Actions

Work Header

King Of Cups

Chapter Text

 

transience

/ˈtranzɪəns/

noun

the state or fact of lasting only for a short time 

 


 

Her eyes haunted him. 

 

The silence of the room was no medicine. It was weighing down on the room’s inhabitant who sat on his throne, watching the moonlight dance on the stone balcony across to where he was seated. The flickers of the white light did nothing to alleviate the anchor on his heart. Memories sunk in, almost wrapping him around like a warm, viscous fluid in a sea of darkness.  

 

She had cast a hypnotic effect. 

 

How hard it was to comprehend the swirling thoughts in his head. Every reminisce hinted at his unfulfilled desires. Sinbad murmured her name, the sound caressing his lips. A sigh tumbled soon after and he closed his eyes, his brows wrinkling at the way his mind teased him. 

 


 

 

Her voice was so clear, its mellifluous nature deafened the sounds of the marketplace, chattering and even the music of the waves from afar. The passion underlying her sweet tenor made his ears perk up and inadvertently, he felt his body turn towards the source. 

 

He wish he hadn’t. 

 

He was not prepared for the radiance that bestowed him. She was walking in his direction, head bowed in conversation with a woman. The wind gave such lightness to the flowing movements of her locks. For a moment, he felt like every graceful step she took towards him was like a note in a symphony.

 

He was not ready. 

 

It was then she turned her face and turned his heart upside down. He felt his already quick heartbeats leap to heights he did not know. His lips parted as he felt heat flood his senses. Her eyes possessed such a sense of innocence. One that made it difficult for him to look away. Her soft, glistening lips were curled in a smile enough to rattle his footing. 

 

She bowed her head low again and laughed at what the woman beside her had said. The two of them were discussing Sindria. Of course, it was natural for the king of the very country to want to listen to what they had to say.

 

While her friend possessed a meek demeanour, she had a straightforward disposition when it came to expressing what she thought. Sinbad had been bemused by the way she spoke. She was so focused and eloquently got her point across, seeming to be so into their conversation that she did not notice the people around her. 

 

He also found it irreparably hard to look away from her. 

 

She averted her eyes from her companion then, observing the marketplace. Soon, she noticed his golden gaze and the awareness coursed through her. Surprise filled her clear (e/c) eyes and a sudden kick of desire was ignited in him. Would she be as surprised if he placed his lips on her skin, introducing her to a world of pleasure only he could provide? 

 

She didn’t expect someone to be looking at her. A small smile found its way on his lips and he raised his hand slightly to give her a wave. She chuckled, absentmindedly replying to her friend but her attention was solely on him. His heart threatened to leap out of his chest; it was so difficult for him to not walk up to her and steal her away from her friend. 

 

Sin shook his head quickly and turned away, watching the port from the darkened street he was hiding in. He breathed deeply to steady himself and leaned against the wall, listening to the waves again. The woman bore a promise of adventure which he had always associated with the sea breeze. Yet, he found the lulling call difficult to answer. He had his duty to attend despite feeling adrenaline coursing through his body at the prospect of something new. 

 

When he spun around to see if she had left, he did not expect her to be standing right in front of him. He took a step behind, taken aback by her closeness but straightened himself quickly, giving her a charming smile. Fate really wanted to hand him his heart on a platter today morning. 

 

“Why, hello there!” 

 

“You were staring at me.” She said, amused and cutting the chase. 

 

Sinbad felt his chest bubble at her curious tone and he struggled a little to find a reply to that. Wasn’t she quite the straight shooter. He cleared his throat. 

 

“I was.” He shrugged a shoulder casually. He decided against saying something flirty.

 

“Are you from the castle?” She asked quickly. A guilty look crossed her face. “Because I did criticise the administration a bit.” 

 

“So you did. I doubt my friend in administration would be happy to hear that.” Sinbad chose his words slowly and carefully, finding himself distracted as she was biting her lip. He laughed, hoping that she did not catch the nervous tremor in the sound, at the end of his sentence in an effort to stop his staring. 

 

How good she smelled didn’t help either. She was summer personified. The citrus bursts mixed with a gentle combination of blossoms drew him in and he wanted nothing more than to bury his face in her nape. 

 

She was observing him like a curious kitten. Not only did her baring gaze warm his core but it also sent him to the edge between revealing who he was and the fear that followed if she reacted with disappointment. He chose not to say anything about who he was, levelling his golden orbs and appearing to paint a perfect picture of calmness. 

