[The Rose]: Chapter Three
Title: The Rose
Summary: As he captured her within a rose, so she captures him.
Blood seeps into the waters of his spring, but Phobos is too worn to care. His injuries burn, the cool water only doing so much to soothe them. The Guardians have learned the art of war, and their hesitance to kill face-on is fading fast. He will need to adjust his plans accordingly…
He dozes, and it takes a while for the voices of his Whisperers to reach him. He ignores them, but his eyes snap open when he hears his sister gasp.
"What happened?" Elyon stands at the edge of the spring, her eyes wide and childlike. "It looks like someone tried to cut your heart out and just missed."
"She did," he replies curtly.
His sister trembles, interpreting his words correctly. For a moment he entertains the notion that she has divided loyalties, then discards it. She has grown and darkened, but he doubts that his sister is so complex a being.
"How did you get here?" he asks sharply, belatedly. A glance downwards, however, answers his question for him. Elyon's robe is torn by thorns, and her feet show underneath, the vines wrapped about them snapped and bleeding. Sap…no, blood, is splattered on the floor in the shape of her footprints. "What are you doing here, sister?"
Elyon fidgets. "You were gone for so long…" 'I was worried'. He hears the unspoken words clearly, and wonders whether to believe them or not. "Brother…shouldn't you have someone take care of that?" she asks, gesturing at his wounded arm and chest.
"It is unnecessary."
Elyon snorts inelegantly and steps into the water, wading over to him. Phobos is unprepared for such a motion, and has no time to stop her before she is floating in front of him, reaching a hand out to hover over his chest. "Are you sure?"
"Quite sure, dear sister."
His voice must be weaker than normal, for rather than paying heed, Elyon's hand moves to brush against the wound on his chest. His own hand snaps out, catching her wrist in a bruising grip before she can touch him. She stares up at him, eyes wide once again.
"Presumptive. You should learn that your place is beneath me, sister."
A blush flares on her cheeks, and, belatedly, he realizes how his words can be interpreted. What is surprising is that his sister's mind went so fast to that meaning.
"Can't I be worried when someone tries to kill you?" Elyon asks heatedly, in a clear attempt to move past the moment.
He will allow it, but he will not forget. Any tool may prove useful in the future. "We are enemies, dear sister."
Guilt shows in her. "I know, and I shouldn't be, but I'm still worried!"
"Don't bother- I'm quite fine."
He releases her, and, rather than moving away, her hand rests on the uninjured side of his chest, leaning against him. "Yeah, I can see that." Her dry grin fading, Elyon frowns. "Come on, you do have doctors here, right?"
"None I'd trust so close to my heart."
"You know, when you can't even trust a doctor to take care of you when you have a gaping wound all over your left side, you might want to consider that there's something wrong with your life."
"I'll take that into consideration," he replies, matching her for dryness.
"Somehow I doubt it."
"You're quite the hypocrite, dear sister. You should return to the throne room and take root again before you bleed to death."
Elyon bites her lip. "But…" She sighs. "Yeah, you're right. Um, you can heal that with magic, right?"
"It's why I came here, before you chose to interrupt."
"Oh. Well, I'll just be leaving…"
Phobos sends the Whisperers to follow her, and soon they report that she is returned to the rose bushes, fast asleep and in need of recuperation.
"Just another step…" Elyon pauses, whimpering.
Phobos lounges in his throne, using the image to belie the tension he truly feels. It is surprisingly difficult to watch his sister attempt to mutilate herself. "This is ridiculous, sister. I won't allow you to go anywhere anyway, and if you continue to rip those thorns you will bleed to death."
"I don't care!" she snaps, glaring up at him. "I'm sick of being cooped up by these stupid rose bushes! Even if it's just a few feet away, I want to move!"
When Elyon attempts to take another step, Phobos flies over to stand by her, holding her back before she can move again. "It isn't a prisoner's place to dictate her prison, sister."
Elyon takes hold of his hand, looking to him with plaintive eyes. "Just the throne room, please. Or I really am going to go crazy here."
Curious. Phobos takes control, grabbing the hand that holds his and pulling it up between them. "I think not, dear sister."
Rather than trying to escape, Elyon's fingers twine about his, and she steps closer, hiding her face in his robes. "I hate you, you know."
"I'm crushed, I'm sure."
Suddenly Elyon giggles. "That wasn't even funny." She looks up, frowning. "You're too tall."
"While you have gained perhaps a few paltry inches since your arrival in Meridian," he retorts. As if there is any shame in standing above others. It is his sister's stature which is ridiculously small for a woman of her station.
Elyon's face is flushed, her mind quite clearly following different paths.
