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The Rising Tide

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Mantua slept peacefully, cradled in the dark of a starless night, like a blanket, soft and warm laid upon her people in protection. And as Mantua slept others stared at the sky, not tired enough to go to bed, but too tired to leave the palace for a night walk.

Tybalt sighed, the wind carrying away the soft sound; it was warmer than Verona, not that he disliked it much, the sky was a different shade of orange, brighter, during the night more similar to a very dark red. And there were no stars. He missed stars. He missed several things from Verona, if he had to be truly honest, and yet he felt no pull to return to the city he grew up in for too many years, no matter how much he could miss her, or her people, he had never been happier than the day he set foot in Mantua and decided he wasn’t going to leave. That was, obviously, due to the one person he went to Mantua for. 

It had been three years. Three years since he left Verona never to return, three years since his life turned first upside down and then settled in whatever position it was currently. Two years since he took Paris' hand and vowed to never let go, whatever would come at them. Two years since Mantua finally accepted his presence and learned his value. 

For the first time in his life Tybalt felt free, as he walked through the streets, as he stopped at the marketplace, as Paris linked their arms together and walked peacefully in the warm afternoon like it was the most normal thing to do. And it was. 

On the other hand, Verona, even now in times of peace, was chaotic. The feud, though now quieter in the wake of the marriage between the two heir of the families, was still present. Montagues and Capulets still throwing blame on each other for mistakes of centuries before. Being there no actual proof to lay the blame on one family or the other, or maybe on someone else entirely, their hate roared and hissed. 

Sometimes Tybalt missed Verona. He missed the little cousin he grew up protecting from the world and didn't see get married. - For obvious reasons. He was already in Mantua at the time. She did it in the most secret way possible, and he had been tempted to cut off her new husband's head and place it on the gate of Mantua. In time he learned to control his hate, hate that his family instilled in him before he even learned to walk. Romeo wasn't that bad, and there would have been worse suitors for his little Julia. - 

He missed his uncle too, sometimes, the way he acted as a father, the way he cared for his kids more than others would have. The way he found a safe passage out of the City of Verona and blessed with a kiss on the head his choice to leave, fully knowing he would probably never see him again.

"It's too early, or too late, to let your mind be so troubled by thoughts I have yet to find the ability to read." 

Tybalt turned looking at the man standing on the door with crossed arms, his hair tousled from sleep. He probably woke up and found the bed still empty. And went to look for him. 

He changed from the day Tybalt first saw him, they both changed. His hair were longer, barely curling at the end, on the shoulders, it gave him an even more royal look, though Paris always managed to look royal somehow. It was something in his blood, being kin to the Prince of Verona. Or something like that. Maybe that royal look skipped someone in the family too, like it happened sometimes, that would be the only explanation for Mercutio so different look.

"Come to bed." 

Tybalt sighed and smiled, took his stretched hand and, as he walked closer, brought it to his lips kissing the knuckles softly. 

"No troubling thoughts. - He said finally, closing the window behind himself. - Just some nostalgic memories of the sky above Verona." Paris hummed in response, he gently dragged him in their room and on the bed. 

"The pale orange imitation of the northern lights of old? - He asked. - It's been at least two centuries, winter should finally come to an end." 

"It is, or so they say. It's warmer. But I doubt the sky will change much." 

"As long as nothing comes down from it…" 

Tybalt laughed softly. There were so many stories, legends, about the sky and the lands. And about the waters. But that was all, nothing but stories told at night to scare kids who didn’t want to go to bed.

 

South of the Palace, the Mincio raised slightly, waves rocked by the wind, drops of water fell silently in the river. Soon they touched the ground too, the cobbled streets and the roofs. 

A fisherman turned his face to the sky as the drops hit his hat. His boat rocked as the rain increased. He close the coat tighter around himself and went for cover, Mantua's lake was already in sight. 

He turned as the flash of the lighthouse illuminated his little boat. A loud thunder muffled his scream and when morning came a lone boat rocked in the lake harbor, no one at the helm, no one to be found but fishes.