Author: Reema.A PM
With the Great War waging there is a sacrifice Aziza must make to save lives, but poison seeps into the closest of councils and lights fade. It is up to her and the man she forced herself to marry to bring back the light - but first they must learn how to love each other in order to do so. Rating for violence/goreRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 5 - Words: 18,062 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-01-13 - Published: 11-20-12 - id: 3075957
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I cannot believe I have neglected the story this long! My apologies.
A week passed by faster than she had anticipated, she had been primped and preened in preparation of the coming wedding, though she was not happy about the affair it relieved her to be able to open the windows and not hear the sounds of war, but even so that did not bring back the dead, nor did it mend a broken heart.
Outside in the streets Hamzah stared about with great distaste, women with haunted eyes looked at him as they passed, they rushed their children along. These people were just as affected as his people were – so why did they enjoy the war so much?
The convoy went to the palace and they were greeted by a man Hamzah had never seen before, he reminded him vaguely of Boz who was riding one horse away from him. "Welcome, most honorable highnesses." He said in a honeyed tone. "I am Mehmet, Advisor and High Councilor of King Latif." He bowed deeply to them.
King Obada did not look very amused. "What happened to Nazeem?" He asked.
"My predecessor was… inept… at the time of his departure." Mehmet replied without much hesitation. "I have proven to be quite capable."
Hamzah didn't trust him one bit – the same way he did not trust Boz when he first met him. There was something sinister about him.
He looked up at the palace and let out a long sigh, he was headed to his death – at least that's what it felt like.
"Everything will be okay." Mira said with a gentle smile, he looked at her, she sat behind him and she was staring up at him. "I bet you'll like her."
"Don't count on that too much." Hamzah said dryly.
"I know you will, and she'll probably like you." Mira said. "Scar and all." She teased.
He chuckled sardonically at that statement and said nothing.
Zeina stood in the room as Aziza stared at herself in the mirror, she braced herself on the vanity and she was breathing heavily, tears rolled down her face as she tried to keep herself from sobbing. "This is it." She said shakily. "I'm going to have to face him today – except a punch in the nose won't make him go away." Her shoulders quivered gently and her knuckles were white. She had been dressed in a beautiful blue dress that had gold trimming on the hem and sleeved, her Hijab was an even lighter shade of blue, upon her brow was a simple gold circlet – she looked lovely… Yet she felt terrible.
She didn't want to face the Prince – she felt like she was caged and soon her wings were to be clipped.
Slowly she walked to the window and she opened it, she heard silence – a mournful silence that came with respite after a long and bloody war – her heart ached – but then it rejoiced when she heard that all there was to be heard was silence – not the yells of men dying – or women losing their husbands, or children losing their fathers and brothers, just silence.
"I'm doing the right thing…" She said silently.
"Mehmet does not believe so." Zeina replied.
"Then I am sure that this is the right thing." Aziza said firmly as she wiped her tears away with her shaking hands. "I do not need to like him – or even tolerate him…" what she had to do was suck it up for the greater good. Zeina nodded gently and approvingly as Aziza composed herself. "Shall we?" The princess said as she stood at her full height.
Zeina curtsied to her and together they made their way out of the room. Slowly she walked through the corridors to the courtyard; before she walked to it she paused and peered around the corner, Kind Obada was speaking with her parents, her mother's face was somber for once, beyond them she could see the young Mira, her hair was like gold, and just to Mira's left stood her arch-nemesis and husband-to-be Prince Hamzah.
She did not know what to expect but for one she didn't expect that he would be touched by the war, his face – though handsome – was marred with a scar that barely missed his eye. He was tall, taller than she was, and his face looked serious – it gave her a sick sense of pleasure to see that he too was not happy. She stood straight and slowly she walked out the way many a manner mistress taught her to do. Her head held high, her hands clasped over her abdomen, and her shoulders held back.
King Obada looked on and suddenly she saw a grin cross his face, Mira smiled – Hamzah's reaction was exactly what she had expected, a scowl twisted on to his face. Her parents turned to her and waved her over gently, she walked over to them and then she dipped into a deep curtsy before she looked at them again. "Your Majesty, your highnesses." She said formally.
"Princess Aziza, you look radiant, does she not, Hamzah?"
She could see a nerve twitch in his jaw. "Lovely." He forced out.
Aziza wanted to smirk but that would be considered unladylike. So she just ducked her head but there was no mistaking the wicked gleam in her eye.
King Latif put his arm around King Obada's shoulders and he smiled. "Today is a day we can hope to move past our troubled past."
King Obada nodded solemnly, Aziza could feel a dark gaze upon her back, when she turned she saw Boz staring at her silently, his gaze made her want to run off in the opposite direction and hide. She turned from him and looked back at Hamzah, he too was glaring at her, except his glare just made her want to laugh and annoy him.
