This is Stormy here with my new story. It took me quite some time to write it, and possibly even longer to post it. Originally I had planned to post it within September, with with some problems with beta-ing, I am quite late. I hope you do forgive. So, let's move on to a few order of business:
This is a slash story. Which means Edward and Jasper. Edward is a man. Jasper is also a man. To be more explicit: they are gay. And in love (at least in my story they are). So if this isn't your cup of tea, this is your cue to stop reading any further. I am not responsible for any psychological damage beyond this point :)
My ever lovely, gorgeous, and also incredible beta, puzzypower, has helped me tremendously in the process of getting this story ready for you. So send her kisses, fan letters, reviews, your first born child, or anything you can think of. Honestly, she's awesome.
This is a story inspired by the (rumor has it) love between Alexander the Great and his best friend General Hephaistion. Those of you who know your Greek literature/history will see the resemblance. The story is also inspired by James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." Those of you well-versed in your pop culture will also see the resemblance.
Last, but not least, none of the characters belong to me. All are the creation of the lovely Stephanie Meyer.
I hope you enjoy!
Goodbye My Lover
The festivities were full on tonight, in the palace and in every part of the country. From his room, Jasper could see the torches that lit up the sky, so brightly that even the gods might have mistaken day for night. The boisterous music reverberated in every corner of the castle. The men, from the lowly soldiers to the highly diplomats of other countries, got louder and more drunken as the night progressed. Of course they should. After all, if there ever was a reason to celebrate, it was tonight. And not just tonight, for the party would continue well into the week. There had never been more wine in the capitol, nor had there ever been more people. Everybody was celebrating.
It was for that same reason that Jasper decided to retreat early to his bed chamber. He just couldn't the take the festivities anymore.
It was the king's wedding.
Jasper fingered the ring he held in his cold hands. He had bought this gold ring with amber stone while he was on his diplomatic duties. The merchant who sold him this ring told him to only put it on the finger of the one he loved, because it was the same amber stone that Iseult of Ireland gave to Tristan before they parted, the amber stone that, like her heart, would always go with him. For as long as her love kept the stone, they would never part. Even though he scoffed at the merchant, for Tristan and Iseult were adulterers, he bought the ring anyway. It was a shame that the ring never reached his lover.
Tonight, his only love would marry another while he stood to watch the ceremony and then the party. When he fell in love, he had known this day would come. Yet so stupidly, so hopefully, he had bought that wretched ring, which now mocked his naiveté.
Lying down on his cold bed, Jasper closed his eyes in remembrance of the eager body that had always warmed his bed. His heart was beating almost painfully slow, and yet he found himself gasping for breaths. It was not until he felt wetness on his cheeks that Jasper realized his tears had fallen. Clutching the ring in his palm, Jasper wished for sleep before he could remember too much, before he could think about what Edward would be doing with his new bride tonight.
Jasper was only eight when he first met Edward, who was seven at the time. Of course, he had heard about the prince of England, though he never had the opportunity to meet Prince Edward face-to-face before that day. The prince and the noble children went to school together, for it had been King Edward's idea to let his son grow up together with the children who one day would aid the future king either in battle or politics. These noble children who in the future would be diplomats, generals and ministers, would grow up with the future king in order for their loyalty and friendship to lie with him alone. Jasper Whitlock, son of the famous general William Whitlock, would one day lead the battle beside the new king. Therefore, he was sent to London.
The prince was not at all like Jasper had expected. This prince was full of life, always putting on the mischievous smile that unnerved the tutors. Instead of the snobby look and rigid posture that Jasper assumed most princes carried themselves with, Edward was bouncy and energetic, too eager for a challenge for his own good. He had a head full of untamed hair, shirts that were always wrinkled, and shoes that were always muddy.
It didn't take long for them to become true friends. Jasper wasn't like the other children. He didn't let Edward win in wrestling matches. He never failed to make Edward look stupid before the French Master when he answered fluently the question that Edward was fumbling with. To make matters worse, ever since Jasper showed up, all the girls of the court started to giggle and blush every time Jasper walked by, for the young boy was certainly very handsome even at the age of eight. In every aspect, Jasper was better than Edward. And yet, by some unexplainable reason, Jasper always trailed behind Edward. He complied with the prince's every prank, even though it was Jasper who always got them out of the mess that Edward created. Edward especially liked it when Jasper smiled. Whenever Edward felt guilty because he had once again gotten them into some sort of trouble, he only needed a reassuring smile from Jasper to know that his best friend would save the both of them.
It was like having his own pet, which was pretty and loyal. Edward loved Jasper very much.
Edward and Jasper grew inseparable as time peacefully passed over the green hills of England. By the age of fifteen, however, Jasper could feel the shift in his relationship with Edward—at least on his part. Edward was often taken away to private meetings with his father, mostly likely to learn about foreign politics and the laws of the land. Like the prince, Jasper followed his father—General Whitlock—to training camps where he learned about life in battle, where he met soldiers who had seen more the world than they ever wished to. Even though their separate duties caused them to spend less time with each other, that wasn't the cause of the shift in their relationship as much as Jasper's newly developed feelings towards Edward. Jasper had always been aware of Edward's particular affection towards him, more so than with any of their other friends. He himself inexplicably worshipped the ground Edward walked on. However, it wasn't until Jasper was fifteen that he noticed that what they had wasn't normal friendship. Their bodies were always too close to each other, with various body parts almost always touching: Edward's hands playing with Jasper's blond curls, Jasper's shoulders meeting Edward's, their foreheads touching as they talked in whispered words. Edward's moods were always lighter when Jasper was around, and the tone in his voice not as harsh. Not only that; Jasper's impeccable perceptiveness also discovered the discrete glances Edward often sent Jasper's way when the prince thought the blond-haired boy wasn't looking. Most of all, Jasper noticed how the discovery of prince's glances made his heart speed up, his body impossibly warmer, and caused his lips to smile in secret.
