Forgive and Forget
By Midii Une
Dedicated to Nightheart, a fan of 4xR and 3xMU
Happy Birthday to one of my favorite writers!
Prince Milliardo of Cinq sat in a chair near the silk-draped bed in which his wife slept, though his pose was casual it was obvious to any that saw him that he was intended for a throne. His winter blue eyes melted with tenderness at the sight of her tumbled midnight hair and sleep-flushed alabaster skin. He rarely caught his Lucrezia in a vulnerable, unguarded moment. She was the daughter of the old Head Instructor at the military school he and Treize had attended. She had been such a fiery young woman that Milliardo was sure that if it had been proper for ladies to train as soldiers the lovely Miss Noin would have made a fine one. But she made a far better wife, he would never want to see such regal beauty wasted or marred on a battlefield, it was quite unthinkable!
The trip had been hard on the women, encumbered as they were by layers of undergarments and petticoats and even the elbow-length gloves Treize’s lady insisted they all wear. He counted himself lucky that Lucrezia and Relena had withstood the rigors fairly well. He loved his little sister dearly, she was his only family remaining and he thanked God daily that although she was as delicate and feminine as any prospective husband could wish, she also glowed with health as much as with beauty. They were not really close, due to the time they had spent apart growing up, but he cared for her deeply. And she was the vision of his beloved mother, Queen Katerina.
He would be king of Cinq upon reaching 25, until then he must cool his heels. He and Treize hoped for fame and glory from this trip as well as pleasure and adventure. The presence of the ladies was a necessary but pleasant artifice since they had needed some type of creditable ruse to bring Lady’s niece with them. Perhaps her memories of this place would be beneficial in their search. Besides he wanted Lucrezia and Relena with him. He wanted to gain back his sister’s love after that incident with the Japanese diplomat’s aide. Heero Yuy, he thought darkly. She seemed happy with the change of scene though and ready to put the matter in the past where it belonged.
His attention was diverted from his mundane thoughts by a movement from the bed. Lucrezia’s heavy-lidded eyes opened and he was treated to the adoring gaze of his bride. They had only been married a year and still considered themselves on honeymoon. Perhaps they always would, Milliardo mused as he bent over the bed to kiss her lips and felt her arms entwine around his neck. Her fingers curled into his waist-length platinum hair, a trademark of the royal family of Cinq, and she pulled him down beside her.
It would be awhile yet before they would be ready to greet the day…
Relena put off her ivory robe and dropped it carelessly on the rug, heedless of the expensive golden lace chosen especially to match her hair. It was already dreadfully hot though the sun was barely up and casting a soft pink light into the tent. She glanced at Midii still fast asleep and moved quietly so as not to wake her friend.
She scowled at the pile of clothing laid out to wear that day. Relena felt as if she would melt into a very puddle if she must go out wearing all those layers. And it would not be good for Midii either, she could not bear another day like the ones they had spent. Why both of them would wind up as invalids!
A discreet scratching came from the opening of the tent.
“Just a moment please,” Relena murmured softly, snatching up the robe and pulling it about her, grimacing at the necessity to be properly attired.
“Good morning, Princess Relena.”
It was their young guide Mr.Winner, he was smiling broadly and looked as bright-eyed as if he’d been up for hours. He had been of course, making preparations for the day’s journey.
“Please call me Relena,” she urged him again, seeming to forget the heat in his pleasant company. The sunrise behind him seemed to turn all that wavy blonde hair into a halo. He looked almost angelic except for a certain look in his eyes that ruined that image. Relena easily recognized what the certain something was, it was frank admiration. She had seen it many times before, in the eyes of men she danced with at the weekly balls she attended and in Heero’s eyes….enough! He had left her behind and Mr. Winner was here, the son of a desert sheik, their guide in this romantic adventure.
Quatre searched for something to say, to keep her standing there like that in the thin ivory silk negligee. The golden lace that edged it must certainly envy the gold of her hair, it could not even come close to the same rich hue.
“How is your friend,” he said, suddenly remembering the reason behind his early morning visit.
“She’s sleeping, it’s the best thing for her,” Relena said, ducking her head and feeling suddenly shy in light of what Midii had told her. What would happen when she and Trowa faced each other again this day? Oh how could Midii bear it!
“I’ve brought something for you,” Quatre said, the hint of distress in Relena’s face disturbing him. “I do apologize for coming so early, I wanted to get here before you young ladies dressed.”
Relena’s eyes widened.
“I beg your pardon,” she exclaimed.
