Author: P. Kristen PM
"Creatures of Grace" Feminist Sword & Sorcery Stories: (Indirect prequel to "Franchesca".) Faye never had an interest in magic. But to help her best friend, the princess, she accepts the challenge to learn one lesson. And the price turns out to be much higher than she ever expected. Warning: Lesbian angst ahead!Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Angst - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,681 - Favs: 1 - Published: 12-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3087303
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
by P. Kristen Enos
© 2012 – P. Kristen Enos (I own these characters and their drama.)
With the noon sun glaring overhead as she sat in the royal box, Faye really did not want to be there. Her short list of excuses ran out long ago and "No" was not an option.
Before her was a field of men, young and mature, eligible and not, trying their best to impress her with displays of skill and brawn as they sparred in preparation of the upcoming games.
With Cathryn officially off the market, Faye was immediately bumped up to the most eligible woman in the court, even though she had no true fortune or title other than being a ward of the King. And with the royal wedding with just a week away, there seemed to be a heightened intensity of some apparently wanting to make it a double event.
So she had to watch every display with a stone expression and her mind very, very far away.
This made her one and only magic lesson with Simon seem like a pleasurable past time.
Cathryn glanced over and smirked. She squeezed Faye's hand and whispered into her ear, "It's written all over your face in Faye Language that you'd rather be learning magic."
"This does make me wish I knew a transportation spell of any sort."
"Well, it could be an excuse to spend time with our favorite wizard, who's probably holed up in his laboratory."
"Given that you just reminded me of what happened the last time I had a magic lesson with him, that's a very mixed message."
"At least it took your mind off this extravagant peacock display for a moment," the Princess said with a mischievous wink.
"You do realize your fiancé is one of those peacocks."
"I never said I wasn't enjoying the display." To press her point, she turned to watch the city's men at their finest with a certain deep appreciation.
Faye took the brief moment to take in the vision of that beautiful profile, even though she knew it would only make that deep pang return.
Cathryn suddenly looked confused and alarmed at her scenery.
Faye turned to see that Gerard and his best friend were in a yelling and shoving match, which quickly escalated into a full out riot involving the entire mass of men before them.
An exhausted Simon appeared at the study doorway, much to the surprise of the waiting young women.
"You're done already?" Cathryn asked anxiously.
"Yes, Your Highness," he said with a bow, "I took care of the worst injuries. I've left the rest for Gerard because he could use the practice. And I need to rest anyway."
"Oh, okay." She then noticed how he gave a furtive glance at Faye, a unconscious sign that he wanted to be alone with her without saying it. "Well, if you both will excuse me. I think this is a good time for the princess to say some words of appreciation to everyone. Faye, why don't you pour Simon a drink that he deserves?"
Her friend gave her a brief narrow look but did what she was told once she and the man were alone.
Simon took the goblet and drank it deeply and gratefully.
Feeling compelled to be a hostess, Faye asked, "Are you all right?"
He nodded. "Performing so many healing spells in such a short time is incredibly draining. - But I needed to clarify something with you. Gerard told me that what he remembers is that he and Theodore were sparring with swords like normal and he claims Theodore purposefully tripped him. And the fight started with them and the next thing he knew, everyone one was brawling around them."
"That sounds about right. I didn't see what you described, but I saw the surrounding men almost turn into a mob just seconds."
Sitting down on a couch, he let out a very deep, pained sigh as he rubbed his brow.
Faye could see that something was seriously wrong.
"Everyone had magic essence in them. Gerard's magic essence."
"He cast a spell on them?"
"I don't think intentionally." He paused, clearly not wanting to say what was on his mind. But then he looked her squarely in the eye and explained, "Magic users whose power is driven by will power and their own essence are the most powerful type. Even if they don't know or practice that much actual magic. What truly makes them dangerous is that their emotional state can be projected to nearby people. It's more commonly known as a charm spell. And it can be accidental or intentional."
Faye sat down next to him as she absorbed what he said. "So you believe Gerard caused all of this? Is he that powerful?"