The kings, queen, young princess, and advisors decided to leave the pair alone to speak to each other. Aziza led him to a garden within the palace gates, he followed her reluctantly – not really trusting her to not pull something wicked.
She stopped to turn and look at him. "Thank you." She said.
"Why are you thanking me?" He asked.
"Because even though we cannot stand the sight of each other you've chosen diplomacy to try and stop this war."
"I'm not doing it for you." He snarled.
"And I am not doing this for you either." She said calmly. "I do not care if you are unhappy and you spend the rest of our lives together foiled in misery – all I care about is for the bloodshed to cease – even if it drives you in to having a thousand other wives to keep you happy."
He was honestly stunned to hear her say this; he had always thought that all women were one and the same – wanting nothing more than a husband to love them and to give them children – but this woman… She was willing to sacrifice her happiness and sanity just to save lives.
She was unpredictable – and that made her dangerous.
"You don't trust me." She said when she recognized the look on his face. "I guess I've never given you much reason to do so –" She looked proud of that. "I can't really say I feel sorry about that."
He scowled. "You're a vile woman." He said.
"I know!" She chortled, her eyes flicked to his scar for a moment before she looked away. "But we're in this together – there isn't much we can do about that now."
Hamzah stared at her for a long moment. "You are really willing to put up with this arrangement just so that this war can stop?" He asked.
"I'm the one who suggested it." She said as she turned away from him.
He did not remember her actually being pretty; all he could remember was a too-tan face, too-big eyes, and too-red hair. While he didn't know much about her hair, she had grown in to the rest of her features, and her skin was a nice tan. "Why?" He said.
She shrugged her shoulders and she stared at the rosebush she was facing. "I wanted the sounds of war to stop." She said. "It always too dark now… too cold… and the sounds never stop." She turned to him, her gaze was determined. "That is why I'm willing to suck it up – enough souls have been taken for the sake of this foolish war!"
"Foolish?" He said. "Your people killed my mother!" He yelled at her.
"And together we have killed each other's people!" She yelled back. "Three Thousand strong men have died in the past three years alone! More have died in five – and even more in ten! Boys – barely on the brink of manhood have gone to fight – and they have died! Men, too old to carry their spears have gone out to fight – and they have died! Every day I hear a new woman wail and sob – children cry out, and people mourn – did you not hear them? Do you not hear them in your lands?" She shook her head. "I have had enough! Enough people dying! Your mother was a great woman – but would she have wanted this foolish war?"
He studied her face for a long time before he spoke up. "No, she wouldn't – but it's too late to stop –"
"Listen –" She pointed to the west. "Do you hear them yelling and dying?" She asked. "It can be stopped."
"But that is just –"
She shook her head as she frowned. "It is obvious you do not see past your own devices of war." She said, her voice bore disgust. "Think about the greater good."
"Because you are such a saint." He said sarcastically.
She clenched her fists as she tried to keep her temper from exploding. "You are a terrible person." She said. "Ever have I tried to dream, but you were always there to tread on them!"
He snorted. "Please, tread on them? You could not achieve them if you tried." He turned away from her and crossed his arms. "Venturing in to the Distant Lands? And now you're trying to save people?" He shook his head. "You can't do it."
He was expecting her to yell at him, but when he turned around he found that she was not there, he could see her running into the palace, he wasn't even sorry to see her go. He thought she was foolish and idiotic. "She's a brat." He grunted before he turned on his heel and followed her.
She stomped about her room as Zeina watched silently. "Insufferable –" She seethed. "Horrible – hideous – terrible… MONSTER!" She yelled.
Zeina let out a 'Mhm' in response as she continued reading.
"And he has the gall to tell me that I cannot achieve my dreams!" She yelled angrily. "I will travel to the Distant Lands – and I will take him with me – even if I have to drag him by his tongue!" She said.
"I'm sure you will." Zeina said.
"I will, and I will make him eat his words!" Aziza declared.
Zeina said nothing, Aziza wouldn't call this a temper tantrum – but Zeina did – Aziza was having a temper tantrum. That prince seemed to be horrid, but Aziza really needed to learn how to control her anger. "Did you tell him that he upset you?"
"I bet he enjoyed it." She said darkly.
"I'm sure he did."
"Zeina! I don't know what to do! Tonight I'm going to be married to that horrible excuse of a man! I don't know what to do!" She threw herself at Zeina's feet and she put her arms in Zeina's lap. "It's too late to take it all back."
Zeina let out a long sigh as she shut her book and she looked down at Aziza, her eyes were wide and beseeching, her lips were pulled into a frown.
"You said it was for the greater good." Zeina said gently.
