after touring for almost 7 years straight it felt really strange to not see live music for as long as i went without it… im a bit anxious but incredibly excited to be back in the world again connecting with people and having experiences i will remember forever 💙 c u soon
michaelclifford: after touring for almost 7 years straight it felt really strange to not see live music for as long as I went without it… I’m a bit anxious but incredibly excited to be back in the world again connecting with people and having experiences I will remember forever 💙 c u soon
seeing 5SOS living the best time of their lives right now makes me so happy, you can clearly see they've been so happy and healthy lately, being together and enjoying every moment. 5SOS5 era is definitely going to be so good
Summary: A new arrival at the Isles comes with a plan and not everyone is very fond of him as they wait for news from RoseWood
Warnings: Mentions of murder, fighting, blood, angst, guilt, manipulation, language. Some grammatical errors (English is not my first language, I’m sorry)
Word Count: 8.5 k
Author’s Note: Let’s meet the crow, shall we? Remember that Reblogs, Feedback, Comments and Likes are super important (I’m still shadow banned so it truly helps a lot 🥺💕) Hope you like it and Happy Reading 🦋🌻✨
My Materialist // wanna be part of my taglist?
Book 2 Materialist || Prologue || Chapter one
Jack Barakat never had an easy life, sure he never tried to make it easier either, but that line was always a good start for any story. And oh, how that crow loved good stories.
As any other tragic beginning, Jack was a poor orphan born in RoseWood who perfected the skills of stealing and deceiving at a very young age, becoming one of the worst nightmares for any guard that tried to catch him. And when they finally did, at the tender age of sixteen, he was confused why his sentence was an audience with The King instead of just the sharp edge of a sword.
The guards splashed him in cold water and dressed him in black before presenting him to the ruthless King Richard who, the moment that he saw him, smiled like the devil, almost as if he was watching the quality of the menagerie.
“I heard about you, Barakat,” He said, laying back on his throne “And from this day, it’ll be the last anyone would hear from you, little crow. You’ll resign to your name, swear loyalty to me and all your crimes from the past and the ones you’ll commit will be pardoned”
“And if I refuse?” The young thief asked, defiantly. Something that the King seemed to like.
“You won’t. ‘Cause you and I both know, this is the only chance you’ll ever get to become someone”
Someone, not a thief, but a crow. A nameless man who lurks in the shadow and serves their King. Someone, not a thief, but an assassin. A whisper in the last breaths of the enemies once they realize they were too late, always too late. Someone. But Jack wanted more than to be just “someone” He wanted all.
So, with a smirk and a cunning gaze, Jack Barakat was no more than the past.
He was thrown into the dungeons not long after that meeting. The training to become a crow was always done in the dark, so close yet so far from the real world, just enough so they knew that from now on there’s nothing left for them but life in the shadows. There, they would learn how to lie; how to sneak up in plain sight, playing the parts of multiple people at once without raising any suspicion. They learned how to kill without conscience; how to end a job without leaving any traces that could cause problems in the future.
They became nothing and something at the same time. Living vicariously through whispers and legends, spying for the crown, and doing all their dirty work. And Jack… oh, Jack was the best of them.
His rise on the ranks of King Richard’s murder of crows was due only to his impeccable record, never once failing, so he earned the trust of the mad King. They would plot together, using all of Barakat’s plans but making it believe to the King that those ideas were his, making him eat from the palms of his hands. Making it clear to everyone who was the puppet and who the puppeteer most of the time.
Jack wanted it all and he was so close, oh so close to getting it all, until that night at The Vail.
To say that he underestimated the monarchs was an understatement. He should’ve known, but he let his guard down. He infiltrated the court with such ease; everyone welcomed him like he was always there, even finding a friend in the old King Robert. He turned soft and that cost him more than just half the sight of his left eye, it cost him his pride.
If Robert hadn't found out about his motives; if he hadn’t fought back, being the living proof of the legends of the warriors of the Vail; if his wife hadn’t been there in the room with him… Would he still do it? Maybe, but it would’ve hurt a lot more than it did.
And, as he ran into the night followed by the screams of their young heir that had just gotten back to the palace; as the blood dried on his hands, Jack felt proud. Because now everyone knows that you can’t outsmart a crow and live to tell the tale. It was a warning and it was a mistake.
When the King got word of what happened at The Vail by the hands of a lad named Barakat he was outrageous, but not for the reason people believed him to be. Because even though the only people who knew that Jack was a crow were dead, he still didn’t finish the job. Not only that, he was discovered and Richard could not, Richard will not let that ruin his plans.
So Jack went back to the dungeons the moment he stepped foot back in RoseWood, but this time as a prisoner.
