DG paced. She paced and paced and paced till Cain pulled her down into a seat and kept his arm around her to keep her seated.
"He'll be fine." The Tin Man said patting her shoulder.
"Yeah but this is like Brain-surgery!" She protested.
"Yes, but they know what they're doing, he's not the only one who had his brain removed by the Witch's Alchemists." Azkadelia winced at the comment, but got over it when her mother grabbed her hand and squeezed it gently. Raw, on DG's other side, patted her knee and turned back to stare at the door where just on the other side, one of his friends was getting his brain put back in.
DG, unable to keep staring at the door and imagine what the faint, shrill, whirring sounds were, instead chose to… to look out the large window at a zeppelin cruising by on it's slow journey… Glitch once told her about how he created a propulsion system in them so they didn't require dangerous, highly-flammable gases to float…
Okay, window-not a good idea. She turned to look down the pastel, brightly lit hallway leading to the room. A half-bidden memory from her childhood came floating back to her.
She was five, and he was just turned twenty-six.
Ambrose was a straight-laced man with a silly haircut that belied his serious demeanor. His crisp pressed coats, finely tailored with fancy embroidery and shiny buttons usually failed to do their duty in attracting a female to dance with him at parties and balls, but he did look every bit the Advisor to The Queen should. Oh he was finicky and he hated mud and other such fun, earthy, things, and was constantly suggesting Finishing School for both the princesses. But he was okay. If a bit stiff. But he played tea party and danced with them, letting the small girls stand on his feet, and hunching over so they could grasp his shoulders, whenever there was a ball coming and the two girls needed to brush up on their dancing. But all in all he was remote, usually making odd, complicated toys for the girls and then simply leaving them to the toys to go about his business, assuming the toys kept the two out of trouble and harm. More often or not, the toys did the exact opposite.
DG was five, and Az was sick. So DG decided to entertain herself in the gardens. Last night had been a huge rainstorm and most of the gardens were flooded. She knew this because Ambrose was complaining that he had finally got Miss Pembcot to agree to go on an afternoon picnic in the royal gardens with him that day and over half of them were floating away with the over flow. DG didn't understand why Miss Pembcot or Ambrose would deal with each other, both of them were boring stuffy people, they might bore each other to death, and while he was dull, DG did not want Mr. Ambrose to die.
Finally finding a relatively water-free spot in the garden, for Ambrose had warned her that snakes have been known to get caught in undertow and bite unsuspecting crossers of flowing water, DG put her shoes on the dry stone walkway of the gardens and walk into the planted orchard.
The Mud squished interestingly between her toes and made funny sucking sounds with each step. Her dress dragged in the slime on top of the peanut butter-thick earth staining the bottom inches brown.
All of the fruit in the small orchard were barren. The rush of water having swept brittle branches, leaves, and fruit far away to wherever such waters lead. Looking up at the skeletal trees, at the very top branch, one red apple shown, just hanging there waiting for the small princess to climb up and grab it.
Grabbing a knob on the tree she managed to push herself up and grab the branch, her toes found the miniscule stub where a branch once grew, and she heaved herself up further. Reaching for the next branch, just slightly out of her reach, her muddy toes slipped and she skinned her knee painfully on the branch. Surprised she let go and fell down into the mud with a loud messy splat.
Before a proper crying could commence, before tears even reached her dress, she was in strong warm arms and being carried quickly to the infirmary wing. Where the castle physician would bandage her bloodied knee and give her a candy. Teary blue eyes stared up into the disheveled muddy face of her Mother's most trusted advisor.
DG giggled slightly at the memory. He had chastened her good for that on, while he himself put the bandage on her knee.
"What's so funny kid?" Cain nudged her.
"Oh, I was just remembering when I was five, and I had hurt myself. Ambrose had carried me all the way here, and bandaged my knee, chiding me for ruining my dress and hurting myself, while he was giving the staff a heart attack, dripping mud all over the place." DG, Azkadelia, and Lavender all laughed at the memory, it was quite infamous.
"Eh, sounds like something Glitch would do." DG smiled goofily at the Tin Man.
"Not Ambrose, he hated mud."
Silence rung for a few more moments before the door opened.
The Doctor was a balding pudgy man dressed in a long white coat and rubber gloves up to his shoulders. Either, his profession, or something outside the medical field, had left the man almost unbearably nervous. If it wasn't for his excellent skills, he probably would have been prompted to return to his family farms, or some other less stressful occupation.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news." The Doctor rubbed his rubber-gloved hands nervously. "The operation was somewhat a success. And at his request we removed the zipper and there will be little to no scarring… but… The Alchemists didn't take proper care of his brain, and there is extensive internal damages done by the probes and whatnot, so he will probably never return to full function. It's as if he still doesn't have half his brain…" DG's stomach dropped into her shoes. "But we anticipate, with help, he might be able to function in society once more, and possibly even resume inventing." There was a small release of breaths. But no one said anything.
"Can we see him?"
"He's resting now, your highness. Perhaps tomorrow." He said and turned away to check up on his patient.
Nights in the O.Z. took some time to get used to. On quite a few nights DG found sleep to be impossible. Tonight was such a night. Pulling herself up, the younger princess donned a thick green robe to counter the cool night air. The moon, almost as bright as a sun, what with the amount it receives from the two actual suns, lit the gardens beneath her. The smell of ripe apples and fall-blossoms made her smile until she spotted a bandage-wrapped head underneath a very familiar tree.
What the hell… Quickly she threw on a pair of outdoor slippers and rushed out her room to the gardens her room over looked.
"You know… you're supposed to be in bed resting." DG said walking around the tree to sit at his side as he bit into the flesh of an apple, a small pile of cores lay on his other side. He chewed and swallowed the fruit before speaking.
"I know, but I had to get out… You know," he said, looking at the tree "this has always been my favorite thinking spot in the gardens. I remember… though why… escapes." DG giggled softly before leaning over to hug her friend.
"Glit-Ambrose, I am so sorry." He placed a hand on her outstretched elbow and took another bite from his apple.
"Please princess, Ambrose is gone. I cannot pretend to be what I am no longer." His voice belied what his face tried to imply.
She hugged in tighter in lieu of an appropriate response. And even he forwent protocol and wrapped his other arm around her. They stayed like that for a minute before he pulled back and finished off his apple.
"You still are Ambrose, even if you can't remember everything, and are liable to forget it when you do; your actions are what he lives through." DG finally spoke, surprising herself with how diplomatic and regal she sounded. Glitch snorted.
"Believe me Princess, from what I remember; Ambrose and I were nothing alike." DG stared at him, her blue eyes piercing through the darkness to meet his own dark orbs.
"When I was five, there had been a huge rainstorm that had flooded out most of the gardens, and took almost all the apples with it. Except for one, it was on a high branch on this very tree. I trudged through the mud to climb up to reach that apple, except I slipped and scraped my knee and fell. You ran across the gardens, tracked mud all over yourself, to carry me to the infirmary, and then wouldn't let anyone else take care of me, insisting that it was the least you could do for letting me hurt myself. Later that afternoon, I found that apple, waiting for me." She rested her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat.
"Heh, I wish I remembered that." He said running his arm around her shoulders again.
The two stayed like that all night, and in the morning when the Queen and her Consort walked the gardens in their usual morning ritual, they found the two surrounded by a pile of apples, sound asleep in each others embrace.