FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, TUMBLR
First all the bolding, now the Read More not working…
Ugh, anyways, This is based off a verse Katu and I did with our characters Herz and Bennett
Trigger warning: allusions to rape, sexual assault, and violence
This was fact, driven home and ingrained in his mind from years of servitude. Colin lies, and he enjoys lying.
Like any good liar, he knew and understood the power words have over others. He knew how to twist them to suit his whims, knew what hurt and what gave hope. The hope was always fake, and the hurt genuine and lasting. Figuring out the pattern had taken longer than it should have. Hope was often too easy to cling to. And before, Herz had been such an optimist.
As he was dragged through an unfamiliar portion of the castle, he only hoped that Colin had lied to him again. What he had told Herz was; “I’m giving you to the dog.” Not at all what Herz wanted.
Probably meant it was true.
What Herz wanted was the chopping block. Not for weeks and months of bad behavior rewarded with a transfer.
The guards weren’t taking him to the yard, he could tell that much. They’d climbed up too many stairs, too far into the west wing. Just to be a pain, Herz dragged his feet and purposefully tripped and sagged against the floor the whole way. The guards roughed him up in reply, but never veered off course. When they finally pulled him to a stop in front of an ornate wooden door, there was just nothing for it.
Colin lies, but not always. Not when the truth is worse.
Herz really was being handed over to his werewolf brother.
On the upside, he thought, it’s a werewolf. If you’re being passed on to one of them, you won’t be long for this world.
One of the guards had fumbled the door open. A moment later, Herz was dragged through it. “Stay!” the guard barked, his tone and inflection no different than an order meant for a dog. Herz looked up and met his eyes through his dirty bangs and left it at that. Then the door was shut in his face and promptly locked.
Herz sighed. Now that he was alone, his defiant nature left and he allowed himself to sulk. This was the beginning of a new nightmare. Dammit, he was tired. He didn’t want to have to start all over.
After drawing a hand through his hair to push it from his face, he began to look around. Herz had expected many things. Rotten meat. Some gnawed on corpses, perhaps. Destroyed furniture, things torn and tattered. A room befitting the monster he’d seen in the dungeons during the full moon.
He was just trying to prepare himself. He had no way of knowing how wrong he’d be.
Every inch, every surface was covered with stacks and shelved with books.
Herz immediately broke into a cold sweat.
The thought was accompanied with a shiver of terror.
Herz closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing. No. No Colin couldn’t have known. Herz had never said anything. Herz had been so careful. This was just…some…terribly specific coincidence. Colin wasn’t that powerful. He wasn’t Herz’s personal boogieman. He was just a twisted man from a twisted family and had no way of knowing how much Herz loved to read, or how long it’d been since he’d last seen a book, let alone been left with hundreds of them.
Because Herz had been careful. He’d never asked for books or things to read or paper to write on, so Colin didn’t know.
He ran his sweating hands on his poor excuse for trousers.
Colin couldn’t know what memories this would drag up or how bad they’d hurt. A library in a kingdom away, and Herz would never see it again, but the smell of aged parchment and ink was the same, just the same as his library—
Herz breathing shallowed. He focused not on the floor or his toes clenching into the carpet, but instead on the feeling of his long nails digging into his palms.
There was no telling how long he’d even have alone. The Wolf could be here any minute…or it could be hours from now. Herz didn’t know—couldn’t know—if he had time to sneak a peek. Even though some of the books were so close, well within arm’s reach. The fear rooted him to the ground. And he’d just get them dirty, if he looked. It would be so obvious he’d touched them. Anyone would notice, and he’d be punished, and worse; he’d give himself away. The Wolf would know. It would use this against him. So of course he couldn’t touch the books. And if he couldn’t touch them, it was just easier to pretend they weren’t there. They didn’t exist.
Time passed in inches. Herz had no idea how long he’d been pretending when he finally heard the door behind him open. It was the only new sound for what had to be hours, Herz having been left with only his controlled breathing and the crackling of burning wood in the fire place, and it was immediately followed by a sharp, nasal curse.