For years, the crow had to be tied down; humiliated as he heard the rumors of how Prince Ashton was now in charge of the alliances, sending crows to different courts in order to gain the trust of the monarchs to swear allegiance to King Richard. He didn’t know if the young prince did it knowingly, but he knew that he couldn’t have done a better job than a real crow. So the resentment grew until it became a part of him. And then, a new idea was born: He’ll stop all of them. He’ll kill them all if he has to. But people will know the name Barakat again, not as a ghost, but as the man who got the power back where it belonged: To the one who did all the work.
He knew one day the King would come back crawling to him, it was just a matter of time before that fateful night when he did, claiming that he was needed for a job.
“You will watch over my daughter,” Richard said “Make sure nothing could interfere with my plan to have her marry King Luke. Do that, and I might consider bringing you back to your post, crow”
An easy job, nothing he or other crows couldn’t handle. But the Princess of Roses was an unexpected surprise, to say the least.
Innocent as people might think she was, the Princess had a secret in the form of a lover: a commoner; a stable lad that would wait for her under the branches of an old tree in the middle of the night, leaving secret messages next to white roses upon her bed. A secret love story that soon became two as her fiancé, the Young King of the Vail, kept some secrets of his own as he confessed his love for his advisor, one of the fearsome knights the Vail has ever known in years.
Least to say that the King was not pleased as the madness and thirst for power consumed him, blinding him as he made the fateful mistake of hurting his daughter for everyone to see. Which could’ve been overlooked if not for one detail: Prince Ashton was there to witness it all.
That moment marked their downfall as neither Jack nor Richard considered Ashton to ever be a threat to the plan. A mistake they won’t forget as the next thing they knew: The Princess and her lover had escaped and the alliance was broken until Ashton could take over the throne and, soon enough, the rest of the Kingdoms that got word of what happened started to do the same, putting Richard into shame. But Jack refused to go down with him.
And that’s what brings him here to the Crimson Islands, back with a new plan and a new identity, determined to finish the job he should’ve done years ago. And, as he saw with a smile how the Princess entered King Alex’s throne room, hand in hand with her lover, with a hopeful yet careful look on her face; Jack knew that he would turn out victorious again.
“Your Highness, My Lord” King Alex said with a welcoming smile “Captain Merrick just came back from his trip, and I promised to call you if there was some news regarding RoseWood”
“Thank you, Your Majesty” Calum and Y/N bowed “It’s nice to see you again, Captain Merrick”
“We surely hope your travels have been successful and you had a safe return” Y/N smiled.
Captain Merrick bowed to the couple with a shy smile, never being a man of too many words “I appreciate your good wishes, Your Highness”
“As anyone would. It is said that a Princess’ blessing carried good fortune” Jack interrupted.
Suddenly, all eyes were on him, finally noticing him standing behind the Captain and next to the King. Standing proudly with a charming smile as he looked directly at the Princess, making Calum almost instantly take a more protective stance towards his wife, tensing the arm that was around her waist as he glared at the stranger.
“Certainly so, my Lord” King Alex chuckled, looking at the couple with a wide smile “Your Highness, My Lord, let me introduce you to Sir Jefferson. A traveler that’s looking for sanctuary in the Kingdom”
“Sanctuary?” Calum asked, furrowing his brows “For what crimes?”
“Calum…” The Princess reprimanded in a hushed tone “I’m terribly sorry, Sir.”
Jack smiled “Please, there’s no need for apologies, Your Highness. I understand the reaction, after all, most people that ask for sanctuary are running away from something” He said, looking at Calum in the eyes “But I’m blessed to say that’s not my case. I was just strayed from my travels and need a place to stay for a few months, luckily I met Captain Merrick over the Coasts of Maine and he so kindly offered to bring me to the Isles where I can present my services”
“Why, yes, My Lord. You see, I am what people might call a tutor, only I do not stay in one place for longer than two years”
“A tutor? On what areas of expertise?” Calum kept insisting on his interrogation, grip still firm on Y/N’s waist as she looked at him with wide, confused eyes at his sudden rudeness. Jack, on his part, seemed to enjoy it.
“Music” He smiled with sufficiency “I come from a family with a traveling band, but after tragedy struck us upon my seventeenth year of life, I had to learn how to fend for myself. So I travel, like my parents did before me, and I present my services to the courts all around the world, creating a world full of music like my parents dreamt of”
“And you don’t stay for more than two years?”
“I believe that’s enough time to teach someone the basics of music, after that there’s nothing else for me to teach. After all,” He said, looking at Y/N “Music is art, and art is nothing but an extension of someone’s heart. I cannot teach the desires of one’s heart, only how to get to them. It’s their task to find their art and make it come alive, wouldn’t you agree?”
Y/N smiled kindly “That’s a beautiful sentiment, Sir Jefferson”
“It surely is!” King Alex stated, engulfing Jack in a conversation of their own.
In that little intermission, Y/N turned to Calum with an expectant look, asking the question she couldn’t ask out loud but he’d be able to catch in her eyes. Calum, however, remained with the frown as he looked at her, crooking one eyebrow and shaking his head.
