Chapter 10: Seeing Green
Dezmond motioned for Celestina to follow him, they were in the marketplace, and after discussions had decided that they could figure out where Gideon was without arousing Michelle's suspicions further. He chuckled and leaned on a walking stick he'd added to his look that day, and then paused at the stall of a candle maker, "I am so sorry, I was told to meet Gideon but I can't seem to locate him" he said and gave him a semi toothless smile. "Old men" he muttered to himself. "Can ye help an old man find the person he's looking fer?" he asked looking as harmlessly affable as possible.
Celestina batted her eyes at the man, "Please sir my grandfather seems to have forgotten where Gideon is, and I've never met him before so I can't figure out where he is either" she explained and blushed. "Would you be able to point us in his direction?" she asked him curiously as she leaned closer and gave him her best pleading look. She knew how to get information well enough, but not nearly as well as Dezmond he was really laying on the act very well! She hadn't thought he would be so good at acting!
He looked at them oddly for a moment but shrugged, sometimes older people forgot things. "Well I only know of one Gideon" he admitted and shrugged. "I met him at the village dance last night, nice guy" he muttered. "He would be working with Michael the town smithy" he told them. "Just follow the smoke rising" he advised and pointed out the direction. "Before you go did you need any candles?" he asked them and held up a candle looking at them hopefully.
Celestina sighed it was the only way to seem normal, "Oh of course, I could actually use a couple" she said and paid him for the candles. "Thank you for your help" she said and smiled flirtatiously at him. He stammered and seemed to forget whatever else it was that he might have been about to say, and she was glad that her grandfather decided to guide her away in that moment. "I never understood why our spells have us using their real name in these set ups" she told Dezmond.
He chuckled, "No system is fool proof" he promised her and laughed, "Good distraction, and now let's find that blasted smithy, I want to see if it is someone who could be our Gideon, and if it is, we'll get a better idea of what kind of people he knows, and that girl Michelle is connected to as well" he muttered as they walked along, slower so that he would look normal. It wasn't natural for an old man to walk quickly, and it was imperative that he keep his guise up longer. "That must be it" he said after about five minutes of slow tedious walking.
There stood an old worn out looking building, it was sturdy, and lots of smoke rose from it, and near it was a pen for horses, in which a few stood idly waiting for their hooves to be fixed. "I just see two men, do you recognize him yet" he muttered and he paused and took a deep breath as though exhausted he leaned against the fence posting away from the horses. "Do you?"
Celestina's eyes darted, and for a moment she almost over looked the man, "I do, but I don't know why you aren't able to recognize him and I can. Maybe it's because of me being an apprentice to one of the enchantresses, but that is him. He's carrying the logs" she said without pointing. She knew better than to make a scene so she handed her grandfather his water in a canteen and waited patiently for him to look. "He has all that curly black hair" she explained.
Dezmond carefully drank the water, and handed it back to her before glancing around. He turned back and sneered, "I see him just fine, I just can't recognize him, it is the spell befuddling my eyes" he told her seriously. "Are you sure it is the boy?" he asked with a sneer of disgust. He hated being here and not just reaching over and killing his enemy, but it was better to let them suffer the way he had before he killed them.
She nodded, "Yes I am, perhaps I should go get the horse, we could say one of the shoes is gone" she pointed out as she tucked the canteen away. "I am positive its him" she assured him with a firm nod. "Or do you have a better idea grandfather?" she asked him dryly.
He sneered, "No I am sure for a lady and an old man they would go fetch the horse" he pointed out. "Let's just go introduce ourselves, let me do the talking, with the other man. Gideon clearly doesn't own this place, and other man might" he explained. "Keep your eyes peeled for Michelle, I don't want to rouse her suspicions." He glared at nothing for a moment, "She's too smart for my liking" he admitted. "So keep your eyes open for her" he ordered.
