~A fantasy shoujo webnovel~

┏━━━━━━༻✧༺━━━━━━┓

Beloved

┗━━━━━━༻✧༺━━━━━━┛

Home | About | Characters | Gallery | Guestbook

~Suzette~

༻Chapter Five༺

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

{“Stop it, please—!” I shriek, while being tossed against the wall. I hear a vase fall to the ground from the impact, but all I can focus on is my own pain.

The throbbing in my back from the wall. The throat that feels as though a cat has torn it to shreds, and surely sounds the same as well. The boiling hot tears streaming down my face.

“What the fuck did you think you were doing? Just up and leaving like that?!?” the blonde man screams at me.

“You would not grant me a divorce, I had no other choice!” As I shout this, he slowly comes closer, so close to my face that his breathe overtakes mine.

I’m your husband,” he says sternly. “Your only option was to stay here.”

“Why?” I croak, “If it was never even my choice to marry you in the first place, why must I be forced to remain?”

“Your ‘choice’ doesn’t matter. You were bound to me, so it was your duty to be faithful!”

“I tried…” I whisper, scarcely able to speak now. “I did everything you asked of me, spent so many of my days with you, did all I could to at least try and love you; and yet, you never cared to return any of it…”

“Because it doesn’t matter your beauty, your status—you’re nothing but a lowly whore.”

“I never even left the house, because of you! I forsake nearly all of what few friends I had! How could I ever—!”

“And yet…you still brought that bastard over. The one you left with,” as he says this, he steadily advances his hands towards my neck…

“I needed…somebody…who might accept…me…” I stutter through my sobs.

He laughs quietly.

“Well, he’s not here anymore,” he says.

“What did you do to him?!?”

“Don’t worry, Suzette,” he whispers. “You two shall be reunited once more very soon. I’m not so cruel to keep the lovers away.”

And with each word he squeezes tighter.

Tighter.

And tighter.

Until finally—}

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

The next thing I realize, I shoot myself upwards screaming, sobbing, gasping for air to fill my depleted lungs—but soon find myself more confused than anything. No longer am I in the house, but rather instead a meadow. Up above, the sky is dyed a dark indigo, embroidered with bright pearly stars, and the light of the waxing moon. For a moment, I lay there in a daze, until I am jolted back by a deep voice speaking my name.

“Suzette?! Did something happen?” Hikaru rushes to the front of me, at first only a shadow, although my eyes soon adjust to the darkness to see him more fully, face full of concern.

“Just…a nightmare, is all,” I mumble, still trying to process it. Now he fully sits down, by my side.

“Is there anything you need?” I shake my head no.

“I am just a tad disappointed in myself…” I whisper, thinking over the situation.

He and I have traveled for a fortnight now, and after the initial difficulties everything has gone so wonderfully. I became so assured in myself.

My physical endurance has strengthened immensely. I have grown used to him somehow, even if asking “faeries” for help still seems extraordinarily odd, although he appears to do less of that as of late. And that “husband” of mine…I was elated at how easily I moved past him and forgot him. Severed his grasp on my thoughts. It was so much easier than I anticipated.

Or, perhaps it was not.

“Why do you say that?” Hikaru asks softly.

“It was about Marc,” I sigh. “I believed myself to have moved on from him, but I suppose not…”

“Sometimes I have dreams about—” Abruptly, he pauses. “…About the past. Please don’t let that be the thing to discourage you. It’s not like you can control your dreams.”

“But they reveal so much, what is buried deep within you…”

“It hasn’t been very long since you left,” he says with a yawn. “There’s no need to be so hard on yourself.”

“Yes, I suppose you are right,” I reply, “Hopefully time will help this subside…”

“It will; so, please don’t let yourself get too discouraged, all right?” he smiles gently, face shining softly under the moonlight.

While I do not mean to do it, for a moment I merely stare at him—

“…Suzette? Is something still wrong?”

“N-no, not at all,” I stutter, “Just…still a little shaken up.”

“Hmm…” he looks towards the woods, seemingly pondering something. “Do you think music would help get your mind off of it? I don’t know if it’ll be quite to your taste; but, it’s what I tend to use, at least.”

“You sing?” He laughs.

“I’d never subject you to that, but—” he reaches towards his satchel, and quickly rummages through it, to bring out a small wooden instrument, adorned with muted flowers. On one end is a crank, while a row of keys runs across the top.

“Oh! This is that strange instrument bards use! A…a…”

“A hurdy gurdy.”

“Yes…that,” I reply. “Why have you not played it, since I have been here?”

“I know instruments like these mustn’t really be to your taste.”

“I cannot say; I have only seen it in illustration.”

“Then I hope you enjoy it,” he says, placing the instrument on his lap, reading the position.

First, with his right hand, he slowly turns the handle, producing a low buzzing, like swarm of bees. And then, with his right, the fingers press over the keys, creating a sound much like that of a violin…except more resonant, and perhaps even more lovely. For what feels like eternity, I merely lose myself within the melody, and stare mesmerized as his fingers delicately dance over the keys.

