A/N: I know a lot of you have been waiting for this chapter and I sincerely apologize for the wait. To be honest, it's been very hard recently for me to write this kind of genre recently. Things go off and on, and I have good and bad days. But at this point I just need to get this story done, because I know there's a lot of you who are eager to know what happens. I can't guarantee fast updating, but please enjoy what's here so far. :)
The Forbidden Kiss
Emil had clutched Marta's hand in his and began to press forward and a thrill of butterflies passed through Marta's stomach. Even though Marta knew that they had not even gone passed the castle walls, she had already felt an openness. The wind was brushing against her cheeks and whistling through her hair. The chill that shivered down her spine was somehow exhilarating rather than uncomfortable. Already a twinge of excitement began to overtake her spirit. She listened to her own breath that seemed to harmonize with Emil's as they hurriedly traveled farther away from the castle. Marta wanted to take the handkerchief off that instant. She had never been this far away from the castle before. When she had asked Emil about taking the handkerchief off just a little bit early, he had immediately turned her down.
"I thought they were supposed to teach you patience as a princess." He teased.
Marta giggled. She was relieved, and somewhat surprised, to find that Emil had slight traces of a sense of humor. He seemed so timid before, but now he seemed slightly more confident.
As they traveled farther and farther, Marta could hear the wind not only whistling around her ears, but it spoke as a faint echo off in the distance. It was the world's whisper. The symphonies of crickets resonated in the air and the faint sound of running water. Marta had only heard the sound of running water through the bath facet and fountains—she couldn't imagine what would make such a sound out here. Emil slowly came to a stop, and Marta's stomach lurched with excitement. She bit her lip to hold back from grinning too broadly. Gently Emil's hands reached behind her head and undid the knot that held Marta's blindness, but he did not remove the handkerchief just yet.
Marta nodded eagerly, holding her hands close to her chest, feeling her heart fluttering. Slowly the handkerchief slipped off of her face, but her eyes were still closed. There was a pause, and when Marta opened her eyes, all the breath in her lungs suddenly left in a gasp.
It was a meadow just on the edge of a forest with a babbling stream running through it, sustaining its life. There was grass everywhere—and it felt so soft under Marta's feet, like her father's fingers tickling her toes when she was a little girl. The wind greeted her once more as it swept through her hair, blowing it around her face. She turned toward Emil, tears streaming down her face. She flung her arms around him, but no words of gratitude could pass her lips, but Emil could feel every ounce of her joy radiating from her.
"I didn't know noblewomen were allowed to cry in front of young men." Emil teased yet again.
Marta giggled and squeezed him one last time before she flung herself away from him and began to run along the grass, spreading her arms. The wind rushed against her face even more now, and a gust came so hard that she lost her balance and fell down. She shrieked with laughter and she heard Emil rush to her.
"Are you all right?" His voice was half painted with giggles.
"Yeah!" Marta rolled over laughing.
At that moment, the only thing that seemed to exist in the world was her and Emil in this beautiful meadow. Her status and blood were so insignificant. It was as if she had woke from a dream and became conscious to her true life—far from the castle that held her in with stone walls. She heard a rustle next to her, rolled over on her back, and looked to her side. Emil had fallen with her. He had met her gaze and smiled before turning to the sky above them. Marta did the same and was immediately put in awe from the stars that sprinkled the sky.
At that moment a shooting star flew across the sky and Marta gasped with excitement. "Emil, what is that?"
"You mean you don't know what a shooting star is?" Emil sounded rather surprised, "When you see one, you're supposed to close your eyes and make a wish."
The very next moment, Emil could see Marta squeezing her eyes shut and holding her clasped hands close to her chest. He smiled. So this was Marta's true nature—a child at heart. When she opened her eyes, she looked at him and smiled. His bright green eyes were so beautiful in the moonlight, like a forest standing at the side of the sea.
"Thank you for bringing me out here."
"You're welcome." Emil said softly.
For a moment, they listened to the night's song a little while. Marta could hear her heavy, yet steady breathing as her heart fluttered around in her chest. At that moment, she never was more conscious of being alive than at any other time in her life. Marta breathed in deeply, inhaling the cool air and exhaled with a sound of satisfaction. She turned her head over on it's side to face Emil. His eyes were closed, but a slight smile was on his face. Within him, there was a voice that only he could hear,
"This is why you should listen to me more often."
Emil didn't feel like arguing with the voice at the moment, however. He was in a moment of bliss that reflected on his countenance. He was less afraid now—less unsure. And he loved this feeling that seemed to sweep over him like the wind that ran along the grass. Was it perhaps because Marta was there next to him? He heard a gentle, soft voice next to him.
"Will you promise me something?"
"Anything you ask for."
"I know this might be a selfish request on my part..." Marta began, a little hesitant, "but will you stay by my side?
"If it makes you feel as happy as you are now, then I always will." Emil could hardly believe that the words that were coming out of his mouth, and even how easy they came.
"I'll always be happy with you near. Because when I'm with you, I'm sure I can always see the stars beyond the castle walls in your eyes. And when I see the stars, I can be my true self."
A flush of red flew across Emil's face. His eyes flew away from Marta as his throat began to grow tight, but a slight thrill of excitement. He moved his hand slowly—almost without him knowing—gradually inching toward Marta's own hand. His cold fingers touched the back of her porcelain-like hand.
Marta's eyes slightly widened at that moment and even though Emil's hand was quite cold, she had never felt such a warmth ever before. In faint disbelief she was frozen for a little while, but then gradually embraced the moment with joyful yet subtle eagerness and flipped her hand over, so that her fingers could entwine with his. She met his gaze again, and grins were across both their faces. They didn't speak—they didn't need to. All their words came from their eyes at that moment. It felt as if an eternity had been passing by as they continued to gaze at the stars, hand in hand.
