URGH, forgive me, dear readers, for what you are about to read, but worry not, it will all turn out for the best. This chapter is where I start to diverge from the original romance plot and focus more on the new platonic relationships. But don't drop it until you've at least read to the end of the next chapter, okay?
Anyhow, without further ado, I bring you chapter sixteen.
The minute I woke up, they announced that we were planning an ambush.
I carefully put on the uniform that I'd been so painstakingly maintaining for three hours last night. I sighed as the last button was fastened on my crimson coat. I pulled up my wet gaiters and answered to the call. That'd been a lifetime and I'd seen death over and over. But for some reason, the sight and smell of it never seemed to stop horrifying me.
Our superiors called us forth and we got moving.
Too many of my comrades were dead, and I wondered if Felix thought I was dead by now. I wondered how he had been doing and if he ever got any of my letters.
Oh, what I would've given to hold him in my arms again and kiss him, to tell him how much I loved him. I wished I could just see him once more.
Yes, if could just see him one more time, I'd be able to die happily.
Bert and I became good friends. He'd sit with me on the knoll and we'd talk for hours and hours about our lives. I'd share all my prose with him and he'd give honest advice. We developed a routine for ourselves and nothing could separate us.
And then everything changed in one day.
"Other than the lack of immediacy, this is by far your best work yet! I can practically feel the emotion radiating from it! It's poignant, tragic, and beautiful! It's so real!" Bert raved as he gesticulated wildly, smiling widely.
"Thank you." I replied.
"Was there some sort of inspiration for this, or—"
"Actually, it's based on a dream I had last night. It's the third time I've had it so far."
"Oh my," he gasped, "it must've been quite realistic for you to write this."
"It was." I spoke solemnly, remembering how Jonny was shot in the heart again. The third time already, I had this dream.
I paused for a moment and looked out to the woods where I screamed. I barely ever screamed there anymore. I was so close to recovery. Just a few more weeks and I'd finally be myself completely again, fully alive and well. Bert could sense my musing, so he remained quiet and merely smiled. We sat together in silence.
That's when we heard it: a deafening shriek in the distance.
It was an ambush.
With only a short glance at one another, we stood up and ran towards the scream as fast as our heels could carry us. Grabbing muskets from the training grounds, we ran in to see a block of Redcoats charging straight for our fellow men in the field before the camp.
We couldn't take cover, forcing us to fight their way. Bert and I hastily got into our places. This was the first time I'd seen battle. Knowing today that many more people had come in, I thought maybe Jonny could see me from here, focused and aiming shots at the enemy.
With a pleased smirk at the thought, I set my sights on yet another Redcoat, who in turn, aimed his gun for me.
Then that horrid nightmare had come true.
There, standing like a perfect target in the second row, I saw him. Sapphire eyes widened in shock, recognizing me as well.
"When I asked my brother for his opinion, he merely smiled and said 'It's my duty to fight for our country, so I'll do just that'. There was just something about the way he said it… I took that as a sign he agreed with me! Ever since he was fourteen, he's been in the British army. So for him to turn his back like that makes me look up to him all the more!"
Blasted Margaret had no clue where her brother's loyalties were. Jonny wasn't fighting for Lady America.
He was fighting for Mother Britain.
I lowered my gun. He lowered his as well. Now I clearly saw where we stood.
We were nothing more than enemies now.
We merely stared at each other with wide eyes. I didn't know how to feel about this, and I could tell he, too, had mixed sentiments. But whatever time we had left to sort out our feelings was swiftly stolen by fate.
With a loud bang, I watched my precious Redcoat drop to the ground, lifeless and bleeding.
And just like that, my knees buckled to the ground. My whole world shattered to pieces and I could feel tears bursting out of my eyes. It wasn't supposed to be this way. All of this was supposed to be a bad dream! How could… this really happen?
Instinctively, I began to run back to camp.
"Felix?" I could hear Bert calling, "Felix! FELIX!"
I ignored his call and kept running. I had to get away from this wretched reality.
How could everything change so fast? A few minutes ago, I was on the verge of recovering from terrible emotions. Now I was even worse off than I was before.
