Forgive and Forget
By Midii Une
Dedicated to Nightheart, a fan of 4xR and 3xMU
Happy Birthday to one of my favorite writers!
“Aren’t you excited Midii,” Relena queried as they prepared for bed. “This will be so thrilling and we’ll finally see something of this country besides all the sand.”
“Oh Relena,” Midii sighed. “I’m not sure this is a wise decision. Besides, the town is going to be very much like the desert. The same dirty brown hues everywhere and the people will not be as friendly as those in our own group. I think I will just stay behind here and read a book.”
“Please Midii,” Relena begged, alarmed at the prospect. “It will be fine and you must come. Milliardo will never allow me to go alone with Mr.Winner. I will buy you something lovely if only you will come with us!”
“Very well,” Midii said reluctantly, but brightening a little. “There are many lovely things to see at a bazaar. I remember being fascinated as a child when my father would take me along….my father…”
Her voice trailed off and she turned away from Relena, brushing her hip-length hair vigorously as she stared at herself in the tall mirror.
“Midii, do you wish to speak of Tr..,” Relena began.
“No! I really prefer never to speak of him again. Please do not mention the subject in my hearing if you value our friendship. Good night,” Midii snapped. She blew out her lamp and climbed into bed, turning her back to the other girl.
Relena sighed and picked up her book, but the tales of reincarnation were losing interest for her. She set down the book and blew out her own lamp, content to dream of the coming day’s adventure.
To Relena’s dismay Midii had been correct in her assessment
of the little desert town. The narrow,
dusty streets were packed full of rude, pushy people and the buildings were
dirty brown affairs, made of mud, that blended into
the desert landscape and crowded together in a jumble. They were quite unlike the charming buildings
and wide cobblestone streets of her beloved
The town seemed quite claustrophobic and somewhat suffocating after the glorious openness and endless blue skies of the desert.
Relena smiled though at Abdul’s forlorn and anxious backward glance at Midii as he, Rasid and a few others were sent out in search of supplies so that Quatre and Trowa might escort the young ladies. Well, Quatre escorted them, politely offering an arm to each girl. Trowa plowed on ahead, barely keeping within hearing and seeing range. He seemed even more distant than usual, if that were possible.
At Lady Une’s insistence the girls were in proper attire this day, complete with hats, gloves and parasols. Their lacy white skirts trailed incongruously in the dust and Relena was certain her gown would be permanently ruined.
Quatre tightened his grip on Relena’s hand. She looked very lovely, but the elegant hats and dresses marked the two girls as foreigners very conspicuously and they stood out in the crowd when he would rather they blended in a bit more. As if Relena could ever blend in, or Midii for that matter. Their exotic fair beauty caught every eye in this uncivilized place. He patted Midii’s hand as he felt it tighten on his arm, feeling her nervousness in the crowd. He resolved to keep a firm hand on both of them as he picked up the murmurings about the two unusual women he escorted, many of them rather disturbing and vulgar.
Trowa’s anti-social behavior was getting a bit tiresome, he could really use a hand here! Some of Quatre’s irritation at his taciturn partner was mitigated by the fact that he was getting quite a few impressed looks from the other men in the crowd. A beautiful woman was a sign of high status and two was even better. He had never understood or forgiven his father’s decision to have seven wives when it was Quatre’s own mother that he had always claimed he loved best. But he guessed there was something to the feeling of respect, admiration and envy he was picking up on that could be rather gratifying he supposed.
His ladies abandoned him though in the blink of an eye a bare few seconds later as they discovered a stall selling jewelry. The town boasted a huge bazaar that ran all the way from one end of the main thoroughfare to the other. The open-air market was crowded with stalls and booths selling jewelry of all types, as well as exotic fabrics, scents and potions, not to mention a variety of food and animals.
Relena was immediately drawn to a pair of golden chandelier earrings festooned with sparkling blue sapphires. She held them up in her hand, admiring the way they glittered in the strong Egyptian sunlight.
“Oh Midii, I wish Milliardo had given me more of an allowance for this excursion! I would dearly love these earrings, I have a ball gown at home that these would match perfectly,” she said wistfully.
