Thanks so much to all who reviewed! I missed you guys! You're the best! This story is kind of the femeslash I promised everyone and it does deal with prejudices. There is kind of a genocide at the end so this may have to go M...please tell me if you get deserved and I will make it M. I did not get to proof this as I just finished it and am rushing at the moment. The end may be rough but I will fix it later. Try to enjoy-CR.
For my friend
"Lucy! Lucy, sit here!" Jenna exclaimed, taking the taller girl by the hand and nearly pushing her down onto one of the unbelievably soft satin chairs in the Queen's sitting room. "I am so glad you decided to come, so very glad. You know, it does get awfully lonely here and I have no one with whom to spend time anymore. Beetle and Septimus have rather outgrown me, I suppose." Jenna attempted to keep her tone from growing sour but she did not entirely succeed as Lucy was certain she could detect more than a bit of Jenna's true feelings about her situation. Naturally, though, she did not press the issue. Frankly, she wasn't at all sure what to say to Jenna. She was beginning to wonder if she should have come at all.
Jenna seemed not to notice Lucy's discomfort. Her bright, entrancing eyes flashed with excitement as she sat down opposite Lucy. "So tell me, Lucy, how are the wedding plans? I can hardly wait to attend. It will give me something to look forward to."
Lucy suppressed a sigh. This was most definitely not the question she had wished to answer during her first few minutes with the Princess but Jenna seemed to genuinely want to know. Lucy shook her head and shrugged. "Simon says he's busy. Ain't got time for a wedding just now. I understand. I want him to do well, I do. He's my Simon and I want him happy."
Jenna looked thunderstruck. "You mean you still haven't got a date in mind? But Lucy it has been such a terribly long time since the pair of you became engaged to one another. I'm sure he is busy but who isn't? Aside from me….but this isn't about me, it is about you and Simon and he ought to marry you. You've waited long enough."
Lucy shrugged again and this time, said nothing. In fact, Lucy was silent for so long that Jenna felt she had to say something. "You don't think Simon has been looking around, do you?"
In spite of herself, Lucy's jaw dropped before she could prevent it from doing so. "What did you say?"
"Nothing." Jenna said briefly, "I shouldn't have said anything at all. I don't know for certain. All I know is that, as a boy, Simon had a bit of a wandering eye and I wonder if perhaps you are suffering because of that. Is there someone else, Lucy? Have you had to share Simon before? Does he tell you that you are lucky to have him and that you ought to be polite to him at all times? Does he say-"
Lucy froze in shock, unable to believe what was escaping the Princess's exquisite, pouty lips. It took her a second to recognize that there was some part of her that was insulted by what Jenna had just assumed. What did this upstart girl know about her personal life? What could she pretend to know? Lucy felt prepared to leave at once, when Jenna said something that made her cease all movement.
"Don't, Lucy. I'm not talking about you. If Simon has treated you that way, then I am truly sorry, but I had no idea. I am talking about manner in which Septimus treated me."
In spite of the fact that Lucy had never had any doubt that Jenna had been involved with Septimus, she gasped. This confirmation of it was far more than she had ever expected to get from the proud princess. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked almost inaudibly. "Surely your highness knows that this is information that doesn't concern someone like myself."
Jenna laughed, a cold bitter sound that seemed to penetrate the air around them and make the room vastly colder than it had been moments before. "Lucy, do not attempt to humor me. Everyone knew about me and Septimus. The foolish citizens of this city may act as if they did not because they cannot bare to think of the heir to the Throne as anything less than a pure, innocent young lady, but no one could deny that we were close and the dirty minded gossips need something to talk about. In this one instance, they were correct. So stop looking so surprised! I know you knew and I am not ashamed of what I did. I loved him. He may no longer have time for me, but that is his misfortune. I loved him and lost nothing in the process."
