“You were right,” I said as I sat in Rossannah’s and my bedroom with Rossannah and Shyla. “You all were right. I can’t believe I couldn’t see it.”
“You weren’t looking for it,” Shyla comforted me. “I saw it before anybody, except for his mother. She knew from the very beginning. She had figured it out the day that he brought you home.”
“But why?” I fumed. “Why was he so…mean?”
“Only he knows that,” Shyla sighed. “There is so much more I wish I knew about how your brain works, but I never will. At least everything is out in the open now, so whatever happens will happen. I just hope that there isn’t too much backlash. But I know that you can fight for yourself. You’ve showed a lot of strength and it helps that you are in a position of power. There isn’t a lot that he can do to you.”
“I don’t think that I’m going to have to fight,” I argued. “Worst case scenario, I think we’ll just go back to the way things were…not speaking.”
Rossannah crawled in the bed beside me and I put my head on her shoulder. She embraced me and I felt comforted. No amount of fun could replace the feeling that I got when she held me, or I held her.
“I thought he knew about us,” I told them as Rossannah stroked my hair.
“From his perspective it probably just looked like a really close friendship,” Rossannah offered. “I don’t know of anybody else like us.”
“I wish we did,” I whispered. Shyla let out a sigh and stood up to leave.
“I think I’ll leave you guys alone,” she said, biting her lip. I watched her go. Something told me that Shyla always wanted to say more than she thought she should.
I spent the next few days at the school with Rossannah and the Hawk. The king did not come to teach his history classes. I began to feel guilty about the way that things had happened, as if I was robbing the children of a wonderful teacher by not feeling the same way about him as he did about me. After three days he did show up again, but not for a history lesson.
“I’m going into the forest to hunt today,” he explained to me, “I thought that you would like to come along. I’m sorry for reacting the way that I did. I was just shocked. I’ve never seen something like that before. I didn’t know how to react to it.”
“I think I’m going to stick around the school today,” I said uneasily, “Rossannah really needs me around right now.” I made sure to emphasize that I needed to stay with Rossannah. He looked hurt and walked away. I watched him through the window of the school as he made his way into the forest alone.
“Come away from the window and help me,” the Hawk said as she gingerly grabbed my shoulders and lead me away from the window and into a group of children. Then she put her mouth to my ear and whispered, “don’t feel guilty, you can’t feel something for someone unless it’s right.”
I expected the Hawk to be on the side of her son, but she seemed to have her own story that would never be told and perhaps that is what contributed to her understanding of me. I looked at her sadly and she left me in the group of kids to forget my sorrows. Moments later Rossannah came to join me.
I spent the rest of the day keeping myself busy so I wouldn’t have to think about the heart that I had broken. I had finally gotten to a place with the king that was uncomplicated and friendly, and it was all ruined now. I mourned the loss of his friendship, but knew that I had to be careful around him from now on.
He showed up for supper and didn’t speak a word while the rest of us prattled on about the day and the things we had done. The Hawk tried to get him involved in the conversation by purposely blurting out fallacies about the history lesson she had taught that day. We all looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to correct her. He didn’t seem interested in the least.
I finished first. I left the table and Rossannah followed closely behind. We went to our room, both exhausted from the emotionally trying day. She left the room to go and take a shower as I turned down the bed for when she returned so all we had to do was crawl in and go to sleep.
That is when I heard his footsteps behind me. I turned around thinking that Rossannah had forgotten something and to ask her what it was. The king stood in front of me, looking at me longingly and mournfully.
“Why didn’t you come with me this afternoon?” he asked, forcefully. I felt no compulsion to lie.
“They say that you’re in love with me. I can’t encourage that,” I replied, stiffly.
“I see.” He nodded his head. “How do you know that you are not in love with me?”
“I’m in love with Rossannah,” I answered, quickly. “There isn’t any room for anybody else in my heart.”
“Then why have you been spending the last few weeks with me and leaving her here,” he accused, tears welling up in his eyes.
