|Chapter Four: Reaver’s Departure|
|Series||Fable Forever by Vampireninjabunnies|
|Previous||Chapter Three: Debutante|
|Next||Chapter Five: An Unwanted Suitor|
|← Chapter Three: Debutante||Chapter Chronology||Chapter Five: An Unwanted Suitor →|
The king stood in the war room, a sense of dread washing over him. The shadow of some unseen threat weighing heavily upon his shoulders. He felt the gentle pressure of his wife’s hand upon his shoulder; he reached for it. Taking comfort in the warmth of her touch. “What’s wrong my love?” He turned to her, concern filling the emerald depths of her eyes. He gently brushed an auburn strand from her face. “I’m not quite sure.” He paused, sitting haggardly. “Just a feeling really.”
She knelt before her husband, bringing his eyes to meet her’s. He was a good man, a good king. Like his father, but the weight of that crown bore heavily upon him. The proof of which shown in every grey strand and was etched in his handsome face. She said nothing, for her words rarely held the power to ease her husband’s worries. They stayed like for what seemed like a small eternity. Silent words conveying their thoughts through the secret understanding shared by all husbands and their wives.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything.” Both turned to the familiar face of Ben Finn. His blonde locks as unkempt as at his last visit. “No Ben, of course not.” Olivia smiled as she stood, kissing him on his stubbled cheek. She glanced back at her husband. “Worry not my love.” The door shut softly behind her as she left.
The king smiled at his old friend. “You look tired Ben.” Ben laughed, “Keeping up with Page’s endless crusade can be exhausting.” Ben often complained about Page’s seemingly endless plans to better the lives of the people of Bowerstone, but the love he held for his wife showed even through the complaints. “How is Page?” Roren asked absently. Ben strode over to the desk, leaning against it as he fiddled with some object adorning it. “Oh you know same old, same old. Waging perpetual war with Reaver Industries.” He replied rolling his eyes. “Don’t think she ever got over the whole locking you guys in a room full of murderous Balverines thing.” Roren smiled mischievously at Ben. “Well in all fairness to Reaver, we’d gone there with every intention of killing him.”
They both laughed. How simple things had been back then. Roren sighed, “How are things in Silverpines?” Ben shrugged, “To be honest I haven’t got a clue. We haven’t heard from any of the recruits we sent out there. I’m really starting to worry something might’ve happened to them.” Roren groaned rubbing his temples. “Alright Ben, I have to listen to another one of Reaver’s proposals. We’ll deal with this when I’m finished.” Ben nodded as he left. “Good luck your majesty.” The king sighed heavily as Reaver sashayed into the room, smiling wolfishly. Here we go again.
Sophie read lazily, her lithe twenty-year-old frame reclined casually on the chaise beside the library window. She gazed out at the garden lost in thought. Oh how she hated sitting in this stuffy old castle. She’d give anything to leave Bowerstone, to see all the wondrous places she’d so often read about in her books. She sighed closing her book and rising gracefully. She ran out of the room toward the gardens; so lost her thoughts that she didn’t hear the sound of approaching footsteps. She suddenly collided into someone and would’ve fallen unceremoniously to the floor if not for the strong arm that had wrapped itself around her small waist.
She blushed as Reaver righted her. “Good morning Sophie.” He grinned devilishly; kissing her hand. “Why in such a hurry?” She smiled “I was just going to take a stroll through the gardens.” She paused momentarily, holding her book tightly to her chest. “Would you care to join me?” Reaver smiled warmly as he offered Sophie his arm. As they stepped out into the gardens, Sophie looked up at him. “So what did daddy think of your proposal?” He laughed pleasantly; twirling his cane idly as they walked. “Your father is a good king. And thusly rarely approves my proposals.” As they passed the fountain he glanced down at her out of the corner of his eye; noticing the book she clung to.
Letting go of her arm he grabbed the book from her grasp playfully. Stepping back, he pulled it out of her reach. “And what is this, my dear?” He asked smiling slyly. She glared half-heartedly at him, delicate hands resting on her hips. “Reaver.” She warned, smiling. “Don’t make me have daddy hurt you.” How she did enjoy their little games. The garden servants ignored the princess and her teasing playmate; all of them far too used to the playful pair and their games.
