Feran was bored waiting on Gildhardt to return to their little home between kingdoms so he decided to go on a walk before his desires got the better of him and he marched to the castle to demand his husband back. Feran knew that he was getting too old to indulge his every whim anymore and certainly getting too old for Gildhardt to hoist him over his shoulder and carry him off every time he went somewhere he wasn’t supposed to. He guessed they were planning something for his birthday. It was really the only explanation as to why they were being so secretive and weird lately but it was annoying.
He was far too caught up in his flustered thoughts to notice the man running at him until it was too late. He had been knocked down and stabbed right in the chest. Feran yelled as the man laughed and even breathed like a mad man “Ford! Ford stop!” another man yelled. The crazed man pulled the blade out and began running again. Feran guessed it was the other man he heard yelling that knelt on the ground “Oh my god” those words sounded so far away and in a few more seconds the world went dark.
“fuck!” the man yelled, ripping up his shirt to try and stop the bleeding as he thought of what to do next. This was bad, really bad, this was Feran,a prince, his crazy unlce had really done it this time. His parents had warned him not to let his Uncle out and now his pity had cost him and possibly their entire family their lives if Feran died. “Feran wake up! Feran” Feran wasn’t moving and bleeding far too much, too much for him to be left alone so he did his best to bandage the wound with what he had then lifted him up to get him help. His Uncle could possible do a lot more damage but he wagered making sure Feran didn’t die was the most important problem right now.
He was terrified for Feran as he carried him, his entire body shaking and stomach twisting as he moved as quickly as he could. Feran was barely breathing and he could see out of the corner of his eye he was extremely pale. “Please don’t die, please. I’m sorry, so sorry.”
Feran was cold, his body feeling heavy as if someone had weighed him down with stones. He could feel himself slipping away and forced himself to hang on. Gildhardt, he had to see Gildhardt. He fell further away, that welcoming darkness enveloping him. No, he told himself, please no. “Feran, Prince Feran.” He opened his eyes, finding himself laying on a pile of soft animal skins in the middle of a field. “Prince?” He looked up, blinking in confusion. The man sitting atop the horse smiled down at him.
“Who are you?”
The man slid down and held out his hand. Feran felt he could trust this man and allowed him to help him up. “Many know me as Death, but you can call me Ardan.”
He jerked his hand away in shock. “D…Death? No, not this is a dream. I…I can’t be dead.” He touched his chest, tears spring to his eyes. “No, Gildhardt.”
“Whoa, easy, easy. Breathe and listen to me.” Feran took a deep breath. “There, good. You are not dead, not yet. This is what we call a near death experience.”
“so I can still get back to him?”
“yes and I can see you definitely have the will to”
“do you know what happened? Why did that man stab me?”
“He’s crazy nothing more and the family hasn’t been getting the proper help for him. Come on”
“where are we going”
“it varies” Feran started to follow Ardan, hoping this really was a journey back to life instead of death. Almost no sooner did Nathan get Feran to a hospital did someone leave to find his husband. Nathan tried to explain that he needed to stop his Uncle before anybody else got hurt but he had come in with Feran barely clinging to life, until the king said otherwise he was detained in the hospital. “He’s actually nuts, he could do anything, please” but nobody listened.
Gildhardt knew something was wrong the moment the young man pushed into the throne room, he was out of breath, but forced himself to say, “Master Gildhardt, it’s Prince Feran…he’s…he’s hurt, he’s at the hospital.”
Feran’s father was on his feet. “What do you mean hurt?”
Gildhardt was already gone, not waiting for either of their father’s. “Gildhardt.” His father called, taking off after him and making sure he grabbed one of the horses. Gildhardt’s stomach was in knots, his mind screaming at him and the horse to go faster. Stabbed. How bad was it? Was he still alive? He shook his head. He couldn’t go there, he couldn’t even begin to think of a world without Feran. The horse didn’t even have time to come to a full stop when Gildhardt jumped from its back and ran inside.
“My husband, I need to see my husband now.” He demanded.
“Prince Gildhardt, please calm down.” One of the healers tried and he gave her a look that made her blood run cold.
“Where, is my husband? Take me to him now.”
“I will not sit and I wont go anywhere else. I wont get in the damn way I just need to see him. I have to see for myself how he is” She could see fighting with him was useless so she guided him to where Feran was being tended to. She apologized to the staff working as Gildhardt entered “he couldn’t be stopped” They seemed to just accept it but one of the men spoke “if you care about him living through this give us a few more moments.” Gildhardt just stood there, his heart mangling as he saw how pale Feran was “can I give blood or something…you have to let me do something”
“then help the authorities figure out what really happened. We have the man who brought him in handcuffed in another room”
“Take me to him.”
