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[center Training was always a time where Aleixo had a clearer mind. With a rapier in hand, it felt like there was an extension of himself, more ways to express himself. Not in a violent way; it just felt as though he could put any negative energy that was pent up and let it out in a productive manner. Frankly, he hated violence and only fought others when his duty called for it. Even then, he didn’t use a rapier for a weapon. He preferred diplomacy. He preferred words. Blood even made him feel faint.
Ah, what a beacon of strength for the Fidelis family.
Honestly, the 19-year-old’s memory left the rest of that training session out of it. He pushed the Prince and himself so hard that it was a blur. When the other left, it was still a blur. Chest heaving with heavy breaths, he didn’t call after his best friend when he stormed out. Instead he sat, sweating and trying to get his grip on reality back.
Pushing his hair out of his face, slicking most of it back, he tossed the training sword in his hand to the side, and the dulled blade skidded to a stop next to the Prince’s, carelessly. He curled his body forward, ignoring the small aches that pulsed through his limbs, and rested his elbows on his knees.
His necklace fell from his slightly opened shirt, the Fidelis family ring swinging slowly in front of his gaze. His duty right now would be to chase after the Prince, give him a stern talking to, and probably drag him back into training. But he didn’t want to do that.
He thought back to their morning, and sighed.
After some time, Aleixo finally stood up and made his way out of the training room after cleaning it up. Finding the nearest helping hand in the castle as he walked through its halls, he called for them to please notify Percival in the stables to get his and the Prince’s horse ready for riding.
Hopefully Riley remembered their plans – even if not, the Fidelis himself needed some fresh air.]
[#ffffff INDENT] Many a ragged breathes later, if the young heir hadn't been in a foul mood before, he was now after his sword had been knocked from his hand once more. He hadn't bothered to keep tally and had achieved little close to the draw when he bitterly left the weapon on the floor, letting it lay there almost discarded even. [#2570b2 [i "Enough."]] The prince hissed, massaging his now aching elbow, wincing at even his own careful touches. [#2570b2 "I'm done here."] Turning away, he began to pick up his coat, harrumphing as he slung the material over his shoulder.
[#ffffff INDENT] He knew he was being childish, throwing a tantrum like some spoiled brat and the raven was positively aware how this kind of behaviour would affect him later on.
[#ffffff INDENT] Not even casting back a glance at his protector, the prince left the room, heading back outside into the main hallway. The male knew he would catch up anyway, what a chore it was to be alone in this place.
[center Honestly, Aleixo didn't know what he expected. Trying to keep an enthusiastic – well, not even enthusiastic, just a generally light-hearted or better – mood in the room was made especially more difficult when the Prince replied. He settled for simply getting through it. It was no use using extra energy to make sure the other was happy when he wasn't going to make an effort either.
[#8F3034 “Yes, Your Majesty, we can skip the entrance practice today if you wish. My apologies.”] The Fidelis worked the room, double checking that everything was in order and the mats were straightened – honestly, he was just fiddling so he didn't have to see the scorn and distaste on the other's face. Even after knowing him for his whole life, his negative moods still affected him much worse than they should.
Rolling his shoulders, the teen pulled the practice sword from it's place at his side, sizing up the other before him – usually, this is when he would smirk and taunt him, rile him up so he could have a small bit of fun, but he couldn't bring himself to. [#8F3034 “Sword up, stance wide, balance is key.”]
Instead, Aleixo gave him arguably one of the hardest training sessions that he could, throwing curveball after curveball, not being afraid to bruise the other if he couldn't block the attacks. Honestly, it was a time where the guard didn't think at all. Nothing went through his mind, no guilt, no second thoughts about his swings. Of course, he would feel bad about this later. But it wasn't later.
His silver eyes matched the other's, dulled like dark storm clouds over the sea, swirling into a tempest.
What a sour day it had become.]
[#ffffff INDENT] [#2570b2 "Parry, parry, thrust, all that crap.."] Riley's usual unenthusiastic attitude to training was right on time, the raven haired male entering the room and sighing.
