Chapter four

She had wept with her mother, and had tried to be strong for her father. 

But now, she needed to let out the storm She'd kept locked within when she was with the both of them, the storm that had quietly been gathering while she was in the throne room, the storm that was threatening to wash over her.

Her father, before she left his chambers, had sworn to keep her safe.

 But she didn't feel safe. She felt like all hell was breaking loose, like the fires it threatened to unleash were going to come down on her, and she had to run... run very far away.

She walked hopelessly to the stables, holding back her tears. Not yet, she told herself. She walked past the horses, not stopping to greet them as was her wont, her heart in her throat, her spirit downcast.

She walked to the old supply room and opened it, not caring to close it behind her, not expecting anyone to be around as it was well after dusk. She walked to the corner of the room and dropped down in front of a wall, bringing her knees to her chest.

And then she broke.

The sobs shook her, not like when her mother cradled her. These were more violent. These were a flood she wished would wash away the fires of the hell she feared would come for her.

The tears seemed to come from an internal deep cut and she wondered that blood didn't simply flow with them. She cried, and her cries weren't soundless, these had a voice. She was like a child, lost, alone and afraid.

"Dear God, help me, help me please." She wasn't sure what help she was begging for, but she needed it, or she was sure the ache in her chest would be what finished her eventually.

She wasn't sure how long she sat there, her hands wrapped around her knees, her eyes closed and her head against the wall, but she didn't care. No one would be looking for her, and if they did, she was sure of one thing- she didn't want to be found.

When she felt a presence, she still didn't open her eyes. Whoever it was would get the message that they weren't welcome and then they'd leave.

 at least she hoped they’d get the message. But the person didn't leave, instead he sat down beside her and drew her into his arms and then he spoke in little more than a whisper an ache in his voice,

"I thought you'd be here." Her eyes snapped open at his words, and she looked up to look at him with tear filled eyes, and his heart broke a little bit more at the sight of her.

"You."

"Me." They stared at each other for what seemed like eternity, before she simply wrapped her arms around him, welcoming his firm and yet gentle embrace, relishing it, letting the safety he offered quiet the noise and troubles of her soul, and at long last drifted off into sleep. Drifted into Abandon.

*****

He had not planned on a situation as the one he found himself in at the moment. He only wanted to give what information he knew to the king, then be on his way to the island. Instead he was holding on to a broken princess. This wasn’t part of the plan.

But he didn't wish to be anywhere else.

She shook for just a moment and he held her closer. He didn't understand himself any longer. After the meeting with her father, on which they had decided that both guards and any willing to fight needed to be assembled and trained for the war that was bound to come, he went to the chamber assigned to him. Instead of resting, all he could think of was the princess, how her eyes had gone wide with fear when he had told them that The Athànatoi wanted her, how pale she had gotten. He had come here on pure instincts, hoping to find her here. And he had.

And after finding her, he couldn’t make himself leave.

Now he held her sleeping form, and had the unusual desire to take away her pain, and he couldn't. He wanted to take way her pain and couldn’t, and wasn't sure which of the two frustrated him the most, so he simply held on, for in that moment, it was all he could do.

*****

She opened heavy eyes, and was all too aware of the body that embraced her. He'd held her while she wept, was her first thought. She felt a deep surge of gratitude towards him and was going to tell him so.

She looked up at him, and her eyes met his eyes looking down at her. Her stomach hummed at his deep gaze and she felt a bit self conscious, she must look a mess, she thought to herself.

"Thank you, Jasper."

"Anytime." Or maybe not, he thought to himself. There wasn't going to be a next time for holding on to a pretty little princess, the thought made him unusually sad, the small piece of sad made him mad at him self. His chest rumbled when he spoke, and it had a calming effect on her. He had a calming effect on her. She straightened up, making the hands that held her loosen, but not fall away.

"Why did you come?"

He cocked a brow at her question, considering it, not truly knowing how to answer her, before finally speaking,

"I don't know, I guess I wanted to." He considered the hands that were still wrapped around her, and loosened them. And then finally let her go.

She wanted to ask him to hold her again, to wrap his arms around her again and to not let go. But she couldn't. Instead she withdrew, and leaned once more on the wall, with him watching her.

"I do not want to endanger my people, Jasper."

He joined her, bringing his legs to his chest, and leaning on the wall as well, before responding,

"You must understand, princess, that whether or not you give yourself to The Athànatoi they will still come. You must be brave, you must survive, and when the time comes, you must fight." There was fire in his eyes when he spoke, and Hannah found herself entranced by it, drawn to him and it took great effort to pull herself from all of that.

"Then let me come with you." The words left her before she had had time to consider what she was asking of him. She had heard her father when he told her mother that jasper was staying at the castle and would be leaving soon. She hadn't feigned sleep really, but she'd awoken when her father came in, drowsy as she had been when she heard him speak of jasper's departure, she had heard the words he said none the less.

"You want to come with me to the Island of the immortalè?" He asked, astounded.

"Yes." She breathed out. "Please."

"Do your parents know this?"

"No, but they'll know soon enough."

"It isn't safe out there."

"Jasper, if what you say is true, if really The Athànatoi are coming, then nowhere is safe for me. Not in this castle, not anywhere."

"But the castle has guards, milady." He said softly, giving in to the desire to brush his thumb accross her cheek. She took the hand that caressed her face in both her hands and stared at him straight in the eye.

"But I don't want the guards of Brone trying to keep me safe." He cocked a brow, and tilted her head, trying to understand her.

“Jasper," she said, looking into his eyes, searching for the soul she felt she knew through and through. And he cursed himself for loving the way his name sounded at the tip of her tongue, cursed himself for he had slipped.

“I want you."

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