Lucy might have believed this bold statement had Jenna's pale cheeks not rapidly turned bright crimson, which, of course, did nothing but contradict her words. Lucy shook her head in astonishment. Princess Jenna's embarrassment was palpable and Lucy felt the sudden, unexpected urge to comfort her. She had wasted her time and-she no longer doubted-her innocence on a romance that she had surely known was doomed from the start. Certainly Jenna had known that there would be no hope for the Queen to embark upon a relationship with her adoptive brother, especially considering the fact that he was quite likely to inherit the position of ExtraOrdinary Wizard in just a few years time and, consequently, would be too busy with his newfound duties to carry on a committed relationship with anyone. The people of the Castle would doubtlessly consider any kind of romance between Septimus and Jenna to be impractical, incestuous, or both. And yet, somehow this girl had thrown herself into it willingly, knowing perfectly well what results would come of it. Lucy was more intrigued than ever before. Why had she done it? What had she hoped to achieve?
As though she had read Lucy's perplexed mind, Jenna settled herself down onto a long, velvet sofa across from her guest and said, "I will be Queen. I thought this would give me the authority to love whomever I wanted. No one can question me. They can question mad Marcia all day long if it pleases them. She is temporary and replaceable. I, however, am something they need, an integral part of this culture, this Castle's most important and celebrated figure. These citizens are my people and I suspected they would want me to be happy. After all, it isn't as though Septimus and I are truly related and we were not brought up alongside one another. We never laid eyes upon each other until our tenth birthdays….." Jenna's voice trailed off. It occurred to Lucy that she had been leaning toward the younger girl, as though afraid that, if she didn't move close enough toward her, she might not catch every word of this queer and fascinating confession. She was now near enough to inhale Jenna's scent, a scent which reminded her vaguely of the jasmine flowers which had once bloomed along the fence near the Gatehouse. For some reason even she herself did not understand, Lucy involuntarily shivered.
"Septimus told me he loved me, that he didn't care about our positions in life and I trusted him. What reason did I have not to? He has never les me astray before. I was a little fool, Lucy. Don't allow Simon to make a fool of you. Innocence is easily taken for granted until it is gone. "
Lucy was shocked. She was now no more than a few inches from the alluring beauty before her. Jenna's intense, haunting violet eyes locked fast onto hers and remained this way for what could have been hours or seconds before finally extending a small ivory hand comparable to that of an elegant porcelain doll for Lucy to take. Lucy was, for some irrational reason, suddenly petrified. What had happened to the whiney child she had always taken Jenna for? Who was this bitter, mature young woman before her now? Who was this creature with her powerful gaze and commanding presence? Lucy felt quite overwhelmed and it took Jenna's playful tone to remind her that this was still the Princess she had known in the past after all. "Come on, Lucy, I won't bite." Still somewhat unsure, Lucy accepted the hand before her, experiencing the sensation of dainty fingers brushing against her own as she did so.
Once she had a firm hold of Lucy's hand, Jenna smiled, a beguiling smile that set Lucy's skin tingling. She was beginning to wonder if Jenna's new status as a witch had resulted in her gaining this new ability to charm others so easily. Lucy was still resisting the urge to be drawn into what she viewed as Jenna's trap but it was becoming more and more difficult with every passing second. Jenna ended the intense silence that had fallen between the pair by saying, "I am alone in the Palace now. It is very queer, to be alone so much of the time. In some ways, it is liberating to have such freedom at last but, in more ways, it is incredibly dull." Jenna sighed, somewhat dramatically it seemed to Lucy, and continued, "I've no one but ghosts to keep me company."
Lucy was at once confused. Hadn't their been immense celebration at the start of the summer that year to welcome Milo Banda, the princess's biological father, back to the Castle? Milo had arrived and made a pompous speech at the banquet that Simon had insisted she attend about how he was ready to at least spend a few months "with my darling child." Given that speech, surely he was in the Palace this summer. Jenna couldn't truly be alone.
"But your majesty-" Lucy started.
The dark haired beauty shook her head in dismay. "Please do call me Jenna! How many times must I request it?" But her voice was playful, her eyes sparkling.