After what happened, Calum became much more cautious when it came to meeting new people, especially if they came out of nowhere; always thinking of the King’s words, afraid he might send someone to get them, even if he doesn’t know where they are.
Y/N sighed, placing her hand on top of his husband’s, understanding his concerns as she tugged on it carefully. She knows Calum is right and that she should be more careful around strangers, but that was not an excuse to be rude.
Then, she turned to Captain Merrick.
“How was your trip, Captain?” She asked in a sweet voice, not wanting to disrupt the other men’s conversation.
“Unfortunately very uneventful” Zach answered with a small smile “The Coast were unsurprisingly boring at this time of year; the shores of Shieffield have a new Minister that deals with cargo ships that gave us a little bit of trouble, but nothing that a bottle of scotch couldn’t fix”
“Stolen, I supposed?” Calum chuckled.
“But not from them”
On the days they were traveling, Captain Zach Merrick became a close friend of the couple. They knew they could trust him from the start as Ashton always told stories of his trips with the Captain, naming him one of the worst creatures the seas had ever seen, but the most loyal friend one could ask for.
Not exactly a pirate but not a man of law either, Zach has managed to win the hearts of many, including those of the young Prince of Roses and the King of the Crimson Islands, and it took almost nothing to win the trust and care of the young couple who were trying to flee their awful fate, promising them nothing but secrecy on their identities to whoever might ask.
Yet, what happens when that secret is already shared with someone that claims to be what they’re not? And, as Jack listened carefully to their conversation whilst still actively indulging the King in a talk about opening a music class for the children in school, paying attention to every word as he tried to sell his scheme.
But his ears really picked up when he heard Y/N’s whisper.
“Have you any news on RoseWood, Sir?”
The worried tone in her voice complimented Calum’s worried gaze as he took in a big breath. They knew that if the King called them for an audience with the Captain it was not just so they could meet the new potential tutor of the castle, but rather to have a moment with the Captain for themselves, ask if the rumors were true and that her father was really raising an army.
“‘m afraid not, Your Highness” He sighed quietly “Haven’t heard a word from our Prince since the night he came to me asking for help”
Y/N felt the back of her eyes burn with tears as she nodded, seemingly calm and collected while her heart was slightly shattering. She knows there was nothing in this world that could make Ashton not write to her or Calum. He promised he would, why was he not keeping his word?
Calum sensed his wife’s discomfort as he softly murmured an “It’s okay” into her head, placing a soft kiss into her hair as he stroked her arm gently, eyes darting at the stranger who still seemed preoccupied with the King.
“And any news at all?” Calum asked, “King Alex talked about some rumors going around and-”
“My Lord, I cannot confirm nor deny the veracity of those rumors while being at sea for so long,” Merrick said “But I will say I heard of them, too. Whispers that claim King Richard has finally lost his head and it’s embarking on a quest to create the greatest army of all realms to try and conquer them. Yet, those rumors are not taken seriously for the King has lost a lot of support and no one from RoseWood has ever said something about it. So, if you may allow me to recommend to simply put those thoughts aside, Your Highness, I’m sure our prince would not let that happen”
Y/N pressed her lips into a thin line, nodding as she pondered on the possibilities of those rumors, wondering if Luke heard them too and if he had, wouldn't he tell them? Why is their silence so loud?
“Captain, if you hear anything…”
“I’ll come right away, my dear Princess,” He said, bowing gracefully “Not even the most fearsome storm could prevent me from helping my dear friends”
Calum extended his hand and brought Merrick in for a hug, palming his back as he muttered a “Thank you,” to the man who helped save their lives.
“Oh, I see there’s been good news after all” King Alex interviewed, and neither of them had the heart to tell him that there was no news at all.
There was no need to alarm the King or the court about something as silly as a rumor, knowing that it might as well be a false one knowing her father. But still, having no news on Ashton was not a calming thought, for her brother knew better than to give them the silent treatment.
“Excellent!” The King clapped once, with a smile bright as day “I believe it’ll be best if we move on with our days. Sir Jefferson, I’ll make sure one of our servants accommodates you in one of our rooms and I’m sure Calum and Y/N here can help you adjust to the Isles in no time” He said before he turned around and grabbed the Captain’s shoulders, staring to walk away with him as he started to blabber about other business of the crown “And Captain Merrick, I was thinking we could-“
Then, it was just the three of them standing in the throne room with not much left to say even though their thoughts were heading in different directions. One thought of vengeance and strategy, while another thought of discomfort and mistrust, yet the Princess was once again trying to see the positive side to it all, not wanting to reject this new person while still being cautious about his intentions while her head was swirling in all the possibilities in why her brother hasn’t written to them yet.
“Have you been on the isles for a long time?” Jack broke the ice. Playing himself as innocent as he could as his eyes centered on the young Princess.
