Part 4: Epilogue – Forgiveness is the key to love
He's not that bad, really he isn't, but sometimes...let's just say he knows exactly how to get under my skin. Like now for instance.
I sit here quite still upon a cushioned chair, outside on the ivory balcony, gazing with tired eyes at the winking stars. They're fading now as the dawn unrolls its carpet of pinkish light across my kingdom. I've never seen a sunrise before and I must admit it's beautiful. I only wish he were here to see it with me. I hate being alone. Gods only know where he's been all this time and I worry. It's been like this for at least a week now. He disappears the whole night and sleeps through the morning; I've tried numerous times to wait up for him but... This is the first time I've stayed awake until dawn.
I can't help consider the fact that he's cheating on me. He is...well...was a bit of a womaniser, but he swore his fidelity to me when he confessed his love. I can't imagine that he'd go to a whorehouse now; why would he when I'm here for him? Perhaps he's considering leaving? No...he wouldn't do that either...
Perhaps...I have been harsh on him recently. But he can be so frustrating at times...not to mention rude, belligerent and aggravating. I have considered myself to be patient with him up until now. There are countless 'incidents' where I have refrained from screaming at him.
I remember vividly the time when I found him stumbling along the corridors of the castle completely drunk, late one night. He usually did this, went out with Blank, Cinna and Marcus and got completely 'out of it'; but I had never seen him that bad before. He was trying to hold himself up by leaning on the wall and kept tripping over his feet. I'd been on my way to bed at the time and even though I was exhausted I couldn't leave him there like that.
'Zidane,' I had said, 'are...you coming to bed?'
He looked up at me with blood shot eyes and a stupid grin plastered on his face. He held up his arms, swayed slightly and shouted, 'Garnet, baby! Come 'ere and gimmie an 'ug!'
He was slurring quite badly but I managed to discern what he was saying. 'No, you're very drunk. You shouldn't drink so much you know, it's bad for you,' I replied reproachfully.
'I aint drunk...come 'ere sweetie...I love ya, do ya love me? I love ya babe!'
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. He staggered over in my direction and fell on top me, pinning me to the floor. He stunk of alcohol.
'Oh for the love of –'
'Whatcha doin' down 'ere sweetie? Come on, up ya get...'
'How can I when you're on top of me?'
'I aint! You're on top of me! How many times 'av I told ya?'
'Listen baby... You smell nice...'
With that, he abruptly rolled off of me and passed out. I had called for Steiner, who had carried him over his shoulder to our chamber. Needless to say he woke up the next morning with a throbbing hangover he deserved.
I admit that that doesn't happen regularly, and he doesn't cause any trouble when he's drunk...it's just a pain to have him wandering around the castle like that – especially when we have guests.
I guess it's because he's lived among the rowdy Tantalus lot all his life. I shouldn't have been as foolish as to think that he would just snap into the spick and span routine of royal life. I mean, his habits are atrocious, he burps and swears and flirts continuously with Beatrix's knights and don't even get me started on his table manners!
On the other hand, I don't think I would love him if he were any other way. That's why I was so reluctant to try and adjust him to my lifestyle at first; I don't want him to change! But the problem lies in the fact that I'm going to have to start taking him to dinner parties and such like, and I can hardly take him as he is now! Oh the looks the noble's will give me!
I snigger to myself on the balcony as I imagine him slurping his gravy with his soup spoon.
He has embarrassed me countless times. Some haven't been so bad but...argh...there was one time...
I shudder as the memory blossoms.
I was throwing a formal party, not long ago, in my main dining hall. A splendid buffet was arranged along the long table to the left, and the room was filled with lofty nobles and distant 'relatives' bantering idly in their beautiful long dresses and suits. The tinkling of expensive china could be heard combined with the opening and closing of the thick oak doors situated on either end of the hall as waiters entered and exited. They held aloft huge trays of steaming food and wines, offering them round politely.
I had gone into proper 'queen mode' and was strolling around in my cream dress, casually addressing and conversing with them. In my opinion, the party was going quite pleasingly... That was before I heard the sound I dreaded most at a time like this.
It was quiet at first because it was so distant. A sort of wailing sound mixed with the occasional scream of laughter. I remember thinking quire clearly, 'No...no...please...not tonight...please, not that! Anything but that! Please no!!' before the oak door to my right was flung open and skidding into the hall at a full sprint came Zidane. Naked.
Nobles and 'relatives' alike gasped and numerous women fainted. Wine glasses smashed to the floor as the naked Genome crashed into them.
He bounded out the door at the opposite end of the hall and then – just to make matters worse – the chink-chink-chink-chink of metal sounded and along came Steiner chasing furiously after him, arms waving madly, skidding slightly on the spilt wine, screaming, 'WHY YOU DISGUSTING THIEF HOW DARE YOU GO STRIDING AROUND THE CASTLE WITH NOTHING ON!! YOU WAIT UNTIL I CATCH YOU I'LL THROW YOU INTO THE DUNGEON YOU MONKEY!!!'
Zidane was drunk, of course. Didn't remember a thing in the morning, and I wasn't intending to tell him... but Steiner had other ideas. All he did was laugh anyway, like I knew he would. He has no shame, that man! Anyway, it was probably one of the most humiliating moments in my life – having my future husband streak and run through a formal party as a dare, courtesy to his Tantalus brothers of course.
