Truth and Consequences

This little scene for Keenan’s story was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

It was nice to be out in the field with Sera once again.  The last few months, since she and Amy had moved to the school, meant that they spent far less time with each other than they once had.  Keenan looked around at the thick foliage and wondered if they’d find the herbs they were searching for in such a darkened forest.

“Keenan,” Sera called.  He looked up to see her holding a bundle of leaves.  She smiled at him.  “Are these what we’re looking for?”

He stepped over to her and nodded.  “That’s them,” he confirmed.  He glanced around and spotted more of the plants growing in a gully.  This may just be easier than he’d expected.

No sooner had the thought crossed his mind but he sensed magic being used in the area.  “Get down,” he said, pushing Sera into the gully.

Before he could join her, a vine shot out of the brush to grab him around the waist.  He bit his lip to keep from screaming as he was lifted into the air.

“Keenan Meadows,” a low voice said.  “What a… pleasant surprise.”

Keenan looked towards the voice and noticed a tall, muscular man in dark robes standing not far away.  He was pale, with piercing dark eyes.  His ears had the delicate shape that was common among elves.  “Lord Xanthos,” Keenan breathed.  “I hadn’t realized… Is this your forest, then?”

Xanthos hummed and glanced around.  “No,” he admitted.  Waving vaguely towards trees over a rise, he said, “My forest lies in that direction, but… when I sensed you nearby, I had to come and find you.”  He frowned then, locking his gaze on Keenan.  “There’s the little matter of a phial you stole.”4182d112425a770be7d7cfb753319d82

“Right,” Keenan breathed.  That was almost a year ago, but elves had notoriously long memories and the reputation of being rather slow to forgive.  He shot a glance at Sera, silently telling her to stay out of sight for the moment.  He had no doubt that she’d rescue him, but trying to do so in front of Xanthos would have been folly.

Lord Xanthos spun away and headed back towards his own forest, with the vine carrying Keenan close behind him.  As they journeyed up the rise, Keenan saw an old castle on a hill.  It wasn’t the sort of place he’d expect to find Lord Xanthos calling home.  However, that made him wonder: Just who did call the castle home?

lips cold as ice

Sera watched Keenan as he worked on his potion. His brows were furrowed, drawn down low over his dark eyes. His lips were set in a frown that was part concentration and part frustration. Elayne’s demands were getting to him. He didn’t want to obey her, but didn’t see himself as having a choice.

“Keenan,” Sera said, as she stepped up beside him. He looked up from his work and, before he could speak, Sera kissed him gently.

There was a moment – a second – of hesitation. Then, Keenan’s lips softened against hers and he drew her close, deepening the kiss. He broke away, his cheeks faintly flushed. “Nice,” he said, allowing her to step back.

A faint smile touched Sera’s lips as Keenan went back to his work. Now, he looked relaxed. The slightly sardonic smile she enjoyed seeing had returned. Chuckling softly, Sera turned away and went back to her own work.

You woke the beast!

Keenan sighed softly and glanced over at Sera. She was still sound asleep. He wished he were as well. Slipping out from under the blankets, he padded out into the kitchen. He sat down at the table and looked up at the clock at the wall.

It read eleven o’clock, but he knew that was wrong. The second hand was twitching. The battery was too weak actually bring it all the way around. Sighing, he stood and eased the clock down off the wall. He headed to his office and retrieved the batteries.

While he was changing the batteries anyway, he might just as well fix the alarm too. He flipped the clock off and then startled when the second hand finished its sweep and the alarm sounded for the first time in months. He’d forgotten how loud it was.

Chewing his lip thoughtfully, he put the clock back in place. No sooner had he sat down once more when Sera came through the doorway. She was frowning and blinking owlishly at him. “What are you doin’ up?” she asked, shaking her head.

“Couldn’t sleep,” Keenan admitted. “Did I wake you?” The look she sent him said that he had, but she shook her head. He shrugged an apology and then hid a smile as she moved to make herself a cup of coffee. If she was going to be awake anyway, she needed that first cup to start the day.

Sera glanced up at the clock and shrugged. “Least it works now,” she murmured.

her knight in dinky armor

Keenan frowned at the tabard. It was Shynia’s answer to armor. The material was enchanted to resist nearly any projectile and could block most blades. He looked over at Sera. “You look worried,” he said. His brows furrowed. “It’ll be fine, ya know?”

“I don’t,” she said. She shook her head and caught the front of his tabard. “This… this is your only protection and it seems so flimsy!”

He smiled wanly. “It’s stronger than it looks,” he said. He kissed her on the forehead and added, “Like you.”

Sera sighed and leaned against his chest. “Why must you go?” she asked, her voice faint. “You’re the Sovereign. Can’t you… send people?”

“What you just said, that’s why I have to go,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. He sighed and closed his eyes. “I’m the Sovereign. They need me. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to send others into a situation and not put myself in their place.”

“Just come back to me,” Sera whispered.

Keenan kissed her on the mouth, then. Breaking the kiss, he stepped back. “Always,” he promised. Then, he spun on his heel and headed out. As he stepped outside, he flashed a smile at the girl that represented his lands. “Ya ready?”

“Always,” Ophelia said. Her tone was firm and confident. She never backed down from a fight. She was, in all ways, the perfect representation of her people.

It made Keenan wonder what Ephemera’s representation was like. Was Ephemera sweet and quiet and a worrier or was that just Sera? He shook the thought away. Now was not the time for curiosity.

