Forgive and Forget
By Midii Une
Dedicated to Nightheart, a fan of 4xR and 3xMU
Happy Birthday to one of my favorite writers!
“Then it’s your opinion as well that those two young men are trying to thwart our purpose,” Treize remarked to his tall companion, his bright blue eyes veiled as he gazed off at the sunset. Playing cards lay untouched on a portable green felt table before the two young gentlemen as they lost themselves in discussion.
Milliardo took a sip of brandy, swirling the rich, mahogany liquid
in the bottom of his sparkling
“Of course, what we discovered in the town only confirms our previous suspicions. They think they can pacify us with these trinkets we’ve found. The men I spoke to in the town this afternoon said we have been played for fools. Those two have proved to be most annoying,” the Prince of Cinq said, slamming his heavy glass on the table.
Treize looked rather amused at his friend’s unduly passionate response. He enjoyed the obstacles as well as the victories in life, it was all connected and every aspect was to be savored.
“You do believe in our cause, my dear friend. If we must assume the guise of villains it is only for a greater good. Our two guides mean well, I have no doubt, but a more active approach to the problem must be taken,” Treize commented, assessing his companion’s devotion from heavy-lidded eyes.
“Of course,” Milliardo answered shortly, rising restlessly from his chair and staring off in to the distance. “But was it really necessary to use my sister as a cheap distraction? You saw the town! It is no place for Relena, or Miss Midii, to visit. Don’t you think they are late in returning?”
Treize shrugged, watching his friend pace.
“There was no help for it. The idea was Princess Relena’s and it proved too rare an opportunity. I absolutely trust the safety of my dearest Lady’s cousin and that of your sweet sister with those young men. And if any type of incident has occurred we can use it to our advantage I am sure. Besides there will only be increasing dangers ahead, we knew that to begin with.”
Trowa bent to pick up a crushed and trampled piece of gauzy white veiling lying in the dusty street. As he rose he caught the eyes of the nearby medicine vendor, who grinned at him with eyes full of knowing malice. Behind the market stall a dark alley twisted its way into shadowed darkness. The man followed his gaze.
“There is nothing down there boy. Keep to the street if you don’t want to end up with your throat cut.
The tall young man took this as an affirmative to his unasked question. He made for the alley, toward the forbidding dimness that shrouded anything that might lurk within.
“Step aside if you value your own skin,” he threatened, treating the bulky man who blocked his path to an ice-cold glare. The man shrugged and stepped aside.
“It’s your funeral boy and the only ones who will attend will be rats and scorpions,” the burly drug merchant laughed at his own joke, but he stepped aside, shrugging.
Trowa moved stealthily along the wall anxious not to alert anyone to his coming and hoping he wasn’t wasting precious time investigating a dead end. A quiet murmur of protest put him on alert and he tried to move even more quietly as he neared a curve in the ancient wall.
Her abductor shoved the girl up against the wall brutally and Midii felt stars explode behind her eyes as her head slammed against the unyielding stone. Dazed and dizzy she didn’t feel the strength to struggle as he grasped both her wrists tightly in one hand and pulled them up over her head, pinning her in place as he examined his prize. She closed her eyes in terror as he carefully took the pins from her hair and dropped them to the ground one by one, letting the pale golden waves tumble down loose around her shoulders.
“The price will indeed be very high, for a woman such as you,” he said, stroking the satiny strands and burying his face in the scented warmth of her hair.
The ruffian admired the blue eyes of his captive shining
brightly behind her hopeless tears. What
riches she would bring him and to think she had fallen into his lap in a remote
place such as this! Finding such a rare
beauty usually involved a trip to
In an instant he turned toward the motion, yanking the girl against him and pressing his knife to her throat. He smiled a slow, confident smile as he saw their pursuer stop in his tracks and lower the pistol he carried.
“I will kill her if that’s what you desire,” he said mockingly, tightening the arm he clenched around the girl’s slender throat until she gasped in panic. “Go away and forget what you’ve seen here.”
To his surprise the man stood his ground, raising the pistol to aim at his head once again.
“Go ahead and kill her, there’s no money in that. And besides once you do that there’ll be nothing to stop me from killing you,” Trowa said coolly, keeping his eyes fastened on the other man’s eyes.
“Fool,” the man spat, digging the tip of his knife into the translucent skin beneath her chin. She cried out and tried to pull away and the knife sliced along the surface of her skin creating a shallow gash that started bleeding heavily. To the man’s relief the would-be rescuer’s gun wavered slightly at the sight. The young man was all bravado, nothing more. The woman meant something to him, more than the wealth she would bring to a man wise enough to use her to make a profit.
Relena gasped for breath as Quatre dragged her through the dusty streets, all pretense of chivalry gone. Her corset dug into her ribs and her side cramped painfully as they all but ran back through the crowded bazaar.
“There you are Master Quatre! We were starting to get worried,” a booming voice called from some yards in the distance. The tall, wild-haired Maguanac scowled down at the younger man he held allegiance to. Although technically he owed deference to the young blond man, Rasid often felt it his duty to watch over Quatre like a father and to scold him as well.
