The Eastern Prince, The Western Knight
Earth 53: Prince Snart/Knight Lance
Part III: The Curse of Sealing
“I can’t believe I didn’t notice Len, I’m so sorry.” Sara tells him. They’ve moved from the cemetery to the bath chambers under the castle. Sara is currently waiting for one of the springs to heat and in the meantime, she's turned her full attention on him. “And you haven’t changed back, which means you must be stuck that way.” she continues. He makes a sound which she takes to mean she’s right. “Does this have to do with what happened to…” she pauses, pain crossing her face. He doesn’t let her finish, making that same noise. She takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “God, I just rode right by. I didn’t even stop to make sure Lisa was okay.”
Leonard crawls forward, resting his head in her lap. “I’m so sorry. I let myself get caught up in all of this and I just… I turned my back on everyone else.” Leonard rolls over and looks up at her with big grey eyes and she has to fight back the smile. “You were always so feline, even before you learned to shift.” she teases him, though it’s half hearted at best. He purrs as she scratches under his chin.
Sara takes a deep breath to clear her mind and when she looks back down at him that determined spark he loves so much is back. “Alright, so I’m guessing you were cursed.” he nods. “Presumably by the person who killed your parents.” he nods again. “Alright, we need a plan. First we need to get you someplace safe, find a curse breaker. Noone we don’t trust can know about you being like this or that you’ve made contact with allies.” she continues. “So we’ll rest tonight and then head to Star City. Sorcerer Wells should be there for the solstice. Assassination or not, it’s a bad idea for any magic wielder of status to miss the feast. He should be able to break the curse. Then you can tell us what’s going on and we can take all of your testimony to King Robert.”
Leonard watches her as she lays out her plan, marveling at the spark of life that’s returned to her eyes. She’s still not quite where she was, and he doesn’t think she ever will be again, but for the first time in a long time the hope he’s been holding onto doesn’t seem quite so frivolous. A part of him preens a little when it occurs to him that she’s laying out her plan in much the same way he lays out his own. He’s rubbed off on her.
Eventually she finishes and she looks down at him. He’s been more than happy to hang out right where he is while she talks through her ideas. This position brings back such lovely memories of warm spring afternoons in his mother’s rose garden, his head in her lap, listening to her talk about her studies and her training. He loved those days, and the memory of them never fails to calm him.
“The bath is ready. Why don’t we get cleaned up and then I’ll cook dinner. We should get to bed early so we can leave as soon as possible tomorrow.”
Leonard rolls off of her lap and she gets up, beginning to strip the outer layer of her armor. She lays it out, only to notice he’s watching her intently. “Where has the gentlemanly attitude gone so suddenly?” she asks, taking off the next layer. He does not look away, even as she strips to her underwraps. “Why your majesty. Did you refrain from peeking because I didn’t know it was you?” she teases, stepping closer and kneeling in front of him. He’s certain that he looks proud of himself, if the amused smile on her face is anything to go by. She shakes her head, laying a kiss on his muzzle. “Come along now you little deviant, I think we could both stand a scrubbing.”
Sara watches Leonard as he curls up on the end of her bed. She remembers the first time he told her about his magic, about his talents, but she’d never actually seen it until now. She wishes she had, she’d feel a lot less guilty thinking about how cute he is in this form. Who is she kidding, she’ll feel guilty no matter what. No amount of cuddling up or purring is going to make her forget that when she heard about Leonard’s family, about his parents, about going missing, she just walked away. She convinced herself that because she walked out on him, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her and therefore, it wasn’t her concern anymore. She’s so consumed by the ghosts that haunt her, she missed the people who were still alive, the people who were still here to love her.
For a year she pushed aside all thoughts of Leonard, or that last night together, the look in his eyes, the resignation. He knew she was leaving, he knew he couldn’t make her stay and he loved her anyway. He opened up, he told her everything… he waited for her.
Sara rolls over on her side, looking down the bed at Leonard. “You actually waited for me didn’t you?” her voice is so soft, almost a whisper. The candle beside her bed flickers in the slight breeze that invades her no longer secure home.