"I hadn't thought so, but he would have eventually reached that level if I continued to tutor him. And I suppose it's good to find out about this before something more serious had happened. I've seen incidents of this that created irreversible havoc. While I believe anyone can learn magic, this is the real reason why not everyone should."
"What can you do to prevent this from happening with Gerard again?"
"Nothing. Except that I stop teaching him and move on. Unfortunately I don't have the power to make him forget what he knows. Hopefully, his old reluctance about learning magic will come back and he'll decline practicing and give up on it… And he must never know about this true cause. Even with the best of intentions, he may come across a scenario to abuse his power. Especially as one in line to the throne once he marries Cathryn."
"Is there a risk that he could hurt her? I mean, not directly, but I suppose there could be a time where they would get into a fight and his charm could make it escalate out of control."
All of the blood drained out of Faye's face.
Seeing her reaction, he added quickly, "Luckily, Cathryn is the more even-tempered of the two of them. I think she has the natural will-power to keep such a situation from happening."
"But you can't guarantee that."
He gave her a look and then relented with a nod. "But she can't know about this either. I can see that they have a relationship where they tell each other everything. It's envious in its own way."
Then he swallowed and said with a certain amount of nervous tremble in his voice, "Faye, I have to leave. And I can use the upcoming wedding as an excuse that I've taught him all that I think he can learn. I would like you to consider coming with me."
As his words sunk in, Faye's expression turned to complete surprise.
Clearing his voice, he looked at her directly and took her hand. "This isn't something spontaneous that I'm asking of you. I've been thinking about this for quite a while now. I know you have no romantic feelings for me. But I like you a lot, and I think you like me. I am fine without having children. And I promise I can take of you. I'll settle down and we can make a home together. I've seen marriage who have lasted a long time on less. Please, think about it. I don't need an answer right away. All I ask is your serious consideration."
She started to answer but then stopped and nodded.
Simon stood, wiping his sweaty palms on his shirt. "If you'll excuse me, I must tell His Majesty about my plans to leave."
Once welcomed, Cathryn opened the bedroom door to see that Faye had been pacing on the balcony. With the light from the fireplace, she could see the worry on her face and thought she could feel the projected anxiousness.
"You wanted to talk to me in private?" she asked curiously.
Faye paused and then asked, "How is Gerard?"
Cathryn was genuinely surprised that not only did she ask about him but that it seemed sincere. "He just turned in for the night. Two days of constant magic spells has made him exhausted. Luckily we have a few days before the wedding so hopefully he'll recover by then."
"Oh, well, good. Sit down, please," Faye said as she pointed to the couch.
Her curiosity piqued more than anything else, Cathryn sat and waited for her friend to join her. "Is this about Simon leaving?"
"What do you mean?" she asked hesitantly.
"Oh, come on, Faye," she said with a slightly pointed look. "I can see that you like him, and he's crazy about you. It's completely understandable that you're unhappy about him going away for good." Even though she tried to project a composed aura, she could feel her own heart start to race in anxious turmoil.
"It's not exactly that. It's about why he's leaving," she answered with a more forceful calm in her tone. "He didn't want me to tell you or Gerard this but I want you to know. It's for your safety."
Now alarmed, Cathryn was trying to suppress this growing fear within her. "Go on."
"He believes the riot was caused by Gerard's power. Or more precisely, Gerard is powerful enough to influence others when he's feeling extremely emotional. At least that's how I understand it. So Simon believes he needs to stop teaching Gerard anymore magic, and that's why he's going."
Cathryn's mental wheels were spinning as she tried to absorb this. In a weird way, this did make a little bit of sense. She couldn't believe Gerard's explanation that he got into a fight with Theodore, who is extremely easy-going by nature. But this now started to make sense.
"But why didn't he want to tell us? By knowing this, we can take steps to prevent it in the future."
"That was my point as well," Faye admitted, her own frustration bubbling to the surface. "But he said something about just having knowledge of this ability had caused people to unintentionally use this power on others. However, because I know, I don't Gerard to hurt you."
"Hurt me? He would never do that."
"Maybe not on purpose. But we know we has a temper. And while your citizens may not know it, we both know you're capable of being overly stubborn yourself. Simon concedes that it's a very real possibility that you two could embroil yourselves in a fight that could go out of hand. After all, you're going to be married."
