Note: Kally. Ozorne. This is an AU where they marry, and behold! Fifty themes. Written for the LJ1sentence community,which you can see by how hard I tried to stick to one sentence.
Ozorne received a gift of Tortallan birds once, upon his ascension to the throne. He shows Kalasin the birds, and upon seeing how happy they are in their new home, she looks up at him and smiles.
Kalasin doesn't like it when he's unhappy, and offers him any amount of loving kisses, if only he won't be upset any more.
Ozorne has always had a soft spot for little girls, and Kalasin is no exception.
Kalasin sorely misses home, the first few nights, so much that it's like a deep pain within her chest, pain that even the best healers in Carthak cannot take away.
Even after living in Carthak for a year, Kalasin still misses some Northern foods, so it is fitting that one of the terms Ozorne dictates to the Tyran ambassadors slashes import taxes on potatoes in half.
It never rains in Carthak, so Kalasin doesn't expect Ozorne to understand the joys of splashing around in puddles with siblings, or the fresh smell that lingers in the air afterwards.
Ozorne brings her back gifts of every sort imaginable, ranging from glass birds to beautiful jewelry to pretty dresses, but Kalasin's favorites by far are the boxes of chocolate they share on warm summer evenings.
She adjusts to life in Carthak after about a year, and it takes her a year longer to admit that she is actually happy here. Princess Fazia tells her gently that there is nothing shameful in having two homes, and Kalasin begins to believe her.
Ozorne teaches her how to scry, over the duration of many long evenings that could have been spent doing things more important, but the look on Kalasin's face when she talks to her elder brother for the first time in almost two years is more than worth it.
Kalasin almost faints when she gets her ears pierced, and later, they are red and sore, thanks to the heavy string of diamond earrings she wears. Ozorne feels sorry for her, and tells her that she has never looked prettier.
She always asks him to call her Kally, and he always declines, saying that there is no point in having such a beautiful name if it is not used.
Ozorne is beginning to feel a certain sense of awareness around her, and once, cupping her face with both of his hands, he realizes that she isn't the little girl he once gave presents of chocolate to, and the curve of her jaw and sweep of her long eyelashes against freckled cheeks warn him to brace himself for the future.
This is the first time that Ozorne has ever seen Kalasin cry, and despite the secret triumph that he feels at Salmalin's death, he holds Kalasin close and comforts her for the loss of her first teacher.
Kalasin is eager to prove how much she has grown up in his absence, and despite what Ozorne has been taught about honorable men not seeking comfort in the arms of little girls, there are certain temptations that even he cannot turn down.
She has known how to properly unlace a corset since the age of fourteen, but when Ozorne asks her if she needs any help, she nods demurely and turns around, trying not to shiver as she feels his cool fingers brush her bare back.
Ozorne's weakness is Kalasin, and it is ironic that a girl of fifteen has more influence over him than some of his oldest ministers, in some ways.
Kalasin is a queen, and queens don't cry, but there are times when she isn't a queen, just the only girl at the Imperial University with a ring on her finger and nobody to save the last dance for, and then she just can't help it.
Ozorne blinks and Kalasin grows up, all long, coltish limbs and maturing figure. She is a little uncomfortable with all of the changes she's going though, and one of the tasks the Emperor Mage sets himself is to make her feel content in her own skin.
Kalasin notices that the wind doesn't blow as much as it had before, and the constant dry heat doesn't agree with her thin Northern blood. Ozorne sees her discomfort, and one evening when she comes home from school, a light, artificial breeze seems to have settled itself in their bedroom, and the empress thanks her lord by jumping into his arms and giving him a very grateful kiss.
Kalasin wonders if Ozorne wants to be free from imperial duties, from obligations, from constant war campaigns, from battle plans, from the never-ceasing conquests, and then she realizes that they are both very different people, and he is probably happier in this life than she is.
Ozorne tries his hardest to ignore it, that day that comes once a year, because he wants to deny that he has seen yet another summer, when Kalasin has still seen far too few.
During a toast to the Carthaki victory over the Copper Isles, a young mage flirts openly with his pretty Empress, and across the room, Ozorne's wineglass grows hot and shatters into a million little pieces.
Kalasin is with Ozorne when he receives news of the Yamut lords' treachery. He frightens her when he is this angry, and she gathers her courage and slips her hand into the one that isn't burning a little imitation of the lord alive. Startled at the touch, his amber eyes flicker down to her, and the flame ceases to lick at the lord's skin for a moment. She puts all the pleading she can muster into her eyes, and slowly, the flames flicker and die, leaving the Emperor and Empress gazing at one another in silence.
She tastes of chocolate when he presses his lips to hers, very gently, and it is a sweet kiss in every way imaginable.
Ozorne never intended to care for her, but there was somethingabout her that made it impossible not to care.
Kalasin is young enough to have no concept of time whatsoever, and when she tells Ozorne that she will stay with him forever and no matter whathe kisses the top of her head and feels a brief, irrational hope that he will never make her regret her words.
The war and blood makes Kalasin more distraught than she cares to admit, and when she sees that it has no affect on Ozorne at all, she feels a little shiver down her spine, and hopes that she will never become accustomed to all this needless destruction.
