A short summary: The Zion elven lords Tarazed and Acubens, aided by their parents, kidnapped the young queen, and their cousin, Meissa wishing to force their society into changing. When the ruling king Saiph offered to fulfill a single wish to the one who brought his sister back they returned her, but the royal guard assumed them hostile and fired at them. Acubens threw himself in front of his brother…

My brother was a most curious creature. He was not of any dazzling beauty, he did not possess the second sight, his song voice was average, at best, and while he did dance well his movements were too stiff to be called graceful. Yet, there was something surreal about him. Tarazed was unique, and even if I would live to see ten thousand years and meet every Zion elf and other being I would never come across another like him. It doesn't look like I will live that long though. No longer than today. It hurts so badly…

Soft fingers in my hair, warm body next to mine, Tarazed's violet eyes filled with tears. He wraps his arms around me, pulling my cold, shivering body off the ground and holds me close as my blood pours out of me and over both of us. I am a mess, I know, forgive me brother, forgive me. It was him or me. I wish we wouldn't have left that large oval bed of ours. A bed for children, not for adults like ourselves. What I wouldn't give to have convinced him to remain in bed with me this morning, just to lie there under the warm covers, in his arms. I slowly wrap my arms around him, doing my best to ignore the pain in my back.

"I love you, Acubens," he whispers in my ear. "I love you so much…"

Love me… I remember that day, when I realized that Tarazed loved me, loved me more than siblings normally love each other. I wasn't very old; I think that was why he did it. It was cold, like now, so very cold. I remember that the mist clung to the mountains even though it was noon. A man was going to be executed, a married man, for associations with someone he was not married to. It was an odd case, I remember, for there were two men, not a man and a woman. That isn't why I remember it though. People had stopped to watch, because it was such a strange thing, as did we, the two of us and mother and father. Tarazed didn't want to, I know, I could tell even then. The fact that he loved me dawned on me as he pressed my face into the soft red cloth that covered his stomach, holding on to me as if I was to be torn away from him at any second. It is not correct to display affection in public, yet Tarazed did, and that is why I remember it. Though it was not affection that had brought him to pull me close and hold on to me like that. It was the execution of the two men, one married man and a prostitute. I was not entirely clear what it was all about and father had refused to speak about the matter. Tarazed explained it to me afterwards when we had gotten back home.

I couldn't see much at first, Zion elves being very tall and me being very young at the time. I couldn't have been more than a decade. I could hear though. I could hear the whips as they traveled through the air and when they met the men's backs. Father looked thoroughly sickened, and mother had some strange kind of righteous air about her as she watched it happen. I was shivering, not because of the cold but because of the silence and the way the whips sounded against the torn skin and flesh of those men. That was when Tarazed grabbed me, suddenly and roughly. I was too scared to yelp in surprise. He pulled me close, as close as this, and held on to me as if I was more precious to him than anything else, even the Motherland itself, just like now. At that moment, I realized that I was. I think I always had been, I just never realized it until then. I could barely turn at all, but I managed to look up and see the way Tarazed looked at them. Not the men receiving their punishment, but at the crowd and the women dealing out the punishment. It was not the typical emotionless expression we are trained to keep. It was a look of deep and utter loathing; I still remember how much it scared me. He just stood there, silently, holding me so tightly I could barely breathe and hated them all. I realized how much my brother loved me and how much he hated the Zion society at the same time.

I can feel salty tears against my chin, his tears. That night I was the one who cried, next to him in the bed we have always shared. I remember vaguely that Tarazed let me cry without even attempting to comfort me or tell me that things would be alright. He didn't want to lie to me. He knew the laws and the people wouldn't change unless they were forced to. Even now I cannot think of anyone aside from my brother who would have dared to stand up and fight. That was why I had to do this. I hold him closer, so close that I think I will pass out from the pain of that arrow that is steadily digging itself deeper into my flesh. My dear brother is brave, and he is brave for my sake. I know that. I try to be brave for him, even when I really am terrified. That is not how it is supposed to be, I know, father always told us that the Motherland comes first, followed by the Queen and then the family. We are supposed to risk our lives for the sake of the Motherland and the Zion within, not for our lovers or family members. Yet I know in my heart that I would never die for the Motherland, I don't want to leave it but I would not die for it either. I will die for Tarazed though. That is alright. For him I will happily sacrifice my life, just like he would have done for me.

Rules, laws and restrictions are for other people, he once said, not for you and me. They can hurt us, sure, but they will do so no matter what we do, so let us enjoy what we have while we still can, instead of living our entire lives in misery. At first I objected, not really understanding why he wanted to do it. It is a sin, I remember saying, and he just smiled at me. Soft words about how pleasure is a sin in our society, and that sometimes sin is a pleasure, too.

"It hurts," I whisper.

"It should have been the other way around," I hear him cry as I close my eyes and kiss him, though I can taste the blood in my mouth.

It could never have been any other way. The first time it hurt, in the dark night, though he did his best to make it easier for me. He was so uncharacteristically gentle with me that night, and those that followed. He barely moved out of fear of hurting me, like now, only different. He was closer then, closer… I wanted him closer still. I loved him then. I always loved him but I loved him in such a different way then. It was no longer a matter of ryuvani, and it was not filthy like that for a mushyre. What I felt for him ever after that was something between ryuchinin and ryuzanath. Just breathe, he told me then, just breathe. Everything will be easier if you breathe.

It's cold now, cold and I cry, just a little, salty tears mixing with blood as the pain grows worse. My fingers are numbing and I know what that means, but I don't want to think about it. Tarazed wraps his arms around me, tighter, tighter still, as if trying to make us one again, one final time.

"Acubens," he whispers. "I love you. I love you more than anything."

"I love you too," I smile slightly, despite the pain and the spreading numb feeling.

It's nice to say it though, even if we already knew. It's nice to hear it, just one final time. So nice to feel his skin against my own as everything begins to grow darker and colder, still. I cling to him, for I do not really wish to leave him. I wish I could remain with him, for just a little while longer. Just a little while.

I remember he watched it, Tarazed watched the whole thing intensely. Not because he approved of it, no, I knew he hated it with a raging passion, a passion which, I learned later, would never fade. He watched it all in order to, in some twisted way, learn and all the while he hugged me so close that I could barely breathe, let alone turn and see what was happening. That was when I learned that he hated the society we lived in, and that I was the most important thing in his life. My brother was the one who was there for me, always. I would not change Tarazed for the world, and I will never betray his trust. I will take our secrets to the grave, all too soon it seems. I do not care if it is a sin, not anymore. If there is anyone who could overthrow the entire Zion system it is my brother, and I will not let them kill him. I'll die before I let them. Though it would have been nice, just one more day together, never even leaving the bed. We wouldn't have to talk; we could just lie there and…

He runs his hand through my hair as I cough up blood, too much now. The arrow is steadily digging deeper into me as Tarazed whispers that he loves me over and over again through his tears. I remember it now, when it hurt so badly, I remember what he said… With every breath it digs deeper, into vital organs, tearing the tissue, but that is alright, I still do what you told me. Just breathe.

I remember those two words you whispered in the dark, and I do just that. Just breathe.

A/N: Ryuvani – love between siblings.
Mushyre – lover (not married), also a mild term for prostitute.
Ryuchinin – a highly emotional kind of love, above the kind of love which has a sexual nature, close to worshipping.
Ryuzanath – love for your husband/wife. Sexual, loyal and trusting.