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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Theo

Submitted: September 13, 2012

Reads: 14

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Submitted: September 13, 2012

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4. Theo

 

Theo washes his face after a good twenty minutes of quiet sobbing in the bathroom. He washes and washes trying to get rid of any trace of tears, but when he looks in the mirror his eyes are still red and he hates this. All of it. Theo is so angry at Yohance for making him this way. But what he hates the most, he realizes, is that he’s not really angry at Yohance at all. It’s not his fault.

 

The anger is still there, though, and he has no idea who to direct it to. All his life he has gotten everything he needed and more, he lives in a palace for fuck’s sake, but he can’t have the one thing he really wants. And it’s really no one’s fault, is it?

 

Just his own, maybe, for not being brave enough to go for it. But how could he? What is Theo supposed to do, just walk in one day announcing his true feelings for Hance to everyone and refusing to see him married to his sister and then run away into the sunset with him? It sounds pretty great to be honest, but is also a pretty stupid idea. The guards would get them in a matter of hours and Theo wouldn’t be allowed to see Hance ever again.

 

He thinks about how different things would be if Ewan was still here. Not only because he would have married Abeba and Hance wouldn’t be courting Lucasta, but because Theo would have someone to talk to. They had the connection he was never able to make with his sister, even as twins, or his parents. Most of the time he felt as if his brother was the only person in the house that really cared about him. That was, of course, before Hance and Abeba came along.

 

Theo shakes it all off, dries up his face and walks out of the bathroom. Hance must be out in the gardens with Lucasta by now.

 

As he is walking down, Theo sees Abeba, his friend, sitting at the bottom of the stairs staring off into space, tears trailing down her face. He quietly goes to sit by her side, putting an arm around her.

 

She looks surprised for a second but quickly realizes who it is and gives Theo a sad little smile. He knows his eyes must still be red from crying and even if Abeba has never said a thing, he knows that she must know everything about him and Hance. He smiles back just as sad and they look at each other knowingly, understandingly and caring. She leans into him and he hugs her tightly, still without saying a word because with her there was never a need.

 

*

Later that afternoon Theo has to sit through a long and painful dinner with his family and the Gwandoyans.

 

His parents and the King and Queen of Gwandoya share a half excited, half worried conversation about Zhian and Delmar arriving tomorrow while Lucasta and Yohance share longing looks across the table. Abeba and Theo just remain quiet.

 

“Joan, can you please help Theo with his food. He’s making a mess,” says the Queen of Longstride addressing who used to be Theo’s nursemaid and interrupting all conversation.

 

Theo, embarrassed, stares at her as Joan approaches him.

 

“No. Mother, I am not--, I can--, I am doing fine!” he struggles to say and with his hand indicates Joan to step away.

 

Everyone is looking at him.

 

“Please, Theo, can we not go through this right now. Just let her help you, you are dropping food all over the floor,” she says leisurely and pressing a finger to her brow.

 

Theo blushes. “I just dropped a little and only because I--,” he looks down fumbling for words. “Got distracted.”

 

He did get distracted by the almost obscene way in which Yohance puts food on his mouth, but he isn’t about to say that out loud.

 

“I am not a child anymore, I don’t need Joan to cut my food,” Theo says firmly.

 

His mother opens her mouth to respond but her husband raises a hand to shut her up.

 

“Please Candace, not in front of our guests. If the boy thinks he can do it just let him,” he says sounding bored. Queen Candace gives him a hard look but doesn’t dare to say anything.

 

“I apologize for my wife and son, this is a matter of everyday here,” the King continues addressing his guests and side-eyeing Theo and his mother.

 

“It’s fine, Cedric really, don’t worry,” replies King Berko kindly.

 

Neither he nor his wife seem bothered at all while Hance and Abeba give Theo apologetic looks. Lucasta is very pointedly ignoring the issue and looking at her food.

 

Theo also drops his glance to his food refusing to meet anyone’s eyes. He’s embarrassed but mostly angry at his mother. He’s always angry lately.

 

“Lucasta, they tell me you were out in the gardens looking a little too affectionate with Yohance,” says King Cedric, changing the subject in a neutral tone. Theo almost drops his fork.

 

Lucasta’s eyes widen and Theo notices Hance tense up and give him a regretful glance.

