Oddly enough, this started from a dream I had last night. It seemed perfectly normal – Daine was cheating with a guy named Edmund, behind Numair's back… and something about reincarnation using waterfalls…
-Shrugs- I have strange dreams. Anyway – this is a sad one. Oh, and I can't write songs. At all. Sorry about that. I tried, though. I tried really, really hard. –sheepish grin-
Oh, ant the title is supposed to be like "Romeo and Juliet"
THANKS TO CRAZYHORSEGIRL FOR BETA'ING IT!
DISCLAIMER: all belongs to Tamora Pirece, except the Rikti, and the land Kolmar which belong to Elizabeth Kerner. Oh, and I guess Edmund belongs to me.
"Which tale do you wish me to sing, little one?"
"Ooo! I always loved Daine and Numair."
The bard smiled and strummed his harp.
"Their love was a strong one, so long ago,
So strong but so brittle, broken by fate
For how other than bad luck and destiny
Could lovers be broken so brutally?
It starts on a fine day, so long ago…"
Numair smiled happily, walking back to his apartments. He was hoping Daine would be there – he'd just found a new spell, for both Wild Magic and his Gift, and he wanted to tell Daine.
Their door was open. That was odd. Shrugging he peered inside.
He stopped cold, and his happiness seeped out of his feet into a puddle onto the floor. Numair stared. He started to shake, eyes wide in denial.
Then he backed away from the doorway, his doorway, horrified.
"No," he breathed. The book he was holding fell to the ground with a thump. Not that anyone noticed.
Funny, he thought wildly, the things you notice when you're in shock. He noticed their nameplate: Numair Salmalin and Veralidaine Sarrasri.
No. It should be just Numair Salmalin, now.
From inside he heard Daine's laugh and the rusty chuckle of the one with her. He was new, a man named Edmund who apparently came from a place far, far away. He wore a red pendent on his neck, and when asked about it he'd smiled and said that it was a luck charm, gotten in a market. He had light brown hair and light brown eyes that danced and sparkled.
And Daine was with him.
And Daine wasn't just with him. Numair had walked by, and she'd been kissing him!
He'd seemed like such a nice man, too!
What about Sarralyn, Numair thought wildly, what about Rikash? Their children – did she not think of them? She couldn't — no — not his Daine — no…!
He backed up another step and hit the opposite wall. He startled at the contact and fled like a deer with hunters on his path, Daine's whispered I love you, Edmund, burning his ears.
Edmund, Edmund, not Numair.
One day you'll wake up…
She swore, she swore she wouldn't! She told me—she told me…
Never. Not my Daine.
No, not yours anymore.
Numair slammed into the door to one of the castle's towers, and it opened under his weight. He fell to his knees and a horrible keening sound broke from him.
Eight years living together, five more with children, and my Daine cheats on me.
He felt part of his heart rip and flutter to the ground.
Cheats. Cheats. Cheatscheatscheats…
Another part ripped off.
His heart wasn't breaking, it was ripping itself apart.
"No…" he moaned, shoulders shaking.
His student, his traveling companion, his lover…his Magelet, his darling, he'd begged her to marry him, many times, but even with children she'd refused.
And now you know why.
Onua heard him. She thought it was an injured animal, stuck on one of the towers, until she got close enough, on her way to get Daine, and heard the keening sound clearly enough to realize it wasn't an animal. She rushed past Daine's quarters, registering laughter and realizing that she was probably with Numair and not wanting to be disturbed, and banged open the door to the tower.
…and found Numair on his knees and wailing.
She blinked, puzzled.
There were two voices in Daine's room, and one was male…
No, I must be imagining it. Daine, cheat on Numair? Never.
"Numair?" she asked, going over and laying her hand on his shoulder. "Are you alright?"
"Unfaithful, doesn't love me, not Daine, not my Daine…no…" He muttered incoherently.
Onua's eyes flashed. "You've been unfaithful to Daine?"
"Never! She—with Edmund—" he looked at her with desperate, shocked eyes. "…doesn't love me…" his voice faded away and he shook.
Daine, cheat on Numair, and Numair fall apart like this? Never. He would confront them…
Unless he was in shock…still is in shock…
…And they have children to think of! Daine wouldn't…
"You must have walked in at a bad time. Don't jump to conclusions, Daine loves you! You've got children, she wouldn't…"
"…she said she loved him…" Numair voiced weakly.
"It was probably in jest."
"It wasn't," Numair gasped, "she kissed him."
"On the cheek?"
"No!" he buried his face in his hands.
Onua stared. "I don't believe—"
"Neither do I!" Numair wailed into his hands.
He was so miserable. Onua's heart went out to him. She gathered him in her arms and rocked him like a child, trying to comfort him. It was impossible, though. Daine and Numair… they were so in love! And their children! Daine wouldn't do such a thing. But each time she told him so, he just moaned and sobbed harder into her shoulder, so instead she hushed him with old songs from her home country, as she would a frightened, wounded horse.
Eventually he stilled.
Onua managed to coax him town to the mess hall, where she got some food into him. Alanna sat town next to them.
"Where's Daine?" she asked.
Numair flinched and hunched over his food, not answering. Onua grabbed Alanna's hand and led her away.
"He thinks she's cheating on him," she whispered.
Violet eyes widened. "Daine? Cheat on Numair? She's completely besotted with him! And they have children."
"That's what I said. But he's inconsolable. Will you go up to their rooms and see? Because he's so upset – it takes a lot to make him this hurt, and I don't want to start consoling him if it's not, you know—true."
