NOTE: This story was written my good friend Megan O'Shea and is based on characters from mine and Kirsty's fanfiction series; it's set mainly after the 'Ties of Fate' series.
Despite the late hour, Ewan knew his sister walked the corridors. In the still coldness of his bed he could hear her paces, the whisper of her silken nightgown.
How many nights has it been? Surely more than a week’s worth.
His candle was a beacon to sleeplessness as he sat up, running a weary hand through disheveled hair. To close his eyes was to submit to rest. In succumbing to that she would be waiting. Bleeding her last into his arms, her gaze seeking his for reassurance as she slipped away to the final darkness.
Leigh, gods, why can’t you rest? Let me have a peaceful night just once.
The rhythm of her footsteps continued, drawing close to his room before fading as she turned to stalk the length of hallway only to return again a moment later. The Hyrulian prince shut his eyes, rubbing at his pulsing temples. The first night Brianna had come awake to traipse about he’d thought that Leigh had somehow come back. Warm tears on his face, her name in his mouth, he had come awake to hear a soft voice singing a quiet tune.
In the dark, Brianna sang.
He recognized it as something their mother had used to sing them to sleep as babies; first for him and then a few years after for her. Only the pair of them and their parents knew of the melody, as well as the royal nursemaid. It had been something Impa had used to soothe Zelda as a wee one and the queen in her turn had passed it down.
Her soprano hummed it now, filling the silent spaces with its gentle lilt. Ewan had not gone to confront her that first night nor in the several after. Deep within he knew the reason she could not sleep in the evenings.
He himself was the cause.
Anger and despair rippled in his gut as he shoved aside the bed sheets and found the wash stand. Making a cup of his hands, he raised water to his face as the haunted eyes of a man beyond his years glared at him from his mirror.
I had to kill Molasar. There wasn’t any other way. He would have taken over your mind, Brianna. I did it for the best.
As he reached again to dash weariness from his visage, his core ached and his limbs tingled. Death was patient, watching him hawk-like, trailing his shadow. It had been close to its prey but had been denied. He felt the scrape of its cold claws down his spine and shuddered as his veins burned.
It would have been easier that way, I guess.
He touched the edge of the mirror with trembling fingers, looking into the stare of a young man he didn’t want to know as himself.
If I’d died then, Brianna wouldn’t have a reason to hate me. Leigh and I could be together and—No. No, just stop thinking that way.
He gritted his teeth, determined not to feel sorry for himself. There had been many people that had already wallowed in sorrow for him. His mother still looked upon him with nameless emotion in her eyes and his father regarded him as precious as treasure.
Even so, sometimes I think it’d be easier.
The traitorous thought stabbed into him and his gaze wandered to his salvation.
The dagger he kept at his bedside table winked an invite, knowing his wants and he tore his eyes away, chest heaving.
I should talk to Bri. Even if she does despise me, maybe I can find out what’s wrong.
Soft moonlight reached to touch his shoulders and flicker across his bare feet as he crossed the cold stone floor. Cracking the door to his bedroom ajar, Ewan peered into the corridor, the last light of the guttering tapers pooling ghastly across the floors.
Her locks rippled with their dying hues. Her back was to him, her pale hands slack at her sides. She had come to pause at the end of the hall, the blue silks gathering to bunch at her heels. The song continued, just as beautiful as he remembered from boyhood, but with a marring sadness to its score.
Guilt and pity washed through him and for a second he lost his resolve. Better to just slip back into his room, back to bed, try to sleep in spite of what nightmares it would bring and…
“Ewan?” The hushed address made him startle. Suspicious, Princess Brianna stood tensely before her elder brother, cool eyes seething into his being. “What are you doing up at this hour?”
“I-I was going to ask you the same thing,” he found his voice to reply. Stepping out into the hallway, he was a full head-length taller than she, yet he felt so small by comparison. “I was just concerned is all.”
“How nice.” Brianna’s tone was neutral as she appraised him with a suddenly apathetic sweep of her eyes. “I’m a big girl, Ewan, I can take care of myself you know.”
Fifteen years old and already she fancies herself a woman. The bitter sentence flashed through him and he sighed, raising a hand to his rough chin.
