You have been fighting for your life since you were six years old. Kindness is a foreign creature. Whatever hope you had in life vanished the night they tried to drown you. Whatever innocence you held onto is still lost in the water.
They expect you to play nice and soft, as though it hadn't been ripped out of you when you were left to fend for yourself, through quick hands and quicker feet, teeth bared and wild eyes locked on the exit. These horrible people, nobles with fake smiles and faker kindness, pulling you into their power plays. Adopting you because "A young girl shouldn't be living in the streets."
The streets are all you know. With no father, and a fading memory of your mother, there has been no place you could call home.
And though the house they take you to is large and clean, it is as foreign as kindness and twice as dangerous.
You eat a full meal for once, all foods you've never seen before, savory and warm. You are given your own room and a maid that draws the bath for you. You are given a bed too soft to sleep on.
You hate it.
Somehow, you endure. You can't call these people your parents, because you know they are not. But Madam Luice sneaks you sweets as she teaches you how to read. Ser Kadot answers all your questions no matter how bitter or cold your tone. They are endlessly patient with you, slowly get you used to three full meals a day and clothes that don't rub your skin raw.
Perhaps their kindness is fake, but it is still kindness.
With no children of their own, they've taken you into their house and named you the heir.
You don't expect it to last; you are no model child. Your language is too brash, you slouch and curse and know you are more trouble they you're worth.
Still, they keep you around, and slowly wear down your defenses.
(You can't tell up from down. The water muffles all sound; everything but your heartbeat is quiet. It's so cold. So cold. You want to cry out, beg for help, but the water swallows your voice and fills your lungs.
Is this how you die? Young and unloved. Broken and abandoned. Left to drown, knowing no one will save you.)
It's no longer hard to sleep in your soft bed. It doesn't feel like you'll sink into it and never emerge again. It just feels soft and comfortable.
You still flinch when you see hands move too fast, voices speak too loud, feel the servants watch you a little too closely.
But no one hurts you. Rather, they protect you. They bring out their fire, their claws and teeth, when other nobles come by and comment on your presence. Both Madam Luice and Ser Kadot, and the servants who have watched you grow from terrified, weary child, to guarded teenager.
"You are our daughter," Ser Kadot says, "I refuse to let anyone speak badly of you. No matter who they may be."
It's hard not to tear up when no one's ever cared for you before. It's hard not to tear up when this is the first time you've felt loved.
It's hard to say Thank you, but you manage somehow, and he doesn't mind at all when you cry onto his suit.
"Teach me how to use a sword," you demand one day, just a few months before you begin your first year at school. It's a fancy, prestigious school, meant to give noble children a more in-depth education, and serve as a space to make connections.
You know you won't enjoy your time there. You're too different. Growing up in the streets left its mark on you; it's hard to let your guard down, to trust in others, and see the best in people. Even now, years after being loved and cared for as the adopted daughter of a noble family, you see people as threats and never stop preparing for the worst.
If you're going into an environment where you'll be looked down on, you should be able to defend yourself.
Ser Kadot, one of the strongest knights in the kingdom, regards you carefully, then tells you to grab a sword.
You can't help but smile, though it may be sharp and dangerous.
You know how to fight. You have been a weapon far longer than you've been a girl. Though swinging a sword around is different from swinging fists, you've never been one to back down from a challenge.
Ser Kadot doesn't hold back, is harsh in his instruction, but he heaps praise and advice on you each time you hit the ground, and that gives you the strength to get back up again. Bruised you may be, you've never felt so alive before.
(You don't know how your survived. The shock of the cold and the water filling your lungs makes you pass out quickly. You remember how dark and murky the river water was, how the light scattered into nothingness once it broke under the surface.
Perhaps you washed onto the rocky shore. Perhaps you were saved by a passing stranger. Perhaps it is only luck that has kept you alive.
All you know is that you can't look at the river without thinking about drowning, and that you are haunted by how fragile you are, how easily you can die.)
Just as you expected, you are mocked and belittled by your fellow first years. It seems the other students don't appreciate you getting some of the highest grades in the class while being a street rat. The fact that you've been adopted into a noble family means nothing when everything comes down to blood.
But you've dealt with cruelty before. You've heard people say horrible things to you, and without being able to curse, the insults that are thrown at you in the school have no bite.
You've survived worse. It'll take a lot more than this to keep you down.
Still, you know your manners reflect the house you've been brought into, and after all they've done for you, you can't bear the thought of letting them done. How strange and wonderful and frightening to know that you care for them just as much as they care for you.
So you gather your courage and face the most intimidating person in your grade: Anathia Rya, the future queen. Though she is still just the daughter of a marquis, the king choose her at a young age to be the prince's fiancee. As such, she's perfect in every way, training to rule a kingdom since she was a child. She has never spoken to you, for you are below her in social ranking, but you are willing to do anything to make your house proud.
"Lady Rya," you bow your head to her, "I am in desperate need of your help."
Though her face is still, composed, more smoothly sculpted than a statue's, her eyes aren't cold. They're bright, almost daring in the light.