“It’s never going to happen!” I shouted angry and frustrated. “I don’t have those kinds of feeling for you. I have…sisterly feelings for you.”
He glared at me one last time, and then walked off. I began to shake and when Rossannah appeared in the doorway I couldn’t help but burst into tears. If I had any doubts about his feelings they were all washed away with his confrontation. I had hoped it was just disgust that he was feeling towards my relationship with Rossannah, but it was disappointment.
I explained what had happened to Rossannah, and she agreed to take the day off with me the next day. We went to the fields like we used to do before I began to feel the full weight of my responsibility and I got a little of my youth back with her that day. We discussed taking a trip into the forest together to visit Sheena, Cub, and Cub’s children, which we hadn’t done in over a year. A trip into the forest would revitalize me and I would be able to come back with renewed vigor.
We were wrenched from our daydream by Ashlee running through the golden fields toward us, waving her hands anxiously in the air trying to get our attention. When she finally reached us she had to take a moment to catch her breath before she could speak.
“He’s declared war,” Ashlee sputtered, “On the forest tribes. You weren’t there to stop him. There wasn’t any vote.”
“He can’t!” I screeched and began to run to the castle. I found myself standing in the council room moments later. The elderly men at the table turned to look at me. Some of them shook their heads in dismay.
“He’s already left,” one of them told me, sadly, “with a group of men.”
“I’m going after them,” I announced and ran out of the room and down the hallway. I turned a corner and bumped into Rossannah. We were both knocked to the floor from the force.
“What’s going on?” Rossannah asked me. I shook my head, crying and got up. I didn’t say a word as I ran off toward the stables. I heard her calling after me but didn’t answer.
I swung open the door to the stables and allowed myself a second to collect myself as a painful memory slipped into my mind. I pushed it away and climbed onto the nearest horse. I forced a gush of air out of my mouth and swallowed my hatred of the beast and kicked it to force it forward. I knew that this was the only way I was going to catch up with them.
I couldn’t see them in the distance. I couldn’t believe that I had missed them going. I felt stupid for letting my guard down and not keeping an eye on what was going on around me. I had always been good at that.
I guided the beast through trees and ducked branches as I made the horse go as fast as I could through the forest. I could see hoof prints on the ground and I knew that they had gone this way, not even trying to hide evidence of their existence. Why would they? Everybody thought that they were at peace.
I finally caught up with them. They were resting in a clearing, ready to bed down for the night. I approached the camp cautiously and noticed that the king was nowhere to be seen. I allowed myself to be seen and ordered the men to leave and go home. They obliged me at once.
I waited in that clearing for an hour for the king to show up. He appeared carrying an armful of sticks and a pack on his back filled with game. I regretted teaching him how to survive in the forest immediately.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked him furiously. “We had an agreement. We were working for a common goal.”
“We were never working for a common goal,” he shouted, accusingly. “I changed for you. I tried to show you that I could understand and that we weren’t so different. I can’t do that anymore. There are things that I know are wrong, and I can’t ignore that anymore.”
“You mean Rossannah and me, don’t you?” I yelled heatedly. “We are not wrong! You can’t feel something for someone unless it’s right!”
“Then what about me!” he sobbed. “What about what I feel for you? Isn’t that wrong? Hasn’t it always been wrong? You are supposed to be my enemy and I can’t stop thinking about you.” And then he pulled out that familiar sword. He must have gone back and finally found it after all of these years. He lifted it and charged toward me with the intention of hacking me to pieces, but his body stiffened as he reached me and his eyes searched mine in pain. He dropped the sword and slowly fell to the ground to reveal Rossannah behind him, a look of confusion and terror on her face. She had hit something with a bow and arrow for the first time.
“What do we do now?” I asked her, breathless.
“We tell the truth,” Rossannah replied.
“But you will be executed!” I exclaimed.
“No,” Rossannah smiled, “I won’t. The people were coming after him. It seems that they don’t want to have a king anymore. We are all finally free.”
And from that moment on, I knew everything was going to be all right.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Catherine HagedornWrite a Review