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Friday, September 23, 2011

Diamond Elf - Chapter 40

Chapter 40

The next morning, Jasmine and Amara slept in fairly late. Aeryc was tempted to send someone to wake them, but he figured that they must have stayed up talking, and left them alone. He knew that he should probably bring Amara home soon, but figured that one more day couldn’t hurt. Everyone loves having her here.
Jasmine helped Amara choose a dress from the wardrobe provided for her. “I made most of these dresses myself!”
“Really?” Amara asked incredulously.
“Yes. I love to make clothes, and besides, who else would want to make pretty dresses for me? The only other female elf under 400 years old is Princess Chelindra.”
“I see,” Amara was impressed. All of these dresses were exquisite.
“I make far more than I can possibly wear, and so I am glad someone is finally getting some use out of them!” Jasmine exclaimed.
“I shall cherish them forever!” Amara promised.
Jasmine laughed. “I would actually prefer it if you gave some of them away. That way others can enjoy my work too.”
“I can do that,” Amara grinned.
“I’m going to miss you horribly when you return home!” Jasmine burst out, and nearly smothered her friend with a hug.
“I’m going to miss you too,” Amara vowed. “I don’t really have friends. There’s never been a good time to make friends with the war going on, and well… I’m a princess… I’m supposed to be above everyone else.”
Amara picked out a dress that would look good on her and be appropriate for this time of day, and Jasmine covered a laugh when she saw the Princess use several small clips to decoratively bunch up the skirt that was otherwise much too long. The dress had been made to fit Jasmine, and while most of the dress fit Amara well…
“I wondered why you made all of the skirts pleat like that! It had completely escaped my attention that you are wearing dresses I made to fit my tall body rather than your short one.”
Amara smiled. It was true that she was shorter than average, and Jasmine was taller than average – for a human. The difference between them was about 6 inches, which was enough extra skirt to trip on, but not so much that Amara couldn’t fix it with elegantly draping pleats.
“You know, I may have to keep this in mind…” Jasmine mused. “Pleats look good on you.”
Amara handed Jasmine a particularly gorgeous dress that she felt would look perfect on the elf.
“I can’t believe they gave this to you!” Jasmine exclaimed in awe. “If I am right, this dress was made for the King’s mother five or six hundred years ago.”
“You may as well have it,” Amara shrugged. “It wouldn’t fit me no matter how much I tried to make it. I am nowhere near that tall and slim.”
Jasmine nodded, and tried it on. It was actually a bit too long for her, and overly tight. “I’d better not. I might ruin it.”
Once both of them were suitably dressed, they decided to seek out some food. They were both starving! Jasmine led them to the breakfast room, which actually provided the residents of the palace with food all throughout the day, until about an hour before dinner was served.
Jasmine knew that it was likely that everyone would be in the breakfast room eating lunch. She was proven right. They could hear the soft chatter as they approached the room, and everyone seemed to be discussing the dance, and speculating on how long Amara was going to stay.
They entered the room, ready to devour the first edible thing they saw. Jasmine guided Amara to the tables laden with food. The entire room fell silent, but they were too busy to care.
“Amara, you didn’t!” Aeryc gasped.
“Didn’t what?” Amara wondered. The way he said that made her feel guilty, but she couldn’t recall doing anything to feel guilty about.
“You are positively glowing with Elven magic! I swore to your father that you would remain pure!”
“Aeryc! I didn’t do anything. I am very much still pure,” Amara blushed as she realized that she had just outed herself as a virgin in front of everyone. This was only to be expected since she was unmarried and her father insisted on it, but even so, it was still embarrassing to admit to in public!
“Then why are you glowing?” Aeryc demanded.
“As I gather, it’s just what happens when an elf shares her magic with a human,” Amara defended herself.
This prompted Aeryc to finally notice that Jasmine was glowing too. “I see…”
An elderly male elf whispered to his wife. “That must have been a lot of magic they shared.”
Aeryc heard this, but chose to ignore it. He sighed, and said, “I think it is time you went home.”
Amara couldn’t help but look devastated. She knew that she couldn’t stay forever, but this felt like she was being punished. Even so, she didn’t try to argue, and simply nodded.
“After you’ve eaten, and gathered your belongings,” Aeryc amended.
Amara smiled gratefully. She knew that he could have insisted that she leave right now with only the dress she was wearing. It was considerate of him to give her time to pack up all of the many gifts she had been given.
“May I also be allowed a few minutes to look in the scrying mirror on last time?” Amara asked. There was something she’d wanted to try since she arrived.
“As you wish,” Aeryc permitted graciously.
Two hours later, Amara had eaten her fill, and packed up all her belongings. She was ready to go, and just needed a few moments alone with the scrying basin. She knew she probably shouldn’t, but she would regret it if she didn’t…
Once she was alone, she gazed into the basin, and cleared her mind of all other thoughts. “I need to know,” she murmured. It was driving her crazy wondering if her marriage to Gabriel would be happy or miserable. She figured that if she was destined to be miserable, she could prepare herself so that she wasn’t too terribly hurt by her fate. She wasn’t certain, but had a strong suspicion that – since she had visions of the future anyway – she would be able to use the basin to see what she wanted.
The basin fogged up, and then cleared. In it, Amara saw an old woman sitting in a rocking chair. The old woman turned her face to look directly at Amara, and smiled. Amara smiled at her in return, knowing that this was her future self.
The basin refocused so that Amara could see the old woman’s surroundings, and judging by the amount of toys and small children running about, they were in the Imperial Nursery. These children were Amara’s grandchildren. A girl around two years of age climbed into old Amara’s lap, and the woman rocked her to sleep.
This was enough for Amara, and she returned to where everyone was waiting for her so that the King could open the portal. Chehiro gave her a little bit of time to say goodbye before sending her home, and she got completely carried away. She hugged every elf – including Chehiro – and even gave Jasmine a small kiss of friendship.
Finally, she had nothing left to do but step through the doorway back to her Realm. She was still a bit sad over the reasoning behind her earlier than expected departure, but she was proud that she had shown the Elven Court that humans were not all creatures of war. Chehiro opened the shimmering portal, and promised that she would be allowed to visit them again sometime.
“After you are safely married!” Aeryc added.
Amara nodded, and was gone.