“What has happened,” Abdul chimed in quickly, the sharp dark eyes hidden behind tinted lenses did not miss the panic on the faces of his young master and the princess, nor that two members of the party were nowhere to be seen. Already the fiery young man had his dagger drawn and his body was tensed in alertness.
“It is a good thing you’ve found us,” Quatre said, his voice rather subdued and contrite as he ducked his head before his older friend and mentor. “We must help Trowa find Miss Midii. I-I lost her….
His voice trailed off and Relena felt the strength of his self-recrimination, pangs of worry and guilt assailing her own conscience as she squeezed his hand comfortingly. He had told her this was no place for ladies yet she had insisted they come, and she had begged a reluctant Midii to accompany them. Oh what if she never saw her friend again? How could she face them back at the camp if they could not find Midii?
Midii’s captor grinned at her would-be rescuer contemptuously. He tightened his grip on her slender waist and pulled her toward a door hidden in the wall. A gunshot exploded in the dirt wall near the top of his head and he stopped, surprised. The young man had his card as well, but still he had the upper hand and he was not about to let such dazzling riches fall from his hand.
The sharp report of the gunshot echoed through the suddenly silent marketplace. Within an instant the noise level rose again as if the sound never existed. Relena paled at the thought that human life meant so little to those around her.
Quickly they followed the source of the sound to an alley a short distance away.
“Stay here Princess Relena,” Quatre said, pushing her toward several of the Maguanacs while the others rushed into the shadows.
“No!” she cried, clinging to his arm. “I want to stay with you, please.”
He looked at her lingeringly, unable to refuse her plea, the tone of her voice making his heart pound oddly.
“Stay behind me then, I mean it Relena,” his voice low and intense as she had never heard it.
Trowa felt a rush of relief as his comrades gathered behind him. It always caught him by surprise to realize that he wasn’t still alone, that he had back up. Pulling the trigger had been the correct strategy no matter how his finger had trembled on the safety. The greedy bastard would never kill his hostage, she was far too valuable. But that slender chance of losing her had shaken him more than he would have imagined.
The alley was full of knives and guns now and the kidnapper had to rethink his priorities. A dead man could spend no money.
His eyes scanned the group, widening when he saw the pale face of another European woman. Her hair shone like golden coins and her frightened eyes were a deeper, even richer blue than the eyes of girl he held, her figure was lush and tempting. Both so beautiful…what would a man pay to have them both….he quickly reconsidered. With a sudden thrust he shoved the half-conscious girl in his arms at the man with the gun and escaped into a nearby building in the confusion.
Relena hung back watching as Trowa caught Midii tenderly in his arms and sank to the ground examining her carefully as if to prove to himself that she was safe.
Her eyes opened and she looked at him as if confused. “You came…you came for me,” she whispered. Trowa’s fingers slid gently, almost reverently, along the curve of Midii’s cheek and tangled in her disheveled locks and his face was bent so close to hers face that Relena was sure he was going to kiss her.
Trowa felt as if the two of them were alone in the world. The most distinct memory from his childhood was that of a crystal-blue gaze looking deeply into his eyes as if he were the most important, most wonderful person in her world. Her pink lips were slightly parted and dust streaked her pale cheeks. His own hand, the hand that stroked her soft skin gently, was stained red with blood. The blood shook him from his dreamy reverie, his green eyes hardened at the sight and he realized exactly what was happening and where they were, for a minute the soft sound of her voice and the look in her eyes had transported him back to the past.
“You’re doing a good job of trying to get all of us killed,’ he said, coming quickly back to the present and tightening his grip on her arms, shaking her a bit. “You little fool, don’t you know any better than to run off alone like that?!”
He could feel unaccustomed emotions surging through him as
he saw the kidnapper’s knife lying disregarded on the ground. It was filthy and rusty and she could die of
an infection just from the little scratch she had received. He had seen many men die, growing up in the
He retrieved the flask of whiskey he kept in his pocket for emergencies and without ceremony poured it directly on her open wound. She started, coming out of her semi-dazed state and crying out from the sudden, unexpected pain. Her soft blue eyes flashed in sudden anger at him as she pulled away, it was then that she also noticed the blood on her dress and his hands.
“You would have let him kill me,” she accused, remembering her terror. “Perhaps you feel I so little deserve to live that you would let me die here in the streets. I no longer care what may have happened to you all those years ago. I hate this terrible place and everything in it. Especially you.”
She wrenched herself from his grasp and backed away from him, shaking in rage and horror as she realized what had nearly happened to her. Relena ran to her friend and pulled her into her arms, letting her sob into her shoulder.
“Master Quatre,” she heard Rasid say. “We may be in for more trouble if we don’t take the young ladies back right away. He will not give up on Miss Midii so easily, we need to get her and the Princess back to camp.”
“You’re right Rasid,” Quatre agreed.
Relena turned to Quatre, appalled. “He won’t come after her again, he couldn’t.”
Quatre paused a second before answering. They were already terrified but it was true that they needed to leave immediately.
