I am very excited to finally be presenting this story. Lately I've had a lot of inspiring things thrown at me like Kaori Yuki (always), Alfred Hitchcock, Ayumi Hamasaki, Florence + The Machine, and even a little something called Homestuck ^_^ I mention all of those because you'll find elements of every single one of those things in my story. I could have saved these story ideas for original characters, but Berthie and Carnelian seemed so deserving.
And I want to say that I'm going to go ahead and dedicate this whole story to my friend, MK. ~_^ Love ya!
Now without much further ado, here is tonight's entertainment! I would like to present to you...
The Soldier and His Nun:
It never failed that Berthie would make Carnelian feel a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes Berthie made Carnelian feel loved; sometimes he made him angry; sometimes he made him depressed; and sometimes he even made him feel nothing at all. It was one of the most terrible and yet most amazing things about Berthie.
So when Berthie walked up to Carnelian in an outfit, a specific outfit complete with tie, black trench coat, heavy boots, belts across his chest, and a military style cap, he didn't know what to feel. Emotions consumed him and he thought he was going to explode from it. That outfit...that was the outfit Berthie wore on that horrific day at Queen Gemsilica's castle. Carnelian had watched Berthie die in that outfit and it was a memory he would rather not be reminded of. Yet, just when he thought his heart was going to burst from the trauma of such a memory Berthie added even more insult to injury.
"I'm not the only one in costume today. It's your turn to play dress up," Berthie said, bringing out a box and opening it to show Carnelian the contents inside.
It took everything for Carnelian to keep himself from passing out. He suddenly felt dizzy and had to lean against a tree in the forest that was their temporary residence. Seeing Berthie in that military outfit was one thing, but this...this was going to far.
"Get that away from me," Carnelian whispered, refusing to look at the box again.
Berthie smirked as he put the box on the ground and took out the nun's dress. He held it before him, admiring it. "What's the problem, Carnelian? It's just a dress."
Carnelian glared at Berthie, his body shaking just from even glancing at the dress. "You bastard. How dare you! These outfits...why would you show them to me?"
Berthie shrugged. "I thought they would be the perfect disguises. We'll look at lot less like wanderers if we're wearing these. Put it on!" Berthie threw the dress at Carnelian, though he didn't even bother to try to catch it. He simply stared at Berthie, his face turning red and his breathing becoming even harsher and harsher.
"I watched you die in that outfit you're wearing. And this...this damn nun dress!" Carnelian screamed, picking up the dress and stalking towards Berthie, shaking it front of his face. "Do you know what I had to go through while in this dress? Do you know what horrible memories I have attached to this stupid garment?" He finally threw the outfit back to the ground and walked away from Berthie, sitting under the tree he was just leaning against. He hugged himself, doing everything he could to erase those horrible memories from his mind.
"I can't stand this. How could you do this? You're such a jerk. You're such a stupid jerk."
He was nearly at the point of begging Berthie to get rid of the outfits; he would do anything if he could never to see them again, but then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He slowly turned his head around to see that Berthie had bent down to his level. He put two fingers under Carnelian's chin, lifting his face a bit.
"Look at me," he said, watching Carnelian's eyes slowly look from the ground to his face. "First off, I'm alive so it's about time you stop missing me. You're acting like a duck that lost its mom and is following a stranger. Secondly, all of that is in the past. You're stuck in the past when you have a future staring you in the face. Put it on."
Berthie slowly draped the dress over Carnelian's shoulder, not moving his fingers from his chin and not breaking their stare. Carnelian slowly touched the garment, the intense feelings of hate and resentment vivid in his heart. He wanted to yell at Berthie and tell him that he had no right to talk about living in the past, though the last thing Carnelian ever wanted to do was remind Berthie of...him.
So with all of that occurring it wasn't long before Carnelian was walking down a street in a nearby town, dressed from head to toe in the robes of a nun, his soldier next to him. He hated it, but he had put on the dress anyway. He wanted to argue and complain, but a part of him actually felt comfortable. He was still trying to get used to wearing trousers and being back in a dress felt...almost right to him. There was no problem with the dress itself; it was only the memories attached to it that made Carnelian upset. Yet, as upset as that particular dress made him, Berthie's outfit made him want to burst out in tears. Every time he looked at the other's face all he could think of was the blood bursting from his neck, covering the walls, the floor, and his military outfit.