“Yes,” Calum said, bringing the attention away from his wife “One gets used to it pretty quickly”
The heartstrings inside of her chest started to tug at her husband’s words, knowing it was a lie for the two of them. Escaping the prison that was RoseWood was something that they planned for a long time, but leaving so suddenly with barely some goodbyes and leaving the people they loved the most behind… That was never the plan.
And she knows they should be thankful, they are so very thankful for the opportunity that Ashton, Luke, and Michael gave them, but they know that opportunity should’ve never existed in the first place. They were not allowed to celebrate their relationship properly with the ones they love; they damaged their names and were forced into hiding.
They were safe and they were together. Both their hearts beating in syntony in the house they created with each other. But something was missing, and Y/N couldn't deny it any longer after the others decided to go with no contact.
“I’m sure you’ll have no problem in doing so, Sir Jefferson” Y/N said with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes as they started to water “If you’ll excuse me,”
Y/N nodded and gave a little bow before exiting the throne room, walking at a fast pace through the halls and letting her tears fall gracefully down her cheeks; she did not break even though she wanted to.
A dark cloud shadowed over her as she walked aimlessly through the castle; the bells inside her head ringing loudly about an ominous feeling that she just couldn’t shake. Something was happening… something was coming.
“Y/N!” Calum shouted, finally catching up with her. He was panting by the time he stopped in front of her, resting his hands on his knees as he tried to catch some air “I’ve been calling you all the way from the throne room” He breathed. But Y/N stood there with a confused face, had he? She didn’t hear him “You- You really do walk very fast, my rose”
“I’m sorry,” She said with a string of voice, looking down as the silent tears kept rolling down her face “Oh, gods. I shouldn’t have done that. Walking away like that was so rude and-”
“Hey,” Calum said softly, standing up straight and taking a step closer to her as he cupped her face in his hands “No, don’t cry, my love. You did nothing wrong, why are you upset?”
“I- I don’t know” She cried quietly “Nothing. Everything… It’s all very confusing and at the same time, I don’t know if we could even do something about it since we are here and… Fuck, Cal, why hasn’t he written?”
The stable lad’s heart broke the minute that he saw how crystalized her eyes were, for a moment there it seemed like they were back in the woods; Y/N looking at him with big, doe eyes that held such a childlike innocence, and he, pretending that his soul didn’t shatter with every tear that she spilled as he consoled her, praying that they both could be strong enough to get through it.
But Calum could not pretend that this didn’t hurt him as well. To cut his hair and to change career path seemed easy when trying to get away from all the pain, but he could never get RoseWood completely out of his life; not when his best friend and family are still living there and he hasn’t heard a word from any of them. And, although he had Y/N by his side and he was more than grateful for the second chance that they were given to live their lives freely, a part of him was still begging for that closure they never got to have with their homeland.
“C’mere” He whispered, bringing Y/N in and wrapping his arms around her, letting her cry onto his chest as he swiftly ran his fingers through her hair.
It didn’t seem as much, but it meant everything to them to be able to comfort each other in some way. Just a little reassurance that when the world seems to be falling apart, they will always be there to hold each other up, no matter what.
“I can’t say I know the reason why he didn’t write. We can’t even confirm that he didn’t, only that it hasn't reached us yet” Calum whispered into her hair once her cries had died down, kissing the top of her head softly “I have faith that he will write, Ashton hasn’t let us down yet even when we thought he did”
“But he promised, Cal” Y/N pulled away just enough to look him in the eyes “He promised he would write; he promised that he would visit. Ashton has never backed down on his word before, why would he do it now to his little sister?”
“It’s breaking my heart” She confessed “It hurts… all this guilt, it hurts. We left him there, Calum. We know what my father is capable of and we didn’t fight hard enough to free him as well”
“You know Ashton wouldn’t have left RoseWood, my love. That’s his home, his duty as an heir and his people-”
“They’re my people, too” Her voice broke at the end “They’re my people and I don’t even know how they’re doing. If the rumors about my father are true…”
“They’re not” Calum tried to reassure her, but she didn’t listen.
“If they’re true then what can we do? We know what kind of man my father is, and - and I can’t shake this feeling that there’s something wrong going on over there. Almost as if my heart is bleeding to go back there, calling me in a desperate plea. And I can’t help but think that Ashton is the one who’s calling”
The seriousness of her tone gobsmacked Calum, knowing he felt the same way but still…
“Y/N, you know we can’t go back there,” He said, wiping a tear from her cheek “If your father sees you… I can’t- I won’t put you at risk”
“And I’m not asking you to put yourself at risk as well, my love,” She said with her palm caressing his cheek “I already made you sacrifice a lot by my own selfishness and cowardice. I won’t make you sacrifice your life as well. I just wished there was a way we can ease our hearts with this situation. Just a glimpse of a clue for us to know that my brother is okay. But I don’t know what else to do and I feel like I’m abandoning him all over again”
“You are anything but selfish, my rose. You are the bravest person I know” Calum shook his head, leaning so he could press his forehead against hers “I would do anything for you, follow you until the end of time if necessary. Just say the word and I’m yours forever. If anything, I’m the one that brought you here into this mess and if I could take all that pain away from you, I would in an instant”
“Can you hold me and promise me that everything will be alright?”
