To Dream, To Hope, To Serve
Author: Ria ()
Disclaimer: Demon Diary belongs to Kara, Lee Chi Hyong, Tokyopop and Sigongsa. No profit is being made from these � I do it all for my own entertainment (and hopefully that of others, as well).
Spoilers: General spoilers for Volumes 1 � 4. Heavy spoilers for Volume 3.
Summary: After the departure of Leeche, Eclipse finds himself having to face some difficult personal feelings. But in struggling to keep these feelings private, he finds himself questioning just how far he�s willing to go for his young master.
Author�s Notes: This part takes place during Volume 3, just after Leeche�s departure. These are sort of� hidden scenes from the manhwa, so to speak. Each chapter will take place in the manhwa timeline, but considering the pairing involved, this will probably go off into AU territory at some point or another. I hope you enjoy reading this! :)
To Dream, To Hope, To Serve Confidant
How could I have known it would be like this?
He moves and tosses in his sleep, a frown marring his face. He mumbles and groans, nonsensical sounds filling the silence in the room like the wind�s whispers through a forest.
I sit beside him, laying a hand on his damp forehead. �Is he having a nightmare?� I wonder aloud, watching him with mild concern. Perhaps he�s dreaming of what marriage to that human girl would be like in a decade�s time; he did seem rather taken aback earlier�
My hand twitches; Raenef mumbles. I pull away, trying to subdue the sudden twist in my stomach. The thought of � her marrying Raenef� I close my eyes, hardly able to believe what had almost happened. It was proper that she left when she did; Raenef � loveable, gullible fool that he is � was starting to become influenced by the drivel she was spouting at him.
A true Demon Lord knows when to ignore supposed �advice�.
�You must open your eyes to beauty, Demon. Become a Demon Lord who laughs and shares in the happiness of others,� she declared the first time she clapped eyes on him. How foolish, how blind, she is! Why can�t she (why can�t any of them?) realise that Raenef�s already like this? Why do they refuse to see? How am I the only one who sees this in him, the loyal and noble teacher who must put up with his inattention, warped logic, and unconventional opinions? The patient mentor who smiles as he grinds his teeth in bewilderment, while his winsome, exasperating student beams up at him after doing something idiotic � yet again.
How much more of this can I endure before my emotions become too easily apparent? My eyes flicker open as I stare at him, my hand trailing down his cheek as a sigh spills from my lips.
Moonlight pools in through the windows, turning his hair silver as it heightens his beautiful face. He�s delicate, sensual � there�s no doubt about that. The first time I saw him in the crowd as the thieves marched by, I almost dismissed him if not for what Meruhesae had told me. Before he even spoke, I didn�t immediately realise he was a boy � he seemed so fragile and slight. He was hardly proper material for a thief, never mind a Demon Lord.
But yet here he is, asleep and dreaming: Raenef the Fifth, Demon Lord-in-training. And despite all odds, and the frequent embarrassment he causes me, Raenef is genuinely determined to succeed, and I can only admire him for that.
Before this, I was able to hide my feelings for him and no one was any the wiser. That is the way it should be; after all, he is my liege and I am merely his mentor. While I may have feelings for him, I can never act on them. He is my lord and right now he is more than that � he is my student. If anyone beyond our circle were to learn of my affection for Raenef, I would be quickly disposed of as his teacher, with someone else in my place. And I could never accept that. I would prefer to remain as his tutor than never be in his presence at all. If all I can be to him is a close confidant, then so be it. I am not going to let my emotions jeopardise what precious time I have with him.
Hah! There are many demons that would laugh at the mere idea of me having emotions, never mind acting on them. I am the wise and noble Eclipse, who has faithfully served for centuries and whose pride makes him unable to tolerate imbeciles. Demon Lords would fight for me to serve them.
And now my master is a boy, who�s only recently realised what he truly is, with no idea of the power he is capable of � and no idea of how he�s supposed to act, either. No wonder many see me as a laughingstock.