It was that sunny summer day, under their beloved apple tree, their relationship changed forever.
"Mother and Father are fighting about me again." Edward complained as they lazed in the shade of the apple tree. This was their secret meeting place, for the tree was so far into the orchard and hidden by much bigger trees to be noticed.
"What is it this time?" Jasper asked, closing the book in his hands as he sensed that Edward needed to vent.
"He wants to send me to sea with General Whitlock so I'll gain experience. He thinks the politics I'm studying is useless if I can't handle the wars. After all, I will be commander someday, and the armada will be mine. I might as well know how to use it."
Jasper nodded in understanding. "And Queen Elizabeth apparently does not think so."
Edward shook his head. "She thinks me a baby, and my father thinks me weak."
Jasper smiled. He had heard this story millions of times. The queen's maternal love disagreed with the king's resolve to strengthen Edward into steel. Absently, he stroked Edward's bronze locks as the prince laid his head on Jasper's shoulder. Those who didn't know of their friendship might have perceived the position they were in as that of lovers. The thought made Jasper's heart speed up.
Edward sighed. "Only you, Jazz. Only you believe that I am destined for greatness."
"And don't you forget it." Jasper teasingly reprimanded.
Edward flopped down on the grass, stretching himself like a lazy cat and closed his eyes. Seeing the small smile on the prince's face, Jasper realized that the conversation was over and therefore returned to his book.
Silence set in between them like the comfort between best friends. That is, until Edward opened his mouth again.
"Have you ever kissed anyone, Jazz?" the prince asked, all so innocently.
"W-What?" Jasper sputtered after choking on his own spit.
"I asked if you have kissed anyone." The prince repeated, sitting up and peering at his best friend, who had now turned a furious shade of red.
"What kind of question is that?"
"Have you?" the prince pressed.
"Well," Jasper started after calming down a bit. Maybe if Jasper answered him now, he would drop the subject. "I am sixteen. It is natural for sixteen-year-old men to already have their first kiss, if not more."
"Yeah, I guess so." Edward contemplated this for a moment. "When was the first time you did it?"
Jasper could feel his face burned hotter. "Uh, I can't quite recall. It's been a long while since the first time."
Edward fell silent after this. Sensing that his prince was struggling with something that could possibly be embarrassing, Jasper helped Edward. "What is it, Edward? I don't believe you just ask these questions out of mirth."
Considering his thoughts for a moment, Edward spoke quietly, "Can I tell you a secret, Jazz? One that you must promise never to tell another soul."
Jasper nodded, worried about what could come next. "I promise."
"I. . . uh, I only had my first kiss yesterday," the prince's timid voice whispered, his face flushed.
Jasper felt his throat tightened, as if he could puke.
"Yeah? That's good. Um. . . who?" the blond-haired boy asked.
"You mean Chief Swan's daughter?" Jasper couldn't imagine how the Chief of the Royal Guards would feel to learn that his daughter had kissed a prince.
"Yes. She was waiting for her brother Emmett outside the classroom. When I came out, I made small talk to her, as any gentleman should. She just giggled, and pulled me behind the bushes in Master Carlisle's garden, and smooched me!"
"And did you kiss her back?" Jasper inquired, though feeling sicker by the details.
"Yeah, I have never kissed anyone and I wanted to know how it's like." The prince answered truthfully.
"Did you like it?" Jasper was almost afraid to ask, his heart sinking lower.
Edward grimaced. "No. It was. . .wet! She kept trying to open my mouth with her tongue, and then shoving it down my throat. It was everywhere!"
Jasper couldn't help but smile at Edward's disgusted expression. Before long, he was holding his stomach from laughing so hard.
"Hey!" Edward protested Jasper's laughter.
"I'm sorry. . . It's just your face is so funny."
"Alright, it's not that funny." Jasper teasingly agreed, wiping a tear away from the corner of his eyes.
"So. . .was it wet for your first time too?" Edward asked eager now that his secret had been shared. "Was there tongue?"
"Um. . . I don't think that's a question a prince should be asking his subject." Jasper stammered, blushing quite profusely.
"You know to you I'm not a prince, but merely a best friend. But I guess even that is not important enough for you." Edward scowled. "After all, you didn't even bother to tell your best friend about your first kiss. Isn't that what best friends are for?" Edward moved closer and closer, making a prey out of poor Jasper with his questioning.
Jasper threw his hands up in frustration, no longer able to take the prince's interrogation. "Oh, for goodness sake! I haven't kissed anyone, alright? Are you happy now?"
