[Xirysa's challenge] Sometimes it isn't the sense itself so much as the loss that is noticed. PelleasMicaiah, RajaionEna, IkeSoren, TibarnReyson, BoydMist, OscarIlyana
n. A basic unanalyzable sensation, such as a color or smell, experienced upon stimulation of a sense organ or receptor.
Just a brief note on the story, if you will.
I started quite late, and by 'quite late' I mean it was basically a PreNanoLite. I decided to come in two weeks before the ending and then was too busy to get started until seven days until the finish, two of which were taken down by minor a head cold.
My goal wasn't actually winning, but writing some of my beloved underloved pairngs, some that don't have enough fans and some that simply don't have a lot of fanwork for them. And IkeSoren, which doesn't apply to either but hey, I'm a fangirl. (It turned out more gen than slash, anyways) I was glad for the chance to finally get out some pairings I've been meaning to write out forever. It was fun at times, frantic most of the time. Overall, I'd do it again.
Oh yeah, and sorry for the difference in formatting. Today ffnet decided to eat all the divider bars. It's a problem.
Title: Blight Sight
Summary: it seemed a fitting fate for a blind former king RD spoilers, divergent!au, PelleasMicaiah.
"What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all."
The book that Micaiah's reading from is Idylls of the King by Tennyson. To be precise, it's from a section of Gareth and Lynette. The second part she'd just begun to read is from Pelleas and Ettarre (Ettarde in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur) Who is not only the namesake for Pelleas, but also shares quite a few characteristics. Though, strictly speaking, Seima's Franz is a closer match to Arthurian Pelleas. Still, it was obviously chosen for a reason.
And finally, thanks to Kaya for betareading and listening to me whine.
It seemed a fitting fate for a blind former king, Pelleas thought. Perhaps he should be thankful that he could still make out the vaguest of shapes through the grey light that his world has become. Perhaps he should be thankful that his world hadn't descended to complete darkness.
It had taken only an attack from the goddess to leave him blind, the light of her glory stunned him. Or perhaps it had been the fall, that fall that seemed to last a lifetime as he felt himself slide forwards, the ground giving beneath his legs.
He had lain there on the cold earth as blood streamed from a gash on his forehead. Life seeped out of him as he fell to a place of between life and death. Pelleas could hear the sounds of the battle around him, furious and violent, he could hear every blow.
But he couldn't make out a thing.
The details were filled in later, after the battle had finished. Pelleas had been rescued by a knight, one from Crimea, judging the accent. He remembered little of the exchange. The knight, a kind one, certainly, had ripped a bit of his clothing for bandages. He'd pressed a vulnerary on the wound and yet....
When the battle was over, and the bandages removed, Pelleas saw nothing.
It was unquestionable that he would keep the throne upon returning to Daein. Pelleas had been lead to the steps, the hand upon his was gentle and delicate. He could no longer make out the grey stones from each other. The shapes were soft at the edges, black,white and grey. Pelleas' world was one of abstracts.
When alone he felt his way through the halls. The walls were cold and smooth against his hand; it was as if traversing a deep cave, and Pelleas had become lost in those dark, twisting tunnels.
Throughout this, Pelleas still had memory of sight. He remembered the first sight of Nevassa, large and forbidding, covered in snow. And burned in his memory was the first time he'd laid eyes on Micaiah. The wind had caught strands of her thin, wispy silver hair, her cheeks were flushed from the wind and the chill. The smile she gave him was so kind, so warm, he hardly felt the cold.
Izuka had frowned when he had offered her his cloak. Almedha had been amused at her boy's innocent chivalry. It hadn't occurred to him that a king giving his royal cloak to an underling was a faux pas. At that moment it was just a beautiful girl shuddering from the cold.
He hadn't even been able to speak much, for the broach had caught and undoing it had been an ungraceful affair. She looked on curiously as he tried to work it over his head.
"Here– You're...you're shivering."
He handed it to her, suddenly feeling very awkward. She had white in her hair as the tiny flakes fluttered down and she accepted it.
It was his first mistake, and perhaps the only one he hadn't regretted.
Pelleas would pace the floors if he could, but even now he could not find himself in the solace of books. He had been dealt a fate worse than death, to be stuck in limbo, a weakling and parasite to those he had once claimed to lead.
Pelleas slept often for those first few weeks. His curtains were drawn against the light and he slept away his life. He wondered how many months would pass if he just kept falling into the lack, the undoing that slumber brought him.
