It Doesn’t Matter
by K.S.T.

Book: A Magravandias Fanfic Slash Vignette
Characters: Val/Khas
Rating: slashiness
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Storm Constantine. This fanfic is written with her gracious permission.
Notes:  Feedback: Yes, but please be gentle...


       I always imagine he’s pleading with me when I look at his portrait,
but perhaps I’m just being haunted by a guilty conscience. The sight of him
should fill me with self-loathing, awareness of what I was, and what I’ve
become. It was all in his eyes the last night I saw him. My brother-in-law.
My bane.
       He’s always irritated me.
       I visit Norgance every time I visit Caradore. My sisters think it’s
out of courtesy to my former in-laws. To think, Pharry, there was a time
when you knew me so well, but really, you never did. How could you, when I
didn’t even know myself?
      The hissing of fire drakes is all that warms the coldness within, the
coldness from the sea. I no longer care for human things.
      Is that why I continue to visit the gallery, to gaze upon his face? To
look upon my opposite, the man who cared too much?
     “ need...Val, stop them!”
     I don’t care anymore. The memory of once caring haunts me. He haunts
me. Every time I visit Norgance, I must go look upon him. I must give him
the chance to torture me.
     Even if I no longer feel.
     “What can I do? Tell me.”
      Khaster has the largest, most beautiful brown eyes, just like a
deer’s. So innocent. They beg me to hurt him.
     I do my best.
     I’ve always thought he was far more beautiful than any of his sisters,
and every bit as gentle as any of them. What business does a creature like
him have in the Imperial army?
     Someone was going to hurt him sooner or later. Who better than I, the
man who has always loved him?
     Never mind that I  wanted to do it. The years we were together, and he
was always at my side, looking and smelling the way he did, shaking his hair
out in that unconsciously seductive, teasing manner....the time were
together in Magravandias, and he had that prudish, disapproving expression
on his face whenever Bayard touched I wanted to hurt him! he sneered over the whole thing.
     “Good riddance to that cowardly worm!” he’d said, after Khaster
disappeared. It was the first time we’d spoken in a long time. It would end
up being the last.
     Coldness of the ocean, the thing that’s now inside me, rose and peered
out of my eyes. Bayard was unsettled by our gaze. He looked away.
      Water can quench fire, even the fire of the most powerful princes.
      “What did you ever see in Khaster Leckery, anyway?”
      Goodness. Innocence. Beauty. The unattainable. Pharinet I always
desired, but she was always part of me. Khaster I always desired, but he was
never mine, no matter how hard I tried to make him mine, no matter how hard
I tried to convince him he needed me. There was something about Khaster than
was so different from myself, something I never understood.
          Khaster, what are you doing?
          We were children, and Khaster had fallen, trying to climb down a
steep ledge.
          Val, do you see?
          What? There’s nothing interesting down there.
          Look harder. Don’t you see her?
          A bird lay on the ledge, cheeping piteously. Her wing had been
          She’s in pain, Val. I can’t just leave her there.
          It’s just a bird, Khas, it’s not worth risking your neck over!
          We can’t leave her, there, Val!
          Stop pretending to be so brave, you know you’re not! Look, wait
here, if it means that much to you, I’ll go down there and get the bird.
         Years later, the day I rescued him from the bravos. Fool! He had no
idea what he was getting into! Didn’t he see the look in those thugs’ eyes,
what they wanted, what they could have done to him?
        What the hell did you think you were doing, taking that gang on like
        They were going to hurt a didn’t see what they were
        What do you think you are, a hero?! You’re not, you’re not even that
brave...but you’d make a very appealing victim to some men! How could you do
something so stupid?
        Because Khaster Leckery cares. He cares about birds with broken
wings and bleating calves. He cares about cold-hearted friends who
alternately ignore and abuse him. He cares about pretty little catamites
that sing songs of innocence, love, and loneliness.
       Khaster Leckery is a fool. Now, he’s a dead fool.
       He should never have given himself to Tayven. He should never have
trusted Almorante.
       Khaster Leckery was mine long before he belonged to either of them.
Mine to love. Mine to protect.
      Mine to break.
      He trusted me. No matter how angry he became over Pharinet, over
Ellony, he still believed I would always take care of him.
     Khaster Leckery was a fool to believe in Valraven Palindrake.
     “I betrayed him,” I hear myself saying. How strange and flat the words
sound falling from my lips.
     “He betrayed you!” Bayard hisses. “Listen to me, Palindrake. When you
came to Magravandias, you were a storm of chaos and confusion. You had
powerful feelings and desires you were ashamed of, but you learned not be
ashamed of them nor to deny them. I helped you with this, but you were
frightened. It was a time when you needed your friend, and your friend’s
support, but did he give it to you?”
    Bayard’s eyes flash, as they pin me. There was a time his beauty seemed
like a fire that physically seared me. The coldness inside me now quenches
all such feelings.
    “No! He turned against you! He showered you with abuse! He looked upon
you with scorn and disgust!”
    Bayard’s passion now seems so strange, as strange as Khaster’s kindness.
    Bayard looks at me in a despairing hopeless fashion. It is strangely
similiar to the way Khaster looked when he pleaded for Tayven’s life.
    “He never loved you the way I did,” the prince whispers, “but your heart
belongs to him doesn’t it?”
           “It doesn’t matter,” I say and I mean it. “Not anymore. I did
love you once. I could have loved Khaster. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t
matter. You don’t matter. I don’t matter.”
          I turn away. Now I have betrayed both of the men I love.
          It doesn’t matter. I feel nothing.
          I visit the portait gallery. I look upon he, who felt and loved so
much, daring his soul to torment me, every chance I get.
         It still doesn’t matter.