Edward was taken back in shock. "But all the girls in the court think you're beautiful. They all want to kiss you. Everybody knows that Alice Brandon has been pining for you ever since you arrived in London; she practically follows around like a lost puppy."
"I said I haven't kissed anyone, not that I haven't been kissed." Jasper explained, exasperated at the prince's refusal to drop the embarrassing subject. "Alice Brandon, in fact, had thrown herself at me in a kiss one too many times before. I don't consider those my first kiss because I simply did not initiate or participate in said kisses."
Edward smirked. "So you just let everybody kiss you as they will?"
Jasper growled angrily, though the color on his cheeks on deepened. "Edward! It's not like that. You know I would have punched anybody who tries, but I am not taught to hit girls. If Alice Brandon was not a girl, I would have struck her in the face." Jasper huffed.
"So. . ." Edward grinned deviously as he crawled uncomfortably closer to Jasper, although a spectator could see that the young prince was flushed almost as well as his victim. "You would strike me if I were to kiss you?"
"W-What?" Jasper's voice jumped up several pitches at the question he thought he would never hear from the prince.
"I asked whether you would strike me if I attempt to kiss you."
"Why would you do something like that? Edward, I do not wish to be involved in whichever game you are forming in your head right-"
Jasper couldn't finish his sentence, for another pair of lips had descended upon his. Warm, soft lips that made his insides twisted in confusing knots. He felt strong yet hesitating hands woven into his curls. His heart automatically raced at frightening speed, robbing him of his breath. That was before he realized that they were kissing—a thing that two boys should not be doing together. Before the thought fled him, he pushed against Edward in resistance.
"Let me go!" Jasper's try to escape was in vain, for during the course of their osculating Edward had pinned the blond-haired boy down.
"Did you like it?"
"I most certainly did not!" Jasper tried to stand up and walk away, but his body was constrained by Edward. "Now let me go! I have important matter to see to at the palace."
"Well I enjoyed my second kiss much so." Edward grinned devilishly, making Jasper blush. "Maybe. . ." Edward contemplated, ignoring Jasper's struggle to get free. His breaths fanned Jasper's face, and feeling the young boy beneath him shiver, he knew that his companion's words of protest were false. "Maybe your first kiss is like mine, which was quite ghastly. Maybe you, like me, will like your second kiss much better."
Jasper did not have time to respond before the prince's lips touched his once again. Those silky, supple lips took him to such height, sucking and pulling. He felt Edward's tongue lapping gently at his lips, asking him to yield into the desire that were threatening to consume them both. The two boys molded against one another, tongue dancing together and hands grasping at shirts and moans erupting from gasping breaths. They only broke apart for the needed air.
After calming down his heartbeats, Edward looked over at Jasper's flushed cheeks and swollen lips. What a sight. He grinned. "I think I might be a prophet someday."
"What?" Jasper was puzzled. After what they had done, he was talking about that?
"You seemed to have enjoyed your second kiss. . ." Edward snickered, glancing pointedly at Jasper's lower body—which had responded most embarrassingly about their kissing, "just as I foresaw."
"Oh shut up!" Jasper gasped; annoyed that Edward had found his eager body so amusing. After all, who had caused it to be that way if not the young prince himself?
Edward smiled again, rolling himself over Jasper. Stroking the blond hair off his companion's cheeks, Edward confessed. "Don't be embarrassed, for I too cannot control my feelings for you. I have for a long time, but now that I have unleashed it, I doubt that it is in my power to repress it again." To demonstrate his point, Edward pressed his body flushed against Jasper, letting the boy beneath him understand exactly how he was feeling.
Jasper moaned, and winding his hands behind Edward's neck, pulling the prince down for another kiss under their beloved apple tree.
It was the eve of a great battle. The armada had set sail for days, now nearly reaching the coast of beautiful Ireland. For centuries, England had wanted the land of the Irish people. Many English kings had dreamed of uniting the motherland with Ireland, forming a more powerful and united kingdom. However, no king had achieved this feat, and now it was Edward's turn.
Two years prior, the late King Edward was mortally injured in an assassination attempt. After days of hanging on the precipice of life and death, the late King Edward let go and left the kingdom to Prince Edward. Within days, the former prince became King Edward the Second in much despair. With the help of General William Whitlock and his son, the new king reformed the navy in hopes that his armada would be undefeatable, infamous throughout the known world. Preparation had been done, and Edward finally faced his most daunting challenge yet since his acceptance of the throne.
He was directly commanding the armada in this conquest. He was, aside from Jasper, one of General William Whitlock best students, and Master Carlisle's absolute brightest. His strategic mind had earned him many small victories in his days as a student, and he now could finally bring test to practice. General Jasper Whitlock and King Edward stayed on the Commander's Ship, which was a bit unusually deeper into the left phalanx, while leaving General William Whitlock the right phalanx of the armada. They would not need to land on the coast of Ireland, because the Irish navy was also impressive in stature. For as far as the eye could see, the Irish would meet the English armada head-on.
The night was falling fast, as the ocean's breeze calmingly whistled a lullaby before the storm of tomorrow. Jasper and Edward were hidden by the night as they walked along the starboard of the ship, talking over the strategy for tomorrow. There was a pause in conversation as the two men silently contemplated the enormity of tomorrow's battle. The first battle might not mean success in the war, but winning the first battle was success in morale, and no ammunition or supplies could be more important than morale.