"Why did you pick these outfits to wear, Berthie?" Carnelian asked, his voice weary from trying his hardest not to cry and the exhaustion he often felt when dealing with Berthie.
"I can't help it if I like the little nun dresses." Berthie said, snaking his arm around Carnelian's waist and pulling him closer.
Carnelian couldn't help the smile tugging at his lips as Berthie started toying with him. The urge to cry and the overwhelming misery that Carnelian felt at even seeing the outfits slowly dissipated. He was most certainly still upset at Berthie's choice of clothing, but there was something about Berthie's playfulness that Carnelian couldn't deny. Sometimes it was annoying, but other times it saved him from breaking down entirely.
"Please don't tell me these dresses are a fetish for you," Carnelian said, doing his best to try to lighten the mood as well. Berthie was obviously trying to make him feel better so the least he could do was put in some effort as well.
"Actually-" Berthie cut off his own sentence so he could turn Carnalian towards him to dip him, careful not to let him fall to the ground. When he was sure they were both stable he wasted no time in planting a heavy kiss on the other's lips. It didn't take Carnelian too long to recover from the shock of being dipped and he wrapped his arms around the other's body, kissing him right back. He was surprised at himself for being so calm about this, but Carnelian expected the unexpected when it came to Berthie, though he couldn't argue that a kiss every now and then, expected or not, was more than welcome. It was finally getting through Berthie's head that the more gentle he was with Carnelian, the better results it produced, and thus Carnelian felt more comfortable kissing and engaging in other activities with Berthie.
The two finally let each other's lips go and Berthie set Carnelian steady on his feet again. Carnelian ignored the passerbys' whispers and the murmurs about a nun kissing a man and stroked Berthie's cheek.
"Brides of Christ don't make out with strange men. In fact they don't make out with men at all," Carnelian said with a chuckle.
"Christ is just going to have to share one of his brides then."
"I don't think He'll be too happy with that." Carnelian said, accepting the arm Berthie extended to him. They walked down the road again, linked together, trying to savor the sweet kiss from just moments before. As much as Carnelian wanted to keep the mood sweet there were other things he still needed to discuss with Berthie.
"So you never told me why you got these outfits in the first place. I'm going to avoid the obvious question of how you got them also."
"I have my ways."
"You said these were disguises," Carnelian said, ignoring Berthie's vague response. "Are we trying to not look like wanderers for some reason?"
"I heard it's going to rain!" Berthie said excitedly, accidentally squeezing Carnelian's arm too roughly. He looked to the sky and pointed towards some dark clouds. "I can see it coming already. I heard this storm was going to be a big one!"
Carnelian shook his head in confusion. "What does the weather have to do with our outfits? Don't change the subject, Berthie."
"It has everything to do with our clothes! We have to look natural."
"Of course! A nun and a soldier walking around together is considered perfectly natural," Carnelian said with a curt nod and a click of his tongue. "That makes sense."
"It's only so we can get out of the rain! We can't do that if we wore our normal clothes," Berthie explained.
"I don't understand your logic, Berthie." Carnelian was honestly giving his best effort to see where Berthie was coming from with all of this, but it was completely futile. What he was saying made no sense at all. The connection between the clothes they were wearing and the weather outside wasn't clicking for Carnelian. "Why don't we just rent a room at an inn?"
"We don't have money for an inn. Think a little bit, would you?" Berthie poked Carnelian's head, trying to make his point even clearer. "I would have already rented the room if we had money to do so. I had to come up with an alternative solution."
Carnelian unhooked his arm from Berthie, aggravation once again setting in cause of the other man. "And your solution was to wear these outfits?"
"Indeed it was!" Berthie said proudly. "Don't question my brilliance. Come on. We need to hurry and find shelter before night fall!"
