The Blood of Peace
Third Movement, the Third Part: a Moonlit Sonata
The meeting was not going well. Odin was tracing the line on the map which represented the River of the Heroes. The first wave had been held back for well over a week now with the dead littering the fields on both sides. However, Dermeil's forces were on their way, not even five days away and the palace infantry was also on the march with some new general in the forefront. When they arrived, Earthian would be at a severe disadvantage in both manpower and weapons. Things were looking grim. Heero stood beside his father, his thoughts running along the same path. They needed to do something about the approaching armies, but what? Heero looked around the tent, silently assessing each person there.
His father looked like he had swallowed a sour fruit whole, the bitterness scrunching his face and making him look old and frail for the first time in his life. Duo, his beloved, had a murderous glint in his eyes which bespoke of a terrible vengeance on anyone who dared to pit strength against him and Earthian. Quatre, thoughtful as ever, was writing busily onto his notepad, most likely detailing a plan which may repel the oncoming forces. WuFei just looked determined to massacre anyone who came against him. Strangely, Relena was also there, looking saddened and distraught. Ever since the beginning of the war she had been like a ghost, drifting from one tent to another, talking to injured warriors, advisors and even the servants. She worried Heero. When the meeting concluded on a bad note with no plausible plan in sight, Heero walked up to Relena. They had not spoken since the day she had found out about him and Duo. They would speak now and try to clear the air. It was logical.
"Relena, would you accompany me back to my tent?"
His voice carried no emotional inflection, just a cold politeness that rang hollow in the night air. For her part, Relena merely looked at him with eyes dulled by exhaustion and sorrow and wordlessly followed him to the tent. Duo followed at a discreet distance, keeping with his Master of Assassins title by being Heero's shadow. Also, he was rather curious to see what Heero had to say to Relena. They had discussed it, but it was the first time that Heero had followed through. So he paused outside the tent flap when they entered and eavesdropped.
"Why have you asked me here, Heero? I thought we said everything that needed to be said."
Relena sounded tired and defeated. Duo felt sorry for her already.
"We haven't said anything. You found out, walked away and have avoided me since. We need to see the truth of things. It's our duty."
Heero's voice just barely carried through the tent canvas, but Duo picked up every word. He wondered what they were thinking. He wished Quatre was there with him so that he had an inside scoop, but life rarely provided with the things you needed when you needed it the most.
"Duty. That's all I am to you. What more can there be?"
There was a pregnant pause. Then.
"Duo, stop lurking out there. If you want to hear this conversation, get inside."
Smiling ruefully, Duo stepped in. It was so like Heero to know that he was there.
"Sorry, Relena, Heero. You know me, curiosity is my addiction."
Relena hardly gave him any notice. She just sat on a stool and looked out into space.
"Relena," Heero began, "I realize that we hurt you badly. I also know that you have not adjusted to the circumstances yet. But we are to be married. We need an understanding between us."
At that, Relena finally came to life. Her eyes shot sparks born from emotional strain and physical exhaustion. Her voice was still soft but it rang like steel.
"An understanding? We have that, Heero. You love Duo. You want to be with him. I'm in the way. But don't worry, I won't be in your way any longer."
That surprised both Heero and Duo. What the hell was she talking about? Ignoring their stunned silence, Relena continued.
"As you know, Noin arrived yesterday to be my bodyguard. You must also know that I have sent Dorothy to Oz to act as my envoy in Treize's court. But what you don't know is that I no longer wish to marry you. You know all the little details about what I do, but you don't know what's in my heart. That is why I will not marry you, even if it is a breach of the treaty and duty."
Duo was suddenly angry. Relena was rejecting Heero, and for what? Because he did not love her? He would be damned if he stayed silent while she made a mockery of Heero's goals.
"Relena, you are being selfish. The treaty is the only thing that binds Earthian and Sanque together! If you don't marry Heero, you don't have protection for your people. Will you put your people at the mercy of Oz just because you can't have your childish dreams?"
Duo's words, laced with venom and a certain threat, settled uncomfortably into the already strained atmosphere of the tent. Relena did not look upset, just determined.
"Duo, I have no ill feelings towards you or Heero. As I said, I'm merely following my heart. A true leader does not deny her brain, soul or heart. I finally realized that I do not need Earthian to protect my kingdom. I can do it myself. I don't have an army, I don't know war, but I know I can do it without relying on the blood."
Duo could not believe her words. How could she protect a country without an army? It was war, for gods' sake. Heero just looked at Relena, a speculative gleam in his usually empty eyes. He was beginning to catch a glimmer of what she was planning.
"You are proposing terms to Treize. You are betraying our alliance."
Heero's words, succinct and to the point, made Relena look at him. She nodded slightly, acknowledging that he was right. Her eyes held no apology, just resolve.
"Yes, I am. Dorothy will present my terms to Treize. We will see what can be attained from there. It is not a betrayal, Heero. I would never do that. This is just a different strategy. I am tired of people dying in the name of peace. I can't stand it any longer."
Relena's eyes filled with tears and her voice broke. Silently, tears coursed down her face and dripped onto her fine silk dress. Still weeping, Relena looked at Heero.
"I don't understand you, Heero. How can you look out there and not cry? How can you see the people bleeding for you and not feel their sorrow? How can you go day to day without displaying a single emotion? Don't they matter to you? Have you forgotten how to cry?"