Reaver smiled teasingly, dangling the book tantalizingly above her. Suddenly Sophie rushed forward, pulling him close by his cravat. His eyes widened as soft ruby lips met his. He stood in shock as she pulled away; his lips burned with the memory of her brief kiss. His sapphire eyes met hers, finally seeing the truth that lay well hidden in their icy depths.
Sophie held her breath, unable to believe what she had just done. But, oh, how long she’d wanted to kiss him. She waited, watching him in his shock. An eternity passed between them before he captured her lips with his own once more. His strong lips pressed to hers in a kiss that was passionate and claiming. The sound of the book and cane falling to ground echoed through the garden as he pulled her close. Dainty fingers running through his silken black strands as they set free the blazing inferno that they’d held locked away for so long. Oblivious to the world around them. Lost in this one perfect moment.
Reaver woke, stretching lazily. He glanced out the window as he dressed for the day. What a lovely morning indeed. He strode down the steps whistling a jaunty tune. It had been nearly a month since the kiss in the garden and the weeks following had seemed like a dream. Visions of Oakvale and Rebecca rarely haunted his slumber; often replaced by Sophie’s soft laughter and indulgent smiles. Devon smiled as his friend sauntered into the dining room. “Good morning Devon. You got in rather late last night.” Reaver chimed cheerily, sitting across from him as the servants brought him his breakfast. “Well there was this girl…three girls actually.” Devon grinned mischievously. Reaver rolled his eyes, smiling at his young friend.
Devon appreciated the recent change in the household. The manor no longer seemed gloomy and foreboding. The atmosphere had become bright and jovial; and the servants no longer cringed under their master’s gaze. But the change that brought the deepest joy to his heart was in Reaver. He watched as Reaver ate, innocently chatting with one of the maids. Devon loved the bold smiles that now often graced Reaver’s lips. He’d known Reaver for most of his life, and this man he saw before him was almost a stranger.
This was a happy, content man; and he’d never known Reaver to be either. Jubilant and hedonistic…yes. But never happy. Devon found he liked this Reaver a great deal. “Are you going up to the castle again today?” “Unfortunately no…his majesty is far too busy dealing with matters in Silverpines to see me. Apparently a fair few soldiers have disappeared while out on patrol.” Reaver sighed. “But I do have to go to town, and see to things at the factories.” Devon laughed. “You work far too hard my friend.” “Ah, such is the price of success.” Reaver said, rising from his chair. He glanced back at Devon as he left. “I trust you’ll be alright on your own?” Devon nodded eyeing one of the maids hungrily. “Most definitely.”
Music filled the castle halls as Sophie’s nimble fingers danced over the piano keys. Claire watched with interest, her chocolate brown eyes closing as the delicate music swept through her. Of all the lessons Sophie had been forced to sit through in her youth Claire was most grateful for the music lessons. Sophie always played so beautifully. The tune was unfamiliar to Claire, she’d asked Sophie where she’d learned it, but a smile was the only response she ever received. No one in the castle seemed to recognize it either. It bothered her greatly; Sophie didn’t keep secrets from her. At least she didn’t used to. And the origin of the song wasn’t the only secret she was keeping either.
“Good morning.” The music stopped and they both turned to the source of the cheerful greeting. “Good morning Ethan.” Sophie smiled as she stood and hugged him tightly. Claire smiled warmly at him causing a faint blush to mix among the freckles of his tanned face. “G…good morning Claire. How are you to day?” Sophie chuckled lightly to herself. How adorable. I wonder if they’ll ever figure out how they feel about each other.
Ethan cleared his throat. “I have a letter for you Sophie.” Sophie grabbed the letter excitedly and ran off to her bedroom to read it privately. Claire glared at Ethan. “Who keeps sending you here?” “I’m not sure I understand your meaning.” Ethan said nervously. “Oh yes you do.” Claire said standing to her full height, glaring up at him. “You come here almost everyday with letters or gifts for Sophie and I want to know who they’re from!” “I can’t tell you. I promised Sophie I wouldn’t tell anybody. Not even you.” He pleaded. “I’m sorry Claire but I can’t stay, I have some errands to run for Master Reaver.” Claire watched angrily as Ethan hurried off to his errands. She walked up to Sophie’s room. Hoping see could get Sophie to tell her who had sent the letter. “Is something wrong?”
