Title: Out of My Hands
Author: fais2688/ the. eye. does. not .SEE
Pairing: None. (Yet.)
Universe Note: I know stories like this can go very cheesy very easily. I tried, I really tried not to let that happen with the story. If it is taken as seriously as I wrote it, I'm hoping that never happens. Please read and enjoy. (And review!)
Do me a kindness…And please leave all preconceived notions at the door. Though the characters may have the same names (or variations of names) of the characters we all know and love and hate, the people in my story are not, on all counts, exactly the same at their counterparts in the Grey's Anatomy universe. Thank you.
Story Note: So I'm afraid I may have spoiled you all for the progression of this story with that one-shot I posted before… That happens very far in the future. But I guess it's good to know a happy ending is coming? Yes/No? Maybe? I don't know. Sorry for kind of ruining things. I thought of the rest of the story after I'd already written and published that one-shot, though, so I was spoiled too. We're even. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Grey's Anatomy or A Song of Ice and Fire. But I do own my plots and my original characters. I also claim ownership (which I share with the rest of the fandom) of Mark Sloan and Lexie Grey, because, let's be honest, Shonda screwed them up so much that she shouldn't even have the rights anymore. I'll try my best to give them and their relationship the love, respect, and maturity it deserves.
*deep breath* Here we go!
It was a bitter cold winter's day when she heard the gentle knock on her door. Alexandra did not turn from her spot by the window where she had been watching the new snow fall slowly to the ground. She was not at all eager to see who was at the door. She already knew who it was, besides; there were few people who would enter her private room so politely.
She stared down through the thick glass of the window, watching a few common children attempt to catch the icy-cold flakes with their tongues before they fell to the ground. She could hear their high-pitched laughter, even from a floor above, and the deeper, louder accompaniment of men's laughter from a few streets over. She lifted her eyes, watching a couple farmers and stablehands stumble out of the town's tavern and head home. They had drunken grins on their faces, she could see, and though she did not recognize them, she already knew what they were celebrating. What everyone was celebrating. When they began singing and praising the kingdom's military prowess in loud voices, she finally turned away.
She found her father waiting at the door, polite and dignified as ever. His hands were clasped behind his back, and his face was grim. Before he spoke, she already knew his words held bad tidings. And she already knew whom it concerned.
"Leave us, would you?" He murmured softly to the woman tending the fire. "I should like to speak to my daughter alone." The maid, Sarah, nodded immediately, setting down her miniature bellows she'd been using to stoke the fire and curtsying quickly to Thatcher Grey before hastening to the door. She spared a sympathetic look to her mistress as she left, but Alexandra hardly took note of it. Sarah disappeared through the doorway, pulling it quietly shut after her, and then they were alone.
She stared at the brass buttons on her father's coat as he made his way towards her. He moved slowly, and she took the time to study the bronze-colored metals instead of thinking on what she knew already he would struggle to say. She wanted one last moment of peace, and if it had to be about buttons, so be it. The brass was worn, old, even faded in places. Like most all their possessions, it hadn't been replaced or augmented in near five years. Everyone had tried to do their part to help the war effort, even the Greys.
"My dear…" he began softly, meeting her by the window. Thatcher Grey took his daughter's hand in both of his, and she stared at the slight wrinkles on his flesh momentarily. Slowly, she raised her eyes to meet his. She took note of the fact that his gray hair had begun receding more rapidly, and that in some places, he had gone completely bald. Her usually wide and ever-curious brown eyes narrowed. She wondered when it was that her father became an old man, and how she hadn't noticed it when it had happened.
You'd been too busy becoming old yourself to take notice, a voice inside her head snapped. An old, old maid. The snapping faded to a dull, sorrowful whisper. And now alone.
"I'm afraid I have bad news."
"Truly?" She wondered. She struggled to smile without a care, yet only pain showed on her face. "I had thought you were bringing me glad tidings, coming in here grim-faced and solemn as you did."
"I had thought feigning otherwise would only wound you more," Thatcher replied calmly. He sighed, looking down. He seemed to remember that he was holding her hand then, and he patted it absently, searching for the right words. "I… I deeply regret that…"
As her father stumbled over his words—the way he did anytime he spoke of anything emotional—Alexandra suddenly wished her sister were here, the elder one, to tell her the truth hard and straight. Death was not a matter to be trifled with or sidestepped, and Meredith knew that; their mother's death had taught them that. Alexandra sighed. But her sister was not here. She was at Lady Carolyn Shepherd's, cavorting around with the woman's only son as she did most days. Her mouth twisted unhappily. Don't either of them know that there's was a war on? There are men dying and starving in the fields while you two sip wine and flirt over five-course meals. She wondered, briefly, if Derek ever regretted it—living, holed up safely in his deep woods, while all the others died for him. Living while her own husband-to-be was murdered with sword mace and axe, in the fire and glory of battle.
"…that I have the misfortune to tell you…" Her father's sorrowful voice captured her attention again, though she sorely wished she could ignore him. I know already, can't you tell? She felt like shouting. Can't you see it on my face? "Your betrothed has passed on, my dear. George, he…" Thatcher swallowed. "He has risen to the Mother and Father Above, it can be sure. Gods bless him."