Nathan started shaking the moment Gildhardt stepped into the room. It was like all of the light and air had been sucked out of the room and he barely managed to open his mouth and say, “Sorry, I’m sorry.”
Gildhardt took a deep breath, seeing how terrified this man was. He didn’t need to beat anyone to death, there had been enough bloodshed and there was no proof this person had hurt Feran. “What’s your name?”
“I was told you brought Feran in, tell me what happened.”
“It’s my Uncle, he…he’s not well. My parents had him locked up and I let him out. I didn’t know just how bad it was, I swear, I mean he’s nuts and they’re not even getting him help. He was begging me to let him out so I did and he grabbed a knife and…and ran and the prince…he… he was…” He pressed his hands against his face. “I am so fucking sorry, but we have to stop him before he hurts someone else. Please stop him, please, I’m sorry.”
Feran was confused as to why he was standing in front of a small cottage. He didn’t know this place, not that he could remember anyway and he turned to Ardan. “How is this supposed to help me get back to Gildhardt?”
“I honestly do not know. I may be Death, but I don’t know your mind. Each place you go will be significant in some way, you just have to find out why.”
“But I’ve never seen this place.”
“Not the outside maybe.”
Feran was uncertain about this place but if he needed to get this done to return to Gildhardt he’d do it. He walked over, probably looking more confident than he felt as he turned the handle and pushed his way inside. Gildhardt hadn’t even asked if he could free the man but he was married to the prince so he assumed it would be fine no matter what. He told the staff to let his father know when he arrived that a search party was needed for this Uncle and he had Nathan give the best description he had. He also Nathans parents rounded up for questioning as to why the Uncle hadn’t been getting proper help. Crazy or not he deserved a life, not to be locked up somewhere.Even though he had hurt Feran Gildhardt could still feel bad for the mans situation.
Truly he felt some relief. It hadn’t been a planned attack because someone was angry about something so that meant he didn’t have to worry about Feran being attacked again. The healers would take care of him and Feran would be alright, Gildhardt believed that in his soul. He had to or he wouldn’t be functional right now or able to reason half as well. When they were alone Nathan asked “Is Prince Feran…okay?”
“he’s alive still if that’s what you’re asking me”
“I….” Nathans voice trailed off and he just went back to looking. He was sure Gildhardt had little interest in hearing him talk much more.
“Feran will live, he has to live.”
Nathan nodded. “What’s going to happen to my Uncle and my parents?”
“We’ll try to gt your Uncle some help, as for your parents, they may be punished.”
“I see. I should be punished too then, right? It’s my fault.”
“You tried to act with compassion not knowing how dangerous he was and you saved my husband. Another man may have left him there to die, but you didn’t. Let’s leave it at that. I need to get back to him, you should wait around for your Uncle.”
Feran looked around in confusion at his childhood room. All of his old toys and books were there, even his old bedding with the dragons he had asked to be embroidered on them. “I don’t understand, Gildhardt has never seen any of this.”
“Look around, see what you can find.”
Feran moved slowly around the room, not wanting to miss anything. He picked up stuffed animals, turn them this way and that, then went over to the bookshelf, letting his fingers and eyes run over the spines. He paused when he came to one he didn’t recognize and pulled it off the shelf. The cover was an earthy brown and the title on the front said Two Little Princes. “This isn’t mine.” He flipped it open, finding a key inside with a G etched into it. A door appeared on the far wall and he looked at Ardan.
“That was fast.”
He shut the book and showed it to Ardan. “Is the title a joke?”
“I think it’s more your sense of humor.” He gestured toward the door. “Shall we?”
“yes” Feran said eagerly. He was more confident with these doors now so he ran to it, flinging it open and rushing in. Ardan chuckled, planning on telling his wife about this case when he could return home to her. He knew it would have a happy ending, he knew this one was returning to the living. Gildhardt arrived back at the hospital and went straight to his room, remembering easily where it was. Things were calmer now and he seemed stable. A healer came in saying “we think he’s going to pull through. We’re doing everything we can”
“thank you” she left him alone and he took Feran hand, rubbing it “I need you Feran….I truly need you. Don’t you dare leave me. You can’t do that to me, you can’t do that to my heart. I have never loved anybody else anywhere near this intensely..” he kissed his hand “please baby” They found the Uncle the next day. He had apparently stripped down to nothing and was running around the woods on all fours like an animal, further showing just how unhinged he was. They still hadn’t seen the parents but they must have heard since it was the prince the uncle attacked. They were possibly on the run but they couldn’t avoid punishment forever because neither Ferans or Gildhardts dad was going to rest until they were found. In the end they were the ones at fault for this happening.
