Go To Part IV
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Alliance - Part III
They emerged from the warm ocean water and let the tropical breeze dry their naked bodies for a moment before walking towards their clothes and the blanket they had waiting for them. Phillip firmly held onto their wriggly daughter so that she couldn't slip out of his hands and fall onto the sandy beach. Cedric got one of her nappies and then fastened it on her securely before setting her in between them as they lay on the blanket. They didn't want her to accidentally get sand in sensitive and hard to clean areas!
“Lita is such a natural swimmer that I thought she was going to try and live on the ocean floor!” Phillip exclaimed. “It's a good thing I had a short rope tying her to me in case she slipped out of my grasp!”
“I noticed!” Cedric responded. “She must think she's part fish!
Lita amused them for a while as she played with the sand at the edge of their blanket. She was just shy of one year old and could crawl, but she still looked tiny for her age. It fascinated her to see fistfuls of sand fall onto the blanket and then be kicked off.
Cedric sighed. “We're running out of money... I think we might have to go home soon after all.”
Phillip shrugged. “We could always try getting jobs.”
“Doing what?” Cedric asked incredulously.
“I could easily be a bodyguard. There are plenty of wealthy families on this Island that would happily pay for a strong and well trained swordsman to guard them.”
Cedric tossed his head side to side in reluctant agreement. “Especially with the high risk of pirates or thieves pillaging.” Cedric referred to the fact that this Island – with it's rich fertile soil and bountiful harvests – attracted both wealthy men hoping to increase their business ventures and dishonest men who had no problems trying to take the wealth for themselves.
Cedric sighed. “I suppose I could too. I may not be on the same level as you as a swordsman, but I am proficient in fire magic. I could easily protect someone from a pirate attack.”
Lita yawned, completely unconcerned by their conversation. A moment later, she curled up in the middle of the blanket, and fell asleep. Both Phillip and Cedric took this as their cue to turn onto their stomachs and take a nap as well.
“I thought you hated war,” Phillip remarked.
“This isn't war really. It's simply protecting something important to someone for a price,” Cedric explained.
“Pardon my intrusion,” a man said as he and a woman emerged from a path through a thick jungle-like area of vegetation. “I couldn't help but overhear your conversation as we strolled this way.”
The woman was dressed as a wealthy woman should be, and carried a parasol to protect her skin from the sun. She blushed, averted her eyes, and held one hand to her cheek in embarrassment at the sight of them.
Neither Prince felt the need to cover up since they weren't showing anything other than their naked backsides. Cedric raised himself onto his elbows so that he could see the couple better.
“Did you say that you're both bodyguards looking for work?”
“We did,” Phillip answered, twisting his torso slightly to look at them.
“It just so happens that my wife and I were discussing hiring bodyguards, but all the good ones are taken. We can't pay as much as some, but we can offer room and board in addition to your pay... Though, by the looks of it, at least one of you has a wife and this babe to shelter too...” the man explained.
“No.. no wives, just the two of us and this baby,” Cedric informed them.
“I... see...” the man murmured, looking slightly embarrassed himself now. Unexpectedly, he started to laugh. “Well, I guess I needn't fear that my wife's eye will be caught by your looks, or rather I should say that you won't be tempted by hers!”
Phillip cast Cedric a smirk that plainly stated I wouldn't say that! But he kept his mouth shut. Cedric sent Phillip a questioning look that asked should we accept their offer?
Phillip nodded. “How fortunate we are! This is the first time anyone else has come to this beach since we arrived on the Island. We rather thought that it was undiscovered.”
The wife laughed softly. “That's because this is part of our land, and we'd been away for some time.”
“Sorry,” Cedric apologized. “We didn't know.”
“That's quite all right,” the husband assured them. “It's fortunate for us that you found this place. It's almost as if we were fated to meet. Now, if you'll excuse us, we'll continue our walk along the beach so that you can get dressed. After that, I'd like to see your skills.”
Cedric nodded in agreement and then watched them walk away.
“I guess we'd better get dressed then!” Phillip sighed reluctantly.
In their two years of marriage, Phillip had often practiced his skills, but Cedric hadn't. He rather hoped that he would forget all knowledge pertaining to war. Even so, he could always feel his magic bubbling inside as if it were just waiting to erupt.