The coming battle was not, however, the only thought on Jasper's mind. The fact that anything could happen tomorrow also gave the barely seasoned general a twist in his stomach. He could smell the faint scent of Edward's hair, and the smoothness of the king's voice made his head swim with painful thoughts. What if it was the last of their days together? God forbid, Jasper would see that he himself would perish first before he would allow the king to fall. Already he could imagine the ghastly smell of gun powder and the burning of flesh and woods. He could already smell the stench of bloody bandages on wounded soldiers, and hear the mourning moans that filled the air at the end of this battle. Yet all of those nightmares could not keep his mind away from the fact that this might be the last night he would have with Edward. Even if they were to survive this battle, who was to say they would the next one? And the one after that? And the many other countless battles they would face in this life?
"Jazz?" Edward asked, sensing that he had lost his general's concentration.
"What are you thinking about?"Edward asked, scooting imperceptibly closer to his best friend, feeling the wind whipping the general's blond curls around his shoulders.
"About tomorrow's battle. About the many battles waiting for us should we survive this one." Jasper answered simply. He could have lied to cover the heavy thoughts, but Edward would have figured him out in an instant.
"We will survive, Jasper. We must. I can see it now, us as an empire. The land of Britain will be stretching as far as the eye can see, to the edge of the world even." Edward said solemnly, yet most proudly.
"You are most certain." Jasper noted.
"It may be ten years, or twenty, or even fifty. Though I ardently hope so, it may not even be within my lifetime or yours. But I can see. One day, we will expand Britain so greatly, that the sun will never set on the British Empire."
"I fear your dreams are as big as those of Alexander the Great, of Julius Caesar." Jasper whispered, looking at his king feverishly.
"They are great heroes, but I hope one day to achieve what they did not." Edward spoke so softly only the wind could hear. The wind and Jasper.
"Those heroes suffered greatly." The general turned his face towards the ocean's breeze, feeling the embrace of Mother Night around him.
"We all suffer: you, me, and every man who had ever dreamt great dreams, as well as those who will in the future. In the end, it is what we have done that really matters." Edward smiled, seeing his vision coming to life as he spoke.
"I do not know if I can follow your dream to its end, but to the end of my life I will follow you. You are my Alexander, the new Alexander."
"King Alexander was nothing without his most beloved, General Hephaistion. Are you my Hephaistion?" Edward whispered feverishly, bringing up the subject that had been on his mind these many months at the sea.
Jasper chuckled. "You do remember that Hephaistion died first."
Edward looked at his beloved seriously, and in a solemn tone he added, "If there will ever be a day when I must wake to find you gone, I will look to the end of the world for the man who would have dared to take you away from me. Rather Britain has no king than for you to die without someone to avenge your death. And I would kill him dead, and sever his body until the gods can no longer recognize him. And then I shall find my way towards you, who in your angelic nature must belong in heaven. And even if the gods deemed me fit to only be caged inside the deepest fires of hell, I would spend eternity trying to find my way to you, my Hephaistion." The king stroked Jasper's face tenderly, with the utmost love.
The king's feverish words of passionate love took over Jasper's body and thoughts. It was quite a while before he could speak. "Do you not remember that Hephaistion was Alexander's lover, and not just platonic friends?"
"And are we not lovers, Jasper, when I have loved you with all my heart? My feelings towards you have not been platonic for a long time, as you are well aware." Edward murmured kindly.
"We have not done what lovers do. And who knows what might happen tomorrow, but the gods themselves?" Jasper said, displeased that his tone was laden with unspoken sadness.
They reached the end of their walk as they neared the king's chamber. "I wish you would stay with me tonight." Edward held out his hand to Jasper in invitation. "The eve of battle is always the hardest."
Shaking his head slightly, Jasper smiled. "I fear that if I stay tonight, I will find it impossible to wake up tomorrow. It is better to go into battle without tasting the most forbidden fruit first and find myself missing it, if I am to breathe my last breaths by tomorrow's night."
Then, by an unspoken sorrow that twisted his heart, Jasper reached out to Edward. Then, embracing the king into his arms, Jasper filled his lungs with Edward's scent, committing it to memories.
"Then, as you wish, good night my Jasper." Edward softly kissed Jasper's hair before they pulled apart.
"Good night, my Alexander."
Edward watched as Jasper's receding back was swallowed by the night sky.
Jasper opened his eyes. How cruel it is that, on the night of Edward's wedding, he couldn't help but think about the tender moments they'd spent together in their younger years. Didn't people always say that in the few moments before death you could see your life flashed before your eyes? It was fitting then, that Jasper would see the tender moments of his romance with the king flashing before his eyes just as King Edward celebrated his marriage to another. How fitting indeed.
Jasper couldn't deny that he was crying now. Not full out sobbing, because that would lessen the pain. Jasper shed silent tears—the kind of tears that fall when the pain was so great you couldn't make a sound. Most people would want to forget. Jasper wanted to sink into this heart-wrenching pain, to feel it with every fiber of his being. Partly, he wanted to punish himself for being so naïve and stupid; he knew his love for the king would not end in happiness and yet he loved anyway. Most of all, he wanted to feel this pain so badly because he wanted to know that the king's love for him was real. If the pain of unrequited love was one stab in the heart, then the pain of knowing that his love was returned but he could never reach it, was one thousand stabs in the heart.
