Chapter 27- Laughter Over Beauty
“I think I should show you something,”
“Show me something?” I echoed her words and she nodded her head, standing up from the window seat and I followed.
“You know how Lazarus used to be Andreas?” I nodded along as she led us through the shelves of books and towards the back of the room that was basically never occupied unless you needed to get a book of economics.
“This city that you rule used to be a home that I lived in that floated in the sky. Adding up the 18 years that I lived in Andreas and the years I helped Atticus build it, I’ve been living here longer than you,”
“What’s your point?” I asked and she chuckled.
“I know the secrets of this place more than you. There’s something I hid here when Atticus became King and if I’m correct, it’s still here,” I didn’t say anything and simply watched as she felt along the bookshelves that rested on the wall.
“Here it is,” She mumbled. Clapping her hands, the shelf parted in two ways, showing the simple stone wall that the shelf had been resting against.
“Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?” Nora glared at me and I chuckled. She turned back to the wall and placed her hand on the stone. Moving her palm away but keeping her fingers on it, she thumped her palm against the wall and my jaw dropped when the wall parted to reveal a secret entrance.
“You’re kidding,” I blinked at the stairs that lead down the entrance. She snapped her fingers and the candles on the walls lit up and she began walking down the steps.
“Are you coming?” She turned her head to look at me.
“Are you going to kill me?”
“I can’t do that even if I wanted,” She rolled her eyes.
Humming, I locked my arms behind my back and followed her down the steps. “What is this place? Did you hide treasure here or something?” I asked.
“Good guess but no. This is the place where I died,”
“Right here,” She walked through the small space and opened up a box.
“Achillies was resting here until the moment it was stabbed through me. I thought this place would have been destroyed after it fell but I guess not,”
It seemed as if she were talking to herself more than me but I made sure to listen anyways and leaned against the wall, watching her dig through the chest.
“I found a few of my belongings with Atticus and hid them here, putting a spell on it to keep them preserved if the chance to ever see them again arose,”
“Why did you keep all this?” I stared at the objects she pulled out. Clothes, combs and other stuff. If not for the fact that they were historical and over 400 years old, then they would all be worthless.
“It’s proof that I lived,” She smiled.
“But that stuff isn’t as important as this,” I was going to ask what but bit back the question when she pulled out two golden frames with paintings inside.
“This is Apollo and me when I was of 16 years... and this one is of Arturo and me on my 6th birthday,” Her fingers traced over the painting and before I knew it, I found myself walking towards her and peering over her crouched figure to stare at the painting.
Unknowingly, a smile crept onto my face.
I crouched down beside her and held the frame of her with her dad.
It was a simple portrait, where Arturo was sat on a chair with Nora on his lap. She looked so young and adorable, gleaming at the painter with shining eyes and a large smile that showed off her small white teeth.
“You look cute,” I said and she coughed, turning her head away from me to hide the blush.
I swapped the paintings and looked at the one where she was sat on the grass, leaning back against a large lion, a smile on her face. She looked older in this photo, at the age of 16 and less mature than what she looked like now but I could tell that from the moment she was born, she was a beautiful lady. And she still is.
“Is this Apollo?” She nodded her head.
“In my time, I had a lot of wild animals. I’d always get in trouble from Selene for bringing in so many animals but Apollo was the first animal that I saved, he was my best friend,”
I couldn’t help but smile at the way her eyes lit up when she talked about her past.
I wonder if she wanted to go back?
I went to put the painting back in the chest but stopped when I saw something peeking out from behind the box. Putting the painting inside, I leaned around the chest and grabbed hold of the object.
“Ah, that’s-” But I had already pulled the fabric away and saw the painting.
“Is that?...” I didn’t need her to say anything to know the answer.
It was her and Atticus.
She sat smiling on a chair with him standing beside her with one of his hands on her shoulders and a smile on both of their faces.
I could feel the jealousy coming back but this time I bit my tongue and made sure to not say anything. This was 300 years ago, a time where I didn’t exist so what could I have done?
I’m just grateful that I had the miracle of being able to see her in person.
I turned my head to look at her and saw that she was already staring at me with an odd look on her face, she was so easy to read sometimes.
I smirked at her and her face lit up again, quickly turning away from me.
“You don’t need to hide your face every time you blush,” I mumbled out.
“I can’t help it,” She whispered, going to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear but I reached out and held her hand before she could. Her fiery gaze turned to me in confusion and I tucked the hair behind her ear for her.
“There. Now I can see your pretty face,” I couldn’t help but laugh when she blushed again, it was truly adorable. Sometimes she’d act like a fiery minx with a strong mind and other times she’d become an innocent child, now being one of those times.
“If I wasn’t pretty. What would you do?” She asked. “It seems to me that you’re only being nice to me because of my face. If I was ugly, would you be the same man you show me to be?”
I moved my hand away from her cheek and rested it on the ground beside me, thinking over her words before carefully yet honestly replying.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. I held the sword and you became mine, it wouldn’t have mattered if you were ugly or pretty... but the fact is that you’re beautiful and I’m not complaining. Who would choose to be ugly over pretty?”
Her lips parted in surprise at my words, thinking them over.
“But I don’t think it matters how pretty you are. Other than being physically attracted to you, I find myself wanting to hear your laugh above seeing your beauty. I want to hear your stories more than I want to sleep with you-”
She blushed and I awkwardly coughed, realising what I had just said. One would think that I’m confessing my love to her and I had to take a moment to wonder if I was or not.
“So to answer your question... Yes, I would be the same man that I show you to be because that is who I am. I don’t lie, I don’t act. If a woman isn’t attracted to me, I leave her be and if a woman comes with trouble, I leave her be... but I don’t want to leave you be,” She jumped at my words and I smiled.
“Whether you come with all the troubles in the world or if you’re not attracted to me, I wouldn’t mind spending hours of my day pining after your attention,”
I leaned down towards her and she leaned back a bit.