"I have always loved you." He whispered, kissing the bridge of her nose and pulling her in close.
She smiled, looking deep into his eyes, as if she were scanning his thoughts for perfect response. Her presence was the elixir, which gave him strength to live life and her voice the enchantment, which called him use every bit of that strength for her happiness. He would wait an eternity to hear her words. Once he would not have known such patience, but it was one of the many gifts his life with her had bestowed upon him.
"That is not true." She said, mater-of-factly.
"How can you say that? I loved you before we were even born of this world. I will love you long after we have passed into the next. My love for you is eternal!"
Her eyes were alight with knowledge he would never comprehend and had no need to understand, so long as he had her, the other half of his soul, to know it for him.
"No, Dear. There was a time that you did not even like me."
He looked confused for a moment and then smiled. "Oh, yes. That."
"I not like you." The little boy said. He blew his dark hair out of his eyes and rubbed the tip of his nose. He stared over at the little girl crouching across from him, waiting for her to respond to him.
She simply stared down at the mud and continued to poke it with a stick. Several long minutes passed. At last she looked up at him. A bit of her hair had come loose from the carefully braided ponytail, the ribbons woven through the braid were unraveling and she had a smudge of mud across her cheek. Her dark eyes were unblinking as she met his gaze. "Yes, you do." She said, and went back to poking the mud.
Nah-uh!" He said resolutely. She continued to ignore him, which made him angry. "I said Nah-uh!"
She looked up at him again, and started using the stick to flick mud at him.
She smiled at him, but did not stop.
Reaching down he picked up a handful of mud and squished it down her dress. Her eyes went wide then narrowed, her lips grew tighter, her free hand balled up into a fist, a primal scream ripped from her throat and she lunged for him. She barreled into him, sending him falling onto his back. She pounded him with her fist, whacking him on the head with her stick, screaming all the while. He fought back as best her could, but she had the upper hand having taken him off guard and being on top of his chest as she was. Luckily for him the grown-ups came to his rescue.
Darkon dragged Delyzsa off of Richard as Taurna pulled her son up off the ground, checking him over for wounds. Delyzsa continued to wiggle and scream, trying to get away from her bother.
"Calm down little one!" Darkon laughed, trying to keep a hold of his little sister. "I thought the twos were supposed to be the age that were terrible!"
"Apparently, it carries over to three." Taurna said, picking Richard up and holding him close to her. "Now what started all of this?"
"He said he did not like me," Delyzsa said. "And he can not even talk right."
"I talk right!" Richard shouted indignantly. "You ugly!"
Delyzsa reached over before Darkon or Taurna realized what she was about to do and hit Richard on the head with her stick again.
"No more hitting!" Darkon insisted.
"She got dirt on me," Richard said.
"He put mud on my dress," Delyzsa countered.
"You dress was muddy afore," Richard said. "And you more ugly now."
Delyzsa tried to hit him again, but Darkon grabbed the stick from her hand. She looked up at her big brother in shock. Her brows furrowed, knitting together, lower lip quivered, eyes welling up with tears.
Richard watched the little girl and got angry again, but this time at his father. "No, Daddy. No make Dee cry."
"Are you going to hit anyone with it, Delyzsa?" Darkon asked, giving her that stern father look. She shook her head shyly. He favoured her with the stern look again before giving her the stick back. Holding it tight in her little fist, she leaned against her brother's arm, wiping tears and snot on his shirt, before resting her head on his shoulder and sticking a muddy thumb in her mouth to suck.
"Oh Delyzsa, baby, do not suck your thumb, it is all muddy." Taurna said, moving closer to gently move the little girl's hand away from her mouth. When Taurna got close, Delyzsa reached out and gave her stick to Richard.
He looked at the stick and then to his Aunt. "I like you." He said resolutely.
"I know." She said smiling at him.
"Let's get you two inside so I can put you in a tub." Taurna said.
The three-year-olds looked at each other, realizing that not only was she going to make them get clean but also she was going to make them do it in the same tub. Together they said, "Eeewwww!"
"I think I will wear the pale green one with the white beads and lace." Delyzsa explained. "You have to wear something to match me."