It’d been spoken in the tongue of the Marrow Kingdom, and Herz tensed immediately. He really hated the language. Associated it with those who spoke it, and they were never kind.
Herz decided he’d go ahead and make himself small. He quickly pulled his arms tight against his side and ducked his head below the line of his shoulders. The tactic never really worked on Colin, but it had at least amused him. For a time, anyway. Herz hadn’t bothered with it for months, but fell easily into it now. Old habits die hard…
“…I-I—I wasn’t expecting company,” stammered the voice. The Wolf, then, and not a servant. Herz wouldn’t have put that voice with the beast for money, but what did he know? The werewolves he knew were from stories, not flesh and blood and speaking Herz’s native language.
That surprised him more than the voice itself. Herz felt just a twinge of hope rise. Was it possible someone was trying to show him respect?
…No. No, it was more likely the Wolf didn’t expect him, the castle retard, to understand anything else.
“You’re prince Herz,” It continued. “I…I thought you were my brothers’…e-erm. Captive.”
Herz sucked his lips between his teeth, tightened his jaw and he forced himself to swallow. He should’ve expected he’d be called that. The Wolf really wasn’t any different than It’s brothers. Already, Herz hated It. The hope was good and squashed.
“His…Lordship Colin has. …Is. …Is tired of—of me…” Herz said, pushing the words out slowly and carefully. Still sounded retarded, he knew. Mouth fucked too many times to work properly. He dug his fingers in a little tighter and focused on the pain, not the failure.
The Wolf didn’t seem impressed. “Y-Yeah, you shouldn’t have to call him that. He’s not worth the breath, much—m-uch less the title.” Strange that It didn’t seem any better at speaking than Herz. It shut the door and began across the floor, the click of a cane accompanying Its footsteps. Herz flinched as It neared. He wanted to stay far away from the beast, something primal and buried in him afraid on principle, and something recent and trained expecting a different kind of pain. It paid him no mind and instead moved to another door on the far side of the quarters. “I-I suppose it’s for the best, though,” It said. “At least you’ll be safe now.”
There was the squeak of a tap, followed by the sound of running water. The Wolf was drawing a bath. Herz remained with the books, waiting.
“I’m, uh. You know, I’m about as dangerous as a shy mouse right now.”
Herz forced himself not to look up at the washroom door. That…was not at all what he’d been expecting.
“…m-maybe that wasn’t the best analogy,” the Wolf continued. “I, uh—I’m fairly harmless, e-even when I’m a wolf. More so when I’m human shamed.”
The reassurances didn’t stop the fear from creeping up Herz’s spine. He had no idea where this was going. If he had learned one thing, though, it would never be anywhere good. Not for him. Not here.
“I, I suppose my point is, I—I won’t be, uh—I’m not worth fearing.”
A funny thing to say. From where Herz stood, everyone in the castle was worth fearing. He was worthless. Less than a servant, less than a dog. If someone—like Colin, like the Wolf—decided so, he’d be worth less than the dirt on the floor.
“…d-do you not care to speak, or…?”
“I-I can—I can…speak,” Herz said. “Buh-b-but not well.”
“Y-you uh—you sound fine to me,” the Wolf replied. There was warmth there, in its tone, as if it were smiling at him. The anxious knot in Herz’s stomach tightened. “I, uh—would you like a bath? You can, uh—I can give you some of my clothes to wear.”
Herz didn’t like how eager it sounded, mostly because he wasn’t sure what the catch would be. It was a question, though. Direct enough that he was expected to answer it. With great reluctance, he found himself saying, “Yes.”
“Here,” it said, “uh—f-follow me, it’s—it’s pretty much full, it should be warm.”
Herz looked up enough to do as he was told.