Claire turned to Ben. As he smiled at her an idea struck her. Sophie would never tell her who kept sending those letters. If she were going to, she’d have done so already. She’d have to find out for herself, and Ben was going to help her. Claire grabbed Ben by the arm and dragged him into a nearby room. “Whoa, what’s going on?” He asked startled. “I need your help.” Claire looked him in the eye, imploring him to understand. “Someone keeps sending Sophie letters and gifts. I need to find out who it is.” “How am I supposed to help with that?” he asked raising an eyebrow. “Every time she gets one of those letters she goes out into town. Today I’m going to follow her and find out who this mystery beau is. And you’re coming with me.”
Sophie smiled happily, as she strolled through Bowerstone Market; unaware that Ben and Claire followed close behind. Ben hated following the princess, but Claire had seemed so sincere in her worries. He just couldn’t refuse, and so here, he was spying on Sophie. The sun was just beginning to set as they watched Sophie walk out to the center of Bowerstone Bridge. He sighed heavily and watched as she looked around as though waiting for something.
“Good evening Ma Cherie.” Sophie turned to face Reaver, embracing him tightly. “I brought you a gift.” He grinned pulling out from behind his back the most beautiful rose she’d ever seen. She gently touched the delicate burgundy petals. “Reaver, it’s beautiful. Thank you.” He smiled adoringly at her as she admired the flower. “It’s called an Everbloom Rose. They only grow on the shores of Samarkand. They’re one of my favourite flowers in the world, actually.” “Why?” she asked looking out at the water. “Because they never die.” He whispered wrapping his arms around her shoulders, enjoying the rare moment alone. Far too often, they were in the castle and had to refrain from such intimate gestures of affection. He nuzzled her neck affectionately, appreciating the closeness.
“What’s wrong Sophie? You seem melancholy.” He murmured against the shell of her ear. “What’s it like in Samarkand?” He raised an elegant brow in interest as she turned in his arms. He held her close, brushing a loose curl from her delicate face. “Well pet it’s very beautiful and the people are kind and courteous. Overall, it’s rather dull. You’re not really missing anything of interest I assure you.” She cocked her head to the side, unconvinced. “Trust me love, you’ll see.”
He knew he’d said the wrong thing as she turned her head away from him. “No I won’t.” “Sophie?” Concern filled his voice as he whispered her name. “I’m never going to get past the gates of this dreary old town; let alone see Samarkand.” Tears welled up in her icy eyes. “I’m just going to sit in that old castle until daddy marries me off to some young aristocrat. A nice young suitor that he approves of and that I don’t love.” She held her face in her hands as he pulled her close. Hugging her tightly as she cried. He lifted her chin; bringing her eyes to meet his, brushing the tears from her pale rose cheeks. “Don’t cry pet. Please don’t cry. Your father values love greatly. He’ll let you marry whoever you see fit. Please don’t cry.” He whispered gently, kissing her forehead. “No he won’t.” she whispered, “Because I love you.” He looked down at her shock reflected in his eyes. It had been so long since someone had told him they loved him. Not since Rebecca. “I love you.” She whispered once more as he held her tightly; and he captured her lips with his own. Kissing her softly, tenderly.
Ben stood in the castle hall, still reeling from what he’d witnessed. What was he going to do? It had already taken everything he had to keep Claire from running straight back here and telling his majesty. Maybe Claire was right, maybe that was the best thing to do. No…he couldn’t tell the king. He just couldn’t. He was torn from his worries by the sound of footsteps. “Ben, I would’ve thought you’ve returned home by now.” He smiled weakly at the queen. “Is something the matter?” “No, of course not your majesty. I was just headed home now.” She placed her hand upon his arm gently as tried to pass.
“What’s wrong?” Suddenly he found himself wondering if perhaps the queen would know what to do. Surely, she would understand. “Your majesty…I…uh…saw something I wish I hadn’t.” They stepped into the study and sat down. “What did you see, that could possibly trouble you so?” He sighed heavily, suddenly unsure of his decision to tell her. “Claire came to me today; she was very upset. It seems that over the past month someone has been sending Sophie letters and gifts.”
