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Catherine walked down the stairs- feet dancing to a melody only audible to her. With every stroke, she grew more surprised for she was not aware that melancholy could look so beautiful on her. It was her aura that attracted as many suitors as they did woes at her feet. However, her feet seemed to handle every curveball with a swing she knew not she was capable of. But, alas! If only the keeper guarding her mind were more agile, the sorrows wouldn’t tear a hole in the net woven of out of spider-webs. Decisions had been her wildest enemy for as long as she could remember but she tackled them with the grace of a peacock in monsoon’s maiden rain. The world failed to see her flaws for she kept them hidden behind walls that could be conquered only by a dragon’s flight. If she were less astute, she might have let her heart hold the reins of her actions but prudence masked her repressed feelings like the clouds that overshadowed her castle. The power her majestic form exuded would never allow doubt to linger for more than a moment in the mind of a spectator. She held her ground. Her weaponry held a long sword of artful negotiations, a short dagger sheathed in shrewdness and a bow and arrow that Cupid had been wondering where he’d misplaced. Her military precision ensnared even the most nimble-footed trespasser who would then have but to be pained or do as she pleased though sometimes they couldn’t be told apart. Being in service under her, voluntary or otherwise, came with its fair share of rewards at the time of dismissal- rewards of mind and material akin- which were enough to warrant unquestioning loyalty. She had believed Socrates to be just another creature whose greed and passion had led to his trapping. But he left her astound as he stole the virginity of her ignorance. Her orders were unheeded and her questions were questioned. Every command was belittled into a request and every move was preceded by thought. Internally, Catherine battled to make peace with her new knowledge. She had believed her place was on the top of the throne but he had made her ask herself the very relevance of it. The seat seemed too small now but her desire to conquer more faded much like her crown of pseudo gold. Her mind felt narrower than the lodgings of the serfs and only Socrates push them wider. But Catherine was scared to embrace this suitor for she knew that with every passing day, his influence would grip her as tight as the creepers that wound around the turrets of her castle. Even when he was away, she could feel him holding her down. Was she ready to be bound?

Socrates sat by the window, watching the birds fly while his mind wandered around the planes of freedom and mountains of worry. Catherine’s reputation always preceded her and had drawn him in her direction. She was to be the next subject of his experiment, a vessel for his thoughts. His preaching and teaching would be spread to all the land that the light touched. He had believed himself to be too strong for influence. But how he had found himself in an unguarded moment with an arrow lodged in his chest from the armoury of his captor! He had entered a victim but he was sure he’d leave a victor. However, the longer he stayed, the further he desired to be victimized. The boldness of her eyes and the steadiness of her stride lured him out of his lair without his own notice. He knew he had kindled in her a fire which she wasn’t sure about putting out. But in himself he she had lit a passion he did not know could exist. Its ambiguous form seduced him and he lay confused and smitten. He could see her struggle with herself to accept him as she attempted to embrace what was new to her. However, she also fought to balance who she was and who she was becoming under him. Who she was had given her people freedom and peace and who she was becoming would lead her to it. He wondered whether she would let herself be ruled by thoughts she hadn’t fashioned herself. He wondered whether she’d let herself be ruled at all. But as she strayed from her goals, he did too. Was he entranced by who she was or what he was making her? If he made her his vessel, he might not love her the same way. It suited his purpose but something deep within him ached at the thought of losing her for whom she was. He wanted to love a human for moulded clay wouldn’t reciprocate. He sat unsure, questioning himself. Would he have failed himself if he did not spread his teachings far and wide? Or would the choice of selfish companionship in this solitary life heal him? But even if he did choose either by shedding the petals of a flower or by hard thought, would she give him what he desired? Would she let him stay or bestow him with presents and send him away? Would she realise that he would bind her no more or would she want to be bound? Should he wait and find out?