The End of Innocence Part 5
When Quatre woke the next morning, he sat up and looked around the large chamber to find himself as alone as he was when he finally fell asleep. Getting up, he gathered the blankets from in front of the hearth, folded them and set them aside. Looking around, he wondered what it was he was supposed to do. Finally he decided to descend to the hall to see if he could find Hilde.
Stepping out of the room he saw the cobalt-eyed man, that the viscount had called Heero, balance a tray with one hand and open the door to the chamber that Duo was in. Does that mean? He placed a hand over his heart, tears springing to his eyes. His cousin must be recovering.
He hurried down the stairs, his heart light for the first time since the Viscount had arrived. He had to find Hilde, to tell her. As he entered the great hall a young servant girl sprang to her feet with a cry of joy.
"Milord!" She flung herself into his arms. "Thank the Gods, you are alright."
"Yea, Nan." He chuckled. "I'm fine."
She blushed and stepped back. "Forgive me. I didn't mean... it's just that we've all been so worried."
He reached out and gently touched her face. "It's alright. There are no formalities between any of us now. Me and my cousins are just the same as you are."
"Never!" She cried adamantly. "You'll never..."
He pressed a gentle finger to her lips and shook his head.
She fell silent with a look of dismay.
"Tell me, Nan, have you seen Hilde?"
"Yes, mi..." She stopped and shook her head. "Quatre, she out back in the gardens."
"Thank-you, Nan." He flung over his shoulder as he ran towards the kitchens, which would lead to the gardens.
Bursting out the door into the fresh air, the blonde stopped and took a deep breath. He hadn't been outside in a couple days and he'd missed it. He closed his eyes and lifted his pale face to feel the heat from the sun.
Trowa walked around the corner of the building to see young Winner, standing in the gardens, his arms flung wide, face to the sky an almost rapt expression on his face. He's even more beautiful in joy. He though wondrously. Not even realizing what he was doing, he leaned against the wall and watched the slender blonde slowly spin around, the sun casting an angelic glow to his golden hair.
Quatre turned, his eyes drifting open and Trowa found himself lost within those glimmering pools of sapphire blue. His heart slammed against his chest as he found himself moving across the garden towards the radiant blonde. He stopped within inches of Quatre, his emerald eyes intense, and reached out his hand.
Quatre's eyes widened as the Viscount gently caressed his cheek, the light, simple contact quickening his breath. He was pinned to the ground by the naked longing he saw in Barton's eyes. And completely shocked by his own desire. He drew in a sharp breath as Trowa leaned in, his breath fanning warm across the Quatre's moist lips, and hovered there, teetering on the verge of tasting the blonde.
The sound of a loud voice ringing across the courtyard broke the spell that had gripped the brunette.
He straightened suddenly, blinking in shock. just almost... he realized in horror. And make matters worse, young Winner was staring at him with huge blue eyes. Much like a rabbit in a snare, he thought bitterly.
Taking a step back. "What are you doing out here?" He demanded harshly.
"I... I came looking for Hilde." Quatre stammered, trying to gather his composure. How could I even consider letting him touch me! The man who's made me no more than a servant! Father! He cried silently. Please, help me to keep from betraying you. Help me fight my traitorous yearnings! A wave of despair washed over him as he realized that he desired this man that was holding him captive.
Trowa frowned. "Who gave you permission to come outside?"
"I wasn't aware that I was a prisoner in the hall." Quatre lifted his chin and stared defiantly into those hard, green eyes. "You didn't have me shackled, therefore I assumed I had the freedom to move around the keep."
"You don't." Trowa replied, coldly. "You are to stay not only within the hall, but in our chambers. You are to only leave if I give you permission too."
"Why... milord?" The blonde stressed the last word, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"It is not your place to question orders from your liege, just to obey. Is that clear?" The Viscount turned and started to leave.
"I asked why." Quatre demanded. "I think I deserve that much! I've done nothing to deserve this!"
Trowa turned back to the young man and raised an eyebrow. "You've not yet proven that you can be trusted." He said, icily and turned away.
Quatre watched him go, his heart heavy. So, this is to be the way of things. He thought in anguish. Without any reason at all, I'm to be held prisoner in my father's own hall, despite the words spoken between us. Knowing that the Viscount was most likely keeping an eye on him, to see if he obeyed, he spun on his heel and walked slowly into the building.
As he crossed the main hall to the stairs, a plan started to form in his head. It was obvious the Hilde was content to stay here... but by God, he wouldn't. Somehow, he would get to Duo and his cousin and he would escape this place. They would get out of the territory. Between the two of them, they'd be able to elude the Baron long enough to get to ship and out of this wretched land.
He threw open the door to the Viscount's chambers and strode in, slamming the door behind him. Crossing the floor to where the coals smoldered in the hearth, waiting to be fanned into flames when the evening's cool approached, he sat down and buried his face in his hands.
