Author's notes: Seeing as my other fics are going excruciating slowly, i thought i'd take a break and write a little LO one-shot of one of my favourite guys (after Sed and Jansen!)
So basically, it's a look at Tolten's childhood, cuz sometimes, parents can be overly harsh on their kids. (sorry about the bad title, i'm no good at naming things!)
A Father's Pride
The young prince was counting down the hours. It was so exciting; he was going to see the navy with his father, the first time on one of those huge ships he had seen in the bay. His father seemed pleased that he was displaying such enthusiasm, seeing as his progress in sword-fighting and spell-casting was progressing tediously slowly. The young boy wondered if maybe he would be a soldier, or a sailor. It would certainly make his father proud, though he was quite frightened at the thought of the responsibility and bravery required. Afterall, only very strong and brave people became soldiers, and Tolten's father didn't regard him as fitting into either of those categories.
Still, there was still time for improvement, as his mother had reminded his father on one of those rare occasions when she spoke in his defence. His father was at a loss as to how to mould his son into a worthy heir, and had started by relieving the nanny of her duties because she had been mothering the prince too much. His father believed it would only make the boy soft, which was not a useful asset for the future ruler of Uhra.
Tolten was the only healthy heir the Queen and King had produced, and most likely the only one they would ever have. Previous children had been frail and died young, only serving to make the Queen's health deteriorate. She was no longer able to bear children, and the King was becoming to old to try. The only other child still living was an infant girl, who was so fragile that everyone doubted she would live to speak her first words.
Tolten was the only strong child they had ever produced, though, as his father sometimes scorned, 'strong' was perhaps not the best word to use when describing the young prince.
"Your Highness?" Asked his magic tutor, the recently appointed Gongora. "You seem distracted, is something troubling you?"
The boy smiled, flopping into an expensive chair. Spell-casting was so tiring, and he could never produce more than a flicker when casting a fire spell or a droplet when casting an aqua spell. Gongora was remarkably patient with him, however, and seemed to be one of the few in the castle who did not doubt the boy's abilities.
For this reason, Tolten felt able to confide in him, but not too much, as he didn't want to appear like the weakling his father believed him to be.
"I'm very excited about our trip to see the navy!" The boy explained excitedly. "But I also feel a little nervous. I want to make father proud."
He made sure to say 'father'. As the King had pointed out, it was not becoming of a growing boy to address his father as 'papa' or anything of that sort. Gongora didn't seem to mind when the boy slipped up though.
"I'm sure he will be very proud to see how excited Your Highness is," his tutor replied smoothly."If it were not the case, I doubt His Majesty would ask you to accompany him."
"You really think so?" Tolten asked, his voice filled with hope.
"I'm certain of it. How could a father not be proud of a promising son such as yourself, Your Highness?"
"You're so kind to me..." he murmured, momentarily sad that Gongora was not his father instead, but he pushed the traitorous thought from his mind. "I must prepare to go!"
With that, he launched himself to his feet, fear and anticipation mingling ominously in his stomach. Today would be different, he was sure of it, today would be the day he proved to his father that he would make a good King one day.
He wandered up to his mother's chambers, wondering if she wanted to see him. Unfortunately, her chief lady-in-waiting informed him that the Queen was unwell, and did not wish to see any visitors. He left, not feeling too surprised or disheartened by the news, as it was the same every time he visited her, but she would have to get better eventually, and then he would be able to see her.
The ships were even more impressive up-close than they were when Tolten had seen them in the bay. Never before had he seen a ship so big as the one they were boarding. All the sailors were lined up on the deck, as his father inspected them, led by the Captain of the huge ship.
He followed his father to the pilothouse, trying to maintain a princely demeanour, when what he actually wanted to do was explore the vessel and press the many buttons to find out what they did. They stood by the huge wheel as the Captain guided the ship through the waters with ease.
The experience was different to anything he had previously felt. The swaying of the ship as the sea rocked it from side to side made it feel as though his stomach was doing backflips. Not long after they had cast off, Tolten's initial excitement wore off and was replaced by queasiness, and every so often he would loose his balance and stumble into something when the ship shuddered unexpectedly.
The boy collided into something again and hurried to resume his standing position beside his father. The ageing King failed to hide his expression of shame and disappointment as he himself stood motionless despite the swaying. The Captain's attempts to make light of the prince's sea-sickness was only met by a polite smile from the King and a squirm of embarrassment from his son.
The ship rocked again, and Tolten stumbled backwards into one of the sailors, who quickly righted the young boy.
"Pull yourself together!" His father snapped under his breath. He was beginning to regret bringing his son with him, something which he told the boy later on that day.
The prince scrambled over to the King, eyes clouded with tears at having disappointed his father again. The one thing he did manage to do successfully though was hold it inside, if only until he returned home. At least by doing this, he could avoid giving his father further reason to feel shame.
As soon as the prince found himself alone again, he sobbed quietly into his hand, furious with himself for not being able to do something as simple as standing still. He wanted to make his father proud. How long before his dream would be a reality? His father grew weaker by the day, and if Tolten didn't pull himself together, he may never get to see his father beam with pride at something his son has achieved.
A quiet noise distracted him from his self-pitying mood. He held his breath, waiting for the shadowy figure to identify their identity before he spoke and potentially gave away what he had been doing.
Thankfully, it was only Gongora, who wore an expression of profound shock on seeing the child's tear-stained face.
"What has happened, Your Highness?" He asked, his voice soft and concerned.
"Father is angry with me," Tolten sniffled, "because I embarrassed him when we visited the navy. Why am I so bad at everything, Gongora?"
The man knelt before him, laying a large hand on the boy's shoulder, which shook as he tried and failed to disguise his tears. "Do not blame yourself, Your Highness. It was your first time aboard a ship, and your reaction to it was to be expected. I would have thought your father would understand this. Don't worry, I am sure he too sees that you will soon make a fine ruler for Uhra."
Tolten managed a feeble smile. At least Gongora didn't mind his failings, and was willing to help him until he succeeded. He just wished his father would do the same, instead of expecting that he should be a natural leader too. The young boy was so glad for Gongora's presence, for while he remained, Tolten knew there was at least one person he could always rely on.