The Wolf was a tall and skinny and puttering around the bathroom, putting it all together for Herz as if it where of great importance. Brown, short, thick hair pushed up from the crown of Its head and fell back along the line of Its skull. It wore an eyepatch and the fine dress of any other royal in the castle. Despite knowing It wasn’t human, Herz found himself labeling it…rather normal. Almost plain. What features It shared with Its brothers, he found ugly, such as the nose and perhaps the cheekbones, but everything else…well.
And he wouldn’t say he was disappointed, just increasingly unnerved at the frequency of which his expectations turned out wrong.
“All the soups are in the tray,” It was telling him. It turned off the water and continued on Its way around the room. “And…O-okay, so—uh.” It set out a washcloth and towel. “Here those are. Let me—I’ll get you some clothes so you don’t have to come find them while you’re, y-you’re naked.” And with that It left the bathroom, cane clonking on the wood of the floor as it went.
Herz found himself watching It go. Did It just…Did It just imply It didn’t want to see him naked?
It returned a moment later, having pulled together some clothes. It took them to the counter. “H-here, I’ll put these over here, so they don’t get wet. Y-you, uh…well, you’ll fit into my clothes until we get your weight back up. Not many people are as skinny as I am, it’s—i-it’s dangerous.” It had dropped it’s voice by then, muttering to itself more than anything.
“…uh. Uhm. Y-yessir?”
And he wasn’t sure why he said it. Maybe it was the shock. Maybe he wanted to break whatever odd phenomenon was transpiring by incurring Its wrath and interrupting Its rant. At least wrath would be familiar. A little insolence could sent the world right-side up again.
It hadn’t actually paused for him to speak—It on something about warm pajamas when It realized Herz had spoken—and seemed just as surprised as he was himself. It gave him a blink with its one working eye.
“I, I’m only the second in line for the throne,” It told him. “And—well, uh—in this family, it doesn’t account for much. Y-you can call me Bennett, or, uh—w-well, anything else you’d rather call me.
“E-except ‘dog’. I’m not fond of that.”
Herz gave a slow nod. “Yes, uh. Yes, B—”
The name caught in his throat. He tried again.
Mangled, barely whole. Chocking on your new master’s name; truly a great start.
The Wolf seemed to agree. “M-Maybe Ben would be better suited for you. Less, uh—l-less of a mouthful?”
The little ‘gift’ was made all the more sour by the smile it gave him. Slight and insincere, just like the gesture of making something easier for the retarded slave. Fucked too hard to speak two syllables in succession. Herz looked to the floor.
“I, I can sympathize,” It said—and why on Earth did it assume he cared? God, all the brothers were the same, weren’t they? All of them loved the sound of their goddamn voices. “I, uh—I, I used to be less articulate than you seem to be when I was a few years younger than you. B-but, I—I’m rambling and your water’s probablying starting to cool already. I’ll, I’ll leave you to it so you can—c-can have some privacy.”
…It had to be lying.
And yet It went for the door, looking all the world like It was leaving.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes. I, I know Colin didn’t feed you, so—uhm. Do you have any preferences or…or should I just…bring what I can find?”
A trick question? Herz gave a nod.
“A-and those preferences are…?”
“Uh,” crap, that wasn’t what he’d meant. “What—w-whatever you, uh. Y-you—y-you—you see—see—” Swallow. Breathe. “sss—ss—ssss—-”
Christ above, boy.
The Wolf continued to smile, though it was strained in a new way. Herz refused to see it as concern. He wasn’t sure why he kept looking up at It. He put his eyes back to the floor.
“W-Well, then…chocolate or vanilla?”
And he looked up at It again, just for a moment, because he simply couldn’t help it. “Uhh…”
It watched him back, with a certain, quiet kind of expectancy.
“Vanil—va—“ Swallow. “Vanilluh.”
Lying about what he wanted was one of the few freedoms he still had. It was his only form of protection, what would keep books and chocolate from being used against him.
He knew it was pathetic, he was allowed little else.
“A-all right, then,” said the Wolf. “I’ll be back.” And It shut the bathroom door with a smile. Soon after, the other door opened, closed, and the mismatched sounds of footsteps and cane clacks faded down the hallway.