Olivia nodded. “Yes, young Ethan comes by quite often. Aren’t the gifts from him?” “No your majesty. Apparently he’s just the messenger.” “Then who sent them?” Olivia asked concernedly. Ben wrung his hands nervously as he continued. “Claire wanted to know the same thing. So she asked me to come with her and follow Sophie. So we did, we followed her to Bowerstone Market and…your majesty, it was Reaver. He’s the one who’s been sending Sophie the gifts and letters.” Olivia laughed, unable to stop herself from doing so. “Oh Ben, don’t be silly.” She rose gracefully from her seat.
“Reaver is older than my father. What possible interest could he have in my twenty-year-old daughter? She’s nothing but a child to him.” She looked back at him as she left. “Go home to your wife Ben. You obviously need rest.” Ben sat in shock as the door shut softly behind her. She didn’t believe him. He’d told her everything and she’d laughed. As though he were telling a rather clever joke. He paced about the room frantically. What was he supposed to do now? He couldn’t tell the king, and he sure as hell couldn’t go home and tell Page. He groaned aloud, trying to think of some solution. What would Walter have done?
Gutted the bloody bastard, that’s what he’d have done. Major Swift, what would Major Swift have done? Then suddenly it hit him. Major Swift would’ve gone to Reaver. Try to reason with him. It wasn’t the best idea in the world given Reaver’s temper. Nevertheless, it was the only one he had. “In the morning, I’ll go and talk to Reaver.” He stated determinedly.
Olivia sat beside her husband in the throne room as people arrived. She hated these early morning audiences. She looked over at her daughter and smiled. Poor Sophie, she hates these things even more than I do. Suddenly Sophie seemed to perk up, Olivia turned away from her daughter to see Page and Reaver stepping up to the throne. She watched carefully as they both stated their cases. Noticing as every now and then Reaver’s eyes would leave the attentive gaze of her husband and drift. Drift subtly to meet Sophie’s gaze. She sighed heavily as the audience ended and she watched Sophie leave the room. She glanced at her husband; now deeply engrossed in conversation. Ben was right. She’d seen it in every subtle glance. How was she supposed to tell Roren? I can’t tell him, not yet. I have to talk to Sophie first.
Ben knocked nervously on the door to Reaver’s office. He’d figured coming to the factory to see him was a lot safer than going to his home in Millsfield. “Come in.” Reaver’s strong voice beckoned him inside. He sighed as the door shut quietly behind him. “Ben, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Reaver smirked, gesturing for Ben to sit. “This isn’t a social call Reaver.” Ben said, his tone more aggressive than he’d intended. “Of course not. I’m sure Page would never approve of you paying me a visit of a social nature. So please do tell me what this is about. I am a rather busy man after all and do not have all day.” He stated irately as he stood, pouring himself a glass of wine.
“It’s about Sophie.” Reaver turned to Ben, raising an elegant brow. “What about Sophie?” His tone was cold, warning. It sent an eerie shiver down Ben’s spine. Perhaps this hadn’t been the best idea after all. Perhaps it would’ve been better to just tell his majesty and let him deal with Reaver. Ben voice shook slightly as he spoke. “I saw you with her yesterday. On Bowerstone Bridge. And Claire says Ethan has been bringing letters and gifts to Sophie for the past month.” Reaver sat down lazily, propping his feet up on his desk. “And your point being?” he asked sipping his wine.
“Reaver she isn’t one of your little harlots from Industrial! You can’t play games with her till you get what you want!” Ben growled angrily. Ben shuddered inwardly at glare Reaver directed at him. He’d never seen the elegant industrialist angry before. And he was fairly certain he didn’t want to now. “And what do you think I want from the fair princess, Ben?” Reaver’s voice was low and guttural. “The same thing you want from any woman you set your fiendish sights on.” The smile faded from Reaver’s lips.
“You really shouldn’t speak of things you know nothing about…child.” Ben glowered at the man before him. As they stared each other down, he noticed something. Just a glimmer of emotion that flickered across Reaver’s face, so quickly that it might never have been there at all. Then it occurred to him. Reaver didn’t think of Sophie as just another conquest. He cared about her. Ben realized that maybe a different approach would be more effective.