"I do not want to wear green. I want to wear blue. You will have to wear a blue dress."
"No, I do not think so," she replied.
"I am the boy, so you have to listen to what I say." Richard insisted.
Dern chuckled from behind his book. "Boy, that attitude is going to get you in trouble. You have a lot to learn about women. Especially, the women in our family."
"I know plenty." Richard stated with a firm nod. "I know everything I need to know. She is going to wear a blue dress."
Delyzsa riffled through the trunk of old fabric and clothing, looking for something she could use for a veil. "I will wear my pale green one."
"If you are going to be my wife you are going to have to listen to me, woman!" Richard demanded. Delyzsa pouted prettily at him and his heart melted. She always won when she did that. "Alright," he relented, "you can wear the green one."
Dern rolled his eyes at the pair. He was not happy about having to watch the younger ones, when there was studying to get done. Vindictively, the sixteen-year-old decided to burst their little imaginary bubble. "You can not get married," he said, turning the page of his book and pretending to be simply making a casual observation.
"Yes, we can," said Delyzsa. She had reached the age of reason and not yet reached the age of understanding. That was about to abruptly change.
"You are only seven. They do not let seven year olds get married." Dern explained. He gave an exaggerated sigh, as if the entire thing bored him. "And then there is that other matter."
"What other matter?" Richard asked.
Dern lowered his book and looked at the two with an excessively serious expression. "She is your Aunt. You cannot marry your Aunt. It is not allowed. They will arrest you."
Richard turned to Delyzsa and was crushed by the hurt reflecting in her eyes. He wanted desperately to make everything in her world all better. "Are you sure?" He asked his Uncle incredulously.
"Positive." Dern said, scratching a bicep bulging from hours of sword training, before he was put in here to keep an eye on the younger ones.
Richard started to protest, but Delyzsa running out of the room distracted him. "Now, look at what you did!"
Dern chuckled putting his book down. "She will get over it."
"You are mean."
"You would rather I waited until you got married and they came to put you both in the dungeon?"
"Someday I am going to get big enough to beat you up." Richard said as he walked out after Delyzsa. Standing in the hallway, he realized he had not seen in which direction she fled. There were several places she went when she was upset and did not want to be bothered. With a shrug he decided to start with her bedchamber and work his way down the list. The door was locked when he arrived. He pounded on the door, but she did not answer. Finally he shouted out, "Dee, let me in! It is Richard." He waited a several seconds and was about to try the next place on his list, but knocked on last time.
"Go away!" She yelled.
He could tell she was crying. He pounded on the door and pleaded to be let in a little while longer, but it was becoming clear she was not going to let him in. His young mind pondered the situation. He needed to be in there with her. He leaned forward, his head resting against the door. He was worrying his lip wondering if he could find a way to break the door down, when a better idea occurred to him.
He made his way though the castle and out a side door. He made his way around the outside of the castle, until he was standing under Delyzsa's room. To the side of the balcony was a trellis. "No problem," he thought, and steeled himself for the climb. He had climbed things much harder than this, so why was he nervous? If he had been older he might have realized it was not truly the climb that was making him nervous, but worrying about Delyzsa and how he was going make her pain go away. Coming even with her balcony he carefully climbed over the rail, nearly losing his balance. All he could think was how his mother would kill him if he fell down and died. He forced his body forward, falling over the rail and landing hard inside the balcony. Biting his lip he tried not to yelp, sitting there for a few minutes, until he was sure he was not going to cry from the pain. He could not let her see him cry. Breathing deeply, he steadied himself, stood and let himself into her room.
Delyzsa was on her bed, weeping into her pillow. Richard walked over hesitantly, not knowing what to do. He hated to see her cry, but he was only seven. He did not know what to do about crying girls. He did not even have any cookies to give her. After shifting awkwardly from foot to foot for a while, he finally settled on climbing into the bed with her and wrapping his arms around her, like his mother did when he was upset about something. "Do not cry, Dee. Please do not cry."
Her pillow muffled Delyzsa's sobbing voice. "But we cannot get married. They think it is bad for us to be in love. I want to love you, Richie."
