This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the lovely Julie Arduini @ her blog, The Surrendered Scribe. Click here to read and share more great stories!
I felt fifty years old inside on account of the brown bread I ate every morning. The voice in my head explained it as changing fiber content in my brain. I can't believe there is fiber in my brain—but that's what the voice is saying. It’s something to the effect of an explanation for what I do.
I don’t really know what I do that is so amazing it has to make up lies to tell me. I know my head is empty--sort of, and I know that its making fun of me. Maybe it thinks I’m deaf.
Ha. Gareth would have a field day with this--then again, I guess it doesn't matter. Doesn't look like I'm going to get anything done today.
“Madrisa!” Allen scolded, yanking me away from the wide window opening into the courtyard below. “Don’t stand so close to the window, suppose you fall out?”
“Suppose you fell out trying to grab me?” I countered.
His grip on my arm tightened. “You were supposed to report to his majesty’s chambers this morning. What has gotten into you, child?”
“He’s not interested in me” I sniffed. “Only in what I can do.”
“You’re his wife-”
“Shut up!” I tried to twist away. “He doesn’t even think of me that way!”
Bright blue eyes flickered with contempt. “You truly are a brat.” He hissed. “It would’ve been best for all of us if you’d just been left in the streets and made into a-”
I gave one good jerk and bolted. He shouted a stream of words after me, but I didn’t bother to decipher them. I ran down the hallway and through the maze of corridors. There was only one room where I could be safe in this horrible castle.
The door to the king’s bedchamber came into sight, the fancy golden decorations gleaming in the flickering torchlights. I yanked the medallion out from around my throat and pressed it into the locking mechanism as Allen’s shouts reached my ears again.
As the door opened, I dashed inside, throwing my weight on it to close it tight.
Giddy relief spun through me as I ran for the large, canopied bed at the far left of the room and threw myself onto the silken sheets. A garbled murmur came from somewhere between them, but I didn’t stop to puzzle those out either.
“Gareth? Gareth, wake up!” I tugged at the covers and ducked down, yanking one embroidered cover over my head.
“Mads?” The sleepy voice answered. “Maddie?”
“Shh!” I countered. “I’m not here.”
Silence reigned for a moment, then the bed shook as the young king leapt out from beneath his covers. I held my breath, waiting—for all his youth, his temper was as quick as mine and his sense of justice rather twisted in kind.
The chimes to the left of the door sounded, announcing someone’s presence in the hallway. With a muttered groan, young King Gareth snatched up a dressing gown from the chair before his dresser, threading his arms through the sleeves as he went to the door.
“This had better be good.” He warned, using his own medallion to open a panel to the left of the door to speak to the interruption. “Allen, good morning.”
“Good morning, your majesty, I’m terribly sorry to have wakened-”
“No, you’re not.” Gareth scowled. “Just say what it is that you need and leave me be. It is too early to be up already.”
“An early rising is-”
“Queen Madrisa, to you.”
“Queen Madrisa-” Allen growled. “has taken the liberty of-”
“I’ll deal with it.”
“Sire! You haven’t even-”
“Did she give you another headache of sorts?” Gareth inquired, rubbing his sleepy eyes.
Allen’s pink face grew quite red. “T-that would not be something that I would trouble your majesty with at such an hour as-”
“I’ll deal with it, return to your post and be about your duties. You may leave.” The little panel was shut as Gareth turned back to face the room.
I shivered beneath the covers, relived to have Allen off my case and terrified to have Gareth take his place. At fourteen years of age, Gareth believed his one year over me gave him every right to act as he pleased.
“You can come out now.” He sounded bored, shuffling towards the wash table beside the dresser. “The big bad wolf has gone to hunt other prey.”
“Shut up, Gareth!” I popped out from beneath the covers in time for an entire pitcher of cold water to drench my entire upper half. “Eeee! What’d you do that for?” I sputtered, scrabbling in the newly dampened sheets for a dry patch to scrub at my face. “Gareth, you jerk!”
“That was for upsetting my favorite advisor on a day when I really need him to be useful.” Gareth said, mildly. He looked at the empty pitcher in his hands and tossed it to the bed beside me. “Don’t just sit there, get up and get moving, we’ve a lot to do today, you're not the only one with voices in your head. We'll hardly have time to pull this off--what took you so long to get here?”
“What happened to it being too early to move?”
“The sight of your bedraggled appearance is amusing enough that I am now fully awake.” His mouth twitched. “Morning to you too, Mads.”
I clambered out from the bed, attempting to smooth my wet clothes and hair. “I hate you.”
“and I love you even more.” He recited automatically. “Don’t drip all over the carpet, you’ll get my socks wet.”
“You deserve worse than wet socks.” I shot back, taking care just the same. My socks were dry—I didn’t want them wet either.
“Oh ho.” He sang back. “And would you be the brave one to try such-”
“I’m serious, Gareth.” I ducked behind his dressing screen, stripping out of the wet things and helping myself to one of his fancy dressing gowns. “This never feels right.”
“Then think of it as a game.” He tapped on the screen. “May I?”
“I’m already done.” I stepped out, knotting the silken belt around my waist. “I’m going to borrow another one of your overtunics. Milo got ahold of the last one.”
“Milo?” Gareth shooed me out as he began to change. “I’ll never get it back then.”
“Sorry. He said it wasn’t ladylike for the Queen of-”
“I don’t care. That’s not everyday armor.”
“I know.” I ducked into his closet, shedding the dressing robe in favor of the requested item. It didn’t take long to finish dressing—Gareth’s wardrobe was always simpler than my own royal fare.
“Need anything else?” Gareth stepped out, freshly dressed in commoner clothing of simple tunics and pants. “Weapons are in the fourth dresser drawer.”
“I know that, I put them there.” I rummaged through the drawer, retrieving a set of throwing knives. “You replaced these, thanks.”
“Couldn’t let my favorite girl go without her favorite blades.” He moved to stand beside me, looking over my shoulder as I checked each knife.
“Ha. You could’ve saved her the headache by not marrying her in the first place.”
“You could’ve said no.” He shrugged. “I wouldn’t have minded.”
“And let Analise get her paws on you?” I snorted. “As if!”
“I am not a thing to be traded between you girls.” His eyes narrowed. “How is she?”
“Horrible. She’s been screaming in my head since this morning—all sorts of nonsense.”
“Something about my brain being filled with fiber.”
Gareth burst into laughter. “Your brain is filled with fiber.” He gasped out. “That’s a good one, give her my thanks.”
“Tell her yourself when you rescue her.” I tucked the knives into their respective places. “Are we going?”
“Some king and queen we are.” He chuckled, spinning me ‘round to face him. “Leaving our kingdom in the hands of greedy advisors and a confused court to rescue the childhood friend neither of us can stand.”
“She’s useful every once in a while.” I tried to say.
Gareth threaded his arms around me, pulling close so that our foreheads touched. “Really?”
“Shut up and hold your breath.” I snapped, grabbing his medallion to touch to my own. A soft golden flash swept through the room and then it was empty.
(c) Sara Harricharan
P.S. Did you guess the prompt? It was fiber... :P