 

“Of course, I wouldn’t tell him.” He offered playfully, smiling at the relief which sunk her shoulders. 

 

“Thank you. I’m new here and I don’t really want to get into trouble already.” She said, giving him a cheerful smile. He swore that even she could feel the pulsating electricity in the air between them. They said nothing though, just stood in each other’s company. 

 

“______!!” She whipped her head back at the sound of her name. Her eyes were downcast in a wee bit of disappointment at the interruption but she shook her head almost immediately, as if to reprimand herself and met his golden gaze one last time. She smiled and waved goodbye before running back to her friend. 

 

Sinbad was greeted by the familiar coolness of the corner and the stone wall against the hot, beating sun. He muttered her name under his breath, liking how it sounded on his lips. Wondering how her lips, those tempting lips, would spell his name. How difficult was it to not imagine how his name would sound with her sweet voice. 

 


 

It was a moment that rocked his world. It was so simple, so fleeting. It probably may not have any significance when looked over in retrospect. Oh, what wouldn’t he give to see her again though. To know her better. To hear her laugh again. To hold her in his arms. She was irresistible and the fact that she was unaware of the ripples she left on him made him only want her more. 

 

He watched the curtains float like the skirts of her dress, the room dimly lit like the alleyway he stood in. His skin thrummed with excitement at her smile. It had been one moment. One he would probably relive until he had seen her again. 

 

He haphazardly poured the intoxicating deep red liquid in his golden cup, the scent deep and earthy which was a strong contrast to her airy, light perfume. He closed his eyes, her beautiful face flashing by, before gulping down his wine. He relished the fruity, tantalising trickle of heat down his throat. It helped distract him most effectively. Sinbad was slowly engulfed by the beguiling relief his vice promised, the memory of her fading into the night. 

 

Chapter Text

Caught in the thought of that time

When everything was fine

Everything was mine

 


 

 

It had become a nightly ritual. The act of carefully combing through his long, silken violet hair as he watched his reflection in the mirror. His golden eyes shimmered dangerously as a leopard’s, his honey skin blooming with the silvery light of the moon. Soft sighs escaped his lips at the relaxing sensation of the hairbrush against stubborn tangles. 

 

He smirked at his likeness in the mirror. Sinbad couldn’t help admiring the strong planes of his hard stomach and his chest. His metal vessels and his white robe were cold on his warm skin. Boy, didn’t he look dashing. The vain mirth escalated when he remembered how a woman from Reim said he looked like the statue of the deity of passion carved with perfect marble. Except, he was alive and breathing and breathtaking.

 

The king chuckled deeply to himself, setting the hairbrush down so that he could tie his hair. He rubbed his chin admiringly. “Aren’t I quite handsome?” He mused rhetorically, soon followed by mutters of how such sexiness should not be tied down, even when the situation was far too advantageous. Sinbad gave his reflection one last wink before reaching for the hair tie. 

 

It all happened so fast. The curtains flung open tumultuously. Sensing a leering presence, he was soon on his feet, dodging a dagger which met the mirror with an unyielding shatter. The night wind blew strongly, sending things into flurry. Glass shards flew all over the room and he moved quickly to grab his sword, turning his head to the balcony; where the blade had flown in from. 

 

“Boy, I knew you were narcissistic but not a literal peacock.” A bored, high-pitched voice drawled, as a silhouette climbed on the railing of the stone balcony, taking a seat lazily. 

 

“Isn’t the peacock considered the king of birds?” He retorted entertainingly. Nervousness died down, soon replacing the tension with bubbling interest and beguilement. The dagger had missed him on purpose. 

 

“There, Your Majesty,” the emphasis would have made another person wince from fear, “is where you’re wrong.” She cocked her head sideways, surveying him. The moonlight provided just enough light for her to clearly see him but obscure her from his view.

 

“The peacock,” she laughed, “is a mere performer. The true king of the birds is the eagle.” 

 

“And I presume you’re the eagle right now.” He folded his arms, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to discern her looks more than her feminine curves and perfect dips. The tight outfit showed just exactly where her waist ended and hips began; how her bosom spilled before sloping into her waist. 

 

“You’re quite perceptive.” The acknowledgment in her tone flicked a flame down his abdomen. 

