A piece of apple

Fandom: None (original work)

Prompt and challenges: fan_flashworks challenge #232 prompt(s) « On top »

Characters and relationships: OCs. Narrator is a young soldier defending his city.

Length: 500ish (words)

Content notes: Beware, this takes place during a siege. Expect some violence and death. May contain traces of apple.

Author notes:
Inspired by my hometown (La Rochelle, France) and the events of 1628. In that time, the city was a protestant stronghold and allied to England, which didn’t sit well with King of France Louis XIII. On his behalf, the Cardinal de Richelieu built a dam across the whole bay to cut the city of potential rescue and supplies coming from the sea. The siege lasted a whole year, during which about 22 000 people out of 28 000 died within the city.
This is dedicated to Amund, a friend of mine who was dancing with a pink-and-blue flag on top of his shoulders all day during Paris Gay Pride last week.
I wrote this for the challenge but in French at first and translated it. It will be available in its original form on my blog as soon as the challenge is closed in case anyone is interested. The two versions are slightly different.

Summary: This is about the horrors of war and religion and how love still thrives when everything seems lost.

Music: Iron (woodkid)

Tears were running down my cheeks as bullets killed my brothers, my friends, my neighbors. They fell until none of the forty-some party was left standing and the thunder of muskets waned and stopped. The order to charge in rescue wasn’t coming and I wiped my cheeks, knowing it was over. We had tried to break the iron grip the king held on the city and failed. Our last hope to get supplies was lost and all that was left was for us to watch our loved ones die from wasting hunger.

I just about heard the captain dismiss my unit and let my head fall, exhausted and sad. A sudden cry and an arm held out towards the besiegers scared me. Did the royal troupes decided a counter attack? I could only see a lithe silhouette leaping this way and that, brandishing the fallen flag of the dead unit. At first I didn’t get what was happening, then our enemies started firing again and I finally understood that one of our own had risen, claimed back the pennant, tantalizing the royals. The figure faltered and there was a collective sigh when he resumed his daring dance. He came back, still careening madly and the captain ordered the doors reopened to admit him.

I rushed forward into no man’s land, impatient to great the fool who was playing with fire thus. To my surprise, he was a middle-aged man with a fay cat-like face. All I noticed at first glance was the genuine smile and the wispy strands of white-peppered hair. He kept dancing even though he’d made it further than the reach of enemy fire. As he passed me, he winked and grabbed my arm. I started laughing and accompanied his dance back to the city walls.

We entered La Rochelle acclaimed by all who’d seen his feat, pennant held high. We went to the Lantern Tower, and the flag was flown on top of it, where it would be seen by the cardinal when he visited his dam in the morning. After that, enthusiasm receded as men remembered their plight and went looking for sustenance again. I wanted to keep celebrating but there was no food for a feast and no booze to cheer with. I was coming down from my high when I felt his eyes on me.

He grabbed my arm again and I followed him through a maze of streets until we reached a small attic. He’d somehow gotten the pennant again and was laying it atop a fat mattress. He sat on top of it and started taking out supplies from his haversack, bread and a big lump of cheese. When he got an apple out, I sank down to my knees in front of him, mesmerized. I took it from him reverently, as I would have an icon before I converted.

When I looked up, he was way too close, putting his sweet smile on my lips. That day was the best I remember of the whole year the siege lasted, a wild savage day when we celebrated life together, getting a piece of apple.

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