Title: Inner Beauty - part 4
Author: Dreaming K
Category: Slash eventually, J/B
Rating: PG I guess
Disclaimer: I don't own 'The Sentinel' or any characters of the show. Just dreaming.
This didn’t go into the direction I wanted it to. I pushed but it wouldn’t go. But I am flexible, so a new direction it is. I hope you like it.
As always, please feel free to point out any mistakes as I still have no beta for this story.
Do you think this would be ok for the new challenge at sentinel_thurs ? I did mention the supernatural...briefly....
Simon entered his lord’s quarters carefully. A dish with a meat selection in one hand and a bowl filled with clear water in the other, he had to use his hip to push the heavy oak door closed. All the while his eyes scanned the chamber. While James might think the wolf would welcome his presence, Simon wasn’t so sure himself. He did trust his Prince, with his life if need be, but a healthy dose of caution kept a warrior alive longer. Regardless the situation.
He could discern motion in the adjourning study and tensed when the beast – man, he corrected himself – rushed into the room, no doubt to greet his friend. Chief slithered to a halt as soon as he could make out that the person entering was not James.
The big captain of the Royal Guard steeled himself for the confrontation and took a step forward. Chief watched his move closely, head cocked, curiosity in his eyes not aggression.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
William of Ellison drew himself up as he eyed his eldest son. “I would have a word with you. My study, now.”
James rolled his eyes at the haughty tone that reminded him of his childhood. Whenever the King saw it necessary to chide, reprimand or punish his sons he would order them into his private study, to keep away from prying ears.
His father turned on his heels and walked away even as Stephen gave his brother an apologetic look and a helpless shrug. James smiled at him and the brothers followed their father, shoulders touching, their heavy cloaks billowing as they strode towards a conversation neither was looking forward to.
The king’s private study resembled that of the prince. It was bigger of course, and the furniture was more exquisite and James’ doubted their taste in literature went in the same direction, but other than that it was quite similar.
Years ago William would have come to rest on the upholstered arm chair next to the fire, leaving his sons to stand before him as he laid in on them. Since they’d grown up, James towering over him in height, the king had taken to position himself next to the mantle for effect and to accent his royal appearance.
James thought it pathetic, but, of course, never said so.
William turned to face him.
“James, what is this I hear about you dragging a...,” he paused, sneering, “a forest creature into my city and castle?”
“He is a wolf, father, and I-”
“Yes, a wolf, James!” William thundered. “What were you thinking? What are our subjects supposed to think?”
“You know I don’t care about the latter. And I was thinking,” James growled back, “that he is my friend and I won’t leave him in the woods by himself if he is lonely.”
The king gaped at his son. “And you bring him here? In case it escaped your attention: He. Is. A. Wolf! They are dangerous beasts not ‘friends’!”
The prince glanced at his brother, who had only concern in his features, then back to the king. “He isn’t dangerous and he IS my friend, no matter what you or anybody else says. He won’t hurt me or anybody else in this castle.”
“How do you know that, James? Did he tell you?” William sneered, the sarcasm in his voice not lost on either of his sons.
James rolled his eyes. “No, naturally, he can’t speak. But I trust him and there is something you don’t know. I have reason to believe that he is no wolf from birth, that he was cursed. Chief is human, like we are.” He could see that his father appreciated this news even less than that of a wolf being in the castle. Perhaps he should have kept that little titbit to himself. Too late, now.
“That’s it. I am calling the healer.” William stormed past his sons. “First you start seeing and hearing things you shouldn’t and now you are hallucinating. Now, I have reason to believe that my son is going insane!” Stephen rushed after him to grab his arm and keep him from leaving the study.
“Father, wait! Perhaps we should let James explain. He isn’t known to be unreasonable, you know that. Please, hear him out before you call the healer.” The young prince pleaded on James’ behalf.
William shook his head. “This is stupid,” he hissed. “There is no such thing as magic or curses.”
“We don’t know that father. Yes, here in Aquino magic is not practiced, but in other countries people clearly believe in it.”