 

“I am.” He unintentionally preened towards the reverence she bestowed, catching himself immediately. Sinbad cursed his current behaviour before standing to his full height, giving her his best state-your-purpose look. 

 

Her footsteps echoed on the stone floor, being soon muffled by the room’s carpet. The mysterious woman took a seat on the big plush chair, motioning him to sit as well, the situation alike to a negotiation. The king shook his head in amusement before complying to her wishes, sitting on the edge of the bed opposite her. 

 

She had covered her face in a scarf, matching the black outfit she wore. Her (e/c) eyes glinted with a sense of purpose. A look he had known all too well. He was seeking for answers, his golden orbs trying to probe her into speaking. The woman refused to budge though, appearing to choose her words carefully before speaking. 

 

“I am here to offer you a deal.” Ah, the magic words. 

 

He raised a thick purple brow, definitely interested in what proposition she had in mind. It must have been serious to warrant her sneaking into his room and breaking the wall mirror in order to get his complete attention. Sinbad said nothing, eyeing her cautiously in the manner of a hunter.

 

Should he coax her into saying what interesting offer she possessed? If he did do so, he would successfully break the heavy tension in the atmosphere which was strong enough to cut into butter. 

 

If he didn’t, he could watch her squirm underneath his practiced composure. What pleasure would that bring to him. He could notice her chest heaving from how nervous she actually was despite the bravado she just displayed. Clearly, she had been a novice in such matters. 

 

He chose the latter. 

 

Moments melted in quiet suspense. The two inhabitants of the room seemed to engage in a graceful sword dance. The lady refused to speak, waiting to see if he would say something and the man? He enjoyed observing the throng of emotions passing through her placid (e/c) gaze while he held himself with the unimpressed manner of the ruler he was supposed to be. 

 

Defeat slunk her shoulders. She parted her lips which grazed against the cloth and took a deep breath. Headstrong (e/c) orbs met composed liquid gold ones as the words tumbled in a slipping manner from her mouth. 

 

“I know why you’re here, Your Majesty.”

 

“Sinbad.” He corrected, leaning backwards against the bedpost. 

 

”Your Majesty.” She reiterated firmly. “I know you seek for the princess’ hand in marriage. The land of Sihirbaz is something which missed your radar for years and now that you have discovered us, you want us for allies.”

 

“Indeed. However, your king would not budge for anything less than a marriage alliance. He is aware of his country’s worth.” Sinbad replied smoothly, impressed. Only the king of Sihirbaz and certain royal attendants knew of his presence here. Where could she have come across this information? 

 

“Tomorrow morning, you meet with His Majesty, do you not?” 

 

“I do.” Sinbad found it difficult to look anywhere else but at her masked lips whose elegant outline revealed teasingly from under the cloth. 

 

“Well, I must respectfully suggest that you don’t.”

 

“I beg your pardon?” What have I to gain then?

 

Sensing the underlying question, she answered immediately. “Your freedom, Your Majesty. You do not wish to marry yet. Well, the princess happens to dislike the prospect of marrying too. She wishes that you kings would rather find another way.”

 

“The princess wishes so? How do you know that?” He taunted, appearing like as if her intriguing prospect was weighing against his initial thoughts. 

 

“I..” She bit her lip. Sinbad sensed the fear of revelation from her pause and he leaned forward, encouraging her to speak. “I am her lady-in-waiting. Her closest aide.” 

 

“What is your name?” 

 

“It is not significant to this matter. My liege’s wishes are, however.” 

 

“Ah. I assume she ordered you to do this.”

 

She shook her head. “No, she is to obey His Majesty and stay in her room. I am here of my own accord for her sake.” There was a slight lilt of impishness in her pitch. 

 

Sinbad sighed, lacing his fingers together and resting his chin on his palms. She could sense his slight consideration over the matter as he thought over the pros and cons of her convincing offer. 

 

“Miss Lady-in-waiting.” The easy smile he wore betrayed the connivance in his eyes. “You are asking a lot of me. Missing my meeting with the King tomorrow is no simple trifle.” 

 

“It is not but you have a lot to gain. I am sure that the princess will not allow her brother to treat you as an enemy. You have her word there, Your Majesty."

 

“So the princess did send you.”

 

“Potato, po-tah-to.” She conceded with a shrug. "Plus, you get to play the chivalrous knight to a damsel in distress."