“Like you took care of yourself around Molasar?” he asked sharply, then softened as a horrified pall settled in Brianna’s fair eyes. On another exhalation, he added, “Look, Bri, I know I can’t undo what happened--.”
“Then why are you even trying?” Rage caused her question to crack, glimmering tears stood welling, wanting to spill over. “Nothing you say can do anything to help me, so just go away!” Her dismissal rose sharply; soon she would be loud enough to wake the castle.
Reaching out, Ewan placed his hands on her shoulders, attempting to steady her.
“What I’m trying to say is, I never meant to hurt you. You’re my sister and I love you. I didn’t want to see anything happen to you. We’ve both been through a difficult time. We need…” He felt his heart stop as memories of his beloved crashed back and he blinked away his own hot tears. “We need to stay together and help one another, Bri.”
“Some help you are,” the princess hissed, grabbing his wrists and digging her fingernails in. At Ewan’s wince, she held on, driving them deeper. “You can’t even help yourself, crying out and having nightmares all the time.”
Ewan felt the blood exit his face to congeal somewhere in his toes. “Wh-What?” It was a choke of shocked bewilderment. “Brianna, that’s not--.”
“Not the way it is?” she finished, glowering spitefully into his eyes. Her tears hovered for an instant before leaving warm tracks down the sides of her cheeks. “Yes, it is, I’ve walked past and heard you every night. ‘Oh Leigh’ this and ‘Why won’t you come back to me’ that!” Her words darkened, a gravelly mutter as she looked to her own small, slipper-less feet. “You want to know something? I’m glad she’s dead.”
Blood drummed like hoof beats in his ears as he willed himself not to strike her. “Brianna.” Her name in his mouth was poisonous. “You’re behaving like a spoiled fool. I know you’re hurt but that’s no reason to say things like that. You didn’t know Leigh so you have no right. Do you understand? None.” His fingers tightened in the folds of his sister’s nightwear. She continued to look at her feet, burning drops falling from her eyes.
“I d-don’t need this from you!” she sniffed, gagging on the syllables. “You betrayed me when you killed him. You didn’t know him, so of course I have every right!”
“How--.” Ewan was beyond astonishment as he fought to maintain composure. “How could you say that? Do you even know what he did, what he was planning to do?”
“He was planning on marrying me and making me his queen. Finally making me a proper woman, and not just a cast-off from this throne if something happened to you!”
The prince shook his head, a low growl of frustration in his throat. “No. I’ll tell you what he was planning to do. He had designs on marrying you and then having our kingdom as well, taking it from Mother and Father! Tim and I both found that out. Bri, he tried to kill me, do you understand that? Left me for dead!”
Hand met flesh in a blur. Pain thrummed through Ewan’s features as Brianna’s slap pierced the stillness around them. Blistering blood hurried to the spot and his eyes watered involuntarily. As his own fingers crept up to fondle the bruised skin, Brianna snarled, “Don’t you ever tell me lies like that again! I should have figured you and Timothy Westley were plotting to lie, that’s all the pair of you are good for!”
“Brianna!” His exclamation met her back as she turned away, shoulders heaving with sobs. She vanished as a shadow swallowed her. A minute later he heard the slam of her own bedroom door, her wretched cries muffled from within her chambers.
Gods damn it. He’s already brainwashed her. Rubbing at his sore cheek, Ewan made the slow, torturous walk back to his room. Once inside, he crawled into bed, pulling the sheets over his head and praying for rest to claim him quickly.
It was nearly dawn by the time he drifted into a dreamless slumber.
Fayette had chosen to take her breakfast when most of the servants were trying to clear the breakfast dishes away and prepare lunch. Oblivious to the hired help’s grumbling, the Sosarian lady began delicately buttering her toast, reaching for the jam. A nearby maid shot daggers at her as the noblewoman motioned for her not to take the platter of fruit back into the kitchens just yet.
“Thank you, my dear,” Fayette said sweetly as the maid picked up her skirts and hurried away in a huff. “Peasants,” the redhead lamented to herself as she slathered a thick helping of preserves on the bread.
How ill-bred, not permitting a lady to take her food when it suits her. Well, what else can I expect with Zelda as the queen? Hiring all sorts of riff-raff. Wouldn’t see this happening in Sosaria, not at all.
