Bold Steps

DL found himself standing right in front of the dungeon that kept Diamant in darkness. She had been here for the past three days. The stench stung his nose but that didn't seemed to bother him. He went into the dungeon and looked at her curled up on the floor. He leaned in, his eyes having adjusted to the little light, he could see that her face was wet with tears.

Then he could hear her whimpering, her face twitched into different emotions. Then she started sobbing inaudibly.

She had nightmares too?

DL couldn't help but ask himself surprised. He jerked away from the thoughts as he saw her violently shaking on the floor and he panicked.

He had no idea of what to do.

He wanted to hit himself for even worrying but he couldn't think more on that, she was still violently shaking and her sobs were growing louder.

Not thinking, he went to her and drew her into his arms. His back leaning on the wall as her back leaned on his chest. He held his arms around her tightly and only reduced the force when she suddenly stopped shaking and sobbing.

He feared if she was dead but could hear her breathing softly. She was sleeping peacefully again.

He should leave her now. She was out of danger zone.

He tried to tell himself, yet his arms still held her to him.

Why couldn't he stop? Why did he even care? Why had he come here? His mind was confused. Why was he doing this or better still, why had he even lied?

Yes! He lied! He lied to Aaron when he had so boldly ran into him in the garden begging that he should let him see Diamant. Aaron claimed that he knew she was in the dungeon that he had to speak to the one he loved. He lied to him that she wasn't anywhere with him. Although Aaron's face showed his disbelief, he had sent him away and banned him from ever coming so close to the palace. How could he even have said that he loved her?

He loved her...

DL thought in mockery. Though the idea of love sounded pathetic to him, he still felt Aaron lacked the actual definition of love. He was none to pass judgement on such pathetic matters as love but at least he could speak on gentlemanly manners.

Sure, he wasn't gentlemanly enough himself but his Nana had taught him well. It wasn't gentlemanly to try and rape a woman you claimed to "love".

Diamant moved in his arms and he looked down at her. He was taller than she was, so he could see her face that was plastered with a smile.

She was dreaming...

He looked away, images of his younger self drawing flashing before his eyes. He looked around in the darkness and something struck him.

Not only did he feel peaceful here with her but also the voices.

The voices in his head had gone absolutely silent.

******************************

As they walked down the hall to see Clara, Goben couldn't help but notice the radiant look on DL's face. He looked so contented and so pleased. He had even pardon the maids of some of their mistakes and their training this morning with their special group had been pleasant. He even went to see Rina and promised her that he would make sure she got back on her feet as soon as he could. He had even offered to help with the mines' issue and had a tea with Nana.

It all felt out of place, still wonderful. It was all more of what DL couldn't do but more of what DL would do before he became DL.

Goben smiled, it felt so good to have his best friend like this. It felt wonderful.

"How was your night?" Goben asked the most random question, the atmosphere giving room for some familiarity.

"Wonderful." DL said, as he continued to smile. He really couldn't tell what was making him happy but whatever it was, he liked it.

He had to leave the dungeon as early as he could before Diamant woke up. He had a long day ahead of him filled with activities and he didn't want to start it all with an argument. He felt strange that he was running away from the likely consequences of his actions. He never did.

"So, you had no nightmares?" Goben said as he drew the Dragon Lord away from his thoughts.

"I did, at first but then it went away." DL said. Of course, it went away. He didn't even really sleep!

"Don't tell me you spent the night in Landrus' underground abode again!" Goben snapped his head around so quickly that his long braid bounced on his chest.

"No." DL laughed, his mind went to where he had really spent the night. Before Goben would keep taking advantage of this good mood he was in, he quickly said.

"Now let us leave that matter and hurry. Talking to Clara isn't the only plan I have for the day."

Goben nodded in agreement, satisfied that his best friend sounded happy. His mind went to the thoughts of marriage.

Did this have anything to do with his marriage? Definitely not, he didn't want to marry Clara so that can't be it.

"Did you inform her of our visit?" DL asked.

Drawn from his thoughts, he said, "No but I confirmed that she will be in her chamber."

"Alright then, we shall not tarry." DL said as he quickened his steps.