[#ffffff INDENT] Grunting suddenly, the urge to bang his head against the wall is made present when the ball is brought up and he would have so done it if he were alone and in his quarters. Here in the training room, he would have to currently settle throw discarding his coat to the side, the lack of noise leaving more annoyance to bubble under the surface.
[#ffffff INDENT] [#2570b2 "I''d rather have forgot it. God, don't even bring that up. I'll have you maimed for real this time.] Certainly, there is no malice in his words but the distaste was still present. Omitting the gathering from his thoughts was hard enough, Aleixo being the 4th person today to remind him of the upcoming event. The prince had little to look forward to in these social gatherings other than the closing ceremony and on rarer occasions, meeting up with the 4th son of Densmore; another prominent pest he knew.
[#ffffff INDENT ] He glanced back at his friend so to say, expression turning sour as he realised something.
[center [i [#2570b2 'Why do I attract this kind of company?']]]
[#ffffff INDENT] [#2570b2 "Just hurry up and bruise me so we can be done with this session.] Pessimism now at a high for the day, the aquatic odyessy that were his iris' were duller than they had ever been previously.
[center He'll be glad when this day is over.
[center As soon as they were out of sight of the two guards, Aleixo's shoulders sagged somewhat as he let out a breath, a forced smirk taking over his lips as he tried to get back the laugh that he had lost the chance to show – but to no avail. Shaking his head, he continued to walk with his companion by his side, his mind now filled with the responsibilities that his name held.
He missed his brother.
Glacing at the other by his side, he noticed a flicker of gloominess on his face as well, before it was gone, and wondered why it had to be so hard for them both. Of course, that lead him to think of how fortunate he really was, and that there were many others worse off – and that was just another heart-wrenching empathetic cycle for his mind to fall down.
Hopefully engaging in conversation would help wretch his mind from the claws of his heart.
[#8F3034 “General? Please, that's my mother.”] Aleixo widened that smirk somewhat, trying to act natural once more and to make his best friend feel the same. [#8F3034 “You can call me Aleixo, or 'idiot'. You seemed to have taken a liking to the latter over the years, your Majesty.”]
He would have jabbed the other in the side or poked his tongue out if they both weren't so on edge; today had truly been a day already, and it had hardly begun. He wished they could skip training all together, but he knew that would be a very foolish decision. And not a mistake that he could bare to make after the countless others as of recently.
[#8F3034 “Jests aside: classic parrying today; blocking, defending, and striking back.”] The Fidelis opened the training room door for the other, gesturing for him to go inside; trying to clear his mind and remember what other things were on the schedule. [#8F3034 “And then we quickly have to practice your entrance for the ball in two weeks time, as requested by your father; you didn't forget the ball, did you?”]
Aleixo left the last of his instructions unsaid, but made sure to convey it in a soft smile to his charge.
[i [#8F3034 And then, we can be free for a little bit, so just stay with me, okay?]]]
[#ffffff INDENT] Oceanic orbs eyed the two guardsmen with as he and the protector passed, sharing little more than a curt nod with the two strangers before him as he descended the stairs.
[#ffffff INDENT] [#2570b2 "What's on the manifesto today, general?"] Using a less than steller tone, he raises a brow at his companion along with his inquiries, the prince honestly hoped for nothing too intensive. Something easy and simple would be nice, then again he always hoped for easy and simple and with all the horse talk earlier, he wanted to be done quick.
[#ffffff INDENT] [i [#2570b2 '...We'll have to see Tiburon as well..' ]] Frowning a little more intently, he knew it had been far too long since Lily had paid a visit to her own animal. The friendly quarter horse was one to get lonely rather quickly too..
[#ffffff INDENT] No, getting gloomy again wouldn't do much good at the point. They had just had a episode and it was too soon for another.
[center Aleixo's eyes fluttered around the garden as the two of them walked, trying his best to lay his mind and the uncomfortable feeling in his stomach at ease. Alliums, peonies, poppies, delphiniums and lupines were all in bloom, all accompanying and complimenting the main flower in this part of the garden; the iris. Bright colours splashed as far as his silver eyes could see, making their usual shine seem dull in comparison.