"When?" The word exited her mouth as if from someone else's. She had no feeling in her body anymore, less so in her heart, and none at all in her voice. He's dead. Hearing confirmation from another living soul just made it all the more real. She had known, of course, but until now, until it was said aloud…
Thatcher grimaced, and Alexandra wondered why he seemed to be dreading this moment even more than initially breaking the news. Did George die a horrible, gruesome death and Father does not want to upset me by telling me the details? I am a woman, so naturally I must be protected at all times from cold realities. Her inner sarcasm faded. Or is it all a lie, and he has deserted or disappeared? But how is that any worse? At least he would be alive. Shamed and ruined, but alive. She felt her heart soar with hope. Maybe he is alive yet!
"At…" Thatcher cleared his throat. "At the Steppes, they have told me. In… In the sixth hour, to hear the officer tell it. He took an… arrow, during the battle. They say it was a quick death. P… Painless."
She felt a crippling chill rush over her, and it had naught to do with the winter weather. The Steppes. The sixth hour. She felt like dying herself, or at the very least letting her trembling knees buckle beneath her as they longed to do. The sixth hour. The last hour. The last battle. She felt like screaming to the Heavens, cursing the gods above. Her husband-to-be had died what could have only been minutes before the rebels surrendered. How can the gods be so cruel? She wondered hatefully. How can they be so evil and unjust? From the way her father had stumbled over the word "painless," she knew George's death was anything but. She wondered how much he suffered, and for how long. She wondered if he had thought of her before he died.
"Alexandra? Are you…" Thatcher Grey had just been about to ask if his daughter was alright, but he stopped short. That was not the sort of question that should be asked. He furrowed his brows. He had no idea what question should be asked at a time like this. "Is there… anything I might do to comfort you?"
Alexandra suddenly felt her body turn to stone at the suggestion. There is naught you can do. There is naught anyone can do. She drew herself up, straightened her back, and looked her father in the eye. "I do not need comfort, Father," she replied coldly, "for I am not grieving."
Thatcher attempted to sputter through a protest and form a reply. Alexandra did not wait for him to gather his wits before she interrupted.
"I did not know him, Father, or don't you remember? He was my betrothed, but we met only once, for not more than an hour or two. I have no cause to be sad, nor to weep or suffer fainting spells." I am not weak.
"You have every cause to be sad, and to weep," he replied firmly, having finally found his voice. He knew she was only saying these things to cut herself off from what she felt and appear indestructible. No doubt she would be weeping on the inside, he figured, even if she did not shed a tear where others could see. "He was to be your future, my girl, and now he is gone. All the plans we made are gone along with him." He looked his daughter in the eye, saddened but serious. "You have no future now, Alexandra."
She had no ammunition with which to argue that point, so she didn't.
He continued tiredly, obviously worn out. "Your elder sister is to be married," he told her with a sigh, "and your younger has had some offers… I know not what will become of you now—"
"Married?" Alexandra choked out, latching onto that first short phrase and not having time to worry about the second. Laura? Offers? She shook her head, focusing on the most prominent problem. Meredith is getting married? Alexandra had expected a wedding at some point, of course, seeing how much time her older sister spent with that Shepherd man… But no one would dare plan anything of the sort while half of the boys and men in every village were away at war, like to never return. No one would attempt to be happy while those bloodthirsty traitors were raiding and looting and trying to tear the kingdom apart. Who would hold a wedding at such a time?
It took her a minute to remember the war was over now, that the rebels had either bent the knee to the king or been slaughtered for their crimes, and that—for most—this was a happy occasion. She thought back to the drunken men singing happily, and the children playing boisterously in the streets. Only a week ago, those babes would have been grey-faced and dull; those men would have been violent and angry, most likely off at war. No one would have dared make a sound as loud as laughter at that time; no one would have dared try to carry a tune, unless it was a funeral dirge.
"Yes," Thatcher Grey admitted. "Married." He looked suddenly ashamed for having brought it up at a time like this. He had forgotten that she did not yet know. "Meredith informed me almost a week ago." He looked away, to the door, as if hoping the daughter in question might appear and quash all awkwardness between the two. But she was far away, up in the mountains with that that Shepherd boy, his mother, and his seemingly never-ending gaggle of loud and intrusive sisters. Alexandra had only met a few, but she disliked them immediately on sight. Meredith, of course, had fallen right in with them as if they were her own flesh and blood. "The Shepherd heir dropped to one knee the moment he heard the news of the surrender, your sister said. She accepted, of course. It will be official before the end of the year. They are… very eager to move on."
As is everyone.
Alexandra felt a pang in her chest. Of course. Of course. It made sense now. The silence from her sister, the long days away from home, spent at Lady Carolyn's home to the east. No doubt she preferred the cheery to-be-wedded bliss of that household than this one, now so poisoned with grief and loss and ruined futures. She wondered if her sister would ever return; maybe she would stay with Lady Carolyn and her charming son forever.
Meredith was her closest sister, her confidante on all things that would or could need confiding and one of the few women she had always looked up to… but in that moment, Alexandra wouldn't have cared if she never saw her once-beloved sister again.
