'Miguel Lavariel' was bred to be a good Dragonslayer.... Other people just weren't equated into that. (Slash, consent issues, omc, creative license.)
I remember the first time
how could I ever forget
it was only the beginning
of everything I'd ever get
"Blue sun", Darling Violetta
One of his very first memories is a slanted, dark corridor. There is a man there with him, walking ahead of him at a brisk pace. He knows the tall, shadowy man from the many folds of the familiar black cloak. As he walks, he notices that there are no other doors except for the one they had entered from. He assumes there is another entrance at the end.
He is four-years-old.
He has the draggling cloak grasped around his childish hand, following along obediently. He has to take thrice as many steps for every stride the tall man makes.
After having walked for several minutes without pause, he risks a curious peek around the man to see if they are any closer to their destination.
The door at the end of the hall looks faraway. He has never seen the door before, but the columns that line the corridor loom over him. He quickly falls back into line behind the man. He tries to sneak closer to the older man, feeling somewhat nervous. Was he in trouble again?
Too quickly, they are at the door.
The man stops walking so abruptly that he nearly walks into his legs, hidden by the cloak. His warden stares at the door a moment. He looks behind his shoulder, at the curious eyes of his ward.
He doesn't know what's happening. Why is the tall man staring at him? Realising his misdemeanour, he hastily releases the black cloak and takes a step backwards, an apology already spilling from his mouth.
The tall man suddenly kneels down and beckons him with a hand. He goes timidly, because he knows what happens when a ward disobeys.
The heavy hands of his warden falls on his shoulders, not brisk or clinical as he has come to expect.
"Your name is 'Miguel Lavariel' from now on. Do you understand?"
He nods hesitantly, growing frightened.
"Forget the number B-152."
The man is up on his feet and opening the door before he can say anything to confirm it. He follows quickly, not wanting to be left behind.
When he looks up, he's filled with wonder. He has never seen the sky before.
It's completely blue.
Miguel keeps his room neat and simple, disorder and distraction are frowned at and sometimes his wardens punish him for laziness. There is his bed, tucked away in the far corner with the covers tidily made, and his orderly stack of workbooks atop his desk. He has three writing utensils, he keeps them readily sharpened and clean after use, and always situates the ink blotter beside them. His trunk is at the foot of his bed, filled with a pair of civilian clothing, uniforms, and other things like broken toys and books that he's allowed to retain. He hangs his everyday uniform with a nail on the wall, keeps it spotless and pressed. His room isn't colourful or cosy, but grey and hollow like he is.
He is six years old. He has no wishes or desires to play outside in sunlight, he would rather go through his workbooks of strategy and battle formations. When he's bored he takes out his broken toys from his trunk and places them on the floor. He positions them carefully and plays out how he thinks a battle would go. Sometimes he wins, other times he loses. When he goes to sleep at night, he dreams of war and blood and death.
That's the only time there is ever any colour in his soul.
There are other children in the medical building. Miguel sees them sometimes when he passes by on his way to his lessons. His guardian (Julan, a demihuman of feline descent, who has pure white fur and lime green eyes) tells him that the children of the medical building are too frail to begin training. He notes that there are several armed guards patrolling the premises. There is something curious about that, he thinks.
"Are they ill?" he asks, interested but slightly puzzled.
Julan hesitates, before saying neutrally, "I'm uncertain. I've heard things said of infections and disease."
Miguel pauses to stare through the fence, hearing a faint weeping of some child from one of the open windows. "I want to see them," he says aloud.
"You can't," Julan says from behind him. "The Sorcerers won't allow it, nor would I."
Miguel turns, puzzled once more. "Why?"
There is some bizarre light in Julan's eyes. Miguel wants to ask why Julan's looking at him like that, as though he were some strange creature.
"Because you are precious," Julan finally says in a quiet voice. "I wouldn't want to see you hurt. Now come, before your tutors become impatient and flog you for it."
