Author: lanuitestcalme PM
Rudolf goes through a difficult time, and so does his friend.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Words: 2,882 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 6 - Published: 03-20-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6838691
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is my first "Elisabeth" fanfiction, and I hope that I did alright! This is supposed to be one of Rudolf and Der Tod's last encounters before "Die Schatten Werden Langer". Personally, I pictured Mate Kamaras as Der Tod (given how "handsy" he is), but any of the Der Tods would work. Please review so that I can learn how to write better!
"Father?" Rudolf asked, pushing open the door to Kaiser Franz Joseph's study. He held his hands at his sides, looking expectantly to his father.
"What do you want, Rudolf?" his father asked. The door slammed shut behind Rudolf, making him jump. Slowly he relaxed, regaining his carefully arranged calm façade. "I don't have very much time right now, so please speak quickly."
Rudolf sighed angrily. "That is what I wanted to talk to you about, actually," he said. "You never seem to have time for me anymore. Whenever I want to talk with you, you always have some excuse. I know you have a lot to do, but could you not spare one second for your son?" he asked. "It's not like I can turn to mother, anymore, anyway! What am I to do, father?" He sank down in to one of the armchairs across from his father's desk, crossing his arms across his chest.
The Kaiser looked back to his papers upon his desk. "Rudolf, you could try growing up for once. You are thirteen years old, almost a man. Might as well start acting like one!"
Rudolf shot up out of the chair. "That is it! I've had enough of all of this! Mother does not even know me anymore. She prefers to sit with her mirror, cooped up in her room. I have no friends, for I cannot associate myself with too many others, as per your ruling." He did not, though, mention the friend whose name was on the tip of his tongue. Oh, how he wished his friend could be beside him now! "So who am I to learn from? Certainly not mother, and certainly not my nonexistent friends. So you are the only one that is left, father. But you keep me tied down here. I cannot grow up, for you won't let me learn what is beyond these walls! I cannot be young, for that is unacceptable to you! How am I supposed to be Kaiser one day, when you won't let me even know my world?" he shouted, glaring at his father.
His father simply looked at him, absently scribbling notes for his work on a sheet of paper. Suddenly, Rudolf felt a tap on his shoulder, but he did not turn around. He knew who it had to be: his friend. Rudolf had called for him, and so that ghostly man had appeared, like a phantom.
The man drew his hand down Rudolf's arm, asserting his position in the matter. Rudolf looked to his father, awaiting his reply. "Father?" he asked, hesitantly, when the reply failed to come.
"You will not be Kaiser," his father said, and the world crumpled around Rudolf's body. He felt like falling to the ground, his ideals and beliefs swept up from under his feet. But his companion caught him, carefully holding him up above the black abyss that had just opened up beneath him. He struggled to breath against the waves sweeping around him; he was drowning.
"What?" he breathed. For years, he had been instructed and told that he would be Kaiser. He had been educated in the fine art of ruling a country, memorizing countless laws and policies and treaties. He could recite his family's entire lineage, in order, with birth and death dates. He had an ensemble of maids and butlers, ready to follow him at his beck and call. He knew from the newspapers that he saw in the manservants' quarters that he was even rather well liked by the general public, though he had not yet made their good acquaintance.
And now, to hear that all those years spent away from his family, holed up in a little study with two or three tutors for hours at a time were for a waste…Such news was simply destroying.
"Oh, calm down, Rudolf," his father said, annoyed at his son's obvious display of emotions. "I have reasons for my decision."
As if that declaration could make it any better for Rudolf.
"You are weak," his father continued. "Like your mother. Neither of you are prepared to be in the public eye, as is necessary to rule a country, to be Kaiser or Kaiseren. I married your mother because I loved her, not because I thought she could rule my country. Sometimes," he said, "I wonder if my mother was right, for Elisabeth has born me not only sorrow at her failed actions, but a son who seems to be the perfect replica of her."
"Fine," Rudolf said, sounding far stronger than he felt. His friend brushed a long hand down his shoulder, protecting him against the storm. "Perhaps that is so, but it is only so because you are practically nonexistent in my life! How am I to learn to be a strong Kaiser, like you, if you never even try to speak with me? I cannot be passed from maid to maid, courtier to courtier, for the rest of my years!" He crossed his arms across his chest, staring at his father. "I hate this, father!" he nearly shouted. "You tell me to be strong, to be like you, to be a Kaiser, but you will not let me do it! I am trapped by your own doing!"