Trowa had watched the boy flee into the hall, his heart heavy. He didn't understand why he felt the need to keep the young lord confined. They'd come to a tentative agreement the night before that they would work together. Still, something kept telling him that the blonde would try to escape, if he saw the opportunity.
He spoke some absent words to a young servant girl and headed for the stables, feeling the need to get away. Riding always did help clear his head.
Heero saw the tense exchange between the Viscount and the former lord's son, then heard the boy slam into his chambers. It seems that those two are going to have a long struggle before they can come to an agreement. The Viscount was going to have to learn to deal with the sensitive young man a little more gently... and young Winner was going to have to learn to be less proud.
He turned and walked over to the bed and gazed down at the sleeping form. In sleep, all the troubles in the young Scot's life were not evident. His face was smooth and unworried, dark lashes laying like charcoal smudges on his pale cheeks, hiding the brilliant violet eyes underneath. He'd let Heero take down his braid and help him wash his hair and it now swirled around him in a shimmering chestnut cloud.
Heero reached out and caught a few strands between his fingers, reveling how it almost felt like silk. He frowned lightly, I wonder, Duo Maxwell, how you would react if you knew?
Deciding that the boy would sleep a while longer, he decided to seek out the company of one of his comrades for a while.
Sally kneeled in the straw beside the laboring mare, talking quietly, in soothing, flowing tones. She turned her head slightly and the sound of someone else entering the stall. "I don't need your sarcasm right now." She said, her tone never changing.
"I'm not here for that." Wufei replied, kneeling in the straw beside the woman. "I thought you might have need of an extra pair of hands."
She glanced over at him in shock.
"Don't." He said. "Let's just forget it right now." Nodding his head towards the distressed animal. "She's more important than our differences."
She smiled and nodded her head. "Can you take my place? This baby isn't going to come on it's own. I'm going to have to give it a hand."
Wufei opened his mouth to protest and quickly shut it. Something in the blue of her eyes stopped him. He nodded silently, sliding into the spot that she vacated and took up stroking and talking to the frightened mare.
He heard Sally moving around the back of the stall and glanced over his shoulder. She was too busy preparing to notice him at that moment. He watched her move with a fluid grace, that spoke of years of being around animals, as she soaped up her arms and rinsed them. Any other time he'd argue her strength for the job she was about to perform, but not this time. For some odd reason, this time, he believed she could do it. Despite her sex.
Sally turned back to see the Chinese man watching her and raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to say something... anything. Instead, he just turned back to the horse without a word.
She kneeled at the back of the mare. "Can you hold her head?"
He nodded, shifting to wrap one arm around the mare's neck, facing the woman so that he could see what she was doing and counter the mare's reactions. "No, surprises now, eh...?" He said softly.
Sally gently slipped her hand into the horse, not going very far before she encountered the unborn foal's tiny hooves. Grasping a hold she tugged gently. Getting no results, she looked up at Wufei, her eyes a bright blue with unshed tears. "I have to do this," She choked. "If I don't, they will both die. This way... this..."
Wufei slowly inclined his head. "I understand, better to risk losing one... than the surety of losing both. I can do that if..."
"No." She cut him off. "I have to do it."
She braced her knees on the floor, gripped the hooves tighter and started to pull, the tears flowing down her face.
The mare squealed in pain and Wufei tightened his grip to keep her from struggling. His biggest concern was that Sally was in the position to get hurt if the mare kicked out.
Sally pulled as hard as she could, the muscles in her arms straining, her tears slowing faster, blurring her vision. She didn't see the frown of concern on the Chinese man's face as the mare gave one last scream and heaved against him, the tiny foal slipping free. Suddenly, the tension gone, the woman slipped and fell over backwards.
Wufei went to help her, but she jumped to her feet and grabbed the linens that she had brought in. Rushing back she started to dry the foal off. "She's alive!" She breathed as she rubbed the little filly vigorously. Wufei stood over the woman, watching her with an odd expression as she cared for the newborn. Why didn't I ever realize how pretty she is?
She got her dried the best she could and the foal started to wobbly try getting to her feet. Sally turned her attention to the mare and gave a loud sob.
Wufei's head snapped up. The mare had perished, her life's blood flowing out of her with the foal. He reached out and lightly touched the woman's shoulder. "Sa..."
She jerked her should away and sprang to her feet. "I... I have to find something to feed her." She choked, fleeing the stall.
Wufei turned and lifted the filly in his arms, carrying her out. Seeing her safely into a clean, dry stall, he went in search of Sally. He found her in the back, in her room, heating milk.
Later if someone were to ask him, he'd say that he'd lost his mind for a moment, but he walked across the small room and placed both hands on Sally's shoulders. Turning her around, pulled her to him and held her tightly as she sobbed against his chest. He knew that for her, losing one of the horses was like losing a child. It cut her just as deep.
As her slender form stopped shaking, he stepped back and lifter her chin. "You alright?" He asked gruffly.
