Chapter 9: MemoriesA Chapter by Zorina
Zerlinda walked down to the stables to visit Rokko who had been munching on some hay. It was obvious that the stable hand had groomed him, but Zerlinda picked up a brush anyway and started brushing him again. At first, it was mindless, almost robotically as she let her thoughts wonder. It had been nearly two weeks since they had taken Rayne and fled from Treewood. During that time, she had kept her mind occupied with taking care of Rokko, Rayne and chores around the camp. Now, she had no distractions and the full impact of Adalric's death came crashing down on her like a tidal wave. Tears welled up in her eyes and her breaths began to shake.
Don't cry, she told herself, be strong. She hadn't cried in eight years; since she was forced to give up Rokko due to her banishment and before that in six years since she learned of her parents' deaths when she was fifteen and first started to work for King Achan. Don't cry, she thought repeatedly, but the tears feel anyways, then sobs followed. Her shoulders shook and the brush slipped from her fingers, falling to the floor. She leaned on Rokko's back, sobbing, her tears wetting his black coat. Rokko turned his head to look at Zerlinda, slightly unsettled by her grieving state. He backed up to turn to face her more easily and, like the brush, she dropped onto the hay-covered floor.
Rokko nudged her repeatedly with his nose to comfort her, occasionally snorting on her as well. Eventually, Zerlinda gained enough control over herself to stop crying. She reached a hand up to stroke Rokko's nose to let him know she was okay. Her eyes felt incredibly dry and tired, but she rubbed her face dry with her cloak and stood up, returning the brush to its rightful place.
"Thank you, Rokko," she whispered roughly, scratching him behind the ears. "You're a good boy ... yes ... a very good friend ..."
Suddenly, the stable doors were thrown open and Zerlinda looked up to see who it was, then returned her attention to Rokko.
"I thought I'd find you in here," Saya said, walking over to lean on the stall's door. One look at her friend told Saya that Zerlinda had been crying and she knew why.
"I'm sorry about Adalric," she said.
"It was his choice," Zerlinda repeated with a shrug. It seemed to be the only excuse she could think of.
"It doesn't matter whose choice it was," Saya said wisely. "It doesn't take away the grief."
Zerlinda attempted to breathe in deeply through her nose, but ended up sniffling instead. She cleared her throat.
"We grew up together, you know," she said after a long moment of silence. "My parents and grandfather worked for the king, so I spent a lot of time at the castle. We played chess and I helped him with his studies and we sparred." She chuckled at a memory that crossed her mind. "I never lost a sparring match with him; I always found a way to win.
"Except for this one time. ... He had been bragging about how he was going to beat me in a sparring match and I told him that if he ever beat me in a spar then I would do whatever he said for the rest of the day. It was a childish thing to promise and I should have known that, with my luck, the next time we sparred would be the only time he beat me."
"So he beat you?"
"To my immense displeasure, yes. He, of course, was absolutely thrilled by the fact. He had pinned down my feet and hands. That's the day that my dad taught me how to buck people off of me with my hips."
"What did he tell you to do?" Saya asked.
"Lot's of things," Zerlinda smiled. "He told me to do his homework for him, to let him beat me at chess, stuff like that. ... Then, at the end of the day ... he told me to kiss him."
"Did you do it?"
"Yes," Zerlinda laughed. "Like the fool I was, I kissed him. I wasn't as cunning then as I am now; I've learned. I was too true to my word back then"
"How old were you?"
"Thirteen and I still remember it like it was yesterday."
"That's cute," she said.
"It was stupid," Zerlinda countered with another small laugh. "I stomped on his foot afterwards. I think I fractured something because he was limping for the next few days, but when I asked about it he wouldn't tell me."
"Why would you do that?" she asked incredulously.
"Because I was getting ready to go home and I wanted to show him exactly how much I enjoyed doing his bidding for the entire day. And it's not like I meant to fracture anything ... I just wanted to show my appreciation and maybe took it a little too far."
"That sounds like you," Saya agreed. "What are you going to do now that he's ... well ..."
"I'm going to Move on."
Saya's brow furrowed a bit.
"Don't you think it's a little too soon after ..." she trailed off, not sure how to finish her question.
"I'm not talking about falling in love, Saya, but I can't grieve over his death forever," Zerlinda explained reasonably.
"You're not going to fall in love again?"
Zerlinda shook her head.
"I didn't say that. I might, given time and the right person but not any time soon. It was bad for me to do so in the first place with my work and not being ready to settle and all. Especially now considering I have no work and a so-called 'traitor' and still not ready to settle."
Saya nodded her head.
"I'm here if you ever want to talk. Are you coming to dinner?"
"Then you might want to hurry up and get cleaned up -- dinner's in a few hours and you can't eat dinner with the king and queen looking like that. We have to be proper again, remember?"
"Alright, I'm coming."
She gave Rokko a handful of oats, which he enjoyed gratefully, before following Saya out of the stables. Zerlinda looked up at the cloud-covered sky and several flakes of snow landed on her face.
"I will be strong," she whispered and continued making her way to their suit of room to ready herself for dinner
© 2012 Zorina
AboutHobbies: Dancing (mostly jazz and lyrical, but I also do a ballet techniques class), writing, drawing, painting, reading, singing, doing puzzles, sudoku, word finds, fill ins Movies: Harry Potter, .. more..