Forgive and Forget
By Midii Une
Dedicated to Nightheart, a fan of 4xR and 3xMU
Happy Birthday to one of my favorite writers!
Two young men, one blonde and fair, the other tall and auburn-haired, raced each other on horseback across the endless hard-packed sand dunes of the Egyptian desert. From time to time one of them paused and peered into the distance through a pair of brass binoculars. Presently they were rewarded by the vision of small dust clouds that signaled the imminent arrival of their expected visitors.
“Amazing, only three days late. I expected worse from these spoiled European pillagers,” the tall one said dryly, green eyes squinting against the glare.
“Don’t worry Trowa,” his companion said soothingly, absently stroking his mount’s gleaming gray neck. “We’ll keep the damage to a minimum and send them home happy. We’re coming up in the world, just think, we’ve been hired by no less than a prince and a duke!”
“Guys like those are a dime a dozen up on the continent,” Trowa responded, unimpressed by titles and riches. He peered through the binoculars again and frowned, handing the glasses over to his best friend and partner.
“Tell me I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing,” he said, a touch of despair lurking in his tone. “The letter did say two men didn’t it? Prince Milliardo of Cinq and Grand Duke Treize Khushrenada of some unpronounceable place? I see at least six people and some of them appear to be…”
“Women…young ladies!” Quatre exclaimed, grinning as he looked through the glasses and finishing his friend’s thoughts. “Oh this will be wonderful, traveling with the prince and duke they’re bound to be cultured and know everything about the latest fashion in music and art, even dancing. This is definitely a perk. Besides you can charge higher if there are more people in the party, I know you’ll like that Trowa.”
“Women are trouble. I’ve always said that and I stick to it,” Trowa said dourly. “I don’t know why you’re so pleased about all this. With all the sisters you have I’d think you’d have had enough of female companionship.”
“I love all my sisters dearly, all 29 of them. But these girls are nothing like sisters…,” Quatre started. “Come on Trowa, women are beautiful, lovely creatures and besides they smell a hell of a lot better than you do. Speaking of which, we should clean up before greeting our guests.”
Trowa shrugged, but kneed his chestnut stallion into a gallop to overtake Quatre on the way back to their camp. Dreading the onslaught of females was no reason to let the blonde young man beat him in a race. He did not admit that he was curious about what was hidden beneath the ridiculously tiny lace parasols he had picked out of the desert scene with his sharp eyes, or the way a glimpse of pale blonde hair shimmering in the sunlight had started his heart pounding with a measured fury.
It was a hot, exhausted and silent group that arrived at
last in the midst of the small camp of nomadic tents. Milliardo helped
his dark-haired wife down from her horse and squeezed her waist affectionately
before assisting his sister. Meanwhile Treize carefully lifted his fiancée from her horse before
reaching a hand to help her niece. The
younger girl was trembling very slightly and her face was quite pale. Midii had grown quieter and quieter since
they had ventured into the desert leaving the busy docks of
The men were greeted by a tremendously tall man with a booming voice and wildly unruly dark hair that flared into points at the top of his head. Relena thought he seemed a veritable devil but his voice was jovial as he welcomed them to the camp of the Maguanac guides.
“My master and his partner will be with you momentarily. I am Rasid Kurama and I will be happy to assist you,” he said heartily, clasping hands with Milliardo and Treize with an unexpected rough savoir faire.
At that moment the ever-watchful Lady noticed that Midii was growing even whiter and swaying a bit on her feet. Relena looked none too well either, she noted.
“Relena, hurry now and get Midii inside! The closest tent will do,” she commanded, her voice held command even when she spoke to a princess as she gestured toward the closest shelter.
Relena was only too happy to escape the glare of the sun. Her luxuriant honey-colored bangs felt plastered to her forehead and the flimsy material of her shirtwaist clung soggily to her corset cover. She and Midii gratefully stumbled over to the nearest shelter and Relena held the flap for her suddenly frail-looking friend, anxious to get her inside.
What they saw within made Relena gasp in startled shock and fascination. Midii was silent, deathly so, she barely even breathed as her eyes fastened on the sight before her.
There were two young men, naked to the waist, cool water dripping from their hair and faces. They turned at the sound of Relena’s gasp and the blonde one’s face flushed as red as if he’d suffered a sunburn. The other merely looked at them diffidently not caring what they thought or what they saw.
“I-I’m sorry,” Relena stammered, unable to avert her eyes from the unaccustomed vision. These were men who spent a lot of time outdoors, riding horses and doing all types of manual labor when it was called for. The effect was stunning to a girl who had never seen a bare-chested man in her life. A victrola was playing softly in the tent, she would never have guessed to find such a modern piece of equipment here in this barbaric place. The air was rich with the sound of flutes and violins.
She didn’t feel Midii’s clasp on her hand tighten to a death grip. She was busy trying to decide whether to sink through the floor in embarrassment or just keep staring forever. Relena felt a warm glow as a gentle, amused smile spread across the blonde man’s face as he looked at her. The moment felt endless and she could feel every heartbeat thudding madly in her chest.