And even with that unraveling, his found little peace. Even after the wounds had healed he would suffer from pains that felt as if his head was imploding upon itself. Light was intolerable, even the barest trace of it would send tearing sensations through him like little earthquakes.
During this time Pelleas cast himself, from everyone. Their pity, even her kindness. Like a madman only has the comfort of his madness and delusions, Pelleas now only had the comfort of his memories and the space that his life had once been.
In the absence of sight, his other senses heightened. He could make out the difference between footsteps now. A person's pace revealed more about them than he had ever thought. His fingertips seemed to have grown more sensitive, textures that once would have confused him he could identify by a brush of his hands. The cool smooth stones of the walls, the rough grain of the tables.
And yet, even as he managed, simpler days came to haunt him. He had taken it for granted, everything.
His hand shook as it ran over something silky. A handkerchief? Soft like the robes she must have worn as a Queen.
He had not been able to witness her coronation, though Pelleas was sure she had been glorious. He doubted she wore royal robes, they were likely muted, almost plain. Only slightly above what a commoner would have worn.
She had become the queen of the people. His reign, if you could even call it that, had been swept aside and hers would be the healing to his clusmy mismanagement. In history, he would be a footnote, where people forgot his short, troubled rule all too quickly.
Her voice shook him from his melancholy thoughts, and he turned to where her voice had arisen from. He spoke to the shade of his queen, the shapeless mass of light and air that had become his understanding of her.
"Mi— My queen...I've become useless to you. I'm sorry."
"You're not useless," she said.
She came closer now, and he could almost see her, a figure moving through fog. The greys turned to a lighter silver. She was a soft outline of light amongst all the darkness.
She stepped closer, her footsteps low, had he not been more attuned to the sound, he might have missed it.
"I don't want to forget what you look like," Pelleas whispered, for whisper was all he could do now.
Arms enclosed around him. He leaned into them. Safe. Warm. Fingers stroked his hair. Light. Gentle. Comforting.
"You won't," she said. And even he with his idealism, his foolishness and naivete couldn't believe this time.
Hadn't they been a pair, two idealistic fools going down with the ship of their fledgling revolution. There'd been enough hope and blindness for Daein to sink under the mire of their crushed dreams.
Perhaps they even would've won had it not been for his own clumsy mistakes.
"Queen Micaiah, I..."
"You won't. Trust me," she said.
He felt her hands lifting his own. Micaiah placed them upon her face. His fingertips were on her cheekbones, his palm was against her cheek. She moved his hand across her face and he felt every detail. She moved his hand left, over her blinking eyes and forehead, down the bridge of her nose to touch her lips. They were soft and just slightly moist.
He focused on what it was to see, on every detail of her. The memories were fading, but he tried to conjure them up, as if an incantation. Silver hair. Slender. Fragile-seeming, but strong. Gold eyes
One day the words for colors might escape him and have no meaning anymore. He felt another dark plume of despair curl around him at that thought. His head sunk against her body. It sounded like being underwater, his ears popping, almost drowning.
"You'll remember," she said. It was a promise, but on her lips it sounded more like a command, a gentle, yet firm command.
Sunlight streamed through the open windows. He felt it on his skin like a comforting touch. He could not look at directly, for even now the glare was too bright, but with the curtains thrown back (His queen's demand) the room had changed. It was no longer his prison, but a place of beginnings.
"Are you sure this isn't an inconvenience?" Pelleas asked anxiously.
"Even queens are allowed to have a moment of rest."
"Are you sure you want to be spending this time with me?"
"Yes, Pelleas," she said simply. "I am."
"What are you reading this time?" Pelleas asked.
"Legends. This volume looked like something you'd like."
Pelleas heard the pages rustle as his queen turned them. He could almost discern between the greys and blacks and her whiteness.
".. The damp hill-slopes were quickened into green,
And the live green had kindled into flowers"
Her voice was clear and she uttered each word, pronouncing the complex names of knights far past, ladies of the water, unfaithful queens and battles that torn a country asunder.
The balance of her voice lulled him into a calmer state of mind than he had felt in months, even years, perhaps. She read until the lilt of her voice made him drift off to sleep. Micaiah continued to read for some time before she noticed that her audience had gone. With that, she put aside the tome and rose from the seat. She picked up a light blanket set nearby for such purposes and set it over his sleeping form. He didn't stir.
She repeated those last words once again, from a book carefully chosen. "and the sweet smell of the fields past, and the sunshine came along with him."
Micaiah smiled. The mournful expression had finally left his face.