Author: thedarkworld PM
Yuri, lesbian. Talia has a choice; her life as a princess, married to a prince, or the life she wants with Lerea, the woman she loves. But in a world that expects her to be compliant, will she find the courage to stand up for the life she wants?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Words: 2,280 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 08-05-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2705878
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Princess Talia moved through the hallways of Lerard Castle in her long yellow wedding dress, feeling the silk clinging to her legs and the long train dragging out behind her, binding her to this place, this fate. As the doors opened to the Great Hall, she hesitantly stepped forward, trying to forget the past two years of her life, the woman she loved and the man she was going to marry.
"If you cannot stand up to your parents and announce that this wedding is a charade, then I am leaving!" Lerea's words stung her from memory. She had said them the last time they had met, in the forest outside the city. The forest that had been the home of their private affair, its protective branches keeping their secrets.
Lerea was a general in the army, strong and brave, not afraid to fight or die. She had met Talia when she had been assigned to guard her, and been drawn to the woman who seemed so alone, so lost in a world that she had been born into but obviously did not belong in.
"It's not that easy!" Talia remembered her own words. They sounded weak and pathetic to her now. "I'm a princess. The whole country is looking at everything I do! I can't snub the Prince of Ashtea, offend my parents and abandon my country to run away with you!"
"The first time I met you, I thought you seemed sad. I thought fate had placed you in the wrong life, the wrong world in order to make you suffer. Then we were happy, and I thought that maybe, maybe you would be willing to throw away the pretense and have the courage to fight for something you wanted. But I was wrong." Lerea sat on a log, her white armor glowing in the moonlight, her long crimson hair flowing over it like blood stains. She had always been an imposing figure, somebody Talia admired, loved... But she had been weak, always so weak. She needed Lerea's protection, but she was unable to give back what Lerea needed. Talia knew she was cruel, but the terror of leaving behind the only things she knew tormented her day and night. It wasn't possible to run with Lerea into the uncertain darkness. They would be chased down, apprehended, imprisoned for an illegal relationship. Even if they did survive, they could not take their riches with them. Disinherited, they would have nothing to survive on. They would have to return home in shame and failure. No, perhaps it was better to give the relationship up then suffer humiliating shame and torment, to have it ripped from them by a cruel world.
"We could still be together," Talia said, "I could still sneak out and see you. We could still have these moments... Nothing would change."
Lerea shook her head angrily, "I love you, but I have some self-respect. I'm not willing to be your dirty little secret any more. I..." She choked up, and Talia saw pain in those eyes. It killed her inside to know she was the cause of that pain. "Marriage is sacred," Lerea said, "I think, when you say such things, that you have no respect for the holy promises you make. That if you are willing to sleep around on your husband, then what might you do to me, if you ever tire of me?"
"I would never... Lerea... You are my true love! You know that! But the world won't allow us to be together. It wants my marriage, heirs to the throne..."
"Bullshit! Heirs are not needed when you have three older brothers who will take the throne before you. It is their children who will be the princes of the future. Your children will just be minor royalty." Lerea looked angry, her eyes like two hot coals.
Talia looked away from that piercing stare, "I am not strong enough to call this off, Lerea. Too much time and the hopes and dreams of too many are waiting for this wedding. I cannot let them down."
"What about the future you want, for a change? Why do you always let others dictate your fate?" Lerea shook her head, "This is useless... It just breaks my heart even further, to know that all the things I dreamed of are for naught. My commission with the army is over now, and tomorrow I am leaving, Talia. Come with me or stay here, it is your choice, but I have no future here. This is not my home."
"Where will you go?" Talia was shocked. She knew that Lerea did not want to continue their relationship if Talia married, but if Lerea left, she would never see her again...
"I might return to my father's manor and raise some horses, or ride to the East to seek adventure. Either way, I am leaving tomorrow. Put your life in order and make your decisions by then, Princess. I love you... but I want to be your only one. I know it is cruel to give you such an ultimatum, but I cannot spend my whole life standing still, waiting for a kind word in passing or a moment of your time. That's not the kind of person I am..."
They had parted with tears, their last lovemaking passed into memory, the taste of angry words still on their lips. It was not the goodbye either of them had wanted, but it was the only goodbye they had managed, and Talia knew she deserved all the harsh words that Lerea had thrown at her. What she didn't know was how she would face the choice before her.
Life had never been a choice for her. Most decisions, even that of who would be her husband, had been made for her by her mother and father, the King and Queen of Lerard. She had disagreed with many of their choices, but she had let them rule. it had seemed easiest to let them decide what was best for her, while she had been dreaming about all the lives she could have had, fleeing into her fantasies.
But Lerea was not a fantasy. Lerea was a real person, and Talia had caused her pain with her lack of strength. She had been willing to be sucked into the joy of love, but had only taken from Lerea. Time, energy, strength... Lerea had been there to listen to her and she had offered little in return.