He then turned and walked towards Gideon and the man who was beside him, "Can ye help an old man?" he asked and let his voice shake for extra affect. "ye see, me horse' shoe slipped, it is in the stable at the inn, and I can't possibly manage him me self..and we both know tis'nt a job for a lady" he said motioning towards his granddaughter.
Michael turned around to look at the older man after setting down his tongs, "I have no issues going myself to get your horse" he assured him. "We understand" he added and smiled politely at the young woman with red hair who stood next to her grandfather. She was a stunner, nothing like Heather, but then again he was being partial. "If you would like Miss..I could let you both come sit on this bench, it's not too close to the working area so it's not as hot" he explained. "I would not want to wear your grandfather out" he said seriously.
She looked at the young man, he was well built, somewhere near twenty, and very handsome. She wouldn't mind flirting with him, but Gideon was her target. "Why don't you have your assistant show us where the bench is, the horse is under Edvard, and it's the boy not girl" she informed him. She didn't know how Dezmond expected the man to find a slipped horse shoe on a horse whose shoes were fine. But she knew him well enough to know he knew what he was doing. "I am Anna and this is my grandfather, Edvard" she said and smiled brightly at them both.
Gideon turned around after putting the wood in the stove, and the look the girl sent him nearly melted him where he stood. She was gorgeous, long, brilliant red hair, pale ivory skin be speckled with freckles, vibrant green eyes, and lips that were full and tempting, and she only seemed to have eyes for him. He felt himself sweating for a moment and wondered if it was just the heat from the fire or her. "I will be happy to show you" he said and looked at Michael. "Why don't you go get the horse" he agreed. "I will make sure they are comfortable" he said simply, and found himself staring at the girl again.
Michael wanted to slap Gideon the instant he saw that look in his eyes, he knew the woman was gorgeous, but that didn't mean you should look at them the way Gideon was. Plus he didn't like the idea of Michelle getting hurt, if she saw this look on Gideon's face she would take it wrong. Men could appreciate a woman, without hurting someone they loved. But if that love were new enough, then the girl might not feel as secure about the man's love and ability to avoid such temptations as this woman. "I will be right back Gideon" he said tightly and frowned just a little.
Gideon watched him go and then shook himself, Michael had a right to glare at him. He realized he'd been gapping at the woman in a fashion that wasn't flattering. "Here M'lady" he said and offered his arm to her as he guided her to the bench and would have left it at that had she not continued to cling to his arm and force him to sit down in surprise next to her. "Oh um..." he trailed off not sure what to do. He didn't want to be rude, "I have work to go do" he offered lamely.
She laughed as her grandfather sat next to them, and pressed herself up against his arm, letting him feel her body close. She watched him begin to sweat again, men were so predictable. She looked at him with her eyes half shut to add to the look, "Why bother? Just wait until your boss comes back" she suggested. "You can sit here and keep me company" she all but purred for him.
Dezmond did his best not to laugh, the look on Gideon's face was too amusing, he was clearly sunk in this situation. Now would be the perfect time for Michelle to come along, he mused. Too bad that wouldn't happen twice, he thought to himself and sighed heavily as he guzzled his water. "Do behave yourself granddaughter" he advised her as though admonishing her, when he realized Michelle was there. He looked over at the girl and gapped, what? What were the odds? Twice now! It only attested to how small this village was!
Michelle had come from the bakery and was going to give Gideon and Michael some cinnamon rolls she'd helped make for them; when she saw him sitting there with a girl practically straddling him! Her eyes rounded and then narrowed, what was going on? "Gideon?" she said his name and gave him credit for not passing out when he looked in her direction. "Where is Michael?" she asked trying to calm herself, she would not be irrational! She would not do something stupid! Jealousy had never hit her so hard before!
Gideon gapped up at her and then stood as though he'd been burned by Anna. "Oh no its I!" he trailed off and swallowed, "Not what it looks like" he managed though he could imagine exactly what it had looked like. He hadn't meant to sit there but when a woman attached herself to him he hadn't known what to do about it. In the past he would have had her in his bed, but this was not then, and he didn't know Michelle back then. He would never cheat!
