In Love and War

Chapter 5 Full

11/10/2005

AN: Riiiight. So…I'm not going to say anything…'cause I really have no excuse. Sorry! Here's the full version of chapter 5. The addition is short. I know. Sorry. At least it's here.

Serenity paced back and forth on the path of the gardens anxiously, her skirts twisting around her legs as she did so. Inside the manor, the waltzes had settled to charming baroque as the guests strolled through the main hall, chatting with each other and appraising Damien's extensive art collection. Serenity might have wondered at the lack of people in the gardens on such a beautiful afternoon if her thoughts had not already been preoccupied.

"Serenity!"

Serenity looked towards the manor at the call of her name. Mina was running toward her, Sheadon leisurely strolling behind. Serenity narrowed her eyes. No, that wasn't quite right. There was something stiff about the way Sheadon was walking…as though he were…angry about something? She knew that he was probably irritated about the way Damien had pulled her away earlier but certainly that didn't explain the clenched fists nor the way he was grinding his teeth subconsciously.

Serenity frowned. "Sheadon…are you alright?" She questioned him as he approached. His navy eyes met hers for a split second before he turned his head and nodded absently. The blond made a note to pry later as Mina started questioning her.

"Serenity! What did he want? You seemed very upset when you two were talking. What did he tell you when you went to his study? Did he-"

"Mina!" Sheadon practically barked the name out and both girls stared at him for a moment, shocked at the uncharacteristic tone. The dark-haired man swallowed visibly and lowered his voice. "Give the girl a chance to speak, will you?"

Mina gave Sheadon another concerned look and then returned her gaze to Serenity's, blushing slightly. "Sorry, Serenity, but do fill us in."

Serenity hesitated. Closest friends though they were, she somehow didn't feel right telling them about Damien's intentions. Sheadon obviously had something on his mind already and Mina- well, Mina was already engaged wasn't she? How could Mina be sympathetic to a loveless marriage when she was already about to be caught in one of her own? No, Serenity concluded. It would be unfair to burden them with something that they, and she, probably should have suspected from the start.

"Oh, it was nothing really. Just another argument about letting me out every once in a while." She scanned the edge of the garden as she spoke. "I just really wish there was someway I could get out just for…" A flash of cobalt eyes through the rose bushes. "…a little…" A blond head peeking over the edge of the garden wall. "…while!" D'mion! He had scaled the garden wall. "The wall…" It came out breathlessly as she realized her venue of escape.

Sheadon and Mina were frowning at her and gave little startled exclamations as Serenity picked up her skirts and sprinted for the wall. She glanced around furtively but saw no one other than herself and her two friends. Scanning the wall as she waited for them to catch up, she looked for a good foothold in the ivy. With an exasperated sigh, she realized that she probably weighed more than 'D'mion' in this dress even if she did have his agile abilities.

She turned around, making a frustrated sound as Sheadon caught up, followed shortly by Mina. He folded his arms as he stared at the wall, trying to figure out what had interested Serenity so. "I suppose it is a rather lovely wall. Covered in lovely ivy. Just the right height. A few roses lining it. A little-"

"Sheadon!" Sheadon cocked his head to look at Serenity. He frowned when he saw she was staring at him as if she had never seen him before. "Serenity…?" He questioned her uncertainly.

She approached him slowly, glancing from him to the wall and back again. "You…Sheadon…you…you can boost me over the wall!"

There was a moment of shocked silence.

Then, Sheadon swallowed and tried to joke lightly, "Did I say 'lovely wall,' Serenity? I meant horribly ugly (and very dangerously looking) wall. You don't want to climb-"

"But I do!" Serenity cried out, her blue eyes wide. "I don't know why I didn't think of it before. You must help me, Sheadon, Mina!"

Mina shook her head, looking distraught. "You can't possibly, Serenity! If you're caught-"

"I won't be, Mina! I'll just go for a stroll," she lied. "I'll be back before you know it."

"At least let us come with you, Serenity," Sheadon began but Serenity interjected quickly. "No! It will look too strange if the three of us are gone. I must go alone. Don't worry. I just need a breath of free- fresh air. I'll be quick!"

Sheadon stepped close to her and gripped her hand, causing her to look up into his eyes. "Shea-" she began.

"Do you promise Serenity? You'll be back as soon as possible?"

Serenity winced. She did not want to lie but she knew once she left she wasn't planning to come back. At least not for a little while anyway. But Sheadon couldn't know that. "I…promise."

A few moments later, the last of the draping lavender hem of Serenity's dress disappeared into the tree line separating the estate from the town.

"We have to go back, Endymion! What if it really was her?"

Endymion ran an aggravated hand through his hair, tossing an equally aggravated look towards Andrew. "Will you let it go already? You've been going on about this for over two hours! It's not her! There are many women with blond hair and blue eyes."

He paused to let a woman pass him in the crowded marketplace, giving Andrew a pointed look as they both noticed her blond hair. "It's not very unusual colouring around here. You know that…"

"Of course I know that!" Andrew threw his hand up in an exasperated motion. "But I wouldn't have mentioned it if I didn't have more reason than that!"

Endymion raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And what other reasons could you possibly have?"

Andrew ran his hand through his hair in frustration, a gesture he had picked up from Endymion years ago. "Well, she was about the age Serenity would have been…"

"Again, not all that unusual."

Andrew continued as if he hadn't heard Endymion, "…and…well, she looked so familiar!"

"Your eyes playing tricks on you, that's all. You only saw her for the slightest second, Drew-"

"I know that!" Andrew clenched his fists, turning his back to Endymion. He was so sure of it. It had to be her. He wasn't sure how he knew it, but the moment his gaze had met hers in the garden, he felt it to be true. That girl was definitely the baby he used to play with when his father had been employed by Kenneth Harper.

Endymion sighed. "Look, Drew…I know you want to be her but-" He cut off abruptly, startled as Drew suddenly spun around to face him.

"Avery!"

Endymion stared at him, unsure of his point. "What?"

Andrew took a step toward him, grabbing his shoulders. He gave Endymion an irritated shake. "Don't you see! Don't you think it's strange that a girl matching Serenity's description ended up in the hands of a very personal enemy of her family's?"

Endymion frowned, considering this. Kenneth and Avery hadn't liked each other from the start but after the article that Kenneth printed in the Town Pamphlet, Avery was furious. He considered it a personal attack. Luckily, due to Kenneth's skill in writing, Avery wasn't able to prove the article was about him. However, it was no secret that he felt Kenneth owed him an apology. More than an apology, Endymion thought with a grimace. Avery would have liked to see Kenneth on his knees, begging forgiveness, and turning over everything he owned in a public demonstration of regret for the article. Of course, that had never happened. Kenneth kept his pride. But in death, would Avery have tried to collect on the debt he felt Kenneth owed him? Endymion's eyes darkened. Suddenly, Andrew's crazy idea didn't seem so crazy anymore.

"Alright."

Andrew blinked, having expected yet another dismissal. "What?"

Endymion gave him a dry look. "I said, 'Alright.' You may be right. Either way it's probably worth looking into."

Andrew remained silent. Endymion opened his mouth to ask what was wrong but before he could-

"Yes! Thank you, D'mion!" Andrew grinned and gave his friend an amiable, enthusiastic pat on the back. Maybe a bit too enthusiastic.

"Owww! Andrew!"

"Sorry!"

Endymion rolled his eyes. "Right….anyway, we'll go in a few days. She's been there for 15 some odd years. I have too many things to do today and besides…it's not as though she's going anywhere…"