“It’s the river.” Feran said as cool water washed over his feet. “This is where we met.” He pointed. “I was there, bathing and he walked out of the woods and saw me.” Feran chuckled. “I believe he thought to humiliate and then kill me, but I took him off guard. He was so easy.” He looked around. “I don’t know what it is about this place, I mean it’s all important. There was a war going on, but we met here anytime we had a chance, sneaking away after each fight. Sometimes we met on the battlefield and had to pretend to fight.”
“I’m glad it didn’t end in tragedy.” Ardan said.
“I guess if you had been here to greet us it wouldn’t have been so bad, but yes, I’m glad too. Our fathers would have blamed themselves because of the war.” He let his eyes run over the water and caught the glint of something shiny on the other side of the river. “Did you see that?” Ardan nodded and Feran waded into the water. The current seemed to become stronger the further he went and he glanced back at Ardan who gave him an encouraging smile. The Reaper couldn’t help him other than the occasional hint, he could only observe and see if he was strong enough to get out on his own.
It became near impossible for him to force his body forward once he was almost there which was incredibly frustrating but Feran fought the current with all his might, with all his love for Gildhardt “I’m getting back to him damn it!” he cursed and finally made it to the other side. He bent down, picking up the glittering object on the other side and smiling “my wedding ring” he looked at his hand, noticing it wasn’t there “but I was wearing it when I went out”
“well this isn’t your real body you know” Ardan said, standing beside him now “I got it, why aren’t I going anywhere else” Ardan shrugged and Feran sighed “somthing should have happened, maybe there’s something else here”
“stay calm, you’ll figure it out.”
“I hate worrying Gildhardt like this though. He seems so tough and cold to the world but he’s honestly a really sweet and loving man” A healer walked into the room “sir?” Gildhardt looked up, his emotional pain evident on his face “I need to put soemthing on the wound to help it heal and make sure an infection doesn’t enter his body. I know you’re a man of war but this is your husband, you might want to leave the room until I’m done”
“I can handle it, I want to be here for him. I don’t want him to be alone when he wakes”
“okay, then I only ask for you to back up a bit. I’ll need room” Gildhardt was happy to comply with the request and moved back to give her as much room as she needed. It was hard not to give into tears when he saw Ferans chest but he wouldn’t do it, not here. He couldn’t risk the first thing his husband waking up to be something like him crying.
Feran hissed in pain, grabbing his chest and quickly pulled his shirt aside, confused when he didn’t see anything. “What was that?”
“I can feel things happening out there?”
“And sometimes hear them.”
“Do you think Gildhardt is there?”
Feran started pacing, thinking as hard as he could about how to move on to the next area. If Gildhardt was out there then he was seeing everything that had happened to him. Feran knew it couldn’t be pretty and he was sure Gildhardt was scared with worry. He sighed, absentmindedly playing with his ring. He often did the same thing when he was reading and he finally slid it onto his finger, jumping in surprise when he nearly ran into the next door. “Really?” He let out an exasperated sigh. He let his hand rest on the handle, but turned to Ardan. “Are we close?”
“That depends on you.”
Gildhardt wished he could cuddle with Feran, but he feared making his wound worse so he pulled up a chair and took his hand, pressing kisses to his fingers and letting his thumb play over his wedding ring. “Please wake up, please, I love you so much and I need you. Please come back to me.”
A few loyal subjects managed to find and bring Nathans parents to the castle. Everyone loved Feran so even the people were eager to see the two responsible brought to justice. Ferans father was actually shaking with his anger as he spoke, especially when they started trying to apologize and claim no guilt for what happened “silence!” he yelled. They quit talking so he continued “This IS your fault. Why did you have that man locked up? There are special places that care for people like him”
“He’s always been locked up, our parents were embarrassed of him and when they died I just continued caring for him” The man answered so the king replied “locking him up is not caring for him. What a miserable life he must have led all this time. He may have stabbed my son but he is not of sound mind and in the proper care he wouldn’t have been able to hurt anybody, but no, pride and selfishness has brought us here. My son still has not woken up, I still very well may lose my youngest boy because of you”
“its our son who let him out”
“stop pushing blame that is on your own shoulders. He was acting with compassion, being far more human than you two are”
“But sir, we…”
He glared at them and they snapped their mouths shut. “For your negligence, for your cruelty to a sick man, and for the near death of my son you will be lashed and forced to work in an institute with people with mental disabilities until you can not only gain an understanding of them, but also until you have learned the meaning of responsibility.” He waved the guards over and the two were restrained. “See to it that the healers fix their backs once their punishment has been carried out. Know that if my son dies, I will have your heads removed.”