Michelle's eyes narrowed and she threw the basket on the ground, she didn't know what to do. She wanted to rip that smug look off of the girl's face! But the girl had likely not known that Gideon and her were even close to dating, they were dating right? She wasn't sure what the term was, all she knew in that moment was anger and pain. "You, you " she trailed off, and before Gideon could grab her she had run away from him. Her chest hurt, and she feared more than yell she would sob, and she refused to do that!
Gideon watched as Dareu chased after her followed by Lily, then he looked at the girl, "Look I don't know what that whole thing was about. But I care about that girl you just saw. I don't know you who are or mean any offense" he said seriously. "But I am not going to let her think, or you think that there is anything between us. Your beautiful, but that is all, and beauty is only skin deep. I don't know you, I don't want to" he said seriously and glared feeling impatient. "Any woman who attaches herself to a man's arm like that is not .." he trailed off. "You are a customer.. I am trying to be polite, Michael will be right back. In the mean time I have a mess to go clean up. I am sure you can sit here alone and wait!" he exclaimed before following Michelle towards the field. He knew where she was going and he didn't care if Michael or anyone else was mad at him for chasing after her. Then it occurred to him Michael would probably want him to, so he didn't worry overly much after that.
Michelle stumbled at the shore of the lake, and heaved a breath, and tried to catch hers again and again. But mixed with the breathlessness was the basic and daunting urge to wail and it just made it harder to breath. She wanted to scream and sob her pain, and did just that. She grabbed a nearby rock and threw it as she screamed, watching it hit the lake didn't help her! She fell to the ground on her knees and sobbed harder than she had ever sobbed. She was vaguely aware of her cat and bird, but all that mattered in that moment was the truth.
Gideon only saw her as someone to prove he could woe, to find a way to break the spell! Men said nice things when they wanted to have someone love them. That was how they got them to be willing to drop their guard to let them in, and she'd been a fool! But men like him wanted women like that one at the village, not her! She sobbed harder and cradled herself rocking back and forth. Nobody wanted her! She felt stabbing pain at the memory of that woman pressed against Gideon, and the look in his eyes, it was so male! She felt a hand on her back, and she felt the hand rubbing her back. "Go away" she wailed and felt humiliated at the pathetic sounds coming from her.
Gideon thought the night before when she'd talked of her parents and not being able to let him in, had been rough. That was nothing to it, knowing he'd caused this pain, it was his fault. Michael had ignored the woman's beauty, why hadn't he been able to? He felt his throat tighten, was she going to reject him? "Michelle, you misunderstood, I was trying to not offend her" he said softly as he tried to calm her down. "Michelle please?" he begged. "She was the one all over me, I hadn't gotten the chance to say no when you arrived" he pointed out trying to show her that he hadn't done anything wrong. Though in the back of his mind he knew the moment he'd looked at her and actually appreciated her, and lusted after her for even a moment, had been wrong. He felt tears brimming in his eyes. "Please look at me?"
She turned her face towards him and saw the tears glistening in his eyes, but her own pain and humiliation were too much. "Gideon, you just say these things to me" she sobbed trying to speak. "You...say what you need to say" she whispered and felt humiliation washing over her. "Why would you want me? Why? You could have her easily, and any other woman. You are just stuck with me" she wept. "I'm not a fool, I saw the way you looked at her" she sobbed harder, "How could you let me think you actually cared?" she asked him as anger took over now and she stood up and shoved him back. "how could you?!" she demanded as she shoved at his chest forcing him back a step.
Gideon gasped in shock and then swore under his breath and grabbed her by her elbows, "Michelle look at me" he said and shook her for a moment trying to make her calm down. "Look at me!" he demanded feeling his own anger and impatience flaring. "I love you! Don't you know that? How can you not see that?" he asked her trying to reach through her anger and pain. "I wouldn't lie about my feelings" he said feeling offended for the first time in the whole situation.
