My three leaf clover – ch11 – Dear D
After a briefly savoring the moment D carried a weary Clove to his horse. He'd seen the remains of what Evan had done to hers. Secretly he was kind of glad that he got to ride with her again. He had missed the feeling of a warm body and her presence in general. After seating Clove a top his black steed he laid out Evan's head and body to be burnt by the coming sun. Afterward he picked up his discarded hat, set it back in place, then climbed up behind Clove. He led his horse at a lazy pace across the bridge.
Clove sighed and leaned back against D's chest as she had done many times before. Her adrenaline now gone, she fast found herself slipping into a boneless sleep. D gingerly laid his broken hand a cross Clove's lap to secure her as he had done many decades earlier, a faint smile gracing his face. For the first time in a long while D felt completely content and whole. It was strange to feel something other than loneliness or nothing at all.
By the time the town came into sight the sun had risen and the village was wide-awake. The evening rain had faded away to a slow drip and the new day's rays broke feebly through the cloudy sky. The villagers made haste through the muddy streets but paused as the strangers lopped by to stare. The pair made their way to the town hall and were greeted by an excited Lawrence and David.
Lawrence hobbled as fast as he could to D's side with his grandson on his heels. "Did you do it?" He asked with wide eyes. "Did you finally finish him off?"
D nodded his head. "His body should be roasting in the sun at the moment," D answer, a hint of amusement in his voice.
Lawrence made a gestured to Clove who was stirring. "What about Clove? Is she alright?"
D looked down at his now rousing Clove. "She's fine… A bit dirty and tired but otherwise fine… I was wondering if you allow us to stay with you until Clove gets back on her feet. Her horse which held everything she owned was slain." He left out any mention of bloodletting; the old man didn't need to know the whole truth of her condition.
Lawrence nodded, "Of course you can stay, stay as long as you like! But I have to deal with a few things." D could see a few curious villagers wandering toward their mayor. "Ah…Here David will get you all set up at our home."
David swallowed nervously and cracked his head back to look up at D. To David, D was the most intimidating person he'd ever met in his short life. Even holding Clove to his chest the tall dhampire emanated a dark and dangerous energy that the boy and other villagers felt weary of. The little boy gathered his courage, gave his britches a tug, and gestured for D to follow him. After stabling D's steed David rushed to the house, beckoning them to follow. D wrapped his exhausted companion in his cloak, clasp her shoulder, and walked casually to David who was waving his arms around frantically to try and sped the dhampire up.
Upon entering Clove let D's cloak slip from her shoulders, wandered to a couch, and fell face down. She then promptly curled up and fell asleep. David bent down and picked up D's discharged black cloak and held it up to him. His eyes were plastered down, not willing to look into D's eyes. The dhampire reached out and took his cloak from the young boy's hands. Silently without glancing at the boy D made his way to Clove coming to stand at her head.
"I… I guess she's real tired huh?" David's quiet voice spoke up. He took a few steps toward the two.
"Yes…" D answered. Clove had used all her energy on that last battle and her adrenaline rush was long gone. Not only was she fatigued from combat and the many wounds suffered from it , but she still was running on limited blood. She simply couldn't stay awake anymore. D had a strong urge to brush back the light blonde locks that covered Clove's face but resisted. Although one would think D would be a person to not care what others thought of him, which for the most part he was, he didn't want to display any extra affection on Clove in front of the boy.
D gently scooped Clove up in his arms. "Is there a room where we can sleep?"
David nodded. "Y-yeah, come on. We've got a spare room upstairs for you guys." The boy led them to the same room they'd used years before.
D entered the nostalgic room and laid Clove on the bed and began removing her soaked shoes. David seeing that D didn't need him for anything left quietly. D eased Clove under the covers and stood watching her and thinking. He felt so…so… He didn't even know exactly how he felt watching Clove. Even when he had her as a child he was mostly unfeeling. He certainly didn't express emotions openly except for the occasional smile he would bestow on Clove and his emotional outburst on the bridge years ago.
"She's more lovely than I remember!" Left hand spoke up. D's blissful silence musing was rudely destroyed.
"You act as though you missed her…" D spoke silently. He tossed his hat to the table and sat down on the bed slowly so not to disturb Clove. Although, in her dead sleep he could've jumped on the bed and not roused her.
"Damn right, better company then you'll ever be!" the parasite replied.
D made an incoherent noise in response to left hand. He lay down on his side next to Clove with his face in front of the sleeping girl or more appropriately the sleeping woman.
"Hm…" the parasite mumbled. "What is your mind thinking dhampire? Is it straying to sinful actions?" he asked suggestively.
D sneered at the thought and then reconsidered for the thought had briefly crossed his mind. He felt ashamed to admit it but it was true. He'd left one day and came back to see a beautiful woman in the little girl's place. D couldn't have imagined how beautiful Clove would become. D brushed Clove's hair from her face tucking it behind her shoulder. Even with the rain her face was bloody and dirty. She'd need to bath when she woke up. He found his hand going back to Clove's face gently stroking her cheek. Even though she was dirty and weak her skin still showed the promise of beauty. A lovely creamy white color lay waiting to appear, not chalky like his.