Berthie grabbed Carnelian's hand and began running through the town, Carnelian all but being dragged behind him. He was never faster than Berthie and could barely keep up with him when he decided to run. He wanted to ask more questions, but he knew Berthie wouldn't listen to him. None of his questions had been answered and he was still confused as to why they had to be wearing these outfits. Berthie obviously somehow thought they would help them find shelter from the rain, but Carnelian couldn't see what good they would do. The only purpose they served was to upset him and bring up bad memories.
However, he trusted Berthie. A part of him didn't want to, but he shut that part down and put all of his faith in the man in the military suit. He had no choice. Carnelian had no one else in the world, only Berthie. If he couldn't trust his one and only friend then he would be truly alone, so he gave Berthie his life and his body to protect and he trusted every single thing he did. As much as Berthie upset him, made him cry, or made him want to commit murder Carnelian would be lying if he said Berthie didn't take care of him. He always made sure they were fed, safe, and he would even treat the other man to hotel rooms and good food if their finances allowed it. There was nothing about Berthie that Carnelian didn't trust...except...
Carnelian shook thoughts of him from his head. If he started thinking about how Berthie couldn't forget that man then he really would break down and cry. How was it that he always managed to take everything, absolutely everything, from him and not even lift a finger? It just wasn't fair.
Thankfully Berthie abruptly stopped running causing Carnelian to nearly slam into his back and forget all about the man he was just thinking of. Instead he began wondering why Berthie stopped at all. He took in his surroundings and noticed the town had disappeared and they were following a lone dirt road. Ahead of them was a small house with plenty of land covered in trees and fields. The amount of land and the large equipment outside the house gave away that this place was a farm. Is this where Berthie had been aiming to get to?
"They'll take us in! Farmers are always old and nice. They'll be willing to take in a soldier and his nun." Berthie told Carnelian excitedly, though Carnelian had his doubts.
"What makes you think anyone would take in a nun with a soldier? They might even think you kidnapped me. Is this why you found these outfits, Berthie? Did you really think someone would take us in from the rain dressed like this over the way we usually dress?"
Berthie nodded as he took Carnelian's hand and entwined their fingers while beginning to walk closer to the house. "I carry a large sword around with me. Do you think people trust someone with a weapon who isn't military? Also if you follow my lead then I guarantee we'll have a place to shelter ourselves from the storm."
Once again Carnelian put all of his trust in Berthie as he walked to the door of the little house and knocked on it. Carnelian was never that good in social situations and he especially felt nervous being back in the nun dress. He just knew these people would question it and he had no idea how to respond! Not to mention Berthie wasn't exactly a socialite either. How would he react when the owners opened the door? It didn't take but a minute for him to find out.
The door opened and revealed an older woman, mostly likely in her fifties or so, with greying hair, a few wrinkles to show her age but not too many to make her seem older than she really was.
"Can I help you two?" she asked, giving them both curious looks.
Berthie took off his cap and bowed politely. "Hello, madam," he said, sounding very much like a completely different person. Carnelian had never seen him act so cordial. "My name is Berthierine and this," he gently pulled Carnelian from behind him and kept his hand on the small of his back, presenting him to the woman, "is my lovely wife, Garnet." Carnelian froze for a moment before remembering he needed to play along, though of all the names he could have picked…as if the dress wasn't painful enough….
"A pleasure to meet you, madam," Carnelian said, playing his role perfectly by holding his dress and giving a respectful curtsy.
"I was hoping I could ask for a rather unreasonable favor." Berthie said kindly. "You see, we have no home and no money for a room at an inn. I heard a storm was coming and I would hate to have my wife get caught in such horrible weather. Would it be too much to ask if we could stay the night here?"
Rather than immediately give them an answer the woman crossed her arms and eyed them up and down, a skeptical look on her face. After a few moments of sizing them up she simply said, "Since when did nuns have husbands?"
Carnelian couldn't help glancing at Berthie with a worried look sweeping across his face, though Berthie didn't even falter. He seemed perfectly in control as he gave a small smile and quickly bowed again. "Forgive me, I know we look like an odd pair, but I assure you this is my wife. The story is quite an interesting and sad one. I would be more than happy to tell it to you, that is if you'll allow me the chance to do so."