But how could Lerea understand the challenges she faced? She was not a court woman. Her father was a noble lord who had raised her almost like a son after his own had died. She had joined the army, and was not the kind of woman to worry about her appearance or what others thought of her. It was one of the things Talia loved about her, she was never afraid to just be herself, and show her true feelings about the world, while Talia had gone along with everything she hated. Needlework, court chatter, gossip and tradition had all irked her, but she had never spoken a word against any of them. Now, she was accepting the final chains of her bondage, a marriage to a man who was kind but whom she did not love, while the only person she had ever truly loved was leaving her side forever...
The huge wooden doors to the Great Hall opened before her. Her father waited and took her arm. Each step up the aisle was a step to her doom. She looked around, hoping that Lerea was in the audience somewhere, watching her. She wanted a sign. Something to tell her that it was not too late to turn back. But no sign came, and she was handed off to the Prince, who walked her up the rest of the aisle.
For the rest of my life... Love will be just another fantasy for me, like freedom, like flying as birds do, like distant lands. I will go over this day in my head, playing it differently, wondering how it could have been if I had tossed the Prince aside and called for Lerea, if I had turned from the altar in tears and ran away... But it will only be a fantasy, and the reality will be that I will be married and I will never see Lerea again...
Talia turned and looked at the Prince. He had a kind face, and was a gentle person, the kind of Prince that many brides dreamt of. Her mother had told her that many princesses don't love their suitor at first, but love comes in time...
She didn't want love to come in time. She had love, the only love that she had ever wanted and needed, but she was going to throw it all away because she was afraid that all the ladies in court would speak ill of her, that her mother would cry, that her father would disinherit her... What did any of that matter, when really, all she wanted to do was to spend her life with Lerea?
As that thought went through her mind, her eyes caught a pair of green ones in the crowd. Crimson hair flowed over the light leather armor that Lerea was wearing, and a small bag hung on her shoulder. She was dressed to leave... Dressed to go to the East, or dressed to run away. Either way, she was here, waiting for her. Even after all that Talia had put her through, she was here waiting for her one more time.
Talia had her sign. She withdrew her arm from the Prince's as they reached the altar. Catching Lerea's green eyes with her own, she smiled. Attempting to rush away, the train of her dress caught under the Prince's boot. She tugged at it as he looked at her in surprise, and her dress ripped. The crowd all looked around in confusion to see what was happening, but she did not look at them. She was borrowing Lerea's strength, that courage that she loved and admired. She was taking from Lerea for the last time, before a lifetime of giving back to her. Her eyes fixed on Lerea's, Talia did not have to see the shocked and offended faces of her mother and father, the look of hurt surprise on the Prince's face, or the scandalized faces of her people. She could feel only the calm reflected in those green eyes, and the tears of gratitude that were swelling up in them.
The crowd parted as Talia pushed through them. Lerea stood, not breaking that stare, understanding that Talia was borrowing from her and allowing it, supporting her with all the love that she felt. She dived into Lerea's arms and Lerea embraced her tightly, kissing her deeply.
It was then that the crowd turned into a riot. Angry at the wedding that was not happening, and the scandal of the kingdom's only princess kissing another woman, the people started to throw things. Lerea drew her sword and deflected various objects before guards rushed forward to confront her. Holding Talia at arm's length, she fended them off while keeping Talia within reach.
"We must run, Talia. I do not wish to hurt these people." Lerea retreated back, pushing Talia behind her while she guarded her. Then they broke free and started running. Talia knew the halls like the back of her hand, and they darted into a secret passage behind a tapestry that Talia knew from her childhood.
"There's no guarantee that others don't know about this passage, but if I remember correctly, it should take us outside the city walls. We need to hurry." Talia hurried forward, but Lerea grabbed her arm.
"Are you sure? You can still turn back, say that I forced you to do it, or that you were unsure. They would still take you back. They would be willing to forget..."
"I'm sure," Talia said, "I've never felt more alive. For the first time in my life, I fought for what I wanted. I don't know where we go next, but it's okay. This gilded cage was never my home, just the place where I felt most comfortable. It never stopped being my prison. Thank you for reminding me of that. "
Outside the city walls, they ran across the fields until they reached the forest that had been their protector for so long. They walked for days and days, Lerea leading them, but not telling Talia where they were going, "Trust me," she said, and Talia did. She had put her entire life on the line for this, and she trusted that Lerea had a plan.
On the fifth day, when Talia was exhausted beyond belief, they came to a small cabin in a clearing. The sun shone down on it and a small river flowed past it. It looked like something from Talia's dreams.
"It's not a palace," Lerea said, "It's not even our permanent home. But it will suffice until they forget about us, and then we can move on, find somewhere else to live. I know you're used to better, Talia..."
"It's beautiful," Talia said, "I don't need riches to survive. I don't miss all my dresses, or the court gossip, or the finery of being a princess. All I want is a warm place to sleep, by your side... Always."