“You don’t deserve to be a king.”
That sentence ran through his head over and over again, killing him and destroying his pride. Why didn’t he deserve to be a king? Didn’t he love his country and was one of its most loyal fellows? Wasn’t he Lord Dean Haymen, the respected captain and leader of the strongest sorcerers’ battalion in the army despite his young age? Didn’t he have the best reputation around all nobles and even the poor ones for being honest, generous, brave and strong? Then why didn’t he deserve to be the next king?
And then he remembered the moment when all that was destroyed and gone. That bitter moment when his best friend and closest companion stabbed him in the back and sold their friendship for power and glory; that so-called friend who denounced him falsely in front of his majesty, accusing him of what he had not committed, wasting his good name and reputation and destroying his life chance to be the king of the gods’ world.
His hands reached to his head and he pressed over his headache, over his frustration and hurt. What had he done in life to receive such a blow? He didn’t desire the fame and power of kings, but he had a dream and that dream had suddenly vanished and he lost it-totally for nothing and without a fault.
“Dean...” he felt a gentle touch upon his shoulder, forcing him to release his head and turn to his wife. The looks of her beautiful face with those yellow eyes and golden hair was enough to smooth any pain in his heart, except that the pain was a little too much this time. She looked at him gently, pitying that he had been sitting for hours in his office, thinking over the hurt over and over again alone.
“Leave me alone, Irene. Please, leave,” he turned away, not wanting to gaze at her with that livid, irritated look in his eyes. He knew that he wasn’t in the best of moods, that he wasn’t going to be comforted anytime soon, that no matter what she said to him, he’d still feel bitter from the inside. He didn’t want her to see that in him.
However, in her eyes, there was a determined look as well, and she wasn’t going to leave her husband to suffer by himself no matter how much he pushed her away. So frowning slightly, she put both of her hands on his shoulders and looked at him in the eyes, replying softly,
“Dean, listen to me. Sitting here to feel upset over this won’t change anything. I know, it hurts, but Ethan already has it and not much can be changed. You’re only hurting yourself staying here alone to think about it.”
Her words made sense and she spoke only out of logic and out of her fear for his health, but he was blinded by his repressed rage and her words seemed like fuel to him. But he did his best to prevent an explosion and controlled his temper as best as he could, quietly replying,
“Irene, it may not represent much to you, but it is a lot to me. Ethan was my best friend, Irene. You get it? He was my closest companion yet he back stabbed me like so just to reach the throne. He stole my dream, Irene. Our dream. I’d have been a king, and you’d have been my queen.”
Irene sighed. She wanted to get her lord out of this state but didn’t know what to do. He had been in this shape ever since they returned from that ball where everything changed. They had gone there, waiting for the king to announce that they were the next rulers of Cephiron, only to find him announcing Ethan’s name, the leader of the strongest battalion of sword fighters in the army. In his rage, Dean had privately asked the king about it in the office, especially that the king himself had told him a few days before that he was to be the next king. To his surprise, his majesty revealed to him papers that accused Dean falsely of taking over the country’s lands, and just the accusation prevented the king from choosing him, even if it were proved false later.
Unable to find anything to say that might help soothe his hurt, Irene did the only thing that came to her mind that moment. She wrapped her arms around her husband and drew him closer to her chest, hugging him like a mother would hug her child, warmly and lovingly. Surprisingly, he didn’t refuse her gesture, and found some comfort feeling his wife’s tenderness and love. He wrapped his arms around her and they held each other calmly as she rubbed her husband’s back, comforting him.
It had been a couple of days since that dreadful ball, during which Dean hadn’t gone to his work and hadn’t really gone out of his house. Irene couldn’t leave out her work no matter how much she wished it, but she did her best to stay by her husband’s side and comfort him, no matter how hard it seemed.
That day, Dean decided to visit the king once more although he was pretty sure that nothing would change, for the king couldn’t change his word and give him the kingdom after he had announced Ethan’s name. But he wanted to know all about it-how did Ethan give those papers to him? When? Why didn’t the king make sure of their truthfulness before depriving him from his dream like that?
He was allowed into the king’s office where he and the king could talk privately without anyone’s interference. The king was sitting in his chair and received him neutrally.
Once they were both seated, Dean took his breath and spoke up,
“Your majesty, you probably know why I am here but please know that I’ve not come to object to your decision in any way. I have accepted it despite my feelings, but I do hope it’s within my rights to ask for a clarification, your majesty.”
His tone was serious but not unkind nor rude in anyway, thus the king understood as he nodded and replied, “Of course, Lord Dean. Naturally, you may continue.”
Lord Dean nodded and replied, “Thank you, your majesty. I know that your reason for replacing me with Lord Ethan was the papers that were presented to you about stealing lands and such but your majesty, had you made sure of it? Where did Ethan get these from? Your majesty, you know that I couldn’t do such a thing.”
