about? Dea! Stop and think about yourself for a moment."
What was there to think about? "He didn't mention the Star Tears. He knew very well what they were and he didn't mention them. He wasn't the one who would have been in trouble for them, I was. Why didn't he turn me in?"
"He probably knows you saved his skin. You don't turn in the person for that."
"He doesn't know me."
"Perhaps he felt he owed you. You save his life, he defends your career. It's civil."
It was a goodness that was often reserved for the dearest of friends. Chances were we would never see one another again. Why would he care what happens to my standing within the Fortis. He didn't seem to be one to consider the welfare of a Validius. It was as if he resented everything about us.
"You are thinking too much again. Let it be."
The kindness in his eyes threatened to evolve into worry. I wished he wasn't able to get in my head so easily. He had a habit of scrambling my thoughts. "Yes, sir."
He raised a brow unimpressed. "Get back to work before Alton has you scrubbing the stables. The kitchen is loosing its sting."
I gave a nod and pointed at the pile of dishes that had doubled. "It's going to be a long night."
"But the plates will be oh so lovely for breakfast."
Zacairus jumped out of reach before I could push him away. Chuckling as he left, he snatched a heel of bread from the rack beside us. It was his usual prize for visiting me during my incarceration.