 

He burst into laughter at her words, the easygoing sound relaxing her nerves as well. Wiping a tear from the corner of his eye, he pushed the wind-blown strands of his loosened hair behind his ear. “I am a man of my word." She clutched her palm, the perplexing situation seeming to have taken a favourable turn for her. "But, I want something else too.” Sinbad's expression quickly shifted to one of mischievousness. 

 

“Yes?” She sat straighter, eagerness flipping in her heart. The deal was so close to be sealed. 

 

Sinbad’s golden orbs scrutinised her figure, running from down her legs to up her face, his eyes darkening with a dangerous aura. His obvious action was hard to miss; its purpose so clear. The air was suddenly electrified and she squirmed in her seat, unable to look away from the way the moonlight cast an ethereal glow over his lovely body, his lustrous hair and his devilish lips which curled into a smirk full of promise. 

 

“Kiss me.” He murmured in a sultry, low voice enough to set her insides on fire. 

 

“I beg your pardon?” Why would I do that?

 

“It’s a good bargain, isn’t it? I won’t attend the meeting with the king tomorrow morning in exchange for a kiss.” The king nonchalantly remarked, revelling in the surprised but hazy look in her eyes. 

 

She knew her shock, fear and anxiety was evident as she struggled to come to terms with his condition. One kiss wouldn’t be so... bad... and it served her purposes. She shook her head, willing herself to stay grounded. It was the future which mattered and the future had no Sinbad in it. Taking a shaky breath, she stood up and went towards the wall beside the balcony, trying her best to maintain her composure. 

 

She did want that kiss, no matter how she denied it or how casually she appeared to brush it off. The man had her curiosity from the beginning. To add to it, he was very handsome. Strong. Intense. Qualities she liked. What was there to lose? One kiss and she had guaranteed the future. The scales had been tipped in her favour with just a small act lingering between the final turn of events. Resolution was like an old friend. Holding her head high, she took a deep breath. So she would do. She will choose the future and the deal will be set... with a kiss. 

 

“Fine.” She turned around and squeaked to find him walking towards her, as if her assent had immediately stirred him to action. “One kiss.” She stated, willing herself to be strong. 

 

Even though she knew he already had her weak in the knees. 

 

“One kiss.” He repeated, murmuring his approval. 

 

“And you won’t attend the meeting tomorrow morning?” Her question was so sheepish and she wanted to crawl away into a hole so she could vanish at how embarrassed she sounded. 

 

“I won’t attend the meeting in the morning.” Sinbad whispered, his deep voice so close to her ear, his fingers thrumming up her arm gently. 

 

She couldn’t help writhing against the ticklish sensation. His fingers felt so foreign on her body. They were worn out from battle and writing. When he placed his palm on her arm, she could see just how.... male he was. Strong where she was delicate.

 

And yet, those rough callouses touched her so gently, like the petals of a flower. Sinbad ran his fingers behind her head to loosen the scarf which masked her face. She made no protesting movement, arching her neck accordingly, grateful for the darkness of the room. 

 

The cloth came undone, swathing in the wind as he uncovered the disguise she hid under; his liquid gold orbs calculating every move from now. She bit her lip when he fully got the scarf off her face, shutting her eyes and inadvertently shuddering when he placed a warm palm on her cheek. 

 

“I....” Her words hung on a whimper. I haven't kissed anyone before.

 

“Mm?” He asked in a cajoling tone, leaning closer until they were only millimetres apart, his breath blowing teasingly against her lips which glistened for his touch. Such honest need. 

 

“Sinbad.....” She looked confused at why he stopped, trembling from the heat flooding her senses. 

 

The sound of his name was the aphrodisiac. His lips captured her earnest ones then, his hands immediately wrapping around her waist to pull her close. She cried out in surprise at the sudden invasion, his desire clouding her mind, before running her exploring fingers into strands of his undone violet hair, allowing him to press himself against her. 

 

Sinbad growled at the tentative sensation of her soft, warm lips; unable to stop himself from delving deeper, passionately kissing her like as if she was his best intoxication. He bit her lower lip, smirking at the freed whimper from her lips as he snaked his tongue inside her willing mouth, feeling lightheaded at the heady combination of her soft body, sweet scent and her firm touches. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted, almost instinctively, as her hands ran down his toned body, eliciting pleased gasps from him. 

