The One She Trusts.
Based on the movie Stardust. Septimus and Una.
It was a cold night when she was taken from the castle. Dressed in only a simple sheer nightgown and her brown curls loose, Una remembered the chill that had hung in the air that night. That night that had changed her life forever. She wasn't a princess anymore; she was a slave, one of the most humble beings in all of Stormhold. She didn't have her canopy bed anymore; she didn't have her seven brothers to protect her. Though they hadn't been doing that for a while now, they had all left; Primus being first to go. She remembered the day he had left, standing tall and proud in his green attire. Her father had clasped a strong hand onto his first-born's shoulder, and something resembling a smile was reflected onto his lips. She had watched from her window, a small tear running down her cheek as Septimus wailed in his cream cradle, their mother singing a soft lullaby to her son. It had begun.
After that, year after year, it had been like that; one more son, one more protector, one more brother had left; Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, and Sextus until only her and Septimus were left, along with their father in the big, empty castle. Even Mother had left, stricken down by a terrible flu that had swept Stormhold. Una remembered her last days, watching Mother cough harshly, seeing the bright crimson blood spilling out onto the white handkerchief. After that, they spent their days running wild around the grounds outside and visited the markets often with their maid, Nancy. It was there, one summer's day that her father had decided to come along with them, to the market near the Wall. Nancy confidently left them in the care of their father, as he had insisted he needed to teach them, as he had done to their six older brothers, the way of the kingdom. So, that day, he had sat them down in a green field, smacked Septimus's hand away from a rose bush and told them what they had to do to be able to rule the kingdom.
That was the day it had all changed for Una.
That was the day Septimus realized that in the scheme of things she could possibly challenge his claim to the throne by delivering a boy in the world. That she was the only girl in the family, and he the seventh boy. That she would not be harmed in their plots, but he could possibly be killed. That was the day he had sunned her away. That was the day Una lost her best friend.
And her father, blissfully unaware he had just destroyed her daughter's life, took Septimus away once a week, to teach him about the royal bloodline and the way a real man needed to rule a kingdom and the length he had to go to receive the throne. She, Una, had to sew, learn to cook, and become a woman, a proper princess. She could not run around in boy's clothes anymore, she couldn't laugh with Septimus. They couldn't whisper at night under the cover of the comforters. They were worlds apart.
And so, things continued on this way, as they grew older, until Una reached the age of fourteen and Septimus the age of seventeen. Already brave enough in his fencing skills, her father decided to take him away for a hunting trip, along with three-quarters of his royal guards. He told none of the public he was going, and thought that Una, protected by only fifteen men, would be safe.
The morning they were to leave, Septimus came to visit her, dressed in a red hunting outfit, his black hair reaching his shoulders. His sword gleamed in the harsh sunlight, and Una, perched in her armchair, a copy of a historical text propped open in front of her, jumped up at his arrival, brown curls falling out of her bun.
"Dear sister," He had said, smiling at her. "I have come here today, because I wish to tell you how much I have missed you in the years we have not talked. I have been complementing over the things that made me so angry in the first place, and realize now that I was wrong to be so angry. Because, I realize, now, that you are my sister, and you do not want the throne." He smiled once more, stopping his pacing.
Una had sat back down in her chair, placing her shaking hands in her laps. She had glanced at Septimus, standing proud for all of his thirteen years.
"Thank you, dear brother," She had begun, softly, "For you to apologize to me means the world. I dearly hope that we can repair our friendship, because you are my brother and I love you dearly. I will make a promise to you, this day, underneath this sun, that I will never want the throne, nor steal it away from you. You are my brother, and I your sister, and I pray that you will believe my promise." She finished softly, returning her hands to her lap.
Septimus smiled down at her, bending down and picking up the book that had dropped from her lap. Una bent her head down as he read the cover aloud. "The History of the Royal Family," He read softly, a frown settling on his young forehead. He dropped the book and it landed on her red rug harshly. She looked up at him, only to find he was staring down at her, not blinking, not moving, his eyes and hers looking straight at one another.
"This is from Father's private library," He had begun softly, harshly. "You know no-one is allowed inside there, not even Primus, and he is the first heir. Father banned us all. So why do you have this book in your possession?" He asked sharply, the sword dangling close to her knee. She knew it was encased safely in its holder, but still, the thought that Septimus could kill her, right here, right now, sent a shiver up her spine. He would not be blamed for it; he was too cunning. So what if he had been the last to see her? He would make up excuses, lies, all for the sake up finally getting rid of the only thing that could possibly defeat him from his prize; the throne, being king of all Stormhold.
