Chapter 30 - Don't Cry For Me
After hearing that her husband, King Draxus was dying, Lillian's hand instinctively moved to her small round belly as the sound of footsteps marching along alerted everyone to turn and see Prince Marcus as he entered the room and made his way across to where his brother was lying silently on the bed.
“I came as soon as I heard, what happened?” he began enquiring with a concerned expression as he stepped up to the foot of the bed and looked down at his older brother.
“The King was attacked.” the General reported aloud from where he stood, “His wound is… well he’s lost quite a lot of blood your highness. It’s not looking good I’m afraid.”
As the Prince stared down at his brother, so vulnerable and weak a feeling of excitement began to consume him, though he would fight to contain it from showing. This was it, the moment he had been waiting for, a chance to finally get Draxus out of the picture and take the throne for himself. And he didn’t have to do anything. It was entirely too simple!
His eyes moved up to see Lillian standing beside Draxus now and he slowly slinked across towards her, stopping entirely too close for comfort as he lifted his hand and placed it on her shoulder faking a sense of sorrow as he spoke.
“My sympathies, Queen Lillian.” he hissed.
His words held no value to her; they were purely for show and Lillian was well aware of this as she stood her ground and fought to ignore his presence entirely.
Meanwhile, seeing Marcus’ hand on Lillian’s shoulder took everything that Flynn had to resist the urge to rush forward and cut it clean off! Instead, he remained still and continued to watch as the treacherous Prince used his fingers to begin massaging her gently as he continued speaking. She was clearly uncomfortable with it, although she hid it well from the others present in the room; everyone but Flynn that is.
Lillian’s stomach began to turn with disgust as she felt his coarse fingers brushing against her soft skin, he even had the nerve to slip one of his fingers down towards her chest as he leaned in closer and spoke beside her face. She could feel the warmth of his pungent breath brush against her cheek as he spoke, hissing like a snake.
“My brother has always been a strong leader. A true King. He will be remembered as a hero, one-“
Infuriated, Lillian turned to face him and brushed his hand off of her shoulder with a shrug.
“-As you can clearly see the King is still among the living, Prince Marcus...” she cut in to remind him. “He is NOT dead yet, so I warn you to watch your tongue!”
Admiring the Queen’s feisty spirit, Marcus hid his smirk as he bowed his head with respect and quickly apologised.
“Forgive me, my Queen. I meant no disrespect to you or Draxus. I too care very deeply for my brother…”
Both Lillian and Flynn fought back the need to roll their eyes at his last comment as the Queen turned back to face Draxus, having put the treacherous Prince in his place, for now anyway.
“I only meant that given time and what with his current prognosis…” the Prince trailed off intentionally, not brave enough to finish his sentence. “What say you, doctor? Given the King’s unfortunate situation, how long would you estimate my brother has left? Give us your well-educated guess.”
The doctor, feeling ambushed into giving a reply, seemed hesitant to respond as he looked from the Prince and his fatally wounded older brother on the bed beside them.
“Well… uh, it’s difficult to estimate accurately your highness.” he stuttered, “The King has always been incredibly strong, body and soul…” he paused, looking down now as he continued, “…but with the amount of blood loss sustained I’m afraid that he doesn’t have much time left. Hours, perhaps even less. I’m so very sorry, my Queen.”
Feeling overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions and a sudden pain in her stomach, Lillian closed her eyes tightly shut and let out an involuntary moan of obvious discomfort, hunching over in pain.
“Oh…” Lillian groaned.
“My Queen, are you alright?” Shasharan asked, stepping in to assist her.
“Here child, have my seat... Quickly, get her off her feet.” the doctor ordered the men surrounding her to assist. “You there find a cold compress and you, bring her something to drink.”
As one of the soldiers assisted by moving a footstool across for Lillian, the doctor stood up and offered the young Queen his seat beside the bed. Shasharan and Flynn both moved in to hold Lillian up by her arms and assisted her to sit down carefully on the red velvet chair.
Feeling somewhat out of breath suddenly, Lillian began to pant loudly as if she could not get enough oxygen into her lungs for some reason. She was hyperventilating.
“I… I can’t… breathe…” she spoke between desperate breaths, looking around in a panic.
Prince Marcus simply stood by and watched from his position by the bed, uncertain of what was happening.
