― STALEMATE chapter two
jean kirstein x reader
chapter two - a friend amongst strangers
summary : in which you meet sasha in the most unusual of ways, homesickness can show up in the most unlikely of times, friends are made, and enemies are made more clear.
word count : 3300+
warning : minor curse words, TENSION (is that a warning, idk, but its there), talks of violence, and fighting (with words). that should be it, but do let me know if i forgot anything :))
a /n : hey friends! i'm back (again), and i'm bringing more writing woo woo!! exams are done, i'm feeling good, and some chapters have been written (plus the whole book is now planned out), so should be smooth sailing from here. updates should be weekly (aiming for every friday with the occasional bonus). anyways hope you enjoy this chapter and feedback (reblogs, comments in my inbox, likes) are always accepted and loved ! <33
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AND SO THERE YOU SAT, on the edge of the large bed of cascading fabrics and soft sheets, listening as Lisa Blouse delivered a hearty scolding to the girl who you could only guess to be her daughter. A mother's scolding was easy to pick out, and you knew it all too well, after years of your mother's cries to sit up straight or try to pay attention. Knowing it all came from a place of love no matter how harsh or loud her word ever got.
“Does Nicollo not feed you enough?” Mrs. Blouse exclaimed, pacing around the room, you feeling as if you were invading on private matters even if you were in your own room.
“I’m sorry,” the girl grumbled.
“Don’t apologize to me,” Mrs. Blouse directed, turning her attention back to you. You who lazily sat on the bed, twiddling with the fabrics from your dress that layered on top of your skin, suddenly sitting up at the sudden attention.
The girl, Sasha you had picked up on after minutes of her mother's lectures, bowed her head in apology, carrying the bag of berries back across the room and dropping them into your lap.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated, reciting her next lines somewhat robotically, almost as if rehearsed. “I should not have taken these, I hope this doesn’t squander your perspective of me.”
“You don’t need to apologize, it's okay, really,” you reassured. “I wasn’t gonna eat them anyways. It would be better if they didn’t go to waste.”
You picked the bag up off your lap and extended your hand out to her, the girl looking between you, the bag, and quickly back to her mother as if weighing her options, calculating her move.
“Really?” she asked shocked, as if she had never been offered something like that before. You only nodded in return. And with one last look to her mother for any disapproving look, the girl practically snatched the berries from your hand and returned to eating.
“Now with that settled,” said Mrs. Blouse with an exasperated, almost tired sigh. “Let's get you ready for bed dearie. Sasha, will you go draw a bath?”
“Yes,” she grumbled through her stuffed mouth, before bolting off into the second part of your room that you had yet to get a look at.
Mrs. Blouse helped you undress, unfastening the many buttons, lifting many layers, unzipping zippers until you felt practically weightless. She did as your maids had back at home, the same as Hitch who was by your side every hour of every day, not only because she had to but because she wanted to. You wanted to laugh, laugh at how silly it was to feel sadness over something as simple as undressing. Feeling sad over the silence of your new bedroom as opposed to jokes and laughter that was shared at nights as Hitch helped you prepare for the evening.
Guided into the bathroom, you slipped into the warmth of the bath, left on your own as Sasha and Mrs. Blouse made for the exit. Though not without Mrs. Blouse saying to call for her if you needed anything at all. It was quiet, other than the splash of water from your small movements or the quiet droplets of the faucet that continued to slowly leak. You sat idly, so many thoughts in your head but no want to even sort through them all. It hurt, your head pounding, you couldn’t focus half as well as you should have been able to normally. You cleansed your skin in the soapy water, before slipping out and dressing in the silk nightgown that had been laid out for you.
Emerging from the bathroom, you were met with nothing but more silence, no longer any sight of Mrs. Blouse. Your only company being the flickering candles on the windowsill and bedside and the stars that dotted the darkness of the night sky.
The door creaking open startled you, your daze slowly drifting away as you quickly turned to meet your intruder. Though it was merely Sasha, as she gave you an apologetic smile and quietly closed the door.
