Day/Theme November eleventh / i love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest
Character/Pairing: Books/Pelleas, Pelleas/Micaiah
Rating: G? It's innocent
Summary: Pelleas finds solace in books, and most of all in her company. PelleasMicaiah
A/N: the title actually refers to a medical condition of having an extremely rapid heartbeat. Timeline-wise it's set sometime after the Dawn Brigade chapters but before the third part, during the reconstruction period but before the blood pact becomes known. You know, those happy times we never got to see? Yeah.
I figured since I've been sending Pelleas to creepy castles, killing him, making him blind, mad, and having an arranged marriage under particularly tragic circumstances that he deserved some nerdy and dorky cutefluff.
Also, Merry (Early) Christmas, Jordan!
Of will and nature, so did Pelleas lend
All the young beauty of his own soul to hers,
Believing her; and when she spake to him,
Stammered, and could not make her a reply.
-The Idylls of the King, Tennyson
When he was younger, the library nearby had been his closest solace. Even if he tried to explain his status as a spirit charmer, and not a branded, Daein had never been known for its tolerance and few believed him. The matrons were not cruel, but nor were they particularly kind. He was merely one of a large group of orphans, and far clumsier and sicklier than most. Any attention had to be fought for, and Pelleas had never had the drive to fight for his share.
But away from the orphanage, five streets down he could lose himself and forget the future and the past until there was only the present wrapped without the pages of a book.. Fairytales, histories, Pelleas slowly made his way through every book contained in the closest library; a place where the quiet peace was never broken by insults. Here he was never berated or chased away from games of stickball. The books were kindly, accommodating things; they taught and consoled and kept him company. It was an easy thing, to lose oneself in books. Often Pelleas found that after a particularly fascinating chapter, the day would have already folded into the arms of twilight and he would have to make that journey back to the orphanage alone.
It was not a long trek, but Pelleas couldn't help but feel nervous on his way through the streets. Even the chance to stargaze on clear nights and pinpoint each constellation didn't lessen the jarring anxiety that anything in the night could leap out at him. There was always thieves to be wary of, though he had little to offer. Logic failed to close away his fear.
As the years passed little changed. He stayed there in his own kingdom of tomes up until the day a man cloaked in black came and told him he was to be a king of the land. It seemed unreal, a figment of fairytales sprung to life. When the man assured him again that it was true, even Pelleas had to believe.
It took some time, but Pelleas accustomed himself to life in Daein Keep. It was unsettling to have servants attending to his every need when once they would've past him, in the same station, the same life.
Again he found his solace in the royal libraries. When Micaiah left the keep became a cold, dark prison of a place. Izuka had taken to his studies and more and more and had recently taken to going on long, unannounced trips. He didn't want to worry his mother, and in truth as glad as he was to finally have a mother it was difficult to talk casually to the kind of woman who would tell him to sit up straight and to stop using such common accent.
One more than one occasion he had broken through the noble code and tried to start conversations with serving girls and helping hands alike. They were nervous and jittery, their eyes desperately seeking the exit. Pelleas didn't quite understand why they found speaking to their king such a loathsome idea. He'd just wanted to talk to another human being again. He missed the days of listening to the conversations through the market, of watching life while it passed by. In Daein Keep time went slowly, he felt at this rate he would stagnate.
When he found the royal libraries they were covered in dust, surely they had been untouched for twenty, or perhaps more years. From what he had heard his father had been a man who had little use for poetry or histories. His life was lived by the sword, the future and the present. The past had little meaning to him in that respect.
Pelleas thought it must be perhaps some part of his mother's side, another member, far off on the branches of this family tree.
Again he found himself lost in books. Nowadays they were books on the moral code of ruling and the structure of kingdoms. At times it felt as if he's mind would implode from all the information, but Pelleas forced himself on. He couldn't allow himself to be a foolish country boy any longer with all of Daein relying on him. As king he had little time for fairytales, though he sometimes allowed himself them to ease the insomnia that had been creeping up on him. All the princesses and heroines had long silver hair in his mind, they were all so fragile and strong at the same time. All their voices sounded like her voice, all their speeches became her words until memories and fiction intermixed until the details were too tangled to unweave again.
Micaiah looked elegant even in a commoner's garb. His attempts to dress her up for the position had been politely, but firmly refused. He hadn't broached the subject since even if he could see the scorn his mother placed for such dirty commoner's clothes on such a high-ranking official.
He'd had a room made in the royal castle and outfitted it with the best of what Daein possessed. His mother had helped in the acquisition and arrangement for Pelleas knew little of decor and even less of what women liked. In the end he'd chosen birds, for it seemed a fitting theme. He had thought once that she resembled a bird in her delicacy; her tiny bones seemed as if they would be broken if she ever made the slightest of fall.