Yet ever so often, his mind swayed back to what Goben said. Did the happiness he felt have anything to do with where he had passed his night?

******************************

"What are you doing here? Have I not warned you that I never want to see you again? Tell me now, Lewis? You never listen! I said stop hoping, I would be Queen. I have no choice." Clara threw her hands up in the air as she ranted, finding Lewis presence uncomfortable. Each day she feared that they would be caught.

"Yes, I do not listen and I already told you, surely you will be Queen but the difference will be in what kingdom you are ruling. I have a plan." Lewis replied calmly as he stood next to her dressing table which was the other side of the room to where Clara sat on the bed.

"What nonsense, Lewis! You still dare to hope?! The invitation letters are ready and would soon be sent out. What genius plan have you come up with? Nothing!" She said in frustration.

"But you said Nana is willing to help." Lewis said as his face twisted in confusion.

"She tried but he won't even listen to her. He has got his mind set. Just leave now Lewis, I don't want you to get us into any trouble." She stood up and walked to the other side of the bed a little too quickly. She missed a step and strained her leg. She cried in pain and fell. Lewis ran to her and helped her to the bed.

Just then, the door swung open, DL and Goben walked in. Lewis and Clara looked to the door as they stared on with panic.

DL stopped and looked at them closely, if he wasn't in a good mood this should earn a few lashes for Lewis.

"What are you doing here Lewis?" Goben whispered as he went to him immediately and snatched him away from Clara, hoping to usher him out without a punishment or getting on DL's wrong side.

"Stop, Goben. Tell me, what are you doing here?" DL asked and they both stopped.

"I was just walking along the hallway when I heard the princess scream. She had strained her leg and couldn't reach to her bed. You, Dragon Lord, came in as I helped her to her bed." He said, lying on the spot. He had to, his life and the one of the woman he loved depended on it.

"Well, looks like I owe you such a great gratitude." DL smiled.

Lewis felt his heart leap with joy. He was in a great mood which meant that he could tell him. He knew that the favour DL claimed to now owe him wasn't something he could bargain his marriage to Clara over. Yet, he wanted to try. What he had done wasn't even anything for owing favours, DL must have just said that because he was really happy.

DL was now by Clara side, his hands firmly holding his robe as he looked at her. He couldn't touch her. Goben was the one who checked her ankle and discovered that she had strained it. He went out and called for one of the maids to get Doctor Rika.

"You will be fine, don't worry." Goben said as some maids came in to tuck her in bed and left.

Goben looked on and wondered why it was taking Doctor Rika so long as Clara growled in pain.

"Looks like I will just have to get this Doctor myself." He said, his eyes requesting for permission.

"Alright, alright." DL said and Goben left.

The room fell into silence as they all waited.

"My Lord, if I may speak?" Lewis said breaking the silence.

DL turned to him, he had even forgotten he was in the room. If he hadn't then he would have been the one to get Doctor Rika.

"Do speak. What is it that burdens you, my subject?" Yet again, he amazed himself. He just wanted to get out of this room. He couldn't stand staying here in Clara's room. He couldn't stand Clara and here he was, even allowing a request in her room.

The things happiness could do...

"My Lord, there is something that my heart seeks for." Lewis said and Clara's heart started beating wildly.

His voice came back to her, what he said when they were arguing earlier.

"I have a plan."

His plan was to tell DL about them. What kind of stupidity was this? This would stop the wedding definitely because who would marry the dead?!

She had to stop him before his stupidity took total control of his tongue.

"And what is this that your heart seeks?" DL said, slowly gaining Interest in the topic.

"Will you stop right now. I told you to keep it for the wedding day." Clara said with a smile.

A look of confusion crossed Lewis's face.

What was she doing? This was their chance?

Then it morphed into understanding.

She didn't want him to tell?

"What are you talking about Clara? Do you have any idea of what his heart seeks?" DL said as he turned his attention to her but quickly looked away. How on earth will he even get married to this woman? He didn't even want to look at her!

"He wanted to wish us a happy marriage. Lewis is one of my good friends and he couldn't stop talking about how he hoped that we would immediately bring forth an heir." Clara laughed.

She hoped she hadn't crossed the line, she tried hard to make her voice sound confident.