He patted her back, not knowing what to say. For a long time he just listened to her cry. A thought dawned on him. "They do not have to know. It can be our secret."
She lifted her head up and looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"We can still be in love. We just have to make sure no body knows about it."
She propped herself up on her elbow, turning toward him. Instinctively he reached up and wiped away her tears. She frowned at him, but pressed her cheek against his hand. "But Derhan says I cannot ever lie to him. He says he cannot keep me safe and protect me if I lie to him, so I always have to tell him the truth."
"Weelll," Richard began, drawing out the word to give his self time to think. "You will tell him the truth about everything else. Just this will be our secret."
"What if he finds out? I am just a little girl, Richie." She said in that tone she always gave to him when she thought he said something stupid. "I need someone to protect me. I do not want Derhan to stop keeping me safe."
"I will keep you safe. I will protect you." Richard said, puffing out his chest bravely. He leaned in and kissed her cheek.
She blinked at him without expression, until Richard began to think he had done the wrong thing. Finally she threw herself on him and he fell backward onto his back. She snuggled into his chest, holding him tight, until she fell asleep in his arms. He was not sure what was going to happen, but he did know that right now, this was good. He rubbed her back, until he drifted off to sleep, too.
Richard stood up on the fence watching his father in the sword-fighting segment of the tournament. He was very conscious of the row of girls sitting a few yards away, giggling at him. Occasionally, he would look away from the fighting and glance their way. They would wave and giggle and when he would smile at them, they would feign a swoon. After a while he stopped pretending to be more interested in the fighting than the girls and headed their way. Just as he was walking past he tilted his head down, looking at them sideways through his hair, smiled and said, "Greetings, Ladies."
He was answered by a chorus of, "Hello, Richard." Followed by more giggling.
When he finally made his way over to where he was competing in the junior swordsmen's matches, an entourage of doting females followed adoringly behind him. He knew he needed to go get suited up, but he delayed to put on a show for the females. It was a hot day, giving him the perfect excuse to take off his shirt and dunk his head into a bucket of water to cool off before having to don his armour. Water dripped off his hair and face, over his chest and the muscles of his arms that he flexed for the benefit of the ladies. He used his shirt to dry himself off taking his time to run it along his best aspects, before getting serious about getting ready. He had to put thoughts of girls out of his mind and achieve the proper mindset, or he was going lose all of his bouts.
His first pairing was with a boy he had always beaten before and this time was no different. The second and third bout did not give him much more of a challenge. He was waiting for them to call his opponent, when the officials waved him over.
"You have gone past the skills of the juniors, IronWolfe." The officials stated. "We are going to let you try to take on some of the older teens in the journeymen matches."
Richard could feel his chest expanding in pride, adrenaline revving him up. There were several boys older than him that were not being given this chance. He could not allow his head to swell, though. Getting a little bit cocky in the junior matches might be ok, but at the journeymen's level he had to really focus. These were boys who were already training to be knights. He was going to have to really apply himself if he were going to win.
It was over half and hour before his name was finally called and he was matched against a boy two years older and a lot more experienced than he. Twice he thought he was going to be out of the match on his first go around, but somehow he managed to keep his head where he needed it, remember everything his father, mother, and mentors had taught him, to win his first bout. He tired but could not hide his grin when they pronounced him victor, but he was gracious enough to offer his hand to his opponent and help him up from the ground.
"Good job, IronWolfe." The older boy said. "Great fight."
"Thank you." Richard said and hurried off of the field. He could not wait to find Delyzsa and tell her all about it. It did not take him long to find her, but when he did all thoughts of his victory were washed from his mind.