Sweet aromas danced into his nose, some as powerful as a Lady's perfume; the protector scrunched his face in response – despite thinking the smells pleasant, he held back the urge to sneeze. The protector's nimble fingers carelessly slid across the fine stone of the nearest fountain as he passed it, a figure of a woman draped in a gown that flowed like curtains on a windy day, water pouring from her outstretched hands.
Listening carefully to his best friend, the teen found himself smiling at the thought of that bitter old horse making anyone happy but his owner. He recalled a time that the dapple grey tried to bite at his hands while Riley wasn't looking, and shook his head. [#8F3034 “Even though it wouldn't be very far, I still don't trust that grump with making Carstairs happy as far as I can throw it.]
Shaking his head with a small laugh, Aleixo held the door open for the Prince to walk through, once he realised that the servant that usually attended it must have been out working in the garden; when the flowers were in bloom, they always needed more assistance with the maintenance, and it's not like he wasn't capable of opening a door on his own.
[#8F3034 “Is that so?”] The Fidelis' eyebrow raised as he glanced over to his friend, his comfortable stride morphing into that of a more military and serious one as his footsteps echoed on the marble floor of the castle. [#8F3034 “Thank you for that, your majesty, I'm going to take that as a compliment. That's the Fidelis motto, after all; 'keep the royals busy'”.]
He would have laughed, but his smile faded as he noticed that he had caught a set of guards' attention as they walked through the corridor leading to the stairs towards the training rooms. Standing somewhat straighter, his silver eyes pierced into them, shining like the polished armour that they were wearing, trying his best to look intimidating as they greeted the nobles as they passed by.
[i “Your majesty. Lord Fidelis.”]
[i “Your highness. Sir.”]
Aleixo gave them a nod and continued walking, wondering how it must have felt to them, grown men, that they had to bow and address two teens as superior. With a sigh, and without a word, he descended the stairs with his forced air of importance, thinking of his horse, and the freedom to be able to laugh.]
[center The gentle movements made quick work to relax the young adult, reminding him of his much younger days when his mother would coddle him like such, often with musings of 'It's alright child' or 'Tommorrow is a new day'. Lips pursed in their usual, simple frown, expression unfaltering even when the simple physical connection was shed, the prince let out a long drawn sigh, ocean blue hues travelling up to glance at the sky.
He hadn't even noticed the heat nor colour that had arisen on the protector, his mind having already been preoccupied even when the distraction was brought up. The topic change was indeed welcome and did bring some kind push to his dreary aura.
Horses were such sensitive creatures; its one of the things he had admired about the animals ever since first encountering them in his youth. Memories of his father's old war horse, Calamity, came to mind; a Shire breed with a buckskin coat, very large, very intimidating and could cause a bruise or a broken bone or two but was ultimately skiddish around cats of all things.
[#2570b2 "He'll be fine with Glacies' company."] Large even for his breed, a Clydesdale, the dapple gray was known far across the stables as a biter.
Much like his master.
[#2570b2 [i "...I see them both often. It's one of my usual spots for avoiding you afterall..]] Saying this as a matter of fact, Riley began his stride, not even glancing at the other as he went past, coat flowing slightly behind him.
[#2570b2 "Keep me busy then. It's one of the few things you're good at.."] Snide comment aside, he was grateful to at least have one friend in this place; even if the protector was a friend of circumstance and not choice.
[i “I wouldn't rewrite a life without you in it.”']
A rein on his thoughts, the statement from earlier reeled him back on his words. Evidence aside, he scoffed to himself suddenly, as if having heard a joke only to himself.
[i [#2570b2 'Circumstance... '] That's how life was made though; of circumstances and fleeting moments.
[i [#2570b2 'I guess I wouldn't rewrite one without you either..']]
[center Again, it was as if time paused between them – the other became Prince of a frozen land and he became a protector of someone who would never be harmed. It was as if in that moment that there were no wars, no cares – Aleixo wished he never felt like that. He wished that his heart didn't look at him with those oceans for eyes and grip at him, throwing everything he had learned, everything that made his name, out of the window. But he couldn't remember a time when he didn't feel like this.