After a time, my gaze drifts up, and I see a small smirk upon his face and his eye closed; even he himself seems to have drifted off within the music. Perfectly at peace, and soon I am soothed as well. Yet, I find myself paying attention to the music less and less…

Eventually, the music steadily comes to a halt. He gazes up towards me, and I flinch realizing I was staring at him again…

“Did you like it?” he asks, and I smile widely.

“It…it was beautiful.” Now he grins even more widely than before—

“Thank you,” he replies mutedly, “But, I think I’ll be going back to sleep now; I’m still pretty tired…”

“Me as well,” I answer. “Thank you for that, you truly did not have to…”

“It’s no problem,” he answers, just like always. “Sleep well, Suzette.”

“You too, Hikaru.” And with that he returns the hurdy gurdy to his satchel, and he in turn returns to where he lay before. I too lay down and close my eyes, attempting to calm my mind…but, as I think more of this evening, my heart grows feverish.

Why did I keep gazing upon him like that…?

His smile has comforted me perhaps dozens of times; yet, under the moonlight, his presence seemed even more lovely, almost as serene as the moon itself…ah, what am I saying? Perhaps that nightmare got into my head in ways I was not anticipating…

Soon I try to hush any strange thoughts away, and let myself be drifted off into sleep.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

“Suzette, are you ready to wake up?”

Steadily I open my eyes, everything still slightly a blur in my drowsiness. To the side of me is Hikaru, shaking me awake. Once he comes into focus, his face appears rather joyous, for some reason.

“Nnn…I suppose I can be,” I grumble while lifting myself up. “Is there something in particular going on?” He smiles even more widely than before, and for a moment my heart skips a beat—

…Gyah, not again! It is too early for this!

“I found something I think you’ll quite like,” he says, “Do you want to see it?”

“Yes, just wait a moment,” I reply, wiping my eyes. Meanwhile, Hikaru stands up and gazes over, waiting for me. Once I get up, he leads me a few minutes away, when we come upon it—and it is almost as though I can physically feel my eyes shine.

A whole field of wild wheat!

“Oh, this is just wonderful!” I gush, clasping my hands together ecstatically.

“I’m sure it won’t be as good as what you’re used to, but—”

“So?” I answer while running towards the field, gathering as much as my arms can carry. “Come, Hikaru, you must help too!” And so for a while, the two of us rummage the field, picking the wheat.

“Ah, this is so lovely,” I say once it is all gathered. “I’ve never baked entirely from scratch before!"

“I didn’t realize it’d make you this happy,” he replies with a laugh.

“Of course,” I whisper, looking down at my bundle, “It has been far too long since I have baked at all, and I never anticipated being able to do so on our journey…”

Eventually the two of us find a spot to stay for the day, and with it a few large rocks for me to begin my work.

“Anything else you need?” he asks, as I finish preparing my work.

“Find some extra water; and, if you come across any fruits, gather a few! It will make this so much better.”

“Can do,” he replies, and turns to leave—but, I tug on his robe before he can.

“Hikaru…thank you so much for this,” I say, looking up towards him.

“I didn’t really do anything,” he says, “I just happened to stumble across it…”

“If you say so,” I say, swiftly turning back and arranging some wheat to be threshed, “See you soon.”

“You too,” he answers softly, and turns to leave.

Steadily I begin my work, separating the grains from the rest of the plant. It is a slow and methodical business, and perhaps would be boring to nearly any other person; and yet, instead I find myself perfectly content. Always I had baked with the flour already milled—for why would I not? Though I know the basics of this process, actually doing it is entirely new for me…

It is not particularly easy, and in the end the result may not even be very great. Even so, the mere process itself puts me at ease, quelling any fears I had, or the strange thoughts suddenly assaulting my mind as of late. Instead, for the first time in ages, I can indulge in my passion.

Hours pass; by now all the wheat has become flour, and all that is left is to mold the dough. However, Hikaru has still yet to return. I close my eyes and exhale deeply, trying not to worry already. He has lived this way for who knows how many years. Surely, he is fine, and I will be as well…and luckily, it is within minutes that he finally arrives.

“For a moment, I thought you got lost!” I joke with him, although it is not really a joke.

“A bit distracted, perhaps—I hope I didn’t keep you too long,” he says, handing me his flask.

“No need to worry!” I chirp, happy to continue my work once more.

“I also brought these too,” he adds, handing to me a pouch from within his bag. Merely by holding it within my hands, I can already parse its contents. My guess is soon confirmed, when opening it reveals a small bundle of blueberries.

“Ah, thank you! This shall make the bread so much better, I hope.” And with that I set the bag down beside me, and resume to carefully gathering the flour, to begin making the dough…before sighing.

“Hikaru,” I say quietly, “Would it be too much of a bother to set together a spot for a fire? I know I have already asked—”

“No, don’t apologize,” he replies, “If I didn’t want to help, I wouldn’t have shown this to you in the first place.” Swiftly I look down, and continue my work with a small grin upon my face.

