Disclaimer: I own nothing of GS/GSD. R&R please
The windows were open for the greenish-golden glow of the coasts to flit in like moths in merriment, and the sea was not a blue glass brooch in the distance. It was grey, choppy, and murderous. Just the way he had expected it to be. The beech trees were deeply rooted in whatever soil there was to offer as foundation for the deep-reaching roots. Those had no leaves however- general winter was fast approaching. They were warm here in this place, but somehow, nothing changed the coldness and distance of the people around him.
There were many things he expected. The table would be set perfectly; the snowy napkins like wings of folded doves cooing secretly under the triangles of silk, and the wine glasses like musical instruments of clinks and musical chinks. That was to be expected in a place like this, and he had become used to expecting finery around him.
The flowers were blood-red clovers, Trifolium pratense. Those had been taken from a greenhouse somewhere. He had expected those too-national flowers were important at a table where nationalists sat eating traditional dishes. He would have preferred a simple meal- these dishes were rather heavy. But none of the guests complained.
And it was naturally so, because there were guns under the table, and the dinner forks in the men's hands were suspiciously sharp. Their blades were used to tasting more than animal meat.
There was silence while they dined. The deer meat was tender and skewered, and he wondered how they had obtained the spices. But then, he might as well have wondered where they had found the means to obtain each type of splendour in the room. There was a chandelier, the portraits of the deceased royals, lace coverlets, and a glass coffin which held a small body, not yet matured, but stone-cold already.
Seven years had passed, and he was still asking the same questions after knowing the same answers at times. It embittered him but it was very intriguing, nonetheless.
One of the higher-ups cleared his throat. "So you'll do it? In spite of the unpleasant affair this will be?"
Some of them began to laugh, but he silenced them with his own smile.
"Your guns might as well be rusted over," He said carefully. "Independence comes with sacrifice, but not the type you have been offering. The children will roll in their graves."
There were fists slamming on the table, and the men were animals consuming animals, barbarians amongst finery, and they were beasts amongst embroidered upholstery. The effect was indefinitely shocking. But he had expected this.
"We did not murder them!" One man shrieked, his eyes rolling in his face. His voice was hoarse with choked-back sobs. "I didn't murder my own son!"
Unanimously, the men and the significantly fewer number of women in the room cast their eyes to the coffin in the corner. It lay, a little wooden lozenge, watching them balefully. It was a macabre evening- a meal in front of the coffin. But nobody was eating and the coffin was a symbol of reverence to their cause.
"In making that one fatal mistake, the façade that he wants to create has settled over you," He replied steadily, "You have become the scapegoat of all that has been done, but we will not review what you already know and cannot help at this stage. My condolences are with you, even as I pity the foolishness displayed on your part. Nevertheless, I understand the concerns of this-," He paused delicately now, "-society."
There was an immediate uproar at the table. Glasses were upturned and the shrieks of those sitting opposite his men rose in a show of outrage.
"Sit down please, gentlemen."
And he added ironically, "We are on the same side."
This was neither figuratively or literally true.
Listlessly, he drew a slim candleholder near, stroking the brass with his cold, silk-clad fingers. He watched those who sat at that table. In turn, they looked at him uneasily, knowing fully well how many cards they had left and that he had a single card that he had left to use as a trump. Those sitting on his side looked apprehensive, but their concerns were unfounded.
He reached for a lighter and began to light each individual end, until the white pillars were alight with orange starflowers that gleamed in the semi-darkness. The chandeliers had not been lighted, he noticed. These men had some shreds of compassion in them that they had been unable to sever entirely.
"I will bring her back myself." He said finally. His eyes were not focused on anything in particular, but the stone in them chilled the soul of those in the room on that night. "She will come with me."
A single voice said faintly, "This is not the first attempt. You have perpetuated a few schemes but none have ever succeeded."
He sneered, and it was unsuitably ugly an expression on his face. "Foolish talk. I did not know of this until only recently. Insofar, my approval was not sought. But it doesn't matter. She is neither simple-minded nor a weak character."
"Will she listen to the proposition?" His companion muttered at his side.
His fingers trailed the spine of the candle absent-mindedly. "Possibly, possibly not, but it won't matter as long as they need her. And they do, so they will storm the world to find her. By virtue of fact, she is the last of a sovereign, save her twin, and her twin will certainly ensure that Scandinavia is stormed upon to retrieve her."
Both sides rose. His companion made a slight sound of distaste as both sides shook hands, but it was so faint that nobody heard it. The silence was pervasive, except for the howling of the winds and the rain that was now slashing here and there outside.
"I have one clarification to make," He said abruptly. "How long will she be a captive?"
"For as long as it takes to make the world focus its attention here."
"So be it." He concluded.
The people present stood and began to leave the room, like vultures deserting the bones of a carcass they'd only just been set upon. Finally, he was left sitting in his place, his companion standing by his side, looking morose.
The candlelight was harsh and a wind from the sea snapped the life from each wick.
"So now you are entirely embroiled in this," His companion said fitfully. "I hadn't wanted to involve you in this matter of life and death."
He considered this and looked aimlessly at the candles, a slight smile warming the marble of his complexion. The face in the wine of his glass was not his but hers, burgundy, golden-eyed, and laughing, wistful. He lifted it to his lips and felt the molten liquid burn his lips before it evaporated into a cool fine mist. He would be the hand that was placed in the flow of the river- directing its channels, changing the currents and reworking the flow. But all things were subject to its change, even the hand itself; the very hand eroded by the sheer force of the water and the time it spent there.
"There are certain things worth getting embroiled in." He said soberly.
"Think about it again." A pause of worried silence. "You might lose your life."
He smiled a genuine smile that surprised himself. "I've been dead for the past seven years."
"Hah! I've been for the last year as well. We share more than a few things in common, I'm afraid."
"Perhaps," He said steadily, "It's been long enough that we've been as such. Your wife is grieving."
A sigh filled the empty room. "It can't be helped."
"But you'll help it." There was no room for arguing against the dead-set calmness in his voice.
"I can't help as much as you think," His friend said softly, "But may you succeed."
He looked at his friend with a glimmer in his eyes that resembled something like hope, something his friend was compelled to stare at because it was a rare sight to see.
"I cannot fail."
"Neither can I," The other agreed.
They stood in silence, ponderous and charged with a frenetic desire to rise above all. The musty, palpitable and lead-like air was maddening in the scent of the flowers arranged everywhere, like a pall's vapid adornment.
He stretched out his palm questioningly, and his companion laughed a cough, dropping something into it.
"A red clover." He said quietly, as his companion nodded. "It encourages them."
"Yes," the man whispered. "Red for nobility."
"No," He said simply. "Red for blood-earned revenge."