Despite her best efforts to the contrary, Lucy blushed. "I shall try to remember. But…but Jenna, did your father not come for a visit this summer? Do you not pass your days with him? That must certainly be better than spending them alone. After all, it has been so long since you-or any of us really-have seen him."
At this, Lucy was caught entirely off guard by the unexpected sound of Jenna's laughter. It was piercing and unpleasant and consequently, almost painful in its effect. Lucy had to object to the sudden, childish urge to cover her ears in disgust. Jenna's laugh was horrible but her eyes were still sparkling, still smiling in that curious way that they did. "Oh Lucy, you poor foolish girl. I thought surely you would know that my father did not come to see him. Had he, he would have moved back to the Palace quite some time ago. I have been here for many years. If it was me he desired to see, he could have had me a very long time ago. No, it was the banquet last year, at the end of the darke domaine that has brought my father back for an extended period of time. "
Lucy raked her brain, attempting to recall why the banquet Jenna has hosted for MidWinter Feast day would have been of any importance to Milo Banda whatsoever. He had, Lucy remembered at once, already missed his child's birthday. Yes, Jenna was correct. If Milo had truly cared for Jenna in the way that a father ought to, he would never have abandoned her for so many years. He would have returned to the Castle to support her and remained there until Jenna was old enough to accept the Throne. Instead, he had only come to visit her on occasions and frequently missed her birthday. Lucy found herself all at once irrationally angry at Milo Banda. She recalled with perfect clarity what a fool the man was, how he always said the wrong things and didn't seem to notice or care, how he flirted shamelessly at women and expected them to immediately reciprocate with favors. She was quickly reminded of her final night on the Isles of Syren, when Milo had informed her that he had been "aching" for her since he had first laid eyes upon her. Disgusted was not truly a strong enough word the emotion Milo had inspired in her when he had made this confession. Lucy had not been slow to inform him that she had, in Simon, found a far better man than Milo "could ever be" and that he would have to find someone else to take to the sand dunes with him. Lucy had no doubt that he had done so. She shivered. How had the beautiful Queen Cerys ever chosen him? Had she truly been so blind to his character? He had, according to Gringe anyway, constantly left Cerys behind in order to continue traveling the world during the years in which they had been married and Lucy possessed now doubt that he had encountered more than a few women during his time away from her. And now, he was doing the very same thing to Jenna, his lovely daughter. Who could refuse this girl anything? Milo had succeeded where nearly everyone else had failed and he should have been the one person who would have to fail by default. He was Jenna's father, he was meant to love her best of all. Lucy felt grief for the younger woman almost overcome her and at last she spoke, "Why has he come back then? What is that bastard here for?"
"What is he ever anywhere for?" Jenna retorted. "He has found a skirt he fancies."
Lucy shuddered. "Who? Why, we ought to burn her home with her inside it!" Some piece of Lucy recognized how absurd her words were but she could not really think straight any longer. Milo had harmed Jenna and for that, he ought to be harmed.
Jenna smirked. "I admired your spirit, of course, Lucy. In fact, I always have. But it would do no good to burn down the Wizard Tower, as much as I despise its leader and much of what it stands for. I imagine that the people of the Castle would no longer have any kind of allegiance to me if I destroyed such a valued area."
Not for the last time, Jenna's words caused Lucy to gasp in surprise. "The Wizard Tower? My Simon works there now! I swear to you, Jenna, he's gettin' fixated on that…" Lucy trailed off, realizing at once that she had said more than she had intended. But it was too late. The sparkle in Jenna's eyes immediately faded and was replaced by an unsettling, angry gleam that caused Lucy to regret following Jenna into the Palace anew.
"Is Simon interested in her too?" Jenna demanded, clinching Lucy's hand so tightly in hers that the older girl came very close to crying out. "Tell me, Lucy, is he?"
Lucy attempted to pull away but Jenna had surprising strength for someone her size and she held her fast. Lucy was forced to reply, "I don't know what you're talking about, Jenna, let me go!"