 

There was something about her innocent exploration and curious passion. He could sense her struggle to keep up with his strokes as he plundered her mouth, drowning her in a world of pleasure she had never encountered. She wasn’t backing down though, meeting every stroke of his with her own tentative one, drawing him closer as both of them collided against the wall, the cold texture making her moan against his lips. 

 

He refused to leave her lips, his arms closing around her thigh, easily lifting her body upwards and pulling her impossibly close to him. She wrapped her legs around his waist, her fingers running from his chest upwards to his neck desperate for more contact. Their tongues collided in another sensuous battle, neither willing to submit to the other. 

 

His mysterious belle pulled away suddenly, gasping for breath. Sinbad’s lips began to pepper kisses from her jaw all the way up to her ear, nibbling at the sensitive lobe precariously which sent her breathing into a gasping mess. He ground impatiently against her soft abdomen, a loud groan escaping his lips when she tugged on the hair up his nape.  The sudden pleasure the manoeuvre brought to both of them was only a prelude of how much more was there to come, if they could go beyond this one kiss. 

 

Shyly, her frantic orbs met his glittering golden ones. The passion in the way he merely looked at her was enough to spike the awareness in her body once again. Everything was still but tempestuous. Their feverish breaths clouded the atmosphere in raw, amorphous lust, as both of their bodies felt a rain of heat. She closed her eyes, clinging onto the king, afraid that she’d fall if she were to stand.

 

Whatever transpired between them just now was no simple kiss. He’d shown a glimpse of something that she couldn’t grasp, something that made her yearn for more. His touches made her heart palpitate and her body burn with such intense need. Her lips hung open as she fluttered open her eyelids, her intentions clear as a forest pond. 

 

Sinbad rested his head on her shoulder, his hot breaths fanning beside her neck. She timidly grazed his cheek with her fingertips, making him raise his head. It was one kiss right?

 

One that hadn’t ended yet for her.

 

Inching closer, her lips pressed against his for the last time that night, as they approached a rapture only they could create. 

 


 

“I’m telling you, he won’t come, brother.” ______ said for the nth time, watching the sun set with the king of Sihirbaz, who wasn’t willing to accept her words. She simply shook her head. She had ensured her future. Of course she knew that he wouldn’t come. After all, hadn’t she made that deal? 

 

“Sister. He needs this alliance.” Her brother chided, exhaustion obvious in his physique. 

 

“No he does not.” ______ sighed. 

 

“Are you suggesting that he has disrespected us? My people? By invoking my invitation?” His tone was turning threatening and the princess knew she had to calm him. 

 

“On the contrary, perhaps he’s devising another form of alliance. Perhaps something has happened in Sindria. Times beyond these mountains are not the greatest, you know. I am aware that the man has enough purpose to see you. Sudden issues can rise, you know?” Like making deals with a disguised princess in the dead of the night. “Brother, you yourself told me that he deeply respects you.” 

 

“Indeed......” The king paced around the room, partly offended but understanding of the situation. ______ let out a relieved sigh as she walked away from her brother.  

 

She was unable to forget what happened last night. How could she? Everything replayed in her head over and over, like a canon. Each distinct memory was strung to another in complete harmony. Frustrated, _____ ran her fingers through her (h/c) locks, reminding herself that she should not keep thinking of last night, no matter what kind of powerful effect it had on her.

 

Her worst nightmare, after all, was the curbing of her freedom. Marriage had become something distasteful for the fiery princess. She valued her independence highly. Moreover, she knew how powerful she was. Why should she be bound to another to reinstate that fact?

 

Suitors after suitors came but none were able to win over her stubbornness. Princess _____ turned each of them down, either through words, battles or competitions. Sometimes, even a bargain.

 

The two siblings watched the portrait of their parents in silence, enjoying each other’s quiet presence. ______ could finally relax after weeks of fighting her brother, the king, because of this marriage. The people of Sihirbaz were secretive for a reason. It wasn’t just her personal morals that moved her to act last night. If the rest of the world knew about their prowess, it certainly would disrupt the peace in here. 

 

Her thoughts were interrupted by an attendant bringing her a missive. She walked away from the majestic portrait, accepting the scroll gracefully and opened it on the study table, wondering what message it held. 

 

“Dear Princess,

 

I promised nothing about meeting the king during eveningtime. 

 

I look forward to meeting you.