"What is it you need from me?"
"Teach me. If anyone knows how this society works, it's you. Teach me how to behave, how to understand the unspoken rules of this life that I've never learned."
"I hardly think I am capable of teaching."
You glance up to meet her gaze and offer her a grin. "I didn't think you'd be one to back down from a challenge. Are you always so timid?"
Her shoulders stiffen. She holds herself taller. You knew it would work.
"We'll begin tomorrow. Meet me in the courtyard after classes are over."
Anathia isn't what you expected. Her manners are impeccable, she's the picture perfect noble child, and wears her confidence like a dress. It's clear that she's above most people just from a glance. She's the top of the class, always soft-spoken and patient, studious and disciplined.
But she's competitive and purposefully riles up others just to win arguments. She's always trying to prove a point and loves a challenge more than anything else.
She is also a terrible teacher.
It's not that she's bad at it. It's just that she insults you nonstop before she tells you how to do something right. If you hadn't dealt with worse people before, you'd be trying to tear her hair out.
"Again," she barks, once you pick up the fallen books.
You sigh, but allow her to stack the books on your head. You stand as still as possible, wanting to place your feet farther apart, but the first time you did that, Anathia kicked you. So you try to balance as best you can, hardly daring to breathe.
Once she's satisfied with your posture, she steps back and begins lecturing you again.
"We women are expected to be everything. We must be soft and fragile, but we must also be sharp with our words and strike fear in those who go against us. We must be aware of everything we do, from how we hold ourselves, to what we wear, to how we speak, but we must do these things so effortlessly so they seem natural." Anathia folds her hands in front of her and looks over you with a calculating eye. She turns and walks back to the bench you've both placed your bags on. "Now walk over here without dropping any of the books."
If you were able to, you would stick your tongue out at her. But you fear the movement will send the books crashing down. So instead, you focus on keeping your breathing even and steady, keep your chin lifted up, and take an unsteady step forwards.
The books shift and sway on your head. You freeze, then take another step. It takes time, and far more focus that you expected, but you manage to walk to Anathia without dropping a single book.
She takes them from your head with careful hands, then nods her head.
"Well done. Now sit, we have homework to finish."
And so it becomes routine. And somehow, you think you've found your first friend at the school.
(Your ears are ringing. They're yelling at you, but you can't make out any of the words. The world spins and tilts in strange directions. Everything in your sight has gone fuzzy, as though you're looking at a dream.
The throbbing in your head is brutal. You can't think. You can't move.
Someone grabs your arm, shakes you. You must let out some sort of sound at the sudden onslaught of pain, since they drop you harshly back onto the floor.
You don't understand. It was just food. You were just hungry.
Was that really such a crime?)
No one bothers you anymore since Anathia has claimed you as one of her own and sticks by you as you walk from class to class. The snide comments had died down once she turned her cold, unforgiving gaze upon the speakers. Though you're sure other students still talk about you behind your back, none of them dare say anything to your face anymore.
With her help, you've gotten the second highest grade in the grade, right below Anathia. You're not making any more mistakes when you speak to others, few those times may be. The letters you receive from Madam Luice and Ser Kadot speak of how proud they are of you and how they plan on spoiling you once you come home, and you cannot help but be grateful that you went to Anathia for help all those months ago.
It hasn't all been smooth sailing since you began spending time with her, however. Though you've tried to keep it a secret, someone has spotted you training behind the dorms late at night.
He sneers at you, insults your stance and your movements, and the more you ignore him, the worse he gets. Normally, you'd just leave and train at another time, but he's insulting not just your movements, but the training Ser Kadot gave you, and that is unforgivable.
"You have no right to speak badly of me if you can't beat me in a duel," you say, voice just a little too calm.
He takes on the challenge with a laugh. "As if a girl like you would win! Fine, I'll enjoy publicly humiliating you. Tomorrow during lunch, we'll have a duel out in the fields behind kitchens."
You agree, and sternly tell yourself murder isn't acceptable.
Anathia scolds you for training at night when you should be sleeping, then walks arm-in-arm with to the the fields behind the kitchens and tells you to kick his ass.
There's no way you can lose now that you've got Miss Perfect to curse at least once in her life.
The crowd grows quickly, full of people who want to see you thoroughly beaten, money being passed around as they place bets on how long you'll last. You hear Anathia bet a ridiculous amount on your victory, and, so high on excitement, most students just laugh. After all, how can a street rat of a girl beat the son of a knight?
The answer is: very easily.
He has been trained, yes, but he does things formally, elegantly, strict on how he holds himself and his sword, how much strength he puts behind each swing, how he moves with clumsy feet. He's been trained but he has no experience in a real fight. This isn't a friendly spar. The two of you will fight until someone draws blood. You both aim to inflict pain, and that's a fight you're all too familiar with.
You've live half your life on dirty streets, fighting tooth and nail for a little bit of food. You've dug your nails into flesh, bit hands that reached for you, know where to hit to knock the breath out of your opponent. You know how to fight for your life. The son of the knight only know how to fight for show.