“Sorry,” she whispered until the door was shut. “Didn’t mean to startle you, I forgot how creaky that door is.”
You only nodded in acknowledgment of her words, taking your seat at a vanity, still facing the girl, who now took a more straightened and stiff position.
“Mother said I’d be assigned to you from now on. Anything I can do for you Miss before I leave you for the night?” She asked, once again sounding so robotic and rehearsed, looking as if she was barely breathing.
You couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped you at the sight. You could only imagine how you had looked at dinner, probably similar in stature, stiff as a board at the table.
“You don’t need to worry about standing straight and stuff,” you noted. “I don’t really care for all the formalities all that much-”
“Oh thank goodness,” Sasha said cutting you off, relaxing and releasing the breath she has been holding. “I thought I would have to stand like this for the rest of my life!”
Even in the one sentence, the girl’s personality had shown through. No longer just a castle worker, but Sasha, a girl your age, a normal girl like you. And in a way, it reminded you of home, of Hitch, of not having to keep up the royal facade behind closed doors.
“I just wanted to say thank you again for the berries earlier, I’ve never been given anything like that by someone, well, at least not by someone like you,” Sasha began to ramble. “I mean look at you, all formal and pretty! You are stunning by the way! And those berries were the best berries I have ever tasted, I knew your kingdom heavily leaned towards agriculture but I didn’t expect them to be so good. We have good food here, but not nearly as many farmers. A lot of our stuff is imported from other kingdoms. That’s why I’m glad we are mending things with your kingdom, cause you know, more good food…”
You sat there in awe of how quickly she could speak, switching topics so fast, words leaving her mouth a mile a minute, night and day from the girl who had originally entered your room that evening. You couldn’t keep up, you simply listened, picking up on whatever small details you could grasp.
“And Nicollo will be so excited to work with new things….and I’m rambling again, aren’t I? I’m sorry, I wasn’t supposed to do that and I did it anyway,” she quickly began to apologize. “If you’d like me to leave for the night I can-”
“It’s alright!” You cut her off this time, your voice coming out louder than you intended, softening upon your next. “It’s really alright, I promise, I don’t mind. I don’t like the silence in the castle all that much, it’s nice to hear something other than talks of marriage and kingdom alliances.”
“It’s nice to be listened to,” Sasha replied, a soft smile gracing her face.
A quiet chime echoed through the room, as you both turned your gaze towards the grand clock in one of the corners, both hands pointing upwards toward the twelve.
“I didn’t realize how late it was,” Sasha acknowledged. “You need to get to bed, you have a long day tomorrow.”
“I do?” You asked, unaware of what she was speaking of.
“Normally on the first day a guest arrives, a tour of the kingdom follows,” she explained. “I doubt you will be an exception to that rule.”
Your stomach turned at the words, you more than anything wishing for a way to just stay locked up in your room for a few more days until maybe whatever happened with Jean that night could be forgotten.
“You seem worried,” Sasha said, worry lacing her voice. “It’s not that bad I promise, just Jean and you, some guards as well. The kingdom outside the palace is gorgeous, full of life, and some of the best-baked goods I’ve ever had! You’ll love it!”
You only nodded, your mouth growing dry, unsure of what to say, how to explain your worry.
Without a word you shuffled across the room before practically collapsing down on the soft bed, letting out a long sign that you had been wanting to let out for hours. Oh how you wished you could get every word and thought in your head out, ask Sasha to stay and have her sit on the edge of the bed how Hitch had on most bad nights. How you desperately wished to have someone to talk to for hours about all your worries, about what had happened at dinner, about what you had done all those years ago. You wanted to cry out all your tears that threatened to escape your eyes every few minutes. But it wouldn’t be the same and you had no want or desire to put that all on the poor girl's shoulders who probably was in desperate need of an escape from her duties.
“You can go,” you simply stated. “Thank you for everything this evening.”
“I should be thanking you,” Sasha said, though worry still remained ingrained on her face at your shift in tone and mood. “Goodnight. I will retrieve you in the morning for breakfast.”
