Evening came, and the two young women waited impatiently for their quarry to find them. The moment footfalls were heard at the window, Helena rushed to her hiding place, and Dialeana went to the window to guide him into the darkened room. Their was only one flickering candle set upon a small table at her bedside, lighting the glasses filled with the dark, thick liquid.
Betrean’s hands went to Dialeana’s waist, pulling her close and nipping at her neck. The young woman giggled and pushed him away. “Not yet, not yet. Let us drink first.” She guided him to the table, handing him the glass. He downed it unceremoniously as she sipped at hers. She smiled, giggling at his antics. “In such a hurry! Go lay on the bed, I must step out to ready myself.” She explained, going out into the adjoining alcove, dousing the flame as she did so.
Helena waited nervously wearing similar attire, praying that the drug she had slipped into the wine would do as she hoped; deaden his senses, and pique his lust enough that he would not notice her stout frame, her short fingers and limbs and the telling fact that she was thicker and fleshier than the young Dialeana.
Once she was sure it had time to take effect, she stole into Dialeana’s bedroom, obscured by darkness. The dark form of Betrean was sprawled out on the bedding, and didn’t stir until he felt the bed shift as she sat down on the edge.
With a quick motion that startled a cry from her lips, he grabbed her about the waist, and was upon her. She gasped as he focused his attention her body with such passion she had no time to react, to question her choice. He’d nearly disrobed her completely, his flesh burning hot against her when he paused. She held her breath, not daring to reach out to him, to risk giving herself away with her fingers, her simple, short fingers and hands. It was not her fingers that gave her away, though.
Betrean slid his hands down her waist, her hips, her thighs, slowly, considering. In the near pitch black she could see the faint outline of his face, and though she could see no expression, she could see the faint shake of his head. He leaned down, his breath tickling her ear.
“Helena, you are too clever for your own good.” It was a growl of a whisper, and she shuddered. The weight of him pressed her down on the bedding, and he made no moved to let her loose, despite his realization. “You wanted this so badly…” his breath was hot on her cheek, and he licked her neck. “I will give you what you so desperately wanted, only on my terms.”
She had thought him aggressive before. Now, though, egged on by anger and his veins pumping with the aphrodisiac, he took her with a cruelty she had not realized he was capable of. Only after his lust was satiated he climbed from the bed, taking a handful of her hair and dragged her out of the room. She had endured him, her cries bit back for the sake of Dialeana and her family.
“Betrean, please!” She gasped as the cold night air hit her and she suddenly feared for her life. He ignored her pleas and hauled her along, naked and terrified, her body already aching from his earlier assault. He eventually came to a stop, and held her up by her hair, snarling into her face.
“You entitled, spoiled, hideous thing. You have ruined my life with your meddling.”
Tears escaped her eyes, and she clung to his arms, desperate. “No, no, Betrean. I just wanted…”
He growled, cutting off her words. “What you want, you can't have," he snarled. "I can’t send you back to the stars where you belong, how about I send you after that beloved father of yours?”
“Please, Betrean, don’t!” She cried out, but it was too late. He released her suddenly, and she lost her footing on the branches, her short toes unable to grip, her fingers, unable to slip around the nearest branches with ease. With one last, desperate attempt to save herself, she reached up and caught hold of his necklace. It popped, the strand breaking suddenly. His eyes widened, as their gazes met, and in that moment, his expression went from hard and cruel to suddenly fearful. She fell back, and his had reached out for her. Sobriety, sanity, had returned to him two heartbeats too late for her.
As she fell, she stared up at the stars, visible through the break in the canopy above the chasm. The stars, she’d been abandoned here on this cruel world by those stars, and she cursed them as she fell into those dark, endless depths. Only once the stars were swollowed by darkness her decent came to a sudden and final stop.
Dawn sparkled in through the leaves, the shrill cries of the cretilleans greeting the sun. It was this beatific scene that Betrean sat observing, his shoulders hunched. It was lost on him. His mother joined him on the terrace, the mood somber.
“How are you my son?” She asked, placing a long, tapered hand on his shoulder.
He glanced up at her, his expression pained. “You believe me when I tell you I was not myself? I was simply angry at being tricked into being bound to her. I didn’t wish her dead.”
She sighed. “Many loved that girl. They are angry at your actions, though you are lucky that Dialeana spoke up about the drug they slipped you.”
He nodded, the night in which they’d lost Helena a vague blur. What he did remember horrified him. He’d been violent and cruel to her. She had been like a sister to him. He had cared for her, despite his anger.
What he had done was undeniably wrong, and he knew he deserved whatever punishment came to him. Drug or not, that anger, that ability to act out that hostility, that had dwelt within him, and had only needed provocation to be unleashed. He had done the unspeakable.
He was now under house arrest while his mother and the tribe grieved the loss. His position as a warrior and descendent of the elders granted him that. The fact of the drug used to induce is erratic behavior had bought him time as well. He had two complete moon cycles, no more. Then he would be sentenced. Death was the usual outcome of such trails. He didn’t doubt that it would be his fate as well.
* * *
Days passed one after another, and an ache grew in his heart. His bed was empty and cold. He’d grown used to Helena’s solid form between the blankets when he returned home. It was a comfort and a bittersweet reminder that her pillow still smelt of her. Regret weighed his every step, his every move, his every act.
He replayed the night over and over again in his head, as if after each remembrance he might wear away the rough edges, replace his savagery with some vague hint of passion, kindness. He often imagined what would have been if he’d reacted differently, if he’d treated her tenderly giving into her pursuits with more grace. It was a bittersweet fantasy, laced with remembrances of their childhood together, her kindness and the love his mother had for her.
The moon changed once, then once again, and he knew his final day of judgment had come. The chief and his men would decide what to do with him. Head bowed, he entered the great room.
“Betrean. You know why you have been called here?”
He nodded face held carefully expressionless, “I do.”
“Our beloved Helena is no longer with us. You were with her that final night. Though you had been given a drug that addled your brain, the fact is, you still killed your mate.”
Betrean nodded, teeth clenched.
“This is the greatest of crimes, you understand that.”
“You know the punishment for such crimes?”
Again, “I do.”
“Do you have any final words?”
Betrean nodded, slowly. “Only that I regret. I regret all my actions towards Helena. Had I to do it again, I would love her ever, ever dearly.”
And so it was, he joined her in death in a way he could not join her in life. Betrean stepped off the ledge of the chasm, a willing sacrifice to the trees.
* * *
And so ends this tale, a twist on the plot of the 'problem' play by the great bard. While the original was considered a comedy, it was often argued to be a tragedy. I chose to go with the more tragic ending, with a bittersweet twist.
All does not end well...
...or does it?
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bit·ter·sweet: being at once bitter and sweet; especially: pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret. A collection of short stories I've written since joining Wattpad for various contests, challenges and publications. The...