Almost a half an hour later, the potential employers were sincerely impressed by both of them, and gladly hired them. They were shown the way to the secluded mansion, and given a decently spacious guest room – one of several that were intended for less important guests. The bigger guest rooms were reserved for the wealthy or the titled. They had to retrieve their belongings and pay what they owed at the inn they were staying at, but soon they were settled in nicely.
The moment Lita was asleep for the night, Cedric pushed Phillip onto their new bed. “I'd say this is cause for celebration.”
Phillip lay on his back watching Cedric climb on top of him. “Plus, we need to mark this bed as part of our territory.”
Cedric pushed Phillip's legs apart and then got into position to enter him. Phillip chuckled. “Oh ho! Skipping straight to the main course I see.”
Covering Phillip's mouth with his in a demanding kiss, Cedric roughly entered Phillip in one long thrust. Phillip grunted, but they had been lovers long enough by now that he was prepared for anything.
The entire bed shook as Cedric thrust as rapidly as he possibly could. He was in the mood to just pound into his lover for as long as he could last. Far too soon, he buried himself deep and pumped Phillip full.
Phillip chuckled, panting lightly. He pushed Cedric off of him, and guided his head down to his lap. “You finished before I could, so now you have remedy that.”
Cedric really just wanted to curl up and go to sleep, but he opened his mouth obediently. Using one hand to keep Cedric's head in place, Phillip repeatedly thrust as far down Cedric's throat as he could go. He grunted softly at how good it felt.
At the last moment possible – when Phillip had to decide whether or not to coat Cedric's tongue and throat or not – he pulled out and gave it a moment for the urge to go away. Cedric smiled at him, stretching out on his side with his back to Phillip. He smacked one of his “cheeks” invitingly.
The second Phillip felt that his stamina had returned, he curled up behind his husband and bit his neck. “I love you.”
Cedric turned his head to kiss Phillip. “I love you too.”
Using one hand to stroke Cedric's shaft, Phillip slowly pushed his way into Cedric's body. Cedric moaned happily. Rocking their bodies together felt heavenly!
“Uh!” Phillip let a groan escape him before biting Cedric's shoulder to muffle the noise he made during climax. Cedric was quaking, and the hot feel of Phillip pumping him full set him off again. He let out a soft breathy shout; his shaking intensified for a moment.
A moment later, they melted together. Phillip held Cedric in his arms, and Cedric tangled their fingers together. Both loved falling asleep while their bodies were still joined.
“Good night,” Cedric mumbled.
Phillip returned the wish with his mouth closed so that it sounded like he was humming. They were both asleep a moment later.
More than a year later, the plantation owners that they worked for threw a party to celebrate their outrageously prosperous harvest. Cedric and Phillip had guarded it until it was sold to the merchant vessels. After that, it was up to the merchants to protect.
In thanks, they were invited to the party. Despite being valuable and decently well paid employees, the Princes had become something very close to friends with their employers, and were mostly treated as such. George and Mary almost never ordered them around like they did the rest of their servants.
At the party – which began with dinner and would progress to idle chatter and card games in the parlor – the conversation inevitably turned from the ever present pirate – and local Island thieves – threat, to current events around the world.
“That damned Great Demon Kingdom is at it again!” A vocal male guest nearly shouted. “First they invaded one country, killing most of the inhabitants before conquering them outright, then they conquered two other Kingdoms in short succession.”
“I still have a hard time believing that the one Kingdom sent their Prince to marry the Demon Prince! I think I would rather have died first!” A young man in his early twenties stated overdramatically.
The young lady across the table from him giggled. “But the other Kingdom gave up the most beautiful Princess the world has ever known...” She sighed at the sheer romanticism of it.
“Anyway,” the first man subtly demanded that everyone's attention return to him. “That wasn't enough for them! They then completely crushed another country when it tried to fight them, and now!”
Several people murmured sympathetically. It was well known that a fifth country was currently being invaded by the Great Demon Kingdom.
“They're ruining trade!” A matronly woman added. “Most of the products we export are too frivolous to sell to a country desperately trying to win a war!”
“I disagree,” a quiet man spoke up. “I always get excellent prices when I sell to the Great Demon Kingdom.”
“I too must confess that I trade with the Great Demon Kingdom,” George stated almost shamefully.
The Matron slammed her palm onto the table, startling everyone. “That's because you've never been on the losing side of the war! My family barely escaped with our lives before we fled to this Island!”