Cathryn was still very skeptical. "Well, yes, we'll be married. And I wouldn't marry a man I didn't trust, even with this knowledge. I just wouldn't allow a situation to escalate."
"Cathryn, how can you be so sure? You don't have magic powers and you don't have any fighting skills to protect yourself. If Gerard – "
"Okay, hold it!" Cathryn said as she grasped her hands to get her focus and calm. Staring into those gray eyes, she said firmly, "You may not trust him. But I know you trust me. And that's all you need to focus on."
"Cathryn, there's more to this than you know."
Seeing the normally calm and reserved person be so unnerved started to really scare her. "Then tell me."
Faye opened her mouth but the words became stuck.
Cathryn narrowed her eyes and stared harder. She could feel the pounding pulse through her fingers, and it caused her own heart rate to increase. And she could feel the fear… and something else rising within her.
Those gray eyes pulled her in, her mind becoming so intensely focused that everything else became hazy. And those lips looked so soft and… inviting.
She never felt such strong desire before.
Absolutely nothing else mattered: she leaned forward and kissed her with absolutely hunger and passion.
There was a miniscule pause before Faye returned the kiss with the same intensity.
As the sun started to appear on the horizon, Cathryn closed and bolted her bedroom door behind her. Her heart was still pounding madly and she trembled so hard that she was shaking. She was extremely grateful that she had not encountered a single waking soul, including the still sleeping Faye.
She didn't know what unnerved her more. That she committed an act where the mere thought of such a thing repulsed her deeply. Or that this specific act was the best sex she ever had.
A knock on her door made her jumped in panic.
Quickly composing herself, she called out, "He-hello?"
"It's me," Gerard called out gently, though the tone of surprise in his voice was evident.
She didn't want to open the door, especially to him…. Though admittedly Faye ranked higher on her dread list.
She took a deep breath and pulled it open.
"You're up," he said as he stepped in. Once the door was closed behind him, he moved to give her a kiss, which she returned with as little contact as possible.
He paused to note that she was fully dressed, and it looked like the dress she wore yesterday.
"Yes, I couldn't sleep so I did a lot of walking. I think the wedding jitters are sinking in. So, you've recovered?" she said brightly, trying to avoid the questions forming in his eyes. She started to undress, but then she remembered that she had scratch marks down her back, and perhaps more signs.
"Yeah," he said, his attention back to the reason why he came to her room in the first place. His easy grin returned. "I was hoping we could have a little alone time. It'll be at least a couple of hours before the servants come knocking."
Cathryn's heart dropped to her feet as he said the one thing she didn't want him to say.
She tried to remain composed as she said, "Darling, normally I would. But I hadn't had real sleep tonight."
"Oh," he said with disappointment. "Then – "
"AND, I think with the wedding pending, we should do something a little kinkier."
He brightened considerably. "I'm listening."
"We should wait. Until the wedding night."
The blank response on his face showed that was the last thing he had considered.
She gave him her most promisingly wicked smile and a quick kiss on the lips. "Trust me. I'll make it worth it." And she meant it.
He clearly looked skeptical but he conceded and left.
Cathryn collapsed on the bed with a deep breath of relief. She was immensely glad that her attraction to him was as strong as ever.
Then she thought about what had just happened with Faye, and her anxiety and bewilderment returned. She couldn't blame the influence of strong drink for that. And she didn't even want to think about Faye like that again.
Suddenly, the two year old memory of the horrific magic lesson flashed in her mind. The image of that plume of flame which had engulfed her best friend.
Cathryn sat bolt upright in the bed as the final piece fell into place.
Faye remained stretched out on her bed and stared up at the dark ceiling. Though the sun had been up for an hour, she felt no hurry to start her day.
She wasn't surprised to wake and find that Cathryn had slipped out of the bed. She couldn't help but feel a little bit relieved.
While she finally understood why people were so obsessed with sexual gratification, she knew there was a price to pay. And she wasn't in any hurry to deal with it judging by the knot she felt in her stomach.