 

P.S. Can you kindly ask your brother to replace the mirror in my room at the embassy? It fell down last night and broke into several pieces.”

 

The scroll hit the ground in an echoing thud as shock coursed through her veins. She immediately ran for the balcony and he was certainly there; tall, handsome and every bit tempting. King Sinbad from Sindria had arrived, shattering all of her dreams, her thoughts of escaping this cage.

 

There he stood, with his parade, laughing at something his councillor, Ja'far, had said. A hand flung to ______’s lips and she tried her best to steady her beating heart. Soon, the page arrived into the courtroom to announce Sinbad’s presence for an audience with the king. His very name was thunder to her ears. 

 

He had kept his word and the best interests of his country at the same time. She found the trait admirable but she couldn't bear to face him after yesterday. He was making her worst nightmare come true. The princess struggled to breathe, her chest was weighing down with the graveness of a dark realisation that lurked in the air like a ghost. 

 

Will her life be nothing more than one in a gilded cage?

 


 

All the king's horses and all the king's men

Couldn't put me back together again

 


 

Chapter Text

— “The story you choose to tell may not always be the story you believe.”

 


 

White petals of jasmine wafted through the air, flying in a path charted out by the winds of fate. The notes that tumbled out of her lips in a song were so comforting yet the sweetness of her voice did not conceal the meaning she wanted to convey. 

 

It rocked him to his core. The words had a profound effect, anchoring heavily on his heart as he listened in full concentration, his palm subconsciously clenching into a fist as it moved upwards, slowly resting on his chest in a way to perhaps beat back the waves of unbridled emotions threatening to wash over his ability to think. 

 

What sort of selfishness is this?

You neither choose to stand in the sun nor in the shade...

What sort of selfishness is this?

You don’t stand still and your feet are always on the move... 

 

You’ve tried becoming your own god

You’ve crossed all seven seas

Yet, there is an unquenchable drought in your heart

Why is that so?

 

Memories flashed by like the sunlight glimmering on his metal vessels. His days in Tison. His meeting with Ja’far, Vittel, Mahad. His time in Imuchakk with Hinahoho. The destruction of Sindria during the War. The love, the joy, the pain, the suffering, the dreams, the laughter and much more. He could clearly recall them, as if it had happened just yesterday. 

 

And they did leave him with a sense of emptiness, a void he did not seem to understand. It was intangible, transient and while he did so dearly treasure them, they did not sate a yearning in his heart. Hearing that question from the singer’s lips made his heart twist painfully, a sensation he hadn’t felt in a while. Why was it so indeed? If only he knew. 

 

Drudgingly, he raised his head, willing himself to watch the singer as her fingers expertly plucked the strings of the harp. He rested his head on his palm and propped his elbow up, surveying the woman whose words tugged at not just the silver strings of the harp but also his very own heartstrings. 

 

She blushed under his piercing golden gaze, trying to revert her attention back to the melody she played. It was natural that _____ would feel nervous, especially after he insisted that she perform the song she wrote about him. He seemed to impatiently but quietly taunt her, urging her to continue with the lyrics. 

 

O, you beggar, hear me out

O, you wanderer, hear me out

Your shadows are calling back for you

O, you wanderer, hear me out

O, you saint, hear me out

How can you be so loveless, neither good nor evil for the world? 

That broken cot,

The cool eastern breeze waits for you

That cream from milk 

And the earthen pots filled with cool water are right on that path

 

______ was interrupted when Sinbad accidentally knocked his goblet, spilling crimson wine on the white, marbled floor. Ja’far immediately called for a servant, chiding Sin for that careless motion. She quietly observed them, her fingers resting on the sides of the harp. For one brief moment, she glimpsed something that was so rare and fleeting, something she didn’t get to witness often in all the time she spent at Sindria. 

 

Raw emotion and vulnerability shimmered in those bewitching golden orbs. It was breathtaking to watch Sinbad’s practiced composure crackle under the words of her song which she had penned from assumptions she made about him and stories she heard. Her muse who was so brilliant and radiant let his guard down, giving her insight into the depth surrounding his radiance. When Sin laughed apologetically, she could distinctly hear the tremble in his voice, that sound of meekness and uncertainty. 

 

Sinbad then turned to her, apologising for the disturbance. His lips were forcefully curled upwards back into that plastered, fake, easygoing smile. Why was it that he chose to hide underneath a mask even now? What dark secrets was he trying to conceal?