Jasper closed his eyes again. Ah, images.
It was night, though the stars shone rather brightly. It had been one month since they returned to England from their successful invasion of Ireland. Irish King Duncan—who surrendered in front of the massive English armada led by King Edward—drew a treaty with England. Ireland would pay its respect to England in the form of an annual payment consisting of iron and precious metals, livestock, servants, expensive textile. Ireland would also import from only England, and a tariff paid to England must be placed on all goods exported from Irish shore. This would bring many riches to England, making Edward a beloved king among the people. With his victory in Ireland, King Edward restored the people's faith in the monarchy and bought the respect of many nobles in the court.
The night of the victorious battle—after King Duncan had surrendered—celebration was like fireworks among the English soldiers. They seized the Irish palace by the shore, and a ridiculous amount of wine was brought out. Among the drunken happiness were Jasper and Edward, who opted to stay within the king's chamber to enjoy wine and each other's company. In his daze Jasper could still remember vividly when verbal conversation turned into touches, which turned into caress, which soon turned into wild kisses as their bodies relearned the familiarity of each other. Before he realized it, their robes were on the floor and Edward was pressing Jasper into his bed as the king's kisses drove Jasper to a fine frenzy. The king whispered soft words of love, letting them flow with the swaying wind outside their windows until they became a tender breeze sliding along Jasper's skin. Touches that had once been innocent under their beloved apple tree now sought out for something more. Edward's hands glided along Jasper's entire body, skin meeting skin in the most delirious embrace. One pair of lips yearned for the gentle fluttering for another, and moans that escaped when Jasper's finally found the column of Edward's neck. And higher. And higher, until the king's lips were captured. Tongues danced hotly against each other, and breaths mingled together until they became one. Fingers tangled in copper hair. Bodies moved languidly against another in desperation to reach completion.
"Take me." Edward moaned.
"What?" Jasper was startled. He had always assumed that when the moment came, though he was reluctant to admit that he entertained the thought more than he should, that it would be him who yielded to the king. It was improper to think otherwise, because a king would never have wanted such a vulnerable and submissive position.
"Take me." Edward reiterated, knowing what Jasper was thinking. Holding his beloved's face in his hands the king whispered tenderly, "I might be king of this kingdom, but you are forever king of my heart. It is you I have loved. It is only you I will ever yield to."
Jasper's love for his king burned fiercely in his heart. The sweetness of first love was like the sweetness of good wine, that which burned his throat hotly yet spread euphoric warmth throughout his entire body, until nothing else was wrong in this world.
When they finally joined for the first time, Jasper was afraid he might burst into tears. He was terrified at the pleasure he felt. Like a gate that was opening, he could no longer control his flood of feelings for his beloved. He feared that such pleasure sure could not exist in reality; even if it did, it could never last for a lifetime. And now that Jasper had tasted this, he feared a lifetime without it.
Yet, as he looked down to the boy beneath him—flushed with feverish desire and glistened with sweet sweat—he couldn't regret. Rather he loved and lost, than to never have this moment at all—a moment of sheer bliss. Leaning down with ragged breaths, he whispered softly into Edward's ear.
His faint "I love you" brought the king to completion.
My most beloved general,
As king, I should ask you about your battles. I should ask abou the morale of the soldiers, and the advances we've been able to make. Yet, how could my head remain on such trivial matters when you're so far away from me? The nights are colder, and the leaves are falling relentless in mourning for your absence. Your leaving stripped the trees bare, just as it has taken all smiles from my face. What will we do without your sunshine, my beloved? How could this kingdom survive through a winter without your warmth, my Jasper? My heart yearns for your laughter, my body for your touch. Do you think me ridiculous, general? I sound like a newly deflowered slave girl, longing for my master? Come back to me soon, before I become more ridiculous than I already am.
Hopelessly devoted to you,
This winter on the sea is harsher than the many we've encountered. There has been little advancing, but at this stage we are just waiting for the enemies to exhaust their resources. I suspect it will be past spring before any real advances can be made. I am well, and the soldiers' morale is slowly slipping as they always do in this part of the battle. Waiting is not the strong suit for many of these men. Of course, keeping warm on the ships has been occupying most of their time, fortunately.
My Lord, please do not write such words. Should any of the soldiers accidentally read these letters, what will they think? I miss you more than time can tell, and long for your touch. But I beg of you, your words are too much. How could you demand me to stay strong on the battlefield when my mind is constantly bent on getting back to you? How will I fearlessly face the enemy, when I constantly fear the possibility of never getting back to you? My Lord, let me fight without a stirring in my heart, and let me win the battle for you.
General Jasper Whitlock
My dearest love,
What would the soldiers think? They would think that their king is hopelessy in love with their general. Would they think me a monster because my desire for you is so immense it should not be spoken? Maybe so. Would they think me an abomination? Maybe so. Would it matter at all to me? No. Let them think that their king is a lovesick school boy, totally besotted with you; that is the truth. Let them think that there is only you in my mind; they are right. Let them think that I am enslaved by your smile and your touch; nothing could be closer to the truth.