“Aye, because their rulers clearly are not fit to dispel those superstitions and naive beliefs of the supernatural. I won’t have this in my kingdom!”
“You are probably right, father,” Stephen placated, “but those beliefs have to come from somewhere. You know that there is always a grain of truth in every story no matter how unbelievable.”
King William eyed his sons grimly. “I will not discuss this supernatural mumbo jumbo any further. There is no such thing as magic. I raised you two better than to believe in this mojo.”
“But father,” Stephen exclaimed and was immediately shushed. “No! I will not hear of this! James, take the beast out of the castle by tomorrow or I will have to take the steps necessary to ensure this city’s safety.”
Anger washed over James at his father’s words and ignorance. And also helplessness, he knew that the only choice was to abide by his father’s wishes or the king would, in fact, get rid of Chief. Permanently. He couldn’t let them hurt his friend, under no circumstances. A vow given by James of Ellison, Prince of Aquino, would never be broken.
“Then I will leave with him,” James announced, eyes blazing in determination.
“You will not!” William bellowed angrily.
“I gave him my promise to help him regain his true form. And I vowed to protect him.” He glared at the old man. “Do you honestly expect me to renege on my word, to lose my honor?”
Honor was important in Aquino. A man who lost his honor lost any standing in society no matter his former situation in life. Therefore promises, and even more so vows, were seldomly given and never negligently so.
A prince who was known to break his word would never be able to ascend the throne and become king in the kingdom of Aquino. James knew that, as did the king, James could see it in his eyes as they glared angrily at him.
“Then do as you must,” the king snapped at his eldest. “But remember who you are, James. You will follow me on the throne, ‘tis your royal duty to this country. I will give you one year. Come back within 365 days, or don’t come back at all for you will be outcast from the royal family. ”
James heard his ultimatum with a strange sense of calmness. His father would let them leave unchallenged. The prince had feared being forced to stay in the castle to do his duty as prince. Fortunately he wouldn’t be officially sworn in until he became king. He did not break any oath by leaving. No, he was free to help Chief.
He nodded at his father to show his acceptance of the words spoken, the ultimatum offered. “We will leave at first light tomorrow.” With that he brushed past his father without looking at him again and left the study.
His mind was already whirring, making plans for tomorrow, the journey and their travel route. Hasty steps resounded behind him and he could hear Stephen’s fast breathing and heart beat. He stopped to wait for his young brother.
“James! Wait for me.” Stephen rushed towards him, but didn’t stop in front of him like James had suspected, but barrelled straight into him, pulling his brother into a tight hug. For a moment James stood frozen, then his arms came up to hold his beloved brother. The siblings held onto one another for a few seconds before both pulled back, smiling.
“Promise me you’ll be careful, James, please.” James looked into the young man’s pleading eyes and nodded. “I promise that I will take every caution to ensure my well being.” Neither voiced the fact that Stephen hadn’t asked for him to come back within the year.
“You are taking this better than I expected,” James admitted.
“I know you, James.” Stephen admonished gently. “You wouldn’t do this if you didn’t think it right. I trust you.”
James nodded. “I know you will do a good job as Prince of Aquino while I am gone, brother.”
Stephen shrugged “I will try.”, making James smile at him reassuringly. “I know you will. One day you will be king of this country, and I have no doubt whatsoever that your regency will be more fruitful than mine, or father’s.”
Stephen was well liked by both the commoners and the upper class. Even being younger than James or William he knew how to compromise everybody’s needs and wishes as he was aware that people of all ranks where necessary to a strong going society and economy. A skill neither James nor his father ever learned. Both were too stubborn in their ways and opinions.
Under Stephen’s reign the kingdom of Aquino would prosper.
“I do not know when I will return, but I am going to send letters to inform you of my location and situation.”
Stephen nodded gratefully. “Thank you, brother.” They looked at each other in silence, acknowledging their affection for each other, before each moved to hug the other far well.
“Will you come tomorrow? To say good bye?” James asked.
Both smiled as each brother turned to go his own way.
The lj-cuts still don't work the way I want them to. *sighs*