“Sorry, I’m really sorry. That didn’t sound the way I meant. It’s only I’ve brought you these,” Quatre said, blushing bright red again at his faux pas. He thrust a bundle of clothes at Relena and rushed off in embarrassment.
“You idiot, you damned idiot,” he muttered to himself as he rushed to get as far away from the young ladies tent as possible. “She’s back there thinking what a perverted cad you are. Idiot!”
Relena held the bundle close to her and giggled. Men! How silly they could be, to imagine women became upset by a little innocent breach of propriety. She took the clothes into the tent and lay them out on the bed to examine them, her cerulean eyes widening in surprise. They were breeches, men’s breeches and thin cotton shirts small enough for her and Midii to wear.
“They will certainly be more comfortable,” was her first relieved thought. Then she blushed at how the clothing would definitely reveal her figure.
“Oh dear, what will Lady Une say when she sees us in these,” Relena wondered, dreading the inevitable confrontation. But she determined that she and Midii would both wear Mr. Winner’s gifts, they had to be comfortable to get through the coming days.
To Relena’s surprise Midii did indeed seem much improved by a good night’s sleep and strangely determined to ignore the situation which had caused her so much distress the day before. She was like her cousin in that, the Unes could put on a serene face even if the world were crumbling around them. Relena found herself both relieved and disconcerted that Midii had pulled herself together so quickly.
“Let us defy my cousin, I cannot abide such discomfort as we have suffered these last days,” Midii said, smoothing the pale brown trousers that clung to her slender hips and studying the effect in the tall pier glass mirror they had brought along. All the items brought from Cinq for their comfort would need to be moved by the Maguanacs to be set up when they arrived at the next night’s stopping place but the girls thought little of the extra work caused by what they deemed “necessities.”
Midii brushed out her long wavy hair and tied it back with a simple black ribbon before helping Relena finish her braids with a strand of bright blue silk.
“We shall not back down Relena,” she said, with a mischievous smile that delighted her companion. “Give me your hand on it, like a gentleman!”
The two girls shook hands heartily and laughed at each other’s unfamiliar and amusing appearance.
“You look quite fetching, Princess,” Midii remarked, bowing slightly as gentlemen always did when complimenting a lady.
Relena blushed, the garments were so daring they bordered on scandalous. But they were much better suited to the harsh landscape they must face. Dresses, corsets, gloves and parasols had no place here, it made her feel strangely free.
“Time to face the Lady then,” Midii said, fastening her tall black riding boots and grabbing her crop from top of a traveling trunk. She pushed aside the tent flap, the long tail of pale blonde hair waving behind her saucily as if announcing that she was spoiling for a fight. Relena hurried after, there was strength in numbers after all.
Lady Une focused her mildly impatient gaze on the young ladies’ tent. The gentlemen had hoped to depart shortly after dawn, they could travel but a few hours before stopping to escape the midday sun, but that hope seemed doomed to failure thanks to Midii and Relena’s tardiness. She could sense Treize’s unspoken irritation at the delay. . She always felt so attuned to his every desire and in turn felt oddly moved to help him achieve those desires. “It is because of my love for him,” she thought, letting her soft brown eyes rest on his restless and handsome figure fondly.
The proper young woman was just about to phrase a suggestion to the Crown Princess Lucrezia that they hurry the girls along when the two slug-a-beds finally made their appearance. First she noticed that Midii looked much improved, all she had needed was a proper rest. Then she noticed the girls’ attire.
Lucrezia smirked in amusement and cast down her eyes before erupting in full-fledged laughter at Lady’s appalled expression. The woman could not even speak.
“Dear Lord! They are dressed like men,” Lady Une thought, her mouth open but no sound emerging. Every curve of waists, breasts and hips was revealed and the pleased grins on the faces of those barbaric Maguanac diggers told her that this revelation had not escaped their notice.
And that impudent young man they had hired as a guide! He looked quite pleased with himself as well, his blue eyes following the princess appreciatively as he took in the fit of her outrageous clothing.
Treize barely noted the girls’ appearance, only that they finally seemed ready to depart. “You two look quite prepared. Lady, let us be off,” he said. “See, the boy is bringing along our mounts.”
“But your Excellency,” Lady stammered. “I cannot allow Midii and Relena….
“I have decided they will do quite nicely as they are,” Treize said firmly, signaling the end of the matter. Lady allowed herself a minute frown before blithely forgetting that she had been upset and taking his proffered arm.
“I believe I shall follow suit this afternoon, you two look quite adorable, as well as cooler, in your new garments,” Lucrezia said, smiling at the two girls conspiratorially. She preferred their company to Lady Une’s. In fact she already regarded Milliardo’s little sister as her own family and had grown quite fond of her.