“Come along Relena, they are definitely too expensive. Let’s take a look at that fabric over there, I’ve never seen anything like it. Can’t you picture it made into a shawl?” Midii said soothingly, pulling her along.
Relena let herself be dragged away from the wonderful earrings feeling a bit petulant toward her brother. He could be rather stingy at times, she thought regretfully.
Midii peeked at Quatre over her shoulder and gave him a significant look as she interested Relena in the swatches of silk shot through with shimmering gold and silver threads. She smiled at him encouragingly and he nodded in understanding, thanking her for her kindness. He liked her very much and he wondered again at his friend who stood on the other side of the street watching her covertly, his arms folded over his chest as he leaned restlessly against the corner of a knife-seller’s booth.
Quatre winced at the price of the earrings. Perhaps if he had opportunity he could haggle the man down to a more reasonable sum, but he had to be discreet for Midii could only distract Relena so far. Quietly he passed over the coin the man required and held out his hand for the earrings.
The man laughed loud and derisively, almost tossing the earrings at the young guide. Only a fool would buy without trying to bargain in order to make a mere woman happy. The stall owner muttered some rather colorful insults at the young man and made a rude gesture in his direction as he went to rejoin the girls. The weight of the jewelry in his pocket made Quatre feel anxious for the time when he could present them to his princess. He could picture her face and the glow in those pretty blue eyes that were nearly the same color as the precious sapphires. It was worth any price or insult. If only he could persuade her brother to let her dine alone with him in his tent. He had to find an appropriate moment to tell her how he felt.
Midii felt as if she could have been on another planet for the last hour or so. Her hand hung loosely from Quatre’s elbow but all his attention was on Relena. It was very obvious that he was in love with her and Midii had seen that even Prince Milliardo had started to notice the growing bond between his little sister and the guide.
She peered ahead in the crowd for a sight of the figure she had been trying to ignore these past weeks. Just the glimpse of his tall frame caused a dreadful, sickening pang of guilt and longing in her chest. Despite her guilt and honest wish that they avoid each other, it still chafed somehow that he refused to acknowledge her presence in even the tiniest way after all this time.
Midii pulled her hand from Quatre’s arm, smiling a bit when he immediately moved it to cover Relena’s hand on his other arm. Her friend looked into the guide’s face with obvious tenderness as they walked along. Midii decided to hang back just a bit, they got so little time to be alone together.
She kept the lovebirds in sight and glanced from time to time at the wares for sale in the seemingly-endless bazaar. She studiously averted her gaze from the frightening, twisting, dark alleys that ran off the main street.
The lowering sun glinted on a table of multi-colored glass perfume bottles and she paused just for a second to examine the breathtakingly beautiful trinkets. Her mother and Lady’s mother had both had great collections of these delicately-made little glass objects. They had always seemed so pretty to her that she had been afraid to touch them as a child. These were even more beautiful than any she had ever seen with their rich, jewel-toned colors. She loved perfume and never failed to scent her abundant pale blonde hair with a combination of lavender and roses that her mother had always worn. The scent made her feel as if her mother were beside her, watching over her and keeping her safe, like a guardian angel.
She glanced down the crowded street at Relena and Quatre disappearing in the crowd. Reluctantly she set down the bottle in her hand in order to hurry after them, when she heard a child’s piteous cry.
Midii turned to investigate the heart-wrenching sound and saw a veiled woman holding a flushed and screaming child. The neighboring stall apparently offered medicines and the owner, a dark, uncaring, brute of a man, tossed the woman’s small dirty coins back at her and refused to sell her the medicine she required. Midii’s understanding of the language was scant but she realized the woman did not have enough money to pay for the medicine.
Her sense of justice was outraged and she forgot all about her companions, hurrying over to the booth with her blue eyes ablaze and her lace skirts swishing angrily behind her.
Midii spoke slowly, knowing her grasp of the language was childish at best and intermixed her words with the French in which she felt most comfortable.
“I will buy the medicine for the child,” she said, pulling a rather expensive silver bracelet encrusted with tiny diamonds from her wrist and waving it at the sullen man.
He scowled and gestured at her but refused to sell her the required tincture. Midii tried again, she could tell the child was burning with fever and the mother looked at her so hopefully.