The colors reflected a darker, dusk-like effect over the room and had been more of his mother's choice than his own. Still, he could not fault her sense in taste. He always surrendered to her suggestions in this, often she'd cluck her tongue when he'd accidentally worn the royal clothes in the wrong fashion, or left his collar untucked again.
The bed was made of a new style that had been formed recently, the deep shaded wood was bolstered and surrounded by thin wires of metal that clung to it like creeping ivy, leaves, hammered out in the three pronged type of ivy were bonded to the twirling wire. On the headboard two birds, one silver and one gold was perched in the middle indentation.
A large, soft rug to drive back the chill that lingered even in the summer and thick covers were brought in. Despite Micaiah's love of her country, she never had been able to withstand the force of its cold fury. He'd witnessed this last winter when she had spent most of their meetings subtly trying to hide her shivering. Soon after that he'd ordered the softest and warmest of fur coats to be made for her. Pelts from the northernmost snow bears were an expensive delicacy, for they were vicious creatures with pure white pelts that lived in the most arctic of regions. Even the most experienced of hunters would have difficulty taking them down. Of course, this only made their pale fur all the more fashionable. His mother had greatly approved of the choice and, he thought, had been somewhat jealous that the gift was not for her. Pelleas had enough sense to order a black bear pelt stole for his mother, which was far more fitting to her complection and style. (And for even he knew it was the worst faux pas imaginable to share the same article of dress as a queen.) The coat itself turned out a bit heavier than intended, so much that Micaiah staggered under the weight, but at least she wouldn't catch hypothermia.
He hand-picked a small library of books that he was finally allowed to own instead of the fleeting borrowed times on the floor of the foyer. They were special choices, directly from Daein's spacious royal archives. He ran his fingers over the hardcovers with their gold edged pages and thick binding, such a difference than the worn copies near his hometown.
Some on history, some of the most notable classic novels and a few philosophies. He read through them first, and ensured that she only received the best of what Daein's archives could offer; the most complete, most fascinating and most beautiful works of fiction. Surely, they would be more useful in her hands than ignored for generations on the far bookshelves.
When he lead her to the room, days later Pelleas felt as eager as a child. He almost wanted to take her hand and but that was neither a very kingly or adult action. It was a room befitting a queen, not simply a vice-general, but Pelleas couldn't quite find the words to say such a thing. But instead of the happiness, the surprise and the soft acceptance he had anticipated, she seemed far more blank and unaffected by this gift.
"This is far too much for me. I can't accept this," she said.
"But– A vice general should stay within the castle, in case of emergencies...," Pelleas said. His voice and hopes faltered as she shook her head.
"I have a home in the city," Micaiah said.
Among the common people. Perhaps his lining of the room, an offering, a nest hadn't been entirely unselfish. If she lived in the castle he would be able to seek her out at any time and the aloneness might be more bearable when she left. She'd also be safe here, for there were little places more impassible than Daein Keep with its thick stone walls and metal grates. It was a castle made to withstand sieges and attacks, built with blood and war and conquest in its very foundation.
Footsteps came through the halls, the sound of someone running in. Over the bend was green tethered leather and green hair. Sothe again, his presence always seemed to mean Micaiah's would soon vanish. Pelleas opened his mouth to speak but then Sothe's gaze was on him, suspicious and bitter. He wasn't sure what he had done to deserve Sothe's ire, but the boy seemed to only hold back because Micaiah believed in him, yet another time when she had saved him.
"There you are, Micaiah. Come on, we need you–!"
She quickly turned to Sothe and nodded. He held her gaze now, Pelleas might as well have fallen into the caverns beyond for he no longer existed.
"I have to go, King Pelleas. I'm sorry. Coming, Sothe–!" Micaiah didn't look back when she left. Her footsteps walking away, it was such a damning, lonely sound.
Pelleas' head reeled. He sunk into the sunset-hued bed, a book of collected fairytales still in his hold. He hadn't had a chance to give it to her, for he had wanted to give this one book personally. It was the same book that he had enjoyed as a child, but in a much finer bound copy without the ripped and faded pages or moth-eaten holes bored through.
A swish of skirts and his mother appeared from the shadows.
"Once a commoner, always a commoner," Almedha said. The derision dripped from her voice.
"Mother...please. She's busy, I can't fault her for wanting to stay by her people. They need her."
"Hmm. Who would need the Vice-General more than a king? Surely not the breadmaker or the smithy," she said.
She was the people's, and even as the highest person the seeming most important in the land, he would have to give way. He understood this well. They needed her, and then so did he.