Relena noticed Midii seeming to stiffen a bit beside her and followed her gaze to the top of the rise. Trowa was leading their horses down so they could leave. Midii seemed to square her shoulders and Relena thought she heard her take a deep breath before she abruptly walked away from her and straight to her horse. Relena followed quickly after, anxious to hear what would be said.
Midii ignored the pounding of her heart and walked directly to the tall, green-eyed man. She forced herself to look him straight in the eye.
“Thank you for fetching my mare,” she said, her bell-like voice clear and steady. To Relena’s disappointment he did not answer, merely tossing her the reins and walking pointedly away from her with long, decisive strides.
Abdul rushed up to help the petite blonde onto the deep black horse marked with a white star on her forehead. She gave him a pretty smile of thanks before touching her crop to the horse’s flank and taking off at a reckless gallop to the west, her hair streaming out behind her. Midii loved to ride and was an excellent horsewoman.
Quatre walked up beside Relena and assisted her up on her own mount. He kept his hand on the stirrup as she settled herself in the saddle. Trowa stood scowling after Midii, Relena could not help seeing that the hands that were stuffed into his pockets were clenched into fists.
The long, sun-drenched days of riding and digging for artifacts settled into a routine. Midii rode alongside Relena in the mornings and in the late afternoons left her to the increasing attentions of Mr. Winner with a knowing smile.
Sometimes the silent tension between Midii and Mr. Winner’s friend Trowa seemed almost to crackle audibly although not another word was spoken between them. They carefully kept their distance from each other and ignored each other to perfection when the situation placed them within a hundred feet of each other. Often Relena would gaze at her friend with concern, her lighthearted and carefree manner seemed very strained and forced at times. In the evenings Quatre would invite both young ladies and the Princess Lucrezia as well to listen to the victrola and sip wine. But more often than not the others would beg off claiming to be tired.
So many evenings were spent alone in his company. Very properly of course, they did not stay inside his tent alone, but sat in the open air listening to the music drift out onto the warm night air.
Relena enjoyed using a small brush to remove the dust and reveal the true beauty of the small treasures and artifacts they found as they traveled, sometimes camping in one place for two or three days when the find seemed propitious.
She was especially charmed when they found a nearly complete set of carved animal figures. Quatre told her they had once figured in a game similar to chess. Midii refused to have anything to do with the digging or even to look at any of the interesting objects they found. She preferred either to rest in the heavenly dimness of their tent or to walk alone about the perimeters of their camp, as far as possible from the business of archaeology. She was always trailed at a respectful distance by the devoted Abdul who had made it his mission to watch over the young lady who had fallen into his very arms upon her arrival.
“He knows his affections are hopeless and still he watches over her,” Relena remarked, smiling at the distant figures as she sat on a rug beneath a canopy of canvas to shade her. Quatre and Lucrezia were with her as she carefully brushed off the carving of a small camel. “She lost a handkerchief the other day. I wonder if your Abdul took it as a keepsake?”
“White linen, with lots of blue crocheted lace around the edges,” Quatre asked with sudden interest, a look of speculation in his eyes.
“Yes that’s the one,” Relena exclaimed. “She was working on embroidering
it with her initials a good part of our journey down the
“Perhaps, I can’t be positive,” Quatre said cryptically. Abruptly he changed the subject.
“I do not believe I could ever be as unselfish as Abdul about the woman I loved. I would not want to stop my pursuit of her until she promised to be mine, no matter if other people found it proper or not. Love is the important thing, don’t you think so,” he said earnestly.
Relena looked into his eyes for a moment but found she could not answer. These were the words she had hoped to hear from another man, how could they now move her so much, she wondered. Her porcelain-fair skin suffused with a rosy blush as she broke the connection between their eyes in confusion.
Milliardo’s wife looked at her young sister-in-law with surprise and a twinge of anxiety. Something had sprung up between the princess and the young expedition guide with alarming quickness. And it was something much more serious and intense than the infatuation the young Maguanac had with Miss Midii that afforded them all so much amusement. She easily saw beneath the generality of Quatre’s words. She herself thought the young man was the finest of gentlemen, at all times cultured, polite and incredibly kind. He was handsome too, his coloring similar to that of her own husband, making her heart feel incredibly open to him.
Lucrezia decided she would not mention her suspicions to Milliardo as yet. He did not admire Mr. Winner as she did. Already he and Treize were becoming impatient with the slow progress and although they found intriguing items on a regular basis they were beginning to suspect that their guides were not doing everything possible to lead them somewhere truly remarkable.