 

The remaining generals complained, with Pisti and Yamraiha being particularly loud. _____’s song had entranced them, entrapping them all in perhaps a vivid story which had been abruptly cut off. Yamraiha sighed and Pisti willed herself to concentrate again. What they didn’t know was that this song was about their King, seated across her. 

 

_____ shrugged, giving a placid smile to her king. Between them, memories of those days flashed when she pried and tried to know who he really was but he wouldn’t budge. She knew there was something more to him, it was evident from watching him carefully but he did not wish to clarify or confirm any of her observations on him. With a resigned sigh, she set her fingers back to the harmonious strings. 

 

What sort of selfishness is this?

Neither sugar nor salt satisfy your palate...

What sort of selfishness is this?

You seem to have forgotten how to love... 

O, you sovereign man, you free-spirit

You’re like a storm created by wind

Why are you slowly killing your soul then, putting out what is within your heart?

O, you beggar, hear me out

O, you wanderer, hear me out

Your shadows are calling back for you

O, you wanderer, hear me out

O, you saint, hear me out

How can you be so loveless, neither good nor evil for the world? 

 

The harmony gently swam over to the end, the song concluding on a very solemn note. Everyone in the room was awed and applause soon followed. But Sin was motionless, unable to respond to her questioning (e/c) eyes. He took a shaky breath before giving a compliment and ______’s heart sank. Even now, he didn’t give her an answer. 

 

She closed her eyes, trying to fight off the memory of his warm skin, his passionate kisses, his urgent touches. He was able to stoke a fire within her body, inside her heart. He showed her a world filled with pleasure. Her king worshipped her body with his hands, his mouth, his loving words. 

 

However,  he was there but not at the same time even in those intimate moments. ______ did not just want his body, she wanted his heart. ______ did not want him to look into her eyes only to see his own reflection. She wanted him to answer her deepest questions, to tell her who he really was underneath that clothed, bejewelled splendour. Yet, he was distant. He loved her but it seemed as if he was holding back. 

 


 

The day passed by in a flash and ______ sat on the balcony, watching the waves and the moon. She regretted bringing out that song, she should have kept that piece of poetry to herself. Sinbad did acknowledge and smile at her. He did embrace her. But his smile never reached his eyes and his arms were never fully encompassing. 

 

It pained her heart to watch him drift away and it was all because of her song. She should have never spoken about it. Perhaps if she didn’t, she’d be in his arms right now, hearing those three magical words in the throngs of passionate heat. 

 

“_____?” That all too familiar baritone made her raise her head, turning to the doors. There he stood in his night robes carefully taking a few steps forward. He hesitantly sat beside her, trying to look orderly and regal. 

 

“I’m sorry, Sin. I shouldn’t have brought up that song.” She managed to whisper, fighting back tears which stemmed from painful guilt. “I didn’t want to push you away...”

 

“Shhh, come here.” His arms wrapped around her, pulling her close to his chest. She swallowed a lump of overwhelming emotion, her breathing shallow and cold against his warm, inviting chest. 

 

They sat together in silence as _____ listened to the beating of his heart mingled with the sound of the waves and the gentle chirping of crickets. Sin gently stroked her hair, exhaling a long breath. 

 

“You were able to see so much of me and I never even told you anything.” He mumbled, meeting her (e/c) eyes that widened in surprise. He chuckled. “Those were quite the questions, love.”

 

“And that’s only because I don’t know you outside your stories. Both the written ones and the parts you told me. I... want to know you, Sin simply because I love you so much.” 

 

The honesty in her words shot an arrow to his heart as he nuzzled her cheeks. He kept telling himself that it was better that she did not know his deepest thoughts as he was worried that she’d hate him for it. He thought he was protecting her.

 

But here she was, his Ishtar, finding a way no matter what. A part of him knew she wouldn’t leave him, she was too loyal for that. He knew he could trust her because she was his lifeline, holding him tight between the boundaries of light and dark. She brought out the best in him and he didn’t want to disappoint her. 

 

“You want to know the ‘real’ me?” 

 

“I do.” 

 

He gave a little huff at her immediate answer. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her back to their room, placing her gently on the mattress. 

 

“Well, love,” He crawled next to her and propped himself on a pillow. 

 

“What do you want to know?”