As fond recollections of her home caused Fayette’s mind to wander, she caught the haggard figure of her step-nephew in the corner of her eye. “Ewan, I almost didn’t see you, lurking over there. Do come and have a seat, breakfast is getting chilled.”
A sigh accompanied the prince dropping himself in the chair across from his mother’s step-sister. “Morning, Aunt Faye,” he mumbled, looking on the verge of laying his head on the table.
“My goodness, Ewan! Is something amiss? Are you feeling all right?” Instantly concerned for his welfare, Fayette pushed back her chair and started to rise. Ewan leaned his chin in his hand and motioned for her to remain where she was. He didn’t wish to be fussed over. Gods knew he’d had enough of that.
His step-aunt resettled herself but with misgivings. “You look as though you’ve had a difficult night. Oh, you poor dear. Tell me, do you need a healer?”
“No,” the young man refused through a yawn. “Excuse me. But no. Just some bad dreams, that’s it.” And an argument with my charming, brainwashed sister.
Across his left cheek, coupled with nicks where his razor had slipped, the bruise was a purple reminder of the princess’s wrath. Fayette examined it with worry before she folded her hands in her lap, making the choice not to ask after the contusion. The ankh Leigh had given him dangled from his neck to touch the tabletop and in an instant Fayette understood. Of course the boy would try to seek the affections of another woman in his sorrow. It’s a shame whoever it was rejected him so roughly.
“I know you miss her.” The soft words brought Ewan’s morose expression to meet his aunt’s sympathetic one. “Gods know you never forget about them, even if it’s been years since you’ve lost them. Raymundo’s been gone since you and your cousins were little, but not a day goes by where I don’t think of him.”
Ewan nodded, looking to the food that was still out. His appetite was gone. “I know. It’s just difficult. Leigh was…Well, I could sit here and write a book detailing all she meant to me. But I can’t sit here all day every day and wish things had turned out differently, I suppose.”
“That wouldn’t be healthy for you, no.” Fayette reached across the table and gently took his hand in hers. “The pain remains but it gets less over time. Your love for them does not. All you can do, so I’ve found, is live your life the best you know how. That’s what they would want. Not to say it’s not arduous. Gods know it was hard to raise your cousins, but Ray would have had it no other way. I did my best.” Removing a lace handkerchief from her lap, Fayette passed it to Ewan. “I’m sorry you had to find out so young, darling.”
He did not realize droplets were raining across his hands until the cloth met his fingertips. Taking it, he felt foolish but wiped them away anyway. Clearing his throat, he gave the handkerchief back and looked to his own lap, intertwining his fingers. “Sorry.”
“No, no, dear, it’s perfectly all right. Better to allow it out than to keep it shut in to yourself.” Deciding not to embarrass him further, Fayette looked past Ewan’s shoulder to the stairway beyond. “Where is your sister? Isn’t she going to come down and have something to eat?”
The prince shifted uncomfortably, not meeting his relative’s questioning eyes. “I don’t think so, Aunt Faye, it was a long night for her too.”
Fayette nodded to herself, red curls bobbing. “I see. Maybe you ought to go and speak to her? It seems you have quite the influence over her. Even if she does take after her mother in attitude.” A small frown worked Fayette’s lips and Ewan felt a smile come to his. Even after his brush with death had brought his mother and aunt together, he knew they would never be the best of friends.
“It’s a difficult situation, I’m afraid. She’s coping with some heartbreak of her own and won’t listen to a word I say.”
“Is she to that age already?” Fayette looked to the ceiling with a wistful sigh. “Seems like only yesterday when you all were babes. Did a young man spurn her affections?”
“Something like that.” He could feel his features glow as he traced the patterns in the tablecloth with a finger. “A young man she fancied passed away rather suddenly recently and she’s not taking it well.” He dared not mention his part in things.
He glanced up to see Fayette shake her head, lips pressed together. “That poor child. First you’re injured and then a sudden death in the kingdom? Perhaps we have a criminal on our hands. Well, I’m sure the guard will catch up to him soon enough. Even if Zelda pays them a little too much to loiter about the castle grounds all day.”
“I’m sure they will,” Ewan said with false confidence. “In the meantime I’m not sure how to act around Brianna anymore. She’s behaving like a different person entirely.”