“I can’t” He admitted “I can’t promise you that, my rose, even if I wanted to because I promise to never lie to you, I made a vow and I intend to keep it. I can’t tell you what I don’t know. But I can promise you that whatever happens, I’ll be here with you and I’ll hold you forevermore until the sky starts burning…”
“And the seas all dry” She finished for him, sniffling as she looked up at him and asked, “Are we terrible people?”
“Are we terrible people for leaving them behind? For leaving all behind”
Calum sighed “Y/N, we didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t stay but -”
“We didn’t think leaving would hurt this much” He nodded.
“And I don’t believe that makes us terrible people. We needed to leave in order to survive, and I’m certain that if you ask Ashton that question, or Luke, or Michael… They will all be on your side. You are not a terrible person just because you chose to survive”
Nodding but not quite believing him fully, she held him closer and placed a small kiss on the skin that was uncovered by his shirt.
Calum responded by cupping her face with care, tilting her head up, and brushing his lips against hers, letting her know that he was not going anywhere.
A sweet, intimate moment watched from the shadows of a different palace but with a very familiar feeling as the wheels inside the crow’s head started to turn, already formulating a plan that could mark the beginning of their end.
A couple of weeks go by since the morning when the new guest arrived and Calum was getting tired of him already.
The obnoxious attitude this man had as well as the toxic optimism he exuberated with every person he met, made it seem like he was just a people pleaser instead of holding strong morals of his own. That, and the fact that this man seemed to be wanting to get close to him and Y/N especially made him distrust the new member of the court.
Every afternoon he would see them walking along the hallways after his wife’s lessons with the Maester, with Y/N laughing along to something the supposed tutor had said. He would sit next to them at dinners, talking about meaningless points and trying to get some sort of clues from their past, but when Calum asked him the same questions, he avoided them with ease. He was a self-proclaimed open book that seemingly had locks on every page and Calum couldn’t help but wonder if it was just a tactic to win some time and get the story straight.
Y/N noticed how Calum would tense every time he came by or the passive aggressiveness he showed the new guest, and while she understood the need to be more careful, it was her heart that couldn’t help but hope that she had found a new friend in a time where she desperately needed all the support she could get.
Her mind hasn’t stopped wondering and worrying about her brother’s whereabouts; if he was safe or even if she did something wrong to make him mad at her to the point of not writing. Calum always helped her ease her mind and reassure her, but it was the times when she had to be away from him that the thoughts consumed her to the brink of breaking down. So it was nice to have some sort of friendly distraction with Sir Jefferson.
They would talk about music and the places where he tutored before coming to the Islands, successfully keeping her mind busy as she told him stories of when she and Calum were little - leaving away the place where they grew up and how exactly they got to the Isles, of course - and never once making him doubt of how happy and in love she was with her husband. Even when he wasn’t too keen on seeing them together.
“You didn’t trust Luke either when you first met him,” Y/N told him after he confessed his unwillingness to start any sort of relationship with Sir Jefferson.
“That’s different,” He argued “Because I knew Luke was a good man, even when it seemed like he wanted to marry you, he always showed that he had a good heart. But I can’t help but think that Jefferson is not to be trusted”
“He just wants to fit in, Cal. Remember that when we got here we wanted the same thing and no one would show us a helping hand? It wouldn’t be fair to do that to him”
“He’s not a kid in need of protection, my rose. From what I can tell he does pretty well on his own, so I don’t see the need to constantly be after you in looks for a quote on quote “support” You are just too kind sometimes”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” She sighed.
“I just want you to be careful” Calum shook his head, taking a step closer to her “We barely know anything about this man, we don’t know if he’s dangerous or-”
“Then I know how to take care of myself” Y/N smiled kindly to him, wrapping her arms around his neck “Cal, you don’t have to worry about me. I can manage and I promise I’m being careful, trust me”
“I’ll always worry about you, rose, and I trust you with my life,” He said, softly cupping her left hand and kissing the gold band that adorned her finger “I just don’t trust him”
And at another corner of the castle, hunched over a piece of parchment, covered in candlelight in scattered clothing as he prepared to go to bed, was the crow with tinted fingers and cold eyes, writing what he knew and what’s to come.
He drifted his gaze to the window, watching as the dark clouds clashed with one another, creating the thundering noise that accompanied him on this trip. A crooked smile formed on his lips, breathing calmingly as the lightning hit the sea, and he felt content.
The plan was just beginning and they didn't have a clue of what was going on in RoseWood. So isolated in the Island, so busy trying to deny what happened over at the kingdom of roses that they didn’t realize there would not be a kingdom anymore if they ever decide to come back; it’ll be an empire.
