Out of reach

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghanima, Farad'n or Leto. Children of Dune and its characters belongs to Frank Herbert.

Summary: Ghanima loves only one man and Farad'n begins to feel the strain of competition… and jealousy.

Ghanima walked from the sun terrace into her Royal Bedroom as the sun began to set. Leto's form was a vision on the horizon as he dashed across the yellow desert once more. An eerie glow followed his sister's form as she crossed the threshold through the diaphanous draperies. She looked still so very young, almost carefree, but for the sharp glint in her eyes that testified of the maturity of her mind.

He watched her with the distinct impression of never having reached her; despite the roundness of her stomach where grew his unborn son. She was a distant mirage that taunted him even after all their years of marriage.

"Why do you never look at me like you look at him?" suddenly demanded Farad'n, his voice cold as he stepped out of the shadows in her path.

Ghanima looked at him as he stood tall and proud before her. She did not seem surprised, but then the power of thousands of Reverend Mothers in her past guided her. Her eyebrows rose questioningly but her lips remained sealed. She knew what he meant and had nothing to say. Whatever her consort believed to know about her was irrelevant. No one could understand the Imperial Twins; they'd figured that out long before Prince Farad'n was even an issue and it still reigned true what with Leto's complicated political decisions. That the Corrino heir had stumbled along their path was a fortunate coincidence for he could be used to attain their goals. But in and of himself, Farad'n had no real importance and Ghanima treated him as such.

Undisturbed by her silence, he took a step forward. "You never call for me at night…" he complained, "only him." There was no question as to whom he was referring to. Only one man could claim Ghanima's attention so completely that it made the outside world invisible; that it made him invisible.

Sitting down on a plush velvet chair, Ghanima began brushing her hair with a curved polished comb. Seeing him watch her in the mirror, so fixed on her and obviously expecting some answer to silence his arrogant questions, she let out a long breath, as if exasperated.

"He is my husband." She said and her tone invited no addition. In her mind, that should have sufficed as explanation. In all cultures, it was required of a wife to service her husband with care and attention. As she carried her brother's name, it was her duty to obey him. She only did it most gladly because of her own feelings for him.

"A mock marriage!" exclaimed Farad'n, raising his voice for the first time. "That's what you assured me it would be. You said you would have his name but bear my children!"

Ghanima set the comb down and turned to him with infuriating elegance. "Were you deceived?" she questioned, narrowing her blue-in-blue eyes to stare at her consort's face with disdain. Having her honour disputed was something she considered a serious offence and Farad'n's intrusion on her life did not warrant him the right to control her.

"I'm beginning to think this was your plan all along!" he exclaimed, taking another step forward, "to use me!" As he spoke, his fists clenched and unclenched in barely controlled rage.

Ghanima picked up this little detail without flinching. She immediately debated the possibility of having him attempt force against her. Though he might have been trained by the Lady Jessica herself, his control of muscles and nerves left somewhat to be desired. He would not stand a chance against Ghani's memories of lifetimes of training and combat.

As she stood up to face him, she wondered if an attack from him would really be such a terrible thing. She had no feeling for the man and his purpose had been fulfilled. "Your son is in my womb," she replied, keeping her voice exceptionally calm. "What more do you ask of me?"

Farad'n seemed almost pleading; "Some warmth, some love…" he said, his voice bitter as he took another step toward her, "some affection for me beyond that of your body." Reaching out, he managed to brush his fingers against her face before having them slapped away like one swatted a bothersome fly.

Ghanima walked away from him without bothering to hide her contempt. "I never claimed to love you." She pointed out without even looking at him as she spoke.

"Nor I," he replied with a trace of tears in his tone. He watched her as she undressed, throwing her pale dress to the floor and picking up her nightclothes. Wonderful white skin was revealed to him and he longed to touch it, as he had so many times in the past. But he longed to have her eyes bear into his with love and recognition instead of absence and undisguised distaste. "And yet it has happened. You cannot deny me that." He objected finally, fighting to keep himself in check and hold the last bit of dignity that he possessed.

Ghanima watched him out of the corner of her eye. "I deny you nothing." When she spoke, she never used a title to address him, though he undoubtedly deserved one. She seldom found it useful to use his name and it was by no accident. She meant to show him plainly just how deep her regard for him went; she meant to remind him that he was her prisoner as much as she was his in this pretence affair.

"Why do you speak such lies?" he bellowed, loosing control of his voice. "Your voice is sweet but your words are poison!" Tears brimmed in his eyes as he spoke and he felt his body shake with pent-up frustrations of all kinds. He loved the Emperor's sister with every cell in his body and it was killing him to have her snub him.

Draping a red robe over her body, Ghanima squared her jaw. Something would have to be done about her consort. Perhaps she could arrange it with Leto that she could sleep in his chambers from now on. She owed nothing to the man standing before her so pathetically now. "You would have me betray my heart for your satisfaction," she accused, holding her chin high in an Atreides gesture of defiance.

"I would have you love me!" cried her consort in an angry retort as he neared her dangerously.

Unafraid, Ghanima smiled at him. "I wonder if it's a Corrino trait to aspire to things beyond your reach." She said, inspiring venom into every word. She meant to hurt him; meant to hit a nerve for each night she had been forced to let him hold her, for each reproach he dared to make on her relationship with Leto.

But imprudently, Farad'n did not know to stop. "And I, if in the Atreides blood there is more than foolish bravado!" he snorted, his hands rising to clasp around her shoulders. "Why did you have me kept in Arrakeen, hmm?" he questioned, shaking her roughly, "Why not release me?"

Without much difficulty, Ghanima shook him off. It took all of her control not to knock him dead with prana-bindu agility for the liberties he was taking with her body. Pushing past him, she did not bother to hide the hatred in her voice. She wanted him to know that after this, his days were numbered. "It was not my decision to make." Had it been, he would not be still stand before her now.

"Would you have sent me away?" he pressed, catching her hand and turning her to face him.

Ghanima's eyes widened at his brave but thoughtless gesture. Narrowing her eyes with cruel malice, she offered him a smile and even walked nearer to him, so that their bodies pressed together. Tracing his face with a fingertip, she murmured, "Yes, I would have had you gone, along with all that's left of your miserable House… but I don't think you even know what you want anymore."

She pulled back with a shake of her head and made for the door.

"Why is it so hard for you to love me?" she heard him whisper in a broken voice as she touched the golden handle with her fingertips.

For a moment, she stopped. She'd heard plaintive voices many times before, whether in her mind or at the ritual of supplication. Her heart was cold to them before and she couldn't afford pity. The Prince Consort's plea left her unmoved.

"It isn't hard…" she said, without turning, "it's impossible."