Everything was mixing together: heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, woe, anger, disgust, disappointment, and other emotions that didn't even have names.
How stupid of me! How could believe in an inkling Margaret had? I knew Jonny was a bit mischievous, but he'd never turn his back on something he'd been so devoted to! I was so stupid to believe such a thing.
Why didn't I just wait like God's sign had told me? Maybe if I hadn't come here, Jonny would've never died! Perhaps there was some grand plan in this war that I wasn't supposed to be a part of, and I ruined it and his chances of living by rushing into it all. Was that it?
Or was he meant to die like this all along?
None of thoughts were comforting, but I couldn't stop the way them from moving through my head. I couldn't do anything other than cry and keep running. I ran and ran and ran, deep into the forest until my legs failed me and collapsed from exhaustion. My tears wouldn't stop, and right now, I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted them to stop.
I stared at the cruel sky, remaining a clear quiet blue hue as if nothing was wrong.
It couldn't be further from the truth.
As the sun began to set, he reappeared with the grimmest look on his face. After a very ferocious reprimand and a firm warning from the superiors, he returned to our tent. He was apparently let off because so many others had actually fled during the attack.
I took a look at the man at the mouth of the tent. He said not a word and crawled onto his blanket.
My head was full of concerns for him, but my mouth could not supply the words to express them. I don't know who he saw out there, but whoever the Redcoat was, he was precious to Felix. And to watch him die must've made it all the more painful.
I pretended to fall asleep, so as to leave him be. As I heard a quiet noise, I couldn't help but crack an eye open.
The sight that met me simply broke my heart.
He bit down on his sleeve and let out choked sobs, tears flooding over his cheeks. I couldn't help but see my heart-broken mother in those tears.
I was about to speak, but then decided against it. He'd be alright. Felix was one of the toughest men I knew. Everyone had to cry once in a while, and this was most certainly a time to cry.
Even still, I couldn't fall asleep, listening to those quiet sobs.
Was his pain… just as bad as when I lost Alfred?
I bit my lip to keep my tears from flowing too. No, now was not a good time to weep over my little brother. I was through with mourning, for it would do nothing to avenge him. Those Redcoats took my precious, one and only living sibling, so they simply had to pay.
But somehow…the sound of muffled sobbing told me that God had brought me here for something more.
"Wake up." My eyes snapped open in response, and I realized exactly where I was.
I jolted awake and sat up immediately.
My eyes burned at the sight of everyone lying dead around me in the pallid moonlight. The wounds were so gruesome. I looked down to my chest to see just how bad my wound was.
It wasn't there.
I stood up and spun around until my eyes met with something divine.
An illuminated maiden with flaxen hair greeted me with a warm smile. She was dressed in a dark blue Rebel uniform.
"W-who are you?" I stuttered, both frightened and mystified.
"Oh, surely you remember that we've met before… well, it doesn't matter." She replied softly with a voice like an angel's. I looked back to my unscathed chest. I could've sworn I was shot there... "You should be dead." She whispered suddenly, shocking me. But then her smile softened and she added, "But I saved you."
"Y-you did this?" I asked shakily. She nodded in reply. "Why?"
"Your God has other plans, plans for you and your beloved. It will be a long time, but you will see him again. Until then, preserve your love for him. Don't give up." I didn't know how to reply. "Go forth. You are free of your duty to the King."
"But, I-I'm still alive."
"You were not a moment ago." She whispered darkly. I gulped nervously. She added, "Your vow to the King has been broken by death. Now go."
Without another word, I obeyed her command and began running away from the Rebel camp. Then suddenly, it struck that she did look rather familiar. My first thought had to do with a bakery… and from there I knew who she was. I looked back for just a moment to see her one last time just so I could be sure.
And she was gone.
I looked ahead and tried to find my way back to town.
I should've told him and Margaret exactly which side I was on instead of playing coy. I was such a traitor for not telling them the truth, a truth that both my sister and my beloved were entitled to. Now there we were on the battlefield. I tried to kill him.
And so I was no longer deserving of his love.
Even if we were fated to meet once more, how could he ever forgive me, let alone love me again?