"Father gave it too me," She whispered softly, head bowed.
"Lies!" Septimus shouted. "He would never! He never gives me anything, no books! I read from my own library; as do you! You have stolen a king's personal book! Death is certain for you Una, and no amount of pleading or begging will stop her from having you in her grasp!"
"I asked him, and he lent me it!" Una shouted back, rising to her feet. "What is wrong with me reading about our ancestors? They are a part of me, and you! We share the same mother, Septimus, remember that? Our mother, our sweet mother! Cecilla! We are brother and sister by blood, not brother and sister by only our father! We share the same mother, you and I! Remember?"
Septimus glared at her. "No sister of mine would dare defy the King!" He screamed at her.
"The King is our father!" She yelled, her face flushed. "The King is my father! I am his daughter! I merely asked him to lend me a book and he agreed to. If jealously is your problem, Septimus, remember that he is taking you on a hunting trip this afternoon. There is no need to be jealous. I should be angry with Father for not taking me, but I am not! I understand why. I am a woman, a princess, not a prince! I am his daughter and he loves me, as he does loves all of us; Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus, and you, his seventh son, Septimus, the apple of his eye! You know he loves you and wants you to be his heir, even more than he wanted Primus to be! So stop acting the fool, Septimus, and gaze at the world for what it really is! Please."
"Liar!" Septimus yelled once again, glaring with beady eyes at his sister. Una glared back, hands dropping to her side.
"I am not a fool," He whispered softly, starting to pace again, his dark eyes staring at her still form. Una took a deep breath, before releasing it softly.
"I am not a fool," He repeated. "I am not blinded by your words, as Father and the others have been. You want the throne, don't you? Yes, Una, I know you do. And you're so close too! I have reason to believe Father may die soon and by then, you will have bewitched everyone into thinking you to be the only suitable heir. You wanted to be Queen, didn't you? Well, I will not let you break years of tradition!" He unsheathed his gleaming sword from it holder and raised it up above him. "Have I ever spared a traitor, Una? No. I don't believe I have."
Una glanced up at him, tears welling up in her dark eyes. She brushed a hot tear away from her cheek. "F-father is dying?" She asked softly, as tears ran down her cheeks.
Septimus glanced down at her. "I have reason to believe he will die, Una. And then, when he does, the battle to be the next King will be on! And, believe me, I will win. Because, you see, I've made plans to murder Quatrus the next year, at the Christmas banquet. Then, I'll only have five more brothers to kill. I struggled with the idea of beheading him for a while but decided against it. It's too messy. But, now, perhaps, I shall go with it."
"Septimus," Una began, softly, "You're going to kill our brother?"
Septimus grinned. "He may be your brother, Una, but to me, he is just another man standing in the way of the ultimate prize. The kingdom!" He made a sweeping motion with his arms around the room, his eyes settling on the view of Stormhold outside Una's window. "You always did have the best view," He muttered softly into the air.
"But Septimus, he is your brother! He carried you across the field when you were a babe! He helped you study, taught you to fence! He sneaked a feast into your room when you had a temperature! How can you forget all of the happy memories you two made together?" Una clasped her shaking hands together, pleading up at Septimus with her eyes.
Septimus shook his head at her. "Una, you must understand. Surely, you must. Father killed all of his twelve brothers for the throne, and his own father before he even felt poorly! When the matter of succession comes around, memories are forgotten. It is kill, or be killed. It does not matter that you are brothers with the man you must kill. I am sure Quatrus would kill me if he had the chance. As would any of our brothers. Surely you must know that. You will be spared as you are a woman and can not legally inherit the throne. Law is that it must pass to the last surviving male member of royal blood."
Anger flared up inside her. She stood up, a red flush spreading across her cheeks. "And what if I have a son?" She gritted out, hands clasped together.
Septimus glanced at her, then down to the floor, his gaze trained on his boots. "You will be killed," He answered softly, reminding her that he was only thirteen, still a boy, and all of his harsh voice before had been an act. This was Septimus. This was her brother, her best friend. Not matter how much he was acting up now. She knew it was because of Father's forcing him into maturity before he was ready. Somehow, everything bad that happened in this castle was Father's fault.