The Prince will never write to them, he can’t. And the other kingdoms are so full of themselves they will never believe what’s happening back at RoseWood, where the ones who entered are never to be seen again.
But they can’t know that, they won’t. After all, accidents happen all the time. People don’t survive much in the dungeons, and who could even suspect a young music tutor for the disappearance of a young couple that was so desperate to get news from their homeland they might just as well return. And once the heirs are gone… There’s only the big fish to get rid of, and surprisingly, that’ll be the easiest one to beat.
The crow’s smile widened as a small chuckle left his lips before blowing out the candles. Knowing that tomorrow will be another day.
Calum walked through the cobblestoned halls alone early in the cloud-filled morning as he went to see the Maester. After a long night’s rest he woke up with Y/N by his side, but the poor girl was freezing as her nose was tinted red since she caught some kind of cold the previous night. He promised her that he would talk to the Maester to bring her some kind of beverage that could help her, but that for now, she should rest and, for the first time in a long time, she didn’t fight him back on it.
He knew that the last few weeks had been taking a toll on her, and to be honest, it was taking a toll on him as well. She needed to rest as much as she needed peace, and if he could give her at least some sense of that, he would.
The stable lad knocked on the hardwood door and waited patiently for Maester Lorcas to open up, but he was surprised when the door opened immediately and one of the ladies of the court stood behind it.
Lady Gillian narrowed her eyes up and down his figure as she smiled flirtatiously, leaning on the door. And Calum had to stop himself from rolling his eyes as she spoke with a very - or trying to be a very seductive voice.
“Good morning, My Lord,” She said with a look that Calum found repulsive “May I be of help with something for you today?”
“No?” Calum said with a grimace “Why would I-? No, I need to see Maester Lorcas”
Lady Gillian was about to say something else but the moment she opened her mouth, the Maester called out: “Lady Gillian, step away from the door and go back to your scale ointment!”
Calum pressed his lips in a thin line to prevent a laugh from coming out as the lady’s face turned beet red while she scurried away to give her place to the old, wise man.
“My Lord! What do I owe the pleasure?” The Maester said with a wide smile, looking around in the hallway “Is the Princess not joining us today?”
“I’m afraid not, my dear friend,” Calum said, smiling weirdly as he noticed a few ladies looking over the Maester’s shoulders, but he just shook it off as he turned back to Y/N’s teacher “My wife has caught a cold overnight and I had to suggest some well-deserved bedrest for her”
“I see,” The old man laughed complicity “Are you sure it’s just a cold and not, perhaps, a child?”
Calum’s eyes widened as he couldn’t contain the smile that crept to his lips that tinted his cheeks crimson red; chuckling and shaking his head at the thought.
“I’m pretty sure it’s just a cold, Sir,” He said, still chuckling at the thought even though it warmed his heart “After all, it’s too early for us to even begin to think of children”
“Ah, what a shame. The two of you would make excellent parents, you’re already an excellent marriage if you ask me” He said with a shrug “I’ll be sure to go get a beverage for our dear Princess after the class, then you can start talking about babies”
Calum laughed wholeheartedly at the Maester, thanking him for his kindness and wishing him a good rest of the day before wandering off again through the palace and on his way back to the armory where he will spend the morning working until the evening falls, symbolizing it was time for training.
And, for the first time in a while, he walked down those halls with a smile as he repeated in his head the words from the Maester. “An excellent marriage,” He said and that’s all it took for Calum to feel giddy inside.
He takes pride in being able to call Y/N his wife, and he was even prouder to be called her husband. But it was moments like these that he realized just how lucky he was to be able to marry her with the blessing of the King of the Vail. From the moment they met, Calum knew he was going to marry the Little Princess with dirty shoes, falling in love with her since that first meeting when they were kids and now, the fact that one day they will have children of their own, running around telling stories and falling in love at their own time… He couldn’t wait for that part of his life to begin with Y/N by his side.
But as of right now, Calum seemed too distracted with that thought to even see where he was going, making him clash with a tall body the moment he turned one of the corners. Immediately taking a step back, the stable lad was ready to apologize to the person whose path he came across so violently by accident, but he couldn’t help the way his eyes hardened the minute they laid eyes on a very familiar and unwelcome figure.
“Sir Hood!” Jack - a.k.a Sir Jefferson - said with a wide smile “What a lovely surprise to see you walking around these halls in this beautiful morning”
The morning was anything but beautiful and Calum had everything but the patience to deal with that man today. So he politely nodded as he returned to his previous pace, knowing that if Y/N was there, she would probably scold him for such behavior.
But Jack was persistent, walking along with him and quickly catching up with his steps.