"I've never been more afraid." Aziza said quietly.
Zeina let out a gentle sigh as she put her hand on Aziza's head. "But you'll be a hero." She said gently.
Aziza let out a quiet sigh as she nodded. "I suppose so."
Zeina smiled gently. "Now, how about we prepare you for dinner?"
"Don't you mean the end of my life?" She questioned.
Zeina chuckled. "Don't be so over-dramatic." She said as she got up and began to prepare the princess for the Wedding Banquet.
Aziza allowed Zeina to primp and pamper her even more than she had that morning, this time her dress was a lovely shade of amber, her Hijab was done perfectly and upon her brow there were gold ornaments. Even she thought she looked lovely, but when she realized the reason to her dressed-up state she felt the need to want to gag."Are you ready?" Zeina asked.
"No." Aziza said dryly.
Zeina chuckled and led Aziza out the door. Aziza tried to walk as slowly as humanly possible. Hamzah was waiting for her at the end of the hallway, she had to admit he did look nice, he wore a dark blue tunic that was trimmed with silver, black breeches, and boots that had been nicely polished. He didn't look happy to see her, and when he turned his gaze to her – she felt nothing short of terrified, his scar made him look all the more formidable.
He held out his arm to her, and reluctantly she slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow before they walked into the courtyard where many were gathered. Both kings, and her mother looked proud – she felt like she was going to be sick, together they sat down, and she stared about at reluctant faces – people who were worn down by war – pain – and hunger… people who had been so full of life ten years ago.
When the religious official brought the marriage contract, she hesitated only slightly before she signed it – and she couldn't help but admire how steady his hand was when he grabbed the quill from her and he signed the contract – the bond formed – their lands united – the war was officially over.
Many people rejoiced at this – some did not look as enthusiastic – and Aziza was definitely not so enthusiastic – now that she looked at the man who was officially her husband.
He refused to look at her, and she could see his sister sitting with his father, she looked happy. Aziza felt like she was going to be sick, as everyone ate – and idle chatter was exchanged, she excused herself and left, claiming that she was feeling unwell.
She hid in a niche behind a pillar and she pressed her hands to her stomach as she tried to keep herself from crying – her sorrow was forgotten when she heard someone speak… the language was dark – almost like a hissing… she couldn't identify who it was that had been speaking.
"Fool! The contract hasss been made!" The voice said.
"I tried my bessst to ssstop it." A second voice – identical in tone and quality – replied.
"The massster will not be pleasssed!"
"We sssstil have time." The second voice said. "I have ideasss left."
"If you do not remedy thisss problem, you will die."
She was beyond terrified now – who were these people.
"Thisss time… be more creative – make ssssure the sssseed of hate growsss." The first voice sneered.
She remained hidden, she was afraid of what they would do if they found her. She silently waited and then she heard someone stomping about. She poked her head out to see an unhappy looking Hamzah. She had never been so relieved to see him in her life.
"Where have you been?!" He demanded.
She was thinking about telling him what she had just overheard, but his tone of voice made her forget everything and she scowled. "I felt like I was going to be sick, would you have liked it if I was sick all over your tunic? A charming way to start a marriage!"
He scoffed."Not that you care." He said.
She frowned and then she looked beyond him. "Did everyone leave?" She asked.
"Yes." He nodded.
"Oh – I suppose it's time we retired…" She said hesitantly.
His angry expression slipped away to one of hesitance. The pair had never been alone together – they never had need to. Together they retired to a room that one of the servants in the castle showed them to.
The room was bigger than her own, and there were more rugs and furniture… the bed was larger than what she was used to as well.
She saw that her things had already been moved there – as well as his own. Silently the pair moved about the room, they did not speak to each other – they did not brush against each other, each individual prepared themselves for bed, Aziza had changed into a nightgown, and then she sat to brush her hair, while he changed into night-clothes, and made sure his things were in order… Yet when it came to sleep, they both stared at the bed.
"I'll sleep on the couch." He said.
"Fine with me." She retorted as she tossed him a pillow.
He rolled his eyes and stomped over to the couch. "Probably better than sleeping beside you anyways."
She was too tired – and too upset to care. He went around the room, blowing out the candles, and she curled up under the covers, the new room made it difficult for her to sleep, and she could hear that he was not sleeping either, he kept tossing and turning about to find a comfortable position to sleep in – sometimes he changed couches altogether.
She finally sat up and she hesitated. "You should –" She began.
"No thank you –"
"I'm only trying to be polite." She snapped.
"I'm fine." He said angrily.
She wanted to say she wasn't, but she knew he wouldn't care anyways. She curled up again and tried to go back to sleep, it took her a while, but she was able to fall into a slumber that was full of dreams of treachery, snakes, and pain.