But through it all, my love for him has never wavered. He is still the man I know and love and I wouldn't have it any other way. Though, I did have a stern talking with him and made him swear on his life that he would never streak again. I don't think he has, either.
I laugh quietly and it drifts in the air like a falling leaf. The early morning birds start to sing blissfully, their melodious voices bringing movement and life to the shimmering sunrise. A slight breeze is picking up but it's warm and I find it slightly refreshing.
Thinking about it now, Steiner probably gets more infuriated with him than I. Laughing, I remember the time when Zidane went around to all the Knights of Pluto and gave them a string of outrageous false orders from 'Captain Steiner himself'. Steiner, who was on his rounds at the time, found at least two swimming in the canal, another three trying to climb a flagpole and another eating the leaves off the trees; Steiner was furious. I had to stop myself from laughing when I saw them all though.
One of the worst experiences has to be the time when Zidane and I had had a pretty nasty argument – over something trivial as usual. Well, he had made me angry and I wouldn't accept his apology. I said he'd have to do something pretty amazing to make me forgive him. So – being the show off he is – went and did something pretty amazing to make me forgive him. He climbed to the top of West Tower, tied a piece of rope around his middle and abseiled down the gigantic stone pillar with that big stupid grin on his face. I have no idea what possessed him to do such a thing but he attracted quite a crowd (he was in plain view of all of Alexandria, and matters were made worse because his Tantalus brothers were cheering him on madly) and I nearly threw up with worry when I saw at what a height he was dangling from. If that rope split he would've been a goner.
'Zidane!' I had yelled to him, leaning over the side of the castle's tower with Steiner nervously gripping my arm, 'What the hell do you think you're doing?! Get up here now!!'
He waved to the crowd with one hand and gripped the rope with his other. He grinned up at me and put a hand to his ear mockingly. 'Can't hear you, love!' he bellowed.
'Ooh! You! Yes you can hear me! Get back up here RIGHT NOW!!'
'Only if you forgive me!'
'Dammit this is not a way to win someone's heart back you idiot!!'
'Then I'll dangle here until the rope snaps; then you'll have to forgive me!'
'Wh-what? You're not making any sense! What's wrong with you?' But I knew he would stay there, he was fearless when it came to things like that. 'Alright, I forgive you Zidane! Now get back up here, please!'
Somehow, he managed, and was greeted with a slap round the face from me. What? He made me worry like crazy! What if he had fallen?
...What if he had fallen...?
Staring at the obelisk of the rising sun I rest my chin in my cupped hands and wonder what my life would be like if something did happen to Zidane... what if he died, or went missing again...or left me? I think that I would not be able to go on. Sure, he may be a pain but I love him...
'Zidane,' I sigh to the morning sky, 'where are you?'
And then as suddenly as a clap of thunder a massive blur leapt out in front of me. I scream and fall backwards off my chair, my loose hair draped around my face and my nightgown pooling around my body in a cloud of white material.
'Hey babe, what you doing up?'
I look up disbelievingly. 'Z-Zidane...?'
He stands there in front of me, gloved hand outstretched, eyes glassy but bright, a wide grin splits his face. He came back...
I leap up and drag him down to the floor, unsure whether to be angry or relieved. He cries out and then laughs, pulling me into a tight embrace. We sit there like that for quite a while, listening to each other's heartbeat and the sound of the birdsong. The morning light spills over onto the balcony, the blueness just beginning to creep into the sky.
I try to pull away from him then, but he grips me tighter. 'Zidane, where have you been? I waited all night for you to come home.'
I think I hear him whisper 'home' but I'm not sure so I just wait patiently for a reply.
He pulls away gently. 'I was thinking.'
'It took you all night to think?' I counter doubtfully.
He smiles. 'Yep. I err...was thinking about you.' He scratches the back of his head. 'I wanna say that I'm sorry...about everything...and I'll try harder to be more...noble.'
I laugh and touch his cheek. 'I don't want you to be, really.'
'Then why all the 'table manner lessons' and...and...the guy who wanted to make me wear posh clothes?'
I look at him thoughtfully. 'Well...how about a compromise? I teach you table manners and have 'posh' clothes fitted for you...but you'll only have to wear them when we go somewhere important. When you're in the castle with me you can act like you do now.'
'Because I love who you are and I don't want you to change that, especially not for me.'
He grins and kisses me suddenly. 'You'll be the only person I change for, if I ever do.'
Comfortable silence envelopes us and I can hear early risers moving carts about and setting up business stalls below in Alexandria Square. We're still sitting on the cold, marble floor of the balcony, still wrapped in each other's arms. Suddenly, I stifle a yawn.
'Did you really stay up all night?' he asks.
I giggle. 'Yeah, it's taking its toll on me now.'
'Hmm...how 'bout we skip today and just sleep?'
'I can't just skip a day, I'm a queen!'
'So what? Be spontaneous!'
'Sleeping isn't spontaneous, Zidane.'
He laughs and picks me up. 'Yeah, yeah whatever; All I know is that I'm gonna be sleeping all day and I want some company!'
I give in.
The light floods Alexandria like golden water and the large disc of the sun finally sits clearly upon the horizon. The stars are no more, faded away with the night-time...just like my worry. I feel now that my love for Zidane burns more furiously than ever. I may not be able to change who he is completely but I accept that. I want him to be like he is forever, uncaring of what people think.
And now a new day approaches, bright and spectacular, signifying the dawning of a new and different way of life for both of us.