This is part one of a two-shot that I've been wanting to write for a while.
Warning: M for an attempt at suicide…
The mild fog and heavy rain that fell upon the stones of Dunwall heightened the somber mood of the ceremony that was taking place at Dunwall Tower. The crowd of guests and officials were gathered around an ornate casket of ebony laced with ivory. Standing before the casket was High Overseer Whewell of the Abbey of the Everyman; who was giving the deceased his last rites.
"Today we lay to rest Emperor Roderick Kaldwin I, husband of Empress Linda Kaldwin, now passed, and father of lady Jessamine Kaldwin. May he find comfort in the next plane, and may the Outsider never corrupt him…"
Lord Protector Corvo Attano stopped listening to the High Overseer by that point; his gaze and attention were inevitable drawn to his charge, lady Jessamine, who sat in the seat that he was standing by, ready to guard her in a moment's notice. The Serkonian watched his lady with a sad expression that mirrored hers. He felt helpless as he saw her beautiful features stressed from the misery and sadness inside her. It was his duty to protector her from any threat, but this threat was nothing he could fight. For the eighteen year old woman, barely on the cusp of adulthood had lost her only remaining family member and gained the responsibilities of ruling an Empire in return, hardly a fair trade in Corvo's opinion.
Once the High Overseer finished his rites, Jessamine stood up from her seat and walked over to the casket to place a dark blue rose on the lid, before quickly walking back to her place at Corvo's side.
Corvo couldn't tell were the rain ended and the tears began.
With that the servants picked up the casket by its handles and carried it down to the royal crypt to be laid to rest for all of eternity.
With that the crowd began to disperse, either returning home or talking amongst each other. The Emperor had died of a serious case of pneumonia, yet the crypt hadn't even been closed and the gossip of poison was already spreading like wildfire.
Corvo followed Lady Jessamine through the crowd. Every single one of the guests was giving their condolences as she walked by, but all she would give in return was a gentle nod to show that she had been listening. While the guests walked away feeling that their voiced concerns helped her to recover, Corvo, unlike all the nobleman and woman that said those words, actually knew his lady enough to notice the slight lowering of her shoulders, the twitching of her fingers, the head that hung just a little lower with each word.
It truly hurt Corvo to see her like this.
Once all the guests had left, it was nearing nightfall and Lady Jessamine went upstairs to retire for the night, with her loyal bodyguard right behind her like a shadow.
Along the way, a servant had stopped her to remind her that her coronation was tomorrow and asked which outfit she wanted to wear to the ceremony, holding up two outfits as she asked.
Jessamine pointed to the black one with shaky fingers and started to walk on to her bedchamber before stopping in her tracks and requesting that the servant bring a glass of wine to her room as soon as possible.
Corvo raised an eyebrow at that, Jessamine wasn't one to drink. He remembered when she had first tried an alcoholic drink when she was thirteen years old; her face twisting in disgust as she stuck her tongue out in an attempt to get rid of the bitter taste, and Corvo, in all his over protectiveness that came from being a new bodyguard for only a year, franticly checking if it was poisoned.
They reached the door to Lady Jessamine's bedchamber, which Corvo politely opened for his lady who silently walked in.
When Jessamine turned around to dismiss Corvo for the night concerned eyes met moist ones that lingered for a second longer then was comfortable for the lady and the bodyguard, and quickly moved their gazes to anywhere but at each other.
"You're… dismissed for tonight… Corvo… you may retire to your bedchamber," the lady said in a weak whisper, afraid that she might not have been heard until her lord Protector spoke up.
"If it's alright with you my Lady, I'd rather stand guard at your door tonight,"
Jessamine looked worriedly at Corvo, her gazing lingering for a few seconds before saying quietly, "Alright,"
"Here is your wine, My Lady," said a feminine voice behind Corvo, causing him to turn around to find the servant girl from before holding a tray with a wine glass and a bottle with a cork in it.
"Thank you, that will be all," Jessamine replied without so much as a glance at the servant, her gaze still transfixed on Corvo for a few seconds longer before she turned her attention to the servant and told her to place the wine and glass on the nightstand.
With that the servant and Corvo simultaneous gave a curt bow to the Lady and walked out of the room to give her privacy.
Once he and the servant were out of the room, Corvo closed the door and stood watch, instinctually looking down the hallways for any sign of trouble.
Not fifteen minutes had passed when Corvo heard the sound of breaking glass from his lady's room. The noise caused him to quickly whip around on his heels, saber drawn and at the ready to fight whatever was threatening his charge as he pulled the door wide open.
Only to find Jessamine cutting her wrist with a shard of glass.
Corvo quickly dropped his saber and grabbed onto the screaming and hysterical woman, yanking the glass shard from Jessamine's grasp, cutting both hers and his hands in the process.
With the improvised weapon out of her hands, Jessamine simply collapsed around Corvo; grabbing onto his dark grey jacket to prevent falling to the floor as she clung to him and cried her heart out. Corvo wrapped his arms around her trembling form in an attempt to calm her as she dampened his shoulder with her tears. The protector could hardly believe that the usually strong, resilient and rebellious teenager that he has come to… care about and respect be reduced to a terrified child. Soon Corvo found himself rubbing Jessamine's back with his hand soothingly, and it seemed to work if her crying being turned into subdued whimpering was any proof.
"What's wrong?" Corvo heard a servant call from behind him, he turned his head to find a few servants and guards staring wide eyed at the sight of the soon to be Empress clinging to her Lord Protector with a bleeding wrist.
"Someone find Sokolov, now!" Corvo ordered and one of the servants quickly ran off. The Lord Protector then ordered one of the maids to clean up the floor that was covered with broken glass and some blood.
Once the servants got to work with their orders, Corvo gently guided Jessamine to her bed and had her sit down. He then calmly asked to see her wrist, which she mechanically raised for Corvo to see. There was a bad cut across the skin, but luckily it hadn't cut the artery that pulsed underneath, something he was thankful for.
Still, it was bleeding and it almost angered Corvo to see it, especially since it was the Lady herself that had inflicted the wound. Corvo Attano had dedicated his life to protecting her wellbeing with the cost of his if necessary; to see the red fluid become exposed to the air was an insult to his duty and purpose as the Lord Protector.
After a few minutes, Anton Sokolov, the royal physician, came in and went through the procedure of disinfecting and bandaging up the lady's wrist and hand with linen. Once he was done with the empress' hand, he gave her a mild sedative and Corvo helped her under the covers of her bed as she slowly lost consciousness. Sokolov then cleaned and bandaged Corvo's hand and bid him good night; by then the other servants had finished up cleaning the mess and left as well, leaving Corvo alone with the sleeping Empress to be.
Corvo grabbed a chair that was residing by the fireplace and placed it down by Jessamine's bed before sitting in it.
He stayed there all night, not even a blink daring to come and close his eyes for a split second. He simply watched her like a lighthouse watches the expanse of the ocean. He stayed still like a panther guarding her kittens, ready to react and protect its children's life with its own. He protected her, his Charge, his Lady, his Empress…
The next chapter will focus on Corvo trying to comfort Jessamine after her coronation.