She glared at him and pulled her arms free, "That is some way to show you love me!" she exclaimed, she hadn't ever heard him say it. She knew he'd said he had feelings for her but he had never spoken of love, neither of them had dared say it. "You let her plaster herself on you in the first place" she pointed out. She didn't know what she wanted in that moment! Part of her wanted to run, part of her wanted to stay and make him pay, another part of her wanted to cry bitterly, and another part all together made her want to go find that girl and rip her face off. "How can I believe what you say? You have a reason to lie to me Gideon" she pointed out trying very hard to keep her voice level as she spoke. "How do I know you're not lying?"
He knew he had done many bad things in his life, mistreating people that worked for him, using women however he wanted, was among those humiliations! But he had never and would never use Michelle! The fact that she believed that now, it hurt, he knew why she would. If he were her he would think the same thing! He knew it! She was the key to breaking the curse, and that was why this idea formed so easily in her mind. "You think no one wants you" he said seriously. "But I care Michelle and I already told you I didn't care about the curse" he said and huffed out a breath of frustration. "I like you for who you are! I like you!" he exclaimed deciding it was safer than love at the moment. He didn't care how cowardly it was to not repeat the word. She hadn't reacted so well to it! Then again what had he expected? He felt the tears that had been brimming in his eyes begin to fall at the idea of losing her. He knew he could, he could see the hurt and anger in her eyes. Those brown eyes were so fierce now, when once they had been so full of wonder and love, kindness. They were filled with confusion and hurt. "Please..do not push me away please?" he begged her and felt his knees buckle as he knelt to the ground to keep from falling.
Michelle felt sorry for him the moment she realized he was crying, a prince or a man either way, they wouldn't cry unless they really cared. They didn't fake such things, because it was considered unmanly by those around them. She felt her breath hitch as she watched his tears fall and she knelt beside him and rested her forehead against his. "Please tell me..." she hesitated a moment. "Please tell me you love me again?" she asked. "Only this time not out of anger...but only if you mean it" she whispered as she closed her eyes briefly, and took his hands squeezing them. "I need to hear it" she whispered as she sobbed softly. Whatever had happened in the village Gideon hadn't meant for it to, and she hadn't found him in bed with the woman, just in a compromising situation. Which he could have been getting out of, she realized that now. Her eyes opened as she looked into his grey eyes. They were so full of sadness and loss, she kissed his tears away, and nuzzled her forehead against his again. "Don't cry" she whispered.
He sighed as if a great weight had been lifted off of him, and shivered as she kissed his tears away. "I love you" he said softly. "Now you're going to make me cry more" he muttered and looked embarrassed. "I am truly sorry you saw that woman doing what she did. But I was moving away, I just hadn't had a chance" he said seriously. "I don't want to hurt you, ever! When I tell you that, when I say I love you, I mean it. I was once a horrible man, I probably still am, but that rotten prince is mostly gone, and I hope day by day to prove that I can be a real man, a real person you can be proud of" he said seriously. "Spell or no spell I love you" he whispered.
She sighed and laughed, as joy filled her and the pain faded, she felt him cupping her face as she looked into his eyes. "I love you too..but if I ever see you even looking at another girl I might freak out. I've never experienced this before, but..jealousy is not an easy thing to fight" she admitted. "So try not to flirt...even casually" she said and smiled softly as she wrapped her arms around him and snuggled against him where they sat in the grass with the sun beams dancing down around them. "Just hold me a minute" she whispered, "I love the sound of you heartbeat" she told him as she relaxed there with him, and smiled softly as his arms wrapped around her.
Gideon knew she loved him but he also knew she wasn't ready for the next step, and because he loved her, truly loved her, he would wait. Their kiss would happen soon enough he was sure of it, "I have no qualms holding you" he assured her. "I guess this makes us inclusive, do you want me to tell Michael I am officially courting you?" he asked. "I mean as your big brother I'm sure we're supposed to go before him and throw ourselves at his feet and beg for mercy for his approval" he teased her and smiled when she laughed.