A couple guests murmured and nodded in agreement.
“What would you have me do?” George asked helplessly. “Send my bodyguards out on a suicidal attempt to assassinate the Demon King? I'm a businessman, and I have to think of my own best interests first!”
“Here here!” Most of the people agreed with him.
Phillip and Cedric exchanged looks, but didn't say anything.
The Matron looked suddenly deflated. “I know that, but still...” She shook her head, unable to stop feeling like anyone who dealt with the Great Demon Kingdom was in league with them.
“Do you think that the Demon King will ever be satisfied with what he has?” The young lady asked.
Cedric was not the only one to shake his head, but he was the first to bravely state his thoughts for all to hear. “A man like that... I doubt there is anything on this planet that can satisfy him.”
The young woman was obviously not willing to give up on hope just yet. She turned to Cedric in order to respond to his statement. “But what about the missing Demon Prince? Assuming that he is still alive, wouldn't he be able to stop his father?”
Cedric and Phillip exchanged another look. They both shrugged, unable to think of anything to say.
The young man across from her shook his head. “No! What father listens to the advice of his son? We must shout and rebel before they take notice of what we have to say!”
His father glared at him from a few seats away. “What a thing to say in public!”
The young man rolled his eyes and Mary giggled.
“He may be right! I know I certainly felt that way when I asked my father to let me marry George. I had to beg for weeks, and when that failed... we simply eloped...” Mary explained.
George squeezed her hand with a loving smile.
The attention seeker that started the conversation burst out with his opinion once more. “Bah! What makes any of you think that the Demon Prince wants to stop his father?! He's the Demon Prince! He almost certainly plans to follow in his father's footsteps when the time comes!”
Phillip couldn't quite suppress a snort of laughter. He quickly turned his head to the side and held a fist to his mouth as if covering a cough.
The attention seeker took offense anyway. “You find that funny?”
Phillip should his head. “No... It's just the last I heard, the Prince of the Great Demon Kingdom is actually a pacifist. The theory is that that's why he ran away and hasn't returned.”
Cedric pressed a hand to his forehead as he shook his head. A couple more comments like that, and people will probably guess who we are!
The attention seeker smirked and waved a hand in Cedric's direction. “See? Even your friend cannot believe that you'd be so gullible!”
It was Cedric's turn to pretend to cough in order to cover his laughter.
Just then, a maid walked into the room with her hands raised so that everyone could see that they were empty. Behind her was a group of 20 men, all wearing a black uniform.
“Pirates!” The younger ladies all screamed, fanning themselves to combat the sudden urge to faint.
George leaned toward Phillip and Cedric almost frantically. “Can you protect us from this many invaders?”
Cedric heaved a grave sigh, and then nodded. “We can.”
“If everyone would please calm down!” The man in charge of the supposed pirates ordered. “We are not Pirates!”
The men spread out to surround the table so that no guests could escape. Once they had the room secure, their leader continued.
“We have been sent by his royal majesty the King of the Great Demon Kingdom –”
“The war has come here?!” The matron half asked half stated fearfully.
“No ma'am! We're simply here to retrieve our Prince and his husband,” the commander finished explaining.
Cedric took a deep breath and stood. “I command you to leave at once!”
“I'm sorry, my Prince, but we cannot. Your father has made it clear that if we fail in our mission, we will die,” the commander stated.
“You may die anyway because I am not going back!” Cedric emphasized his point by gathering fire from some of the candles into his hands.
The commander responded by doing the same. “Prince Cedric, Prince Phillip... if you two really want to risk hurting all these innocent civilians, be aware that our King does not care who we have to kill in order to bring you back.”
By this time, Phillip had gotten to his feet so that he could provide his husband with back-up. He placed a hand on Cedric's shoulder to let him know that he would support Cedric's decision no matter what.
Cedric exhaled in defeat and sent the fire back to the candles. “Fine, just let us gather up our belongings.” Aside from being a pacifist who didn't want to hurt anyone, he had just made a promise to protect these people.
“Of course, my Prince!” The commander agreed readily, also releasing his gathered fire now that it was no longer needed.
Cedric looked around at all the shocked faces – everyone was gaping at them! Finally, he settled his gaze on George. “I'm sorry to have brought this trouble into your home. We'll be going now, and I promise that you won't have to worry about any further attacks on this Island by the Great Demon Kingdom.” He bowed slightly to show respect, and then exited the room with Phillip and a handful of soldiers following him.
