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To be continued

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#01 – comfort

Because he’s not the sort for worthless word-picking and pretty hypocrisies, when he sees her unsteady hands clasp over her stomach in response to the physician’s diagnosis, his own hands curl; and the first thing that comes to his mind is the only thing he says: “I’ll get rid of it.”

#02 – rain

Claude never would have drenched himself on purpose, definitely not in a suit, but when the girl beckoned at him, transcendent smile on her face and golden hair matted to the shape of her body, he no longer cared who she might be and let himself be drawn further into the courtyard shimmering with lamps and water.

#03 – chocolate

So this child, too, likes those disgustingly sweet treats.

#04 – kiss

She dares cast her puny shadow over the sleeping sun of Obelia and stare down at him, and run her tentative fingers over his hair and skirt them beneath his mouth, and draw so close to stain him with flowery breaths and petal-soft lips; she’s a bold, insolent wench, and he doesn’t mind.

#05 – soft

Claude was young once—then the late emperor crippled his will, Anastasius bled his sympathy dry, and Penelope hollowed out his heart (to that he says good riddance); and every other bugs and flies around him chafe his skin raw; but when he wakes from Diana stirring in his arms, cursed it maybe, he feels young again.

#06 – wind

As per usual, Felix is unable to read between the line and goes to open the window when Diana complains about the heat, but because of the sight of her rosy cheeks behind those softly fluttering strands, Claude says nothing.

#07 – pain

“If you want, I’ll even beg!”

#08 – names

She pronounced herself with a lilt he couldn’t seem to reproduce, and left too soon before he could adequately understand that mystery; but even now her voice continues to play in his head, and he still attempts, sometimes, in the silence of his chamber at night: Dianna.

#09 – happiness

He extends his hand to her and she takes it.

#10 – telephone

“It lets you talk directly to whoever’s holding the other piece, no matter the distance!” Athanasia proclaimed with all the excitement of a little girl at her debutante ball, and as Claude rolled the silver device between his fingers, examining the intricate formulas inscribed upon it with a hint of pride (how does she keep coming up these ideas?), he thought for a moment about the one person he would have liked to give the other ring to.

#11 – ears

Spies had nothing on the woman who could pry into even the most idiotic thoughts the emperor kept buried deep inside the heart he didn’t know still existed.

#12 – potatoes

“We call them gold apples in my country,” she says, asking him for a fruit(?) he’s never heard of, which turns out to be a vegetable that unapologetically disregards the name, and then gets angry at him when she sees the one-hundred barrels of said vegetable being carried into the palace.

#13 – weakness

“I have none,” Claude answers with great displeasure, quietly laying down another fold of protection over her.

#14 – sensual

Diana didn’t turn quick enough; he’d already seen the way the sunset in her eyes smoulder upon finding his torso, bared by the robes she’d gifted him, and decided he liked the non-demanding attire that much more.

#15 – death

“I will not love that thing!”

#16 – sex

Stripped of all pretense and glamor, they were only two people, succumbing to an unfathomable rapacity for the other, holding together but also clawing apart the other, entrusting to the other every inch of themselves, until the dawn drew near and there was nothing left but their spent, ugly, naked cores that the other held close without another word uttered.

#17 – speed

He can run, fast, far, forever; but not to her side.

#18 – tears

That night, every drop that landed on his chest scorched with the intensity of a thousand suns, and as sobs and spasms wracked her small shoulders beneath his arms, he marveled again at the world’s cruelty and wished for her hate and dislike so that he may have nothing left to lose.

#19 – freedom

“You bought my body, Your Majesty, not my heart.”

#20 – life

He wondered, then, if she wouldn’t trade it for this one that he didn’t need.

#21 – jealousy

“You gotta stop scowling around her, Claude, or she’ll think you hate her,” Felix says, but Claude’s eyes only narrow at the retreating backs of the two juniors from the music department as he continues plotting the many ways to remove that persistent third-wheel—Milly, Lily or whatever—from her side and turn that brilliant smile solely his way.

#22 – touch

“If you didn’t want to sleep, you only had to say so.”

#23 – taste

But because his (pretty) neighbor was inviting him to the batch of fresh brownies she’d just pulled from the oven, Claude took the crumbs off her lips and declared, “This is enough.”

#24 – hands

The bustling night market was crowded, and Diana eyed the rows of stalls and exotic merchandises with the curiosity of a child; so he told her they could stay as long as she liked if she held on tight.

#25 – devotion

“I can see your love for this country, Your Majesty,” she’d said, the selfish wench arbitrarily assuming things about him on her own, on the top of that grassy, sunlit hill overlooking the grand capital, and it was that single memory of her dazzling smile that kept his shaking hand from ripping his own chest open to be freed from the pain.

#26 – blood

Still, the sickening warmth of that child who looked so much like her seeped into his robes and seared his skin like a brand, and he lashed out at those magicians for their incompetence, not forgetting that he, too, was powerless to help her—again.

#27 – sickness

They only knew each other as the barista who couldn’t crack a service smile to save his life and the regular who came in at four and ordered a different flavored latte every day; but then he was out sick for a week and came back to his part-timers informing that she’d asked about him, and smirked, realizing he might actually have a chance after all.

