Sora stood in the doorway, arms crossed and shoulder against the frame, and watched as his mysterious savior slept with the bedding bunched up and pressed against his curled up body. Looking at him, he felt complete; no longer did the emptiness that had haunted him since his rescue fill his heart. Everything he needed and desired was right before his eyes.
“Who knew you were right?”
“I did.” Sora looked over his shoulder at his older brother, the kingdom’s future ruler. “Even when every one of you thought I was mad, I knew.”
“I never thought you mad, little brother, only… consumed.”
Sora pursed his lips. “Different words, same meaning, Tidus. But it doesn’t matter now.” He looked back to the naked sleeping boy. “He’s here.”
“Sora? What are you thinking? That you two will run off and have a life together? Maybe a little cottage by the sea?” Tidus grabbed Sora’s shoulder and spun him around. “You’re betrothed. And he’s… you don’t know anything about him. For all you know, he’s already promised to someone. Our futures are not to be decided by us. You know this.”
“Yes they are. Or at least, they should be. It’s not fair, damn it. We never asked for this kind of life. All I want is to have some say in what I do, even if just in my dreams.”
“So this… won’t be more than, what? A minor flirtation?”
“I… I don’t know. Maybe.” He looked back at the boy and felt his blood warm. “All I do know is he and I are meant for each other. How or why don’t matter.”
“Please, Sora, at least consider the ramifications. Not just for you but for the entire kingdom.” Tidus squeezed his should and kissed his forehead. “Now come on, we both have responsibilities, whether we want them or not.”
Sora frowned but followed his brother anyway; he knew Tidus was right and nothing could come of his sudden infatuation but also knew that he and the boy were tied together in ways he may never understand.
* * *
Antoni was filled with hope. His blond-haired boy wanted him, desired him. Antoni had consumed him. He knew the boy would freely give Antoni all of him and together they would be happy and perfect and masters of their own fates. All the pain, the price I paid, was all worth it. You’re mine, I’m yours. We will be so happy together.
He twisted onto his back and stretched. As he rolled onto his side, he noticed and odd sensation below his belly. He looked down fascinated at the new flesh he saw. He had been prepared to see his tail and fins replaced by legs and feet; seeing his sexual organs outside his body took him by surprise. Mer had to untwist their tails to access them; he had no idea a human’s were on display at all times.
He sat up, swung his legs off the bed so his feet dangled inches from the floor and looked around at the room. It was unlike his room at his mother’s palace; his new one was filled with furniture, mirrors, paintings, books and other things that could only be created in the humans’ world. It was awe inspiring to see what could be done in the world above.
So why was communication between his people and those on land forbidden? Why would the sea’s laws demand separation? I will not only have my beloved but I will prove that mer and human can coexist and this ridiculous divide between our people can be over. He pushed himself off the bed, filled with s new determination to change the world, and took his first steps toward his new life.
* * *
Tidus did not trust the strange boy his brother seemed certain was the one he was meant to be with. He knew all too well the schemes some would run in order to weasel their way into the royal family and feared Sora would fall victim to such a ploy if left to his own devices. He did not say anything but once Sora was off to tend to his duties he sat down and wondered what would be in his brother’s best interests.
How could he rid his home of the stranger when he seemed to be owed the world for saving the young prince’s life? He could not simply be thrown onto the streets, not without evidence. And what would Sora think when he was practically in love with someone whose name he did not even know. How was that possible? Sora spoke as though they were soul mates but how could he know such a thing.
Worse than a schemer, Tidus thought, would be a witch. That would explain his strange behavior. That boy must have cast a spell on him. Maybe even caused the storm that he “saved” him from. He sunk back and sighed. But how to prove such wild accusations when I’m not even sure?
* * *
Domiq had stayed near the shore until long after the yellow-haired boy had carried Antoni away. He had called to him but had heard nothing in response. When morning came, he told himself he had to accept that Antoni was gone and he would never see or hear or touch him again. And the idea of returning home without him struck deep; how could he go back to where the memories were the strongest, warmest? How could he stay within those walls knowing Antoni would never return?
And what would the empress think? That was something he never wished to learn. In that moment, Domiq decided to find a new home, one outside the reach of the empire and, more importantly, one close enough to Antoni’s new life so he could at least keep an eye on him.