“Oh! Oh dear!” she cried, startled as her friend pitched forward in a sudden, dead faint. A red-fezzed man wearing small dark glasses on his nose darted forward and caught Midii before she hit the ground. He lowered her to the floor and started fanning his red hat vigorously in her face to wake her up.
Relena was spurred to action as was the young blonde gentleman. He rushed to her side.
“I apologize for keeping you ladies standing,” he said, his big eyes were a rare shade of turquoise blue and full of polite concern. “I’m sure your friend will be alright miss…”
“Relena, I’m Princess Relena of Cinq,” she said, focusing her gaze self-consciously on Midii and patting her cheeks lightly to wake her up.
“I am Quatre Raberba Winner,” he said, “I’m your guide and this is my partner Trowa. Our quick-handed manservant is Abdul. Abdul, get some water for the young lady and stop waving that hat around! I apologize for this very ungracious welcome Princess!”
His partner Trowa was merely standing there, making no attempt to help or introduce himself. He loomed over them and stared at down Midii with an intense, unblinking green gaze.
Quatre had to force himself to tear his eyes from Princess Relena’s, her name was echoing through his brain, the soft and elegant sound of her voice whispering over and over in his ears. Automatically he grabbed a wet towel from Abdul and knelt again beside the other girl, helping the lovely Princess dab her pale forehead with the cool liquid. Their fingers brushed accidentally and they raised their eyes to each other at the same time, both blushing furiously as they looked back down at the person they were trying to help.
Finally Midii opened her eyes. The vision she had thought merely a nightmare confronted her in the form of angry green eyes filled with malice. As she stared disbelievingly into the jade depths the young man turned on his heel and hurried out of the tent as if the devil chased him.
“Oh Midii! You frightened me so, are you all right?” Relena cried, gathering her friend close in her arms. She looked at Quatre over the top of her friend’s pale hair. “Please Mr. Winner could you fetch Midii’s cousin Lady Une to help me?”
“Of course, I am at your command Princess Relena.”
“Please there’s no need for that. I would be honored if you would call me Relena,” she said, her eyes again searching for the floor as she felt a confusing heat rise in her face.
“And you must call me Quatre,” he said. “Abdul please help Miss Midii to lie down, I think Trowa’s bed is the cleanest.”
He hadn’t missed the way his friend had stared at the girl. Trowa must certainly be as fascinated by the pretty little blonde as he was by the lovely princess, he just didn’t know how to show it. Him and all his anti-female talk. Quatre couldn’t resist pranking his friend by placing the object of his interest in his very bed, it was too rich to deny temptation.
They were finally ensconced in their own comfortable tent. Elegant teakwood chairs were set about the canvas room on a luxurious Turkish rug woven of deep burgundy, rose and blue threads. Their cots were furnished with feather ticks and silk sheets while sheer swathes of fabric were draped from the ceiling for both aesthetics and an attempt at privacy. With several lamps set around, the place was bright and cheerful but Relena could not concentrate even on her study of reincarnation due to her worry for her friend.
Midii lay on her bed, listlessly staring at the ceiling.
“Midii, are you still ill? Shall I ask my brother to have a doctor fetched,” Relena persisted worriedly. Her friend was still silent and too pale hours after her fainting spell.
“Come Midii,” she tried again, mischief in her voice. “I know that we saw things not intended for
our “virgin eyes” but were they not handsome?
Especially Mr. Winner! I had not
pictured him to be so very fair-haired and blue-eyed, why he could be your
brother! I was sure that the son of a desert sheik would be dark and
mysterious. But he would be at home in
any of the palaces of
Relena paused a moment, continuing on gamely when Midii still did not respond. “But I believe you had your eyes on his partner. Trowa, wasn’t it? Did his overpowering masculinity cause you to faint dead away and not the heat as we all supposed?”
“It was him,” she whispered, her voice too soft for Relena to hear.
“Yes, Mr. Winner is the kindest man I have ever met. His friend is a different story though, his face was a thunder cloud when he found you in his bed Midii,” Relena grinned hoping to get the other girl to smile at the picture she painted.
“It was him,” Midii sobbed again. “And how he hates me still, he shall always hate me! I must return home. His Excellency must allow me to return home at once!”
“Oh my dearest friend,” Relena said, rushing to sit on the edge of the other girl’s bed and stroking her soft hair. “We’ve only just arrived and you know Treize and my brother will not tolerate any interruption in the trip and you cannot travel alone. It can’t be as bad as all that. How could you have ever met Trowa before? He certainly can have no cause to hate someone as sweet and shy as you. You’ve already become so dear to me!”
But then she recalled that while this was her first visit to
“Midii, tell me,” she begged. “I must know what happened.”
Midii sat up and got out of bed, the pale blue satin and lace negligee she wore trailed from her arms and she pulled the flimsy robe more closely about her although the night was still very warm. With a shaking hand she pushed the tumbled blonde waves of messy hair away from her drawn and tired face. Anxiously she paced around the room as she started to speak at last.
“The one they call Trowa….he and I have met before,” she said, speaking haltingly, her voice unsure.
