My Last Night Here with You

Aerika S.

I should feel guilty. I should be lost in mournful contemplation of the enormity of my act. I should be terrified that what I have done here tonight will be discovered by those who would not understand and have no right to judge. I should be thinking of excuses for the blood that darkens the discarded bed sheet but will not stain those of the Duke's on our wedding night. I should.

The genteel princess I have spent all my life training to be would do all those things, maybe even wring her hands as counterfeit tears streamed down porcelain cheeks to complete the scene. But Princess Marlene isn't here tonight. She'll board a leviship tomorrow with the man who will be her husband and live the life she was born to live in a country far away from all the people who gave her previous life meaning. It's a big day for her -- and an important one for her country -- so I'll let the Princess rest until then and simply be Marlene.

I'm wrong, I know. Princess Marlene would not have to do a thing because she never would have let herself have this. She wouldn't have grabbed your arm as you went out the door. She wouldn't have pleaded with you to stay with desperate kisses and whispers of love. She would not have tangled her hand in your hair while the other worked at the buckles of your Caeli uniform. She would not be here beside you, lying on her side so that she may watch the rise and fall of your chest while lazily tracing with her fingers the lines of a face whose beauty makes me ache.

I'm ashamed to admit that was what first attracted me to you. I know from painful experience what it means to have everyone look at you as if you're nothing more than a piece of fine art. Your value is in the form of your body and the brilliance of your eyes. What you do with that body and the intelligence that illuminates those eyes are inconsequential. To hate that in others and yet do the same to you…

You'd forgive me, wouldn't you? You would know that from such a facile beginning, my feelings for you have grown so much more profound. Though our time together has been brief, you have known me with greater depth than anyone else.

You understand me because we're the same, you and I. You keep your pain beneath your handsome façade and the proud manner of a knight. You try to hide it from me, to protect me from the smallest trace of unhappiness, but I've seen it. The way you clench your fist or furrow your brow at any reference to your family, the gentle laughter that never blossoms into true high spirits. More than once, I've caught you gazing out to the fields, looking for a sign of the sister that so horridly disappeared amongst their flowers. You always dismissed my concerns with sweet flattery, but you cannot fool a fellow magician. I've been casting illusions since I was child.

I never had to with you. I was shy around you during your early days as my guard, but I did not feel the need for the 'sir knight' formalities and prim disposition that is expected of my position. Around others, I was constantly mindful of my regalia and posture and holding my breath and tongue. Around you, I can release and breathe. I can speak my heart.

I remember asking the handmaidens about you after I saw you in that tournament. They giggled and told me they knew of you but that my sister would know more. I didn't find it humorous that Eries would have befriended you, only unusual and…intriguing. Eries is so good at giving often piercing insights to those she knows, but never lets herself be on the receiving end of any kind of analysis. I thought there must be something very special about you indeed for her to let you in.

'Special'. What a trivial word. It does not even touch upon what you are and what you make me feel. About you, about myself. Truthfully, I never meant to fall in love with you. I did want something more than friendship -- a man to tell me that he cared about me and mean it, a man to flirt with without every word carrying political implications. I supposed I wanted to find my freedom in you. I wanted to be a woman with a man, not a princess with a suitor picked by my father. Life has taught me to keep my expectations low, so when I found all that I dreamed of and more with you, how could I help but give myself you?

You moan softly in your sleep. It's a peaceful, contented moan. Are you thinking of me? Of what we have shared? The heat of our love, of skin against skin as we surrendered ourselves. I could watch you sleep until morning. This is our last night. You will never cradle me in your arms again. I will never be able to call you 'lover' again. Perhaps I will stay up the whole night through. To take comfort in your presence and to make this last for as long as I can.

I thought briefly, wildly of running away. You have your own leviship and wealth from your family estate. In theory, we could go anywhere on Gaea. All we would have to leave behind would be our duty and honor, the two things that mean almost as much to us as we do each other. The Duke would be insulted at the least. There have been wars for lesser offenses. I cannot do that to my country. Father would be furious. He would hunt as with the might of his fleet and an obsessive determination. If, probably when, we were caught, I would be disgraced but the blame would fall squarely on your shoulders and you would be punished to the full extent of Asturian law. They kill traitors. I cannot do that to you.

And I think you have already learned your lesson in running away. Old problems and pain do not get left behind; you carry them with you even as new burdens are added to your soul. What sort of resentment might we build for each other in that case? I cannot do that to us.

So I will resume my mantel of Princess and go to Freid. Mahad dal Freid is a noble man, a good man. He has shown me respect and courtesy when others have seen me as property to be bartered and haggled over. A princess could do much worse than him.

As a woman though, I want more. I admit that I like him. I can even see him as a friend. But not a husband, not a lover. You hold those names in my heart.

I love you, Allen. There's not a part of my being that doesn't wish we could stay here, adrift in this slice of time forever. But wishes are for fairy tales, mere childhood fancies. Cold reality is taking you from me and pretending it could be otherwise only makes it crueler.

I will not cry. You always made it your mission to do away with my sadness. I will not sully our last moments together letting you think you failed me in any way. You see, your happiness is my mission as well.

I kiss your forehead, lingering too long. Your eyes flutter open, bathing me in the passion that burns beneath the lustrous blue. Your hands come up to my face. Your fingers alight upon my lips. You ask me if I'm having trouble sleeping.

I tell you I have no need for sleep. All my dreams are right here before me.

***

Author's Notes: I've been kicking this one around for awhile now, but never had the time to do it. I had my wisdom teeth yanked out today, so I found myself with plenty of downtime for writing. I was buzzing too hard on the pain medication to do any serious writing for 'Girl' and I thought now would be a perfect time to finally write it out. I really wanted to do this one because 'Girl' is more or less written from Eries' perspective and she was avoiding Allen and Marlene when the two of them were together and that prevented me from touching on their relationship with any real depth. So…tada! Here it is. I also liked the change of pace the first person perspective gave me. I usually write faster when I use it (this one was hammered out in under three hours) and I like getting into the mindset of characters. Especially when said character is in a post-coital cuddle with a nekkid Allen. ^_~ Did I mention I'm under the influence of medication as I write this? I did? Good.