And so we arrive at another Wednesday. Today I'm taking my son to Butlins where he is going to spend a few days with his father, stepmother and baby sister. I will have two days to myself and I'm both looking forward to it and dreading it. I have a chance to do anything I want but know I am going to do nothing at all. Although I suppose that, in itself, is a break.
Anyway, on to the good bit. My flash. this week takes as its prompt this beautiful picture
With every step I took from the Counsel Chamber to Solar my anger increased. I don’t know what incenses me more – that he would keep his mission from me, or that he would lie about the purpose of that mission. He said he’d come here to find his mate – to find me. If that was a lie what else did he lie about? What else has he not told me? Did he even mean it when he said he cares for me?
“My Prince,” Tian bows his head. He knows. He knows where my rage is directed. Does he have nothing to say?
“How went it brother?” Jandra asks. “Frankly, I am surprised father did not eject you from the meeting. I’m sure he must have been very angry with you. I hope he was not angry with me for allowing it.”
“It was not for you to allow or deny. I took my rightful place that I should never have been denied.”
I have no time for her. Perhaps I will pay for my arrogance later, but for now I’m damned if I will show a moment’s weakness before him.
“You’re getting high ideas, little brother. Beware lest they cost you dear. You are not for made to rule.”
“Father wishes to speak with you,” I say, waving my hand in dismissal. I will no longer get into these fruitless arguments with my parents or sibling. I am truly a prince now and I will never let anyone forget it again – lest I forget too.
Jandra opens her mouth to speak but appears to be too angry to trust her voice, so she exits like a tornado with ice at its eye. Let her blow out somewhere else.
We are alone. I dare not speak. The adrenaline is beginning to wane and I wonder what the hell I’ve just done. I push that to one side. I will deal with the consequences of my actions later; let us now deal with the consequences of his.
“Did you mean anything you said to me?”
Tian’s head snaps up. His eyes are wide, filled with fear and confusion.
“I meant everything I said to you.”
“You said you had come here to find your bonded; to find me. You said you came for me. I believed you. I gave you my heart. Now I have to find that you did not come here for me at all, but to petition my father for aid. How do you think that makes me feel?” I am so cross with myself that my voice cracks and fails me. I jut out my chin. I will not sound like a petulant child and I will not cry.
“Yes. No. I…. Listen to me.”
I say nothing, afraid my voice will betray the turmoil, the fear, the pain. Behind Tian, hanging on the wall, the light of candles softening its harsh planes, is a cross, almost as big as a man. It symbolises the union of the crown and the people. Wings spread wide as the Crown, like a hen with her brood, takes its people under its wing of protection. Where is my wing?
Tian takes my silence as permission and continues.
“My father has been in negotiation with yours for some time. They have been looking for the best means to bring our peoples together without conflict. We were preparing for a journey, my father and I, along with our best negotiators. Then I heard you call, and I answered. I could not wait for the preparations to be completed. I…ran with no thought for the careful planning, for the delicate diplomacy, for the very future of both our peoples. I had no plan, no mission, no thought but of you. That is why I arrived alone and defenceless.”
My heart wavers. I want to believe him – oh how I want it – but can I really trust him.
“Then why reveal the plan now? Why not wait for your delegation?”
“Our fathers spoke. The decided the engagement between myself and your sister provided means to strengthen our claim, to help persuade your Council we can be trusted.”
“Can you? Can you be trusted?”
Tian winces and turns away to gaze out of the window at the stars.
“Believe or disbelieve. I can only give you the truth. What you do with it is for no one to say but you. All I ask is that you consider this – have you ever gazed into my eyes and seen anything but truth there?”
That gave me pause. Before this hour it would never have occurred to me to look for truth in his eyes as I would not have doubted to find it. Had I looked closer would I have seen truth but a pretty veil to conceal deceit beneath?
Oh, but I had looked deep. I had searched for lies in my self–loathing and lack of belief in myself? Had I not expected deceit I did not find?
“I don’t know.” The anger has left me – abruptly and devastatingly. Now I am empty, my core shaken, my fragile belief in myself shattered, its shards tinkling around my feet as I wonder how I will put any kind of life together after this. So many bridges burned. “I don’t know anything anymore. I am like one of my mother’s kittens – one moment all claws and the next falling from the basket and mewling piteously for its mother.”
Tian turns and suddenly I am in his arms. “Never say that about yourself. If you doubt every word I say from now to the end of the world, do not doubt this – you are a great man, and as worthy of love and respect as any.”
His eyes are hot with anger that burns in righteous defence of my worth. There is fierce love in his glance that I am sure cannot easily be counterfeited.
What am I to do?
And now you should go check out the other fine folk who are flashing for your entertainment this week. There's not many of us this week so no excuse for not reading us all