The Infirmary was usually full of life - although death did seek in - but that day, it was empty. The doctor was sitting in the far left corner, just behind the emergency entrance that linked the battlefields to the Infirmary. It was heavily guarded. Only those with a Metuere pass or a medical certificate could enter. To Permotio's knowledge, it was last used when Jane Doe 3,124,891 entered on that fateful night. A shiver flew down Permotio's spine as she lowered Cavum's body onto a clean, blood free, bed.
"Doctor, this is Cavum Metuere. At twenty years old, he died less than three minutes ago. He slit both wrists. I shall leave him in your hands. Fare thee well, brother. Goodbye doctor." Permotio was about to leave; the doctor grabbed her arm. Neither of them had seen him move.
"My little Permotio, it has been seven years since I last saw you looking so..." He paused, looking for the right word, "unemotional. Your tears for Pax and Cavum have been shed."
Permotio spun to face the doctor, so fast she felt dizzy. Libidinosus nearly reached out to steady her, but then stopped himself. "Who is Pax? Was that the girl who died in my arms?" The doctor nodded. "Why was this not told to me before? Was she a peace fighter, as her name suggests?"
Libidinosus this time reached to keep Permotio steady this time. The doctor spoke with his calm, unemotional, wise, knowledgeable voice. "Permotio, her name has only recently been known to us. I thought you had seen the list of the newly named dead. You have my apologies. Indeed, Pax was a peace fighter. Like you, she too was planning to be married. Do not waste your time thinking about lowly servants. Pax was the lowest of the low. Never forget that, ma'am, for your thoughts and time must be spent on your future, not on a servant's past."
Permotio looked at Libidinosus's face and his pained expression touched Permotio's heart. She smiled at him, took his arm in hers, and walked out of the Infirmary. She refused to dignify the doctor's cruel words with a response. Together, they walked silently to her chamber.
Libidinosus left Permotio just before they arrived at her chamber. Her chamber, dimly lit with blue candles, seemed strangely homely and welcoming. A new intruder had entered her chamber. A small hovering, glowing ghost ball was above Cavum's blood pool. Although it may have been from the stress of that night's trauma, Permotio was convinced she could see a face in the glowing ball.
Still standing in the doorframe, Permotio backed up into the brick wall opposite her chamber. The glowing ghost ball refused to move. Verna came into Permotio's line of sight. Verna looked like Fear had spread his wings around her, and suffocated the strength and hope out of her.
"Ma'am, I have just heard the news from my brother. How are you, mistress? Is there anything I can...Oh my...Is that Cavum's blood? Oh ma'am, allow me to clear it up!" Verna attempted to enter the chamber. It was obvious to Permotio that Verna could not see the ghost ball. She held Verna's arm firmly, but not tightly, and stared directly at her with cold, quartz coloured eyes.
"Cavum is my twin. I must be the one to clear up the blood. My hands have already touched his blood, while it was still in his wounds." Permotio showed Verna her blood stained hands. "Leave me, my dearest Verna, leave me alone." Permotio looked back into the chamber; the ghost ball had vanished as quickly as it had come. Permotio was left standing alone. A moment ago it was homely, but now it was frightening. After quickly changing into a clean skirt - there was only one clean one left now - she went down to the main Hall, after lacing herself into a corset.
The main Hall was always busy. It had, it seemed, a time of its own. Like the rest of the castle, it was medieval and gothic in appearance. Candles were used as lighting. The attitudes of the Metueres in the castle, matched the castle itself. The Metueres valued ancient and present languages - Latin was just one of many languages they spoke fluently - and their religion was paganism. If someone no longer wanted to be pagan, they were not out-casted for changing their religion. The King and Queen of the Metueres, Permotio's parents, were not just the royalty; they were also the political leaders. Family was different to how others knew and valued it. One's parents did not wholly define one's status. It was also defined by one's attitudes to life and death. A Metuere's reactions to a certain circumstance had a huge part to play in how another Metuere saw and valued them. School was basic. All under sixteen years of age attended school to learn eight languages - Latin, English, German, French, Greek, Hieroglyphs, Chinese, and Japanese - as well as Drama, Mathematics, Home Economics, Alchemy, History, Religion - which included learning about other religions - and, for the elders who remained at school for an extra year, Morality. Permotio had studied all of these courses.