“Grief will do that,” Fayette sighed. “Just be a willing ear if she needs it. But you also need to take better care of yourself, Ewan. Do what you need to be happy, no matter what.”
“Fayette!” Ewan looked to the dining room entrance as his mother stalked in, bristling. Zelda was dressed sumptuously as usual, but her demeanor suggested she had been roused from bed early.
“Yes, sister?” Fayette was saccharine as she turned to the queen, the picture of innocence. Barely nodding a good morning to her son, the monarch stabbed an accusing finger inches from the Sosarian’s nose. “Don’t you dare act all guiltless, I know what you’re up to!”
“Which would be…?” Fayette raised her teacup to her mouth, drinking calmly.
“You were snooping through my jewelry while I was out again, weren’t you? I didn’t say you could borrow that brooch, Link gave that to me for our last anniversary!”
Fayette’s chair upset as she rose from it, looking Zelda squarely on. “I didn’t touch anything in your room, why in the world would I bother when jewelry from Sosaria is much better made?”
Ewan rolled his eyes and slipped from his seat, making a quick exit as the bickering continued. Plans were forming quicksilver in his head.
Do what you need to be happy. No matter what.
All he needed was one last confirmation.
He found her in the sitting room before the hearth. Against the black intruding night the flames were a stark golden. As he opened the door, he saw her stiffen. She was watching the fire deliberately and said nothing as he entered.
“Bri?” Ewan rested his hands on the back of her chair, looking down at the top of her flaxen head. “Bri, I wanted to talk to you about last night.” It was difficult to keep the resentment from his tone.
“I told you to go away, I have nothing to say to you.” Her answer rang with finality as she made no effort to acknowledge him.
“Then you’re just going to have to listen to what I have to say.” He came around to the front of the chair and regarded her sternly. “I spoke to Aunt Faye this morning. She told me to do what I must to be happy.”
“Oh, bravo, would you like some applause?” Her hands began to work furiously on the embroidery she labored over. “I don’t see why you came to tell me this, Ewan.”
“I wanted you to know what I have planned,” he informed her, coolness coming into his utterance. “I’ve decided that leaving here and traveling around for a bit would be best to clear my mind. All that remains now is to tell Mother and Father.”
“And what of the throne?” Brianna continued to stitch, her words casual. “Mother and Daddy want you to take it once they step down, you know that.”
“I have no use for a throne in a kingdom that has no use for me.” Her sibling’s response was stiff. “This is for the better all the way round, Brianna. You can have the bloody throne, I don’t want it.”
“Glad you can see that the better of us belongs up there.” Brianna’s malevolence was thinly veiled. “The last thing Hyrule needs is a coward as king, anyway. A murderer. I could tell Mother and Daddy tomorrow, you know, or even tonight. How their precious son is nothing better than a gutter rat, killing innocent men.”
“It pleases me to know you love me so, Bri. Molasar was as far from innocent as a man can be. Why can’t you see that? Has he really got you so wound around his little finger, even though he’s dead?”
“He’s dead only because you killed him!” Outrage made her eyes into coals. “You took away any future we could have had. I loved him!”
“Brianna, I know you did, but it was necessary!” His protest rose above her cry. “You have no idea what he was going to do!”
“Shut up!” The needle and thread tumbled from her lap to hit the rug as she stood up, drawing herself to her full height. “Your whore may have died, but at least I didn’t kill her. More’s the pity to that!”
“Leigh was no whore!” Before he realized what he had done, he had given her a rough shove. Brianna tumbled back into her chair, expression smouldering.
“How dare you lay a hand on me!” she wailed. “Wait until Mother finds out!”
It was like the rare fights they’d had in childhood. The reflection lived briefly in his mind as he stammered. “I-I, sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. But you have to see, he wasn’t any good,” Ewan pleaded.
“He was better to me than you are,” the princess returned, becoming piteous. “You don’t know how it feels. Whenever I look at you, I see you killing him. See the look you got on your face when you…And what he looked like on the ground, bleeding. Gone from me forever.”
“Bri…” Her tone plucked what words he could have said from his throat.
“Just leave me, Ewan. Go back to your room and lament on your own problems.” She did not move from her chair as she looked to the fire, appearing so young and frail.