#28 – forever

“Alright, it’s a promise then…Claude.”

#29 – moon

People who’d watched Diana dance thought her blinding, a fairy, fickle enchantress, but he kept watching and saw flesh and bones, a girl, a human, gentle as the moon, magnetic and haunting; and, like the moon, she was gone with the daylight.

#30 – sun

The Sun of Obelia, watches over its empire with unparalleled might and wisdom, destroys all that it touches if approached carelessly; just foolish, mortal Claude at her side.

#31 – quarrel

He couldn’t stand to look at her anymore and swept out of the room, vision clouded and white robes trailing behind him; he was furious and needed to break something, but not her – never her – but, all fire left him and he stopped dead in the dark, empty hallway remembering, he already had.

#31 – witchcraft

But Claude would know best if he were under a spell; still, he met the mischievous glint in her eyes with the best impression of anger, mumbling “Witch,” and pulled her close for a kiss that escalated too quickly.

#32 – blessing

Athanasia tore into her gifts with none of the grace expected of princess and only heir to the throne, gratitude spilling from her lips; “And I’d like to thank mom for giving birth to me,” she ended, sucking the sound out of the room like a vacuum as Felix glanced nervously to him, and he—he was surprised it didn’t hurt as much to agree with her.

#33 – innocence

It certainly wasn’t their first kiss, but it was slow, vulnerable, and – at the risk of sounding like some half-wit starry-eyed imbecile – everything he’d been longing for.

#34 – fantasy

Claude needs a full minute of watching Diana and Athanasia happily chat away over tea and cakes under the cool tree shade to understand that he is dreaming, and another to come to term with the fact that Claude de Alger Obelia is having this kind of cheesy wish-fulfilment vision; but then he lets loose a smile and commits to enjoying what little time he has with Diana before she disappears this time.

#35 – doughnuts

Some asinine gossip has begun circulating in his company: the employees seem to think he cares for them any more than ethically (or legally) required; but he simply hands his secretary Felix the box of doughnuts to distribute amongst the department and shuts himself inside his corner office, all too pleased to finally obtain the number of that part-timer in the store down the street.

#36 – heaven

She smiles down at him resting on her lap, and the rest of the world no longer matters.

#37 – hell

“Who is this Diana, Felix?”

#38 – novels

Claude never did understand the appeal of fictitious stories, but then he met a girl at the local library; now he often finds himself contemplating the scenarios in which they could be.

#39 – stray

It was almost pathetic how quickly and thoroughly his debauched, beast-like heart got tamed, but as Diana pulled him against her chest in the greyness of their bedroom and said she’d stay forever by his side, he did not care to question how much truth was in those words and only leaned in close to take in the scent that he’d decided was “home.”

#40 – lightning/thunder

“I like storms; they’re unpredictable, like you,” Diana said with a smile, leaving him puzzling over it for a good few days until the sky finally cleared and he settled with taking her comment as a compliment.

#41 – reform

Because when she was done with him, he no longer recognized himself, for better or worse.

#42 – mutilated

Some days, Diana would look up to the sky, and he would catch glimpse of that darkness in her heart and remember again that the world spared no one, that beneath that beautiful, unblemished flesh existed suffering still, and he was in no position to pity her.

#43 – clouds

She was pure, soft, ubiquitous and free, and ephemeral, and he glances up from his work and out the window from time to time to sooth the ache between his ribs.

#44 – breathing

His headache only grows worse after the meeting, and it takes some great effort to remain upright until the nobles are all gone and he can yell for someone to fetch Jenette, all the while wondering why he still bothers, why his lungs continue to gulp for air, or why he keeps wanting to call out someone’s name but then never does.

#45 – rust

It builds up slowly, silently, and by the time he notices he’s already beyond repair; Diana says nothing of it and simply accepts all of him.

#46 – confusion

“But why am I receiving a gift on your birthday?” he asks, and she just smiles, pushes the white Siodonni clothes into his hands and ushers him toward the bathroom to change.

#47 – soliloquy

He was angry for the longest time, moronic in one moment of stewing madness, and then saved by a fateful encounter, so he sat back into the filigreed chair, content with watching over Athanasia as she blithely played on the grass with Felix and her maid, thinking, ‘This is your final gift to me, and I’ll defend it till the last drop of my blood.’

#48 – melody

He finds himself rooted to the spot by the door, thoroughly entranced by beautiful gibberish as she sings into the night in some obscure language, her moonlit visage brighter than any star.

#49 – sleep

One late night, their daughter, who rarely cried or acted selfishly and who was strangely mature for her age, had a nightmare and asked to sleep with them, so they tucked her safely in the middle; and as Claude drifted back to sleep looking at his two most precious people in the world, his final thought was that life could not get any more perfect.

#50 – supernova

The monstrous power was so startlingly familiar, and in the blinding whiteness, their images began to overlap – the child curled up at its center and the ghost of a woman; as the light engulfed him in blistering heat there was a sudden moment of clarity in his heart: he was not going to fail them this time.


 

The prompts were taken from a 1000-word challenge I doubt anyone completed but have seen many authors use for their fics.