You use your body alongside the sword. There's no playing fair here. You swing and slice and kick and bite. He's stuck on the defensive, panting for breath, eyes wide with shock. You dance around him easily, smiling at the thrill of the fight, heart pounding and feeling alive.
He hits the ground and you carefully draw your sword along his hand.
The blood wells up slowly; the cut is shallow. Your control is nothing to laugh at, after all.
The crowd is silent. When you look up, Anathia looks at you proudly, and holds a hand out for all the money she won betting for you.
"I wish you would have told me about this," she says as you walk back to the dorms. Every student has been careful not to speak of the duel; though teachers often left things for the students to figure out, they would punish everyone for a fight like that.
"I don't see why I had to. It's not like a girl training to wield a sword is something most people would believe, anyways."
"I would have believed you," Anathia says without hesitation.
The admittance makes you blush, a little too happy about her belief in you. You can't help the smile growing on your face.
"Then I'll be sure to win every duel for you."
You should have put more faith in her, as well. Somehow, behind your back, Anathia pulled some strings and got permission for you to become a knight.
"Only if you want to," she says, handing you a letter of permission from the King himself. You're sweaty from an hours worth of solo training, and the cool night air is a relief against your hot skin.
"I'll do it if you want me to," you reply. 'If I can use this sword for you, let me. My life will be yours, always. I'll make sure no danger ever befalls you."
"Then I shall appoint you as my personal guard, my sword, my shield."
You shouldn't be so surprised when she tilts your face up and kisses you. It feels as though you've been moving towards this all along, from the day you first met, to every day afterwards.
"The prince--" you try to protest.
She grins, a cold, daring thing. "He has his eyes on other girls. Why can't I?"
And when she kisses you again, you lean into it, into her, and fall headfirst into this tragedy in the making.
(Your mother never looked after you, not after the first few years. She became more and more distant, a ghost of herself. And one day, she vanished.
You have been alone ever since.
You have no memory of kind touches, of a safe embrace. You can't imagine what if feel to love and to be loved. You stay quiet and hide in the shadows and listen to curses fall from the lips of strangers. Everything is too cold, too hard, too cruel and that shapes you into a strange creature, small and deadly, desperate and always alone.
The alleys and the rooftops are familiar to you. The main streets are too dangerous for you to inhabit. So you hide yourself away and steal to survive and stop dreaming about what a home would feel like.)
Anathia marries the prince a year after graduation. The whole time, you are by her side, training with Ser Kadot and able to best even the best of the King's knights. You earn a reputation for yourself; not a street rat, but a dangerous weapon, forever by the future queen's side.
It's at the castle, where she learns how to be queen, that she asks you to teach her how to defend herself. It's a strange role reversal; the first year at the school, you ask her to teach you how to be a lady, and now during the first year at the castle, she asks you to teach her how to be a weapon.
Her soft hands aren't meant to hold a weapon. The only harm she should do is with words.
But she has told you of being kidnapped and poisoned, assassins after her to harm the future of the kingdom. It's hard not to imagine her as a child, young and weak, struggling to breathe as the poison slowly stills her heart, as she's blindfolded and taken away. It's hard to fight down the horror and rage at learning what has happened to her.
So you teach her. Pressure points and nerves, how a simple twist of the hand can have a grown man on his knees from the pain. You teach her how to fight dirty, how to fight without strength, how to take out someone in seconds so she can escape.
Anathia is focused and perfects everything you teach her. She throws you to the ground time and time again, brutal and hard-hitting. She leaves bruises on you, but that's alright. She spends the night pressing kisses to them afterwards.
You will never marry. Not when you have already sworn to spend your life by Anathia's side. Ser Kadot and Madam Luice say nothing about grandchildren. They bring up marriage only once, and when you say Anathia's name, they only smile knowingly, and change the subject.
It's strange to look back on your life and remember the long journey it took to reach her side.
You were an orphan in the streets, desperately fighting to survive. You hated the nobles who took you into their home, then slowly learned to trust in them. You remember the cruel, cutting words of others, dragging your name through the dirt and insulting your family. You remember how you were always filled with hate, with fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop and to watch it all come crashing down around you.
You remember drowning, and being saved, and fighting to defend yourself, and making your way into Anathia's life.
After everything that's happened, you can't imagine life without her.
She gave you courage and love, helped you find a reason to live. She defended you with scathing words and never backed down when you were in trouble. She did all you asked of her, and more.
It's only natural that you give all of you to her; body, mind, and soul. In kisses and sweet words murmured in the dawn's soft light, in the clash of swords meeting and the blood that's spilled.
You are the queen's sword and shield, after all. You were always meant to be by her side.
3.4k words of a warrior girl falling in love with a queen. this took a few days but im done so whatever. im proud of this even if its a mess.
anyways, you know otome games? like, dating sims? imagine if the protagonist fell in love w her rival (the prince's fiancee usually) and also was strong. that's the game i wanna play and also what inspired this. fantasy lesbians swearing their lives to each other. hell yeah.