She was leaning against a shade tree coyly smiling up at a male who seemed far too casual about how close he was standing to her. Richard knew him. He was Count Volzer's son Corbin and Richard had heard the tales among the other teenage boys about Corbin's multitude of female conquests. Richard had always looked up to the eighteen-year-old for his guile with the women, but now the older teen was hitting on his fourteen-year-old aunt. Corbin was hitting on his Dee! Richard could feel his anger rising like bile in the throat. This man must die. As he stalked over and grabbed the unarmed and unarmoured boy by the shoulder, rage filled him pressing out all reason. The older male pushed away from Richard yelling vehemently, but the blood was pulsing so hard through Richard's body that it drowned out most everything else in his ears. He was raising his sword about to bring it down on Corbin's head, when he noticed that something was pulling against his arm. He brought he arm back to shake whatever it was off of him, when he realized it was Delyzsa. She was yelling at him too.
"Stop it Richard! Stop it!" She was screaming. "What is wrong with you?"
Richard let his arm drop, blinking trying to comprehend what she was saying. It was not connecting in his mind why she seemed to be so mad at him. She pushed him in the chest, but he stood his ground, looking at her with an expression of confusion. She shook her head and walked away hurriedly.
He started after her, but was frozen in mid-step by Corbin's laughter. "Smooth, IronWolfe. Very Smooth."
Richard turned on him, bringing his sword up to the other's throat. "My aunt will not be one of your conquests, Volzer. Am I understood?"
"What ever you say, IronWolfe." Corbin laughed. "She is not all that hot anyway."
Richard's sword sliced along Corbin's cheekbone, leaving a line of welling blood in its wake. He met Corbin's eyes dead on, and the older male must have seen something within them that staid his tongue. He put his hands up and backed off quietly. Richard went after Delyzsa. She was weaving in and out of the merchant stalls heading toward the outskirts of the tournament. He hurried to catch up with her, but even if the armour had not hindered him, she had always been quicker than he. He watched as she disappeared into the surrounding forest. It was only by way of the tracking training he had been given on family hunts that he finally caught up with her, sitting beneath a tree, her face in her hands.
He walked up to her slowly, not
sure what to say. Suddenly, he felt like a small child again. Why
was she so upset at him? He was just protecting her like he
promised her would. Did she not see what Corbin had planned for
her? He was not going to let any male touch his Dee. Only one man
would be with her and he would be that man. His train of thought
stopped abruptly. Did he really think of her like that? He knew
he had always loved her, but she had always been pristine in his
eyes. It was true that he had often thought of bedding the other
girls who fawned over him, but Delyzsa was too pure … too
perfect. It was not that he had failed to notice the changes in
her body the last couple of years. He was acutely aware of the
way her face was beginning to look less like a cute little girl
and more like a beautiful young woman, the extra curves, the soft
flesh, which he was always trying to find excuses to touch, her
scent, her mind-blowing, intoxicating scent. He would do anything
just to be close enough to inhale her aroma. Oh, and the things
her walk was starting to do to him.
He was pulled from his rumination by the realization that she was looking at him. He did not know what to say to her, so he said what he always said. "I am sorry, Dee." He shifted back and forth awkwardly. "I was just trying to protect you. You do not understand. I know what he was thinking."
"He was thinking he wanted to bed me, though there most likely would not have been an actual bed involved." Delyzsa said in a flat tone. "I am not stupid Richard. Nor am I a little girl anymore. I was not planning on doing anything unsavory or unladylike with him, but it was nice to have someone want it, to want me, to notice that I might be attractive. Do you truly think I am so very naive? "
Richard was surprised. As it dawned on him that she did in fact understand just what the older male had wanted from her, he could feel the angelic aura his mind had enveloped her in beginning to dim. He took off his helmet shaking his head in an unsuccessful attempt to clear it. As often happened in his young life, he was wondering how the day had gone so wrong so fast. Suddenly he was angry, angry with her for stealing his long held vision of her away. "Yes, Love, I suppose I did see you as naïve. I thought many things, but I definitely never thought you wanted to be a tourney slut."
She stood up so fast she was practically a blur, smacking him fiercely across the face. "Take it back. Take it back, Richard IronWolfe! Take it back, now!"
He closed his eyes bringing his hand up to rub his stinging face. He was beginning to think he was never going to understand females or why men tried so hard to please them. Opening his eyes, he turned an icy gaze to her. He remained silent.
She walked away.