Permotio could see the distraught Libidinosus, standing alone in the corner of the main Hall. He was wearing the same clothes that he witnessed Cavum's suicide. Why had Permotio expected him to change his clothes, even though she had? Libidinosus had not touched Cavum's blood. The news of his death had not reached the whole castle yet; everyone would know by next week, and then everyone would worship Permotio even more.
Libidinosus, staring straight ahead in terror, failed to see Permotio approach with respect and dignity, her metallic skirt following with gentle ease. She came near him, and whispered in his ear, facing him, though not blocking what he was staring so frightfully at. "Speak not," she whispered gently, "Libidinosus, speak not, for I shall speak to you. I have seen my brother's ghost ball; it was in my chamber. It was above his fresh blood. Libidinosus, is all fine?" Permotio took a step back, and turned cautiously to what he was looking at. Apparently, no one else in the crowd could see the glowing ghost ball. It was, most certainly, the same one that had been in Permotio's chamber. She knew at that point that it was Cavum; he promised that his ghost ball would appear soon after his death, and would be blue.
Strangely, Permotio felt relaxed. It is near to impossible to feel relaxed in any Metuere settlement. She uttered the words, so carefully, that her own Mater taught her. She spoke with ease, like she was born to say those words: "A home is a house with love. A castle is a house for protection. The castle walls will protect you now, dearest Cavum. Be gone, but forever remain in our hearts and minds. Fare thee well, Frater." The ghost ball faded and Permotio released the breath she did not realise she was holding. Instinctively and without thought of the consequences, she reached for Libidinosus's hand, oblivious to the crowd s watching. Royalty and servants were not to mix, let alone hold hands. Neither of them cared. Proudly, they walked, heads held high, to the King's chamber, to tell him the news of Cavum's suicide.
The walk felt like it should have been the longest and slowest journey. Because Permotio was still holding Libidinosus's hand, the eternal journey lasted a few seconds. The harsh candles gave corridor upon corridor a warm glow.
The door of her father's chamber was swinging open. There was a bloody handprint on the centre of the rosewood door. Still clinging to Libidinosus's hand, Permotio ran into the chamber. What her eyes saw could not have been real.
"Permotio, Soror, how nice it is to see you! The doctor has brought me back to life. I've only got about" He glanced at the clock. "I've only got about ten seconds left. Fare thee well, dear Soror. Again." For the second time that night, Cavum died with his sister watching.
Permotio ran to her father's bed. She stumbled and fell over Cavum's body. She did not care. Her thoughts were entirely on the fragile man she called Pater. She continued running, still clinging to Libidinosus. The curtains surrounding the bed were thankfully untouched. The frail, old man with his youthful voice, was still in place, lying on the elegant bed. The Metuere King was very much alive; his chest was rising and falling in time with his breathing.
Permotio buried her deathly pale face into Libidinosus's masculine chest. Arms wrapped around each other's waists, they walked the back way into Libidinosus's servant chamber.
No member of royalty had ever walked into servant chambers. It was not officially out of bounds, but it was morally wrong. It was just like the royal chambers, but with one main difference. The rosewood had been swapped with flat packed furniture.
"Ma'am, you have witnessed your brother die twice in half an hour. Are you sure this is what you want, mistress?"
Permotio stepped closer to Libidinosus, lifting his hands to go around her corset waist. "Hush my dear, hush. If you feel that a twenty-year-old princess cannot deflower a seventeen-year-old servant, then speak now. If not..." She lifted his hands higher to where the lacing was neatly tied. "I believe you know what to do."
Libidinosus began to untie her corset. A knock at the door from Verna made the couple leap off each other. "Libby, it's Verna. Oh, good evening ma'am. I did not realise you were present. I do not mean to be rude, ma'am, but why are you here?" Verna's emerald eyes danced from her owner to her brother. "Is...Oh. I understand. I'll leave you lovers alone. Your secret is safe with me."
Permotio followed Verna out of the door and untied her corset as she walked back in. She kicked the door closed with pointed black leather boots. She stepped carefully, inch by inch, until she was close enough to jump on the servant she had fallen in love with. They did what was expected of them.