The sting urged him forward, but he remained.
A steady thrum under his fingertips is what was able to bring him back to reality, heavy and quick thuds that his heart immediately came to match – a rhythm shared between their contact that sent his whole body into a frenzy of adrenaline. He didn't notice his thumb gently and soothing rubbing against the other's wrist, so he did not find himself compelled to pull it away.
Although monotone, his best friend's words sent colour cascading into his thoughts, into the flowers of the garden, and into the small smile that came to be at the corner of his mouth.
[#8F3034 “Of course, your Highness.”] The nineteen year old's words were soft, secure; he tried his best to show his care in that moment, and his relief. Privacy. A time where they could act their age, forget their titles and burdens - feel, if only for a moment, free of their responsibilities. Ever since Xavier had passed and the two of them had taken the helm of the role of the 'eldest of the family line' it had become so difficult for them to be able to do anything but stress.
Aleixo thought of the additional stress his grieving had probably been placing on the other, and found himself sighing, finally looking away from the blue that calmed him. It was then that he realised the circles he was tracing on the other's wrist and immediately took a step back, severing the contact and causing the string inside his chest to ache.
[#8F3034 “I haven't seen Carstairs in a while,”] Aleixo spoke of his horse fondly, hoping for the subject to divert attention from the heat and colour that had scattered across his face. It must have been all the standing in the sun finally getting to him.
Setting his back straight once more, and resting one hand on the hilt of the practice blade he still had at his side, the teen mustered the will to let his small smile cock into a smug grin as he gestured for the other to begin the walk towards the training room. [#8F3034 “But don't think that this means I'll be going easy on you since we have so little time.”]]
[center [#2570b2 [i 'Don't corner her like that again.']] His words from earlier were recalled as his wrist was taken ahold of as Riley too felt boxed in by the others sudden words.
The prince swallowed hard, the lump in his throat not dissipating one bit, feeling like some slimy creature had his mouth clamped shut from the inside and oh boy, was it suffocating.
[#2570b2 "..I.."] The hesitation was not a helpful factor and did nothing to boost the truthfulness of his words to the protector that had, in Riley's mind, cuffed them together with all but a simple grasp. Taking a deep breathe, he held his head up that little bit higher.
Is it possible for his heart to jump out of his chest? Maybe it was a medical condition.
[#2570b2 "...Too much time has been wasted."] The monotone returned again. Only this time, there was a slight curvature to his voice.
[#2570b2 "...We should train in what little time we have left.. I want to visit my horse afterward and possibly.."] He coughed a little, clearing his throat as blue irises were visible once more, looking agitated and glassy.
[#2570b2 [i "..go for a quiet ride.."]] Where both his own and the others words could run more free, after all, it was already part of his schedule. Hopefully his meaning for some privacy would get across to the other; which, he knew it would.
[center Aleixo's sharpened eyes couldn't find any focus on the world around him as he stood outside of the glass aviary, his legs a shoulder width apart, his arms behind his back, the perfect mirror image of every other soldier and guard in Lucida. He wished that he was just a simple guard, but at the same time his heart screamed otherwise – but since it was in the building behind him and not with him, it was hard to hear. Like a voice calling out while drowning under the waves.
The sea, consuming what land that it managed to pull in – the kind of imagery he had only seen in his mind, in he depressed paintings of the castle and in Riley's eyes. It both calmed and excited him – it made him think of possibilities and the unknown, but also the beauty of the world that exists without him. That will continue without him.
Shaking his head, his mind once more found the Prince. That place, that face, that ocean, that storm, where he usually found his solace, was muddled and blurred.
The string pulling on his chest nearly pulled him off balance.
Finger fiddling with the ring on his thumb, he sighed at the size once more, before closing his eyes. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a silver chain that he kept there in case of days like this, slipped the Fidelis heirloom onto it, and let it find its place around his neck beside his blue scarf. He couldn't pretend that it fit any more.
