Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Quatre awakens to his harsh reality and is comforted by Catherine.  They decide to talk an outing to help soothe his
nerves.



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part Twenty-Five


There was a hand gently running through his hair as Quatre came to wakefulness.  In a moment of disorientation, he had
thought that he saw his eldest sister sitting beside him as he opened his eyes.

“Iria?”  He asked, confused.

Then the girl’s face changed to one that he also knew, but that recognition brought about the memory that his sisters, as well as
his sweet little niece, were all dead.  They had been killed by the cruel king, Dekim Barton.  Quatre couldn’t stop the tears that
welled up in his eyes.  It still hurt so much to know that they were all gone.

“Oh, you poor dear . . . don’t cry.  You’ll only make yourself ill again if you cry.”  Catherine’s kind voice whispered, smoothing
out his hair.

Quatre sniffled and felt the beginnings of the nausea that he’d had to deal with on numerous occasions as of late.  “Not again!”  
He groaned.  He was barely aware of Catherine helping him to lean over the chamberpot.  When he had finished bringing up a
breakfast that he’d only been able to eat a few bites of in the first place, he let out a moan.

“What’s WRONG with me?”  He asked, feeling as yet another tear fell from his eye while he was helped to lie back down again.

Catherine shook her head and placed a cool, damp cloth over Quatre’s forehead.  “I don’t know, Quatre.”  She sighed, tracing
her fingers along Quatre’s face.  “Don’t worry . . . In a few days, Trowa will be return and he’ll take you to Queen Meiran.  
She’ll know what’s wrong.”

Quatre took a breath, letting it out slowly.  He didn’t feel at all well, and he didn’t know why.  It had been going on for days,
ever since he had regained awareness after the shock of losing his home, his father, all of his sisters, and his freedom.  Still,
despite the nausea, Quatre had been getting stronger . . . he was able to walk around on his own more than he had been able to
only two days ago.  But that only left Quatre and Catherine confused over what was actually wrong with him.  Here he was,
vomiting, and his muscles were getting stronger . . . this was an odd sickness, whatever it was.

“Hey, I know what will cheer you up . . .”  Catherine smiled, regaining Quatre’s attention.  “How about we go for a picnic
today?  The day is warm and sunny . . . unusual for this time of year.  So why don’t we make the best of it and have an outing?”

Quatre sighed.  “I’d only vomit again after eating.”  He said quietly.

“Maybe the fresh air will help you . . . and you don’t vomit after every meal.  You have been able to keep some things down.  
That chicken we had last night was pretty good and you managed to keep that in your stomach.”  She smiled.

“I don’t know.”  Quatre said, looking down.  “I’d like to go outside . . . but I’m not all that eager to even think about food right
now.”

Catherine smiled.  “Fine, then we’ll just go outside . . . a leisurely horseback ride.”  She ran her hand through his hair,
delicately.  “You want to?”

Quatre nodded.  “Yes . . . I think I’d enjoy that.”  He said, smiling in return.

Catherine’s arms circled his body, helping him to sit up.  She reached over and picked up his veil, helping him in putting that on
as well.  “I’ll go get you a cloak.  Even though it is warm now, I don’t want you to catch a chill should the weather cool.”

“Yes, of course.”  Quatre replied, watching as Catherine rose from the bed and departed the room.

Quatre sighed, taking a breath before he attempted to get up.  He stood, unsteady for a fleeting few moments, than gained a
sense of balance.  He took a moment to smooth out the surface of his only garment, his loincloth.  Quatre was still dreadfully
embarrassed with wearing such a sparse amount of clothing . . . but he was a slave and he couldn’t wear anything more, at least
not until the weather turned truly cold.  

Adjusting his veil to make sure it covered his face properly, Quatre stumbled over to the door, making sure that he moved
slowly.  He didn’t want to accidentally trip and fall on his face.  He was tired as it was, there was no need to hurt himself as
well.  He set his hand on the doorframe as soon as he was able to reach it, running his hand along the wall as he exited Trowa’s
rooms and walked through the corridor to the stables.

He stopped after a short while though.  Leaning against the cool stone, he let himself catch his breath, feeling a bit tired already.  
His strength was returning, but had not regained itself totally yet.  At least now he was able to eat solid foods, not just soup or
broth.  He closed his eyes, laying his back against the wall.

“What are you doing, standing around, slave?”  An angry voice hissed.

Quatre snapped his eyes open, quickly lowering his gaze to look at the floor.  He knew his position.  He was only a slave now,
not royalty as he had been.  From his poor vantage point, Quatre could just make out the uniform of the guard, but he wouldn’t
dare raise his gaze any higher, knowing that to do so would only result in a beating or perhaps something far worse as a
punishment.

The guard grabbed Quatre’s chin in a bruising grip, pulling him forward somewhat.  “I asked you a question, boy!”  He hissed.  
“What are you doing just standing around?”

“I . . . I am waiting for my mistress, sir.”  Quatre said quietly, not bothering to attempt keeping the fear from his voice.  This
man probably enjoyed hearing and seeing terror in those of a lower status.

“Now, why should I believe a pretty little thing like you?”  The man chuckled, a large, callused hand slithering down Quatre’s
side.