The woman just laughed and stepped to the side, waving her hand to signal them to come in. "You got me. I'm a sucker for love stories. Come on in, though I'm sure I'm going to regret it."
"You won't regret saving two people from a devastating storm, I promise." Berthie said as he entered the home but not before giving the woman a quick kiss on her hand.
"Thank you so much," Carnelian said as he followed Berthie into the house. "Mrs…?"
"Amber. Follow me to the family room, Sir Berthierine, Lady Garnet."
The two slowly followed behind her, Carnelian impressed at Berthie's acting abilities. Carnelian had to admit that Berthie played off this whole act very smoothly. Perhaps he really had been thinking when he got the outfits and his intent was more than just to upset Carnelian. Berthie was odd one and full of surprises, but sometimes he made it all worth it.
"Honey?" Amber said when they all entered the family room. Sitting on the couch, reading a book was a gentleman, most likely the same age as Amber. He too had grey hair, most of it already gone, though his face was much wearier than his wife's. He looked up at her slowly before taking into account the two strangers behind her.
"This is Sir Berthierine and Lady...oh, well would Sister be more appropriate?" Amber asked Carnelian.
"Actually Garnet is just fine. There's no reason for you to be so formal as to call me Lady and well…I'm no longer a Sister." Carnelian said that last part with hesitation and looked at Berthie, who gave him a look of approval. It seemed Carnelian was catching onto his plan rather quickly.
"And you can also just call me Berthie. Berthierine is a mouthful."
Amber smiled at both of them before turning her attention back to her husband. "Well, Berthie and Garnet need a place to stay from the storm coming up. I hope you don't mind that they stay here for the night. They were actually about to tell me the story of how a nun came to marry a soldier."
The husband gave Carnelian and Berthie the same skeptical look his wife had given them. He set his book on the small table in front of him, never taking his eyes off the new guests. "I'm not sure we should trust a nun who turned her back on God and ran off with a soldier."
"No sir, I never turned my back on God. It's just that…there were circumstances."
"Please, allow me to explain, good sir," Berthie said, standing a bit in front of Carnelian. Amber sat down next to her husband but not before offering Carnelian and Berthie a smaller couch across from them. Everyone was quiet, ready to listen to Berthie's story. Even Carnelian was curious how the two of them came to be married.
"The story is a short one, but quite a sad one," Berthie began. "As you already can tell I served in the military. My wife and I were only married for three months before I rose in the ranks and had to be away from home. We wrote to each other every single day, but then one day…." Berthie put his hand on Carnelian's knee and looked at him, not a look of love, but more a look saying he dared him to continue the story. He wanted to see if Carnelian could keep up their charade.
"One day the letters just stopped coming," Carnelian said, staring Berthie right back in his eyes. He didn't often like taking Berthie up on his dares, but sometimes Carnelian needed to remind Berthie that he was just as clever as he was.
"I wrote and wrote, but I never got a response back." Carnelian continued, turning his attention back to the couple. "I didn't know what to think. And then…that day…two soldiers were standing at my door and I just knew what they were there for. They said…the place where Berthie was staying had been…had been…." Carnelian drifted off, pretending to tear up. Berthie put his arm around his shoulder and let Carnelian hide his face in his neck as he cried crocodile tears. Carnelian felt wrong for deceiving the sweet couple in front of him, but he couldn't deny that this was a bit fun. Berthie was definitely rubbing off on him.
"The area I was staying at had been attacked. It had been in the middle of the commotion with the guignol threat ending and the Queen dying so the incident was sadly ignored. However, a rebel army attacked us and almost no one made it out. I was severely wounded." He pointed to the scars running down his face, it being the proof of what he was saying was true. "But I wasn't dead. I was taken care of by a young couple who were both nurses. They wouldn't let me go find my wife for weeks and it killed me on the inside."
"It killed me too," Carnelian interrupted. He turned back towards the elderly couple, tears streaming down his face, though not nearly as many as Amber had falling down hers. "I couldn't imagine ever loving another man. Goodness, I couldn't even imagine continuing living. To keep myself from committing suicide I decided to join a convent. I would dedicate myself to God and pray everyday for my husband's soul."