"So what did you wish for?"
"When you saw that falling star—what did you wish for?"
Marta giggled, "It's my secret."
Emil laughed for a moment, but a loud rustling in the bushes afar shushed him. It was far too forceful for the soft wind to have brushed through it. He wondered if an animal were capable of giving him such a sick feeling. He sat up, shaking and dreadfully frightened.
"Emil? What's wrong?" Marta asked as she felt his grip tighten.
Then suddenly out of the darkness came two blades of light that were crossed, charging forward across the grass toward Emil and Marta. A scream escaped both of their lips at that moment. Just in time, however, Emil clutched to Marta and jumped out of the blades' path. Emil stayed over Marta's body when it passed and even a little after. Finally lifting himself off of her, he turned toward the darkness and saw a figure coming forth from the shadows.
It was a man far taller than he, with long red hair and a pair of glasses sitting on his long nose, shielding pale, green eyes. His clothes were somewhat tattered, as if he had been traveling a long distance. In both hands he carried some kind of blade. In the right hand, he carried a long, grotesque-looking sword and in the left, a sort of small ax that seemed like it could cut through anything. To Emil's horror, he found familiarity in this man, for he had been attacked by him earlier.
"Who is that?" Marta asked exasperated.
"Did you really think that running from me once was enough to get me off your back?" The man's voice was booming, and a threatening authority was painted over its tone, giving it a frightening timbre.
Emil began to stutter and tremble even more. And before he could speak, another attack of crossed blades came flying at him and Marta. Emil barely managed to escape once again, still clutching Marta close to him. After the attack had passed them, Emil clutched Marta's hand tighter yet, and began to dash away as fast as his legs would carry him with Marta quickly following him at his side. Both their breathing was frantic and frightened.
Suddenly a sharp sting of pain came across Emil's back and crying out he fell to the moist grass.
"Emil!!" Marta shrieked and immediately fell to her knees
Emil flipped over on his back, tears in his eyes. He looked to Marta and then over to the man that steadily approached him. The frightening glow of his eyes pierced Emil's soul as he raised his sword to pierce Emil's heart. Marta flung her arms around Emil's neck, gasps escaping her throat.
"No, Marta... run... please..." Emil begged.
"I can't leave you!"
"I know you're there..." The man intruded, "Ratatosk!"
To Marta, the flesh that she gripped somehow became different... almost as if she held a different person. Slowly Emil began to raise his body from the ground. Marta's hands slipped back to her sides as she gazed upon Emil's face. The bright, green eyes that she knew so well were now painted with a bloody crimson. Emil stretched his hand out and bits of light formed in the air and began to crash against each other. From that dark light, a sword had materialized in his hand, that he now gripped with utmost confidence.
"Well?" Emil began, his voice far deeper than what it was before, "Here I am!"
He had swung his sword to banish the blade that threatened him and Marta away from them. Emil stood up and once again clashed blades with the man before him, until a storm of colliding metal began to ring throughout the night air. It was as if, all of a sudden, Emil had became a master of the sword. Marta dared not move from where she sat... feeling that if she moved, somehow the man Emil fought would notice her and strike her down. That fear became alleviated, though when Emil had pierced the blade he wielded into the red-haired man's shoulder. He cried out in terrible pain and dropped the sword he held in his right hand to clutch the deep wound. He fell to his knees, arched over in pain.
The sword in Emil's hand disappeared suddenly as he began to run toward Marta. He quickly grasped her hand and they began to fly away once more. Unlike on their way to their once peaceful haven, Marta's eyes were wide open and trails of sweat were trickling down the sides of her face, and the hair that wasn't flying behind her stuck to her neck.
It seemed like hours had passed when they reached the castle. Emil, whose eyes were still glazed with red, put a finger to his lips to remind her of silence, even though they were both panicked and frightened. They crouched and quickly ran around the trees and beds of flowers until they reached the tower where Marta's bedroom window remained. Emil bent over, as he held his arms back for Marta to climb onto. She did this and he quickly, yet carefully climbed up the ladder. At last, and to their great relief, they made it to Marta's bedroom. And when they were both on their feet, Marta flung herself onto Emil and held him tightly. Hesitantly, his own arms wrapped around her as well.
"Who was that man?" Marta's voice was muffled as she spoke into Emil's chest, trembling.
Emil paused for a moment, "His name is Richter... he's been chasing me for a while now. But don't worry—we're both safe here with the castle guards patrolling night and day."
Marta's muscles gradually relaxed and her breathing more steady. She plunged herself into a moment of reflection. She then lifted her face so that she gazed up at Emil, staring into his strange eyes.
"Is your name... Ratatosk?"
Emil—or rather, Ratatosk—stared down at her for a moment, not saying anything at all. But when he did speak, his voice penetrated the silence like a blade, "Yes."
"So you're not Emil?"
"In a sense... but at the same time, we are the same." He moved his arms from Marta's back to her shoulders, "Yet we still have our own thoughts, our own minds... our own emotions."
Marta began to feel herself backing up—farther and farther back, and all the while, the other Emil spoke to her with a strange voice.
"He may have taken your first date..." Marta felt her back suddenly touch the coldness of the stone wall, and Ratatosk moved one of his hands to the wall beside her face, "but..."
And the last thing Marta saw were those crimson, red eyes coming closer toward her. The air between their lips gradually reduced to nothing, and Marta felt a velvety softness rubbing against her lips. Though her arms remained at her sides out of sheer shock, Ratatosk moved his both his hands to her shoulders again and slid them down her sides until they were once more on her back. He pulled her in close to him so the air between their bodies had also vanished. Marta managed to lift her hands to his cheeks, her fingers trailing to the back of his head and tangling her fingers in his hair.
Her first kiss...