"Yes, you do!" Jenna wailed, "Marcia's a bloody whore! I don't understand what people see in her and yet my father goes to visit her as often as she will permit. He never spends time with me. Why would he do that when he can go get in between her legs?" Lucy had not expected such vulgarity to escape Jenna's pretty pink lips. "You can't let her take Simon from you. She feigns innocence but she's the biggest tart of us all. Septimus told me she constantly ensnares men and now she has done that to my father. You should hear him talk about her, Lucy. You should see her and spend time with her! She's all high heels, big hair, big tits, and no brains!" At this, Jenna seemed near to hysteria and she burst shamelessly into tears. "Oh Lucy," she moaned, "all of these years he wouldn't come to see me and all she has to do is invite him upstairs and he's here for six months. I don't understand it, I don't."
Lucy gritted her teeth in anger all over again. How dare Milo do this to his own child? He didn't deserve to be a father at all. And to think that she and Jenna knew the same pain! Marcia was torturing both of them in different ways! That lascivious mage had not only captured the heart of her Simon, she was making Jenna suffer as well. It seemed that she and the princess had more in common than she had previously believed possible. "Where is Milo today?" she demanded passionately.
Something in Jenna's expression changed, though it happened so rapidly that Lucy was left wondering if she had imagined it altogether. "He is there. With her. That's where he always is this hour of the afternoon-whenever she ahs time for him of course." The bitter edge in Jenna's tone was more than Lucy could bear. That tone conveyed exactly what Lucy was feeling inside. That bitterness was the same sensation she experienced deep within herself whenever Simon so much as mentioned Marcia. "And does he walk all the way to the Wizard Tower? To be frank, I doubted if your father would walk anywhere. Someone like him wouldn't want to walk with the common folk. I'm surprised he hasn't got a carriage or something of the like."
"You're rather more observant than I thought, Lucy. He does have a carriage, a big one in fact. But what about it?"
Lucy found herself pleased that Jenna was now asking her questions, that she valued what she had to say. "Why don't you take me to the Tower, Jenna? I want to see this damn carriage for myself." There was a devious note in Lucy's voice that made Jenna grin broadly and Lucy wondered why she had never in the past noticed how breathtaking that smile was. Of course, it was all the more breathtaking now that it was directed at her.
Jenna was excited. "Have you got a plan?" she asked breathlessly.
Lucy shook her head. "Not a plan, I'm afraid. More of an idea."
Jenna seemed to think that an idea was better than nothing at all. She squeezed Lucy's hand again and whispered, "Then what are we waiting for?"
Sometime later, Lucy and Jenna were standing together outside of the Wizard Tower. Just a few feet away was what Lucy rightfully took to be Milo Banda's carriage. It was an extravagant thing, covered in gold and gems from all over the world. Lucy was repulsed by it. It was undeniably beautiful but it showed the true color of his character, the true depth of his selfishness, and Lucy hated it. "That garish monstrosity is it, ain't it?" Lucy muttered.
Jenna nodded. She seemed a little overcome. "He's in there now. Oh Lucy, he's in there now doing her. They probably do it on the floor like animals. Oh the horror of it!"
Lucy's anger had at last reached a boiling point. Her observant blue eyes had just caught sight of a quirky set of garden fairies outside of the Wizard Tower Courtyard. Garden fairies were beautiful statues covered in stain glass. They were celebrated items and usually only owned by the wealthiest of Wizards. Lucy was not surprised to see them outside of the Wizard Tower. She didn't come to the Tower much and her perception was that it was a bizarre, unpleasant place. Needless to say, she regarded the garden fairies with as much disdain as the Tower itself. The fairies seemed to be taunting her, "We see Simon more than you do! We know what he does when you can't see him! He doesn't love you, Lucy Gringe! He doesn't love you!" Fury erupted at last within Lucy's body and she released a shriek of dismay. With the speed of a pouncing cat, she lunged forward and, before Jenna could prevent her from doing so, grabbed onto a Garden Fairy and thrust it at Milo's expensive carriage. The fairy seemed to fly through the air for an eternity before it collided with the window and a horrible crash resounded through the entire Courtyard. The fairy soared through both of Milo's windows, ruining both in the process, and landed with a smash on the opposite side of the carriage where it too became nothing more than a pile of rubble. There was stunned silence for a moment before Jenna burst into a fit of laughter that seemed to echo across the entire Courtyard. "That was rich, Lucy!" she cried. She did, in fact, laugh so very much that tears sprang to her eyes. "Look, I've got an idea too." With that, she stepped toward the two remaining Garden Fairies. One of them was a tiny man with a large beard and the other was a slender somewhat slender woman with thick, pitch black hair. Jenna's hysterical laughter reached an even greater pitch and, not for the last time, Lucy was left wondering why.