And yet, if I had the choice, I would not leave. There is something that draws me to this boy, makes me care and fear for him. I would almost say I trust him, but that is absurd. No demon faithfully trusts another, no matter how close they are. Demons are only out for themselves � that is how it has always been. I refuse to believe that I trust him, never mind even remotely consider that he completely and utterly trusts me. Except� except�
Except I�m afraid that Raenef really does completely trust me with his life, as well as trust me as his friend and confidant.
And where does that put me, then?
Raenef doesn�t even realise what I am. My reputation is merely something he absently ponders while I attempt to teach; my ranking as a demon means nothing to him. It would never even cross his mind that I�m best known for my cruelty and ruthlessness � he only sees the side of me that he�s convinced is all of what I am. He would never dream of destroying innocents, so he assumes no one else would either.
But perhaps I am assuming, as I�m dangerously wont to do when it concerns Raenef. He never once doubted that Erutis would kill him if he hadn�t broken her sword (however accidental that might have been); likewise, he never imagines that Chris wouldn�t go through with his plans to annihilate demons if he had the chance. He�s a curious mixture of naivet� and wisdom, one that regularly baffles me. The urge to crack my head against a wall is becoming a daily occurrence for me, unfortunately.
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if he�d really agreed to dismiss me in favour of someone else, despite the fact that, up to then, he�d only met a handful of demons. While part of me wistfully relishes the thought of serving another, it is only a small, rapidly diminishing part, and now I find myself relieved that he accepted me as his tutor. The thought of another demon ever taking over his education fills me with dread; they would irrevocably change him, of that I�m sure. But that is why I can never admit to my feelings for him � I�m almost positive that I can be the only tutor for him.
Deep down, I know this is a fanatical way for my feelings for him to be acknowledged by convincing myself that I�m the only one good enough to teach him. Perhaps I am the only one good enough for him. Or perhaps it�s because the thought of one day leaving him feels me with an acute desperation that terrifies me.
Of course, if I ever told him about any of these fears in the most casual way I could imagine, he�d immediately dismiss them. He simply can never imagine me leaving him and receiving a new tutor in my place; it is inconceivable to him. In his mind, it is simple � I promised that I would stay with him forever, and one�s word is law. I can still remember making that promise to him, the exact moment our gazes met and I realised I was in far deeper than I�d ever imagined I could be. For as long as he wishes, I shall remain with him� and as far as he�s concerned, he will never wish me to leave his side. And so be it.
Raenef sighs in his sleep, and I quickly take my hand away before there�s any chance that he�ll awaken. But he seems relaxed and peaceful now, as if he can sense that I�m here. His nightmare, if that was what it was, is most certainly gone now. I have no more reason to be here, yet I can�t bring myself to leave. Just another few minutes. Hah. If I had the chance, I�d spend the next century just sitting here, watching him.
Demons are not meant to love. I can remember reminding countless demons of this over the centuries � and yet here I am now, reminding myself. Any marriages demons have, they are merely for political reasons or for the survival of a bloodline. There is never any emotional attachment involved. But just look at me now, the wise and noble Eclipse, fallen head over heels with a young Demon Lord who hardly knows what his own title means. How far I have fallen!
But even as I fall, thanks to my young master there is now a smile upon my lips.
For the first time in� how long? I can�t truly remember. I remember Raenef asked me once why I rarely smiled. He was so horrified when I told him I had little to smile about. He probably made it his personal mission right then and there to get me to smile more. As much as I hate to admit it, he succeeded. Not that I�ll ever tell him that. He probably knows already, anyway.
Raenef moves, now facing in my direction� completely unintentional, of course. Still, I allow myself to hope, foolish and unrealistic as it is. He�s smiling, one arm flung haphazardly out towards me. I brush my own hand over it, my eyes sliding shut of their own accord.
It is useless to dream. It is even more fruitless to hope. Nothing can ever happen, no matter how much I may want it to. But, damn Raenef anyway, my hopes and dreams continue to indulge themselves regardless, thanks to him.
If this is the road to damnation, then Raenef is my smiling, affectionate temptation. And everyone knows the forbidden fruit is the sweetest.