“But I’m sure he couldn’t hate you,” Relena insisted firmly. “It’s only that Quatre teased him over you. You know how young men can be…so childish sometimes.”
Midii shook her head violently. “Trowa has never been a child. It was seven years ago and I was a child, a naive little girl so
thrilled to be traveling in
“We were staying in a group of tents like this only not nearly as fine, but they were serviceable. I awoke one night to find myself alone. I wandered outside half-asleep to find my father when I saw the low cloud on the horizon. It was dust and so wide it soon covered the whole sky. I panicked and called for my father, I ran as everyone else did but no one noticed me. We camped near some rocky hills and it caught me just as I reached the rocks. I cowered among them with my nightdress over my face. It only lasted minutes but our camp was gone and I was alone out there.”
Relena’s happy mood had disappeared on hearing her friend’s harrowing tale. The desert she had found so beautiful and exciting was indeed a deceptively dangerous place.
“I was lost out there for two days alone, searching for my father, for anyone,” Midii continued, sinking into one of the delicate chairs and leaning her head against her hand. “I found the dead bodies of two of our diggers, but nothing else.”
“Then they came. I was so happy to be found I ran toward the horses and camels that approached me. But the men who rode them were not kind and protective as my father’s men had been. Even as young as I was I knew they were villains. They leered at me and pulled at my hair. Some of them threatened to cut off my nose and ears to sell at the bazaar and one told them it would be better to sell me whole. I screamed over and over for my Papa and tried to run but I didn’t get far. I smacked right into a boy. It was Trowa but those men just called him “boy”.
““They won’t really hurt you,” he said, he spoke perfect French, he must have understood my screams for my father. I must have passed out then because the next thing I remember he was holding me with him on his little horse. He gave me water….”
She sighed heavily and took great gasping gulps from a glass of water on the table beside her, as if remembering the horrible thirst of being lost in the desert those years ago.
“What happened then,” Relena prodded, caught up in the story.
“I traveled with them for a week. He didn’t say much to me, the boy, but he always watched over me. Soon another sandstorm swept through the area, I was terrified, screaming hysterically and one of the men threatened to cut out my tongue if I wasn’t quiet. The boy thrust me into the nearest tent and told me to hide under the bed. It was there I found it…the “Golden Symbol of Isis” my father had been looking for.”
“I fell asleep clutching the beautiful golden thing that had destroyed my life. I woke to find him under the bed beside me. “I’ve found some people,” he said. “I’m going to take you back, you aren’t safe here.””
“He kissed me on the cheek then Relena and I fell in love with him at that moment,” Midii sobbed, dashing away tears that had started to fall down her pale cheeks. “The people the boy had seen included my father. He hadn’t been killed in the storm after all. He had left our camp briefly to scout out one of the sacred sites he wanted to explore, the Tomb of Nefertiri. He had thought me dead.”
“Even though he had me back safe, Papa was still very
sad. We had lost everything in the sandstorm, many of the diggers killed had been his friends
for a long time. To make him happy I
told him about what I’d seen in the bandits’ tent. He was galvanized to action, a changed man! He hired more men, rough men. They tracked down the bandits and fought
them. I prayed that the boy who had
saved me would be safe as well by some miracle.
And as my father had me lead him to the Golden Symbol I saw him
again. I will never forget the betrayal
in his eyes. My father’s men took him
away and Papa told me he would be taken to
My father was famous and the Symbol was placed in the
The young woman broke down in earnest sobbing and Relena helped her to bed, stroking her hand softly until she cried herself to sleep.
Quatre glanced across the tent to where Trowa feigned sleep on the other side of a thin partition. The other man was restless and his irritated movements were disturbing Quatre’s dreams of the beautiful princess who had come into his life that day. She had the most charming figure, his hands ached to slide around the slenderness of her waist. He wanted to touch that honey-gold hair that appeared as soft as spun silk. And her eyes, he felt he could write a sonnet to those cornflower blue eyes that might rival one of Shakespeare’s. Still Trowa’s anxiety was a palpable force in the room that kept him from indulging himself in the pleasure of contemplating the fair maiden.
“Trowa, why so restless,” he called over to his friend. “What is it? You’re not still mad are you? She’s such a sweet and pretty girl, why can’t you like her? Abdul certainly did and don’t tell me that his taste in ladies is better than yours.”
Quatre chuckled over Abdul’s infatuation with the young blonde visitor. He knew how he felt, the thought of Relena crossing his mind yet again.
Trowa scowled into the darkness. The scent of the girl Quatre found so “sweet
and pretty” was one that had haunted his dreams and senses since he was a very
young boy. Now it was here, surrounding
him as inescapably as her insufferable presence in the very place he called
home. She should never have returned to
“She’s the worst kind of trouble a woman can be Quatre,” he said finally, trying to pacify his friend’s curiosity without revealing any of his dearly held secrets. “Leave it at that.”
Finally sleep claimed him and his subconscious convinced him to take the opportunity to hold the sweetly scented pillow close and revel in the scent he had once loved so much.
To Be Continued….in Chapter Two…Milliardo and Treize have little luck finding notable artifacts….Quatre and Relena grow closer….a trip to the bazaar turns dangerous.