This week I took a prompt but kind of roved around it so I'm going to put it in anyway because you can probably see the connection, the intention and where it went astray. Extra mind work :D
Not even now. Not even with my promise of love fresh in his ears does my love truly believe in himself. At least he seems at peace. Perhaps, at last, he can at least believe in me.
“Come, we must retire and rest. I must send word to my father that we come and he should make ready.”
Castien melts into my side with a gentle sigh. “Will he like me, do you think?”
There is that anxiety again, leeching the colour from his beautiful eyes, painting shadow where there should be none.
“My father will like you. He will admire you. My mother will adore you, and my sister will steal from whatever kisses you can spare that are not for me.”
“All my kisses are for you,” Castien breathes.
“Ah but that is only because you live in a place where kisses are so little valued. When you come into my world your kisses will be in such high demand they will bear a dearer price.”
“Never for you. My kisses will always be freely given to you.”
“Come, let us retire. You seem tired and need to rest.”
“I’m fine. I feel as though I could take on the world.”
“Perhaps you can.”
I watch my prince sleep with so much love within me it is a joyous pain. My heart beats for him and every sigh, every flutter of his lashes makes it ache all the more. I ponder why love should hurt this way and conclude that my heart is seeking to fly from my chest, to be free of the poor confines of this body to encompass a love so wide and so deep my frail human form cannot contain it. Castien murmurs and shifts in my arms, his face beatific and I groan aloud, unable to bear the aching beauty of him.
Sleepy eyes blink up at me and my prince smiled. “Go to sleep,” he murmurs on a yawn and pats my cheek. What magic is this? My painful heart calms as I fall into his eyes and, at last, feel the pull of oblivion. I settle more comfortably and Castien tucks his face in to my chest. Then we sleep.
The days that follow were a blur of planning and organizing. The Council throw difficulties into our path at every turn and both Castien and his father are reduced to seething balls of snapping fire. It is amusing to note how alike they are beneath their many differences. They are both quick to anger, whereupon the king bellows and stomps while Castien seethes and paces. The king snaps orders while Castien gives the same ones in a polite, almost hesitant way. The king commands, Castien negotiates, and they both get things done.
Jandra disappoints me. She is not as supportive as would have hoped from a loving sister. She appears sullen and envious of Castien’s new status. I cannot imagine what life must have been like for him before, but it appears he has undergone quite a transformation and Jandra, among others, is not pleased about it.
I have tried to talk to her, the Gods know, but all she will say is that it will end in tears and I have no idea what I am doing. She is wrong. I see how quickly my lover wearies when he is stressed or pushing himself to work hard, which he does often. He is unable to accept weakness in himself even when he excuses it in everyone else. I use many wiles to divert him when he needs to rest. Sometimes by pretending weakness in myself; sometimes by distracting him with pleasant endeavours and sometimes by shamelessly pointing out how Jandra struggles with being usurped. This works far better than Jandra’s direct confrontation and demands.
Even so, Castien is pushing himself too hard in his attempts to prove himself to his father. The king is impressed and readily shows it. To give him his due, he does not falter in admitting when he is at fault and he has found many ways to show his regret and confidence to his son. However, he is blind to the fact that, in so doing he has awoken a fierce desire to prove worthy that is slowly consuming Castien. It is this that makes me fear for his health and wellbeing.
But the time of departure draws near and I know that once we are home, once Castien is able to relax in the calm and peace that Coedwen wraps around all those who cross its borders, when the healers have worked their magic, he will be well and strong and everything he hopes and strives to be. All I have to do is keep him safe until then.
There have been times, over the course of days that I had thought this day would never come. Delay after delay has cropped up and it has been clear over and over that the Council are working against us as far as they dare. Of course, the complaints are taken to the king or to Jandra, for they do not react with the calm confidence of my prince, who deals with problems with calm logic, a steady hand – and a wealth of knowledge that stops most of them dead in their tracks. It seems to me as if Jandra in particular feeds the hysteria that seeks to drag us backward. I doubt she does so deliberately but a disaffected woman is a dangerous creature.
Thankfully, despite the difficulties the day has dawned and we are ready to leave.
And now you need to go check out the other two amazing storytellers this week