Is it wrong to love the person you're sworn to protect?
|I loved you too much.
I was chosen by your father to protect you, to be your shadow, and I took it with all the dignity that was known to me. We both were young, but that didn’t stop us from doing our duty. You were to be empress; I was to be a watchdog, ever loyal and at your beck and call. I watched you attend social gatherings, eat meals with your father, learn from some of the best tutors that there were. But most importantly I saw you grow. When sickness claimed your father, I watched in silence. I wanted to comfort you, to hold you, but how could I? You were royalty, I was a glorified guardsman.
You went from a high-spirited girl to a somber, calculating woman in the span of a few short years. No longer did you run through the halls singing your songs. Now, you walked through them, surrounded by flatters and schemers, always thinking of your people as if they were your children. And I was there. Your bodyguard. Your shadow.
I think it was then that I fell in love with you.
We grew and we soon became inseparable. At first, I thought that is was only because you knew of the dangers of the ruling, of the hidden knives, and you wanted me there to protect your person. But one night, when the palace was silent and my duty was done, and I bid you goodnight, you asked if we could share a drink. How could I refuse my empress, let alone the one I secretly loved? We toasted and drank Tivian red - your favorite ever since that time as children we broke into the cellars - and there we talked. You wanted to know about my life, about my childhood. I told you everything.
I told you of how my family worked in the silver mines, of how the silver dust in the air poisoned our lungs. Next, I told you when we lost our home, and I survived on the streets. Among all the lords, lordlings, and famous knights, your father choose a gutter rat to guard the future of the empire. To this day I don't know why. When I was done I looked to you for what? Sympathy? That was the last thing I wanted. When you touched my hand, it took all my strength not to flinch away. It felt wrong - my rough, scarred hands in your smooth porcelain ones. It was then that you told me how you felt, how you too loved me.
When you announced your pregnancy, the rumors that had already begun to spread around court soon took root in everyone’s minds. One thing among many that everyone knew but never spoken openly about. When Emily finally came into the world kicking and screaming, I was not there. I was in the hall, doing my duty, for that’s what I was. Not a father, but your protector. The years the followed were the happiest I’ve ever been. Had I known that my life would have ended up how it did I would think it was a dream, but every day I woke and saw you with our daughter at your breast, I knew that this was no dream.
But as is wont with sunny days, there always comes rain. Around you and her, I was at peace, my eyes only for you. I never saw the man, never heard the hue and cry of alarm. Had I been doing my duty I would have protected you, would have stopped the assassin from getting close, but love had blinded me and made me slow.
And as you breathed your last of this earth, I cried for you. For the things that were, the things that are, and the things that would never come to pass. I loved you too much and that led to your downfall.