Notes: I'm tempted to rant and rave and apologise profusely for posting this, but...yeah. Not really helping. I'm having what some would call a crisis of confidence regarding my writing, so I'm posting even though I'm deeply embarrassed about the quality (or lack thereof), because I need to break this mental barrier. Feedback would be absolutely lovely, and constructive criticism very, very helpful.
Title is from a song of the same name by I Am Ghost. It's a gorgeous song, and I thought it fitted rather nicely.
If anyone's curious, this piece very much ties in with another story of mine called Rhyme and Reason. It's part of a series I'm sorta-kinda-maybe working on.
Is this what love is supposed to be? Vulnerability and fear?
The fairytales never mentioned this part. The prince was supposed to win his princess over and ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. The more Caspian learned about fairytales, the more he found himself scorning, even detesting them. Because he was living in a real-life fairytale, he knew, and yet nothing was happening the way it was supposed to.
The fairytales never mentioned the work that came after the battle was won. Economic turmoil and assassination attempts didn't fit very well into bedtime stories. The hero of the story wasn't supposed to be so distressed over the turn things had taken. He wasn't supposed to resent the powers that had brought him victory, nor was he supposed to have nightmares about the deceased villain long after his body was buried and his memory laid to rest. But Caspian did, and he couldn't seem to stop it. He knew he was doing it all wrong, the whole 'majesty' thing, but a part of him found it very difficult to care.
His real-life fairytale princess lay curled up at his side, her soft breath tickling his neck as she slept. He didn't know how exactly she'd gotten there, because he knew full well, and had known since he was very young, that he wasn't meant to be loved. Any day now, he knew, she could realise her mistake and leave. It was madness, sheer madness, to care this much about her. But he did. He adored her – how could he not? She was beautiful, she was wise, gentle and loving and good. And he…well, he was Caspian.
The princess' arsenal of lethal and terrifying virtues was always described with such tender, worshipping care in fairytales. The prince just did his job – he didn't need virtues. He only needed a sword, and a great white horse to ride in on when he saved the day. Caspian hadn't even gotten to that part when the whole fairytale was turned on its head, and that was the point where, in his heart, he gave up. He didn't have virtues, didn't even have a white horse – it was useless.
But she was still there.
She stirred, smiling sleepily as her eyes came to rest on him. "Good morning," she breathed, shifting closer to wrap an arm around his waist.
"My Lady." Maybe he didn't have to worry so much. She looked so happy. Did he really make her happy? Was that smile really for him?
"Have I overslept again?"
"Probably." He thought he loved her most at these times, when she was so sleepy and completely vulnerable. She trusted him not to hurt her as she lay prone by his side.
"Oh well. I love you."
With a jolt, he realised he'd done it again. Gone all pathetic and soft the way he always seemed to when she smiled like that. He couldn't keep letting himself do that; it would only draw her attention to the flaws he was trying desperately to hide from her even though he knew it was only a matter of time until she found him out. No you don't, he felt like snapping. Not really, she didn't. He knew it with perfect certainty. She only thought she loved him. Her wits were dulled by sleep and she didn't seem to notice how wrong this was. He was mad, absolutely mad.
"I love you too." That, at least, was the truth. "I'd better get up now. It's late."
As he rose, he kept his face carefully blank so she couldn't see the way her confusion and hurt feelings at his abrupt departure mirrored his own.