"No I won't," She murmured softly back to her, dark eyes peering through her wet lashes. A tear slid from her eyes and down her flushed cheek, as her hands clutched the material of her silk blue dress.
Septimus raised his head. "Don't presume to know me!" He shouted. "Don't tell what I will do! If you have a son, Una, I will kill you, and your babe. I will be King!"
"Really?" She asked. "You would kill me, even after you held me when I was sick, even after we held each other after the death of Mother? Even after all the memories we made? You would kill me? And my child? Your nephew, perhaps, or niece?"
"Yes," He whispered. "I have to. Father told me, he taught me what would happen if you were to have a son. There would be a chance that they would take it, it would go to your babe if I died and you were still alive! My son's would never receive the throne, all because of your son! All of the years of preparing them for ruling would be wasted! On your babe! Your child!"
Una sighed, before walking over to her younger brother and placing a hand onto his shoulder. "Septimus," She whispered into his ear. "I love you, so much. You are my brother. Mother loved you so much, as well. But I doubt she would want you to kill one of your brothers, at the age of thirteen! I don't think she would want you to kill anyone. But, when this secession business comes into play, you can plot against anyone you like. Because I know you want to be King, I know that. But Father is only preening you for your fall. He is a very cunning man; you know that, as do I. He plays all of his sons against one another; wants them to kill each other, as he did to his own family. But this fighting has to stop. I already have my Mother dead, I don't need anymore family gone. Please stop these silly plots, Septimus, for me and Mother."
Septimus flinched away from her hand, a scowl crossing over his face. "You lie!' He shouted, eyes blazing. "Father wants me as his one and only heir, he told me so! Mother would not care if I had to kill; she can't feel anything anymore! Father made sure of that! She was past her use, she was questioning his methods! So, he got rid of her!"
Una smiled sadly at her brother. "You are right Septimus," She said, to his surprise. "Mother cannot feel anything anymore. But I can."
Septimus growled, pacing the room once more. Una stared at him, a million thoughts crossing her mind. Was this really her brother? This monster? This plotter? This pitiful excuse of a prince? Was Father really playing him against all of his brothers, like she had said? It seemed possible; Father wanted only the best to be his successor. He was cunning, and would go to any length to secure he made havoc, even after his death.
"Una," Septimus began, startling her out of her thoughts. "I will do you this small mercy; as you are my sister, and I do love you, regeardless of what you have said." He paused for a second, gazing into her eyes with his own. Una only nodded, swallowed the fear down into her throat. "I will not tell anyone what you have said during this hour. I will not strike you down right here, because I love you. But, you must promise me something. As long as you live in this castle, you must plan no plots against me nor do anything that may harm my claim to the throne. Do you agree?"
Una nodded, staring at her younger brother. Septimus. Oh, how she longed to call out to him, how she longed things to return to how they had been before, when she was happier, and this stupid secession had even been mentioned! Honestly, Father wasn't even dead and her brothers were already plotting against one another! It was so stupid, and she knew Mother would have agreed with her. As would Father's other two wives; Alondra and Elena. They had both been killed for the questions, as had Una's own mother. Too chatty, Father had said. Too questioning. Too smart. He wanted a dumb, beautiful wife that wouldn't question any of his methods. He wanted a robot.
"I agree," She whispered softly, as Septimus gazed out of the window. A smile spread across his lips at her words, as he moved his gaze from Stormhold to her.
"Thank you, dear sister," He began softly, clasping a hand on her small shoulder. He leant in a brushed his lips against her forehead. Una smiled at him softly, wrapping her arms around her brother.
Septimus rested his head on her shoulder, his arms holding her close, his sister. He gazed over Stormhold. His kingdom, he hoped. He would be King.
They held each other for a while, Una sobbing as tears poured out onto her brother tunic. The sun blared outside, and they sat on the windowsill, watching as the royal guards prepared the horses for hunting. Septimus smiled at her often, his face portrays somewhat of happiness.
At around two, the King reached his daughter's rooms, knocking sharply. Septimus opened the door, smiling at his father. The King glanced inside the room for any sight of Una but Septimus clasped a strong hand onto his shoulder and they made they way down the hall, Septimus's sword banging against his armor.
