Giggles echo down the hallway and bounce off the walls near Kalim’s room. As they get farther away, the boy slips deeper under the covers and attempts to block out the nagging feelings of doubt.
Pain makes itself present just behind Kalim’s ribs, stinging horribly with every joyous round of laughter he hears. It beats faster than normal, slamming against the front of his chest in a way that he can hear it in his ears. If he didn’t know better, Kalim might worry that everyone in the palace could hear it too.
‘It has no place there,’ he tells himself. Laughter was joy and Kalim loved joy, especially on other people. Especially when it was on Jamil…
The dark haired teen who had been serving Kalim his whole life was finally experiencing freedom. Even if it was only for a few stolen moments where no one was looking. Kalim couldn’t be happier for him. Or at least he should be.
Guilt was the first word to describe what he felt when he selfishly wished Jamil would come back and take care of him instead.
A gorgeous young woman by the name of Alicia was the newest helper in the palace. Jamil had been tasked with showing her the ropes and in the process seemed to have fallen in love with her.
It was almost as if they hadn’t been together, Kalim thought bitterly. The day Jamil broke up with him was a day that he would never forget. The brunet claiming to be in love with another had announced that he and Kalim were done before very briskly walking from the room.
Now Jamil was with someone he truly loved, and he was happy. Kalim smiled sadly when he imagined all the beautiful things the couple would do together. At least Jamil could be happy, and that made Kalim happy.
If only he could make his heart believe it too.
A loud scream pierced the night air as Alicia fell from the balcony and hit the ground with a gruesome smack.
Jamil turned away from the sight and swiftly made his way across the room to Kalim. The boy was shivering and there was a distant look in his eyes.
A panic attack, Jamil realized worriedly. He turned the lamp up and quickly climbed up onto the bed next to the heir and cautiously reached out to touch his arm. Kalim jerked back and swung an arm up to defend himself, which Jamil avoided easily.
The servant sighed and grasped Kalim’s wrists, holding them together tightly. Kalim let out a whimper and began to struggle. His breathing quickened and Jamil quickly released the boy.
“Kalim, it’s just me, Jamil. You’re safe.” he repeated the statement several times before Kalim began to regain awareness of his surroundings. “You’re home in your bed. No one is going to hurt you.”
Jamil began to wonder what had happened during the kidnappings he wasn’t a part of. Over the year where he had been traveling there had been an event where Kalim was missing for over 2 months, but he wasn’t informed about it until after returning to the Asim home.
When Jamil brought it up, Kalim always changed the subject, oftentimes referring to a party he wanted to have which, if Jamil was being honest, was a fairly good way to distract him from the present conversation.
After a few failed attempts he didn’t try again, figuring that Kalim would tell him when he was ready. The boy had always been so open with his feelings, and he treated Jamil exactly as he had before he had left.
So it had never crossed Jamil’s mind until now, as Kalim started breathing normally despite still shaking.
Knowing that physical reassurance would be necessary as well, Jamil ran his hands up Kalim’s forearms a few times and frowned at how they tensed and flinched away from the touch.
Finally after a few more minutes of quiet aid, Kalim appeared to be in a relatively good position to talk.
“Kalim?” Jamil questioned.
“Alicia, where, wh-what, I don’t-”
“Shhhh” Jamil quieted him when he realized the young heir was spiraling again. “She’s gone, Kalim. I got rid of her. She can’t hurt you anymore.”
Kalim looked up at him and frowned. “But I thought you loved her…” he broke off with a sob and Jamil clenched a fist.
Jamil had been assigned to Alicia in order to determine if she was a threat or not. Despite clean records there was still a risk that she was an assassin in disguise waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
After Jamil realized she would only spill her true intentions if she believed he truly trusted her, he had been told that the best way to do so was through a fake relationship.
No one else in the palace knew that he and Kalim were together so there was no way that he could protest. Despite knowing that it was fake, Jamil still felt sick as he broke away from Kalim in order to make the plan a reality.
The look on Kalim’s face had hit harder than Jamil thought and in the moment there was nothing he could do but leave calmly so he could throw up in private.
Pretending to love Alicia felt wrong in so many ways. Kissing her, holding her, whispering “I love you”’s in her ear was enough to make him dig his nails into his palms till they bled. Doing so in front of Kalim? It killed him inside.
Each day it was harder to keep up the charade as he watched Kalim slowly crumble into depression. The young heir stopped eating, sleeping, and enjoying what he used to. He was quiet and still at parties, he never played with his younger siblings, and he never laughed.
The worst part was that he still tried so hard to look happy and joyful in front of Jamil. When Alicia and him entered the room, Kalim would smile and ask how the relationship was going before acting pleased. But Jamil could tell that on the inside he was hurting. And that was enough to hurt Jamil as well. Knowing that he was the cause of that pain nearly broke him.
6 weeks later Alicia finally slipped up and revealed her true intentions, she attempted to slit Kalim’s throat in his sleep. Jamil caught her however and she met a devastating end. Not that Jamil could care. All he wanted to do was hold his love and reassure him that his feelings were fake. That he still loved him.
“Kalim…” Jamil whispered softly. He watched tears run down Kalim’s face and he took a shaky breath before continuing.
He explained to Kalim that there had been a plan and he was to pretend to be in love with her. As he got to the end of the explanation, Kalim was quiet while silent tears dripped into his lap.
“Kalim, Habibi, I never loved her. I never stopped loving you. uHibbuka, Kalim, I love you.” Jamil gently grasped Kalim’s face and began kissing away tears from his face. Finally he pressed a long kiss to Kalim’s lips which Kalim returned softly.
Jamil pulled back and pulled Kalim into his lap so he could hold him. “I promise you, I will always love you. I never want to do that again. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Habibi. Please believe me I never wanted to hurt you.”
Tears of his own began to run down his cheeks as he recalled how fragile their relationship was after his overblot. Kalim leaned up and kissed them away gently, whispering “I forgive you”’s into his neck.
A few minutes later Kalim had fallen asleep and was snoring softly in Jamil’s arms. The brunet sighed in relief and continued to hold his lover close as if letting go would mean losing him.
Jamil knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep for a while so he began to hum a soft tune as Kalim shifted in his sleep. The pair would likely stay like this till morning, and then they would have to deal with the aftermath of Alicia. But until then they could cherish the soft winds and feeling of having each other in their arms.