 

“Not giving Ferdinand a chance I see,” continues the King.

 

“Of course I am, daddy! I was just showing Yohance the gardens,” Lucasta smiles at her father. “Also it’s been ages since we last saw each other we had catching up to do, right Yohance?” She redirects her smile to Yohance.

 

Everyone else turns to him and Theo thinks Hance might pass out.

 

“I…ah, yes. Absolutely.”  He forces a smile for everyone. Theo knows very well when he’s faking it.

 

The King of Longstride gives him a short nod before turning to Lucasta again. “Well, just make sure you save some affection for Ferdinand, yes?”

 

“Of course, daddy!” Lucasta says nodding enthusiastically.

 

Theo wishes she would save it all for him.

 

*

After dinner is over Theo leaves with every intention of going to sleep without speaking to anyone else, but as he starts climbing up the stairs, Hance comes after him. Theo thinks about ignoring him and just continue walking to his room but who is he kidding. He mentally curses at himself for his lack of self-control and turns to face Hance.

 

“What.”

 

Yohance hesitates before speaking. “I am sorry about that. Your mother and me and Luc-,”

 

He stops at Theo’s exasperated growl. He feels so frustrated he could throw up.

 

“It’s not your fault. None of it and I don’t want to hear you saying sorry ever again. Ever, ever.”

 

Theo is surprised at how fluently and firm that came out and it looks like Hance noticed too and is about to say something when they are interrupted.

 

Lucasta is coming up the stairs, her heels loudly thumping on the wooden steps. She doesn’t seem to notice or care that she is interrupting a conversation and joins in casually. Theo thinks about strangling her.

 

“Theo, I am wearing white tomorrow,” she says as she always does before an event and doesn’t want Theo looking like her twin. Theo doesn’t even bother answering, he doesn’t have to, she is not asking.

 

She turns to Yohance and smiles. “I am going to bed, Hance. You should too. Get some rest, you look tense.” Lucasta stands on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on his cheek and then pulls away quickly.

 

And just why is she calling him Hance? She’s always called him by his full name. Only Theo and his family get to use that name for him.

 

“Goodnight,” She says addressing Hance only and as she starts to leave for her room. “Don’t let Theo bore you!” And she is gone, so quick that none of them has any chance to say something, not that they were trying too hard.

 

Hance tries smiling at him but has that same look he was giving him at the dinner table.

 

“Stop feeling sorry for me,” says Theo in a clipped tone.

 

“That is not what I’m doing! I am sorry if it-,”

 

“Goodnight, Yohance.” Theo cuts him off and then leaves too.

 

*

Theo wakes up an hour before the scheduled arrival of Zhian and Delmar, not like anyone will care if he is there to welcome them but he gets ready anyway.

 

He takes a quick bath and dresses in not-white and goes down to have breakfast. He takes the longer route so he doesn’t run into anyone and is relieved to see that Abeba is the only one sitting in the kitchen table eating an omelette.

 

“Good morning,” she greets him kindly as Theo sits across from her.

 

He smiles at her. “Good morning, Abeba. Sleep well?” He really means if she’s feeling better than yesterday and she understands.

 

“Yes, thank you. How about you?” She does look more like herself; brighter and smiling.

 

He shrugs. “I could barely get any sleep.”

 

“Excuse me, sir, can I make you anything?” interrupts Lawson, their cook.

 

“Yes, Lawson thanks. I’ll just have fried eggs and sausage, please.” Theo turns back to Abeba.

 

“So, not very excited for today I see,” she says mockingly.

 

Theo snorts. “I can’t think of any reason to be.”

 

“Well, I can think of two. One, your mother will get off your back and two, Lucasta will get off Hance’s,” she says that last part lower so only Theo can hear. She smiles at him.

 

Abeba is Theo’s favorite person. She doesn’t act like she’s speaking to a ten year-old and doesn’t feel the need to apologize to him every five seconds. Theo doesn’t feel completely useless and doesn’t stumble on his words.

 

It is the first time she acknowledges Theo’s and Hance’s relationship out loud. He skips the part where he acts surprised that Abeba knows about whatever is going on between him and Yohance and shakes his head.

 

“That won’t happen. I know my sister, she won’t let go of him just because she’s getting a shiny new toy. That’s why she’s got two hands. Besides, she really likes Hance.”