She sat on the edge of the bed, her posture perfect even then. "Mother is here," she crooned. She wrapped her arms around him and he could smell the scent of musk and feel the brush of the roughness of the veil, elegant and cold, like the feeling of lace against skin.
His mother's disapproval at this rejection hung like mists over the Keep. After that week Micaiah had a pressing affair that kept her away for weeks. The days were a blur of empty spaces and grey. With no advisers and no task before him, the hours passed with agonizing slowness.
After that every time Micaiah came into the meetings, his mother joined. Whenever Micaiah spoke his mother couldn't keep herself from sneering, or drawing a little closer to her son.
"I'm truly glad to see you again, Micaiah," Pelleas said. Smiles came naturally when she was around; even unpleasant, cold days seemed so much warmer in her presence.
She looked so much more weary, there was dark circles looming under her eyes, like shadows, a foreboding of some illness or misfortune to come. A nagging fear clawed at his mind. Without Micaiah, their Dawn Maiden the army, and he would surely fold to the opposition. She was more than just a symbol; she was hope, she was a sliver of belief that Daein could rise from its ashes and become an enlightened place, one of peace, rather than its marked violence.
"Are you ok?"He asked.
"I'm fine... Just a little tired."
"Would you prefer to sit? I could call for some tea – "
"No, I can still stand," she said.
Even in her weakness she withstood whatever fatigue or illness or sickness. A rush of admiration flowed through him. Pelleas had been proved wrong again; he had thought his opinion of her couldn't soar higher than the rose-hued plane she resided on in his mind.
"Micaiah you— You're amazing. You– You remind me of a book. Books, in fact."
"Books?" she asked.
It came to him that this wasn't the clearest of things to say, and that blurting it out caused more confusion than the compliment had warranted.
"Well– calming, and warm and– Er. Informative."
"I see..." she said.
He'd done it again, shown that underneath that crown and title of king he was still no more than a clumsy and naive country orphan.
"It's n-nothing, I misspoke. I apologize," Pelleas said. "Please, forget it."
It wasn't just that she felt like a lady or hero that had stepped straight from legends, her mere presence was as comforting as those days in the library. She was like the gentle sound of pages turning, how when captured in the throes of a truly good volume he could forget the harsh words and the weight of every person's life heaped upon his trembling shoulders. As king, any wrong choice could prove disastrous for his entire kingdom.
She was the same feeling, that serenity that he had sought and found hidden under tables in corners with volumes so large they'd dragged on the ground as he pulled them free from the shelves.
"No, I understand. I'm honored to be considered...book-like."
She smiled then and his heart did a somersault. His cheeks flared and he muttered something about the weather being unseasonably warm. He had once been on entirely equal terms as her, but as of late it grew more and more difficult to keep talking beyond a king and his general. Whether comparing her to dusty tomes or tripping over on uneven stairs and falling to her feet because he was more focused on her than the path he was taking.
It was an odd condition, his heart just beat so much faster when she was around. It was as if logic had gone to a very far place and even the things he had carefully prepared sounded so much more confusing when brought into existence.
"Would you like to – if you aren't too busy – go for a stroll in the gardens?"
She inclined her head. "I'm sure I can spare a moment, King Pelleas."
The gardens were a recent part of the reconstruction. Under the rule of the former king – his father, the fountains had turned to rusted, algae filled things and weeds had choked out what few flowers had managed to survive Daein's vicious climate. Replanting them had been a difficult affair as there were few flowers that had been able to grow in the clay-filled, thick, soil that seemed to never truly thaw. It didn't help that most of the former servants and gardeners had been dismissed before Pelleas had come to the capitol. He had researched the matter and gotten some hardier varieties.
But now the courtyards and gardens, like Daein itself had been reborn. New growths had come on the behest of the young king. A few gardeners had been chosen, Tiny, delicate Snowdrops that were strong withstand even the coldest of winters, Yellow bushy Forsythia that were like bundles of pure sunshine, and his current favorite, the many colored Hydrangeas.
Micaiah bent down to smell one of the periwinkle blue clusters of blooms, the stem cradled in-between her fingers. Her hair fell in her face as she inclined her head, and she pushed it back into place.
"Those are called 'Endless Summer' Hydrangeas – and the lighter ones beside it, the white and pink ones, they're 'Blushing Bride' Hydrangeas. Lovely, aren't they?"
She sneezed and stepped back as a bee buzzed out from the petaled confines of the bloom.
"Oh, it didn't sting you did it?" Pelleas said, concern tinging his voice a tad bit higher than usual.
She shook her head. "No, it flew away."
"Ah, I'm um, glad. Very very glad," Pelleas said. He tried not to think of what he would do had she actually been stung. Panicked, likely.