Would they think you the king's whore? Maybe so. But let them know that if you are, then I am also your whore. I belong to you, and there is nothing else I want.
I am my beloved's,
Jasper knew exactly where those letters were. He had stashed them in a secret place, rarely taking them out of their hiding place. He knew the words by heart, for his heart was the utmost secret place. He remembered the cold winter nights on the shores, where the words from Edward warmed his heart. Though he would admit no such thing, those letters helped him through his lonely voyage, without the king's guidance or contact. Now all the words were mocking him. Those words of promises and love could never be fulfilled, not for lack of want. Endless winter nights awaited him for the rest of his life, because Jasper was sure nothing would ever be warm again without Edward's touch. Maybe Edward's letters would provide a blanket for the bitter cold that was to invade Jasper's heart.
"Isn't it time you consider a bride for yourself, Edward?" Queen Elizabeth commented one night.
It was during a late meeting with all the generals—one of those meetings Queen Elizabeth occasionally partook in—that the queen brought of the topic of the King Edward's marriage. It was true that the king was now in his twenties, and in need of a bride. The empire was expanding quickly due to King Edward's brilliant commanding and his generals' skillful military expertise. After his mortal injuries in the invasion of Normandy, Edward was adamant that Jasper was never to be put in harm's way again. Thus Jasper became the kingdom's diplomat, and the king's most trusted advisor. The position suited Jasper just fine, for he was never one for much violence anyway.
"Mother, I have no wish for marriage right now. My kingdom and my people are my priorities." Edward answered the queen gently, though he was slightly irritated that she brought this topic in front of all the generals. Shouldn't this be a private matter?
"And it is exactly for your kingdom and your people that you must marry." The queen insisted, still pressing the matter even though she was wise enough to sense Edward's annoyance. The king had avoided talks of marriage at all cost, and Queen Elizabeth must have support from the generals in this matter.
"The queen lady is right, Your Majesty. The English people need an heir to the throne." General Williamm Whitlock agreed.
"For the people's sake, you must marry Edward." The queen continued, much to Edward's ire. "Your kingdom is expanding so beautifully. You yourself are always leading the army outside the English border. The people need to feel safe that there is an heir in line should anything happen. And besides, you need a queen to lead the country in your absence."
"Mother, I wish not to talk about this right now." Edward countered.
"Your Majesty," Chief Swan chimed in, "the queen lady is only reasonable in her request. It is not a personal matter, but a matter of the state. A bride is needed to produce an heir, much awaited by your people."
Turning to the king's best friend, Queen Elizabeth pleaded. "General Jasper, you are his most trusted friend. Can you please talk some sense into him?"
Jasper, face ashened with pain, had no choice but to agree with the queen. "The queen lady is right, Edward. You must marry and produce an heir."
After all, Jasper knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time.
"Jasper!" King Edward called at his best friend's retreating back.
Jasper walked faster, but still he was no match for the king. Edward caught Jasper's elbow. "I received words that Queen Elizabeth needed my assistance. I can't believe you tricked me!" Jasper gasped.
"That is because you are avoiding me!" Edward's ire grew as he fought the resistance of his lover.
"I do not!"
"You do not respond to my message. You avoid my eye contact. You stop speaking to me. You won't agree to meet me alone. I would say that you are avoiding me!"
"I have nothing to say!" Jasper stopped his struggle, knowing he was fighting a losing battle. Not only was the king stronger, but it is also that Jasper did not want to leave the king's embrace.
Holding his beloved's face gently in his hands, King Edward asked softly. "Do you want me to marry, Jasper?"
Jasper gasped for breath. What was Edward doing, asking him that question? How was he to answer such a question? "You must marry, Edward, for the sake of your people."
"That's not the question I asked, Jasper. I asked if you want me to marry." Edward murmured.
"What I want doesn't matter Edward. It is what's best for your kingdom that you should think about."
"You matter to me. Nothing else but you." Edward choked, a lone tear falling from his eyes.
Seeing the king's tears was too much for Jasper, and he could no longer hold back on his own. The pain of knowing that the king would soon belong to another was too overwhelming. He could no longer pretend that they belonged to each other, for he knew now that only he belonged to Edward. The king belonged to his kingdom, and he must do his duties.
"Jasper…" Edward whispered, his voice shaking with the emotions he felt for the man in his arms. "…I love you. I ardently love you."
"How am I to forget you, Edward? To forget this love?" Jasper sobbed quietly.
"Don't forget me, love." Edward said, his lips pressing softly against Jasper's quivering ones. The lovers twined against one another as their lips searched for each other. Edward's fingers wove into Jasper's long locks, and Jasper's fingers twisted into the fabric of Edward's white tunic. They were desperate for their bodies to get even closer, yearning for their bodies to melt into one and they would never have to separate again.
Jasper bit his lips until it bled, trying to hold in the sob that threatened to escape. When would he be able to forget Edward? When would he be able to think of Edward's name, and his smile, and his eyes, and the straight bridge of his nose without feeling a stab in his heart? When would he be able to look at their apple tree without remembering their first kiss, their first touch?
There would no longer be light for Jasper. As long as his heart still beat, as long as there was still a breath in him, he would still yearn for Edward. It was the hopeless, luckless kind of love, which would never die.
