May. 29th, 2012

Tableau

May. 29th, 2012 03:16 am
thulcandran: (Default)
Thanks to Shoe, of the PPC, for the prompt: Glue, Stamp, Bunny.

Julian stalked back and forth across the ornate rug, muttering under his breath. The light through the window showed no change - no red blast came from the sky, no smoke filtered the sunlight through the old panes. Still... he wouldn't know, would he?

"For want of a nail," he found himself whispering, his hand on the old, ornate frame. With a shake of the head, he turned back to his desk, cursing his lack of will. Turn from this course, turn - but he could not.

They all waited for a signal, and if he had made the wrong one...

He had not. He could not have. He looked, unconsciously, towards the window once again. Saw nothing, turned back, looked at the door. No knock. No firestorm, no tramping of boots, and the knife he seemed to have picked up had no purpose, save to dance across his knuckles like a coin or a trick of the light, and--

dropped it. Swore under his breath, picked it up, flung it into the desk, wrenched it out a moment later and shoved a stack of papers over the nasty cut it had made in the wood.

With a final grimace, he threw his cloak on, stormed to the door - stopped, turned back, and sheathed the knife in his breast pocket before turning again to the outer hallways.

Two guards in the foyer acknowledged him with a nod, no more, and he passed them to tromp out towards the gardens. He would be as nervous there, he knew, but at least he would have more room to pace, and perhaps something to take his mind off of inevitable destiny, hopefully not storming down on them like so many meteors from the heavens.

Layla met him out there, so calm it had to be a criminal offense, staring into the koi pond. He threw himself down on the bench next to him, not even bothering to pretend anything other than a firestorm of emotions. She nodded without looking up, studying the fish as they swam.

"There are two fewer than yesterday," she murmured quietly. "I fear we have a heron problem on our hands."

Julian looked to the pond, but could not bring himself to focus on the fish. He looked back down at his own hands, and happened to spy hers, gripping the bench lip. Blood seeped down the knuckles of one finger - odd, because both hands were so tight against the metal that they appeared entirely devoid of blood.

Motion on the far side of the pond sent him leaping to his feet, silently panicked - the bush swept aside in a breeze for just a moment, and the jackrabbit on the other side gave him a caustic glance before disappearing once again into the foliage.

"We'll know when we know," she said, not lifting her gaze from the apparently fewer fish. "There's - there's no point worrying about it."

He imagined he could hear a laugh beneath the last of her words, hollowly. He sat again, forcing himself to at least pretend calm. "I know, Layla. We - we'll find out."

"They must be ready," she said, as much to console herself as him. "Why would they have returned if they were not ready? We could not have erred. If we - if we had not sent the message we did, there would have been error, fatal error, and we would have leapt into an unjust war. They are ready. They will bring peace, they will settle the outer moon and we will have peace at last. They will not - we will have no more war."

They remained there, eternities between them in the half-inch of the iron bench, until dawn brought the courier, with his official, stamped, carefully dictated message, and the hopes of an entire world born beneath its seal.

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