The Prince and the Storyteller. Chapter 8.
Alec gripped Magnus' hand tightly, watching as the storyteller's chest rose and fell in time with his breathing. Gretel had insisted that Magnus spend a few more days in the infirmary in order to fully rest up before returning to Alec's side. Even so Alec was always here in his free time, sitting next to Magnus' bed and waiting for him to wake up. Word had spread like wildfire across the castle about Magnus' punishment and Robert's continued threats. The servants had started sending messages amongst each other about the king's mood that particular day, warning Isabelle's handmaidens who in turn would tell Isabelle and Alec. The chefs had spent the past few days preparing some of Robert's favorite foods for dinner every evening. Even Alec's tutors gave the king only the most exemplary compliments about Alec's personal studies. It was like the entire castle was trying to spare Magnus the king's rage, or avoid it themselves.
"Helen and Aline have been helping me with my clothes." Alec said, glancing down at his outfit, it was black once again, with rabbit's fur resting softly along his collar and shoulders. He almost missed the colors Magnus would dress him in. "And father praised me the other day while watching my fencing lesson. I think he might be in a better mood than...earlier." Alec bit his lip, looking at Magnus' closed eyes. "I wish you were awake. I just...I just need you to tell me that it's not my fault, Magnus. Or, if it is, just tell me to leave you alone and I will. I...I have to stay here, but I'd give you money to travel anywhere you wanted." Alec trailed off, looking down at Magnus' hand, limp in his own. "I just...I'm sorry."
"Prince Alec?" Alec looked over his shoulder, blinking in surprise when he saw Camille at the door of the infirmary. He hadn't seen her since that disaster in the library a few days ago. She had claimed to be ill, only needing a few days of bed rest. Robert had been concerned, the royal ball would happen in just a few days. Today Camille's dress was a twist of deep blue fabric lined with pastel green lace, her hair pulled away from her neck. Alec remembered the kiss from earlier and felt his lips tingle unpleasantly. He looked back towards Magnus silently. Camille moved forward after a moment, standing at Alec's side. She looked down to see where Alec and Magnus' hands were joined. "Is this your storyteller?" She asked quietly. Alec nodded, setting Magnus' hand back on the bed gently. "Has he awoken yet?"
"Briefly, but never when I'm around. I'm just so busy." Camille hummed in acknowledgment.
"My Prince?" Alec turned to look at the attendant waiting for him at the infirmary door.
"What is it?" He asked, already knowing that whatever it was, it would take him from Magnus' side once again.
"The King has called for you, sire." The attendant told him, sympathy in his eyes. "He asked to see you as soon as possible." Alec chewed on his lip, looking back at Magnus.
"I..." Camille placed a hand on his arm, smiling at him gently.
"I'll watch over him until you return." She promised. Alec paused, flashing Camille a brief smile.
"Thank you, Princess Cla...Camille." Alec paused, glancing at the attendant, then Camille. "About that time in the library..."
"Think nothing of it." Camille answered easily. "It was my mistake, being so brash. I merely thought..." She trailed off, looking forlorn. Alec, moved by pity, reached out and squeezed her hand in his own.
"You are a dear friend to me." He said, hesitating when he saw the hope in her eyes. "Maybe you could be something more in the future." He mumbled the words like a shameful apology, knowing that he could never love the princess. Not like he loved Magnus.
"Thank you, Prince Alec." Camille looked towards the attendant. "It's best not to keep the king waiting, I'll stay with your storyteller until you return." She sat down in Alec's chair as the prince left the infirmary, Alec's voice a low murmur as he drifted away from the pair.
Camille watched Magnus for a long moment, before a sharp crack sounded in the air. Magnus gasped in pain, his eyes flying open. He looked around wildly, his gaze resting on Camille's face.
"Good afternoon, Magnus." Camille greeted, siting back in the chair. "Sad. It hasn't been that long since we last chatted, but I'm afraid I've already won this game." Camille smiled cheerfully at the storyteller. Worry filled Magnus' eyes.
"What did you do to Alec?" He asked, his voice a dry rasp. Camille laughed, shaking her head.
"Oh, nothing. It's what Alec will do to you." She answered airily, pushing a blonde lock of hair out of her face. Magnus watched her for a moment, a quiet rage brewing inside him.
"Camille. What did you do?" Magnus asked, his voice dark. Camille merely smiled at him, her eyes cold.
"A kiss is a tragic thing, isn't it? So many things can be drawn from a single kiss. The misconception of friendship. The taint of love. The bite of death." She waved a hand through the air lightly, looking at Magnus, a cruel smile on her face. It was the same smile she worn when she'd burned the Devil's mark into Magnus's eyes.
"Camille. Answer me." Magnus tried to rise to his elbows, hissing when he felt his back pulse with pain. Camille folded her hands in her lap, pouting at him.
"But I do enjoy these games." She said, looking over her shoulder at the door. "The mystery, the betrayal...watching you suffer..."
"But you enjoy granting wishes even more." Magnus smiled coldly. "In fact, if I remember correctly, you said you'd grant my every wish when you first captured me." Camille frowned, the amusement wiped away from her expression.