Richard plopped (as well as one could in armour) on the ground, his back against the tree. He remained there for what seemed an eternity, unmoving, trying not to think, watching the day grow longer. The sounds of the tournament were waning and the day was on the cusp of twilight, when he finally got up and made his way back.
"There you are!" Dern boomed, coming up to Richard, just as he finished packing his armour and getting his things together. "I have been looking for you all over. Your parents have already left and my older brother was very displeased to be unable to find you." He favoured Richard with the same look that Darkon gave, when he was unhappy with his son. "You are to come home with Delyzsa and I. I am to run you though drills and sparring for a week or two. Hopefully, your parents will have cooled down by the time I take you home."
"I am sorry." Richard said. "The day has been a bit overwhelming. I just needed some time to myself to re-center."
"Re-center." Dern nodded, raising an inquisitive eyebrow, but was respectful enough to let the question remain unsaid. "Well, be quick, Lad. We have a long trip ahead of us. I want to have Delyzsa back in her own bed by tomorrow night.
In the room they kept for him at Baron IronWolfe Castle, Richard stared into the darkness toward the ceiling. Delyzsa had barely uttered two words to him the entire journey. Even Dern had noticed the lack of interaction between two normally playful and close young people. "I do not know what you did to get your aunt so upset at you," he advised, "but you would do best apologize. Even if you think you are in the right, say you are sorry, anyway."
"I have." Richard stated. "She will have none of it."
Dern had shrugged. "I cannot help you then. I still have not managed to comprehend the thoughts and actions of women. And my little sister is no exception. Ever since she got the curse I have thought there were times she had been abducted and replaced by some moody demon." Richard had just blinked horrified, causing Dern to let out a deep belly laugh. Misconstruing Richard's expression patted the boy on the shoulder in a companionably consoling manner. "I realize that you and Delyzsa have always been close and you will probably always think of her as the best friend you spent summers running through the orchard with, slaying pretend dragons with wooden swords, but all of us are going to have to come to grips with the fact that she is not going to stay a little girl forever, and she is going to resent us if we to keep her so."
It had not been the fact that she was growing up that had caused the horrific response in Richard. It was the fact that she was growing closer to marrying age. Those in his caste did tend to wait until they were older to get married, but the fact was that if Dee were born of a poorer family, she would be marriageable as soon as she had her first flow. Soon, she was going to have a lot more than just Corbin Volzer sniffing around. It was imperative for him to earn her forgiveness, or he was going to lose her to someone else. Richard went over and over it in his head, trying to figure out what he could do to make it right with her again. Maybe this was it. Maybe she was growing up and that meant she was growing passed her love for him.
He felt his heart clench in pain at the very thought of it. He could not just stand by idly waiting anymore. He had to do something. He got up out of bed, slipping back into his clothes and quietly sneaking out of the room. He considered going to her door, but he knew she would not let him in, and he could not risk someone else hearing. So, he made his way outside and entered her room the way he did more often than not anymore, up the trellis and through the balcony.
She was not asleep. She was sitting up in her bed as if she had been waiting for him all along. "You took your time," she said softly.
"I thought you were mad at me. I did not think you wanted to see me."
"Yet, you came anyway." He expected her words to be icy, but instead she was soft and reserved. "I was mad at you." She did not elaborate, to his great frustration.
He walked over and sat down on the bed beside her. She was so close that her scent was making him heady. He wanted to reach out and touch her, to kiss her, to caress and hold her, but he was afraid she would smack him again. The air between them was so thick with tension he thought he would go mad, until she reached out and took his hand. All the stress churning in his gut and strangling his mind drained out of him all at once. Turning to her in relief he opened his mouth to express to her how very sorry he was and how passionately he loved her, but her feverent kiss silenced any words he might have uttered. A rush of shock shook him to his core, exciting him and urging him to get lost in the incredible sensation of it all. It was a bit clumsy, with a lot of fumbling awkwardness, yet it was still the most amazing experience of either of their lives. This engulfing event, this life-altering expression of being seemed more natural to them than breathing. This was good. This was right. This was as it was always meant to be.
Delyzsa was the first one to pull back. "I am not going to have sex with you tonight," she said bluntly, but with a bit of an embarrassed shyness in her voice.