 

Lawson puts his breakfast on the table and Theo starts eating.

 

“Maybe she’ll like Ferdinand better,” she says optimistically. “The guy does look like a damn Greek god.”

 

“Well, aren’t you excited for today,” says Theo forgetting all about his sister and Hance and just enjoying how refreshing it is talking to Abeba.

 

Abeba widens her eyes. “What?! Are you implying I am excited to meet some pretty boy prince? He’s dumber than a sack of rocks.”

 

“But he looks like a Greek god,” says Theo teasing.

 

“Oh please, I am not blind and everyone thinks so. You probably do too.”

 

Theo blushes and takes a gulp of juice.

 

“See! And you can’t hold it against me when the asshole strolls swinging his hips around in tight pants and open shirts.”

 

Theo smiles at the memory of seeing Prince Ferdinand on TV, hips swaying in skin-tight patterned pants and a button-down buttoned only halfway. He bites his lip.

 

“And messy hair,” he says.

 

“And big eyebrows and sharp cheekbones. Fuck.” She also bites her lip.

 

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation right now. Of all things,” he says and Abeba laughs shaking her head.

 

“Well, it’s good for you to let go and stop being so bitter.”

 

He smiles at her and then they fall silent until they get called outside to welcome Delmar.

 

The Kings and Queens of Longstride and Gwandoya are already there, standing tall and looking serene. Yohance and Lucasta are there too.

 

Yohance looks really tense but still very handsome in dark green and reconsidering Prince Ferdinand’s got nothing on him. Lucasta is wearing white just like she told Theo she would, and she looks absolutely beautiful.

 

There are twice the people and cameras there were yesterday. There’s also a lot more screaming. Girls have come to see Prince Ferdinand like it is some kind of movie premiere.

 

The car stops at the front steps and everything goes silent as the King and Queen of Delmar step out. King Frederic looks very old, older than King Berko or King Cedric. He also looks very tired, his wife, Queen Virginia, looks a lot younger than him and comes out sporting a conceited little smile.

 

As they start climbing up the steps, Ferdinand steps out of the car and the screaming resumes. After him, a really ugly cat wearing a vest that matches Ferdinand’s pants, jumps out of the car and follows him. Ferdinand is wearing the tightest possible pink flowered pants and a black jacket, his hair is standing up in every direction, thick eyebrows framing impossibly intense and dark brown eyes. He looks absolutely positively ravishing. Theo and Abeba share a quick smirk.

 

While his parents do the proper salutations, Ferdinand is facing the other way grinning wide at the flock of screaming girls; one hand waving at them and the other messing up his hair every five seconds.

 

“Ferdinand!” Queen Virginia calls annoyed and he takes his sweet time to pick the cat up and turn around.

 

When he does, his glare fixes quickly on the corner where Theo and Abeba are standing before looking away and smiling in Lucasta’s direction instead. He walks up and bows before the Kings and Queens of Gwandoya and Longstride.

 

“Your majesties,” he says hurriedly before turning to Lucasta, getting on one knee and kissing her hand.

 

“M’lady, may I say you look absolutely stunning. You are a total vision.”

 

Ferdinand’s parents are instantly pleased with that but not as much as Lucasta. Her eyes go wide and her cheeks red and she is biting so hard on her lower lip Theo thinks she might draw blood, she can’t even utter a word. She looks longingly after him when he goes to shake hands with Yohance. After that, everyone starts walking inside leaving Theo and Abeba behind.

 

Zhian called and said they would be arriving later in the afternoon because they had some unexpected matters to deal with.

 

As they all start walking inside, Lucasta dragging her two suitors one in each arm, Ferdinand keeps eyeing back at where Theo and Abeba are following in what he must think is a discreet way.

 

It makes Theo all flustered and uncomfortable and Abeba rolls her eyes but is still trying to hide a smile.

 

“I can’t even tell, is it you or me?” she whispers at Theo.

 

“I have no idea but it should be Lucasta.”

 

“How funny would it be if both of her suitors have the hots for you?” She teases him.

 

“Not funny at all,” he says.

 

*

 

Later, in order to make time for the Kingdom of Zhian Lucasta decides she wants to take Ferdinand to the Sunbeams Park and her parents tell her to take Yohance, Abeba and Theo too, so they all, plus Luci the male naked cat, go as a group.