"I answer no wish against my own will." Magnus' eyes narrowed, and he smiled, knowing he had the upper hand.
"But you want to tell me. I can see it in your greedy eyes. Hear it in your sharp voice. Camille, I wish you would tell me what spell you've laid on Alec." Camille pursed her lips together, as if she were trying to hold the information in. Magnus watched her struggle for a moment, still smiling faintly.
"I know that childish prince has yet to kiss you since you've awoken." She finally burst out, glaring hatefully at Magnus the entire time.
"Because you yet draw breath. That is my curse on the Prince. Once he kisses you, you will die." Camille declared, a bit of her dark joy filling her again at the stunned look on Magnus' face. Magnus worked the curse over in his mind, before focusing back on Camille.
"How would I get rid of this curse?" He asked slowly. A small chuckle escaped Camille's lips.
"How do all of my curses end, Magnus? With true love's kiss." Camille smiled darkly. "Of course, kissing the Prince that you're so enamored with you would only kill you, but have no fear! I promise to make Prince Alec fall so deeply in love with me, that a peck from my lips will break the curse, and then you may brush lips with him again." Camille paused, tilting her head to the side in consideration. "Though…it wouldn't be the same, would it?"
"No," Magnus said, struggling to keep his tone neutral, "I suppose it wouldn't."
"Of course, you could always tell him about our little past, but how would you make him believe? By showing him your own cursed eyes? But what would he say?"
"I understand your point." Magnus hissed. Camille smiled fondly.
"Then sit back, boy, and watch as I take away the one you hold so dear."
"Am I going to be arrested?" Simon asked, looking around the heavily wooded area in confusion, before glancing down at his and Isabelle's joined hands. "Or murdered?"
"Why do you keep asking if I'm going to murder you?" Isabelle asked, pausing outside the vine-covered grate. She pulled the greenery away, looking to Simon. The musician stared into the dark abyss for a long moment, before looking to the princess.
"With all due respect, your Highness, if I were planning on murdering someone, I'd throw the body in there."
"Oh, shut up." Isabelle replied lightly, tugging Simon closer, until their lips brushed together.
Magnus rolled his shoulders experimentally, before looking to Gretel.
"Thank you for your help." he said, dragging on his shirt. It was the bright red apples wore when they were at their tartest on the fruit trees. "If there's anything I can do..."
"Be careful." Gretel answered, looking at Magnus, her expression serious. "Prince Alexander is the heir to the throne, if your being here jeopardizes his future reign...for the sake of the kingdom, should you even be here?"
"I don't know." Magnus answered honestly. "But so long as Alec wishes for me to remain by his side, I shall." Gretel studied him for a long moment, before nodding. She turned to Magnus' bedside table, picking up two bottles.
"A curious man visited you while you were asleep. He said you'd be needing this." Magnus accepted the flask, this one made from rose gold. Gretel looked at him evenly. "He looked rather green, so I was concerned for his health, however he told me that it was just a minor condition and not to be bothered." Magnus paused, studying the flask, turning it upside down to see the elegant carving of the initials R.F. into it's base. Liquid swished inside the bottle and Magnus smiled.
"I see, and that one?" Magnus asked, looking to the other bottle, this one made of thick glass. Gretel paused, before handing this one over as well.
"A balm made by me. To sooth the soreness of your skin and muscles. Apply it nightly until the pain and stiffness is truly gone, and relief will come much sooner."
"Thank you, Gretel."
"Do not thank me." Gretel replied, sounding somewhat put out. "Be thankful that our Captain sees good in you, Magnus. I fear it may be your only saving grace in the future."
"You're back!" Alec rushed forward, only to halt and look back to Aline and Helen. The handmaidens exchanged a look before making a beeline for the door without another word. Once the door shut Alec looked at Magnus, reaching out to gently touch his hand.
"Are you alright?" He asked. Magnus smiled down at him, nodding.
"A little sore, but I'll heal." Magnus saw the guilt that filled Alec's face and continued. "And you, my Prince? How are you?"
"I'm fine. I was just about to take a bath." He added shyly, looking down at their joined hands. Magnus faltered, remembering Camille's words.
"I could tell you a story while you washed if you wanted." Magnus offered. Alec looked up at him, his eyes wide.
"I thought..." The prince paused, before nodding. "...Alright." He leaned forward then, his eyes slipping closed. Magnus gripped the Prince's shoulders roughly, keeping him away, a panicked gasp escaping his lips. Alec's eyes snapped open, and he quickly stepped away, his face red. "I...I just...okay...it's okay...I understand." Alec quickly walked into his bathroom without another word.
Magnus thought about turning around and leaving at that moment, but a small, pained sound escaped Alec's throat as the door to the bath slid shut behind him. Guilt flooded the storyteller and he closed his eyes for a long moment. He didn't know how long he could keep things up, not when Alec wanted him so bad and he the same. But with one kiss he would be gone, and the storyteller didn't think Alec could handle the guilt of his death either. Because Alec would take the blame, one way or another.
The storyteller waited a moment longer, before he followed the prince to what could very well have been his doom.
A/N: Dun dun dun duuunnn. But yes, I feel this chapter is rather self-explanatory.
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