But her pleas and offers of coins or her jewelry were summarily ignored. She was just about to give up in despair when a dark-haired man came to her rescue. He plunked down a pile of coins and spoke a few words to the medicine seller. The man shrugged and handed him the bottle of medicine. The man tossed the bottle off-handedly to the weeping mother. The woman touched her forehead to the ground and kissed the hem of Midii’s dusty skirt. Still keeping low to the ground she scuttled away with her child, clutching the precious medicine.
“Merci, monsieur,” Midii said uncertainly, backing away from the strange man. His black eyes raked over her in a very insolent manner and her heart began pounding in her throat. The stall owner laughed raucously and said something indecipherable to the man. The dark-haired man nodded to the medicine seller and grinned at her but the smile did not reach his eyes.
“It is useless for an unaccompanied woman to try to talk to a man. Even one such as you,” he said, his command of her language startling her.
“Then I thank you again sir,” she said, taking another hesitant step back and looking hopefully over her shoulder for the reappearance of Relena and Quatre. Surely they had missed her by now. “Please excuse me, I must return before my friends realize I am gone, I seem to have gotten separated…
His smile faded and his hand shot out to catch her wrist in a painful grip. “A man who lets a lady such as yourself wander these streets alone does not deserve to keep her,” he said meaningfully. “But never fear, I will not let you go. Ever. Unless the price is right.”
He dragged her deep into the nearest alley, no one in the crowd paying the least attention to her struggles and protests.
“It’s time we were headed back,” Quatre said a bit reluctantly. It was actually past time they should have rendezvoused with Rasid and Abdul. Despite his earlier misgivings it had been a very good day, a whole day by Princess Relena’s side and he had lost track of time and everything else.
Relena seemed to shake herself from a daze at his words. She had seen so many things, the strange veiled women and the frightening dark men who looked at her with an unmistakably lustful gleam in their eyes. But she felt perfectly safe when she held onto Quatre’s arm. She glanced over at Midii to see if she had changed her mind about the adventure she had suggested, it had been a success after all. But her face paled when she noticed her friend was nowhere in sight and suddenly she could not recall when she had last seen her. She had been so caught up in her conversation with Quatre that it had been some time since she spared a thought for anyone else.
“Quatre! Where is she? Where is Midii?” Relena cried, turning about anxiously to catch a glimpse of her friend. Look as she might she saw nothing but a thick crowd of people.
Before Quatre could even answer Relena, Trowa pushed past them, rushing back through the crowd as if devils were after him. He shoved people aside as if they were nothing.
“This is my fault, all my fault,” Quatre said. “If she’s been hurt I can never forgive myself.”
He pulled Relena close to him with no hint of tenderness and dragged her along as he rushed after Trowa. He had no intention of losing her and could not make himself care whether his rough grasp bruised her arm. His stomach churned as he thought of Midii lost back there somewhere when he had promised to watch over her.
“Quatre, please,” Relena gasped, hurrying to keep up with him as they searched for Midii. “She will be alright, she has to be.”
“I pray she will be,” Quatre said rather hopelessly, taking a brief second to answer her, but unwilling to lie to reassure her. “It is very, very dangerous for a woman to be alone here. When I was young my sister Iria disappeared at a bazaar such as this, we never saw her again despite all the efforts my father made to find her. I should have taken better care of Miss Midii, its imperative we find her immediately.”
Trowa’s sharp green eyes scanned the crowd for a sight of that ridiculous white-veiled hat topped with a blue bow that was almost bigger than she was. The bow was the same shimmering blue as her incredible eyes. She was still such a little thing, and her luminous eyes and skin made her seem too delicate and frail for this world.
He should have walked behind them and watched out for her and he had known it. But he could not stand the sight of her gliding along as he was forced to watch the mesmerizing sway of her hips and the long shining fall of wavy hair that that swung back and forth enticingly with every step she took. He watched her daily as they traveled along with them, cursing Quatre with every breath for giving her those trousers to wear, the clothing left nothing to his tortured imagination. Yet he was unable to stop himself from looking, it was like pressing his tongue to a tooth that ached. It hurt like hell but he couldn’t stop doing it.
Why? Why had she come back to
To be continued…..Chapter 4 Coming Soon!