Miguel takes Julan's offered hand and allows himself to be led away. He glances over his shoulder and sees the small outline of a child at the window he looked at earlier. He imagines sickly skin and skeletal children with wide, empty eyes. The medical building is surrounded by soldiers and metal fences. Miguel has studied defensive positions enough to know that it isn't to keep intruders out, but to keep prisoners in. Why? Did the children have a contagious disease? What have they done?
So he turns to his keeper and asks, "Do the children die? Will any of them ever come out?"
There are no answers, Julan's warm slender hand just tightens around his own.
Julan has been with Miguel since he could remember. He doesn't remember it ever being otherwise.
Julan is useful in his own way. Sometimes Julan sneaks him extra pieces of bread from dinner, or explains things he doesn't know, and does other things, like rubs his stomach when it hurts, nurses him when he's sick, kisses the crown of his head goodnight. Things that are unnecessary, but somehow important.
Miguel is ten years old. He knows many ways to kill a man armed and unarmed. One day he will breath death the same way Man breathes air. Of course, Julan will be there. He cannot conceive a future where Julan is not beside him, his quiet but steady support.
He notices one day, while walking past the barracks, the stares and whispers that follow them as they pass. He glances at the soldiers briefly, wondering what they found so strange to warrant such impolite stares. It is not until someone whistles that he recognises such looks. Hunger, except not for food, but something so primal that Miguel bristles in unease of it. It's only when he glances at Julan that he realises the looks of the soldiers are not aimed at him-no, not at all.
Julan has his eyes fixed on the ground in front of him, mouth set in a neutral line. Someone laughs and the soldiers begin calling out rude things.
Miguel ignores them, walking a little more briskly than he normally does. Julan follows, and for longer the shouts and words follow them until they disappear around a building. Miguel doesn't mention it, sensing Julan's mortification.
It isn't until dinner that Miguel realises what the calls for Julan had been about, after asking one of his tutors the moment Julan leaves to fetch them water. The old man, a weathered old scholar named Lysis, is silent at his question, but eventually tells him about such things as the needs of the human body.
Desire, Lysis calls it.
Desire. He turns it over and over in his head, unable to grasp it. It feels like sand, the meaning slipping from between his fingers. Desire.
As he eats the questionable substance in his bowl, Miguel glances at Julan and tries to see what the soldiers saw.
Julan's face is fine featured, rather angular but still striking, almond shaped eyes green enough to leave an imprint on your eyelids. His fur is pure white and softer than snow. He is slender, wiry almost, corded with muscle yet somehow sleek, moving with a confident grace that all feline creatures seem to possess, like oil. His fingers are long and slender. He tilts his head to the side when he looks at Miguel. His face softens when he smiles, but he rarely shares his smile with anyone else but Miguel. His lips are soft when he kisses Miguel's forehead goodnight. His laughter is richer than any other sound in the world.
Miguel has always known these things about Julan. Desire? Those men at the barracks desired Julan, but Julan is already his. Desire. Desire. Desire.
At some point, Miguel realises that Julan was returning his stare unblinkingly.
"I want green eyes like yours," Miguel says shyly, and it's true. Eyes like those were hypnotizing.
Julan smiles, and Miguel feels a warmth growing in his chest. Perhaps when he's older, he'll understand. These adult things were too strange to comprehend.
The order comes just before Miguel's fourteenth birthday.
Julan hears of it before Miguel does, because he's still asleep when Julan comes into his room on ghost's feet. His dreams are fractured pictures of heat and ashes in his mouth and ailing children standing by the windows of burning buildings. When he wakes to green eyes and cool, gentle hands touching his cheek, Miguel stares in sleepy confusion.
"Miguel," a strange, husky whisper that doesn't sound like Julan's voice at all. "They'll come for you soon."
He blinks, stupor vanishing at the timbre of his keeper's voice. He props himself up on his elbows, struggling with comprehension, "What? Who's coming?"
"Please, Miguel," Julan's index finger silences his mouth with just a touch, his whisper urgent and disquieting. "Don't forget me. Promise me."
Miguel has seen it happen between two people when they believe themselves unseen. Julan's mouth is against his, but it's not how he's imagined kissing to be. There's something desperate about the way Julan's lips feel.