He approached her again and before she could protest he had swept her into a tight embrace. “I’m sorry. It’s all gone so wrong lately. All I can say is I’m sorry,” he whispered into her ear, shutting his eyes.
“Ewan…” She relaxed in his grip, burying her head in his shoulder. “I’m sorry too…”
For a span, neither moved. It was as it had been and for that time Ewan could forget the gruesome things he’d had to do.
Then he felt it. Sharp and insistent, it pressed against his back, threatening to tear the fabric of his tunic. His arms loosened. “Brianna, what…?”
“I’m sorry.” She leaned back, smirking. Her expression was dream-like as she pressed the dagger she had hidden in her sleeve closer to his flesh. “Sorry you didn’t die as well.”
His hand pushed her shoulder, putting her off balance. Grabbing her wrist, he twisted it lightly and her teeth gritted. “Let go of me Ewan!”
“No.” He continued to twist until the weapon dropped from her hand. “What’s happened to you, Brianna?”
“I want him back. I’ll do anything to be happy. If you can leave me all alone here, then I may as well be the one to cause that loneliness.”
“If you kill me, you’ll go to the dungeons, do you want that? You’ll spend the rest of your life there, break our parents’ hearts, and there won’t be an heir. Answer me, do you want that?”
“No.” The will to fight was gone as he released her. Sinking to her knees, the princess made no effort to take the knife up again. “I don’t understand where it all went wrong, why it all had to go so badly.”
Her brother strode to the door wearing the grim frown of finality. “I don’t know either.” But I sure wish for both our sakes it hadn’t.
He disappeared into the corridor, leaving her alone to her melancholy.
Queen Zelda looked with wide green eyes to her eldest child.
“I’m leaving, Mother. Giving the throne to Brianna if she wants it. I-I can’t live with things here anymore. I need to get out past these walls and see what’s out there.”
“You can’t. It’s your birthright to become the next king! Link, say something!” Zelda turned to her husband, wringing her hands. “Tell him he can’t just do this!”
“Calm down Zel. Son, I remember what it’s like to be your age. Not to say that I was the crown prince of Hyrule, but I had my fair share to put up with at your age.” Looking ages older than Ewan remembered, the king of Hyrule slumped in his seat. Turning to his wife, he laid a comforting hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. “I think it might be good for him. He does need time to sort things out on his own and he’s a man now. Able to make his own choices. Oh, Zel, don’t cry.” As the queen buried her head on his shoulder, Link sighed. “It doesn’t make us happy to see you go, Ewan, but we trust you. You’ll sort things out and keep in touch, won’t you?”
“Of course, Father.” Ewan swallowed the lump in his throat and didn’t meet his parents’ faces. “I already…I have things I’ll need packed.”
Link nodded miserably. “All your mother and I want is for you to be safe out there, all right?”
“Y-Yes. I-I should be off now. I have servants carrying things out of my room for me as we speak.”
Without waiting for his father to answer, Ewan stood and went as quickly as was polite.
He heard his mother’s cries, but he did not look back.
There was nothing for him at
now. North Castle
The shadows blanketed him as Ewan slung his pack over his shoulder. Struggling to make the rise on the hill he climbed, he at last allowed himself a look back from the miles he’d walked.
In the distance, small as a child’s toy and dim with distance were the towers of
. His home. It would be about dinner time now. Or rather, he told himself firmly, his former home. Ahead there stretched the roads to the unknown, inviting him. North Castle
I’m sorry, everyone.
He recalled the notes he had written to his parents and sister, tucking them under the pillows on their beds. In each he told them of his love and promises to keep in contact. He sighed, heart heavy. It was time to move on.
Turning again to the roads, he walked on, vowing never to return.
The fire’s strength renewed. Solitary in both her rage and the quiet room, Princess Brianna watched the bright flames lick at the parchment. If she squinted, she could barely make out the words I’ll love you always becoming black as it was consumed.
One day I’ll make you pay, brother. You don’t know how badly you wounded me when you killed my husband. Her cat-like smile grew as the last of his note to her faded.
Don’t worry, Molasar, I’m always thinking of you. I’ll always be loyal.
Then, very softly, she started to hum the old familiar lullaby.
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