Leonard looks up at her, the candlelight reflecting in his eyes. There’s something about the way he looks at her that tells her all she needs to know. “How did I get so lucky?” she whispers.
Leonard gets up, moving up the bed and curling up beside her. She smiles at him, kissing him on the top of the head. “I love you Leonard Snart.” she whispers into the night, feeling him begin to purr as they settle down and drift off to sleep.
It’s only a few hours later that Sara wakes with a start, the echo of Damien Darhk’s laugh still ringing in her ears. Her heart is pounding and despite the chill she’s sweating. She startles at the movement beside her, only to remember it’s only Leonard. “I’m okay.” she speaks softly, settling down again. She can’t see him in the darkness, but she can feel him move the smallest bit closer. “I’m okay.” she repeats, but she’s not.
She’s had nightmares for months, haunted by the specter of Damien Darhk and the innocence he stole from her. It seems being here, in this place, surrounded by the ghosts of her family and friends, she feels the darkness that Damien Darhk carried with him rising up further to suffocate her. She wouldn’t call what she’s been feeling guilt, not for killing Darhk anyway, but his memory haunts her as if she does and no amount of time seems to have weakened his hold on her.
The morning sun can’t come soon enough and as soon as Leonard begins to stir she gets up, dressing in a simple day gown she found locked in a trunk in her chamber. She won’t make them leave without eating first, and cooking in her armor just isn’t practical in the castle.
“Breakfast Len?” she asks heading for the door. When she receives no response she turns to find Leonard crouched down, facing the door. His pupils are blown wide, his posture screaming danger. Quietly she grabs her sword, never taking her eyes off the door. When she’s armed, she crept forward, laying a hand on the door pulls and looking back at Leonard as if to ensure he’s ready.
Sara rips the door open, barely stopping herself from lunging at the woman on the other side. “Fee?” Sara questions the startled young woman.
“Oh thank the heavens.” Felicity replies. “We were so worried. We thought you may have gone to Central City to look for Leonard.” she continues, stepping forward and pulling Sara into a hug. Sara goes willingly, sinking into the comfort of her step sister’s embrace. She’s missed her and the comfort she brings in her familiarity.
“No, I came back here.” she replies, then stops. “Wait, why is going to Central a bad thing?” she asks, but Felicity has caught sight of Sara’s company and she’s having trouble focusing on anything else.
“Sara, why is there a Snow Leopard in your chambers?”
“It’s kind of a long story. You didn’t come here by yourself did you?”
Felicity finally looks at her again. “No, Olie, Tommy and Lord Malcolm are boarding the horses in the stable.”
“Good, we need to discuss a few things, including why it’s not okay for me to go to Central alone.”
Tommy, Oliver and Malcolm are in the kitchen when they descend the stairs at the back of the castle. They all look relieved to see her, which affects her more than she lets on.
“There she is, The Avenging Angel of The Western Empire.” Malcolm says when they notice them. Sara smiles half heartedly. It’s not a name she’s proud of. The people of the village where she slayed Darhk had given it to her, using the messenger to spread it around the four kingdoms. She had been less than thrilled, but they were hospitable and she didn’t want to be rude.
“Lord Malcolm.” she replies.
“How are you my dear?” he asks.
“Curious.” she simply says. “I gather you have a lot to tell me.”
“You could say that.” Oliver replies. “Where do we start?”
“Bluntly.” Malcolm says, taking on the persona of one of the king’s most trusted advisors. A markedly different man when compared to the humorous father figure he is to all the young nobel children. “Information has been uncovered that leads me to believe the assassination in Central is connected to the massacre of your family.” he took a breath, softening a bit. “I’m sorry to say this Sara, but I think there is a very real chance that Leonard is dead as well.”
“He’s not.” she replies matter of fact. “What information have you uncovered?”
“Darhk’s rise to power appears to have been orchestrated long before the civil war broke out.” Malcolm explained. “The council in the south has admitted to allowing him to reign unchecked because he shared the wealth he was collecting through taxes with them, but one advisor slipped out of the capital during all the upheaval after Darhk was arrested. From what we can tell, he was in power long before Darhk made a bid for the throne and he may have been working behind the scenes of the old monarchy in order to create the instability that would later give rise to Darhk.”
