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She loved to sleep, because sleep never brought her any pain. The dreams were sweet, the rest was revitalizing and as long as she was asleep, pain was nothing but a memory. She thought she ought to be scared of falling asleep, being left alone in the dark with only her thoughts. Truth was, there was only one this she dreamt of when she slept.
Her son.

For in her sleep, Manizheh was the mother her son deserved and Jamshid was the son she deserved. In their own little world, nothing could ever harm them. They would be free to feel joy and explore to their hearts’ content, no Qahtani lurking in the corner to steal them away.

In her dreams, Manizheh was an only child. The memory of her brother had become too painful to bear so she had banished it from her land. She couldn’t feel guilt there (joy, joy, joy, only joy). She did nothing wrong there. Kaveh was an occasional visitor, but truth be said, Manizheh had eyes only for one man.

In her dreams, Manizheh would always be outside, in the garden. She loved it there, even if the palace responded to her better than the plants. The grass was as soft as Jamshid’s curls when he was but a week old, the flowers all smelled of his skin. An astounding thing, but all she heard were his little coos and snorts, the birds not daring to intrude upon her paradise.

But the garden was nothing compared to her son. He was her true reason for living. For surviving. Sometimes, he would be waiting for her when she closed her eyes, other times she had to seek him. Even so, he would never hide for long. Jamshid loved her (he will never stop loving her, he can’t). As much as her heart cried for him, his own little heart beat to the rhythm of her own. He was her most cherished creation. She had made him of her own flesh and blood, shed tears reserved only for him, fed him from her breast (for a week, but it’s alright Manu, you had no choice).

He was her soulmate. Her savior. Her little prince.

That being said, Manizheh was a smart woman. Too much of a good thing would rotten it. So Manizheh stayed awake eighteen hours a day, and when she slept, she made sure she took care of herself. Her clothes had to be comfortable (if she’s itchy in the garden, she can’t play hide and seek with Jamshid), her hands clean (some healing lessons had to be taught, and she didn’t trust herself to go to the infirmary to sanitize her hands), no foul smells around her (nothing was to overwhelm the smell of Jamshid. Nothing).

If she didn’t think she would be able to sleep for at least four hours straight, she didn’t bother going to sleep. Jamshid would be upset with her if they didn’t have time to finish with a game of chess.

Some nights, Jamshid would ask her what she did when she was awake. But Manizheh never told him. “I won’t poison you like this.” And she didn’t. Not in her dreams, at least. There, she taught Jamshid to heal (heal, heal, not kill). It was strange to ask him to channel his feelings into his power, let his instincts guide him and watch him succeed to easily. When Manizheh was learning to heal bones, her first instinct was to break them first. Rustam never- no, no, no, no. No.

No.

Her dreams were her own, and in her own world, only Jamshid was allowed. Her little piece of heaven on earth. He was all she wanted, all she needed. But he couldn’t have her like this. Broken, and powerless, still bending her knee for a djinn king. She had to wait. She had to bring her paradise to him first. It wouldn’t do for his shoes to get dirty.

She had to fix it.

Rustam didn’t understand. He would ruin her plans, bring into their filthy world and even filthier daughter. Kaveh didn’t understand, although she couldn’t hold that against him. He wasn’t a Nahid, after all.

But Jamshid... Jamshid would forgive her the worst deeds once he saw how much she loved him. She was his mother. He had to.