The king took a breath, and looked at the lord seriously as though he wanted him to forget about the whole matter, but he replied,
“Lord Dean, I understand your frustration, but I do hope you can let go of this. The papers that Lord Ethan had given me-he hadn’t told me of their source, but I could take a look at them and well, they were convincing enough to let me send them to the court and have them properly examined. Your problem will be examined by the courts, Lord Dean, but I can’t risk choosing you for a king with such papers presented.”
Dean bit his lower lip. He was maltreated and oppressed in this-he knew he was because he could never do such a thing, steal his country’s lands. But who could he blame? The king? If he had been in his shoes, he would have probably done the same thing. But no, the blame was solely on Ethan. He was the one who betrayed him and back stabbed him like so.
“And well, Lord Dean, let me tell you something,” the king continued, forcing Dean to give him his attention once more, “I did realize soon after this that Lord Ethan is the more suitable choice, regardless of those papers.”
At this, Dean’s ears perked up and he frowned slightly, replying, “Your majesty? What are you saying? But you told me before, right here in this office, that you chose me and thought me more suitable and more appropriate for such a responsibility.”
The king nodded and as he played in his chin, he replied, “That’s right, lord; I am not denying that. But...” his face showed a serious, slightly sly look then, “You are aware that the country will need a heir to the throne in the future.”
This paralyzed Dean. He knew what the king meant completely. He couldn’t even utter a word and this made the king continue, with the same look on his face,
“Our country will need a heir in the future, Lord Dean, and you and I know that you will not be able to get one. Lord Ethan, on the other hand, may be a bachelor till now but I heard that he’s getting engaged soon to a devil princess. You see, he’s thinking like a king from now.”
The king’s words may have been honest and logical, but they were like daggers in Dean’s heart. Was this the real reason the king changed his mind? Was Ethan the one who reminded the king of this weak point? Did he deserve to be excluded just because he couldn’t have children?
He felt like his head was about to explode in anger and hurt, and he needed to get away from the king as soon as possible before he would lose his nerves. So nervously, he excused himself and left the castle, heading back towards his mansion miraculously. He could almost see nothing in front of him, for his rage and hurt blinded him furiously. That was the real reason? That was why they deprived him of his dream? That was why they took away from him his right? That he couldn’t have children?
He arrived back at the mansion and went straight to his bedroom, closing the door after him and sitting down on the bed to take his breathes. His heart was beating speedily and his hands were shaking. The headache he felt was destroying him. But his thoughts and memories tore him much more painfully.
A few minutes after he had entered the bedroom, the door was opened and Irene entered. Seeing her husband in that state, she approached him with looks full of worry and concern, saying,
“Dean, what’s wrong? Are you alright?”
He didn’t reply and kept his gaze away with the same look as before and same shaking, which only caused Irene to be more worried. She put her hands gently on his shoulder and lovingly asked,
“Dean, tell me what’s bothering you. What happened? I saw you storming in here and you aren’t muttering a word.”
His silence continued for a moment, but seeing his wife talk to him so, he replied, only to snap,
“Why didn’t you go to your work today?”
Irene was definitely surprised by the question which almost seemed like an attack, but she kept calm, replying,
“Today is my off day, Dean. I don’t go to work.”
He took a breath, trying to relieve himself and absorb his anger. But it was too hard. And having Irene with him that very moment, although she used to be his source of comfort and peace, definitely didn’t help.
“I can’t believe that you were the reason...I can’t believe that you were the reason.”
His mutters were soft and quiet yet full of anger, and Irene heard them clearly. Frowning, she said, “What do you mean, Dean? What was I the reason for?”
At this, Dean exploded. He had been locking everything in for too long, too much and he couldn’t bear it anymore.
“You were the reason why they excluded me! You were the reason that king decided to put me away and deprive me of my dream! You were the cause of everything!”
Surprised and alarmed by this outburst, Irene wasn’t sure what to say at first. She was confused. What was Dean talking about? Losing the chance of being a king? What did she have to do with that?
But she didn’t have time to say her thoughts aloud, for her instantly came the answers,
“Because of you, I can’t give birth to any children. Because of you, I could never get a heir to this country had I become a king. Because of you, my dream was all gone!”
His eyes were blinded by anger, and his words were controlled by mindless fury. But his words struck Irene’s heart with a sharp sword. She could accept anything from him. Anything but that.
His angry words and blind rage continued however, ignoring her hurt look and pained eyes, “Why did I ever marry you?! Thanks to your inability to have children, my dream was totally lost! Our dream was lost! And I’ll never become a king, nor help this country nor have my right thanks to you!”