"This is Daine we're talking about."
"Yes, I know, but—?"
"Oh, all right, fine."
Onua sighed and sat next to Numair again, coaxing him to eat, rather than just push peas around his plate.
Alanna highly doubted it. This was, after all, Daine, her friend from Galla, the shy little girl that turned to the bold and smiling woman that loved Numair so much.
As she was heading to their rooms, someone tugged on her breeches.
She looked down.
Five-year-old Sarralyn, holding four-year old Rikash's hand, looked up at her out of big brown eyes.
"Ma kicked us out of the house," she sniffed.
Alanna blinked. That was not like Daine at all. Taking Sarralyn's hand, she led the little girl back to her mother and father's apartment.
She heard laughter.
This was too strange. Something was going on. First Numair claiming Daine was cheating on him, and next she found their beloved children wandering the halls, claiming to being kicked out?
She blasted the door open. Only one way to catch a cheat; catch them in the act.
And in the act she caught them. Daine's shirt was half open and her mouth was glued to—
"EDMUND!" she roared in shock, and the children cowered behind her.
"YOU'RE CHEATING ON NUMAIR WITH EDMUND?"
It was around the castle in two seconds flat. The common-born girl had cheated on the man that the court ladies flocked most over. It was the best gossip since the idea that Alan the page was really Alanna.
Alanna liked Daine. She really did. But this was so underhanded that she had to side with Numair. The man was positively broken.
And Edmund was positively gloating.
They all confronted Daine and Edmund. But Edmund would just smirk and say "You snooze you loose." And Daine would shrug.
It seemed so cold.
Numair couldn't face them. They would sit at the table across from him and laugh and he would turn away, eyes trying and failing to hide the hurt of this betrayal.
Onua liked Daine, too, but Numair was an older friend. Daine was happy and he was so miserable he hardly ate. Or slept. He just stared off into space. It was so strange. He should be stronger than this, Ouna would think over and over again. A broken heart shouldn't kill him. You can't die of a broken heart.
Two weeks passed. Numair stopped coming out of his rooms. They were new; Daine had kept the old ones they had shared, for there were too many memories there. He buried himself in his studies. He barely ate and hardly slept.
The rumors said that he died.
In a year, the rumors came true.
They say he died of a broken heart. Perhaps it was true. He'd mourned as if she'd died – after all, they had lived together for over ten years, and the betrayal was so sudden, so shocking. Daine was still with Edmund. Numair had buried himself in his studies, and hadn't eaten enough. Technically, he'd died of malnourishment.
Or so they said. He as thin when they found him, too thin, but no one had noticed Kitten silently growling in a shadowy corner, scales dark red and eyes hiding secrets held there by a spell.
They buried him by the undine's pool. It had been one of his favorite places.
Daine wasn't at the funeral.
She was with Edmund.
That night, Daine lay awake, looking at the man she loved. But something was wrong – she felt odd. Not exactly sad, but… odd.
She had placed her hand on his chest, and it had come to rest on the pendent he always wore. Daine frowned. She lifted the pendent from his chest and looked at it.
It looked like a heart. Not a decorative heart, it really looked like a tiny, human heart. She'd never noticed before. When she looked at now, it seemed to be… steaming, slightly.
For luck, huh?
She unclasped it gently from his neck, just to se it.
It began to smoke more and a loud howl came from it.
Edmund shot up. "WHAT ARE YOU DOUNG?" he bellowed. "Give that—"
Daine fumbled and it dropped over the side of the bed. Kitten, who had always hated the pendent, growled, raced over and stomped on it.
It broke with a tinkle, and a howl rent the room.
"I've fulfilled it!" the creature that shot out of it cried. It was a tiny thing, like a little red fairy but its mouth was huge and covered with uneven shark-like teeth. "The bargain! It is broken!" the creature howled and moved to attack Edmund, who shouted a word in a foreign language and the creature screamed and vanished.
And it was gone.
And every thing it had done, every spell, was broken.
Daine's heart filled with the memories and emotions that the little demon had taken from her.
That was what was going on. The pendent had stolen her love from Numair, before she could feel it. It had forced her anger and hatred onto Numair, and had whittled away at his heart, it had magnified his hurt to such an extent that it had finally killed him. He was too strong, too strong to die of simply a broken heart, too strong to neglect himself that much. His death was aided, for the demon inside needed to get rid of him. It had taken Daine's grief also, but her grief had been too much for it, and, weakened from destroying Numair, it had started to fail and steam.
"Numair!" she gasped, and whirled on Edmund. "How—dare—you—" she snarled suddenly at him. Fury, refreshing fury filled her. It was her own fury, nothing influenced by the pendent, which was now destroyed.
"Daine-" Edmund said, reaching up to stroke her hair, "I can explain—"
A lion's paw covered his throat, and Daine snarled, "What was in the pendent? What did you do to me? What did you do to him? Tell me the truth and I might not rip your throat out!"
"Rikti," the man gasped, "A minor demon. I'm a demon dealer."
"YOU'RE A WHAT?"
"It's a respectable profession, where I come from—Kolmar, a land called Kolmar—"
"So messin' in things that ought not be messed in is respec'table where you come from?" she snarled, so angry that her long dormant Gallan accent revealed itself.
There wasn't enough of him left to bury.
For the second time in her life, Daine ran wild. Only this time, this time there was no Numair Salmalin to help her.
"She left a note for the Lioness
Telling her what had come to pass
They raised her children, raised them well,
And life went on for the Tortallans,
So very long ago."