Her fever and delirium reaches new heights that evening, and she tosses and turns until she is all tangled up in the sheets, and when her eyes finally focus on Ozorne, she asks him to help her, please so piteously that he has to content himself with stroking her cheek tenderly before leaving the room, because he can't stand being so helpless while something that he holds dear suffers.
Kalasin is pale and drawn even after she recovers, and upon learning of her fondness for traditional Carthaki music, he orders countless performers to entertain her, and Ozorne notices, with a sense of pride, that more color comes into her cheeks when she listens to the sweet melodies.
Ozorne seeks power from the stars, and Kalasin understands very little of his elaborate spells and weavings. All she knows that the stars are beautiful, and she prays that their light will guide them through the troubled times ahead.
Kalasin remembers Tortall and her parents and family with a twinge in her heart and stinging in her eyes, but when she's at Carthaki festivals or viewing elaborate displays of magic at the Imperial University, she knows that this is familiar; this is where she's grown up.
When she is at the marigold harvests and their strong, spicy scent pervades the air; she knows that this is right.
When she curls up at Ozorne's side and they gaze at the stars, with his arm wrapped carefully around her, Kalasin knows that this, above all, is home.
Throughout the carefully organized chaotic confusion that came with her wedding, Kalasin found herself seeking comfort in the strange, gilded Emperor at her side, who took her arm and held it gently throughout the entire process.
Kalasin is prone to nightmares, much to her shame. She is sixteen and a half, and it is wrong for people of her age to have frightening dreams. But she wakes up in the middle of the night at least twice a week, shaking and clinging to her pillow for comfort. Ozorne coaxes her back down into bed, conjuring sparkling emerald butterflies that lull her into a deep, enchanted sleep. They settle back into peaceful silence, Kalasin dreaming about blue rivers and tall mountains and her brothers and sisters, and all is right with the world.
Kalasin has never liked thunder much, but there is a strange, precise beauty to the silver daggers of lightning that dance through the sky, and she finds that she likes Carthaki storms very much, indeed.
They share no blood, no common land, not many similar interests, and the only thing that binds them together is a marriage contract, and yet, Ozorne would not even dream of relinquishing her.
His Empress is fonder of common markets than is seemly, and when Ozorne sees her wearing at least ten colored glass necklaces, brightly colored scarves, a multicolored embroidered skirt, and a fringed vest, he despairs of girls her age and their strange compulsions, and sends her away, where he can be alone with books of spells and battle plans—the only thing that he seems to understand, of late.
Kalasin makes the mistake of walking into the bedroom while he's still studying his sprawling maps, and as soon as he sees her and before she can flee, he beckons her over to him, and the girl sighs, resigning herself to yet another evening of listening to how Carthak has changed the world as they know it.
Kalasin likes the fact that she has a strong Gift, and shows it off to him because at home, everybody had been very proud of her skills. But she is also perceptive, and when she senses that Ozorne isn't quite pleased with her—or her Gift, or something—she ceases to show off, and he seems to be happier.
Ozorne teaches her to say something and mean another, and to smile so that it doesn't reach her eyes.
Ozorne doesn't think of her as a daughter—he never has—because if he had a daughter, he would never let her know everything that his Kalasin has learned.
When she graduates from the Imperial University, she flings herself into his arms, and he hugs back tightly, and feels a twinge of nostalgia, for all the years passed, that will never be regained again.
Kalasin sees a canary in the clouds and Ozorne sees a Stormwing with an arrow through his chest, and the girl sighs and tells herself never to bring him here again.
The skies of Carthak are hot and blue and cloudless, stretching forever into eternity, and Kalasin thinks that this strange new land is beautiful, in its own way.
Ozorne has been cursed to the Black God's darkest realms and back many times, and in morbid, fatalistic moods when he has had far too much wine for his own good, he is glad that Kalasin will be in a better place than that.
Kalasin hears the whispers about them, and when she learns what being a man's pet is, really, she folds herself into bed, curling away from his touch, she wonders if she really is cursed for everything that has happened between them.
Ozorne says his reign is that of the sun, but privately Kalasin dislikes the analogy, and ever since then, she hasn't been able to view sunsets the same way.
She loves the night sky, and he weaves her ribbons of silvery moonlight that disperse on the wind as she reaches out to touch them.
Ozorne balks at the thought of doing something as frivolous as going to the seashore, but Kalasin at eighteen is as adamant and stubborn as Kalasin at fourteen, and she manages to drag him along with her, as she laughs at the sight of the turquoise waves crashing onto the white sand. He asks her, feeling pained, why they couldn't have just gone to the beach near Radzyn Keep, and she gives him a puzzled look, and says (as if something like this would be obvious) that the water is nicer here.
The Emperor sighs over her determination to have her little adventures, and they continue down the stretches of warm sand, toward the waves.
The beach is lonely and deserted, and Kalasin stands in the surf, and as she holds Ozorne's hand and feels the warm waves lap at her feet and ankles, she gazes into the sapphire velvet sky, and laughs for the joy of traveling the road less taken.
--- -- - ------ - --- ---- -- - -------- - -- -
Reviews will make me so happy.