"Courting sounds so weird" she admitted and giggled, "Still..if it means i never see you looking at another woman like you look at me, then I guess we'll call it courting" she teased him back, and nuzzled against his neck, "I really don't think it's us throwing ourselves at Michael's feet though...I'm pretty sure he's been shoving you in my direction the whole time" she pointed out and chuckled. "We were supposed to have dinner tonight he and I, to talk" she said. "I can only imagine what he'd say about me abandoning you at that dance last night. Of course he doesn't know we were in the field together" she admitted and chuckled.
Gideon nodded, "I think that is for the best" he mused, "Now..I am sure Michael and those who saw our fight are wondering what's happened" he said simply and helped her stand up. "We should head back, I do have a job to do" He reminded her as he guided her back to the village. He noticed Dareu and Lily nearby again, "He never leaves your side does he?" he asked Michelle.
Michelle chuckled and watched her cat and shook her head, "No never" she agreed and decided later she would give him allot of belly rubs. But for right now she was happy to have Gideon beside her, even if they did have to go back to see the villagers, maybe no one had noticed? She could hope, but she didn't think it was likely that her outburst was that easily ignored. "I bet they'll have this story in their gossip books for quite some time" she muttered and blushed feeling slightly embarrassed as they headed into town arm in arm.
Celestina gazed up and noticed the two arm in arm looking love dazed, "Great, our plan hasn't worked" she said to Dezmond. "We could try again but it is likely to be a waste of time. It seems Michelle isn't quite into being jealous for long enough to chase Gideon away" she muttered. "Do you want to try again? Or do we move to plan b?"
He shook his head, "Plan B it is, I've got enough of an idea about this village, and these villagers seem pretty laid back to me for the most part. I don't see huge parties of hunters, though I am sure there are a few. I also don't see soldiers, or anything that would work as a great defense" He said seriously. "I've walked the entire town yesterday, and today you've seen it here, and the lack of armory or anything that would be a true threat besides a couple swords" he muttered. "Its plan B, I gave her the only chance she had to back out, and it's her own fault for letting her foolish heart lead the way" he muttered and glared at Michelle and Gideon. It was her own fault what was about to happen to her! She had made her own decision and he would do whatever needed to be done with the girl, whether it be sheer imprisonment or his original plan the mirror of the soul. He wasn't sure yet.
There was a loud bang and screams erupted along with a column of flames that flew from a massive red dragons mouth. The dragon was bigger than seven horses easily, his eyes were wild with rage, and his four strong legs had sharp talons on them. "Come with me Celestina" he roared, and then reached over to grab Michelle, who was too shocked at the moment to move. She screamed and squirmed while Celestina stayed calm and watched him with trust. "Say goodbye Gideon, Prince of Jeasuan this is the last time you will ever see Michelle again!" he vowed and with a might flap of his wings he was off of the ground, allowing his tail to hit houses to cause more mayhem he took off into the sky, the only thing the villagers could hear was Michelle screaming for help, Gideon screamed and hollered begging the dragon to drop her. Then he watched as a letter fell at his feet.
Kneeling down he opened it up and read the note, "From an old enemy has arisen your fate! Your father once took everything I have, I am returning the favor!" Gideon swore under his breath and felt his breath hitching. "I have Michelle, if you want her, come get her. Otherwise go off to your little field and die there under a curse!" the letter read. "If you are man enough find me by this riddle. 'By the Silver mountain's back, near the swift river wide, cross mountain and river, and find me in the stones in the sky! Dezmond" He wanted to rip the letter, but stared at it, and then helplessly he watched as the Dragon left his sight. Would he ever see her again? His heart feared the answer, as he crumbled to his knees and wept, he would find her! That beast would pay! But who was Dezmond?