The parasite's drawling voice brought D from his trance. He gave his head a shake and sighed. Crawling in closer to Clove he fell asleep. The two slept the rest of the day and into the night. D finally awoke at early dawn. Careful not to disturb Clove he rose and had David prepare a bath for Clove when she awoke. Once the porcelain tub had been filled to the rim D knelt at the bed and gently shook Clove awake.
Clove brows furrowed at first and her lids slowly fluttered open. She started at D blankly then ,as the realization dawned on her, she smiled. She reached her hand out to D's face.
D leaned his face forward so Clove's hand lay against the cool skin of his cheek.
"I was afraid I'd wake up and you'd be gone again…" Clove said quietly.
D reached up and clasped Clove's hand in his. "What I said Clove it was the truth. Now come on there's a hot bath waiting for you." Clove, still hand in hand with D, climbed to her feet and followed him to the bathroom. He then excused himself. As she sunk deeply into the calming water Clove thought over was D had said to her.
"Please I'm sorry…
She sunk deeper into the warm water, her nose hovering just above the water.
That was the biggest mistake I've ever made…
I'll never leave you again…
The dhampire could feel a sob catch in her throat as tears swelled and dripped from her cheeks.
I love you…"
Clove brought her hands to her face, her sob breaking from her throat. 'Does he love me or does he love the little girl I used to be? Because of what he did I'll never be the same again…' Clove brought her knees to her chest laying her head atop them. 'I'm not the same little girl and never will be her again. He loves a long dead shadow…'
Over the next two days Clove stayed secluded in D's and hers room dressed in the white dress that David had found for her. He told her it was his mother's dress. She'd accepted it with thanks. It fit like a dream. Thin straps entwined in ribbons with a shallow curved neckline. It stopped below her knees and swayed at the slightest movement. Not that it could be seen. Clove stayed wrapped in a downy blanket in an over-plush chair that looked out the window.
Although a bit confused by her actions D, being a very practical man, spent that time gathering her needed supplies: horse, sword, clothes, ect. He just figured she needed some time to think. In actuality it was more like brooding.
On the night of the third day, D brought dinner up to Clove with the help of David. She would never eat anything they brought her so he figured he would try see if she would eat if he ate with her. Although as dhampires they did not need to eat regularly, the pair needed to eat to heal faster and Clove needed to eat to replace her blood loss. D sat down at the table to his bowl of soup. Clove's bowl was opposite of his yet she still sat in her comfy chair with knees drawn up to her chest.
"You've been quiet…" D commented as he stirred the thick soup.
Clove turned and looked a D with tears streaming down and a sad smile gracing her face.
D put down his spoon and rose from his seat his hands planted on the table. "Clove?"
Clove sniffled and let a sad laugh escape her lips. "You said you loved me but after thinking your words over I think you were confused. I'm not the same clove you knew… I've changed since I woke up alone… maybe for the better because I was forced to fight for myself but also maybe for the worse because I've changed so much D…"
D walked to Clove lost for words. He reached out to brush Clove's cheek but she turned her head to avoid his touch.
"You don't love me…" she said sounded defeated. Then softly continue, "You love that little girl I used to be…"
D was motionless, his mouth agape. He closed it and thought over what she had accused and about what Left hand had mused a few nights prior. Did he simply love the little girl he remembered, did he long for companionship, or did he want the fierce women she'd become. He knelt before the chair and laid a pale hand on Clove's cheek. She did not turn away this time. Gently, he wiped at her tears. His brown eyes locked with her aqua ones and the two simply gazed at one another. D took a deep breath and began.
"Clove, I have lived a long time. I've fought many battles, met many people, and had many companions. Of all of the lives I've entered I realize that yours was the only one that mattered. Your life, among all others made me feel. You made me feel joy, hope, amusement, comfort, fear, desperation, and love." Clove leaned her cheek against his palm and smiled slightly. D returned her smile and continued, "It's true. I did love the girl that you were and that life has taken her away. She grew up and became a stranger. So please, give me the chance to get to know and fall in love with the women she became."
Clove felt tears prick at her eyes again at D's honest answer but stubbornly blinked them back. Her smile grew and she nodded. "Okay. I'd like that." Slowly, she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around D's neck, hugging him tightly. The taller dhampire returned her affection.
"You know..." called out a muffled voice. The pair parted to reveal the parasite had appeared from D's palm. "I was against leaving you and instead in favor of D being a better guardian who ya know... doesn't let his ward get heat sickness and almost die... but whatever!"
D frowned but clove let out a small laugh. "Thanks, that's what I was in favor of too." She leaned back into the chair again. "Ya know, I was angry at you for a very long time D..." D stood up and pulled over a chair. As he sat she continued. "You broke something in me when you left me. Maybe it was a good thing. It made me grown up and for our kind to survive we can't hold on to childhood innocence. It's a thing that can get our young killed."