"We don't have time," Julan's voice is pleading and Miguel can't figure out way. "I wanted to wait, but it's escaped me. Forgive me."
Before Miguel can speak, Julan's tongue is inside his mouth, warm, damp and sinuous. Julan pushes him down and climbs on him, all seeking hands and desperation. It doesn't take long for Miguel to feel a burning under his keeper's stroking hands, alternating between gentleness and a violence that puts fear into his heart.
"Julan," he gasps, whether in fear or pleasure he doesn't know.
"Call out my name like that," Julan instructs in an secret whisper, pressing himself down onto Miguel's lap with a hiss. "I love you, Miguel."
Afterwards, Julan breathes tender words into his hair, but Miguel can't hear, he can't see, and everything inside him seems to have shattered from their intimate violence. Julan parts from him with a gentle kiss placed upon his trembling lips, slipping on his tunic and stepping away quickly to the dark doorway.
"My Miguel," Julan whispers, voice aching.
Then he is gone.
As if he never were.
Miguel lives his life in a design of black and white. There has been the occasional shades of grey, produced from the rare moments of perplexity and old nightmares. He remembers one dream more than any of the others, but forgets whether it's a dream or a memory. They can't be both, can they? Do reality and memory seep together like this, like red wine on white cloth? He doesn't know.
He dreams of tall men hidden in shadow and leathery cloaks. They whisper the way the darkness seems to when you lie awake late at night. Their hands are like blotted ink on his cold skin, bled of any caution and warmth. The pain they breed is seething and enduring. If he closes his eyes in his nightmare all he can see is white, a void glowing and throbbing.
When he jerks awake, the old scars seem to burn. His heart seems to beat loudly in the silence of the barracks, save for his own strangled breaths. It takes a moment to distinguish Waking from Dreaming and to dislodge the primal fear of the dark. He turns to his right side, sees the small circular mound that's his new ally and the tangled mass of dark hair sticking out from the army-issued blanket. Dalet sleeps on, peacefully motionless and without nightmares despite the shadows around him.
Dalet is so small compared to the rest of them. Will he ever grow?
Miguel Lavariel will be fifteen in a fortnight. His service records declare it so, but he feels no elation at such a thing. Miguel doesn't feel fifteen. He knows that he probably never will, having never had a childhood to speak of.
"You can't miss something you never had."
Dilandau Albatou, the young albino taller than the rest of the experimental unit, tells him many helpful things like that. He would say it in such a brusque manner that others might have been stung, but Miguel never took such things to heart. It had been trained out of him. Emotions are useless things that only weigh you down. Miguel doesn't remember who told him that, but he remembers hands on his shoulders and regretful brown eyes.
His eyes close with thoughts of Dilandau and Dalet in his head. He dreams of them. Dalet whispers secrets in his ear that he can't seem to comprehend, and Dilandau dances with fire, ashes etched into his colourless skin. He looks like a feral thing, caught between violence and careful grace. Dalet murmurs again, closer to his ear.
Miguel turns, to see the violet-coloured eyes fastening onto his colourless soul.
When Miguel opens his eyes, a wraith stands in front of the bars of his prison cell. Behind it, he sees the dark blue of the night. He draws a breath; once, twice, and hopes it will leave.
Miguel closes his eyes when it opens the metal door, hears the familiar scrape over the uncomfortable stone floor, feels the graze of disrupted air on his cold skin. A callused hand touches his forehead, slipping down to his temple. It takes a great effort not to tense.
The air smells like smoke, wood fire, ash. Miguel can smell it all over the ghost that's touching him. The smell is almost like the crima claw ejection of an Alsiedes.
"You are Miguel?" The wraith has a stilted, foreign accent that Miguel cannot place. It so reminds him of Julan that he shivers at the creature's cautious touch.
He nods at his name, fear holding his voice close to its breast.
When the creature leans down, Miguel can see its eyes.
They're completely blue.
"I am Zongi," the wraith tells him.