 

Theo really likes Sunbeams. It’s a nice big park and he used to come here with his brother. He loves that it hasn’t changed much since then.

 

They all walk together talking about trivial things like the weather, food and how long it took Ferdinand’s textile guy to get the fabric for his pants right. After a while of walking through the park, feeding ducks and eating all kinds of junk food, Lucasta says she would like to take a walk alone with Ferdinand. He is delighted and says yes. Theo, Yohance and Abeba are quick to say that it’s fine with them so Lucasta drags Ferdinand away and Luci follows them.

 

The three of them remaining go get ice cream to celebrate.

 

“I told you!” Abeba says in between laughs. “They are perfect for each other!”

 

Theo is smiling. “Yeah, yeah, you were right. This is fantastic.”

 

“What do you mean “I told you”, you talked about this? Have you been talking behind my back?” Yohance says trying to sound firm but is also very clearly pleased and relieved with this new turn of events.

 

“Relax, Yohance. No one’s been talking behind your back.” Abeba rolls her eyes at him.

 

“Yeah, you’ve been so busy with Lucasta that all the talking we’ve had has had to be behind your back.” Theo tells him.

 

“But now you’re free!” Abeba squeals.

 

“Abeba, do I have to remind you why am I doing this? I can’t afford to be free.”

 

Theo faces away and continues to eat his ice cream in silence.

 

“Yohance, we’ll be fine. There has to be a solution that doesn’t involve you marrying someone you don’t love and we will find it!”

 

They all tense up after that. It is weird to hear someone saying it out loud and in Yohance’s face. He doesn’t love Lucasta and he never will. Marrying her is the last thing he wants.

 

“Besides you can always marry Theo, can you not?” Abeba says jokingly trying relieve the tension.

 

It only makes it worse.

 

“No?” Theo and Yohance say at the same time. Theo looks at him and immediately regrets it when he feels himself blushing. They both look away.

Then Yohance seems to realize who he's talking to.

"Wait. How do you--, who says--… Why would I want to marry Theo?" He manages to say at last and looks around making sure no one is listening.

Abeba raises her eyebrows and Theo looks at him hurt.

Yohance moves his glance from Theo to Abeba apparently trying stupidly to decide if he wants to continue lying to his sister even if she already knows everything or reassuring Theo.

Yohance sighs. "I didn't mean that and you know it, Theo. And Abeba apparently."

None of them responds to that.

"Fine. You know what? Fuck it all. Let Lucasta marry Ferdinand, we'll be fine."

Abeba claps her hands and laughs. "Yeah, exactly!"

Theo just looks up and gives Yohance the biggest smile he can manage trusting that he will see how happy he is right now.

Hance smiles big back at him and it's all perfect.

An hour passes and Theo, Hance and Abeba are still laughing in blissful oblivion sitting on a bench when Ferdinand appears carrying his ugly cat.

"There you are! I've been looking for you for the past thirty minutes," he says as he squeezes in the bench still holding the cat and puts a leg on Theo's lap.

It makes Theo really uncomfortable.

"I surrender," Ferdinand continues casually petting Luci before anyone can say anything. "She's all yours, I don't want her."

"What?!" say Hance and Abeba at the same time.

Ferdinand blinks at them.

"But you were all over her just a while ago!" Yohance calls on him.

"Yeah well, that was before she showed her true colors. She is insane and very mean."

Luci hisses like he agrees.

"No she is not! She is really a very nice girl when you get to know her, and she is smart and determined and she'll make a fantastic queen." Yohance says desperately.

"Well, I am very glad you feel that way about her, you'll be very happy together I'm sure." Ferdinand says.

Yohance is about to say something back but is interrupted by Abeba.

"Excuse me! Where is she?"

Ferdinand stares at her for a moment before answering, "Who?"

"Lucasta, you idiot!"

"Oh, she's..." He looks around him as if he had thought Lucasta was right there with them.

"I have no idea."

Abeba and Yohance stare at him open-mouthed while Theo just sits there trying to process all that is happening.

Eventually they all stand up and go look for Lucasta, it's getting dark and they really should be getting back. This time they all walk quietly, not so happy anymore.


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