"How was it..." D asked. "I mean, I know it would be hard..." He looked as though he wanted to ask more but was unsure of how to. She could see as emotion flashed across his dark eyes at the memory that the decision to leave wasn't taken lightly on his part. Clove pulled her legs underneath herself and got comfortable. It felt therapeutic to talk about the past.
"I won't lie to you. It was so hard at first," she shook her head as the memories came. "I hated you so much sometimes. I'd go to bed thinking about what I'd do to you if I saw you again," this earned a chuckle from Left hand, "but then I did." D's tilted his head to one side, confused.
Clove laughed, "Yes, I saw you once. You were racing down a mountain trail and with all my bravado and plotting you'd think I'd have given chase but I didn't. I was terrified; Paralyzed with fear and as soon as I could feel again I turned around and went the other way."
"You were afraid of me? Why?" D asked softly.
Clove shook her head and her eyes looked up toward the ceiling. Maybe the answer lay up there because she didn't know. "Maybe..." She looked back at D and smiled. "Maybe because I did love you so much and I was..." she struggled for the right words. "I think I ran because the scariest possibility of a reunion came to me then."
D reached out his hand to hold hers. "What's that?"
"The possibility that you would look at me like I wasn't anything. That I didn't matter, that I never mattered to you."
"Clove," D began giving her hand a squeeze. "I'm sorry that I put you through that. And I'm sorry that I could ever make you feel that way."
She was silent for a moment. "I forgive you. I believe I can understand why you did it and I forgive you" D's mouth curled up into his slight smile and Clove smiled back and nodded, unable to say more verbally. "I think I'm hungry."
D took the hint, that was enough sharing for now, and released her hand. The pair then sat at the table and ate. They spent the meal going over the supplies gathered and the current state of the village. All of the departed women had been returned to their families and buried respectfully and their friend the mayor was in talks to destroy the old fort. After finishing up Clove stretched her arms above her head and yawned.
"Ugh, all I've done is sleep and I'm still tired..."
"All the brooding will do that too you," Left hand commented.
Clove stood and responded, "I missed you too. By the way never had dreams of killing you in revenge." This earned a laugh from the creature.
"Everything we need is ready. We can leave tomorrow morning," D said in his familiar monotone. He paused then looked at Clove. "At least I'd like to leave together..."
Something felt off to her still but Clove smiled at him and nodded. With only one bed in the room D offered to sleep elsewhere but Clove refused. This might be the last time either slept in a bed for a long time. Clove curled up underneath a mountain of comforters while D slept on top of the sheets flat on his back with his had over his face. Although they were both dhampires D's alien way of sleeping had always baffled Clove. She tried it once and was not a fan. D fell away into sleep easily but Clove found herself tossing. Tired as she was thoughts kept her awake.
'You'd think I'd be resting peacefully. I- We have a chance to come back together. To get to learn each other again. I should be content… but I'm not. Ugh why not?' Clove thought angrily. She rolled onto her back, D style, and stared at the ceiling looking for answers again. D's slight breath was the only sound.
'I guess... I'm not content yet because he still doesn't understand the pain I felt… to be honest I don't understand the pain he felt at leaving me either. He said he's sorry, and I believe him, and I said I forgive you and I meant it...'
She then rolled over to face away from D. That's when her eyes fell upon D's carefully packed supplies. She felt her heart sink as realization hit her. She knew what to do.
D awoke the next morning to a cold bed. At first he thought that maybe Clove went down stairs for some food but when his eyes strayed to his supplies and he knew better. Alarmed he sprang to his feet and went to investigate. In the space where he'd carefully piled Clove supplies was empty but for a letter.
Please forgive me for what I've done as I have forgiven you. I was mostly angry because you couldn't understand my pain but I realized that while you didn't understand my pain of being left I didn't understand the painful choice you made. I think that this switch in roles will help us understand each other better. In another 50 years or so we'll meet and be closer than ever. Even as I write this I'm dying inside but I have to be strong. D please try not to be so cold to everyone, be kind. Not to the point of pity but be emphatic. You can understand lost can't you? Unlike them I'm still alive and we'll meet again someday.
D, I loved you once and I aim to love you again.
D let his arm drop and wandered over to the room lone window. He laid his forehead against the pane of glass. For the first time in a long while it wasn't raining and the sun shone through the clouds. D sighed let a tear roll down his cheek.
"Damn…" Left hand mumbled. "I miss her already!"
A/N – I had to totally rewrite the last part of this chapter. The original version, the one I wrote when I was a very wise in all of the goings on of the world teenager, had a cliché romance moment where D goes to silence Clove's questions with a kiss. Teenage me thought this was super romance. Adult women, not so much and not so much something a strong women would allow an estranged man to do. Plus, I don't think D is that much of a jerk. Also, noticed there was not enough Left Hand.
I've drafted a sequel and will post the first chapter next Monday :)