❯ Hope with Blind Eyes – Chapter 2

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Note: The `Lieutenant’ isn’t an OC; she’s the one who took over the Anima Mundi after Zaphikel was arrested. I don’t know if she has a name, but I certainly couldn’t find one, heh…

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Chapter Two

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Over the next few days, I slept away the majority of my time. I fought disorientation in vain – I never knew if I’d be waking up to sunlight or lamplight – indeed, the only constant seemed to be Zaphikel, sitting by my side and reading his book with a simple smile… I couldn’t help but ask what he was reading, and was mildly scandalized to learn that the Great Thrones liked romances. I decided that I was probably happier not knowing where he got such dangerous contraband, and didn’t push the subject.

I soon discovered that this great angel was truly full of surprises. He seemed to be on first-name terms with the Prime Minister, even referring to him as `Sevy-kun’. I seriously doubted that he’d be daring enough to call him that to his face, though; he spoke of `the Lieutenant’, who was actually his own assistant, in harrowed tones. Although I had noticed that, when he talked of things that he felt strongly about – the treatment of the I-children, the new legislation to make life imprisonment a legal punishment for dissenters – his blind eyes would shine so bright and shrewd…

Somehow or another, I guess started to really enjoy talking to him. I’d certainly never known anyone like him before. He refused to be serious about the responsibilities that came with his position, and he was very good at avoiding questions – and yet, on the first day that I awoke to find myself alone, I found that I didn’t have the energy to do more than stare at the ceiling for a long time.

Don’t be so silly! I chided myself. He was the Great Thrones, after all, and yet he’d stayed with me constantly for four days now. Even an irresponsible person like him would eventually… would… surely…

I blinked slowly up at the ceiling, lazily, and wished that I could fall back asleep. I was really surprised at myself; I couldn’t recall ever having felt this way.

Eventually, however, it became clear that sleep was not an option. I was thirsty, for one thing. With a sigh, I hoisted myself upright and thrust a hand out for the light switch – and all the nonsensical fatigue left me in one giddy rush. The small bedside table was half-hidden under a stack of standard-text books, surely self-explanatory, but nevertheless there was a vid note sitting on top of them. A startled laugh escaped me and I wondered, not for the first time, why in Heaven he bothered.

I set the little cube on top of the sheets and settled back, cross-legged, before switching it on. The little hologram waved at me, beaming brightly. “I’m sincerely sorry that I couldn’t be here today,” he said, “but I fear that the Lieutenant will decide to track me down at last if I continue to shirk all my duties. I’ll try to sneak back around dinnertime, but if you get hungry before then, there’s some soup in the kitchen that just needs to be heated up. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the books, little Raziel!” I could have sworn that I caught a split-second of maniacal sniggering before the holo switched off; I skimmed the books’ spins suspiciously. The Duke, By Starlight – my eyes widened – Lady Sophia’s Lover? I stared at that one for a long moment, before deciding dazedly that I would rather try my luck with the soup.

I padded into the kitchen, barefooted and with a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, and quickly sought out the covered dish in the fridge. While it was heating, I tentatively started looking though a few of the cabinets, not entirely sure if I wasn’t being a bit presumptuous, until I found a tin of teabags. Zaphikel had said that he liked tea, but wasn’t much good at making it himself; I didn’t think I’d ever even tried, but it had been nagging at me since he’d mentioned it. Maybe I had made it before, and just couldn’t remember?

I smiled wistfully into the tin. Or maybe I was hoping that I would somehow be able to make it well on my first try, and make him happy? He had done too much already…

Once the food and the tea were both ready – to my relief, the drink tasted good to me – I carried them back to the bedroom. I was a bit hesitant about exploring the rest of the rooms, but this one had a small table by the window that would do well enough. I opened up the blinds, and my breath caught – Zaphikel’s private gardens that I’d glimpsed before, already beautiful, seemed to burning blood red in the setting sun. It was lovely… and it also meant, I realized, that he would be home soon. I smiled hugely, and couldn’t seem to stop for the longest time.

I tried reading the first few pages of one of Zaphikel’s books, but quickly decided that it really wasn’t my kind of thing. I fell to watching the sunset instead, wondering idly how much longer I could continue living in such luxury. The fact that he thought it safe to leave me alone for the first time today didn’t seem to bode well. How much longer would I be allowed to stay here? What would I do after leaving? It wasn’t like I had anywhere to go…

I swirled the soup around in the bowl, and frowned at it. Of course, Zaphikel was so kind that I was sure he would never force me to leave until I had some kind of plan, but how much longer could I bring myself to live off of his hospitality? He owed nothing to me, I reminded myself. We were perfect strangers – why didn’t it feel that way?

When the door opened, I was so startled that I yelped. “Little Raziel!” Zaphikel looked in my direction. “Up and about already?”

I smiled sheepishly. “Um, yes… Welcome home.” Perfect strangers, yes, and yet he already had a pet name for me…

He beamed at me. “Why, thank you. I’m sorry I’m a bit late – the Lieutenant started throwing a fit – I hope you weren’t alone for too long… Is that tea?”

I flushed. “Ah – I’m sorry. I looked through your cabinets… I made enough for two,” I added meekly.

He chuckled, sounding delighted. “There’s no need to apologize, you know. I shall sample it right away – here, this is for you.” He dropped a bag on the table in front of me, and made a bee line for the kitchen.

I gawked. For me… Inside, I found several changes of clothes (including a full cadet’s uniform), as well as some music discs and movie vids, and several more books – all on political science, this time.

“The tea is perfect,” Zaphikel informed me, slipping into the chair across the table. I hadn’t even noticed him come back in… “You’re obviously a natural. I hope you liked the books – I noticed on your record that you’d been chosen for the civil servant track, back in school – I thought you might enjoy those more than, ah, what I had managed to get together on short notice…” His questing fingers found the book I’d left on the table, and he smirked. “Unless you’ve discovered a liking for the genre?”

I blushed worse than ever. “Ah – no – well, I mean -” I bowed my head. “That is, thank you so much for all this. I don’t understand why you’re doing so much for me. You shouldn’t let me keep living here -”

He waved a hand nonchalantly. “Nonsense. It’s because of that selfless nature of yours that I must keep you around, don’t you see? You don’t even know what a kind, pure person you are, and I had given up on ever meeting anyone like you again… You deserve everything that I can give you and more.”

Why, I wondered, did he always have to do this to me? Saying something like that out of the blue… Even though I told myself that he couldn’t tell if I was, I couldn’t keep looking at him. I looked out the window instead, reaffirming for myself that I was really here, in the Great Thrones’ chamber, in the time just after sunset when the first stars begin to show, because I was feeling rather dazed – I took a long time to answer, and all I could manage was a soft `thank you…’

He laughed at me, but kindly. The serious expression was gone just as quickly as it had come, I noted. “Think nothing of it. Or think of it as thanks for the tea; I certainly needed it today.” He shook his head mournfully. “There was so much paperwork, little Raziel, and the Lieutenant made me do it all…”

I scoffed – I was beginning to feel a bit of sympathy for this `Lieutenant’. “Then you shouldn’t have ignored your duties for so long,” I grumbled. During my school days, people like this had always bugged me…

“What, and have to deal with that for four days in a row, instead of getting it out of the way all at once?” He smirked. “And anyway, you would have missed me, right?”

I suddenly had to look away from him again or risk another blush – what was wrong with me? – but I couldn’t help the small smile tugging at my lips. “Oh… I suppose so…”

TBC

Hope with Blind Eyes – Chapter One
Hope with Blind Eyes – Chapter 3