"Oh, Dee baby," he smiled, gently kissing the nape of her neck. "I am just happy to be close to you.
"Maybe tomorrow night," she said, smiling at him coyly.
He grinned and pulled her in for another kiss.
As the blush of predawn started in the sky, Delyzsa pushed him out of her room, and back down the trellis. She did not want to risk him being seen by anyone going out her door. There was a small side door, seldom used, through which he planned to slip back into the castle. He reached to turn the handle, only to see it turning on it's own. He panicked, looking around for a place to hide, but there was nowhere to go and not enough time to get there even if there had been. Dern walked out of the door.
"Richard! Good! You are up and ready. I went to your room and could not believe you were already up. I am glad you are so anxious to start your training. Let's go get warmed up."
Richard was dead tired and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep, but he could not let Dern know that. His Uncle would want to know why he was so tired, and how was he to explain why he had stayed up all night? "Well, Dern," Richard mused saying to the man. "I was too busy making out with your sister to sleep, so if you do not mind I will just pass on the training today, and get a few winks." What he actually said was, "Yes, sir. One cannot become the best if one does not commit one's self fully." He was going to be dead by the time he was finally able to rest, but thinking of Dee and the night before made it worth any pain he would have to endure.
Delyzsa giggled as Richard ran the soft petals of the flower along the line of her neck. "That tickles!" She playfully protested.
"Yes, Love. I will do whatever it takes to see that wonderful smile light your face."
The tenderness in her eyes as she looked up at him had become his reason for living. Leaning over he lovingly kissed her sweet lips. As he pulled away she closed her eyes and let out a dreamy sigh. It had been two years since their first real kiss and the thrill he got when he pressed his lips to hers had not waned a sliver. She reached up caressing his arm, as he brushed the back of his hand against her cheek.
He began picking the tiny white and yellow flowers around them, placing them in her hair and over her décolleté. As he placed them lower on her chest, she began to slowly unfasten the buttons of her dress. He hesitated in surprise, his hand hovering over her breastbone. She reached up and brought his hand down, helping him place the flower on her ivory flesh. She guided his hand over to cup a breast heaving with the breath of her excitement.
She looked deep into his eyes and he knew beyond doubt what she wanted of him. "Are you certain, my Love? Once crossed this is a boundary that cannot be uncrossed."
She stood, slowly removing her clothing and allowing them to drop to the ground. She stood before him naked in the sun-drenched field. He walked over to her, pressing himself to her, kissing her, as he never had before.
"I am not only certain; I have waited my entire life for this moment," she whispered.
They embraced, changing their lives forever.
"No," Derhan said resolutely. "I do not think so."
"Why not?" Delyzsa protested.
"Because you are only seventeen. It is unsafe for you to travel alone."
Delyzsa pointed an accusing finger at Dern and flicked her fork in his direction. "He was traveling all over creation and fighting in wars when he was my age!"
Dern shoveled food into his mouth like a starving man. "Leave me out of this," he said between bites.
Derhan's tone remained calm and measured. "Mother was still around when Dern was your age, so she was responsible for his upbringing. You are my ward and I will do, as I feel right to keep you safe. I do not want you traveling alone."
"Then send Dern with me. I am not asking to travel to the edge of the world. I am just going to Darkon's home.
"I can't." Dern said. "I have a tournament and it is no where near Darkon's."
Delyzsa was frustrated and flustered. She needed to get to her other brother's castle and she needed to do it now. Her thinking was becoming desperate and she began to grasp at straws. "Then teach me to teleport. I will take myself there and you will not have to worry about me being in danger with a long journey."
"Teleportation is not something you just learn off the cuff. Until you have mastered the spell and the manipulations of the portals it is very dangerous. You are no where near ready for that." Derhan reasoned. "Besides, they will be too busy right now to have an extra teenager running around the place. You can wait a week. We will be going there for Richard's wedding, then."
Delyzsa's heart stopped in her chest and tried to shatter into a millions pieces. The rest of the world continued on, but she was only vaguely aware of it, as the walls of her personal world came falling down. Everything she was inside just died.
