Title: "pretty maids all in a row"
Author: monimala
Fandom: GH
Rating/Classification: NAC, Enzo/Mary, ficlet.
Disclaimer: Nope. They're still not my characters.
Summary: A sequel to "how does your garden grow?" Mary, Mary, quite contrary...why does she fascinate Lorenzo so?

"It's beautiful here, " he murmurs, knowing it's an observation of no consequence ...one that holds no threat.

They sit, side by side, at the river's edge. The current rushes past, close enough to splash over their feet. They are in the midst of her idyllic place, her fantasy.

"I know." She's made this her refuge, her private kingdom. She's even found her prince.

He watches her tilt her face back, as if she's willing the setting sun to touch her. "Have you ever been to war, Mr. Alcazar?" she wonders, picking apart a blade of grass. "Were you ever a soldier?"

"Lorenzo," he corrects, gently. "And, no...I only studied war in books. I don't have the nobility to die for my country, Mary. Or for my ideals."

"But, you've killed men?" she prompts, no judgment in her tone. Just frank curiosity.

"I have. And it was in no way noble." He watches the emotions play across her face. Confusion and that ever-present sadness. "Connor did what he felt was right. He did his duty."

Her eyes fill with the expected tears. "What about his duty to *me*? He had a duty to his wife. To love, honor, and cherish me..." She throws her torn bits of grass into the wind, one for every vow.

"Till death do you part," Lorenzo interrupts, firmly, not wanting to hurt her any more than she all ready has been, but still...still needing to remind her of what he, himself, learned so long ago. "None of us can stand in the way when it happens. You can't stop death, Mary. You can't hide someone away from it. It's beyond your control."

"Is that what you think I'm trying to do now? Control death?" She draws her knees up to her chin, looking very much the virginal young bride...and the young widow. White serves both purposes in parts of the wide world she's never seen.

"Aren't you?" He quirks an eyebrow, unbuttoning one shirt sleeve so he can trail his fingers in the shallow currents lapping at the bank.

"So, why I am here with you and not with Connor?" she demands, and she says the name defiantly, daring him to correct her this time.

He won't give her the satisfaction. It does him no good to say "Nikolas." It only reminds him of his folly in thinking any of this would be nothing more than an idle pursuit. "I don't know, Mary. You have to ask yourself that. Why *are* you here with me?"

And, in turn, why is he here with her?

Isn't it her "husband" he needs to concern himself with? His erstwhile errand boy?

But these past few evenings, he has lost track of his pawn's whereabouts. He's been far more content to while away the hours with Mary. He tells himself he needs to make sure their secret is safe. He tells himself that he stays with her only to make sure that she doesn't talk in her sleep. He tells himself...and he knows he lies.

Her hand covers his. The water is cool and her fingers are cooler.

"I'm not noble either," she says, quietly. "And, when I'm with you...I don't have to keep track of what's truth and what isn't. I don't have to watch every word and worry that you're going to leave me for this great and powerful love that I can't possibly understand." Her laugh is bitter as she echoes what are, no doubt, Emily Quartermaine's words. "Is that...is that what you wanted to hear?"

Lorenzo brings their entwined fingers out of the river.

She doesn't jerk away when he kisses her knuckles.

Such intimacies are an afterthought when you've shared slumber, dreams, nightmares. Illusions. Deception.

"I have a great love." It's not truly a disagreement, since there's no question of him leaving her, leaving anyone, for it. Trying to explain Carly is like...like trying to explain the flow of the current. He can't. It's beyond him. "It's one even *I* can't possibly understand."

"It's beautiful here," she whispers, resting her head on his shoulder.

His damp fingertips slide along her jaw, tilt her chin.

Their mouths meet, brief and bittersweet.

Something of no consequence. That holds no threat.

"I know."

 

--end--

June 22, 2004.



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