Three days after Chelindra had been moved from her cell, she and Gabriel realized that their situations were reversed. Now it was Chelindra that didn’t want to be touched, and Gabriel who had no idea how to comfort her. He tried holding her, and stroking her hair, but she pushed him away.
She didn’t want him to leave her alone, but neither did she want to talk to him. He tried to give her time, because he knew better than anyone that it took time to get through these feelings. He quietly worked on his wedding preparations, but finally, he just couldn’t take the silence anymore.
“I’m sorry!” He cried, an actual tear streaking down his cheek. “I’m so very sorry.”
It took Chelindra a minute to realize that he was talking to her, and she turned to face him. “Why are you sorry?”
“It’s all my fault, I know it is,” Gabriel elaborated.
“What?” Chelindra wondered, confused.
“If I hadn’t left you alone… If I hadn’t stripped you practically naked… If I -”
“No!” Chelindra rushed to hug him. “Please don’t think that! You had nothing to do with it. It is entirely his fault; no one else’s.”
“You say that, but I can see that you blame yourself,” Gabriel stated.
Chelindra looked away, and refused to answer.
“Listen to me, you are not to blame!” Gabriel insisted.
“I know!” Chelindra growled, a bit angry now.
Gabriel had a good idea what the problem was, but he wanted to give her a chance to tell him on her own. “Then why do you blame yourself?”
“Because! Because it felt good! I liked it! Why did I like it?!” Chelindra burst out emotionally.
“You thought he was me,” he offered helpfully.
“That’s just it! Deep down I knew he wasn’t, and I just didn’t care!” Chelindra finally confessed.
Gabriel nodded, and whispered, “I know. It was the only thing that made any sense. No matter how asleep you were, you would have known he wasn’t me, and yet you let him.”
Chelindra gave a small mirthless laugh. “Then you know exactly why I blame myself.”
“No, I really don’t,” Gabriel shook his head, and gave a half shrug.
“I got mad at a man and then killed him! I killed again! If I really knew that he wasn’t you – and I am fairly certain I knew – then what right did I have to get mad at him and kill him?! Not to mention the other men I killed in my fit of rage… I’m horrible… I’m disgusting… I deserve to -”
“No!” It was Gabriel’s turn to fervently disagree. “You killed men who thought there was nothing wrong with molesting a sleeping prisoner! If I had my way, that would be the punishment for the crime! I -” He faltered, overcome with horrible memories once more.
Chelindra renewed their embrace, and gave in to her own urge to cry. She had a pretty good idea what Gabriel was thinking about, and that made her feel all the worse. Her rape had been vastly more pleasant than his, so she didn’t deserve to feel like a victim. Wallowing in such melancholy made her hate herself when she thought about what he had been through.
She kissed him, and he responded by devouring her lips almost hungrily. They frantically tore each other’s clothes off, and eagerly crawled into bed. Neither of them had the patience for lengthy foreplay, and they came together in an urgent, needy way.
Chelindra sighed, and loved the way he felt inside her, and Gabriel had no problems with bad memories, for once. Unfortunately, no matter how hard Chelindra tried to be in the moment – forgetting everything else – something was wrong. Her mind wandered as she tried to figure out what it was, but nothing made sense.
Gabriel finished some time later, and cradled her in his arms. “You left near the middle… Where did you go?” He asked, referring to the moment when Chelindra’s mind had wandered.
“I’m sorry,” Chelindra apologized, but didn’t admit that she’d been busy trying to figure out if her body responded to him because she loved him, or if it responded simply because he was a man between her legs.
She honestly wasn’t sure, and the uncertainty was slowly driving her crazy. I love him so much! So… why does my heart ache? Why can’t I forget about that stupid rapist, and just go back to the way things were?
Chelindra felt dirty. She lightly pushed Gabriel off of her, and climbed out of bed. “I need a bath.”
Gabriel nodded. “I’ve got some things I need to do. I’ll be back later with something to eat.”
Chelindra smiled, and then turned her back on him. She was grateful for the ingenious heated tub that the servants filled each morning and remained warm until she had the desire to bathe. If not for that, she’d have to wait for the servants to heat some water and then lug it to her.
“Hey,” Gabriel called out softly. “If given a choice, would you still choose me?”
Chelindra felt tears well up in her eyes, and she inhaled slowly. Exhaling to the count of seven, she kept her back to him as she finally replied, “The problem is, we don’t have a choice.”
“That’s not a yes,” Gabriel pointed out.
“It’s not a no either. I just…”
Gabriel pulled her into a hug, and kissed her tenderly before leaving the room. He really did have things to do, but he just couldn’t leave with the air so heavy between them. He sincerely hoped that his kiss and her bath would finally lift her spirits.

Go To Chapter 41 

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