The cold wind brushes past her, messing up her hair and tickling her skin. She tucks a stray strand behind her ear and watches as her breath fades into the black of the night. The sky is empty tonight, void of stars and only the moon to accompany her. Melia finds it reminiscent of her current state of mind. Only one thought to occupy her.
It has been like this for so long now, and she often questions why she let it be so. Each time she finds the same answer.
Because I love him.
A fact she regrets. Regrets knowing, regrets making exist in the first place. Regrets that she has dug herself a hole she cannot escape because of one simple fact.
I love him…
And she abhors that she does.
Once again, she feels tears forming in her eyes. She hastily wipes them off, for he would be home soon, and would no doubt question her, unknowingly hurting instead of comforting her. But that would end tonight. She would make sure of it. Her mission demands it.
She hears the door to the room open, the source of her heartbreak sighing. She leaves the balcony into the warmth of their room to surprise him.
“My, no greeting my dear husband?” the man gasps in shock, bringing a hand to his face.
“Melia… I figured you’d be asleep by now.”
Fen begins cracking his neck as he puts his monocle on his worktable. The sound echoes through the empty room, and Melia feels herself get pulled into the familiarity of it all. She clenches a fist behind her back. Not today. Not again.
“Well, clearly you’re in severe need of some sleep. Join me?”
“Melia, I smell-”
“Like nothing, you lucky man.”
“Fine then. I feel like-”
“Heaven once you’re in bed with me.”
The blond glares at her and she winks back. Slowly, his expression softens as he breaks into a chuckling fit, and she joins in. It hurts her, that this is all real. She wishes it were just a dream. She can get over a dream. Reality? Unlikely.
“Very well. But at least let me cha-”
“Nope! I just happen to be in need of cuddling tonight my dear.”
Don’t make it harder for me. She wants to beg aloud.
With a roll of his eyes, Fen moves to the bed, gesturing for her to follow. She feels him wrap his arms around her waist lightly, pressing himself into the crook of her neck.
“I love you, Melia.”
With tears in her eyes, she mumbles back.
“I love you too…”
The knife went in.
And she woke up.
“It’s gotten colder, hasn’t it?… Yes, it certainly feels like it.“
Fen runs a hand through his hair, breathing in the crisp air slowly. The weather getting significantly colder, an aftereffect of the war, worries him. Not for complicated reasons like how it’ll affect the countries and their people, but for a simple one.
Melia sleeps in the nude.
Well, effectively nude anyway.
Despite the fact he had a specially made blanket to accommodate for this, with temperatures dropping below expected, he begins to worry it might not be enough. It certainly doesn’t help that he knows Melia frequently kicks the blanket off in her sleep due to her nightmares-
A sharp inhale-
Even after years of learning the horrors inflicted on her, it still leaves a vile taste in his mouth. The thought makes him speed up his pace, eager to get back home and keep her warm in his embrace. He grumbles about how sickeningly sweet he sounds, and laments that Melia has been rubbing off on him in the metaphorical sense too.
He’s careful to open and close the door quietly, so as to not disturb Melia if she was already asleep. The warmth of the room envelopes him as he hangs his coat, welcoming him home. He sighs contentedly.
His mind feels tired from the earlier meeting. It surprises him how incompetent the government of the other countries are when it comes to the safety of their people. The entire debate was pointless, and they only got anywhere when he began to take control rather forcefully. Deciding to freshen himself up, he heads towards the bathroom, only to halt in his tracks when he hears an all too familiar sound.
He opens their room door hastily, yet gently, and spots Melia curled up in a fetus position on the edge of their bed, shivering, sobbing. Moving swiftly across the room, he finds their blanket on the floor and brings it up, shielding his beloved from the wind.
It isn’t enough however. It’s at this point he notices her white knuckles, and realises it may not be the cold that’s put her in this state. He gently shakes her shoulders, calling her name tenderly like he’d done so countless times before.
“Fen?…” She wakes up to his third call. Her eyes, red and puffy, cause an ache in his heart. He carefully shifts her so that she’s crying into his chest.
“Yea, it’s me. I’m here.” he says as he pets her head, drawing small circles on her back. “I’m with you, Melia. This isn’t La Riiz, this is home.”
“I-it’s not… I-” she chokes on a sob.
He brings her closer, resting her head in the crook of her neck, effectively shushing her. “Whatever it is, I’ll be here to help you through it. For now, you need to stop thinking, and rest.”
“Please, Melia… Rest.”
She feels cold.
Despite the warmth of their home and the cup of tea in her hands, she feels cold.
Fen walks out of the kitchen carrying a tray of a simple breakfast. The aroma reaches her, stirring up a whole slew of emotions she didn’t want to feel. She shivers.
Fen sets the tray down rather urgently and moves to pull the blanket over her more.
“Are you sure you don’t need to see a doctor, Melia?” he asks as he feels her forehead with the back of his hand.
“I’m fine my dear, really…” she manages to choke out.
Fen frowns, but ultimately chooses not to pry. He instead sits next to her and begins eating, motioning for her to do the same. Reluctantly, she obliges. It tastes great, as if it was made with love. Naturally she hates it, but she forces it down for appearence’s sake. Maybe just this once she’ll slip up enough Fen notices.
“Are you positive you aren’t sick Melia? It looks like you’re having trouble eating.”
Finally, the question she was waiting for. She begs internally for him to begin questioning her, all of it.
Instead, he pulls her closer, and the heartache becomes damn near unbearable.
“Don’t force yourself if you can’t. If you really don’t want to see a doctor, then at least rest. I’ll be here for you.”