Pelleas plucked – or attacked to pluck one of the flowers from the stem. The plant itself was quite a bit hardier and tougher than he thought, admirably so. It took several clumsy pulls to withdraw the cluster of blooms from the plant. It was almost Arthurian in its difficulty. For all the power he was exerting, he might as well pulled a sword rather than a bundle of Hydrangeas.
"Um, it's for you – A memento..." he said. In his mind this had gone so smoothly, a prize for a beautiful lady. But in action it had turned far more awkward and now the stem was rough and broken from the effort.
She accepted it with a smile. "Thank you, King Pelleas."
"Was there something you wanted to ask me?" she said, almost as if she knew the words that lay coiled on his tongue beneath his lips, stuck by his own inability to say them.
"Oh– No, no...it's just a very nice day. A very nice day for strolling."
"Yes, it is rather warm today," she said.
The sky above was so blue and clear that he couldn't help but stare up as if the heavens would suddenly give him the peace and calm to tell her things freely again. When he looked down she was staring at him, her expression thoughtful and composed.
"You're worried again," she said.
Though for once, he was glad that she hadn't read that she had been a large amount of that anxiety. Still Daein and its affairs were never far from his mind, even in the rare moments of her company that did not involve wars and reconstruction.
"It's a hard thing, being King. Nothing in my life prepared me for such a thing. Even if I try I can't help but think I've been nothing but a failure."
"You're learning," she said. "Your heart is in the right place. That's something that can't be taught. All the practice in the world won't help the king who doesn't care about his people."
"I suppose you're right... Thank you, Micaiah."
She touched his hand with hers and gave an affectionate, comforting squeeze. She wove her hand into his, her fingers and his intermeshed. And she didn't let go. The heat was startling and his pulse surged through his heart down
"Um, my palms sweat," Pelleas said apologetically.
She laughed. "I don't mind."
The sky looked so much brighter, so much more hopeful. With her hand in his, he could almost believe.
Pelleas had always yearned for love, the sort of all encompassing feeling to enfold around him and drive away the loneliness. He hadn't been choosy, he'd just wished for a family, a home, a place to call his own where the warmth was not borrowed and shared. He hadn't even dared to wish for a fabled end, the kind of daydreams of milkmaids who longed for their own prince and their own tale to live in.
Lately he'd thrown himself into reading The Enunciates, those collected dialogues of the ancient political figure Lehyrna and his dialogues of the goddess. The followers of his school of thought had been numerous and those philosophies lasted even to this day. Many translations had been made over the years from the ancient tongue, and no two translation could agree on the transliteration of Lehryna's name.
While they offered many insights to the world, many a moral quandary solved under this man's skillful tongue, both transient and tangible it failed to illuminate why he became this way. So helpless and yet so strong at the same time. Some history limned the portait of Lehryna's life: a life given to the service of the goddess and his nuanced, yet tragic love affair with the heroine Orutina. The details became sketchy in places, where time had surely destroyed an integral sector of the manuscripts, but Pelleas could still make out the gist of it.
The last included a slightly translated dirge attributed to Begionian bards circa 75 years after the great tragedy of the flood that had crashed over the world. A dirge of lost love and the fleetingness of humanity. It seemed even with all his knowledge and wisdom, Lehryna was still no closer to unraveling the mysteries of that unknown human emotion.
He was interrupted from his search by the high lilting sound of her voice.
"Are you searching for something?" she said.
"Oh, I– I wanted to research a certain aspect of um. Humanity."
"You've been in the library for hours," she said.
"It is a matter of some importance...." Pelleas said.
She titled her head ever so lightly. "A matter of state?"
"Something like that."
She smiled. "I'm sure you'll find it.."
Pelleas bit his lip. His heart pulsed around her, inexplicably, she was the moon and he was the waters under his gravitation. He felt warmer and more alive around her. Even the hopeless job of turning the sinking ship that was Daein seemed a possible feat with her by his side.
He closed the volume which had proven unhelpful for once. Maybe this wasn't a thing that could be found within the pages of a book. Maybe he'd just have to find out this pulse-racing dizzying emotion for himself.
And for once, with resolve and a shaky sort of bravery, he said the words as they were meant to come out, and not a inapt ersatz rendering of his feelings.
"I'm glad to have met you, Micaiah. I'm sure you'll find a way to lead us back to glory. You'll save us all."
And me he added silently.
.She placed her hand over his, and the same crazed feeling of giddy heat and happiness formed there at her touch. "We'll do it together, King Pelleas. We'll save all of Daein together."
1. Lehryna and Orutina should be obvious, but what might not be so obvious is that whoever translated those documents obscured Lehran's idenity as a laguz because it went against the doctrine of Daein that all laguz are horrible baby-eating monsters.