“I was on my way to the Maester’s class,” He said “Wanted to see if Y/N was done with her tasks as she’s usually the first one to finish; wondered if she wanted to accompany me to the school this morning and see just how talented the children are. I know she would’ve appreciated it…”
Yet Calum could not hear a word he was saying as the blood went down to his ears as they started ringing. Clenching his jaw and trying his best not to punch the new guest of the Isles, Calum simply said:
“She’s sick” Speeding up his pace to lose the guy once and for all.
“Oh no!” Jack faked concern as he rolled his eyes behind Calum’s back, quicking up his pace again to match up to his “I’m so sorry to hear that, my Lord. She’s been such a great friend to me and -” He almost lost his step as Calum made a sudden right to one of the outside hallways “But maybe this is for the best!”
The stable lad stopped entirely, turning around slowly as he shot the crow a deadly, cold glare.
“Excuse me?” He said, “How‘s my wife being sick for the best?”
“Well, if you put it like that then it sounds awful” Jack murmured and Calum just shook his head as he kept walking “What I mean was that this could be a great opportunity to get to know us as friends!”
“We are not friends, Sir Jefferson”
“Not yeeeet,” He sang but Calum was already gone, entering the armory where his wielding tutor awaited. Jack smirked as he whispered “Not yet and not ever”
Calum let out a breath of relief when he realized that Jefferson would not be following him back to his work, something he wouldn’t have been surprised if he did, but very annoyed indeed. Still, it was not time to think about just how insufferable that man was as he put on his apron and started to work with the iron and the fire; feeling content with the few hours he had before dinner when he’ll surely be seeing his face again.
However, that thought didn’t make it as far as dinner as one of the trainers called Calum’s name in the middle of practice and he did not like who was next to him.
“Hood!” The trainer said “You’ll get a sparring partner today, son. Sir Jefferson here would like to train”
The brown-eyed man nodded at his trainer while he wrapped the palm of his hand in bandages, a few spots of blood already tinting the fabric due to a false movement he made. But his eyes were fixed on the crow, cold and suspicious at the smiling man.
“Uh, are you hurt, my lord?” The crow asked with a cringe face “Maybe we should do it another time…”
“Why are you here?” Calum spat “You don’t fight, do you?”
Jack shrugged “I’ve done a little friendly sparring in my time”
“Never took you for someone who knows how to fight”
“And there’s still a lot you don’t know about me, my Lord,” Said Jack carelessly as he picked up a sword with ease “But I believe we can change that”
Calum let out a quiet but surprising hum, picking up his sword as well with his hurt hand without even wincing at the pain of the still open wound under the wraps, and drew his position as well as Jack.
“Your move, Your Highness” Jack said with a taunting smile, distracting Calum for just a second before he recuperated his thoughts and started swinging the sword forwards, taking a step closer to the crow.
“I’m not a royal,” He grunted as Jack easily dodged the sword and blocked his movements with his own weapon.
Jack lunged forwards swinging his sword from left to right, blocking every movement without breaking a sweat.
“Isn’t your wife a Princess?”
Calum grunted, spinning around and making Jack almost lose his step at the fast movement. The stable lad then took a step forward, trying to launch himself at the crow but he easily dodged it, moving his feet like he was in the middle of a dance class.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Calum panted, feeling how his cheeks were turning red due to the effort; beams of sweat were running down his forehead as he noticed a small crowd gathering to see the two of them fight.
Jack smiled mischievously “Well, I can only assume that a marriage for someone of such rank had to come with certain benefits for the non-royal spouse”
The swords whistled through the air, clashing against each other while trying to block the movement of the opponents. Calum’s movements became more aggressive as the frustration kept growing inside of him at seeing how this stranger seemed to be an expert whilst interrogating him on his personal life.
Barakat could see the fumes inside Calum’s head and he loved every single minute of it as his anger became apparent. His movements were elegant but strong, almost as if he were dancing with the sword instead of fighting. He was not aiming to kill - not yet, at least - But that couldn’t be said the same towards the stable lad.
“I didn’t marry Y/N for her title,” He said through gritted teeth, trying to hit his opponent at a weak spot, but always failing “I love her”
“So you love her and decided to just isolate her from her family and bring her to live on this Island?” Jack asked, taking Calum by surprise as he hit the sword right out of his hand and sent it flying “Was that some sort of punishment?”
“Excuse me?” Calum asked, stopping everything as he clenched his fits at his sides, ready to jump on him at any moment and finish this by hand.
Jack smirked out of Calum’s sight, picking up his sword for him and giving it back to him as any gentleman would do in a friendly sparring.
“I’m just saying it must’ve been hard for the two of you to leave your families behind and start a new life, but that it was a brave decision,” He said, calmly; planting the seed of doubt on Calum’s head as he blinked back at his words
“That’s not what you said”
“Are you sure? Or so much time being surrounded by horse’s shit made your brain all fuzzy?”
What did he say?