She tries to speak, but something prevents her voice from escaping her lips.
“Some day, you’ll have to understand that. That I’ll always be here for you.” Fen plays with a strand of her hair, ignorant to what he’s doing to her. “One day, I’ll make sure you never have nightmares like last night again.”
“Don’t make a promise if you’re unsure you can keep it, Fen.” Melia manages to stutter out.
“I know I can Melia.”
He did fulfil his promise though, that is what hurts. No longer did memories of her past haunt her. Instead, nightmares of having to go through with her mission did.
Why can’t he see that?
“Fen, I- I need to talk to you. It’s important.”
“Of course, anything you want.”
She struggles to find the right words. All the while, Fen is making it infinitely harder by simply loving her.
“I haven’t- haven’t been a hundred percent truthful towards you.” she says at last.
“And I can understand that. Boundaries are important in a relationship after all.”
For crying out loud, please stop it!
“N-no, I mean, I’m not- I…” she can’t do it. She isn’t strong enough. She wants to cry aloud, scream and shout until he understands, but she can’t.
“You’re strong, Melia. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. The strongest I’ve ever met, in fact. And I’m not exaggerating.”
You were wrong Fen. You are wrong. I’m weak.
The silence pains her.
Unbeknowngst to Melia, it pains him too.
Despite how perceptive he knows himself to be, a fact he has accepted is that he will never truly understand Melia. Despite having been with her for years, he never managed to comprehend her thought process, much less her as a whole.
It is unfortunate, for he finds himself wanting to understand her more everyday, if only so he may carry some of the burden her thoughts bring her.
Everyday he comes back she's there to greet him. Everyday he notices for just a moment how her eyes contained this blank, distant look, before it's hidden by a masterfully crafted gaze of affection. The only difference between the start of their relationship and now was that now the affection seemed more genuine, yet there was always a subtle glint in her eye that reflected the sorrow within.
He knew why of course. Her sudden want for a relationship with him was far too suspicious for him to brush off. He knew of La Riiz's plan, and that Melia was his would-be killer. Initially, he waited and plotted, holding out for the perfect oppurtunity to strike. Over time though, the show turned into a reality, and he finds himself in a difficult situation.
He wanted to tell her he knew all of it, but he found that he had gotten too attached to the idea of living a life of bliss with a significant other. He foolishly hesitated at every chance, not wanting to possibly destroy what they had built. Yesterday however was the last straw. He couldn't stand seeing his beloved in tears anymore.
To hell with the 'if's. Should this be what shatters their relationship, then perhaps it was never as genuine as he believed in the first place. He was selfish to hold back, so he has no problems being even more so by going all in.
Reaching this conclusion, he pushes himself off his desk and begins making his way to where Melia rests. His beloved was in the middle of a book, and he felt a hint of guilt knowing he'd soon destroy whatever dream land she had escaped to with said book. She didn't even notice he stepped in front of her.
"Melia." he called out, yet the sorceress didn't answer. "Mel?" he tried again, and this time she shook slightly, looking up from the book to stare at him with her vibrant eyes. He loved those eyes for how expressive they were, yet he also hated them for always halting him in his tracks. Today though, he finds solace in them. He took a deep breath, exhaling the pain inside.
"I know. I have known."
Melia blinks, then in an instant her eyes widen with realisation. He smiles sadly in response.
"I know of a way to get our happy ending, Mel. I want to know if you'd bless me with your trust this time."
He sees the familiar glint in her irises, and although he can't understand his beloved, he does feel satisfaction whenever he predicts what she'd say accurately.
However, he still hates seeing her tears.
He looked at the sorcerress, an eyebrow raised.
"When this is all over... do you-do you want to grab a bite to eat? T-together, I mean."
Immediately alarms went off in his head. Since when has the flirtatious woman before him ever stuttered? And if this was what he thought it was, then why such a sudden and drastic move?
He opted to play it safe first and twisted his expression into a mixture of confusion and slight shock. "Why?" he asked simply.
Melia looked away, a slight pink dusting her cheeks. "I just figured, you know, we never did get to know each other. Everyone else I figured out like an open book, but you-you fascinate me." She smiled shyly.
He could feel his brain go into overdrive. Why is she doing this? Why now? What benefit could this possibly net her? It wasn't until he asked who else could benefit from this did he reach a logical conclusion.
With his rise in status, a successful assasination would cause great stir in the countries, no doubt generating the sparks of another war. Of all countries, this would benefit La Riiz the most as investigations into them are halted to find the one responsible for his untimely death. They would once again have a chance to seize power with their immoral methods.
And what better way to assasinate men, than to abuse their vulnerability to the opposite sex, or rather, their inane ability to have full faith in whomever they procreate with.
Lo and behold, Melia just so happened to be one of La Riiz' most infamous assasins. Not just for her abilities, but her beauty as well. The alliance was thankful she worked with them.
It made too much sense, much to his exasperation. No doubt were she to succeed she'd bait Rayas into thinking she was still on their side, and in turn he would convince everyone else in their little group the same. They'd never figure it out, and they'd all fall to the 'Blue-Eyed Black Fox' of La Riiz.
He had entertained the question if she was in fact telling the truth, but it was too illogical of an answer. There were no solid reasons for her to genuinely want a relationship with him, and thus he ruled out this possibility.
With a mocking chuckle, he gave Melia a smile. "I don't see why not.
La Riiz initiated a game of chess, and he gladly accepted.
He would win.
The Great Cucking has begun. We begin the exploration of the relationship's path at the start.