In far less time that they would have thought possible, the Princes were boarding a ship with Lita in Phillip's arms. Soldiers carried the few bundles of their belongings, and they were given the biggest cabin on the mid-sized ship – the captain's cabin.
They watched the Island grow smaller from the deck, feeling like their freedom was shrinking with it.
Since they carried no cargo – which was obvious by how high the ship sat on the water – no pirates attacked them, and they arrived in the Great Demon Kingdom in practically no time at all. A short – in their biased opinion – escorted carriage ride brought them to the palace, and far too soon, they were “home.”
The entrance hall had been cleared of everyone except the Demon King, Phillip's father, and several guards (who were there only to ensure that the hall stayed clear).
Both of their fathers looked them over closely, taking note of the small child walking between them holding their hands. A puzzled frown stretched across both Kings' faces.
“Da! Lita up!” Lita demanded, tugging on Cedric's hand. He bent to lift her in his arms.
“You're looking well,” the Demon King remarked. “Tan and vibrantly healthy... I must admit that I'm dying to know which one of you gave birth to the girl?”
Cedric laughed. He didn't hate his father. In fact, they had always gotten along pretty well. He simply hated his father's ambitious nature. “Neither!”
A gasp from the top of the stairway at the end of the entry hall captured all their attention.
“It's you!” A gorgeous woman stated in recognition. She placed a hand on her heart and her voice betrayed the fact that she was near tears. “You have no idea how happy I am to know that that poor child lived after all!”
Both Cedric and Phillip waved to her. Phillip smiled as he told her, “Your prayers were answered. She now has parents and a wonderful life.”
“Well...” Cedric amended. “She did. I rather fear that her life will be a bit less wonderful now.”
The exquisite Princess daintily rushed down the stairs stopping only when she stood before them. “I felt just anguished that I could not care for such a tiny and precious infant. My longtime fear was that she had died after all.”
Suddenly, the Princess giggled. “And to think, my future husband sat before me just moments before I was informed that I would be sent here as a bride. Which one of you is Cedric?”
“That would be me,” Cedric held up a hand in a half wave, and then tapped Phillip on the chest with the back of his hand. “And this is my husband Phillip.”
The Princess giggled again. “I must confess that my imagination ran wild with all sorts of horrible assumptions about you. I was certain that the Prince of the Great Demon Kingdom would be... Anyway, I'm so relieved! Any man as selfless and caring as you must be is bound to be a good husband.” She held out her hands to Lita. “And look, I already have a child to dote on!”
Lita decided that she liked the pretty woman, and leaned into her hands.
“That's amazing!” Phillip exclaimed. “Lita rarely lets anyone else hold her!”
“Lita?” The Princess asked.
“We named her after her mother... Lita Berforte,” Cedric explained.
“Lita Berforte!” The Princess exclaimed in shock. “I'd heard rumors that something terrible had happened to her, but no one knew exactly what. Her father the Duke just disowned her one day, and now the entire Berforte family refuses to admit that she ever existed!”
“The short story is that one of her uncles raped her, and then when it was obvious that she was with child, her father threw her out onto the streets,” Phillip began.
“We met her the night she died. She was starving and in desperate need of shelter, so we took her in,” Cedric continued.
“Then the baby came too soon, and she died giving birth. The Berforte family refused to care for the babe,” Phillip added.
“And then I refused to take her into our care at the temple,” the Princess murmured sadly.
Cedric nodded. “So, we decided to keep her.”
Lita suffered through a tight squeeze from the Princess, and then started struggling. “Da!” She insisted, trying to leap into Phillip's arms. He took her before she could drop to the floor. She immediately banged a fist against his mouth.
“Looks like she's hungry,” Cedric interpreted.
“I'm fairly famished myself,” Phillip replied.
“Let's all go have our first lunch together as a family,” the Princess suggested.
They nodded, and walked away, the Princess slipping her hand into the crook of Cedric's arm. As they'd disappeared, the two King's gaped at each other in disbelief.
“Well, I feel rather useless,” the King of the Great Demon Kingdom muttered.
“Hrmph! At least your son spoke to you!” The other King grumbled. They silently and mutually decided to follow their children and at least listen in as they likely regaled Cedric's wife with all their adventures.
