Shaul of Celestia

- One-shot -

The last thing I needed in my life were distractions, and that was exactly what she was.

Her eyes haunted me in my sleep - not the green ones that everyone else saw, but the violet ones that I'd seen in person as she'd danced her way into magical exhaustion.

And the feeling of protectiveness that took over my body at that moment had left me angry.

It didn't help that the woman tended to set aside her intelligence and embark in incredibly stupid activities, such as when she'd snuck out to visit her parents. I would have killed that man, the one called Big Jor, if she hadn't looked so horrified when I'd drawn the knife.

And I, the one that cared naught for what others thought, had settled for a simple message instead of a slow death for that criminal.

The castle was bustling with murmurs as I entered the dining hall, and I saw why when I looked toward the royal table. Two less chairs had been set out, and the only empty one was where I would sit. A glance around the room showed that there was one other person who was noticeably missing.

Well, that explained the furious chat Dmitriy was having with our father.

I strode over to my family, ignoring the fluttering of lashes as I passed eligible - and some pathetically ineligible - women.

I ignored the empty chair beside Dayna and stopped behind my father. "Where did you send them?"

Unless I was greatly mistaken, the missing chairs meant my father had sent my brothers - and probably Celestia - on some type of journey.

Dmitriy, who'd apparently been asking the same thing, looked flabbergasted when our father turned in his chair and answered. "They've gone to the Isle of Thorns."

The anger I felt at that moment was unreasonable and took all my training to keep under control.

He must have realized that. "Levi, Nolan and Celeste are being escorted by four guards that I've personally selected," he said by way of assurance.

"I am better," I stated. "I am the best."

Father nodded his acknowledgment. "You weren't needed."

"When will she be back?" I asked, stressing the fact that I was asking about her specifically.

Aunt Cay let out a small gasp from where she sat between her brother and Dmitriy, her head turning to berate me. Dmitriy did not look too happy either.

"Do not bother with the lecture, Aunt Cay. I will do as I please."

Father ignored the interjection. "They will return when they've integrated themselves somewhat with the ways of the Thorns."

"That could take years!" Dmitriy sputtered.

"And if it does, then they will be away for years," Father simply stated, although I highly doubted he would let it go on for so long.

I made to leave but my father's voice stopped me.

"Shaul, I would appreciate it if you begin training some of our men. You may choose the ones you feel have the most potential and carry out your mode of training."

Part of me was uneasy - another foreign concept - at the thought of staying behind. And it wasn't just about Celeste. I had spent all of my youth with Levi and Nolan, and it was strange to suddenly be separated.

The other part, the competitive part that kept me at the top of my game, wanted to accept my father's request.

"Who did you send?"

He understood what I meant. "Uri, Caran, Iram and Hivan."

They were good; I'd seen them train.

"Fine. I will begin today."

The pain struck as I was changing after an intense training session. The four men I'd chosen for my first batch learned quickly and even I was impressed with their progress.

I was in my room when lights exploded in my head and I fought to stand as images from Nolan's mind came to me. Forest; water; snake; blood.

Gasping for air, I stumbled to Levi's rooms, luckily not running into anyone on the way. It took a lot of effort to get my ring into the lock but I managed, thanking Sanu that my ring had access to all the rooms in the castle.

Books. Levi had a bigger collection than the castle library, but he was probably more organized. Trying to push the pain away, I pulled books out randomly until I found the collection on healing. Even so the shelves were extensive and I'd gone through dozens of books before finally finding a sketch of a snake resembling the one I'd been projected from Nolan's mind.

My eyes ran over the words, committing them to memory as I forced my way over to the bed. Finally giving in to the pain, I reached out to connect to my brothers. At the last moment, I made a desperate snatch at the bright light that shone near them.

It worked.

I blinked at my brothers, surprised that we were able to connect over such a long distance. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Caran bow.

Nolan looked worse than he did in my brief vision, and Levi looked just as bad as he sat next to his twin and shared his energy.

"How did you connect over this distance?" Levi asked, noticing me at last. Even his voice was a little broken.

Before I could answer, the sound of running feet reached me.

"What's wrong?" Celeste demanded. Then, "Shaul?"

Even in dream state I could not bear the idea of her running around in the thin sheet she must consider a nightdress. I moved closer both to hide her from the others as well as to simply be nearer to her.

My lips curved into a smirk as I looked her over, noticing she was oblivious to her state of undress. "Good morning Celeste."

I swung my cloak off and threw it over her shoulders, making sure it brought her up against my chest. I thought I could feel her heart speeding up as I tied the knot; I wondered if she could feel mine.

"If you're done," Nolan snapped, "let's turn your attentions to the dying man."

"I find that I missed you," I whispered into her ear, finding myself wanting to be open and honest with her for a change. The thought was shaking so I quickly stepped back and turned to the others. "Vitael Mareigna. It can grow to be twice the length of an average man, and three times as thick. I stopped by and inspected the one that you'd encountered - it was just a baby."