Gradually I pour the water and knead the dough, while nearby gathers stones and wood for the firepit. Once all the buns are made I gather them within my apron, and set myself down beside him.

“Is everything prepared yet?”

“Everything except the fire.”

“Ah…” I sigh, knowing how long that will surely take.

“Don’t worry,” he says, while grabbing a twig from the stack, “I hope this doesn’t bother you,” he chuckles, yet even so it does not sound joyous.

“What do you mean?”

In reply, he merely brings the twig nearer to his face, and inaudible whispers to it. At first nothing happens, but within a few seconds—

“Ah!” I shriek slightly while flinching back, startled by the flames now engulfing the twig.

“There we go,” he says to himself, setting the twig back on the pile. “It will take a bit to really get going, but hopefully it’ll be good enough soon.”

“H-how did you…” I whisper, scarcely able to form the words.

“I asked,” he answers quietly. “I know you seem to be put off whenever I work with the fae, but I’m sure you can agree it’s much faster than rubbing sticks together.” In reply, I merely gaze upon the growing fire…

One could explain away all the other instances of him “working with the fae” as madness and chance, but there is not explaining away this…

“Suzette, are you okay?” I nod slowly.

“I’m sorry,” he sighs, “If it bothers you that much, I won’t do it anymore.”

“I just must become used to it,” I reply, “This is all quite new for me, as I am sure you can imagine…”

“Thanks,” he whispers.

“What for?”

“I’m just happy it’s you that’s here,” he smirks slightly, eye still closed. Swiftly I turn my head towards the fire, attempting to distract myself from my quickening pulse.

“Ah, it appears the fire is ready now,” I offhandedly comment, gently putting the little buns by the flames as I do so. And then I close my eyes, and merely exhale.

What is the matter with me lately? He is just being kind, and nothing more…

Come to think of it, to some extent, have I always acted this way? Perhaps it lessened a little when we began this journey; but, even in spite of his oddities, the longer I’m around him—

No, no, no, what am I saying? He is the only one here with me, after all…

Keeping my head still, my eyes glance over towards his direction. His eye is open now, but he is merely watching the fire silently.

He is a wonderful friend, but anything more…think of how absurd it would look! Others would see us, and assume it were two women; how farcical… And besides, we are too different. He prefers living alone, and is rather older than myself…yes, in every way would we look entirely ludicrous.

It is already difficult enough beginning a new life, I do not want any judgements on top of it. I need to stop being ridiculous…

“Suzette? I think the bread is done, but you should probably check.”

Swiftly I look up once more, eager to have anything distract my thoughts again. And indeed, it seems I was lost within my thoughts long enough for even the outsides to have fully browned. To my side I grab a stick specifically chosen for this purpose, and set them aside to cool.

“Ah,” I sigh, “I surely hope this turns out well…”

“Did you enjoy making it?”

“Very much so—why do you ask?”

“Then either way it was a success, wasn’t it?” I smile.

“Heh, if you say so.”

After a few minutes pass and the bread is at least cooled enough to touch, I am able to try my creation. My first creation in so long, I cannot even recall the last time I have baked something.

It…is edible. And warm. I do not vomit. That…is about the extent of all that is pleasant that can be said of it.

I heave a heavy sigh.

For those many hours of work, I had truly hoped it would be better than this. But, these were made rather primitively, after all. Perhaps he is right, and my standards are merely too high…

“Hikaru, do you enjoy them?”

“Yes!” he replies happily.

“You are not just being kind?”

“To be honest with you,” he says, “It’s much better than I was anticipating—not because of your skill, I mean, just, considering the circumstances—" He does not just stumble, but completely trips and falls over his words; although I do not mean to, I cannot help but chuckle.

“I know what you mean; I am not offended,” I assure him, “I am less impressed anyways…”

“Do you not like it?”

“With all my work, I had hoped for better…but, I suppose if someone enjoys it, this was not entirely a waste,” I say with a melancholy smile.

“I can assure you I don’t think it was,” he says, returning the grin.

Ah…

“My arms are sore, but it was rather nice to rest my legs for the day,” I think aloud, trying to recall the positive in this situation as well.

“And you at least got a little more practice before starting your own bakery.”

“That is true…”

“So, thank you,” he says.

“What for now? You are the one who gave me this idea.”

“You still shared it with me.”

“Would it not be rather rude if I had not?” I ponder.

“It’s all right to accept thanks,” he chuckles.

“Why do you say that?” I ask, merely looking upon him in confusion.

“Whenever I thank you for anything, it seems like you always deflect it.”

“It does not seem as though I do anything particularly noteworthy…”

“Then I just appreciate you,” he replies calmly. Meanwhile, my attention darts towards the now dwindling fire, and the heat increases within my face instead.

“You too,” I whisper.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

Previous | Next

© 2019 by J.H. Rose