A knock on the door woke Jasper out of his reverie. Thinking it was probably a drunken general trying to lure Jasper into joining the party, Jasper called out.
"Whatever matter it is can be discussed tomorrow. I am tired and wish to rest."
"It is Edward, Jasper. Will you open your door for me?"
Jasper's body snapped up instantly at Edward's voice. The fact that he had been crying made his head felt dizzy. Wiping his tears and clearing his throat, Jasper walked closer to the door yet not opening it. "What are you doing here, my king? Please go back to your bed-chamber with your queen."
"I am where I should be, Jasper. Please open up for me." Edward pleaded.
"I am tired, Your Majesty. I wish to rest. Please." Jasper felt tears rolled down his eyes, he himself unable to control it.
"I think you are mistaking, general. I did not ask. I order you, as your king, to open your door this instant." Edward's voice took the tone he often used with his subject. Just as Jasper was, only his subject, no longer the king's best friend, the king's lover.
Jasper opened his door, and let Edward in. The general then walked quickly to his balcony, his back turned to the king.
Edward closed the door. Silence took over for what seemed like an eternity before Edward spoke softly. "Jasper, do you know what my favorite part of the wedding was?"
Jasper felt his heart twist in his chest. He did not wish to know any detail about the king's wedding, or his wedding night. He certainly did not wish to know how much the king was enjoying his new wife. He stayed silent, wishing Edward would leave him to his pitiful memories.
"It was that moment when you walked into the church and stood by my side." Edward confessed, pulling Jasper so that the general would face him. "I thought I had lost you forever. I thought my loveless marriage had cost me my bestfriend, and the man I love."
Jasper felt his tears once again. He hated being weak, but ever since they were little he could not control his emotions in front of Edward.
"You stood by my side. You hadn't left me to be in this world alone; no matter how much wrong I have done you. That realization was a relief on my burdened soul." Edward's voice broke. When Jasper finally looked up at Edward, he saw that the king was crying too.
"Edward…" Jasper sobbed.
Suddenly, the king fell to his knees.
"Edward! What are you doing? A king should not be on his knees! Please stand up!" Jasper implored, surprised at the king's abrupt action.
"Jasper," Edward took Jasper's hands and pressed them to his lips. "I am on my knees now in front of the gods, and in front of you, to pledge my life to you. Though in name I belong to another, my heart and my soul belong only to you." Edward pressed Jasper's hands to his heart. "This heart beats for no other. I have done you much wrong, but this I promise you: that I will love you forever, until my heart stops beating, until there is no more breath in my body, until the end of time. And even after that."
At Edward's confessions, Jasper's constructed walls crumbled. He fell next to Edward on the floor.
"I have loved you since we were fifteen. I shall never love another. But I can't be your lover anymore Edward. I refuse to be your mistress. My feelings for you are those that one man should not have for another, but my love is pure…and I would rather love you from afar than taint this love by being your whore." Jasper sobbed, holding Edward's hands as their heads leaned against one another.
"It is not just your flesh I love Jasper, but every part of your soul. Even if I will never be able to touch you or kiss you again, just being able to see your smile or feel your radiance or hear your voice is enough. More than enough. More than all the treasures in this world together. I will be with you, no matter what, until the end."
"Goodbye, my lover." Jasper whispered.
"Only in flesh, Jazz, never in heart." Edward promised.
And they sealed their love with a kiss.
It was the last one in their lifetime of love.
"My King, it cannot be done!" the Prime Minister exclaimed.
"It can be done, Prime Minister, and it will be done." Edward growled, already tired of the Prime Minister's drone about the traditions that the king was intending to break.
"Your Majesty, I beg you to reconsider. What will the people think if you do this? Hasn't it been enough that Queen Jane is in the dungeon? Doing this outrageous act will only fuel discord." the Prime Minister pleaded to his stubborn king.
"It is my order, Prime Minister. And if it isn't done then it will be you in the dungeon."
"You cannot extinguish the Sacred Fire in the King's Temple for a general, My King, no matter how esteemed he is in your opinion!"
"I am tired of you telling me what I can or cannot do. I will do this even if I have to stand at war with my country for this deed. Do you understand how serious I am?" Edward roared, outraged at this little cowering man. Stupid man! How could he not understand?
"Y-Yes My King...but please, would you reconsider?" the Prime Minister trembled in fear. Edward was often gentle and calm. But in these days, the king was always full of rage.
"Leave my presence!" King Edward dismissed.
Edward sighed in weariness as he watched the small man's retreating back. These people could never understand why he had to do this. They never understood the kind of love he felt for Jasper. They never could feel this loss, and see why he had to do this for his beloved. Customs! Rules! What did it even matter anymore? Nothing mattered anymore!
Edward dreaded the mornings as much as heanticpated them. Those first moments before he opened his eyes, before his consciousness took over, were the best moments in these days. It would just be like any other morning. He would wake up and be washed and dressed by the maids. He would then come down to the Grand Hall, where he would meet the generals for breakfast and going over the matters of the day. Jasper would be waiting for him there, with a smile like always. And as Jasper bowed to meet his king, Edward would see the daylight in those lovely fair curls. He would relish in those moments. But they were fleeting, and within seconds the golden sunshine was gone, gloomy darkness replacing them as he realized that Jasper was gone.
Goodbye my lover.