Acting on pure instinct and not appearing to care about what anyone else thought about his actions, Flynn knelt down beside Lillian and took her by either side of her face gently, forcing her to open her eyes and look him in the eye as he spoke to her calmly.
“Lillian… listen to me, you need to breathe… do you hear me? Block everything else out and focus on your breathing… That’s it, in… and out… in… and out…” he smiled as he nodded his head, continuing to coach her through the obvious panic attack she was going through, “That’s it. Just keep breathing slowly, in… and out…”
With her emerald green eyes now fixed on his she nodded her head and did as he instructed her, breathing deeply in through her nostrils and out through her mouth, over and over along with him. Strangely enough it appeared to be working. Her breathing was beginning to return to normal.
Everyone else standing around them watched in wonder as this mere soldier acted so familiar with their Queen. He was holding onto her face and calling her ‘Lillian’, instead of addressing her with one of her more regal titles. It was quite baffling to them all; most of all to Prince Marcus. His eyes were narrow with suspicion as he looked down at the strange soldier he hadn’t yet recognised before. Why was he so close with the Queen; there was something more to this, something he hadn’t yet figured out.
Before anyone could say anything about it a deep and yet soft voice spoke, alerting them all to see that their King was suddenly conscious, though still barely clinging to life.
“Lillian… are you there?”
A great big smile spread across her face as she quickly brushed away her tears and leapt up to sit beside him on the bed, taking his hand in hers and holding it firmly. Draxus’ skin was cooler than she remembered it being and it added to her concern as she tried desperately to conceal her fear from him.
“Yes my love, I’m here.” she replied comfortingly, leaning down over him. “I’m here. Everything’s going to be alright.”
His amber irises were surrounded by red as his bloodshot eyes narrowed and he formed a small smirk.
“You’re a terrible liar, Lillian.”
She furrowed her brows and squeezed his hand even tighter now. This couldn’t be the end for them, they had only just begun their lives with one another. They had a child on the way! There was no possible way for Lillian to fight back the terror looming at her doorstep in that very moment, though she did try valiantly.
A single tear rolled down her cheek and she sniffed.
“Those tears aren’t for me, are they?” he taunted her even in his weakened state.
“Why did you have to go there alone?” she asked him, seeming serious now as she shook her head, “You risked your life to help find my parents… you damned fool, why?”
“Because it mattered… to you.”
His reply caught her by surprise as she blinked in response, clearly baffled that he was showing this sweeter side in front of his men. As the Dragon King he had always put up a hardened exterior whenever around anyone but Lillian and now, believing his time had finally come, he didn’t seem to care about his fearsome reputation anymore. After all, he believed he was about to die.
“Because I would do anything just to see that beautiful smile of yours.”
He lifted his hand up to brush his fingers across her face and she caught his hand as he did so, holding his fingers against her soft skin and closing her eyes to fully enjoy the sensation as she nuzzled into it.
“No matter what happens to me, know that I will always be with you, Lillian...” he paused to take a moment, then adding, “I... love you.”
Marcus’ left brow rose with scepticism; he didn’t believe in such trivial things as love.
The mighty King’s voice was softer now as the darkened circles under his eyes had become more prominent and his eyelids closed a little further. His heart began to slow its rhythm with each passing second signalling the nearing of his end as his breathing visibly slowed.
“Please, there has to be something we can do!” Lillian begged, “Please he can’t die… He just can’t, not now.”
Lillian had not intended to aim her comment at anyone in particular, but somehow managed to grasp the Veemon’s attention none the less as the disguised Flynn stood just behind her and watched on nervously. A massive feeling of guilt caused his stomach to roll uncomfortably as he ran his hand nervously through his hair and looked to the floor.
The truth was, he could do something to help the dying King but it would risk his true identity being revealed, especially now that Marcus was there. If he helped to heal Draxus he would certainly be arrested and executed for treason against the crown of Westoria. On the other hand he could do nothing and watch a good man die for no other reason than his own self-preservation. He had never felt such conflict before and was unsure of what he should do as his nerves began to eat away at him.
Then he thought of Lillian and how much Draxus had meant to her; what it would be like for her to go on living without him. For her child to be born into this harsh and unforgiving world without a father.
The choice was easy for him now. He had to help heal King Draxus. He would never allow any harm come to Lillian, no matter the consequence. It was difficult but he spoke up.
“I can help him, your majesty.”