Those minutes dragged on, and it took everything in his training and in his mind for him to not turn around. A friend, would. A guard, wouldn't. A brother, would. A soldier, wouldn't. His unwavering loyalty, however, which served both sides, settled with keeping his eyes unfocused on the blooming garden ahead.
Irises. Xavier told him in private that he wanted to get a bouquet made of them delivered to Lily with a note from a “rich duke” from “another land across the seas” just so he could see her happy. The Fidelis family always seemed to have problems with their hearts getting meddled in matters of loyalty.
When steps finally reached his ears, Aleixo kept looking forward, his mind screaming at him to stay in line, to be more proper until the Prince showed signs of being better.
But his heart was closer to him now, walking past him and in front of him, and it could finally be heard.
Reaching out a swift hand, the black haired boy gently grabbed onto the Causalis' wrist, causing him to stop in his stride. Ignoring the other's heartbeat and his own heavy breaths, he spoke quietly to his best friend. [#8F3034 “Are you alright, Riley?”]]
[center As soon as his guard had been made scarce by his words, Riley let out a long and strained groan, dropping his knees onto the grass below, not caring for the dirt that sullied his pants and choosing to bury his face in his hands, taking unsteady breathes.
[#2570b2 "Fuckng damnit..!"] A balled fist angry came into contact with the ground, barely making a noise other than a dull thump but it hurt just as much, a pain shock wave travelling up his arm.
It reminded him; the pain.
A bird nearby had begun to lightly sing and he felt almost taunted by its carefree tune, nagging his very core. The hand that had been on the ground, palmed around rather heatedly until it found a small rock of sorts and with autopilot controlling his movements, he pegged it in the direction of the animal.
Regretting the action instantly, he felt somewhat relieved and bitter at the same time that he heard the subtle sound of in landing somewhere in the bushes and not going nowhere near the intended target. Glancing up, he suddenly found himself glaring.
[#2570b2 [i 'A swallow. [b Of course.]']]
[i Probably Xavier.]
The animal tilted its head, before shooting off into the trees.
[b Definitely Xavier.]
Was it right to join the band wagon of blaming that [b idiot]?
Probably not, but as of late, he was the root of most of the young adults problems.
[i Heightened pressure around the palace.]
[i How distanced and fragile his sister had become.]
[i Aleixo's episodes especially.]
[#2570b2 "..Ahh.."] Tears burned at his eyes again, threatening to spill for the second time that day.
[i [#2570b2 '..Aleixo..']] That stupid protector of his. Riley could aknowledge the affect that his words had on other and he hadn't even have to spare a glance towards his dear, dear friend to know. Apologies were certainly in order but thats another step up for him aswell. Sighing, the male closed his eyes.
And when he opened them again, surely a good twenty minutes or so had passed by. Knowing such, the prince got up, dusted himself off and turned, his quick stride taking him out of the aviary.
The same quick stride that he used to escape all his problems, dusting them under the rug once more.
[center A warrior's biggest flaw have always been seen as the emotions that they have. The emotions that make them falter, that get in the way of a kill, that pause duty and take priority over honour. Aleixo Fidelis was honourable, though he was kind; Aleixo was fierce, yet he cared; Aleixo was loyal, but... too loyal.
That was the problem with living with a fragile heart on your sleeve.
It was easily harmed.
Riley, it seemed, was becoming more and more like his heart; harmed. To stand by and do everything you can and yet still watch the other half of your existence breaking and falling and changing was excruciating, and the protector could only blame himself; who else was there to blame?
When his best friend's back turned to him, he felt it, that tugging of a string, urging him forward, urging them closer, but his feet did not move. Slowly, as if the time around them stood still and the birds froze in the air, that string pulled tighter, painfully tight. A burning erupted in the space in his chest where his heart should be, instead of it standing in front of him, and it traveled quickly to the backs of his eyes; emotions storming and consuming the silver like the ocean that he loved to look into.
Everything felt so empty, so hopeless, as if with every word that Riley spoke that Aleixo didn't expect drained the world around him of more colour. With that came pain, confusion, [i longing] that he couldn't explain. What was it, exactly, that he said wrong? Everything he had said that day had been kind, it had been in his best interest – it had been the things that he always said.