Jenna grabbed the female fairy and roughly placed her onto her back and once this was finished, she thrust the male fairy on top of her. Lucy was slightly confused. "Are they familiar?" Jenna asked, the sparkle in her eyes had returned. And all at once, they were and Lucy found herself cackling alongside the Princess.
"You are brilliant!" Lucy cried, "It is them! It's them! Leave it by the carriage! Show 'em we know what they're doing!"
Jenna obeyed but no sooner had she placed her fairies besides Milo's spoiled carriage when the pair of a girls heard a voice cry, "Hey! Who goes there?"
Jenna recognized the voice of Hildegarde Pigeon, sub Wizard at the Tower, and she didn't wait about to hear more, not just now. She grabbed Lucy's hand in hers and together they tore off down Wizard Way, heedless of who noticed them as they passed. As she ran, a thrill of excitement filled Lucy. She was running! She was free! Free! Free! Free at last! She was no longer alone.
Rose, ex Sick Bay apprentice, was having a much less thrilling afternoon. She had just succeeded in clearing her desk so that Marcellus's pompous apprentice, Iris, could move in the next day. Now, she was unemployed and had few prospects for herself. Her sweetheart, Bo Tenderfoot, had been with her in her room in the Ramblings for the last hour or so, doing her best to support her but not even Bo could cheer Rose this afternoon. "I just don't get it, Bo." Rose was saying, "I always did my work. Madam Marcia did nothing but compliment me and she never gave anyone compliments as far as I can remember. There is no way she would have allowed Marcellus to take charge of the Sick Bay. She hated him. I just want to know what is going on. Is that too much to ask?"
Bo sat down beside Rose companionably and pulled her into her arms. Rose did not object. Bo's embrace was warm, her scent comforting. Bo loved her, she loved her in a way that no one ever had and just being near her made her feel as though her horrid predicament would improve. Bo pulled Rose in for a deeper kiss and she did not object. "Bo…."she whispered, "I just don't know what to do. I want my job back. I'm going to get it back."
"I know you are, babe." Bo said reassuringly, "I'll do anything in my power to help you do that, if I have to talk to Marcia Overstrand myself. We're going to find out why this happened. Don't worry."
Rose began at last, to relax. She permitted a tear of frustration to slide down her cheek and Bo learned forward to kiss it away. This gesture seemed to Rose so unbearably sweet that she couldn't resist gracing Bo's pert lips with yet another kiss, a kiss which the other girl accepted hungrily. Rose couldn't hold back any longer. She wanted to lose herself in a brief moment of complete happiness with Bo. She wanted to forget the stresses of the world, if only for a moment. Bo was the person she trusted most in the world, they one person who gave her energy rather than drained it.
Clothing was tossed aside in a passionate and yet leisurely manner, as though each was trying to soak in every part of the other's form and figure. Rose no longer felt as much hesitation about this. All of her life she had been taught not to have relations with anyone until marriage. It was what the classiest women in the Castle were expected to do-wait and save oneself. Rose remembered how Septimus had had no regard for that fact while they had been together, how he had urged her to give herself to him. Every time, though, she had refused. She had truly loved Septimus, perhaps even adored him, but he had been unable to comfort her in the way that Bo did and poor Bo had loved her for so long. Surely, Rose thought, there will be no relationship more rewarding than a relationship with someone who treats me like a Queen. It was true that Rose had always preferred men but Bo's adoration had been hard to ignore. She was unique, she was lovely, she was hers and Rose had no qualms about giving her the pleasure she deserved.