Each word that came out of his lips was a dagger to her heart and a stab to her support and love for him. He didn’t say anything anymore but only breathed; heavily, slowly, as though he were firing the anger out of his body, clearing his vision and mind to truly realize what he had just said; what he had just done.
Her eyes were slowly becoming full of tears and her head hung down for a moment, swallowing all the blows he had just made her feel. Irene was a strong woman; she was tough, cunning and nothing could easily bring her down. But bring that subject up and you’d be breaking her heart. Blame her for it and you’d be killing her. And who did it? Her husband did.
“I-I am sorry, Dean,” she finally spoke, avoiding his gaze and hiding her tears. Her voice was shaken but she continued, “I never knew that my infertility could be a cause of depriving you from your dreams and rights. But if it had deprived you from being a king, it deprived me of being a mother. And I’ll never know how it is like to hold your own child and love and care for them.”
Her shaken, hurt voice seemed to clear his vision from the anger and to wash away his rage. Her upset, sad looks brought him back to sanity, and made him realize what he had just done.
But before he could apologize or say anything, she raised her head and looked straight in his eyes with sad strength, continuing,
“But you knew long ago about this and yet you continued our marriage. I told you before-you could go ahead and marry another. You didn’t deserve to be prevented from having children or being a father because of me. You’re the one who insisted otherwise. Don’t blame me.”
Her words were powerful and full of emotion despite the pain she felt. Dean felt himself coming back to his senses, and finally spoke although faintly,
“I-I am sorry, Irene. I didn’t mean what I said. I didn’t mean to---“
“Stop it. Don’t say you didn’t mean it. Don’t say that,” she wasn’t any less angry, but her anger had a more reasonable reason,
“It isn’t the first time you hint it to me. It isn’t the first time you blame me for it. But I don’t deserve the blame for this! It isn’t my fault, Dean. It isn’t!”
Dean bit his lower lip. How could he fix his mistake? He recalled what he said, and it struck him to remember how harsh and cruel they were. But what was next was a lot crueler and merciless to him.
“Divorce me, Dean.”
His eyes widened in shock and his heart almost stopped at one point as he heard her request. Immediately, he shook his head and replied,
“No, Irene. Don’t say that. Please. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean a word of it. I know it isn’t your fault and I-I don’t care. I don’t care about a throne or any children if you aren’t here with me. I love you, Irene. You know I do.”
He tried to approach her, to touch her and to sooth that tension between them and fix his mistake. But she avoided him, pulled herself away and looking at him, she replied angrily,
“No, I don’t. I can’t take this anymore. I can’t take your blaming anymore. If you can’t take me as I am, then you have to leave me. And after this, I know your blaming will only increase and sharpen. And I won’t take it. I won’t be able to take it. You’ll have to divorce me.”
“Irene---“ He started, trying to save that marriage he truly treasured, that love he truly jeweled, but she didn’t let him and stormed out of the room in tears.
The days after that encounter were simply the worst days in Dean’s life. Irene insisted on divorce, despite Dean’s countless tries to save their relationship and love, and he had no choice but to obey. This was the largest blow he had ever felt, even more than losing the chance of being a king.
The king soon stepped down on his throne, giving the crown to Lord Ethan, Dean’s former best friend and the one who back stabbed him, as he thought. His coronation was soon followed by his marriage to Princess Cineraria Forbesii, sister of the king of the devils’ world.
The papers which were given to the court, accusing Lord Dean of taking over the country’s lands, were properly examined, only to prove Lord Dean’s virtuousness and innocence. He was believed to be a loyal, brave leader and he didn’t fail his titles.
A couple of months after their divorce, Irene remarried to a wealthy nobleman and a famous, talented white healer. She seemed to be happy with him, respected and admired him. He, in return, was madly in love with her and did everything in his power to please her, totally ignoring her disability and accepting her as she was. But Dean, though he was happy for his beloved divorcee, never knew whether she really returned her late husband’s love.
Lastly, Dean was chosen by King Ethan to be the chancellor of the gods’ world and to hold the second most powerful position in the country. Was it a way to make it up for Dean for not becoming a king? Was Ethan feeling guilty towards him and wanted to fix his mistake? Did he want to fix the friendship between them two?
When Dean asked him about the papers, Ethan simply replied that the papers were shown to him from a source he refused to mention by name, and he felt that it was his duty to expose them, even if those papers condemned Dean himself, his best friend.
Dean never knew the real reason why he, out of all people, was chosen as chancellor, but he didn’t refuse the position. He loved his country and was ready to serve it in any way. For twenty years, Lord Dean remained as chancellor of the gods’ world, giving his job all his care and attention, totally devoting his life to his work after his dream and love were taken away from him.
He never really guessed how things could end up.