Back in the room, Una watched with dark eyes as they prepared to go to hunt. Septimus lifted a hand to wave at her, inside her rooms. She rested her head against the cool glass of her window as they rode off, letting out a sigh as she clutched her knees to her chest. What had transpired between Septimus and her? What had they said to one another? What had happened to the harsh, cruel man she had accepted was her brother? Could a few words, a reassurance that she would never betray him, change him so dramatically?
Una sighed once more, standing up from the windowsill and collapsing into bed, her curls spreading across the red material of her pillowcase. She placed a kiss on the portrait of her mother that hung above her bed, and, yawning, drifted of to sleep, which was where she would stay for the next few hours, until something, or rather, someone, would visit the castle and change her life forever.
Ditchwater Sal, or as she was formally known, Madame Selene, was very cunning, despite the Order's claims of her being the worst witch in skill and talent that they had seen ever, ever in the history of time. She was smart, despite the Dark Majesty claiming she was not. She needed, not, wanted, to prove to the Order that she was ready for more powers, very for more talent to be bestowed onto her, meaningless, pitiful life. She needed to kidnap the only Princess of Stormhold, and enslave her.
Sal glanced up at the majestic castle, a grubby hand brushing her orange, frizzy hair away from her beady eyes. She let out a whisper as she pointed a finger at the ground. Green light shot out of her finger, and she stared down at it, her beady eyes widing as she watched the vine grow, wrapping around the castle before it stopped in front of the Princess's large window. Sal smirked, before wrapping her pudgy hands around the vine and giving it a sharp tug. Satisfied that it would not break, she began to climb, beads of sweat appearing on her upper lip every time she hauled herself up.
Una slept deeply on her bed, dressed in only a sheer nightgown, her hair loose and over her shoulder. Above her bed, the portrait of her Mother rested. Cecilla. Her only son and only daughter had inherited her dark features, Una her smile and Septimus her cunning.
Sal climbed further up, nearing the large window, her frizzy orange hair long before matted to her face with sweat. She grunted every time she pulled herself up, the cupcakes she had eaten before a sudden regret in her stomach. She did not yet have enough power to transport herself to the Princess's rooms, and beside, that would have be useless as she did not know where exactly the Princess lay her head. Imagine if she landed in the King's private quarters! Death would be certain if she did!
She reached the window; finally, hauling herself through it slowly, making sure she made no sound. Sal glanced at the Princess on the bed with beady eyes, a smile appearing on her thin lips. Her prize. Her glory. Her worth.
She padded over to the bed, brushing greasy hair away from her eyes. The Princess. Una moved in the bed, nestling her head deeper into the pillow. How innocent she was.. she didn't even know somebody was in her room, somebody that would ruin her life forever! Sal resisted the urge to cackle madly, stretching her pudgy hand towards the sleeping form at the Princess.
Una stirred softly, hardly breaking her sleep. Sal moved back, retracing her hand from the Princess's ankle. Una smiled, eyes closed, her mouth parting to allow her breath out. "Septimus," She mumbled. "I forgive you Septi."
Sal shook her head, cursing under her breath. Stupid girl! She waited as the Princess shifted on the bed once more before reaching her hand out again to softly touch the Princess's ankle. "Chain enchanted," Sal whispered softly, smiling as a thin silver chain appeared on the slim ankle.
Now to wake her up and tell her of her fate. This time, Sal didn't to resist the urge to cackle.
It had been years before she had seen him again. Years. Tristan had been born, given to the man at the Wall, grown up and she had not even heard a whisper of her brother's life. Was he even alive? She wondered, late at night as the carriage was still, her Master sleeping soundly. Did he think of her? Was their Father still alive? Their brothers? Had Septimus managed to go through with his horrible plan for Quatrus's murder? Had he done it, like he had said he would?
She did see him again, years later, when he was aged, as was she. It was fate, she thought, that had brought them together. Or rather, her son. Tristan.
She saw the love in his eyes before he spoke her name for the last time. She saw her late brothers, happy in limbo and she loved them. She longed to hold Septimus tight, to tell him she forgave him for all he had done. That she loved him, and he would remain her brother for always. That she had missed him in the years they had been apart.
But she had run when Tristan had told her too and she was glad she did. Glad she had a happy memory of her brother before he died. Glad she did not see Lamia use him like a doll, drown him before using him to hurt her son. Glad she did not see his spirit float down to Hell.
Because, in the end, he was still her one and only protector. He had stood by her forever. And that was what counted. He was the one to protect her. He was the one.