However, Faye could sense Cathryn's presence before hearing the knock on her door.
Though she was filled with dread, Faye slipped from the bed and pulled on a robe to make herself somewhat presentable for what was to come.
Wordlessly, she opened the door, with her head bowed and eyes averted. She stepped back to allow entry.
Cathryn's fury was all too evident as she walked in, clearly keeping her distance from the other woman.
Once the door was closed and their privacy restored, Cathryn stated, "You bewitched me, didn't you?"
"… I think so," she answered simply.
"But you weren't under a spell, were you?"
"… No, I wasn't."
"And you could have stopped it but you didn't."
Cathryn slapped Faye so hard in the face that the latter stumbled backwards onto the floor. As she towered over her, angry tears were streaming down her face.
"I won't tell anyone that you raped me!" Cathryn growled. "But I won't trust you to be alone in your company ever again!"
The door was slammed shut after she stormed out.
Faye didn't bother getting up from the floor as she wiped away her own tears.
Simon sat in half-packed study and stared out at the clear blue sky.
The weather would be gorgeous. Ideal with a royal wedding, as well as a two month trip to the southern coast.
But he really did not want to leave.
He even tried to look through his books to find any spell to invoke amnesia, to make Gerard forget some of his spells and power. However, since such a spell was against his ethics, his books didn't have anything like that.
Then he sensed Faye's presence as she walked down the hallway, towards him. There was a darkness about her aura that made him feel like he was not going to enjoy her arrival.
When she knocked, he forced a smile as he allowed her in.
"I didn't see you at lunch today," he said brightly as he tried to busy his hands with packing.
"I wasn't hungry," she said with a polite smile as she stood by the window to be out of the way as well as get a view of the castle gardens. "Simon, I owe you an answer."
"Oh." His heart raced anxiously as he tried to force his smile to remain.
"I can't marry you, even platonically because I couldn't shake the feeling that I'm giving you false hope, no matter how small."
"Oh." Despite himself, his smile faded.
"However, I would like to go with you and become your apprentice. And even your friend. If you're open to it."
Simon looked at her blankly, not trusting that he heard what he thought she said.
"So how much room to I get for my belongings?" Faye asked as she looked around the room.
His grin returned in a flash, as goofy as ever.
As they gathered at the stables, Simon gave a deep bow of appreciation to the King. "Thank you so much, Your Highness, for your generosity." He looked appreciatively at train of six fine horses that pulled two wagons loaded with personal goods and supplies.
King Thomas slapped him on the back and declared, "Of course. Consider it a dowry of sorts since you're running off with my adopted daughter!" He then put an arm around Faye and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "He ever treats you badly, just send a message and I'll send an army to the rescue. Or maybe just Cathryn."
The small gathering broke out into laughter as the young woman in question stepped forward while Simon said his farewells to Gerard.
No one else seemed to notice as the young women forced smiles as they seemed to prepare to say their goodbyes.
As they stiffly hug, Faye whispered into her ear, "I am so sorry. I do wish you happiness with your husband and many children."
Cathryn's face was frozen and she opened her mouth to say something, but she couldn't force it out.
The men gave each other a knowing look as they stepped back to give them room for what would be an exchange that would result in tears.
Faye glanced around to make sure no one was in earshot. She then held the now wary Cathryn by the chin to look her in the eye, this purposefully projecting her will with as much magic as she could muster. "Please forget what happened."
As Cathryn stared back, her wariness faded and true regret bubbled to the surface. She then embraced Faye tightly and said, "I wish you didn't have to go but I'm happy for you. Simon is a good man. I'm sure he'll make a good husband for you in time."
Faye didn't respond right away as she held Cathryn tightly to her. "Thank you for your well wishes. Perhaps I can come back and visit. Some day."
Cathryn stepped smile and gripped her hands firmly. "I'm going to hold you to that. In fact, that's a royal command."
Faye finally let go, still studying her face carefully. Their eyes were both starting to brim with tears.
When she and Simon were finally on the road that led off the castle grounds, she looked back at the waving group, knowing that deep down in her heart she would never see Cathryn again.
- The End -