"How-" Caran began.

I waved away his question, not needing to be interrupted by a dream character. "Tracks. Your cart left wheel tracks all the way back to the forest, and it wasn't hard to find the big patch of blood by the stream."

"Baby?" Nolan exclaimed. "That baby almost killed me!"

His training seemed to have flown off, judging by the whining tone his voice took. "It sure did," I said, not impressed. "The venom of that particular snake will put a man straight to sleep. And after two hours, sleep would become permanent."

"We found Nolan after an hour, and by the time we got him out it took another half hour," Levi said. His exhaustion had given way to panic. "If I had-" I guess he hadn't caught on that this was a dream because he looked to Caran. "If I hadn't pulled him out, he would not be here now," he continued. "If Celeste hadn't insisted on it..."

I felt a surge of unreasonable pride at Celeste's quick-thinking. "That is the gist of it. Celeste is definitely to be thanked."

Celeste then interrupted with questions about how I'd come to get there so fast, which led to a round of explanations as to how our abilities worked.

"And what of-"

She was too curious for her own good. The last thing I wanted to do at the moment was explore my magic.

Do not say it out loud, I projected into her mind, using the control I had over the dream.

I instantly felt bad because she touched her head and gasped. I must have either surprised her or hurt her with my mental strength.

Deciding this had gone on long enough, I tried to cut off the conversation. "I think Celeste has a headache," I said, using her pained expression to my advantage. "We should continue this conversation at a later time."

I pulled her away from her spot by the wall, relishing in the bumping of our bodies. "In the meantime, make sure those idiots who call themselves physicians don't arrive with leeches to bleed Prince Snake-Bait." Leeches were not and never had been effective. It was time our physicians began to realize that. "Levi, your herbs are in here." I snapped out the herbs after tossing it to my brother.

Not waiting to see their reaction, I ushered Celeste out of the room and down the hallway, bringing her to a stop a little way down.

My anger was back. "Now, if you were on a bridge high above a ravine and a man told you to jump, would you do it?"

She looked surprised and confused at my question. Good, that's how I felt too. "What?"

"Would you jump?"

"No!" She gave up and began walking away.

I pulled her back forcefully. "What if that man was my father? Would you jump then?"

"What is this about Shaul?" Celeste sounded weary and I realized the trip was taking its toll on her as well.

Well too bad. "Are you enjoying your trip? I feel a little excluded."

She groaned, making me want to kiss those pouting lips. "Are you trying to drive me mad? What is the purpose of this discussion?"

"It would have been nice to know my brothers and were leaving for a few weeks." If I didn't know better, I would have call her my love. I didn't think I loved her; I didn't believe in love. My frustration made me grab those lips of hers and pinch them.

A sudden thought occurred to me. "Dmitriy was not happy either."

Celeste looked furious at that. "Oh the hell with Dmitriy!" she snapped, pushing away my hand and stomping away like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

Only, I thought with a laugh, I didn't see her as a child. "Good, I second that notion," I said, pulling her back to me.

Her body met mine again and I didn't give her a chance to pull away. My lips quickly covered hers, deciding that Dmitriy could go to hell and take his obsession with him.

This was my woman.

When she didn't resist, my hands found their way under the cloak to hold her. The nightdress I'd disliked earlier had turned into a benefit, the thin material allowing me to easily feel her warmth. It may be a dream, but I knew then that she belonged in my arms.

She fit perfectly.

And then she was gone and I was gasping awake, a horrific thought surfacing.

What if her mind hadn't been pulled into that dream? What if she had been a secondary dreamer?

I thought it over as I linked once more with Levi, offering some of my energy to keep away Nolan's pain. I flinched as the connection grew stronger, taking in the pain and pushing it to the back of my mind.

By the time I was able to leave Levi's room I had come to a decision.

As I'd told Aunt Cay, I would do as I pleased. And what pleased me now was Celestia Isadora Thorey.

My Adora.

A/N: So I'm sneaky (or so I'd like to delude myself into thinking) and had this up on my LJ page for a good week before bringing it over here. *insert witch-like cackle*

This one-shot is by popular demand - i.e. the poll I had up asking if people wanted to see a Shaul POV (80% in favour of, FYI) and the numerous reviews/PMs asking variations of the question "But what does Shaul think/want/feel?"

...not that this tells you a lot, but it's better than nothing. I think. Right? RIGHT? Tell me I'm right! *grouchy*

But I must say, I'm having the biggest bought of writer's block these days. A lot of my inspiration comes in my dreams, as cheesy as that may sound, and I've been so exhausted lately that I either don't dream most nights or tend to forget the details soon after waking up. Not to mention, when I force myself to write, my brain and fingers stop communicating and I find myself writing sentences that defy all laws of grammar, skip words, or get paranoid about spelling (you know that feeling when you stare at a word and start thinking it's spelled wrong when it's not? Yeah, it sucks lollipops).