And with a small curtsy, the girl left, careful to close the door softly this time. You were again alone, left to the glow and flicker of candles, laying on your bed that didn’t feel at all as warm and welcoming as the one back at home.
YOU SHOT UP AT THE SOUND of the creaky door, hearing a quiet string of curses leave Sasha's mouth at her forgetfulness. Your eyes being met with morning sun from the windows, which curtains had been forgotten to be drawn the night before. A feeling of Deja Vu at the sound of the door startling you as it had the previous night
“I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“It’s okay,” you mumbled, slightly stretching from the awful position you had fallen asleep in the night before.
“You’ve been requested for breakfast,” Sasha spoke up.
Then you were hit again with reality. Like being hit by a wave, consumed, unable to breathe or regain balance. Your hopes to hide away forever within the comfort of your room were unnecessarily ruined by waking up to a request to dine. Though your stomach grumbled and you had no want to disrespect the King and Queen who had shown nothing but kindness to you in your time of utter confusion.
“After breakfast, Jean will be taking you out, like I told you yesterday. It's just a way to show you around, and give the people of the kingdom a glimpse into what is going on,” she continued on.
The tour. That's all you could think about the night before as you laid alone in the room. Being alone with him, all the time in the world for him to make those same comments without the harsh gaze from his parents. You felt stiff again.
“I’ll find something for you to wear,” Sasha spoke up again in response to you not making any move to get up. You sat up from your previous position, watching as Sasha looked through the wardrobe to the side of the room, delicately handling each dress before pulling out a blue one. It was nice, not too much, not too little, just a blue dress of silk and tulle, flowers embroidered upon its bodice.
“It's pretty isn’t it,” Sasha said, holding it out to you.
And it was, it was gorgeously sewn, looking as if hours had and probably did go into making sure each stitch was correct.
You made your way from your place on the bed, knowing no matter how much you wished and prayed that something would happen to ruin the set plans, your day was already set in stone weeks before you had even arrived. You stood straight, allowing Sasha to help you undress from the nightgown and slip into the dress, standing still as she began to fasten up the back. The girl began to circle you, a smile growing on her face.
“Pretty,” she said. Though not out of respect because you were considered her “superior”. No, the words had left her mouth in the most genuine of manners. “Oh wait, I almost forgot!”
The girl glanced around the room, before hurrying off to the vanity and opening one of the drawers. Carefully she pulled out a few metal clips, flowers engraved onto them, hurrying back to fasten them into your hair.
“It's your first time out with the public, you are gonna want to make a good first impression,” she said, making sure everything was in place. “And my mother would have my head if I didn’t make sure you look like I at least made an effort.”
You laughed at her comment, the first time that morning that your stomach didn’t twist up in what felt like a tight knot.
“Thank you,” you smiled at the girl. “I’ll bring you some of those pastries you told me about back from the village.”
The girl burst into the biggest smile, you weren’t sure how her face could muster it without hurting. With no warning, you felt her arms wrap around you tightly.
“Thank you,” she practically whispered. “You have been one of the only friends I can find in this palace. I’m glad that if my mom is making me work that I at least get to work beside you. Now let's get you to breakfast before I lose that position!”
Friend. You had a friend, you had someone. Maybe it would never be how it was before, you never would have your old life, you had tried to come to terms with that. But you did have Sasha and you were no longer completely alone.
Following Sasha out of the room, she continued her usual chatter, switching topics every few minutes, you throwing in little comments in those moments you could fit in a word. Happy you didn't have to carry the conversation with mundane and awkward small talk. Not long and you were standing in front of the same door from the night before, your stomach once again dropping at the sight. You will be fine. You will be fine. You will be fine. Don’t let him get to you. Was repeated over and over again.
“I will see you later this evening,” Sasha said with a smile. “Hope all goes well.”