"Richard is getting married?" Dern asked cheerfully. "He is only Dee's age! What bride snatched him up so quickly?"
"Her name is Barbara. Apparently she is quite a bit older than him. He met her at Tourney," Derhan answered.
"Is her brother Sir Roger of Whitfield Manor?" asked Dern.
"Yes, that would be correct." Derhan said. "I have not met her, but I have been told she is lovely."
Delyzsa could not stand to listen to her brother's banter so lightly, when a crushing darkness was permeating her being. She stood and rushed from the room.
Derhan sighed, heavily. "Do you think we are too protective of her?"
"Yes," Dern said, nonchalantly. "It is better than the alternative. Would you rather she got wild and get knocked-up by some rogue who will not even marry her?"
Derhan nodded. " I suppose you are
She rounded the corner, out of site of her brothers, and she could no longer hold the tears in. Running to her room she locked herself in. For three days she allowed no one in and did not leave for any reason. She barely slept, refused all food, and cried until her eyes were so sore they bled. Worried for her health, Derhan removed the door to her room, and refused to leave her, until she took in the soup he spooned fed her.
In the dead of the night, she made her way through the silent darkness of the castle toward the high north tower. She would stand on the edge of the parapet and throw herself over. No more pain. No more suffering. Nothing more.
She had spent the greater part of the evening casting the spell that would cause a cascade of magic within her until it burned her body from the inside out, just in case the fall did not kill her. All it would take is one word of power, so even if she were broken and in pain, she could still utter the completion of the spell.
She slowed as she passed the chambers of Derhan and Maxematte, careful to walk as quietly as possible. A tiny cry echoed in the night. Delyzsa stopped wondering what to do. Should she hide? Should she hurry forward before someone heard the baby? At last she chose to alter her course and head into the nursery. The cute one-year-old baby girl was standing up in her crib, gnawing on the rail, saliva, oozing down her chin and drenching her nightgown. The rail was obviously not doing anything toward helping her in her plight, as she kept pulling back and crying. She let go of the rail and pulled on her ebony tresses with her tiny little fists, as if pulling her hair out would distracted her from the pain in her mouth. She turned cat-slitted green eyes to Delyzsa imploringly.
"Are you teething again, Beautiful?" Delizsa cooed, lifting the baby and holding her close. She let go of the cascade spell, sending it back into the void of the universe, so that she could instead call up the only spell she knew that would ease the pain. The little one's crying lessened to shuttered sobs. Delyzsa changed her diaper, then held her close again, walking the floor. It is all right, Felinea. Dee is here to make it all better. I will protect you." To herself she said, "I wish I had someone to do that same for me."
The baby snuggled into her shoulder and Delyzsa rested her cheek against the top of her head and inhaled deeply. Felinea still had that intoxicating baby smell; not as strong as a newborn, but it was still soothing. She rocked the baby gently back and forth as she paced, even after the little one drifted off to sleep. It would be soon enough that Delyzsa could smell that new born scent.
"I am glad to see you are out and around again," Derhan said from the doorway, startling her. Delyzsa blushed, looking away from him and busying herself placing Felinea back into her crib. Her oldest brother joined her by the crib, resting his massive hand gently on her shoulder. "Listen, Hon, I am sorry. Perhaps one of these years I will learn my lessons and stop making the same mistakes over and over again. I am only overprotective because I care about you so very much and I cannot bear the idea of you being hurt. I promise I will try to be more open and realize that you have grown up. I need to start trusting that you can do things on your own. You are a mature, responsible, capable, skilled woman and have never given me any reason not to trust you."
"Yes," she said, the tears welling up in her eyes again. "I have." She turned to face her brother, shaking with fear and overwhelming emotions. "I am pregnant."
The look of pain that passed over her oldest siblings face tore her heart asunder, but it was quickly replaced by one of anger. "Who?" He demanded with a voice that boomed, making the baby jump in her sleep.
