A cut scene from Chapter Two of Shadows of Lela.
This was the moment when you are first introduced to Larylis, and he is watching his brother about to read his poem to Mareleau. In my original draft, Larylis stops to reflect on when he and Mare first met as children, before he goes on to beg Teryn not to pursue his beloved.
This was SUCH a hard scene to cut, because some of my early readers thought it was really sweet and helped them understand Larylis better.
But, if you can’t already tell from reading Shadows, I am obsessed with pacing. Anything that slows the pacing, whether I’m writing or reading, tends to drive me bonkers. And as I was reading that chapter during editing, that’s exactly what that scene did. I was taken out of the action immediately.
Here it is for you to read…
WHEN LARYLIS MET MARELEAU
By Tessonja Odette
Shadows of Lela cut scene, Chapter two Poems.
If only I had been born first. If only I had been born strong and healthy. If only I had been chosen as our father’s heir. If only Teryn wasn’t so damn ambitious. If only he didn’t want Mareleau. If only I could accept my fate and let her go.
So many if only’s and if anything had been any other way, if I had been born first, if I had been born healthy, I never would have loved her.
And I wouldn’t give that up for the world.
Teryn stared like a man enchanted at Mareleau as she stood silently on her balcony. I had hoped beyond hope that he wouldn’t want her. I knew he would find her beautiful; it was impossible not to. But I didn’t want him to desire her. And the look in his eyes said exactly that. He would call it love, I was sure. But he didn’t know what love was.
I had known love once. I fell in love when I was six years old.
Fate dealt me the hand of being sick, small, and of weak constitution since the day I was born. My brother, on the other hand, was born strong and healthy and grew up like any other royal child. I spent much of my childhood in my sickbed, always coming down with some illness or another. My parents were too busy to care for me and my constant ills, especially after my brother and I turned six and Teryn was old enough to start schooling. It became clear that I was a useless child, unfit for schooling or riding lessons, and likely to die before I lived another year. So they sent me away.
They sent me to Sele, our neighboring country, and into the home of my parents’ lifelong friends and allies, King Verdian and Queen Helena. Verlot Palace was said to house the best healers in all of Lela. There I could be taken care of and kept well out of the way. I was sad and lonely and missed my family. Why don’t they want me anymore? I had wondered. My young life never had much matter or meaning up to that point, and things seemed only to be growing dimmer. Until I laid eyes on Mareleau.
I remember the day we met. Upon waking up one morning, there she was, staring down at me as if I were some strange animal. I started, and she giggled and ran out of the room. “Wait, come back,” I begged, eager for company. She peeked around the door, a sly smile between dimpled cheeks. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Mareleau,” she said.
“What are you doing in that bed?” asked Mareleau. “This place is for sick people.”
“Well, I’m sick. What are you doing here?”
“I’m the princess of Sele,” she answered haughtily, turning her round chin upward and putting her hands on her hips. “And I’m sick too.” At once, her defenses lowered with a sniffle.
“What are you doing out of your bed, Your Little Highness?” demanded the strict voice of one of the healers coming down the hallway.
“I have to go back now,” said Mareleau, looking sadly at her feet.
“No,” I begged. “Please stay.”
“I’ll visit again, I promise. And when we both get better we can be friends and play together!” Mareleau smiled and my stomach fluttered in an unfamiliar way.
“That’s right,” said the healer, putting her hands on Mareleau’s shoulders and guiding her away from my room. “But you both need to get better first.”
“I will get better,” I said, excitedly. And I meant it. I knew I would get better. Never before had I had anything to live for, anything to give me determination and the desire to be strong. But as crazy as it sounds, it was all I needed. I got better, and we did become friends. The three years I spent at Verlot were the best of my life. When my parents sent for me to come home, Mareleau and I promised to stay friends and visit as often as possible. And we did remain close friends for many years.
But then we grew apart. We got older. We were no longer allowed to go running through the stables together, having imaginary sword fights or go swimming in the lake in our underclothes. And then I was forbidden to visit altogether. I realized, with sorrow, that Mareleau had become a woman and no longer needed her childhood playmate. But I didn’t stop loving her. Not for a moment. She could deny me all she wanted, but I knew, somewhere in her heart, she loved me too. She had to.
I promised I would prove my worth to her if it was the last thing I did. I was determined.
But now my brother was equally determined…
Copyright 2018 Tessonja Odette
I hope you enjoyed that look into the sweet moment between little Lare and Mare! For more bonus content, visit the World of Lela page.