Doreen 3


Part one and part two

Doreen

by Barbara G.Tarn

“Help me, mother, tell me if I have a way to snatch my love from another woman,” Doreen pleaded, kneeling humbly in front of her parent.

Nadia smiled, softened. She found funny her daughter’s passionate love. She even sort of envied Doreen for those feelings, even if she could see Doreen’s sorrow. She knew her daughter was truly madly deeply in love, but she didn’t know his name yet.

“I’m pregnant, mother,” Doreen continued quickly. “I won’t have to go to the Temple after all. Is there a law that allows me to claim the man who performed the miracle?”

“In theory yes, depends on whom he belongs to,” Nadia answered, still puzzled by the news that her daughter was actually fertile. Both of them had lost hope on that topic a long time ago.

“I guess I’m lost, then,” Doreen sighed.

“Why, who is she?” Nadia asked. She was quite powerful herself, and she’d do anything for her daughter.

“The queen,” Doreen said gloomily.

“Damn.” Nadia’s joy faded. “I had heard that Azzurro had a lover, but I couldn’t imagine it was you! You better forget him, darling, because even if he survives Cynthia’s wrath, she will never let you go near him ever again. My Goddess, she could kill you, except you’re pregnant, so she can’t do it now, but she might do it after you deliver!”

“Could I appeal to the people?” Doreen asked, desperate.

“Don’t,” Nadia answered, serious. “She’d kill you in spite of your pregnancy. She doesn’t want anybody to know that not only her Favorite doesn’t love her, but he even cheated on her. She’d have you assassinated.”

“What about him?” Doreen complained. “How can I save him?”

“You can’t,” Nadia said. “Your rival is too powerful. You can only forget him, dear.”

“Forget him…” she whispered. “I can still see his sapphire eyes… and the darkened face of the queen finding me in the pavilion, ordering me to disappear…”

“Thank the Goddess she didn’t kill you on the spot.”

“I want to scream…” it sounded more like a moan, and Nadia took her daughter in her arms, trying to comfort her.

“I’m sorry, darling. You know there’s no way out. Azzurro is the Queen’s Favorite, and by pure pride Cynthia would never let him go.”

Doreen started sobbing softly in her mother’s arms.

***

“He isn’t eating, my lady,” the healer said.

Cynthia gloomily stared at Azzurro, lying on the bed, his eyes lost somewhere. He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t talking. He was letting himself die.

“Can we force some food into him?” she asked, worried.

“Yes, but it won’t really help if he doesn’t want to live,” the healer answered.

“Leave us.”

The healer bowed and left. Cynthia lay down near her Favorite and pulled him against her.

“Azzurro, why are you so stubborn?” she chided. “I cannot let you go! I chose you for life, I can’t give you to another woman! The Goddess would punish me!”

He gulped down some tears and didn’t answer, nor looked at her.

“Please, Azzurro, eat,” she whispered tenderly in his ear. “I promise I won’t hurt you anymore.”

“Then let me go,” his voice was hoarse.

“I can’t! I’m the Queen! You will not refuse me!”

His blue eyes looked at her. He sighed and closed them, as if he wanted to sleep.

Cynthia held him tighter, whispering sweet nothings in his ears. She’ll force him to live. She didn’t want to lose him.

***

Doreen couldn’t console herself. She was finally pregnant, but wasn’t allowed anymore to see the marvelous man who had performed the miracle. All those wasted years with useless lovers, and now the only man worth fighting for belonged to the queen herself.

She sulked all day, remembering the few precious moments with him, his tenderness, his smile and his cerulean eyes. She wondered how he was doing. Her mother told her he had been punished, but was recovering.

Nobody came to visit her. Not even the novices with whom she had shared her destiny for a few months. The Temple of the Goddess had given up on her, but so did her former Aristocrat friends, including Princess Ashlee.

Nadia asked her if she wanted to celebrate her pregnancy, and whom she’d like to invite, but she didn’t really feel like seeing people. She felt isolated, and it was fine with her – more time to think about Azzurro, obsessing about their destiny and if they could ever be together again.

She stayed in, never went to the palace for a few days. Until her mother gave her the news: Azzurro was dead. Devastated by sorrow, Doreen rushed to the temple for the funeral, and only when she saw his body composed in the stillness of death did she realize she had lost him forever.

She almost fainted, but her mother was ready to pick her up.

“Hold it, Doreen,” she whispered in her ear. “You don’t want to lose his gift, do you?”

Doreen straightened herself, gulping down her pain. No, she wouldn’t lose the much wanted baby, especially now that the man who had sired it was gone.

She sniffed, staring at him, and Nadia put one arm around her shoulder, trying to comfort her. The High Priestess blessed the corpse, and the coffin was closed. Doreen’s sniffs became silent sobs. Nadia held her tight, patting her back like when she was a child.

“Hush, baby, everything will be all right,” she said gently.

Slowly, Doreen calmed down. She wiped away the tears and looked at the coffin again. The ceremony was over.

Doreen’s eyes met Cynthia’s.

The queen went to the young girl and looked her in the eyes.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she said flatly. “I didn’t kill him, Doreen, he died for you. He knew he couldn’t have you and preferred to die that staying with me.”

She turned her back on mother and daughter, and left without turning back. Princess Ashlee exchanged a sorrowful glance with Doreen and followed her mother.

“Goddess be praised, I was afraid she’d take it out on you,” Nadia said, hugging her still shocked daughter.

Doreen’s sorrow was speechless. But at least before dying he had given her the gift of life. He had proved she was fertile. She could live on and have children. She’d never forget him.

THE END

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