I bite my lip to avoid snapping (the oft repeated,) �A true Demon Lord does not say hey!� instead steeling my face into a neutral expression and glancing up from my book. �Yes, Master?�
Raenef stares into his cup for a moment, tipping it back and forth as if the liquid sloshing inside is the most fascinating thing he�s ever seen. (I mentally hold back from choking out, �A Demon Lord does not use his food or drink as an excuse to draw out an awkward moment.�) Then he looks across the table at me, a troubled expression in his eyes. (I declined, at first, to sit at the table with him as if I were his equal. He replied by telling me not to be so silly; I was his teacher and thus in a higher position. Still much to learn.)
�Do you think�� He trails off, carefully ensuring that the cup won�t spill when he puts it down. He dithers, twisting his fingers together. I frown. What could be wrong with him?
�Are demons able to love?� Raenef finally blurts out, nearly clapping his hands over his mouth the moment he stops speaking. He tenses, probably ready to bolt at the first sign of my reaction. We have never talked about love, affection, or anything of that sort; I suspect he thinks it�s a taboo subject with me.
As for myself, well, I�m frozen, my hands clutching my book so tightly that I�m surprised the ink hasn�t smudged. It�s rather difficult to ignore the fact that my heart is currently pounding in my throat, though I struggle to keep my expression neutral. No sense in causing him to panic� yet.
�Eclipse?� Raenef asks hesitantly, watching me with faint alarm. I realise dimly that I�ve never shown such an extreme reaction to anything he�s asked before. He probably thinks I�m going to throttle him. Personally I feel like I�m losing what little insanity I have left.
�What� what made you ask me that question?� I ask at last, inwardly wincing at the strangled sound to my voice. Though it�s hardly my fault � my feelings for Raenef aside, the chances of him having a romantic experience so soon had been slim to none. Leeche had been an unfortunate accident, since the original offering, a woman far older than Raenef, would never have shown interest in him.
Raenef shrugs, looking well and truly embarrassed that he�d ever opened his mouth, I imagined. (Note to Self: Remind Raenef that Demon Lords are never embarrassed, regardless of the circumstances.) �I was just thinking, and� and� well�� He stumbles to a stop once more, his face heating.
I decide to put him out of his misery. �I gather Leeche and her kiss caused all of this serious thinking?� I ask delicately, putting down my book and returning to my food. �Have you come to a decision regarding your betrothal to her?�
�Well�� Raenef begins slowly.
I chew carefully, trying to ignore the frantic twisting in my chest and stomach. He can�t willingly want to marry her, can he? The thought of Raenef married to her makes me literally sick. I put down my fork, too disgusted to eat.
Just as I look at him, Raenef bursts out, �I don�t have to be betrothed to her, do I?�
My relief is so palpable that I almost slump in my chair. �No, Master,� I reply quietly, sipping from my cup as I watch him. �But as I recall, Leeche allowed you a decade to consider her proposal. Don�t you think you�re being a little� hasty?� No, you�re not! I scream mentally, but I know better than to voice any of my thoughts.
Raenef looks vaguely ill. �Um, probably, but� well �� He swallows, twisting his fingers in agitation again. �� she scares me,� he whispers, bowing his head as if he�s admitting something shameful. �I don�t know how her father copes.�
You and me both, I think darkly, hiding one of my clenched hands in the folds of my robes so he can�t see it shake.
�And the thought of being married to her�� He swallows again, harder this time, as he sways slightly in his seat. I raise an eyebrow in faint alarm � he�s not going to faint, is he?
�Try not to collapse,� I advise him. �It doesn�t look well for a Demon Lord to faint.� He glares at me in exasperation; I smile crookedly in return. He blinks, then beams. He�s frighteningly easy to please.
�So�� Raenef says after a moment�s silence, sliding his fork around his plate. I itch to grab it from him, but manage to restrain myself. �Are demons able to love?�
It�s my turn to blink, as I scramble for an answer that will appease him. �I suppose we are, though it�s rare,� I begin, unwilling to crush his hopes immediately. �Marriages are usually for political reasons, or for the survival of a bloodline. But the son of a Demon Lord does not automatically become his heir � sometimes, a more suitable candidate is chosen instead,� I explain.
Raenef�s mouth drops open in horror. He stares at me with horrified eyes. �You�re kidding me!� he exclaims.
