Arianrhod

a c a n t h a - c h a n

Authoress' Note & Disclaimer: This ficlet is dedicated to ViscountessKiera, who so graciously reviewed both of my Princess Ai drabbles - one that was Nora-centric and another that was centered around an original character of my own, called Elathuria. She is basically described as the angel in the book that Kent gives to Ai from the Shinjuku University Library - the one that she claims is the reason she is so selective about wanting to go to the library. It's not so much the other little tidbits in the story that could have been tied up better by the end of the manga trilogy, but the desolate atmosphere around the angel depicted in that book was so inspiring. The title of this ficlet means "silver wheel" and is the name of the Celtic goddess that gave birth to Lleu Lllaw Gyffes, husband of the famous flower maiden Blodeuedd in the Mabinogi. (Credits to Magic of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, by Carl McColman and Kathryn Hinds, for that bit of information.) I don't own Princess Ai, either.

The length and dexterity of this one-shot shows you just how much well-written reviews can motivate me. And how much writing at night stimulates me. In a...platonic sort of manner.

(Perverts.)

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"You'd lie and say you loved me even if I told you not to...That's how far your lust goes; and I should know very well."

She lay enmeshed in shadowed feathers as she curled up into a fetal position on the ground: frigid with cold and looking more majestic than if she'd been upright and angered. Nora admired her picturesque beauty, black curls fanning around a face that spoke on levels of moonbeams and divinity - no doubt as befitted an angel, creator of the life force of Ai-land and of the nobility of the dougen folk. A fairy tale maiden, except she was neither the heroine nor the damsel in distress. Ai played both parts, she'd often informed him, casting melancholy glances in the Princess' direction as if she knew how Ai still harbored feelings of affection for the princely angel.

In private he would often express feelings of concern for the turmoil boiling just beneath Oruha's domestic demeanor. It was reminiscent of smouldering ashes on the hearth, ready to burst into flames at any moment.

("Our relationship is simply platonic," he would retaliate as she scowled, bad-tempered for once, and said coolly, "What made you think I cared what you feel?")

At the present, though, Nora felt as though he just happened to be hanging over that hearth. Trapped, as often before, except now because his captor knew him too well there was no possibility of escape from the inevitable conclusion. In fact, whatever he did seemed to crush the hope of escape, but captivation suited him far better if it meant getting closer to his (currently frustrated) muse of inspiration.

All he'd done, he'd done for her. The angel with ebony wings, and the angel with lavender. He didn't miss the irony; since when had black ever been a good omen as lavender had? They just didn't mix and therein lied the problem.

Nora was irrevocably in love with Oruha.

And Oruha...Well, hell, he didn't even know. She could be a raging spitfire one moment, then loving and maternal the next, nursing the very wounds she'd managed to open on a patch of otherwise unblemished skin. So versatile, so flexible.

It reminded him of Ai, actually.

Maybe, he wondered, was it because she thought that she was too much like Ai for Nora to love her for herself? The person beneath the pale complexion (so many moons spent underground, hiding, hiding, straining against bonds that ensured her safety and not her freedom), the eyes inset with cat-like pupils (the same color as Ai's, a beautiful mix of jade, forest canopies and the patterns on a tortoise's shell, but with a depth in them that spoke not only of having seen the world, but also of wanting to better her own), the slender build (nourishment depleted, with a lithe figure that was still in the making), the scars that decorated every limb and every patch of skin (sores, memoirs, whatever she called them when she wanted to forget how futile her efforts to escape her imprisonment - they were hidden from sight, and only laid bare for his eyes to see), and so many other facets of the gemstone Nora could hardly name any of them without wondering why no one else saw her as the unique individual she was.

Surely even Kaz could have seen that, although he had never braved the same experiences she had, but he only dismissed her as another dougen woman willing to fight for what rights she might ever obtain. She was a nameless face among thousands, and those nameless were often those deserving of the status.

He brushed away a stray thread of ebony hair from her eyes - eyes of a color he would never forget, nor would he favor any other - and received a flutter of the short, numerous lashes in return. She was awake, yes, and he basked in the knowledge in the same way he knew she always reveled at his touch - so soft, so gentle.

So unlike Kaz.

Nora was made all the more extraordinary in her view because he was, in effect, the embodiment of the general human characterization of an angel. He was kind, soft-spoke, intelligent, articulate...In short, everything she tried to be and yet was not. She was the model of imperfection, uncouth and vulgar. No doubt her appearance gave way to many more allegations and accusations that she was a wolf in sheep's clothing - and to even more people she was just a tall, somewhat annoying figure in a crowd - but to everyone except for Nora, she was still just a nobody.

Oruha did not resent that particular fact of her existence; rather, the dougen woman wore it proudly on her breast as a badge of pride, a reason for her existence. Someone recognized and admired her, and that was her ambrosia, the intoxicating and venomous allowance she gave herself...Sickly sweet, but sacred in the making.