[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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53. Epilogue

Mariqah hummed softly as she fed Mary from a bottle. The baby curled her tiny chubby fingers around Mariqah’s long slender ones, suckling the bottle with her eyes closed. Mariqah looked at her with a mixture of sadness and pleasure.

Such an innocent fruit born of such a wicked tree, she thought.

Mary resembled her father, the tan of her skin, the slight curl of her hair and the liquid caramel of her eyes. Mariqah prayed that she’d be nothing like him in character. A moment passed, before Mary stopped suckling and Mariqah put the bottle to a side. She propped Mary on her knee and burped her, then settled the baby into the cot that several mercenaries had helped to craft.

 

“They’re sweet like that,” Mariqah said to a drowsy Mary, “You have many, many brothers, Mary. And they’ll fight with you, and tease you, and probably curse you for good measure. But they’ll love you. No matter who you are or where you came from – they’ll love you. And so will I.”

Mary babbled unintelligibly, sounding irritated, before sticking her thumb in her mouth and dozing off.

Mariqah took a moment to stroke her hair, looking fondly at the hanging mobile that had also been hand-crafted. The small horse-shaped figurines swayed gently at Mariqah’s disruption. She smiled, before moving away from the cot, and sitting down on her own bed. She was about to pick up a book to read, when a knock came at the door.

 

Mariqah sighed, never being short of work, wrapped her red shawl over one shoulder and answered the door.

“Hello, Jess,” she said, “fancy seeing you here.”

The spritely girl smiled, “Evening, Rogue. Hope you weren’t in the middle of something.”

“No, was just about to take a lie down,” Mariqah gestured for her to come in, “sit a bit.”

“Can’t. Have work to do.”

“That’s right. Probation’s over. I assume you’ll be returning to Masyaf, then?”

“Yes. But the CTDS wanted to… reward you with something.”

“Reward me? For what? I was the one that screwed up history.”

“Yes. But you were right in saying that you had given them Nassau. Mr Wraggs sends his apologies, by the way.”
“He can keep ‘em.”

“But… they sent you an unlikely gift,” Jess turned to her side and gently called, “Darim?”

 

Mariqah’s heart lurched, and she steadied herself against the door.

Darim? she thought, bewildered, That Darim? My Darim?

He appeared next to Jess and took off his white cowl, looking at Mariqah with a gaze filled with what could only be described as… anxiety.

Mariqah looked from Darim to Jess and back, her mouth wide, unable to conjure a response.

“I…” she said, and gulped, “I need air.”

Mariqah walked passed the two of them, not looking back.

 

* * * * *

 

Mariqah sat on a ledge, sighing every so often. The CTDS had given her Darim. Darim. Her Darim.

And although she felt as if she should have been over the moon… she couldn’t feel anything but a steady hollowness. She didn’t know what it was, and she didn’t know why – but she didn’t feel good.

 

Mariqah heard footsteps approaching, and didn’t turn to greet the owner. She just waited for him to come around and sit next to her, his hands clasped together on his lap.

“France is very different to Syria,” said Darim, looking at the forest and the rolling hills, “It’s a nice place.”

“Aye, that,” Mariqah replied, avoiding his gaze.

Darim turned his head, regarding her with a lingering gaze. He touched her shoulder. To her own surprise, Mariqah flinched as if the gesture had hurt her.

“You’re angry with me,” he said, after a pause.

Mariqah shook her head, a ‘no’ on her lips but she was unable to utter it. Her eyes filled with tears, and she closed them, looking away.

 

“I remember everything, Rogue,” he continued, “Jess explained everything to me, and it came back when they brought me here. Otherwise… I’m afraid to say that… that I forgot about you whilst I was… living my life.”
Mariqah didn’t reply.

“I regret it, Rogue, I really do,” Darim vouched, “I know you’ve missed me, and I have no excuses for you… But I’d’ve given the world to have missed you too.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Mariqah mumbled, sniffling.

Darim touched her arm tentatively, then gasped her wrist, “Rogue,” he said, “I’m sorry. I… I understand if you’re upset with me. I know I would be in your place.”

“I’m… I’m not upset,” said Mariqah, lifting her head a little.

“Then?”

 

“I don’t know… I’m happy, I’m sad, and a little bit turned on,” she grinned, feeling silly, “But… I’m scared,” her hands shook, “I’m scared that you’ll have to leave again one day, and I’ll have to go through everything again and…” she gasped, tears running down her cheeks.

“Alright, okay,” he held her shoulders and embraced her, rubbing her back with one hand, “It’s okay…”

“It’s just… you came all of a sudden and…”

“I know,” he said, “I feel it too. That I had someone all this time, there but not there. Something so close you can smell it, see it as a blur on the horizon, hear the silent melody from the lips of a distant mockingbird, taste its sweetness on the tip of your tongue – but its out of reach. It’s not solid in front of you. Not like you are now,” he paused, “Not like you were then. I loved you, and, Rogue, I still love you. And I know that, being the military people that we are, one day we will have to part company again,” he raised her up, and looked at her bleary eyed, “but I won’t leave you. Not before that day. That I promise you.”

 

“What if… what if they take you away from me?”

“They won’t. Jess told me that, after my brother’s wife re-married, my life becomes a mystery. I was on a ship to Europe – and it was sinking – when Jess pulled me out. She told me that I had left behind another life in the future. And explained our adventures there.”

Mariqah sniffed, “I wouldn’t call them adventures.”

Darim smiled slightly, touching her cheek, “It’s hard to believe that was thirty years ago.”

“Thirty…? Wait,” Mariqah looked at him queerly, “You’re fifty-five?”

Darim gave her a toothy grin, “Is that a problem?”

Mariqah paused at this. She’d made it such a big deal, back then, that Darim was fifteen years younger than her. Now though, he was fifteen years older than her. But he didn’t quite look it…

Time-travel phenomenon, duh! she thought.

“No,” she said, “no, it’s not a problem at all,” she kissed him, and he kissed her back.

 

They broke away for a moment, holding each other’s faces.

“You forgive me, then?” Darim asked softly.

Mariqah stroked his beard, “Don’t ask stupid questions,” and kissed him again.

“I have one question, though… The baby. Is she yours?”

“No. That’s Mary, Richard’s daughter.”

“Richard’s daughter…? How…? Why…?”

“Oh, Darim,” she said, smiling, “It’s a long story.”

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