I shake my head. �No, my Lord, I am not.�
He slumps in his chair, cupping his face with his hands. �This is depressing,� he mumbles. Part of me is suddenly inclined to agree.
I fold my arms, frowning as I consider what I�m tempted to tell him. I shouldn�t � it goes against everything I believe in. But� despite my best intentions, I can see his hopes being crushed in his eyes.
Damn him for being sentimental. Damn myself for caring about him and wanting him to never change.
I take a deep breath. �Master, if I may say�� He looks at me, forest eyes large and curious. �If you ever do choose to marry,� I say slowly, �then marry one you genuinely love and care about. Demons live extraordinarily long lives, remember, and thousands of years is a long time to be married to someone.�
Instead of merely accepting what I�ve just said, Raenef watches me with a suddenly serious expression, his eyes thoughtful. I resist the urge to squirm under that questioning gaze. �Who was it that you loved, Eclipse?� he asks me softly.
I glance away, relieved that he�s only got it half-right. It�s you! I want to scream. It�s you, it�s been you for so long, and it�s starting to drive me insane that you�re completely oblivious! I swallow, knowing better than to ever say those sort of things aloud.
Instead, I smile faintly. �There was no one, my Lord,� I tell him quietly. �There never has been and most likely never will be.�
He folds his arm, frowning in annoyance. �I don�t believe you,� he says flatly.
I press my lips to a thin line, a warning sign that he won�t ignore if he has any sense left. �There was no one, Master,� I repeat firmly, locking my gaze with his. His expression is stubborn and determined; he�s not going to let this go, I realise with an inward sigh.
He snaps automatically, �How dare you admonish me, vermin!� He blinks, while my lips twitch.
�Progress,� I remark into the silence.
He glares at me, then pushes himself out of his chair. �I�m going to find Erutis,� he announces.
I pick up my book again. �Try not to enrage her,� I murmur absently, flicking through the pages to find my place. Raenef sputters indignantly, while I use the book to hide my smile. He stomps away, muttering about smart-aleck demons under his breath. My smile widens.
I will stay with him for as long as he wishes. Even if he wants me to remain with him forever, I will do so. As long as he wishes it. And if I can only serve him as his confidant and companion, I shall do so.
I know I�m not the only who has been drawn into Raenef�s web and is now unable to escape. Erutis and Chris both think that they remain here out of their own free will; I know better. Erutis already acts like Raenef�s personal knight and companion, though neither of them realises it yet. And Chris � Chris may be the next High Cleric one day, but Raenef is already a softening influence on him. Raenef has changed them both, though he doesn�t realise it, and I seem to be the only who can see this.
Of course, Raenef�s also changed me, but I knew that already.
It strikes me then, as I turn another page, that we all think about what would happen if we chose to leave Raenef, or if circumstances dictated that we could no longer remain with him. It�s so easy to forget that, despite his childish appearance and kind manner, he is a Demon Lord, albeit one in training. Eventually, he will have power over all of us. We forget that we aren�t really the ones in control, that in reality Raenef will one day come into his power and command, once he knows all he needs to�
So what will happen if Raenef chooses for us to be with him no longer?
I shake my head, trying to dismiss these troubling thoughts. Putting down my book, I reach for a piece of parchment. Half listening to Erutis and Raenef through the open window, I view the accounts with a sigh; we�ve gone over budget thanks to the surprise arrival of the two humans, as well as Leeche�s brief stay. More problems. But at least I can solve these ones, unlike my own emotional problems.
Then powerful, familiar energy swarms through the castle and I sit bolt upright with a gasp. Krayon? What�s he doing here? I hear the surprised cries of the three below and all I can think is, I have to protect him. Without pausing to think, I picture the courtyard in my mind and mutter, �Go.�
As I appear, my gaze falls on Krayon, who hasn�t changed a bit since the last time I saw him, so long ago. But then I see Raenef staring up at him, aghast, and I know I�ll protect my young master, no matter the cost. I�ll serve him faithfully and loyally, I�ll protect him, because that�s what I�m supposed to do.
Because I love him.
� End Confidant �