Thatcher took her silence for not what it was. "My dear," he began softly, touching her cheek with his fingertips. She looked up at him slowly, and he closed his eyes when he saw her brown ones to be dull and lifeless. "You may weep," he encouraged again. You need not stay strong for me, his eyes seemed to say."It is alright. Your sister announcing marriage at a time like this is ill-planned, I agree." He sighed. "The boy was your betrothed, and—"
"And nothing!" Alexandra exploded suddenly. Her father almost recoiled at the fire that sparked in her eyes, and the rage in her voice. "He was nothing more than that! Nothing!" She was almost screeching now. She hadn't raised her voice so loud to her Father since she'd been a babe at her now-dead mother's breast, and then she couldn't be blamed for the noise. But now she could. Her voice immediately fell, and with it, finally, the tears. Thatcher almost sighed in relief. Tears were something he could handle. Or at least understand. "He was nothing more," she whispered, numb now, as the tears made wet streaks over her pale white face. "For six years I waited, four of them while he was away at war, and I never got what I was promised." Her lips trembled as she looked to her father. "I never got the life I was promised. And now I, I will never get it."
Thatcher Grey gave his daughter a weak, sad smile. He took a step towards her, and then another. Before she knew it, she was collapsing in his arms again, just like she had when she was a girl and Mother had died.
This pain was not so hard to bear as that one. She did not sob, nor cry boisterously as she had those years in the past. She simply let the tears fall and run their course. Her father stroked her hair and murmured soothing words, and she squeezed her eyes shut and took the comfort that was offered her.
"Once your sister is married and settled," he began once her tears had dried and she'd stepped away, "we will find a suitable husband for you."
Alexandra closed her eyes, breathing deeply. She had known this was coming, yet somehow hearing someone—her father, no less—speak the words aloud, her circumstances had become all the more real. All the more dire. She suddenly felt panic grip her chest. She was almost twenty; well on her way to being an old maid. And well past it, in some circles—in the only circles that mattered.
She began doing the sums in her head. She thanked the gods above that it was winter, and the beginning at that. If her father found a fitting bridegroom quickly, as he was apt to do, she had half a year. Alexandra took a breath. Half of a year to grieve. Half of a year to be a girl. Half of a year to be free, to be her own person in as many rights as she was still able to claim before her husband took the rest from her.
Half a year, she had…
And then they would marry her off to some stranger, much like a trader would sell a horse for breeding. It was more permanent with humans, of course, yet no less animalistic, she was sure. Alexandra opened her eyes. Her father was still looking at her expectantly, obviously waiting for her acknowledgement and therefore her wholehearted agreement. She took a breath, and made the only choice she had. "Yes, Father." Her voice shook, and she hated herself for it. I am stronger than this.
He left then, after pressing a quick kiss to her cheek and squeezing her hand. She let him go. He had more important matters to attend to than simply arguing with his own childish daughter. There was nothing she could say to change his mind anyway, and what did she expect? To stay unmarried for the rest of her life? To be a maiden until she saw her Final Day? To never know a man's touch or kiss or caress, to never bear sons or give birth to daughters? She shook her head. She could do none of that. Those were the makings of horror stories; things her girlhood nurse told her to make her behave when she was feeling unruly. She was a woman, and every woman had a role in life, no matter how small. Hers was to be married, as before… Just not to George.
She returned to the window, but the falling snow no longer held the appeal it had for her before, which had not been much to begin with. She abandoned the pursuit within seconds. When she turned back around, she caught sight of a figure in her doorway. It was her father again. Like before, he knocked softly before crossing the threshold of her rarely private domain.
He cleared his throat softly. "When I entered…" He stared at his daughter from across the room. "You seemed to already know of George's death. Did someone else tell you? One of the girls?"
Alexandra shook her head.
"Then how?" He frowned, confused. "Did you… feel it somehow?"
She didn't respond this time. Instead, she walked to the small wooden desk on the far wall of her room. Thatcher watched as she opened the bottommost drawer. She took a breath, staring at the drawer's contents, before beckoning him over. Her father stood at her shoulder, staring down. The drawer was filled near to the brim with parchment. Some were scrolls, some proper letters, some even had envelopes.
"We wrote to each other after he left for war," she explained softly. "They were always moving, the troops, but he never forgot to write. Even if they were in battle, he wrote. Every week, on the Day of the Gods, he would send me a letter. He used a swift bird, and was never far. The letters arrived not long after he'd writ them."
Thatcher grasped it all immediately. "You did not receive a letter this week."
"No, I did not."
"I'm so sorry, my dear."
"I am too." She shut the drawer hard. The sound of her words and the slam of wood against wood reverberated in the small room. Alexandra closed her eyes, but did not cry. I am stronger than this, I am. I must be, for my future depends on it. "I am too."
Author's Note: The beginning might be a little slow in going, I know, but it will all pick up soon enough. :) I'd love to hear your first impressions of this story! I hope you liked it :) Please leave your thoughts in a review below!
I hope you all in the USA have a great 4th of July; everyone else—have an awesome Wednesday!