She nodded and turned back to the milk on the stove, grabbing a couple eggs and whipping them into the warmed liquid.
Realizing that she wasn't going to offer anymore, he turned to leave. The least he could do was have the mare's body taken care of for her.
"Chang." She spoke softly.
"What?" He said looking over his shoulder at her.
She lifted her head and gazed at the wall in front of her. "Promise me something."
"That later... you'll pick a fight with me." She turned and gave him and small smile. "I'd hate to have to think that you'd just showed a human side."
"Count on it." He snorted, striding from the room. He needed to think about this. She stirred something in him that he thought long dead. And he didn't like it... not one bit.
Trowa returned to the keep later that evening. Taking care of his stallion he stopped and spoke with Wufei for a moment, learning of the loss of the mare. After checking the foal, he nodded at the tired woman sitting on the floor and headed for the hall.
Crossing the courtyard he, spotted Heero sitting on a bench under one of the trees and turned to go see his friend.
Heero glanced up as Trowa sat down beside him and stretched out his long legs.
"Well, my friend, how is our patient today?"
Heero looked up at the window of the chamber where Duo slept. "Better. He'll recover. Physically at least. The rest will tell in time."
Trowa noted the dark circles under Heero's eyes. "When was the last time you slept?"
Heero raised an eyebrow at the Viscount.
"You look exhausted."
"Maybe you should try finding a bed to sleep in, instead of the chair beside his bed." Trowa commented dryly.
"And maybe you should let me worry about that. It seems you have enough to deal with, with young Winner." He watched Trowa's eyes darken at the mention of the blonde's name.
"There's nothing to deal with. I gave him his orders, he'll either obey them... or be punished."
"Maybe you need to make that more clear, to him."
"Why is that?"
Heero pointed to the far end of the courtyard, where a slim figure could be seen slipping through the shadows. "I'd say he's going to see his cousin."
Trowa swore violently. "Keep and eye on him... I'll be right back." He stood and strode into the stables. Returning a moment later, he stalked across the courtyard to the area that Heero had indicated.
Reaching into the shadows, he grabbed Quatre's arm, drawing a gasp of shock from the smaller boy. Jerking him out into the light, he saw the fear in the wide sapphire eyes. And well should he be! "I made it clear that you were NOT to leave the chambers."
Quatre lifted his head and glared at the Viscount. So much for behaving and not getting caught. I will not show him that I fear him! "I want to see Hilde!"
"She's my cousin! I'd like to know that she's alright... and to tell her about Duo." Maybe, he'll understand.
Trowa's expression darkened even more. "She's already aware and she's fine."
"And I'm supposed to believe you?!" Quatre threw back.
Trowa tightened his grip and started to drag the struggling blonde back into the hall. Swearing loudly, he grabbed Quatre by the other arm and propelled him up the stairs. "I will NOT have my orders disobeyed! By you or anyone else!" He said with a calm iciness.
Opening the door, he shoved Quatre into the room with such force that the smaller boy lost his balance and fell into the room, striking his shoulder on the table.
Trowa stopped and stared at the blonde. Why am I doing this? I've never acted this way. I never use violence, unless it's on the battlefield. How does he drive me to this! His words and distrust wound me till I feel I have to strike back. He strode across the room and reached down, grabbing Quatre's tunic he dragged the boy to his feet. He suddenly found himself caught in those wide sapphire pools. And through it all I can't seem to stop desiring him. He realized with despair as, even in his anger, he felt his body reacting to Quatre's nearness.
Without thinking, his other hand slipped around the back of Quatre's head, fingers tangling in soft blonde hair. Quatre gasped, the shocked sound cut off by the Viscount's mouth coming down violently on his own.
The blonde's struggles were ignored as he was clasped against Trowa's solid body and the taller man slanted his head, fitting his mouth more tightly over Quatre's. Quatre tried to open his mouth to cry out and Trowa's tongue swept the inside, drawing a strangled sound from the blonde.
Then Quatre went limp, horror washing over his along with the pure desire that swept along his limbs. He found he couldn't control his arms as the crept up around Trowa's neck and he started to kiss him back.
For a moment, Trowa enjoyed the feel of the compact body pressed against his own. His hands slipped around Quatre's waist and he pulled him tighter.
Then sanity returned. He roughly pulled away, struggling to catch his breath. Quatre looked at him with a confused expression, his breath no slower than the Viscount's, lips slowly swelling from the force of the kiss.
Reaching into his pocket, Trowa withdrew a fine sliver chain with a ring at each end. Fastening one around the blonde's wrist, he secured the other to a ring by the hearth. Then without a word he stormed from the room.
Quatre sank to the floor. Why? He... he... His tortured mind ran in circles, then following closely on the heels of his confusion over the kiss. A slave chain! We haven't used these in generations! He started to cry, his body wracked by great shuddering sobs. I'm not an animal!! I can't be chained like this!!!
"Please, let me go." He sobbed to the empty room. "Please... I'll die like this..."
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