Why was it different?
It was in that moment, when his hand slowly reached up to hover in the space between him and his charge's back, that he hesitated. This wasn't about his brother. This wasn't about being a protector. This wasn't about his feelings. This wasn't about the crown or their duty or anything. This was about Riley.
And he was worried.
Taking another deep breath, the Fidelis' hand clenched in the air, before it fell back to his side. Again, there was nothing that he could do. He wanted to shout, to grab Riley and shake him and ask why things had to become so complicated. His strained silver eyes drifted towards the chess table in the corner of the aviary, thinking of opportunities missed and better memories.
Turning like the loyal and dumb dog that he was, he waited outside without a word.]
[center [#2570b2 "You're all about overstepping your boundaries today arn't you.."] Glowering, he brings up a hand to massage his temple, feigning ignorance to the protectors words and more or so, making his disapproval apparent. The songbird flew off of his person and disappeared into the trees somewhere.
[#2570b2 "You're like a dog, dumb and loyal, you.."] Clicking his tongue, he too reminded himself that being the crown prince he should at least do his best to curve his own words. Turning so he did not have to face the other, the male let out a cool breathe, intent on gathering his thoughts and keeping his cool.
Swearing so freely wouldn't be so upcoming of his person either, there are ears everywhere after all.
It seemed that this amatuer actor needed to play the lead in this act afterall.
Still, as sappy as the words are that left his loyal dog, it left somewhat of a impact, resting in the back of his mind.
[#2570b2 "I should have you maimed."] A cool breathe of air gently blew on his locks as they hung over his vision and with a shaky hand, he brought it off his forehead and down to grasp at the fine fabric that clothed him.
[#2570b2 "Wait outside. [b Now."]]
[i 'Before I speak my mind.']
[center Aleixo's eyebrows furrowed the more and more he was greeted with silence from his best friend – when he was silent, it made the world silent. All the birds were singing and speaking and dancing about, but they were all mute – as if paused in time. The world was becoming more and more silent around him, and not only did it cause him to worry, it was infuriating.
The Fidelis had always known what was going on in the Prince's head – knew of his struggles, his mindset, his lies, just with a glance, but standing there, his hand on his shoulder still, he knew nothing. He felt as though even though he was looking at his charge, the extension to his own being, the person he would die for and was prepared to die for at any moment, that he was looking at a stranger, or that he was just very far away despite their contact.
He was about to speak out of turn once more, to finally mention his concern, but the blue eyes, that raging storm over a calm sea, gripped him. Held onto him with a monotone ferocity that left his mind blank. He could feel his pulse quicken in his neck, though he didn't know why.
When the question reached his ears, his eyebrows furrowed further. Letting his hand slowly drop from the other's shoulder, his body sagged, as if hearing it had taken all of the energy out of him. Aleixo always held himself with such regality that he was often mistaken for the prince outside of the castle walls, and outside of his Fidelis attire – but right then, he simply looked like a confused, 19 year old boy. It was a look he would only ever let Riley see.
[#8F3034 “Rewrite my life...”] Aleixo repeated, his mind, though blank it was mere moments ago, was now whirring. Needless to say, of course he had thought of other possibilities for his life – though none of them felt [i right]. None of them felt like they had his purpose, none of them felt like they would be as meaningful as the one that he had now. He wanted to [i mean something]. Although he let those thoughts show on his face, he did not speak them. He let his best friend interpret them at will.
Taking a deep breath, his silver eyes found the other's once more, and as always, he felt as though he needed to give them information. They were hungry, despite looking tired on the surface, for knowledge, like the waves eating at the sand, pulling it all in. [#8F3034 “I wouldn't.”]
His voice was soft as he spoke his words, but he held a firm tone, showing how sure of himself he was. It startled even himself, at first, how [i sure] he sounded. Amongst all of his confusion, it was then, that he realised that he knew nothing about this world, but the one thing that he was sure of, the one thing he was always sure of was that, [#8F3034 “I wouldn't rewrite a life without you in it.”]
It was then, that he realised, that saying those words out loud might not have been the best idea.]
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