“Reaver…for whatever reason you don’t age. Eventually she’s going to notice.” Reaver’s scowl deepened. He didn’t like the direction this conversation was taking. He poured himself another glass of wine as Ben continued. “You don’t age…and she will. Someday she’s going to get old and her whole life will have passed her by. And when that happens she’s going to wake up and hate you for it.” His fingers twitched over the gun holstered to his thigh. “She’ll hate because when she’s old and gray you’ll leave. She’ll be alone. And someday she’s going to want children. Can you give her that? Can you even have children?” Reaver chest tightened painfully as he glared at Ben. There was truth to his words and Reaver knew it. It disturbed him, this unpleasant truth. And he found himself hating Ben for it. Suddenly he drew his pistol and fired.
Ben flinched at the gunshot, closing his eyes. Slowly he opened them once more. Reaver was standing behind his desk; the chair lay on the floor behind him. He was breathing heavily, his aristocratic features flushed with anger. Then Ben realized Reaver had…missed. He turned and left the factory as quickly as possible. Not wanting to give Reaver another chance to hit his target. He sighed heavily in relief and frustration as he walked through Industrial. This had turned out to be a very bad idea. He should’ve just gone straight to his majesty. It was late; he’d go to the king tomorrow and tell him everything. He hoped Reaver would react better to the king.
Devon walked into the manor drowsily, the sound of pacing footsteps echoing from the study. It was well past midnight; he hadn’t expected anyone to still up. “Reaver?” Reaver turned to him as he entered the room. As he scanned the room, he noticed a small satchel packed with supplies. “You going somewhere?” “Devon…I need you to do me a favour.” Reaver voice was strained and harsh. “Anything.” Devon smiled lounging in an armchair in front of the fireplace. “I need you to look after Sophie for me.” Devon’s face contorted in confusion. “Reaver, I think” “Just promise me you will! Promise me Devon.” Reaver yelled desperately.
“Alright. I will. I promise.” Devon said standing. “Reaver, what’s wrong. You’re acting strange. Where are you going?” Reaver looked to floor, his voice quiet. Almost inaudible. “I can’t stay here Devon. I…I just can’t. I won’t age, she will. She’ll have to watch, as she slowly grows old and die. She’ll watch as I remain forever unchanged, never aging, never dying. I can’t make her suffer through that Devon. I have to leave.” Reaver grabbed the satchel and rushed toward the door. Devon turned to him as he opened the door, fists clenched in anger.
“Coward.” Reaver stopped dead in tracks, turning to Devon. “What?” “You’re a coward!” Devon growled. “What you did…you can’t handle it! You never could! So you drown it all away, you drown it in your wine, your luxury, and wealth” You pretend you don’t, that you feel nothing! But it’s just a façade, a clever guise. You feel something for Sophie, something real! And it scares you to death! You’re afraid! Afraid she’ll find out the truth and when she does…when she does.” Devon paused breathing heavily, his face red with anger. “Don’t tell me you’re leaving to save her suffering because it’s a lie. You want to save yourself the suffering of watching her get old and die! Save yourself from the day, she finds out what you did! You’re running! So she’ll never look at you like you’re monster! So she’ll never look at you the way Rebecca did!”
Reaver stepped forward and swung, lashing out in anger. His right fist connecting with Devon’s jaw, knocking him to the ground. Then breathing heavily he stormed out of the manor, leaving Devon sprawled out on the floor.
Reaver slipped silently into the slumbering castle. He would leave; he had to. For her. To give her the chance to be happy, the only gift he had left to give. But he couldn’t go without seeing her one last time. He slipped into the library smiling at her sleeping form. The image of her sitting alone in this room reading until she fell asleep danced through the forefront of his mind. He walked over and placed the book that lay on the floor beside her back in its proper place. He knelt beside her quietly, watching her sleep. He brushed the loose hair from her face careful not wake her. How ironic, the Pirate King who had broken the hearts of hundreds in his life. Would now so willingly break his own. This would hurt her and he knew it. But her heart would heal, and she would find love again. Find it in a good man who could love her, as she deserved to be loved. His on other hand would never heal.
Silent tears stained his cheeks as kissed her lips softly. “Please forgive me Sophie. Now and forever, I love you.”
Then as all of Bowerstone slept, he disappeared into the night. Looking back only once, the chill of the night air stinging on his tear stained cheeks. “Goodbye.”