"Though when I was well enough to travel I went straight to our home just to find it abandoned. I asked around and everyone told me my wife had given away all of our belongings, which really wasn't that much anyway, and had run away to a convent. The only thing on my mind was to find my wife and hold her in my arms again. I went to the convent and I sat on a pew, watching the nuns say their prayers…and then I saw her. I saw Garnet."
"And I saw him." Carnelian said, looking at Berthie and holding his hand in his own. "I thought I was hallucinating, but it was really him. He was there in front of me, a true blessing from God."
"So I took Garnet away. We had no money, no food, no belongings and we were both runaways, but…we had each other. We still do." Berthie kissed Carnelian on his forehead and turned again towards the farmers, indicating his story was finished.
"Oh, you poor darlings," Amber said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue before finally offering one to Carnelian as well. "I can only imagine how hard that must have been for both of you."
"It's been continuously difficult. I gave all of our money away when I joined the convent as well which is why we don't even have enough to rent a room."
"When we do get money it goes straight to food. I don't even have the money to buy my poor wife a new dress."
Amber just shook her head, tears still flowing down her face. "You poor dears," she said. "I would be honored to have you two stay the night here. My husband, Alabaster, and I hope you enjoy your stay here."
Berthie and Carnelian both stood, one giving a bow and the other giving a curtsy to the husband and wife.
"We are most appreciative," Berthie said. "It's also a pleasure to finally know your name, Mr. Alabaster."
Amber giggled while lightly tapping her husband on the shoulder. "My manners left me. I should have introduced him from the beginning. You can call him Al. Much like your own name, Berthie, Alabaster is a mouthful."
"And the other man? The one hiding over there in the kitchen?"
Berthie pointed to a doorway on the other side of the family room, leading straight into the kitchen. Everyone turned towards the entrace, trying to see the man Berthie was talking about. Carnelian had no idea there was even another person in the house, but he soon realized Berthie was telling the truth when a man, younger than Amber and Al walked out. He was a suspicious looking character with a lean body covered with overalls, a dirty face with a twisted nose, slick black hair that was just as dirty as his face, and what Carnelian thought was an odd look in his eyes, a look he had seen too many times in his lifetime.
"Oh, this is Damour!" Amber said, walking next to him. "He helps us out around the farm. Al hired him a few months ago. We're getting older and aren't able to do a lot of the necessary work we used to do."
"I see." Berthie whispered, eyeing the other man. Damour slowly made his way over the guests, walking up to Carnelian before even acknowledging Berthie. He took Carnealian's hand in his own and planted a kiss on it, much to Carnelian's disgust.
"It's a pleasure to meet such a fine madam, a Lady of God no less."
Carnelian didn't hesitate to take his hand back, hiding it behind his back just in case the other man tried to hold it once more.
"The pleasure's mine," Carnelian said slowly.
"Oh, Garnet!" Amber cried, running over to Carnelian and putting her hand on his back. "Follow me, dear! Oh, it's been so long since I've had another woman to talk to. Let's chat for a little bit before we retire. We should retire early and try to sleep through the storm! Al, show Berthie to the guest bedroom!"
Berthie gave Carnelian a quick kiss on the head before Amber dragged him off. She ran up the stairs and Al slowly followed behind her, motioning for Berthie to follow him, though before Berthie went anywhere he wanted to speak to the other man.
Damour gave him a curt nod as a hello before beginning to walk past him, but Berthie roughly grabbed his shoulder to stop him. He extended his hand out to the farmer as friendly handshake, a sweet smile gracing his face. Damour hesitantly took it, but the moment their hands touched Berthie squeezed it as if he was squeezing juice out of a lemon.
"Gah! Are you insane?" Damour cried, falling to his knees with Berthie bending down to be on his level. Berthie leaned forward to whisper in the other's ear.
"Don't you ever touch my wife again. I don't want to have to kill anyone on this visit."
And with that Berthie followed Al to the spare guest room. The sweet smile turned to a cynical one as he gave himself a pat on the back for coming up with this little plan to get out of the storm. It was turning out to be a lot more fun than he had ever thought it would be.