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How High Was the Cost?

She was finally Queen.

She’d finally gotten everything she wanted. Her former enemies’ ashes lay scattered to the winds without even an inkling of hope for revival. She had won. She was in charge now and things would be better.

Not even the losses that came in waves; the high casualties, the decimated cities, her own friends and family turned to dust, none of it bothered her.

But then, nothing really bothered her anymore. The war had taught her how to be strong, how to stand tall, how to fight for what she needed, and now, her skills would be taught to the survivors. She would elevate them, while still being the overall ruler of course.

They desperately needed one.

At her side, far above her subjects, was her lover, her partner, and he was miserable. His fingers were stiff as she laced their hands. His warmth felt out of reach, even as he lay loyally next to her, held her in his arms.

Still, he was gentle and kind to her, words softly spoken. But he was cold, distant. He walked through their routine like a puppet, fed lines he had long since lost interest in.

But the worst, the worst was when he kissed her. Where once their passion has seared her lips, where such a simple action had spurred her heart and elevated her, she felt nothing. Though the kisses were sweet, and any lessor being would be content, she felt only the chill of her lover’s lips.

When she asked why, knuckles white at her sides as she screamed at he who had stayed by her side when everyone else abandoned her. Who had promised to love her unconditionally as she did him.

He blinked, emotion sparking in crystalline depths for the first time in a long time. Then he opened his mouth;

“Because you’re not you anymore.”

And condemned her like all the rest.

But this time, the words hurt.

She moved, her favored sword already in hand, and pressed him to the wall, her blade a hairs breath away from his flesh. Yet, he continued to speak, his eyes piercing her heart and freezing her to the spot.

“I loved you when we met. You were so kind and curious. So brilliant and willing to aid, to stand for those weaker than you. You were a hero.” He said, eyes shinning with tears. “But you are not that person anymore and I triedGods knows I tried— but I don’t love the person you’ve become. The person you let be twisted by the war.” He trembled, pausing to bite his lip as tears fell down his cheeks.

“What happened to the woman who believed in peace, who mourned the people who fell to her blade? Who told ridiculous jokes and fairy tales to lost children? What happened to the woman who swore to me she would never let the war change her? That she would remain kind and gentle even as the battles blurred together?”

“She was weak! I needed to be better!” She hissed. “I am better now. I am strong and capable, and I am a better ruler for it. The people need someone like me.”

“Then kill me.” He whispered, eyes hard as ice. “For I won’t serve another evil, even if it is a lessor one.”

She screamed, her sword slicing through the air, leaving a long thin line in the wall beside him. Then, she dropped to her knees, skirts pooling around her.

“Get out.” She whispered, her head bowed, eyes shut tight.

And only when the footsteps of her love faded into the night did she let out a dry sob. Her chest burned, and her limbs ached, but no matter how hard she tried, not a single tear fell.

In the dark, alone, the woman who had fought legions and slaughtered thousands in her stand for ‘peace’, felt the weight of her crown.

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