Emi and Beatrice laid on the huge bed, huddled up under the covers, looking deeply into each other’s eyes. They held hands, but with Emi’s grip so tight it left them both with great discomfort.
The moons shone through the window, but other than that, the room was in darkness.
“You’re getting married,” Beatrice said, her voice steady and measured. “You’re engaged to a noblewoman from Zahn you’ve never even met, and you’re getting married on the night of the Moon Festivals.”
“Y-yes.” Emi replied, her voice broken up by whimpers and sobs.
“You’ve known about this since before we met.”
“It’s been… a while. Five years, I think.”
“So that explains why you started avoiding me after our first date. You realized what was happening and you wanted to leave me alone.”
“I… I guess so. I barely remember.” Emi covered her face with her elbow, trying to hide her tears even as loudly as they came out.
“Why didn’t you tell me, then? If you had just been honest…”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I was scared. I’m still scared.”
Beatrice sat up and let go of Emi’s hand. “Why? Were you scared of what I’d think? That I’d stop meeting with you and having fun with you because you were engaged? Because you thought it’d hurt my feelings?”
“Did you really think it was okay to keep this a secret from me?”
A million little thoughts ran through Emi’s head right now, all of them covered in tears and bashing against each other in explosions of rationale and regret. She couldn’t think coherently enough to deliver any sort of adequate response.
All she knew was this: She had failed.
“I love you,” Emi eventually managed to say. “I really do.”
“No you don’t,” Beatrice said. “I’m just some… some fling before your real wife comes along.”
“No, that’s not true!” Emi shouted. “I don’t love her. I don’t even know her. What I said in the carriage, what I’ve said to you all along, it’s all true. There’s nobody more important in my life than you.”
“Then why wouldn’t you tell me about this?!”
Emi sat up too, and rested both hands against her temples.
Why, Emi? Why hadn’t you told her, huh? Can’t you think of a reason? Any at all?
“I won’t get married to Lady Khara,” Emi whispered. But her voice grew as she continued. “I won’t. I refuse. Tris, let’s run off together. We can get married tomorrow and go wherever we want! I’ll follow you to the ends of Tsubasa, no matter where you go. I swear it.”
“…No you won’t. Please stop… stop lying to me.”
“No, I‘m not lying!” Emi took a pillow off the bed and threw it as hard as she could towards a window. It bounced off and plopped on the floor. Both of them laughed, and for a moment everything felt okay again. But the softness faded back into the darkness, and Beatrice’s glare set itself back onto Emi’s face.
She continued. “I don’t even want to be part of my family anymore. The Ragnell Family is nice and fun and happy and you eat dinner together and your dad is amazing. The L’Hime Family is the opposite. We’re just desperate, conniving collaborators with Dannark and it’s all our fault those monsters rule over our country with an iron fist. I hate everything we stand for.”
“You’re going to bring politics into this? You know our rule.”
“I’m… I’m sorry.” Emi shriveled up and sank back into the bed. “All this time I’ve worried about what you’d think about me, as some sort of rich snob who doesn’t understand a thing about how the real world works, and if I messed up even a little bit, you’d…”
“I don’t know, desert me and join the priesthood.”
“And I thought I was the moron in our relationship,” Beatrice said. “I was never going to join the priesthood, Emi! Not after I met you. All this time I’ve been wondering if I was the weak link, if my indecision about becoming a priest was going to ruin our relationship and I was causing you so much stress.”
“It’s not, I promise,” she said. “I’ve always been worried but it’s not a big deal, because I… I know whatever choice you made will be the best one. You always make the right decisions.”
“You make me feel like such a jerk,” Beatrice said.
“Wh… What? What did I say?”
“Nothing, sorry. The priesthood doesn’t matter. I figured it out the plan. I was going to… I was going to take the exam and then I was going to decline it even if I passed… and then I was going to show the papers to you and tear them in half. And I… never told you, because I wanted to keep it a secret.” Beatrice’s lips quivered as she said what even Emi knew was a lie.
But it was a lie that made her heart just a little bit warmer. “Then why don’t we go? Why don’t we just fix this like we always do and move on? We can travel Tsubasa together and help people, just like you always wanted.”
“Because… Because you’re getting married, Emi. You can’t just run away from that.”
“Yes I can.”
“And ruin the rest of your life? Abandon a family that loves and cares for you?”
“That’s my entire plan,” Emi said. “I don’t care about them. I care about you.”
“You know you can’t do it…”
“Then it’s the same with you, Tris. You’re lying about making your mind up. I know you want to become a priest more than anything, because you are a wonderful woman who cares about the rest of the world and wants to actually do something about it. You’re exactly the person the Church needs, and you know it.”
Beatrice started crying, finally. “I’m so sorry…”
“It’s okay.” Emi reached in to hug her, but Beatrice rolled to the other side of the bed, facing away from her. Even so, Emi wrapped her arms around her and touched her cheek to her neck. She was so hot… Beatrice’s shoulders stiffened, and she took a sharp breath. But after a moment she relaxed. She took Emi’s arms and put them up against her chest. Her fingers traced down the line of her collarbone.
“It’s okay,” she repeated. “It’s all okay.”
“It’s not okay, Beatrice told her. “If we stay together, your parents will hate me for leading you from your role. My parents will hate you for making me crush my dreams. We’re… not supposed to do this, I think. The Gods don’t want it. But… even if all of that is true… do you want to do it anyway? Can we really run away together?”
Emi thought about this for a long time. All she wanted to do was turn to Beatrice, smile, and say, “Yes. Let’s go. I don’t care where; let’s just go.” She wanted so desperately to hoist her girlfriend up into her arms and sprint into the nearest church so they could be married and ride off into the horizon in their carriage. She had even suggested this very thing just minutes earlier.
But when she opened her mouth to speak, the words did not match.
“No, I can’t, Tris…”
“Don’t call me that. My name is Beatrice.”
Emi winced. “Beatrice.. I’m so sorry… I can’t let you abandon your dreams for me. I’m just some girl.”
“You’re not just some girl! How dare you. You’re the woman I’ve fallen in love with, and I’d give up everything for you.”
“You shouldn’t… I’m already taken,” Emi said.
“You can’t just stay and get married to someone you’ve never met. That’s just idiotic.”
“But isn’t that what I said a minute ago?”
“It– I don’t know, Emi. I just…”
“Maybe…” This argument was going around in circles. There was no way to resolve it. “Maybe none of this would have happened if I had been honest with you from the start.”
“You’re right, Emi, maybe you should have been honest,” Beatrice said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have been such an idiot.”
“This was all a mistake,” Emi said. “Coming here, talking about this, being…” Emi didn’t dare finish that sentence.
A silence permeated the darkness for some time. No more crying, no more talking. It was the kind of quiet that could only be broken in the same way as a fragile glass–with a sharp note.
And Beatrice was the one to break that silence: “I think I hate you.”
Emi gripped her tighter, buried her face in her back. “Me too, Beatrice.”
They stayed like this for a long time, holding each other in the night and filling the bed with tears. They hoped the light of the moons would guide them to some sort of healing… but they knew the glass had been shattered.