"Yes, an heir." Lewis said with a tight face.

DL who was uninterested suddenly and was now looking at the table didn't notice.

An heir...

He laughed in his head in mockery. He had come here to see if he would be able to talk to Clara as they were going to soon be married. He came here to see if he could now stand her but now he knew that it was all the same. He still wanted very much to stay away from her.

The silence in the room didn't last long as Doctor Rika came in with a frustrated Goben.

"Finally! Took you long enough, Doctor Rika." DL said

"I had to search the whole place for him. Her ankle must be swollen by now." Goben huffed in anger as Doctor Rika went to Clara immediately.

"You are still here?! Come, I have work for you." Goben said as he took Lewis out of the room.

DL stood up almost immediately they left.

"Whatever it is that she needs, tell it all to Nana or Goben. They will take care of it. I am to not be disturbed with petty issues of Clara's ankle." He ordered.

"Yes, Dragon Lord." Doctor Rika said, knowing that he had no place to argue.

Dragon Lord left the room and went he went to the hallway, he could hear little muffled sobs from Clara.

Still, one thing remained constant.

He didn't care.

******************************

She drank the water again before it would all leak away. She was growing weaker and weaker that she feared she would get sick. Yet, sick was never really a thing for her. She pushed the food away in disgust and anger and it poured.

Her stomach growled and she cursed silently. She still didn't know about Sunain. If she was dead or alive. She wished she would just stop thinking about it but she had to admit that she was worried about Aaron too.

For the first time the thoughts that he could be dead really struck her really threw her into a busy train of thought. She had hit him pretty hard that he had bleed. What if, she had killed him? What if he bleed to death?

Her heart clenched and she went to the bars of the dungeon. She couldn't reach it enough but when she could got close enough as the chain on her leg could, she tried to shake the bars but discovered that they were firm.

"Let me out of here! Is somebody there? I said I need to get out!" She screamed into the darkness and her voice echoed.

Then she went back to sit at one corner of the dungeon where she leaned her back against the wall. She let her mind wander to the night before, she remembered having a nightmare.

Her usual nightmare of her grandfather.

Then she remembered something else, a dream.

She suddenly started sweating as her heart raced. What scared her wasn't the fact that she had a dream, it was who the dream was about.

Now why would she dream of the DL holding her in his arms within the stench filled walls of this dungeon?

Was she slowly losing her mind?

******************************

"Stupid!" He heard Clara's voice said in his head.

"I was trying to make him see reasons. I was trying to make him stop the wedding." He had defended.

They had the argument when he had gone back to see her and carefully made sure that she was alone. She was still in bed and was mad at his presence.

"No! You were trying to get us killed. Why didn't you tell me that was your plan? You were trying to be selfish, right? You think this is all about you and you can make decisions? Just stop, Lewis. It would be better for us all if you would stop hoping and start seeing this all has it truly is." Clara had said.

"So, are you giving up? Is that it? All we are will end just like that? Tell me, Clara, are you giving up?" Lewis had asked desperatly as he walked to her. He looked at her and looked into each other's eyes.

Clara was the first to turn away.

"Yes. I have given up." She said, her face straight. 

Lewis felt broken and slowly, with his back, walked to the door, too shocked to know what else to feel.

Then he went to the door and held the handle.

"How could you?" He whispered but she heard him.

Then he bolted from the room.

How could she not? She had thought to herself.

Lewis remembered everything as he stared on into the blackness of his room. He felt broken and tears ran down his eyes. He swept it away bitterly as he sat down broken on the floor.

Then he heard something like an arrow shot pass him and struck into the wood. He creeped on the flood skillfully to make sure they the arrow wasn't aimed for him. After a while and it seemed like no more arrows would be shot, he stood up and went to the candle stand. He struck a match quickly and saw the arrow.

The arrow accurately dug into the wood. Whosever shot it was precise and a great shooter. But something caught his attention, the white cloth around the bottom of the arrow.

A message...

Was there going to be another meeting tonight, he wondered.

But the words he saw told him immediately that it wasn't from the Dragon Lord. It was from whosoever stole Clara's handkerchief.

Written boldly on the piece of white cloth were the words that made Lewis panic.

WE KNOW

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