Oh, how little she knew of what laid beyond that door? Little did anyone know of what you had done all those years ago. Little did you want to know how the masses would react to that discovery. Their future queen, a murderer, a monster. Pushing open the large door, you were met with the long table, yet this time absent of people. Absent of two people, and present of him. You froze in the doorway, unsure what to do. Had it taken you that long to get ready? Had you missed breakfast? But there on the table sat steaming plates, seemingly untouched. Jean sat at one side of the table, unfazed as usual, only sitting up at the sound of the door.
“You doing okay?” Jean asked at the sight of your unmoving position, his smirk returning to his face.
“I’m fine,” you stumbled out, hesitantly making your way to the table. “If you don't mind me asking, where are your parents?”
“I am not good enough company,” he asked, with no sign of joking in his tone or face.
You stiffen, not sure what to say.
“Jesus, I’m kidding, you don’t have to be so stiff all the time,” he continued. “It's not like the person you tried to murder is sitting in front of you. Oh, wai….”
You won’t be fine. You won’t be fine. He got to you again. You couldn’t speak, what were you supposed to say, how were you supposed to respond? Never in your mother's classes of etiquette did she teach you how to navigate such a situation.
“Too soon? I get it, the wound is still fresh. Okay then, we can just save this conversation for another day,” Jean said, his words never faltering like he had been practicing what he was gonna say. “You can sit if you want, no one is keeping you standing.”
You quickly sit, unsure what would happen if you didn’t. Looking down at the plate, any hunger you had previously had vanished.
“My parents thought it would be good for us to have time to get to know each other alone after what happened last night,” Jean spoke up, finally answering your first question. “Frankly I don’t know how they thought this would help. If anything, I have no one to keep me quiet.”
“Jean, it happened four years ago,” you said, finally addressing it, trying your hardest to soften the blow of the past.
“And I still have no idea why it did happen,” Jean replied. “You don’t just forget it when someone tries to kill you, especially when they are the person you are now being forced to marry. I think I deserve to at least have some explanation.”
“I didn’t have a choice,” you simply state, unsure of how to even explain it. I am sorry I tried to murder you. I had to or else my father would hold it against me for the rest of my life. Sorry, I am so selfish for attention that I couldn’t just say no, but actually attempted to go through with it. Too much for the first morning. Too much for you. Too much to get out without screwing over your words.
“I didn’t see you being held at gunpoint by someone saying you had to stab me,” he continued. “All I saw was a girl with a knife ready to go through with the twisted political stunt you were attempting to pull.”
“Do you think I wanted to do it? You think I wasn’t shaking and debating to leave that night?” You desperately asked. “Do you think I willingly went to kill you?”
“I don’t know, I don’t even know you,” he stated, coldly. “Seems from these questions that you aren’t even sure yourself.”
“Okay then, a question for you since we really do know nothing about each other?” You asked, earning a nod to continue, no nerves on his face at your request. “Why did you let me go that night? You stopped me, you could have turned me in right there, and then neither of us would be here right now.”
“You had every chance and you let me go. You let a murderer run free Jean Kirstein!” you cried out in frustration.
He seemed at a loss of words for that, as he sat back in his chair. His mouth shut, his eyes set down on the plate in front of him.
“What? Strike a nerve?” you asked, for once in that whole time being there, for once in your whole life, finally feeling like you had the upper hand. You no longer sat cowered in your seat, your move, his chess piece knocked down. “Why didn’t you turn me in? Why didn’t you end it there for me Jean? You aren’t the only one with questions, so why? I have been wondering for years-”
Abruptly the boy stood from his seat, interrupting you with his chair screeching along the floor. Him making a swift exit for the door without a single word or glance in your direction.
“I’m taking you around the kingdom, be ready outside the palace in thirty minutes or I leave without you,” Jean said, his tone monotonous and his body language closed off.
The door opened and slammed shut and you were there alone, unsure of whether you felt proud or somehow worse than you had felt before.
tags: @artkimvante @marauvderss @wuowutwop @soggypp @candleohappiness @usernamehere91 @aesnat @onelitlbean @@torilovestowrite @eolfiemichele @mrskirshtein @noisytreegalaxy
( som tags aren't working, let me know if i spelled any users wrong : )) )
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