“What of our son? Is he to go free?”
“He has suffered enough so I have been told. Get them out of my sight and have one of the mages magically lock them to this city so they cannot escape.”
Gildhardt’s father passed them on the way out, his cold gaze sliding over them so they flinched away. “I caught the end of that, you are far nicer than I. If Gildhardt had been hurt, I would have had them executed on the spot.”
“Feran is a compassionate boy and when he wakes I want to greet him without death on my hands.”
“How are his mother and brother holding up?”
“I sent a letter to them. They’re visiting Feran’s aunt, I’m sure they’ll be on their way as soon as they receive it.” He rubbed his temples. “She insisted on making the decorations for Feran’s birthday and they went to help. I hate this is what they will have to come home to.”
“Your son has to be tough to deal with my son, just as Gildhardts mother is to deal with me.” Ferans father halfway smiled “well, at least your son is mad about mine. He’s been at Ferans side since he was no longer needed to search for Ford”
“we’ll just think of the best happening” Feran placed his hand on yet another handle but this time he felt incredible pain, so much pain he had to let go and hold his chest “Oh god, why does it hurt so bad”
“the knife was slid back and forth quite a bit before he pulled it out and in your chest at that. You’re going to have to push yourself through and into that pain if you want to get back. This is the final door Feran, you can do it, you’ve worked so hard” He groaned as he tried again, struggling to make himself do it. Gildhardt was worth it though, he wouldn’t give up and let himself die.
The door opened to a swirling black abyss and he paused on the threshold, his chest burning as he looked down into nothingness. He looked back at Ardan who smiled at him. “It’s okay, trust yourself.”
Feran nodded, clutching his chest. “Thank you.” He turned back to the darkness, closing his eyes as he thought of Gildhardt and jumped. He felt like he was spinning and falling, his stomach dipping as he let himself be pulled deeper and deeper into that void. The pain increased and he gasped, the sound surprising Gildhardt.
“Feran?” Gildhardt said as he stood, his heart hammering against his chest as he gently squeezed Feran’s hand. “Feran, can you hear me baby?” He let his fingers drift over Feran’s forehead and nearly collapsed when his eyelids slowly fluttered open revealing those beautiful blue irises.
“Gildhardt” Feran sounded like he was in pain so Gildhardt called someone to come help him. Feran was glad the first person he saw when he woke up was his husband, that he had sat with him through this. When they were finally left alone again Feran said “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me. I was being a brat about you being gone”
“You shouldn’t be sorry my love and I know everything that happened, don’t talk too much okay. You might bother your wounds. They are almost done fixing you. There was considerable damage, especially given where he was stabbing you”
“what did my dad do about it? He knows Nathan helped me right? He’s not in trouble?”
‘Yes, Nathan isn’t in any trouble at all and the Uncle is getting help. I’m not sure yet what your dad is doing about teh people who had the uncle locked up”
“Probably scared them into an early grave. He’s probably furious.” He relaxed in the bed, but turned his head so he could smile at Gildhardt. “You look like you’ve been through Hell.”
“I have been. I thought I was going to lose you.”
“Not me, I’m too stubborn. Ardan helped.”
“It’s a long story.” He was exhausted, but he didn’t want to go to sleep. What if he didn’t wake up?
“Relax okay? I’ll send someone to let our father’s know you’re okay.”
“Do you think you could maybe hold me?”
Feran rolled his eyes. “Shut up and get up here before I make you. I’ve had a long day and I want to be cuddled.”
Gildhardt was nervous but he did want to hold him, practically needed to hold him. Goldhradt carefully got into the bed, gently holding Feran as Feran tightly wrapped his arms around him. He was really back among the living, feeling his husband against him was absolute proof of that he couldn’t be more relieved and grateful. Feran was released from the hospital days later and they still held the party. The only change was letting him know what was going on, not sure a surprise would be good for a man who had come that close to death. Stab wounds to the chest were nothing to take lightly and weather Feran liked it or not Gildhardt was going to baby him and force him to be careful until more time had passed. Feran knew without Gildhardt telling him though, he had always been protective and this time he was going to give him his way. He was that grateful to have survived and to have this amazing family who loved him as much as they did.
~ The End