She cringed away from him, turning her back to the crib, clutching the rails and sliding down it to the floor. The tears flooded out as she looked up at him. She could not tell him the truth. She forced her clouded and addled mind to think. "I - I d-don't know. Some … just some man I met at a tournament. He was there to watch the knights. I do not even remember his name. I swear Derhan! I swear I have only ever been with one man!" She was nearly hysterical, pleading with him. The last statement, at least, was true. She huddled on the floor, shaking, crying and terrified of her brother's reaction.
To her surprise, Derhan knelt beside her and gently gathered her into his arms. He smoothed her hair as she cried uncontrollably into his chest. "I always react the wrong way in situations like this," he said appologetically. "I wish mother were still around to help you with things like this, or at least Maxematte and I were currently on speaking terms, so she could be here for you. Is that why you wanted to go to Darkon's castle? Were you planning on talking about this to Taurna?"
It was actually Richard she has been planning on talking to about it, but she kept that to herself and nodded as if agreeing with him. Derhan hugged her tight.
"We will work this out, my baby sister. I will stand by you whatever you decide and whatever happens." He said.
The darkness and pain was still there, but here in her brother's arms she felt safe and secure. She no longer thought of throwing herself off of the tower.
Weeks passed before Delyzsa was awakened by a knock at her balcony door. A familiar silhouette came into her room. "Dee?" He whispered. "Dee, are you awake?"
"Yes," she replied flatly.
There was a long uncomfortable pause. "I need to see you. I - I needed to … to see how you are," he stammered.
"Me? I am doing great!" She sniped. "Why are you here? Won't your new wife be missing you?"
"Please. You have to give me a chance to explain, Dee-baby." Walking over he cautiously placed a hand on her shoulder.
She pulled away abruptly, as if his touch burned. As she jerked away the blanket fell down revealing her alabaster breast, with its pale pink nipple in the silver blue moonlight. He turned away from her as if the sight pained him.
"Have I become so repugnant to you?" She said, trying hard not to cry.
Slowly he turned back to her. He was not even trying to stem the tears. "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever known. I love you more than life, Dee."
"Of course," she sneered. "It makes perfect sense. You love me so much you marry another woman." Anger began to override her pain. Sarcastically, she snapped, "How romantic of you!"
"I convinced myself that if I spent all of my free time with you and never dated anyone else that people would get suspiscious, so I started seeing other females. I deluded myself into believing I was protecting our secret. I know now what I was actually doing was cheating on you. I made a mistake. The biggest mistake of my life, but I am so sorry. You have to believe that." He paused, wanting so much to touch her, to hold her. He looked away from her again. "I had to marry her. I got her pregnant. Even if I do not love her, I have to take responsibility for that."
The silence settled between them again. When he could stand it no longer he blurted out, "I love you. I have always and will always love you." He reached out to caress her cheek. She knew she should pull away, but the truth was she still loved him, needed him, wanted him and longed for his touch as much as he longed to touch her. I know that Dern is away and that Derhan has taken the baby to visit some of his friends. There is no one here to catch us. Let me stay the night, Dearest Dee. Just one more night to love you … cherish you … worship you." His voice trailed off. He leaned in and kissed her tenderly. "Please."
She tried to resist, but the the deep and overwheming desire to be with him was more than she could handle. She passionately returned his kiss. His hands ran over her body desparately. He lowed himself over her, cupping her full round breast, as his hips began to press against her. She was breathless and heady with arousal. "I love you, too," she moaned. "I am yours, Richie. I always have been. I always will be."
They made love deep into the night and in the morning he kissed her lovingly, before he started his journey home to his wife. She stared out the glass doors to her balcony long after he was gone, before finally pulling herself up out of bed. She had a journey of her own to make. At her request, Derhan had made arrangements for Delyzsa to apprentice under an old family friend named Brielya. The sorceress was to arrive later that day to teleport Delyzsa back to her house to begin a few years of training. For those who could not teleport, it was a three month trip, so she was relatively assured that she would not run into anyone who knew or knew of her, while there.
No one would see her belly growing. No one would know there was ever a child. Richard would never know her little secret; the unfortunately by product of their little secret.
To be continued...
Original work and all revisions © SAM Blaize and Self-Spirit Jo