“Are you suggesting there’s a spy in every kingdom. That the same unrest that unsettled the south is going to happen everywhere else? To what end? The south’s strife ended in tragedy. It’s become a lesson to the people. They’ll see something like this coming and turn on whoever is responsible.”
“Which is why, I believe, there was an assassination instead of an outright coup.” Malcolm explains. “Whoever manages to worm their way in as acting ruler will either be a pawn in the plot or the perpetrator.”
“What about Lisa?” Felicity asks. “She’s the rightful heir with her parents gone and Leonard…”
“Leonard’s not dead.” Sara replies. “She’s too young. She’s only ten. By Eastern law she can’t take the throne until she’s at least sixteen, preferably eighteen.”
“So she’s in danger then?”
“They won’t let anything happen to her, it’ll be too suspicious. They’ll most likely wait a few years, make it look like an accident, or maybe that she ran away, unwilling to be Queen.” Tommy suggests.
“Most likely the second. Three dead royals is bad enough, if the last one turns up dead under any circumstances the people will question it.” Malcolm explains.
“Two,” Sara adds. “There’s only two dead royals.”
“You’ve said that multiple times now, what makes you so sure he’s not dead?” Tommy asks. “And don’t tell me it’s hope or intuition, we need solid proof he’s alive, because chances are he knows what’s going on and who’s behind it.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he figured it out beforehand, and not gotten the chance to act.” Malcolm adds. He’s praised Leonard’s intelligence on multiple occasions. Most people do. In fact, Leonard’s tactical brilliance is one of the many things he’s known for throughout the East and West. Should the empires ever unite to go to war, Leonard was chosen to lead the strategic council.
Sara hesitates. “Leonard is a magic user.” she explains.
“Truly?” Oliver asks, mirroring the surprise on all of their faces.
“He’s kept it secret for tactical reasons. He mainly uses it for defense, but he discovered an affinity for shapeshifting. He’s found an animal form and he uses it to stalk about the capital and castle unseen.”
“What animal?” Tommy asks.
“A snow leopard.” Felicity replies with dawn realization. All eyes land on the cat, who, for most of the conversation has been sitting quietly and listening, largely ignored.
“Wait, but you didn’t know anything about the possible coup in Central. Why hasn’t he said anything?” Oliver asks.
“Because whoever killed his parents cursed him. He’s trapped in this form. We intended to leave for Star City today in the hopes of finding Harrison Wells at the solstice celebration. He knows of Leonard’s magic, he helped him tame it in secret, we hope he can break the curse.”
“Well then,” Malcolm steps forward, the advisor having returned. “Let’s rest up quickly and then get back on the road. There isn’t any time to waste.”
Sara sets a bowl of rabbit stew on the floor in front of Leonard before turning to the stairs she and Felicity had descended not long before.
“Aren’t you going to eat Sara?” Felicity asks. She, Oliver, Tommy and Malcolm are sitting around the large butcher block prep table eating the rest of the stew, Sara’s own portion sitting untouched.
“I’ll get to it. I just want to change.” she calls over her shoulder, ascending the stairs. Malcolm looked to Leonard.
“Does she skip meals regularly?” he asks. Leonard looks up from his own meal and nods. “Everyday?” he nods again. Malcolm hums and turns back to his meal.
“What does that mean?” Felicity asks worried.
Malcolm hesitates. “I’ve seen the reaction before, from newly minted soldiers and knights fresh from their first battle, or after their first kill.”
“Will she be alright?” Felicity questions.
“Most are. Sara’s strong and she has people who will look after her, make sure she doesn’t keep to herself too much.” he looks to Leonard again. “I bet having a new mission to focus on will help.”
“You don’t think she’ll be distracted?” Oliver asks.
Malcolm glances at Leonard again. “Given the stakes, no, I think she’ll be focused and driven.”
Sara returns to the kitchen some time later, redressed in her white leather armor. They all pretend they don’t notice her pass up her meal as she heads for the stables to bridle Debonair. Within the hour they’re back on the trail, heading north to Star City.