"Whatever you say will not change my mind, Rudolf," his father said. "I have already talked to my advisors, and they are in agreement with me. We are in the process of training another, stronger, heir." He paused, regarding his son carefully. "But do not worry, Rudolf. You will be well provided for. You will live in complacent happiness in one of my estates, one of my hunting lodges: Mayerling. You will want for nothing at all. How does that sound?"
Rudolf grimaced. "I am not looking to change your mind, father. I understand what you say," he murmured. "And I was never in it for the wealth and prestige, anyway. I suppose you misunderstood me about all of that as well."
"'As well'?" his father asked, curious. "How else have I managed to misunderstand my son?"
"And this is back to the beginning, I suppose," Rudolf said. He felt his friend's hands leave his shoulders, and he already started to miss the warmth of another soul beside him, even though his friend's body was as cold as ice.
"Vicious circle that life is," his friend muttered. But Rudolf did not turn, for then, he would risk hearing his father's impertinent questions, and he really did not want to have to deal with those at the moment. He already had quite enough to deal with.
"I'm…worried, father," Rudolf continued. "I don't think…I'm normal."
"Of course not," his father said. "Though you shall never be Kaiser, you do happen to be the son of a Kaiser! That fact alone separates you from the normalcy that others call their lives."
"I do not mean that, father," Rudolf said hesitantly. "I…I see…things, that other people do not."
"What do you mean, Rudolf? I have precious little time for your foolish games."
"I…I suppose…that it is not important," Rudolf turned away, his hand brushing the doorknob. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his friend, the ever-present companion, walk up close behind him. "You have a lot to do today, after all."
His father nodded, and so the matter was closed, though Rudolf had still so much more to say. "Indeed," his father said. "I bid you good afternoon. Think on what I have said."
Rudolf nodded, a complacent façade present upon his face. He opened the door, sliding through the doorway. As soon as the door closed behind him, he sank to the floor. He huddled in to himself, sobbing silent tears.
"Don't cry, liebling," his friend said. Rudolf felt him kneel against the door beside him, wrapping an arm around his shaking shoulders.
"Don't…" Rudolf started, his voice gravelly from the tears. "Don't…call me that."
"Oh, my child," his friend murmured, a little smile upon his pale face. "You are dear to me. You know that I rarely visit anyone else?"
"I…I know…I know that you visit mother," Rudolf said. He ran a hand across his tear-stained cheeks, blinking rapidly. "You go to her…to her in the nights sometimes…"
His friend regarded him for a moment, his eyes searching for Rudolf's. When they met, his friend gave a frown. "You really are like Elisabeth, you know?" he remarked. "You have her eyes. And her attitude."
"So…so you do know my mother?" Rudolf asked. His friend stood up beside him, lightly tugging on his arm. Rudolf let himself be pulled up and led away from the doorway, the matter with his father momentarily forgotten. "Where are we going?" he said, looking expectantly to his friend.
"Your room," his friend said. "You need rest." He drew Rudolf behind him, a strong arm grasping Rudolf's wrist.
"I want to know about you and my mother!" Rudolf said. When his friend gave no reply, Rudolf stopped in the middle of the hallway. "Why will you not answer me?"
"Rudolf, liebling," his friend murmured, his eyes dark and narrow. "I do not want to talk about Elisabeth. Not with you, and not with anyone else. I care about both of you, and that's it."
"Do you love her?" Rudolf asked, as innocent as the child that he was.
His friend looked at him, a look of surprise and shock upon his unblemished face. "Come with…come with me," he said, pulling Rudolf again with him. But this time, Rudolf felt like he might get some answers to the questions that were burning in his mind.
When the two reached Rudolf's room, his friend pulled open the door, leading Rudolf inside. The door closed behind them, softly, and Rudolf walked over to his bed. He sat down, pulling off his boots and setting them carefully on the ground beside him.
His friend dropped backwards into a chair, his long legs wrapping around the back of the chair. He set his crossed arms upon the top of the back and regarded Rudolf intently.
"So, uh…" Rudolf started hesitantly. "I mean, if you don't really want to tell me, I guess…" He might as well give his friend a way out, he figured. He decided to give his friend some space, or at least some time to decide what to do.
His friend tilted his head to the side. "You asked me honestly," his friend murmured, and for a moment, Rudolf thought that he heard disbelief in his tone. "It would be rude for me not to answer you, my child."