She excused herself, wishing to give them the opportunity to be alone for a bit. Luckily her husband was too distracted by the business of the dig to have much interest in his sister’s affairs for the moment.
Relena watched her sister-in-law leave. “My brother and His Excellency are unhappy with our progress I fear,” she said, sensing some of the troubled thoughts of the other woman.
Quatre seemed to think very seriously about her statement for a moment before leaning toward her and taking both her small hands in his.
“I will be honest with you Relena,” he said. “The will never find such things with Trowa and I as their guides. Some things are not meant to be disturbed and uncovering such things only leads to the greatest unhappiness.”
“I do understand that, truly. I only hope that they will also,” Relena said, letting her hands rest in his warm, strong ones. Midii’s story of the Golden Symbol was still fresh in her memory.
“I wonder about your Trowa. He is so serious and keeps so much to himself. Has he no home or family?” she asked, her thoughts naturally transferring to the other key player in that tragic story.
“Trowa lived on his own for practically all his life before
we met each other in
“He must indeed be very honorable to deserve that title from you,” Relena said. She gazed in the direction of the tall young man who spent so much time with the horses through new eyes.
Quatre followed her gaze.
“I feel it too you know,” he said, his voice dropping to a whisper. “But I don’t know what to make of it.”
The two of them watched as Midii returned from her walk, stopping to visit with the horses and treat some of them to the sugar cubes she kept in her pocket. It did seem that Trowa was observing her from the corner of her eye as she swept past him.
“We should not gossip about our friends,” Relena said uneasily, as intrigued as she was by the topic she feared she would reveal Midii’s secrets if the conversation continued.
“You are quite right,” Quatre agreed, a bit reluctantly. He was truly worried about Trowa’s behavior, even the distraction of having Princess Relena near did not blind him to his friend’s unhappiness.
“Would you come by after dinner and listen to some music with me. I regret we’ve played everything I have along with me but perhaps there are a few you wouldn’t mind hearing again,” he said anxiously.
“That would be lovely, I enjoy the evenings here very much,” Relena said, glancing at him meaningfully. “You must tell me more about your father and sisters, and about your mother too. I can never hear enough about your life it seems, it is more exciting than any book I have read.”
“As you wish,” he said, taking her hand and helping her to her feet. “Perhaps someday you will meet them all. I only wish my mother were still alive, she would have adored you.”
“Now you flatter me too much. I know how dearly you loved your mother,” Relena said.
“I am always scrupulously honest, at least in these matters,” Quatre said, smiling down at her. “And you are very like her.”
Again Relena felt the awkwardness of heat rising in her
cheeks, she hurriedly changed the topic.
“Although it is so peaceful here I sometimes miss the bustle of the
villages at home. You must visit us in the
“I do not want to think of your going home,” he said softly, so quietly she was unsure she really heard it.
Suddenly shy, she turned away from him and stretched the kinks from her neck and shoulders. They had been sitting for a long time and now the sun was beginning to set, changing the colors and landscape of the surrounding desert sands.
“Is that a town over there,” she exclaimed suddenly, shading her eyes with her hand and peering into the distance.
Quatre handed her his pair of brass binoculars so she could take a better look.
“It is,” he said. “Tomorrow Trowa and a few of the Maguanacs will go in to replenish some of our supplies and pick up any news there may be. The rest of us will continue to dig, we’ve had good luck here so far.”
“Oh Mr. Winner, Quatre, please ask my brother if Midii and I
might accompany you. We haven’t seen a
town since leaving
Quatre seemed reluctant.
“It’s not really a very pleasant place,” he explained patiently. “Definitely not the place
for young ladies such as you and Miss Midii.”
Relena pouted a bit, craving adventure and perhaps a whole day at his side in some exciting and exotic new place. She did not like being told no, perhaps it was the princess in her.
“If my brother agrees will you still tell me no,” she asked, putting her hand on his arm and looking up at him rather flirtatiously.
The look in her eyes had the desired effect she saw with pleasure as she heard him say, “I could never say no to you Princess Relena.”
Quatre felt rather sure that Peacecraft and Khushrenada would never consent to let them escort the young ladies into the town anyway. He relied on them to help him save face in view of Relena’s persistence.
But to his surprise and disappointment the two gentlemen were very agreeable in allowing the two youngest members of the party to accompany the guides into the town for the day. It was almost rather suspicious how quickly they agreed to the rather ill-conceived outing.
Chapter 3….Coming Soon…danger at the bazaar, I know it was advertised for this chapter, but it ran long, some things never change ^_~