Merry Christmas my beloved readers! 1/3
Gus wasn’t happy this time either.
“What was there to think about? Just ask him for money, loads of it, enough to set us up for life.”
“Because money is something that can easily be stolen from you. I was thinking it might be better to invest in skills or learning for you so nothing can take it away.”
“Money could pay for those as well.”
“And draw attention to us in the meantime and get that money stolen. I’m just a commoner woman, after all, how would I defend us against thieves? It’s better if Romania or however you say his name handled the money and you get the lessons.”
“Why is it just me again? You’re young, why don’t you learn something too?” His scowl looked especially unhappy as he looked across from me in the hired carriage. “I hate the way you talk, as though your life ends the moment I grow up. Whatever happened to your orphanage dream, eh? Why not just ask for that? And what’s wrong with asking for the cottage thing?”
“I don’t know a thing about being self-sustaining, besides taking care of chickens. I can’t farm.”
“Then learn that. I’ll learn to become a knight and hone my magic, then I can kill anyone who bothers us while you raise all the babies you want.”
I hesitated. A dream I had thought I had forgotten drifted through my mind, of a beautiful cottage out in the country where children ran about in the garden and a little baby cooed as I picked him up. Someone had been standing next to me in that dream, but I couldn’t quite remember how they had looked, but they had been male, I knew that.
The old hunger of my heart gave a mighty ache.
…He could learn enough social skills as a knight, right? Surely…surely sequestering away afterward wouldn’t be such a bad idea. And we could always visit Hal and Milly, or vice versa…at the very least we could see them during the festivals.
“Is…is that what you want?” I asked.
He scoffed. “Why are you turning this on me again?”
“Because it’s important. Really important. Is that the kind of man you want to become?”
His eyes, gray-brown from my pigment meddling, didn’t shake as they looked into mine. For a blip of a second, he felt much older than his fifteen years.
“What better life could there be than protecting you and yours?”
Hot tingles prickled down my spine and my stomach floated up into my lungs.
But these giddy feelings were entirely misplaced, and I wasn’t stupid. It had been a suspicion I’d aggressively ignored for some time now, and wanted to be told it wasn’t true. So I’d nip it in the bud here.
I lowered my chin and narrowed my eyes. “You’re fifteen, Gus.”
“I’m probably ten years older than you and am raising you.”
“You can’t have romantic feelings for me.”
He stiffened, as though I’d stabbed him out of the blue, and his face flushed faster than I’d ever seen it before.
“I don’t see how those are reasons. You’re not my mom. And I keep telling you I’m not a child.”
“You are, whether you like it or not.”
“Then I won’t be for long. I don’t care how much older you are than me, I’m going to die before you anyways, I heard your thoughts about your lifespan.”
I flinched. “That doesn’t change anything, I was—“ I stopped myself short of saying ‘sent.’ “I’m not some pedophilic freak, I’m not going to marry a kid!”
“Loving me wouldn’t make you a pedo—“
“Yes it will! I saved you with every intention to raise you as mine, not raise a husband—“
“And I already told you, I’m not your baby! I want to be your man!”
He stood up then, flushed, eyes bright, and fists clenched at his sides. I thought the brown of his eyes pinkened a bit, and in the small confines of the carriage, his growth spurt seemed all the more apparent. He didn’t have the body of an eight-year-old anymore. But he in no way had the body of a man either.
I couldn’t look at him. “Sit down.”
“I said sit down!” My voice popped and squeaked with the force of my scream.
He did so.
The silence the rest of the way home hurt with its weight. My heart wouldn’t stop beating, hard and painful against its cage. Every one of my nerves seemed on end, and my thoughts came in blips.
This was going all wrong.
I was supposed to raise my baby into the man he wanted to become.
But the man he wanted to become was my husband.
It was just wrong.
The carriage came to a stop and the door opened. Gus got out first then turned around to give me a hand.
I ignored it and opened the door on the other side.
“Don’t follow me.”
And without a look back, I ran out into the street to the gates I knew would spit me out of the city.
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