"Rudolf, this is a very complex story," his friend continued despite his interruption. "I am not sure of some of the details myself. I will do my best to tell it as it is. You deserve that much."
"Alright…" Rudolf said. He scooted up his bed so that he lay against his many pillows, crossing his stocking-covered feet in front of him.
"I met Elisabeth, your mother, when she was a little older than you are," his friend said, closing his eyes as if to strengthen the memory in his mind. "She had fallen from a tree, but that was her punishment for trying to be free. She was being forced into a life that she did not wish to live. I continued to visit her, and one day, I discovered that she was married to the Kaiser, Franz Joseph. She did not love him, though; she loved me instead. I had given her freedom, whereas Franz Joseph made her a captive in her own household. Her children, you included, were taken from her arms just days after she gave birth to them."
Rudolf looked up then, and suddenly, something seemed to click. He finally understood the pain that coursed through his mother day in and day out. Though, her pain still gave her no reason to desert him when he needed her most.
He was surprised, though, to see his friend in the same sort of state of pain that he saw his mother in every day. His head was bent, resting against his crossed arms, and his blond hair framed his head like a halo.
But Rudolf knew better than to think that his friend was an angel. Angels do not have darkness in their souls; his friend, he knew, had darkness within him.
"She was very sad," his friend continued, his voice muffled against his velvet sleeve. "And so she would call for me. But she did not always want me, even when I came on the best intentions. So I suppose we grew apart, but I never…" he trailed off, raising his head up from his arms. He ran a hand across his eyes, opening them as he did. "I…I never…stopped having feelings for her."
"So you do love her?" Rudolf asked. "I know…well, she told me not to tell anyone, so…" He regarded his friend's sad eyes for a moment, and then he changed his mind. "You won't tell anyone, right?"
"I do not talk to anyone save for your mother and you," his friend whispered. Rudolf realized then just how lonely his friend's existence must be, to love someone who could not ever be with him amongst the living, and for his only friend to be a child, still innocent to the wonders of the world.
"My mother…she told me that she does not…that she does not love my father anymore," Rudolf said. "She said that she once did…but he took everything from her. She said…that someone else could give her the freedom…that she wanted. And she told me that…that she loves…him." Rudolf looked down at his hands. "I guess she means…means you."
His friend brought his head into his hands, his shoulders trembling a little. Rudolf had never seen such emotion from the man who was usually so stoic or simply joyful. Rudolf was usually the one to show emotion, and so he was rather unused to the art of comforting another.
But he figured that now was as good a time as any to learn. He slid off of his bed and padded over to his friend. He nervously laid a hand upon his friend's shaking back.
His friend looked up at him, and Rudolf was aghast to find little tears in the corners of his eyes. "Thank you, my dear child," his friend whispered, leaning into Rudolf's touch. "It is…hard to have ones…wishes and hopes confirmed."
Rudolf would have liked to say that he had agreed, but he had never felt the sentiment before. "Are you okay?" he asked, childlike as he was.
"Yes, thank you," his friend said, regaining some of his regular strength. "I am fine now." And he was, for he shrank back from Rudolf's touch, standing up from the chair. "Elisabeth and I are a thing that can never be," he said, sadly but returned to his stoic self. "And I suppose that it ought to stay that way. You are not…you are alright, my little one?" he asked.
"Yes, if you are," Rudolf said, giving a small smile as he often saw his friend do to him.
"Now, yes," he replied. "I have to leave, liebling. You will be okay?"
"Yes", Rudolf stressed. "Why do you have to leave?" he asked suddenly, and he had never asked this question before.
"I have many things to do in my line of work. There is a revolution going on, you know!" he said, a hint of wryness creeping into his tone. Rudolf nodded, though he knew nothing of revolution, having been cooped up in the palace for his entire life. "And you must get back to your studies," he continued. "Next time I visit, I hope to find you in a better mood!" He smiled, and so did Rudolf. His friend lay a hand upon his shoulder, which Rudolf found rather ironic giving just who had been so emotional not five minutes ago.
"Well," Rudolf said, a bit awkwardly. "I will see you again?"
"Of course. Just call for me, and I will come to you," his friend nodded. "And let us not bring up Elisabeth again, please."
"Yes," Rudolf said. It was frightening to see his friend so broken, and so he made the promise. "So long, my friend."
His friend nodded, and he turned away from Rudolf.
Suddenly, Rudolf felt very alone, and sure enough, he was the only one standing in the room, feeling awfully like Pandora of Greek mythology.