Quatre shivered, his stomach flipping in reaction to this man’s contact with his body.  He didn’t want to be touched, not by this
man, not by anyone . . . except for Trowa, but that was a feeling Quatre hated within himself, for corrupting that poor young
man that had walked in on the ceremony.

The hand continued on its downward path, stopping at his hip briefly, before slipping around to feel his backside.  “What say
you and me find someplace quiet . . .”  He leaned forward, his voice barely a whisper.  “I bet that little body of yours is
deliciously tight.”  His hand groped Quatre’s buttocks, squeezing roughly.

Quatre winced turning his head away, fighting back his tears.  He couldn't fight back, not unless he wanted to be beaten for
disobeying the order of a superior.  Nor could he run from this situation.  As terrified as he was, there was nothing he could do.

“Quatre . . . there you are.”  Came Catherine’s sweet voice.  She wore a cloak, colored a dark burgundy.  Another cloak was
thrown over her arm, this one shaded a pale blue color . . . it must be the one she had brought for him.

Quatre turned, quickly striding to Catherine’s side, thankful for the young woman’s timely arrival.  Since Trowa was gone, that
made Catherine his mistress and she had the highest rank of anyone here.  She was ruler in Trowa’s stead, and so she could
order anyone about.  And she had made it quite clear early on that Quatre was to be touched by no one but herself . . . making it
seem as if he was for her alone.  Quatre was more than happy to keep up with that charade, although he was glad that the act
didn’t continue within the confines of the bedchamber.

Quatre cast a sideward glance at the guard, smirking beneath his veil as he watched the man frown and stalk away.  He looked
quite upset, but Quatre on the other hand was delighted.  He had just been saved from yet another cruel experience.  “Thank
you.”  He whispered quietly as he stepped over to her, keeping his head lowered in a sign of subservience.

Catherine smiled.  “Looks as if I returned just in time.”  She said, throwing the cloak around Quatre’s shoulders and clasping it
for him.  When he was suitably attired, she set her hand on his shoulder.  “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I will be fine.  He did nothing more than grope me and make lewd suggestions.”  Quatre replied.  “Can we go now?  I
have an overwhelming urge to be away from these cold castle corridors.”

“I understand completely.”  She smiled, curling an arm around his shoulders as she led him away.

They made a hasty exit, strolling briskly to the stables.  Quatre was fine with the pace, so long as Catherine’s arm stayed around
him to keep him going.  Besides, it wasn’t all that far of a distance to the stables, if you knew which way to go . . . and
Catherine had already memorized the fastest routes to anywhere in this castle, just in case it was necessary to make a quick
escape.

The servants jumped to action as soon as Catherine walked into the stables.  They saddled a fine-looking horse with a reddish-
brown coat and a mane of pure black.  Quatre smiled, running his hand over the coat of the animal.  He did love horses . . .
riding had been a welcome distraction when he had been burdened by studies.  He grazed his hand along the horse’s side, patting
lightly and smiling to himself.  He could tell the horse enjoyed his touch . . . emotions, even of animals were clear to him when
he wanted them to be.

“Come along, Quatre.”  Catherine said, bringing Quatre’s awareness back to the present.  

He looked up, only to see that Catherine had already mounted the steed.  With the help of a servant, Quatre got himself atop the
animal as well, sitting in front of Catherine.  It would be easier that way for her to make sure he didn’t fall off.  He was still tired
after all.

Within only a few minutes, they had departed the castle grounds and were riding through the countryside.  They passed through
the village, Catherine smiling kindly and greeting a few of the people, while Quatre remained quiet and kept his head down.  He
still had to keep the appearance of a slave, to act the part of his status in life.

As soon as they were away from the village and prying eyes, far from the vast number of people inhabiting the area, Quatre
raised his gaze to look around.  A smile hastily spread across his features, finding pleasure in the sight of the clear blue sky, of
the hills of grass spread out before them.

“Which way would you like to go, Quatre?”  Catherine asked, the horse walking at a languid pace.

Quatre looked around.  In the distance, he spied the edge of a forest.  “That way.”  He said, raising a hand and gesturing toward
the wooded area.  He didn’t know why, but he felt like going that way, perhaps to see a few animals readying for winter
hibernation, or just to immerse himself in nature and inhale the scent of trees and grass.

Catherine steered the horse in the direction of the forest.  After several minutes of riding, they passed through the edge of the
tree-line.  Quatre sighed, deeply enjoying himself, viewing his surroundings with awe and intense happiness.  He felt free here,
happy.  

There were no guards groping him here.  There were no cold, stone walls incasing him, keeping him a prisoner.  There were
just the trees and shrubs, the open air.  And only Catherine knew that he was a slave here . . . it was blissfully peaceful, not
having to worry about his status in life, not having to fear doing something wrong and getting punished for it.

He was happy, truly happy once again, his troubles long forgotten as he enjoyed the smells, sights, and sounds of nature around
him.  He hoped that Catherine wouldn’t make them go back to the castle for a while . . . he wanted to stay out here for as long
as possible.  It was wonderful not having to worry about what would become of him.



To Be Continued . . .