We find ourselves at another Wednesday and having survived the first half of the Summer Holidays. Actually, I'm having a blast. With a fourteen year old who is passionate about similar things to me, outings and activities are no trial at all. Also gaming until four in the morning and getting up at midday is very much my natural rhythm. Gaming until four and up at six for school most definitely isn;t.
This week, I chose this prompt
and this one
To be totally honest, neither of them is actually referred to in the flash. This was one of the situations where I chose a prompt then got involved in the writing to the extent the prompt didn't fit. As far as these prompts are concerned the photographs are of things that the characters would have seen. The bath is in the bathing room Castien was sick in - not in the bath, and the china is on a dresser in the Queen's chambers.
I’ve rarely seen father so angry, or heard him laugh so loud. What’s going on? I’m so confused. I hear Jandra and Tian speaking in the other room but my whole attention is on stopping myself from shaking apart.
I will never give up my bonded, and if my father demands it I will have to choice but to stand against him. That is something I have never dared to do and I fear the first time will be the last time. In truth I don’t know why we still live. Is he playing with us? But my mother…. She would not be part of my death, and she knows me well enough to think I would let Tian face the executioner alone.
My heart swings wildly from hope to despair and I grip the edges of the sink, struggling to keep my composure. Once glance at the haunted face in the mirror and I lose it, along with every morsel that passed my lips this morning.
Cold shivers possess my body and all I can see is my lover pinned on the field, his face contorted with pain, his last breath leaving his lips, a prayer of love for me. I have been such a fool. I should have run. That very first moment, I should have taken his hand and run. Every moment we spent romping was another line added to his death warrant. Mine too. I care less about that. I can’t imagine a world without him. I’ve heard it said often that it’s better to die than to lose your love. I’ve never believed it. Now I do. I would rather die with him than live without him.
I whirl at the voice from the doorway, gasp. I grip the basin again to stop myself falling. Will there be more shocks? If so, I doubt my heart could bear it.
He is wondrous. Are those my clothes? They have never looked so good on me, of that I’m certain. In the name of all the Gods he is beautiful. How did Jandra make his hair shine like that? It flows down his back in a river of pure silver, held back by tiny plaits that are twisted to make a crown around his brow.
My heart stammers and I press my hand to my chest. It is hard to breathe.
“You are so beautiful.”
Tian seems to float across the floor. He seems to tower over me, although he really isn’t that much taller.
“No, you are the beautiful one. I can barely stand to look at you as your brightness burns my eyes. But my love, you are so cold. You shiver. Are you ill?”
“No.” My voice is a whisper. I feel so pathetic, but I can’t manage anymore. Tears are drowning my voice with my courage. “I’m just afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid. I’ll take care of you. No one will hurt you when I’m with you.”
“I wish that were so. My father is a complex man, but he is…. He is a hard man, and uncompromising with his enemies. He will see us both on stakes. I don’t care. I’m sick of this life. Sick of trying to be something I’m not and apologizing for what I am. But you…. My flame is burning low, but yours is bright, so bright. I can’t bear the thought of it being extinguished.”
Tian’s arms surround me as I weep into his chest. “I’m so weak,” I choke out. “You’re so brave. I’m sorry I’m so weak and pathetic.”
“Your fear does not make you weak. Your love does not make you weak. Your deep emotions and empathy do not make you weak. You have lived with this for a long time. You have been broken and will not allow your father or anyone else to break you more. I will save you, my love.”
Jandra snorts. “Fine words but words won’t save you if you linger here too long. By the Gods, brother, you have not even washed your face. You are a mess. Demon, fetch a bowl of warm water and a cloth. You, come with me.”
Jandra takes my hand and drags me into my bedchamber. I am numb. I stare into the mirror as she cleanses me, brushes my hair and applies cosmetic to hide how I have ravaged my looks. I am still emotionless when she dresses me in my best and leads me by the hand through silent corridors, accompanied by my father’s personal guard, who had been left at the door. Was he fearful I would run?
“Wait here,” Jandra says when we arrive at my parents’ chambers. She slips inside, leaving us along in the corridor with the soldiers. It’s only then that I realize Tian’s hand is in mine. He squeezes it.
“No matter what might befall us, never forget you are my hero and my heart. I will defend you to the death and will perish before I allow anything bad to befall you. You are my prince, my bonded, my heart and my soul. In this life, or the next, we will be as one.”
“We already are,” I whisper, forcing back tears. I will not cry in front of my father’s men.
“Come. Quickly.” Jandra’s sudden appearance startles me, and the sound it brings to my lips brings fire to my cheeks. I bite my lip so as not to un–man myself even more.
As soon as I enter the room my mother flies at me and crushes me against her chest.
“Oh, my darling, my poor Castien. We have been so cruel.” She draws back and gazes at me, then lays her hand against my cheek. “Ai Bren, see what you have done with your idiocy. You have made your own son so fearful of that he can barely keep his feet. You know our Castien is delicate.”
“He has no business being delicate where he has to go.”
And the delight doesn't end there. Now you can go read all the other wonderful stories.