But before Calum could even ponder on his words, Jack drew the first position, swinging his sword forward, so close to Calum’s face that, if it weren’t for his fast reflexes, he would have already been on his way to the Maester.
How could Sir Jefferson know that he’s been around horses almost all his life? When Y/N and he fled to the Crimson Islands they decided to hide part of themselves that could easily make them a target for possible King Richard’s spies. Calum cut his hair short and Y/N hid all her gems inside of her clothing, they changed stories of how their relationship came to be; only saying that Calum worked at the palace but nothing else. He knew Y/N would’ve never said anything that would put their alibis at risk, so how could this man that they barely even know have any idea of what he used to do for a living?
But as his head swam with doubts and unanswered questions, Jack kept fighting. Grabbing his sword for dear life, Calum was slow with his movements as he tried to block all the attacks, seeing the hint of mockery in the crow’s eyes every time he made a false movement.
The anger behind his brown eyes intensified with each step, trying to fight back as best as he could but his blinding rage kept him from ever being close to a punch.
“You look tired, Calum,” Jack said, standing perfectly still as the stable lad tried to catch his breath “Slept well last night? No nightmares to keep you up?”
What the fuck?
“I’m just getting started” He panted, wiping off his sweat with the back of his hand.
“Not like that you aren’t” Jack chuckled. “Separate your feet a bit more, always facing the opponent. And don’t slouch, it could make you dizzy and the back pain will be horrible later at night. Hold your sword like this and don’t try to stab before you swing”
“You’re giving advice now?”
“I believe in a fair fight” He shrugged “Plus, I don’t believe Y/N would be too happy if I hurt her husband, now would she? Didn’t she suffer enough already?”
Calum saw red as he launched forward. Who was this man? Why was he so interested in jabbing in their marriage? And how the fuck did he know so much? Y/N would never betray their confidence like that, would she? No, she would never.
So why was this man standing there so proudly with the ghost of a smirk over his face? Why did every move Calum made seem useless against him? Why do his eyes seem so familiar, almost taken out from a nightmare? And why couldn’t he beat him?!
“You’re letting your emotions get in the way, Calum”
“Don’t fucking call me that”
Jack tisk “And I thought we were starting to get along”
Calum spun around on his heels, trying to catch Barakat from behind. But the crow was quicker as he hit Calum in the small of his back before he could even turn completely, making him fall to the ground in a loud thud and lose the sword he was holding.
Jack suppressed a laugh as he kicked Calum just enough to make him lay on his back as he pointed the end of his sword to his face, standing proudly before him and declaring himself the winner.
“If you ever want to learn how to fight, you have to do it honorably and without feelings,” He said, gracing the pointy end on Calum’s cheek, barely cutting through the skin as a reminder “Your anger might blind you, but don’t let it cloud your mind”
He threw the sword to the ground next to Calum who was now prompting himself upon his elbows, ready to get back up and settle this one more time, no matter how many times he had to fall, he was not letting this man get the satisfaction of seeing him down on the dirt once more.
Yet, before he could even stand up again, a guard came running up to him.
“My Lord!” The guard called desperately “The King requested an audience immediately! Your wife-”
And before any other words came out of his mouth, Calum was already running back into the palace like a madman. Leaving Jack very stunned and confused as he asked the guard what happened.
“There’s a letter, Sir. A letter from The Vail!”
Calum never ran as fast as he did at that moment, fearing for Y/N’s health as he flew through the hallways and into the throne room.
Y/N was standing in the middle of the room next to the King and Queen, tears were clouding her vision as she cried mournfully, extending her hand to Calum the moment she laid eyes on him.
“Cal…” She cried, holding in her hands a wrinkled piece of parchment.
The stable lad wasted no time as he ran up to her and wrapped her in his arms, relieved that she was okay but worried at what might’ve caused her to break down like that. The Princess pulled away far too quickly as she tried to explain, but the desperate tears prevented her from saying anything as they damped her husband’s shirt.
“What happened?!” Calum asked, desperately searching for her eyes but she just shook her head as she passed him the letter.
“It’s Luke and Michael,” She said “A-Ash is…”
But Calum couldn’t hear anything else as his eyes scanned over the letter, feeling the tugs in his heart become painful as he realized what was happening.
We received word from an ally in RoseWood. The reason why Ashton hasn’t been writing is that he was taken prisoner by King Richard ever since we left.
He doesn’t have much time and neither do we. We need your help. Please come as soon as you get this.
the fact that WFTTWTAF isn’t more revered by the music industry makes my blood boil. that album is truly a masterpiece and I don’t say that lightly. every song is so delicately crafted, everything from the lyrics to the composition and production.
luke wrote an album about facing the things he has been turning away from, and in turn, he’s put up a mirror for the rest of us to look upon the very things WE have turned away from.
I truly believe that this album is worthy of becoming a classic, the type of record that you play for your children in road trips alongside bon iver and other greats. leave it to luke to have his debut album be timeless.