“I don’t know,” he said finally. “But it’s best not to take any chances. And I’m sure Miss Midii would like to be with her cousin.”
Trowa stalked over to Midii and grabbed her arm none to
gently. “You’re riding with me, we could
be followed and overtaken.” She looked
at him aghast and tried to pull away. “Don’t
you touch me, I’m perfectly capable of riding alone.” Sudden hot tears fell down her cheeks. “I won’t stay here any longer! I never wanted
to come back here. I shall return to
“We’re a week out of
She stared at him in surprise when suddenly the adrenaline wore off and she swayed dizzily, her head aching from the sharp blow she had suffered. Trowa leaned forward in a smooth motion and grasping her behind the knees tossed her over his shoulder walking quickly toward the Maguanacs waiting with the horses, ignoring her feeble protests.
“Trowa’s right Relena, you’d better ride with me. We could be followed,” Quatre said, staring after his departing friend as he ignored Midii’s struggles to release herself.
“Will Midii be alright,” Relena asked anxiously as Quatre pulled her up on the horse in front of him.
It was obvious that the quiet expedition guide had strong, conflicting feelings for her friend, he seemed so angry with her and yet she felt a strange certainty that her friend could be no safer than at his side.
Relena was breathless as their horse raced across the desert after Trowa’s. She had never traveled at such speed, the wind in her face and Quatre’s tight grip on her waist made speech impossible. Oh surely now they would be going home! She let herself sink despondently back into Quatre’s embrace, feeling his arms tighten around her in wordless, comforting response. She wondered what would have happened between them given time. This was an adventure that she had dreamed of in her girlish innocence but the reality was a much different thing. She kept seeing her friend’s blood and hearing harsh words and the clatter of weapons.
The man who held her seemed to sense her distress and he cuddled her closer, slowing the horse’s frantic pace a fraction so she could catch her breath.
Incredibly she felt a pair of soft lips touch the shell of her ear and heard his whisper.
“Meet me later tonight, my princess,” he said urgently. “I have something very important to say to you.”
Lady Une lay her book on the small table beside her with a look of puzzlement on her face. Lucrezia had recommended the novel, Pride and Prejudice, it was called, describing it as a comedy of manners. But she did not find it humorous, where was the comedy in young ladies being allowed to run wild and to forget the proprieties that were so important in society?
She poured a bit of water into a basin, letting her
fingertips play in the lukewarm liquid.
How she missed the coolness of the water that servants had fetched for
her from the lovely little free-flowing spring at home. She wished herself back into that shady,
leafy grotto now, far from this place of dust and heat. There had been not the sight of tree or fresh
water since they had left
The sun was low in the sky but the unquenchable heat was undiminished. The thought of the unruly Bennett sisters from her novel reminded her that their two youngest companions had not yet returned from their visit to the town.
Surely those two barbaric young men would not keep them out after dark. Lady shivered at the idea, even in the heat. With one slender, aristocratic hand anxiously smoothing her elaborately braided coiffure she stepped out of her tent in order to speak to her fiancée about her concern. She was just in time to see Midii and Relena’s horses racing with empty saddles back into the camp, their large eyes rolling in panic, hooves pounding like thunder on the hard-packed earth around the tents.
Before Lady could even react to this alarming event the rest of the group arrived behind the terrified, riderless mounts in a thick cloud of dust.
A fierce wave of anger and protectiveness swept over her, hiding the relief she felt as seeing her cousin at least alive and mostly unharmed, as she watched the taller of their two expedition guides dismount pulling her young relative down beside him.
The two of them seemed to be staring at each other in a rather dumbstruck manner, both seeming reluctant either to speak or to move apart. He kept his hands rather familiarly on the slender curve of her waist, having failed to let go of her after helping her down and they faced each other in uneasy silence.
Lady’s sharp brown eyes spotted the bloodstain contrasting sharply with the pure white of her cousin’s dress and she was spurred to action, the anger in her eyes softening into a look of pure concern and maternal instinct.
At the touch of Lady’s hand on her shoulder Midii felt herself relax and almost gratefully she turned away from him and let herself collapse into her cousin’s waiting arms. Those green eyes had seemed to hold hers in a trance, she had felt unable to move away rather like a mouse in the grip of a viper’s stare.
“How did this happen? What kind of man would allow something like this to happen—
Quatre interrupted Lady’s barrage, stepping between her and Trowa. “Please accept my apology it was all my fault. Trowa saved Miss Une, the fault for her injuries was entirely mine.”
“Oh no. Please don’t blame yourself Mr. Winner,” Midii said, aghast that her cousin would blame their two guides. “I wandered off. I apologize for causing everyone so much trouble. I thank you for saving me, Trowa.”
“It was nothing, nothing at all, Miss Une,” Trowa answered. Turning, he stalked off in his usual manner.
Relena gasped at the hurt in Midii’s eyes, Trowa’s meaning seemed all too clear.
“Come dearest,” Lady said, leading her stunned cousin away. “I’ll put you to bed in my tent and we’ll see to that nasty cut. A good night’s sleep will make it all seem better.”
To be continued…