Rose's opinion was quite a popular one in the Castle. Most of the young people had developed the opinion that waiting until the day of marriage was an old fashioned tradition which no longer made any sense in practice. It was a thing of arranged marriages, not of romances filled with passion. Clearly, Septimus Heap too had felt no impulse to maintain his chastity until a possible future marriage but, had you seen him on this particular afternoon when he encountered Rose and Bo, you would have believed otherwise.
One unfortunate fact that Rose had long since forgotten was that Septimus still possessed a key to her flat in the Ramblings. Their break up had been sudden and cold and as a result, Rose had done her best to forget Septimus altogether, including the things that they had shared. Septimus too, had been hurt, perhaps more so, and therefore it had been months since they had last exchanged even a few words. So when Septimus Heap turned the key in the lock, both Rose and Bo were completely unprepared.
Septimus was unable to contain his excitement. "Rose!" he cried, "You won't believe who I've found!" Septimus had come to Rose's room with the intention of patching matters up with her. Lately, he had found himself unable to stop thinking of her. Although he had paid attention to Syrah Syara, she had continued to reject his advances and he had grown bored. He had begun to miss Rose and recall vividly all that had charmed him about her. He still struggled to believe that Rose had actually ended their relationship and he decided that tonight was a good night to attempt to rekindle things. He did, after all, have a story to share with her. "I've found Merrin Meredith!" he announced, "Look! I've got him here! He was walking around the Port causing trouble and I've brought him back here. Help me get him back to the…" Septimus stopped. His eyes had finally adjusted to the darkness enough for him to see Rose and Bo, still locked in what had been a passionate embrace. Their clothes were scattered throughout the room and neither seemed capable of uttering a word. Merrin, who was standing beside Septimus, lost in his iron grip, seemed at a loss for words. Septimus has transported him to this tiny room in the Castle against his will after stumbling across him in the Port. Merrin had been furious. He had done nothing wrong and yet Septimus had taken him back to the Castle anyway just to ridicule him and, naturally, no one would believe him when he claimed he was not at fault. Why should they? Perhaps Marcia Overstrand would have him locked in a prison at last and for doing nothing! His luck, never good, was finally reaching its lowest point. Merrin had been beginning to think that he would never turn his life around. No matter what he tried, it would never work and it was too late, when he saw Rose. For a second, their eyes made contact. She was, he knew at once, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He did his best to look only at her face and not at her naked body, though he presumed it would be a work of art. Suddenly, he found himself dripping with envy for the slight, butch looking girl beside her. He wanted to be there with this gorgeous girl, gazing into her kind eyes. He wondered if she was married to the other girl. She must have been. Why else would they have been having such relations? Or perhaps….perhaps she was more daring than she seemed. The thought intrigued him more than he liked to admit. He quickly stared at his boots, willing his cheeks to stop turning red. After a moment, he gave up. He felt that he just had to look into her angelic face one more time. When he did, he saw, to his utter amazement, that a similar blush painted her cheeks as well, though Merrin was sure that that was because of Septimus's rude behavior.
"You dyke!" Septimus swore, "You nasty dyke! This isn't going to be accepted much longer, you little slut! Our bodies are made a certain way for a reason. What you are doing with her isn't real at all! To think that you gave up what we had to go and be a little dyke!" Septimus was nearly roaring, "Just you wait. When I am ExtraOrdinary, there will be no more dykes. I can't believe you would submit to this kind of behavior, Rose! You of all people. It would be bad enough with another man before your marriage but this! You disgusting whore! I will make you see the proper way, if it is the last thing I do. Two of the same gender cannot and should not be lovers. Under my watch, they never will be." With that, Septimus grabbed Merrin, twisting his arm in the process, and transported himself out of the room, leaving Rose and Bo behind to contemplate what had occurred.