She decided to go to Alan’s office after washing up. She dried and brushed her hair and changed into a dress. She stood up to leave, but right then, there was a knock on the door. Alan! Siana walked to the door in anticipation. All her frustration, and worry disappearing for a moment in the certainty that Alan was at the door.
She opened the door but was surprised, and disappointed, that it was not Alan. It was the butler. He bowed his head. “Good morning, Madam,” he said, calmly.
“Good Morning, Primo,” she said, “What brings you here?”
The butler had never appeared at her door before this. He had always met her in the afternoon after lunch in the dining room. If he was personally here this early, then it must be something urgent.
“I apologize for intruding, Madam,” said Primo, the butler, “However there is a matter of utmost urgency. I could wait no longer.”
“Do you want to sit and talk?” she asked, “Do you want some tea?”
“Thank you for the offer, Madam,” he said, “But it won’t be long. It seems better to say it here. It is regarding Lord Legarde.”
Siana was surprised. “Alan?” she said. “Has something happened?”
“The Lord asked me to keep my silence about it,” said the butler, “But I feel I must tell you.”
Siana was now worried more than ever. What did Alan want Primo to keep quiet about? Could it be about his nightmares? He had looked so agonized after the night’s incident. Has he been having them again and hiding it from me? Siana thought, brows furrowed.
“Madam?” said Primo, bringing her back to the present. “Would you like me to tell you? If not, I can hold my silence as Lord Legarde had asked me to.”
“No!” said Siana, “Please tell me what’s been happening. I want to hear it.”
Primo cleared his throat. “Madam, are you aware that lord Legarde is under a curse?” he asked, cautiously.
“Yes,” she said, “He had a… nightmare some days ago. He told me about the curse.”
“I see,” said Primo, “Are you also aware that he has been sleeping in his office because of the curse and also because he doesn’t want to endanger anybody?”
“What?!” exclaimed Siana, “But he… I thought he worked late at night and came back to sleep here.”
“Pardon me, Madam,” said the butler, “I see that you didn’t know about it. The Lord does his work, but it is not so pressing as to spend his night there. I think he spends all his time in his study so he would not endanger you.”
Siana was shocked by the revelation but she realized that she had an inkling of a doubt that something like that was going on.
“I found him in his office for a few nights and asked him about it,” said Primo, “Of course it is not my place to advise a lord. But he told me about the incident, and the curse and he didn’t want to endanger you at any cost, so he has been sleeping in his office.” The butler looked at her. “His nightmares haven’t gone away. I heard him screaming the other night and I thought you should know, so I came here to tell you.”
“Thank you for telling me, Primo,” said Siana, trying to calm herself, “I will head to his office right away.”
D*mn you, Alan, she cursed. Siana had thought that it was taken care of some days ago. She didn’t know Alan was still worried about the incident and avoiding her. She also felt anger in the fact that, despite everything she had done to convince him, he still hid these things from her.
Primo bowed. “I shall guide you there,” he said.
Siana walked through the corridor with her fists clenched with worry as well as frustration. But the worry overwhelmed her anger. She wished Alan would open up to her and trust her. They were supposed to be a married couple. She wanted to take care of him as much as he took care of her. Evading and avoiding issues would lead nowhere and would harm both of them.
Siana reached the front of his office door and knocked. “Come in,” came the reply from the other side of the door. Siana flung the door open and barged in.
“Sia?” Alan stood up abruptly, the chair fell backwards. He looked more shocked than surprised. His face looked tired and haggard.
“What are you doing here—”
“Why haven’t you been coming to our room?” she asked, restraining herself.
“I’m there every day,” he said.
“Lies!” said Siana, “You are there in the morning. You haven’t been sleeping there. Have you been sleeping at all?”
“I… there is just so much to do,” said Alan, “Hopefully, I can finish the work soon and—”
“So much to do?” asked Siana, “Are you sure that is the reason? Because I have good reason to believe it is because of the curse!”
“How did you—”
“That doesn’t matter right now!” she crossed her arms and looked at him sternly.
She thought she had done the right thing by telling Primo that she would come here alone. Otherwise, Alan would know Primo had told her everything. She didn’t want Primo to get in trouble because he had done the right thing by telling her. If Alan was more honest with her, nothing of this sort would happen!
She studied his face. The bags under his eyes were worse than before. He looked exhausted. Anybody could see that Alan was suffering. “Have you been sleeping at all?” she asked again, a little more gently.
Alan hesitated then nodded. “A little,” he said. He realized that there was no point hiding things from her anymore.
Siana sighed. She wanted to reprimand him for not being honest with her, but he looked so exhausted. She took his hands in her. “Come, Alan,” she said, pulling him.
“To where?” he asked.