Heero looked at her streaming eyes filled with pain and confusion. His cobalt blue eyes betrayed nothing, but he suddenly turned and walked out of the tent without a word. Relena continued to weep, inexplicably hurt from his sudden departure. Once started, her tears would not stop. They kept coming and coming until she was shaking from them. Duo watched her with pity in his eyes. She would not last too long if she continued on like this. He wanted to do something for her, but he couldn't think of anything. His talented mouth could not utter a single word of comfort.
"Why can't he cry? Why can't you cry? Why can't any of you shed a single tear for the dead? Can you not mourn? Do you not feel the pain and the sorrow? What is the matter with you all?"
Relena lashed out with the pain in her heart at Duo. She had seen so many die in the past week and a half of warfare. The river was dammed by bodies, there were corpses covered in flies everywhere, and the constant smell of death permeated her senses. It made her heart ache so badly that it gave her nightmares. And these boys, they could not shed a tear for these people. And she could not understand.
"Why can't you cry? What is it, boys don't cry? What is it?"
She screamed her last question and then collapsed onto the floor. Duo silently walked over to her and touched her on the shoulder. Then in a soothing voice he began to explain.
"We do cry, Relena. But not right now. There are too many things that have to be done before we can shed any tears. If we cried now, we may never stop. Then we would have lost the war."
"That's not an excuse. None of you mourn the dead. None of you are human."
She was sorry to have said the last part, but she could not take back the words. Then she felt her head being tilted up and suddenly, her tear stained eyes were looking straight into a pair of bright, angry violet eyes.
"How DARE you. You can't understand. You see the dead but you haven't made a single death. You haven't seen the life drain out of them when you stab them. You haven't heard their pleas of mercy as you slice open their throats. You haven't seen the real pain. So don't you dare tell me that we are not human. We are, and we suffer. We feel the pain. Heero, more than any of us, because he is their prince. You can't see his pain because you're too wrapped up in yours. Wake up, Relena, and grow. And if you insist on crying, don't do it to mourn the dead. They don't care if you cry. Cry for the living. They are the ones who suffer when someone dies. Shed tears for them if you must cry at all. And don't you tell Heero that he can't feel. I know better than anyone how he hurts."
Duo let go of Relena's chin and stepped back. She had stopped crying and was looking at him with glazed eyes that reflected surprise, regret and pain. Then Duo walked out of the tent, leaving Relena by herself. Relena sat there for a long time while the candle's small flame danced around in a light breeze. She replayed Duo's words in her mind over and over until she came to an abrupt understanding. Heero had not forgotten tears nor had he never known them. Heero did not cry because he felt too much. Tears would only make him falter in his duty, as it had made her falter in hers. She felt shame at her childish words that she had hurled without thought at the boys who had protected her. Wiping her eyes, she stood and made a promise to herself. Until the war was over, until peace was achieved, she would hold her tears. Not for herself, but for Heero and Duo, the lovers who would not cry. Such was the price of war. Such was the blood of peace.
Trowa breathed the night air and felt its sharpness in his lungs. They were maybe two weeks from Earthian, his homeland. They were getting closer and closer to the land of his brothers, to the place where his beloved now fought for his country and life. As they got nearer, he could feel his heart reaching out for Quatre and his brothers. Soon, they would all be together and they would pass judgment upon him. Whatever their decision, he would abide by it, even if it meant his death. His duty was nearly done here.
"Are we at war yet?"
Mariemeia's lilting voice drifted out of the carriage. Trowa rode on his horse, silently listening to the conversation between the princess and the Lady. They were an interesting couple to say the least.
"No, princess. We are not heading off to battle. Your father will call us to the lines when he thinks you are ready to face it. For now, we are an imperial entourage and our mission is to retrieve Queen Relena from Earthian."
That bit was news that interested Trowa. He had heard lots of rumors about Relena and Sanque, but they had always contradicted each other. One of the rumors said Relena was going to bow down before Oz as a supplicant. Another said she traded her brother for her pacifistic ideals. Some even said she was in Earthian to get rid of Heero and the Earthian threat. But if the Lady spoke it, it must be the truth. Without being obvious, Trowa moved a bit closer to the carriage.
"I don't see why daddy needs Relena. He's got me, doesn't he?"
Mariemeia, as grown up as she was, still had her childish moments. The petulance and the slight envy came through clearly and Trowa had to smile a bit. Children were funny creatures.
"You and Relena-sama are needed differently, princess. And you should be more respectful towards her. She will be your new mother, after all."
WHAT? Trowa nearly fell off his horse. Treize's wife? But, by now she had to be Heero's wife, married not too long ago according to the treaty. Did Treize plan on making Relena a widow? Were the two of them not married for some reason? There were too many holes in his information to make sense of any of this. But whatever the circumstances, this was not good news. It bordered on disastrous.
"I don't need a new mother, Une. I don't even want to meet her. She's a total pacifist! She can't do any good in war."
"Yes, you're right about her being a pacifist. But your father will need her when the war is over. She represents everything that he wants in peace time."
The rest of the conversation flew by Trowa for he had stopped listening. This envoy would be sent to Earthian under the color of truce, only to snatch away the alliance Heero had sacrificed Duo for. That could not be. He had to stop this somehow. It was his duty to Heero.