Title: A Meeting with a Playwright

Wordcount: 3,116

Rating: G

Pairing: Tania/Edric

Summary: Unable to decide whether to betray Gabriel or Tania, Edric laments his problem and finds help from the self-declared 'Master of Love.'

He sat on the side of the bridge and skipped a stone. The lake beneath him rippled as the stone hopped across the water. One, two, three, four, plop! Sighing, the boy on the bridge gazed mournfully at the sky, which was as blue as a turquoise gem. The beautiful day seemed to mock him. He picked another stone from the small pile on the bridge and threw it. One, two, three, four, five, plop!

"Skipping stones upon the pond certainly do me no favors," he muttered.

He blew his blonde bangs out of his eyes and skipped another stone, or tried to. The stone didn't skip. It plopped straight down into the crystal water. "Great. I've become so incompetent that I can't even skip a stone over a pond, and I am talking to myself. I must be mad."

"Ah, Master Edric Chanticleer, I do not think madness is your ailment."

Startled, the boy jumped and looked over his shoulder. A blonde-haired man strode toward him. Edric tried not to laugh at his flamboyant red clothing. The man came beside him and sat beside him on the bridge. "Are you not intending to greet me?"

Edric blinked a few times, his brown eyes filled with confusion. "Perhaps, I should begin anew," the man mused. "Master Chanticleer, I do not think madness is your ailment."

"Oh! Master Shakespeare…a pleasure. What brings you here?" Edric asked, indicating to the lovely forest before them.

"Better," the man replied, his blue eyes shining with amusement. "And Willy—remember? Ah, the name Shakespeare may sound so poetic, but I fear if you call me 'Master Shakespeare' this entire conversation, we may never discover your ailment."

"My ailment? I was just…skipping stones."

"Ah, and so you are. May I join you?"

Wordlessly, Edric passed him a stone. Willy threw it, and Edric counted the skips. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, plop! He smiled wryly. "The most mine ever skips is eight."

"Indeed? It skips and casts ripples upon the pond."

"So…what brings you to this fair forest?"

Willy chuckled. "Mine's not an idle cause. The private wound is the deepest, my dear boy."

Edric tilted his head to the side a little as he thought. "Did you write that?"

"Indeed I did, but I fear you are avoiding the subject at hand. That is, what is it that ails you? In poison there is physic."

"Nothing ails me. I am content as I am."

Willy clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "Perhaps, I should wager a guess. The course of true love never did run smooth."

Edric's eyes widened slightly. "Love? I fear you are mistaken. I am not in love…"

"Lying does not suit you. I would assume that you love the fair Princess Tania, with her hair of flames and eyes as green as emeralds with gold glitter flecked about. When she blushes, the most beautiful carnations blossom on her fair skin. 'Tis the same Tania who holds your heart, if truth be told. Is it not?"

Edric was speechless. "Flabbergasted?" asked Shakespeare as he stood. "Well, I cast no blame. Perhaps, if a certain boy loves a certain lady, he ought to make his love known."

"But…Lord Gabriel is…"

Willy's raised an eyebrow. "Oh, indeed? This, my dear boy, is why I take interest in your romance. It appears the beginning to a great play."

"A…play?"

"Indeed. Now I have many thing to do. Fare the well, Master Chanticleer."

As the playwright sauntered away, Edric called out to him, "Wait! May I ask something?"

Shakespeare looked over his shoulder and winked. "Certainly."

Edric smiled sadly and stood. "The play. Is it a tragedy?"

Willy wagged a finger in front of his face. "Ah, ah, ah. That's for you to decide, my dear boy."

The playwright then continued walking. Edric took a deep breath and stared at his reflection in the pond. Glancing up, he saw the princess Rathina walking along the water's edge. Letting out a sigh, he walked toward her. I have to try.