When she smiles

Keenan watched Sera from the window. She was kneeling at the edge of the garden plot that surrounded one of the trees in the courtyard. Her brows were furrowed as she wrestled with the weeds.

Finally, she pulled the last of the weeds loose of the soil. Then, she stood and looked at the plants that remained. She nodded to herself. She rolled her shoulders and turned around. Her gaze traveled up the wall of the palace, until it reached the window where he sat.

Her lips curved upward in a smile. It was like the sun had come out.

When an old man and a young girl get together

Keenan frowned slightly at the girl that he was supposed to marry. He had to admit that she was lovely. She was petite, even shorter than he was. Her hair was white-blond and her eyes were wide and a shade of blue that he couldn’t even find the words to describe. She was beautiful! However, she was also so young!

“How old is she?” he asked, giving Bertram a sidelong glance. The unspoken question was, “What could she possibly see in me?”

“Twenty?” Bertram said, his voice soft. He frowned at Keenan and said, “I know, you tend to think of your age in their years and, going by that…” he trailed off.

“I’m old enough to be her father,” Keenan breathed. His oldest child was nearly eighteen years old! He sighed and stepped forward. He bowed politely. “Dominique Ramsey,” he said, “I’m Keenan Meadows.”

As he straightened, their eyes met. Dominique smiled and offered her hand. “It’s nice to see you well,” she said.

In that moment, Keenan recognized her. Seraphim! The agent from the Chloreirian government! A faint smile played at his lips and he took her hand. He pressed his lips to the back of her hand and said, “Likewise.” This might just work out after all.

Hope in Something Real

Keenan listened to the music play and watched Sera sway to the rhythm. A faint smile touched his lips. For the first time since he’d married her, he realized something.

He’d married Elayne for reasons besides love. He’d married her to secure his position among her people – to make it so she wouldn’t be able to harm him. He’d gained four children from the union and he wouldn’t give them up for the world. He had no regrets where that was concerned.

However, that had been an act of desperation. He’d place his hope something false. It shouldn’t have surprised him that it had all fallen apart.

Things were different with Sera. He’d married her because of a family obligation, but more had grown out of their union. He loved her and, unlike Elayne, she returned his affection. Even if they only ever had the one child from their union, his marriage to Sera was, somehow, more real than the one he’d had to Elayne.

He bounced to his feet and crossed the room. Catching her hand gently, he smiled. “I love you,” he said, his voice soft. Then, he kissed her tenderly, in a way Elayne never would have tolerated.

Sera relaxed into the kiss, then, as he broke it, she smiled. “I love you too, Keenan,” she said.

Thought my mom sat on you

Jewelia made a loud noise of protest as Sera started to sit. Sera stood up quickly and looked at her, Jewelia was glaring.

“You don’t want me to sit there, sweetheart?” Sera said, frowning slightly.

“No,” Jewelia said, her tone firm. “You oughta ‘pologize, Mama! You almos’ sat on him!”

“Well,” Sera said, blinking. She looked at the empty cushion and nodded. “My apologies.”

Keenan had looked up from his book and was frowning at Jewelia. He looked at Sera, tilting his head to one side. Sera shook her head slightly. She had no idea who she’d almost sat upon.

“Who’s that, honey?” Keenan asked, looking at Jewelia.

His daughter pulled a pouty frown. “Nasin,” she said, patting the cushion beside her. She smiled. “Nasin ‘s my frien’.”

Keenan chuckled softly and looked back at his book. As Sera settled beside him, he said, “Sounds like Jewelie has an imaginary friend.”

“So it seems,” she said. She shook her head slightly and added, “It’ll be interesting, avoiding sitting on Nathan, until she decides she doesn’t need him anymore.”

Nodding, Keenan looked back at Jewelia. Ian was sitting on the other end of the couch now. Presumably, Nathan was between them. Both children were chattering softly. He wondered, then, just how imaginary Jewelia’s little friend was.

Hold me close. Tie me down, sir.

“Are you all right?” Sera asked. Keenan seemed especially tense tonight. Frowning, she sat down beside him on the couch.

Keenan sighed and covered his eyes with his hands. “Three times now, members of Shynian Intelligence have had these… really frightening visions. Chris saw a wolf, Rory saw Carmine and… I saw Isaac,” he said.

“Why should seeing Isaac be so terrible?” Sera said, tucking a lock of hair behind Keenan’s ear. “You aren’t afraid of spirits.”

“I… did something to him,” Keenan said, his voice faint. “At the time, I didn’t see any choice. I still don’t see any choice, but… I feel horrible!”

Sera sighed. “Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked. She hated seeing him like this. Whatever had happened, she was certain Keenan had acted in a way that he thought was best.

“Just,” Keenan said, his voice cracking, “Just hold me?”

Sera nodded and put her arms around Keenan’s shoulders. He rested his head on her chest and sighed softly. As she felt the tension slipping away, she smiled faintly. Once he’d calmed down, he’d be able to think more clearly and see the real problem. Just what were these horrible visions? Where were they coming from?

The subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul

I was worried about Sera. Her current case was a dangerous one. There was a small chance she might not come back from it. I wanted her to come back, not for my own sake – but because I wanted, more than anything else, for her to be safe and happy.

At the same time, I knew, she’d never be happy if she were always safe at home with me. So, I would wish her well and then wait for her return, like I was now.

It was something Elayne had never seemed to understand. There was a difference between honestly caring for someone and wanting to own them. She’d wanted to own me, without ever really caring. I cared for Sera without wanting to control her.

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