Fandom: Kingdom Of Heaven
Characters: Balian/Nasir Imad (one-sided Slash)
Summary: Lying under the stars each night, Balian was plagued by questions without answers…
Author's Notes: When I ask myself how I get pulled into writing these stories that no-one else will read, the answer is always the same: somehow, these are stories I wish had been written. Once the idea is there, I can't help but get down inside it and hope to realize it to the fullest. For comment_fic, and the prompts of Balian/Imad and "barrier."
Also for writers_choice, this is "journey."
The journey to Jerusalem was long and parched, yet Balian had no great wish for it to end.
He had crossed the ocean with the desire to redeem himself, Godfrey's vision of Christians and Muslims living together peaceably still a whisper in his ears. Now, marking passage through the desert under the guidance of Nasir, Balian spent his days in quiet conversation and his nights watching the firelight warm the liquid amber of Nasir's beautiful eyes.
He and this Arab servant were more alike in their philosophy than many a man of Balian's past. The combined forces of heartfelt honor and compassion were more powerful than any church or country could contain.
Lying under the stars each night, Balian was plagued by questions without answers. He could not tell if the kinship he felt for Nasir was shared in kind. The Arab was courteous, even charming, and yet it seemed that he kept his deepest self hidden. It might have been his culture, his individual nature, or simply that Balian came from the cloth of Islam's enemies and as such could not be fully trusted.
All other reasons belonged to feelings that Balian could not name, for though they haunted him they were as forbidden as the sins he had come to the Holy Land to bury.
When they arrived at last in Jerusalem, Balian was reluctant to bid Nasir farewell. Both had their own paths to follow now, but once parted it was unlikely they would ever meet again. Balian gazed at the golden fire within those captivating eyes, committing the sight to memory as a man might quantify a miracle that happens once in a lifetime. He longed to embrace his friend, but feared to presume upon the dignity that defined Nasir so strongly.
Balian's parting words spoke his gratitude and respect, while keeping silent all his uncertainties and regrets.
In time, the feeling that Fate had aligned them began to slip away. Balian had his new estate to run, with the task of taming the desert in service of the surrounding people. He found unexpected peace in bringing forth fruit from that unforgiving land.
There was no peace, however, in the war between Christians and Muslims. The shameful acts of unholy men on both sides brought bloodshed and savagery to those around them.
It was not for Raynald that Balian chose to defend Kerak castle. The man had conspired with Guy de Lusignan to massacre a Muslim caravan, and Saladin's army had the right to seek revenge. But it was not Raynald alone who would suffer from such an attack.
Balian gathered his own army to hold back Saladin, and together they gained the precious time needed for the villagers to find shelter within the castle walls. The triumph did not last; Saladin's army prevailed in the end, taking the castle and its inhabitants prisoner. Balian was captured along with his men.
Once imprisoned, Balian waited for death, for there was little hope of anything kinder to come. When he saw the familiar face of Nasir, he thought it nothing more than the product of his own weary imagination. Rarely had Balian been so happy to discover that he was wrong.
Freedom was Nasir's gift to him, freedom returned for that which Balian had granted to him back in the desert when the two of them first met. Nasir had never been a servant, as it happened, but rather a general in Saladin's army. This moment, and that meeting months before, suddenly had the sense again of having been arranged by Fate.
Nasir's eyes held all the mysteries of the universe, and Balian wished for a lifetime in which to discover the truths within them. He felt the pull between himself and Nasir once more, the quickening of his own heart drawing the seconds out while his rational mind urged him to leave quickly while that choice still remained.
The force that drove them both was stronger than laws or the tenets of religion. But some things were not to be forgotten, and if Balian was loath (however tempted) to step away from God's decree for the sake of this man, he knew that this was a question that Nasir had not even begun to ask.
This, however much Balian wished that it were otherwise, was the barrier that would forever lie between them.
Offering his thanks, he took one last look at Nasir and all the missed chances that lay between them. Then he turned his back and walked toward freedom, hoping it would someday afford him the strength and opportunity to forget.
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