“Where do you think?” she said, “Our room. Let’s go. You need sleep. We can talk when you wake up. You look extremely sleep deprived. This won’t do.”
He halted. “No,” he said. His voice was firm and cold, inviting no argument.
Siana looked at him. “Why the h*ll not?” she asked.
“I… I can’t,” he said, tiredly ruffling his hair, “How can I sleep not knowing what might happen? What if I attack you again? I just can’t.” His hands trembled in hers. His voice too. “If I were to do something like that, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
Seeing him in angst made her feel so heart broken. The confident and brave Alan reduced to a trembling mess. All because he was worried about her. She squeezed his hands, trying to comfort him.
“Nothing like that will happen,” she said, “Last time when you had the nightmare, you slept after that, didn’t you? You were okay. Besides, if anything happens, I will wake you. It’s alright, Alan.”
“It was all a lie,” he said, “It’s not going to work.”
“What do you mean?”
“I didn’t sleep after… that happened,” he said, haltingly, “I didn’t sleep at all. I was afraid to.”
He hadn’t slept a wink that night? Siana didn’t know what to do to help him. But not this. She couldn’t let him harm himself just because he thinks he ‘might’ try to harm her.
“And here I thought I was helping you,” she said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Sia, I…,” he trailed off.
She bit her bottom lip, anxiously. She never knew he had so much pain in him. She had thought he was getting better. Alan had been struggling all alone, while she had been craving his touch every time Alan didn’t come back to their room. She felt very pathetic. Such a fool I am…
She felt angry at herself for not being more observant. “Alan, what am I to you?” she asked.
“Sia, what do you—”
“You don’t even trust me enough to tell me the truth yourself,” she said, “All this time I wished I could help you. I believed that you would let me try, at the least. Why didn’t you just tell me everything?”
“I would have killed you that night!” said Alan, “How can I stay by your side knowing I might harm you? If you don’t understand that, you don’t have to entertain unnecessary worries on my behalf.”
His words were hurtful. “Unnecessary worries?” she asked, “All your worries spring from me, doesn’t it? While you send primo to me pretending that everything is okay and to keep me out of your way, I spend that time blaming myself for your predicament. What am I supposed to do? Tell me, how am I supposed to help you if you don’t tell me anything?”
“Sia, I…,” he stammered. “I didn’t mean….” His voice trailed off. His lips quivered.
The silence seemed to stretch forever. “Alan,” she said, “I have said it before. Don’t decide everything by yourself. I at least deserve the truth. And I will be the judge of what I want to do after that. Don’t treat me like a fool that will dance to your whim.”
“I just didn’t want to risk it,” said Alan, miserably, “I just couldn’t bear the thought of ever harming you.”
“I understand that,” she said, gently, “Please, can’t you try at least once to resolve this with me? Together? Maybe we can figure something out. Why are you suffering alone?”
“I just can’t let go of my worries,” said Alan, his fists clenched, “What if I decide to resolve it with you and then something like that happens again? What if I end up doing something worse this time?”
He had pondered his alternatives the next day after his nightmare. His thoughts had been consumed by his nightmares, the curse and the probability of him harming Siana that in his anxiety, he had become too sentimental. He didn’t know if it would happen again and if he would wake up at the right time. He had stayed up all night beside her, unable to sleep.
He had forgotten about it when they went shopping, even had allowed himself the hope that maybe it would be alright. But at dinnertime, the worries had returned with full force. He knew he couldn’t take any chances. He had gone to the office that day and tried to calm himself. He couldn’t make himself go back to their room to sleep because he remembered what had happened.
He had been down in the office every single day from then. He couldn’t bring himself to fall asleep because of his anxious thoughts. But on the fourth day, he was no longer able to stay up, so he had fallen asleep in the office. He had woken up screaming. The nightmares didn’t go away, they would never go away. He was relieved to see the daylight, and he missed Siana. God, he missed her. He wanted to bury his face in her hair. But he couldn’t bring himself to go to their room. He was too tired, and he would fall asleep. He didn’t want to risk it at any cost.
“So, are we going to live the rest of our lives like this?” she asked, “You, sleep-deprived in your office, and me, alone in the bedroom?”
“I…,” began Alan but couldn’t say anything to that. He had no answer. Eventually, he just lowered his eyes and couldn’t look at her.
Siana felt helpless. If only, she could convince him that they could somehow fight it together. “Alan,” she said, “I can’t stop blaming myself for your condition. You sleep here because you are scared to harm me. If I wasn’t there, you would be okay in your bedroom. Tell me, do you want to separate from me? If you pretend to be there for me and suffer like this, I will kick you and walk out, I mean it. Either we do this together, or not at all.’
Alan’s blue eyes focused on her and it was full of helplessness and bitterness.