"You are playing a dangerous game, sister," he mocks, and knows he has hit the mark when her blush intensifies. She tries to look away, but he grabs her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. "Now, now, dear sister, you have nowhere to run to. But I wonder, what do you hope to gain?"
"The obvious, I'd think," Elyon replies, her voice ending up weak, rather than the casual dismissal she had clearly intended.
"My innocent baby sister? I think not." His fingers stroke along her throat, and then press down in warning. "Tread carefully, sister dear, or your lies could come back to bite you."
"I…" Elyon's breath is coming hard, her eyes glazing.
His sister is no actor. The possibility that she is in earnest is…rather intriguing, actually. And she may just find herself surprised at what she is asking for.
"You will regret this, sister," he tells her, guiding her onto the floor on her back, positioned underneath him.
"Promise?" Elyon asks, voice breathy, the seduction of an inexperienced girl who has no true notion of what she is walking into.
"Of course, dear sister."
Her response to his kiss is childishly innocent, but certainly willing enough. Her hands rest lightly on his shoulders, not pushing away but seeming to draw him closer, and her lips part, probably more in surprise than intent, but he takes advantage all the same and slides his tongue into her mouth. With satisfaction he hears her choked gasp, shock and arousal bundled together.
It occurs to him that, innocent as she is, this might very well be her first kiss. First to kiss, first to bed, he thinks, and a part of him revels in having the opportunity to take this part of her. She is his now in a way that she can never be another's; there is a certain satisfaction in having been the one to destroy all of her damnable innocence.
His hand slips under her robe, stealing across her thigh and hip, and she moans, arching into him slightly. Her hands clutch him ever more tightly, and she kisses him with what feels like desperation.
Phobos pulls away slightly, resting his forehead against hers, and smirks. "Well, sister dear, this is unexpected."
"Uh huh…" Elyon's fingers twine in his hair. "And…what about you?"
Her robe has ridden up, and he strokes the flesh revealed by it, making her moan again. When he uses his magic to remove her robe and she gasps, he chuckles. "Is this answer enough for you?"
Elyon no longer has magic of her own, but she makes fast enough work of his own robes. She is uncertain but eager, and Phobos finds himself surprised yet again at this unexpected side of his sister. "Hardly a pure Light of Meridian, are you?"
Her fingers scratch his back in response, and her kiss grows more vicious.
It won't do for sister to believe that she is the one in power, so Phobos takes control once again.
Elyon cries out when he enters her, clearly in pain, and that too is a part of her he is satisfied to have stolen away. Even through her pain she presses closer to him, and her arms wrap around him as he finds his release.
Thorns drive into his back, and for one foolish moment Phobos doesn't understand. And then he does, as he feels power draining from him, his sister eating away at the Heart of Meridian which he had stolen from her years ago. There are tears in Elyon's eyes as he looks down at her in hatred. "I'm sorry," she whispers, and he believes her, as little as it matters.
His body is frozen. This should come as less of a surprise, he knows. He has never hated his sister more than he does now, and for all that he doesn't hate her as much as he wishes to.
Finally the thorns release him, and he is relieved to find that he still has power- all that was his before the coronation. Perhaps this is his sister's form of mercy.
He rises, his robes appearing on him, watching as Elyon dresses. Her legs are no longer restrained by vines and thorns- she is now free from the rose that held her.
"Whore," he accuses, voice more vicious than it has been towards his sister in years.
She winces, but nods.
They both startle as the doors to the throne room open, and Phobos prepares to kill whoever has dared to interfere in this moment.
The mage enters, and smiles down at Elyon. "I see you have completed your task, princess. Or should I say queen?"
"I…" Elyon's voice breaks.
"Her task?" Phobos turns on the mage, glad to have lighted on an easier target. "So this is your doing, is it?"
The mage has never smiled before, but she does now. It is an unsettling sight. "Do you really think that little girl would know for herself how to take control of her rose's form, or to take your power from you? I taught her, naturally, and she has done well. Not well enough, though, seeing as you are still alive."
Elyon steps forward uncertainly, and the mage's smile widens. "Ah, I see you still wear your mother's jewel."
A necklace, unnoticed until now, has spilled out from its hiding place behind her robes. Indeed, the pendant is a jewel from their mother's crown.
Just like her. A part of Phobos seems to be frozen, ice too thick to be melted by rage.
"I don't want it," Elyon snaps, voice breaking through the ice. Her hands move to the back of her neck, unfastening the necklace. "You can take it back- I don't want this sort of reminder of her."
Elyon throws the necklace, and the mage catches it. Her form fades away, revealing an old woman. The imposter laughs. "Thank you, princess. You, my dear, have just handed me the Heart of Meridian."
To be continued in 'The Thorn'