Instead, every day after he dressed, Edward would come down to the dungeon. He would pass many gates and many guards until he reached the deepest, darkest cell. Her cell. She could have been held in the cell on the highest tower, for that was his first intention. But then she could still feel sunshine and see the dawn of a new day. And why should he grant her that privilege when she had robbed him of his own sunshine? Why should she be able to see daylight when it was her who imprisoned him in this sunless nightmare? His days were turned into night all because of her jealousy. And so he would let her rot in this hell.
"Please Edward!" she pleaded, "Please let me out. I can't live in here Edward." Everyday she would scream. "I am queen. You can't put me here!"
He chuckled darkly. Vilewoman,may the gods burn your soul.
"My father will hear of this. He will bring his army here to rescue me. There will be war if you don't let me out!" Now she threatened. Like she always did.
"And I will fight him. And I will let the dogs have at you before his army even reaches this castle." Edward replied.
"He was just one general, Edward! And I'm carrying your child!" she screamed again.
"He was the love of my life!" Edward growled. "And that is no child of mine! I only bedded you once, you vile whore! I know your affair with Newton. But I said nothing, nor did I punish you adulterers. I thought I had wronged you because I married you when I loved another, and I was ready to forgive your adultery. I was ready to make that bastard inside your belly Crowned Prince because I couldn't give you anything else!"
Jane sobbed while Edward snarled. "I gave you everything a queen would ever need. I provided you anything you could have wanted. I never once touched Jasper after I had married you. I stayed faithful to you even though I have all the power to do anything my heart desires, all because of Jasper's compassion and loyalty to his queen. But you had to go and poison him. You took away the only thing that ever mattered to me, without even a hint of mercy. You call me insane, but it was you that took away my sanity. You brought this onto yourself, you disgusting bitch!"
Jane always cried as she took in his words, the same words Edward said everyday. "I was jealous. I love you, Edward, but you would never give yourself to me! You always thought of only Jasper. I am your queen, Edward. Why couldn't you have loved me?"
"Were." Edward corrected. "You were my queen. Now you're just a whore rotting your life away in this cell. May the gods burn your soul, Jane. Then maybe you'll understand a fraction of what you've done to me." Edward said, finally, before he left. He would come again tomorrow to say the same words. He would never let her forget. That would be kindness she didn't deserve.
Then Edward would come to the Grand Hall to go over the matters of the kingdom. Then he would go over the matter of the funeral. And when that was all over, when he had nothing else to tend to, Edward would ride out to the apple orchard. He would sit under Jasper's beloved apple tree, now so tall and shady, and suddenly tears would come. The tree above him was still the same. The earth beneath him was still the same. The wind still blew. Everything was the same, and nothing was the same anymore. No more of his golden waves in sunlight. No more of his scent in the blowing wind. No more of his smile in falling leaves. No more love on this earth anymore. No more life, only memories that weren't enough. He was only thirty-three. Too young.
Goodbye my friend.
In mourning for Jasper's untimely death, Edward banned all music in the kingdom for a month. Everybody must wear only black clothing. Children born in this month must all be named Jasper. Fires were to be lit in every temple and church throughout the kingdom, and at nightfall everybody must pray for the spirit of General Jasper. Edward even had a temple built at Jasper's hometown in memory of his beloved.
On the last day of the mourning was the funeral to lower Jasper's body to the ground. Jasper was placed in the King's Temple. All the generals stood in two lines alongside Jasper's sarcophagus, with King Edward kneeling before it. The sarcophagus was opened, revealing Jasper's ever lovely face. Edward held Jasper's cold hand.
I have loved you since I was fifteen, Jasper.
There had never been a love like ours.
You've touched my heart. You've touched my soul.
I've kissed your lips. I've held your hand.
I've shared your dreams. I've shared your bed.
You've changed my life, Jasper.
My heart had always been yours.
I've spent a lifetime with you
Goodbye my lover.
It might be over, but it won't stop there
I still hold your hand in mine when I'm asleep.
I still bare my soul to you when I'm kneeling at your feet.
I love you, I swear it will always be true till the end of time.
Goodbye my lover.
You have been the one for me.
The only one for me.
Sleep, my lover. And I'll watch over you sleeping.
Goodbye my lover, but not for long.
I cannot live without you.
The king knelt besides Jasper all day. At twilight, Jasper was laid down to rest under his beloved apple tree. Edward himself extinguished the Sacred Flame in the King's Temple.
Normally, the fire was only extinguished on the death of the king himself.
Queen Jane miscarried in the dungeon, causing her to go mad with sorrow. She died eight years after Jasper's death.
Edward visited Jasper's grave everyday for the rest of his life. The apple tree was always in full bloom.
He had a temple built in memory of his beloved.
Edward never had the chance to see the temple completed. Five months after Jasper's death, Edward passed away in his sleep, fulfilling his last promise to his lover.
When the maids found his body, they said it seemed as if he was in peaceful slumber. The gorgeous crooked smile that Jasper had loved so much was on the king's lips. His hands were clutching an amber-stoned ring over his heart.
And he was laid down by Jasper's side under the apple tree, according to his own instruction.
And they were with each other. Together.
Till the end.
I'm so sorry it was such a sad story. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Reviews are, of course, appreciated.
Until next time,