“Oh! So that's how you got so tan! You lived on an Island... That sounds wonderful...”
Phillip laughed. “Little Lita is quite the fearless swimmer! She dives into the ocean with no regard to the possibility of sharks or other predators that might want to eat her.”
Cedric grinned. “We had to tie a rope to her so that she couldn't lose us!”
“Swim?” Lita demanded in response to their statements. She sat on Cedric's lap while they ate, but climbed into Phillip's so that she could tug on his shirt insistently. “Swim?!”
“No swim,” Cedric denied sadly.
“Swim!” Lita turned around and banged her fist on the table.
“Hey!” Phillip shook her gently. “None of that now!”
Lita pouted, but sat in his lap.
“You swam in the Ocean?” The Demon King asked incredulously.
Cedric nodded. “I rather enjoy it too.”
“The water is so... full of life!” Phillip exclaimed. “And the colors!”
And the warm sun on our naked bodies, Cedric thought but did not say. His knowing grin was more than enough to tell Phillip what he was thinking, and Phillip chuckled in response. He nodded his head slightly in agreement.
“You know...” Phillip's father remarked, interrupting their silent communication. “I was certain that you two would be over this 'honeymoon' phase by now.”
“Me too,” Cedric's father agreed.
Both Princes were silent for a moment; neither dared to look their fathers in the eyes.
“It's called love,” Phillip told them. “And it's not a phase.”
Cedric nodded in complete agreement.
“Well, regardless, you both have responsibilities you need to attend to,” Phillip's father insisted firmly.
“Starting with Princess Alanna,” the Demon King added. “She's been waiting almost two years for her husband to come home.”
Cedric glanced at his wife – knowing without having to be explicitly told that he had been officially married to her despite not even being here. His eyes returned to his father. “I know.”
“And I have a bride in mind for you as well,” Phillip's father informed him. The only reason that he hadn't been married in absentia as well was that the bride's father insisted that she have a chance to meet with him first and decide if they would get along.
“I see...” Phillip murmured. He wasn't upset or sad, but he honestly didn't know how to react to that news.
Princess Alanna smiled at him. “Don't worry, I've met her and she's simply lovely!She has a pure heart and will make a good wife. … She's here also waiting for you to return...”
The Demon King moved on so they couldn't dwell on the potential marriage. “And then when you've both had some time to hopefully conceive heirs, I'll be sending you two off to lead our armies to victory.”
Phillip nodded, knowing better than to argue. It was part of the marriage treaty that saved his Kingdom from being conquered by force. “I am certain that no one can withstand us.”
Cedric looked heartbroken for a moment, and then seemed to gather his resolve. He slammed his fist on the table loudly. “No! I refuse to be a part of this war! Do you have any idea what the rest of the world thinks about the Great Demon Kingdom? They think we are all monsters! They think we destroy everything we touch!”
Princess Alanna looked away to hide the fact that she also knew exactly what others thought.
“I do not care what others think of us!” The Demon King roared. “I am building a great Empire that will stand strong for thousands of years!”
“Is that what you think you're doing?” Cedric asked. “To me it just seems like you cannot contain your greed, so you reach out and take whatever you want without any regard for those whose lives you are ruining!”
“Cedric!” His father roared in shock and fury. “You had better stop this foolishness now, or – ”
“Or what, father?” Cedric challenged. “You'll have me killed too? Good luck obtaining an heir once I'm dead!” He stood up and took Lita from Phillip's lap, and then stared at his husband intently.
Phillip smiled at him, impressed that he'd finally stood up for himself. “You don't even have to ask, what ever you want, I'm yours to command.”
“I say we run away again,” Cedric stated.
“Nonsense!” The Demon King yelled. “I'm having you both confined to quarters!”
Guards closed in on them in response to the King's unspoken command.
“Do you want vanguard or rearguard?” Phillip asked, standing now. He knew that he would have to obtain a sword from a guard as quickly as possible.
“I'm carrying Lita so I'll take rearguard,” Cedric replied, shifting her into one arm so that he could gather fire into his free hand.
“Have you both completely lost your minds?!” Phillip's father demanded. “It's madness to think that you can fight your way out of the palace!”
“Am I not the greatest warrior our Kingdom ever produced?” Phillip asked him rhetorically.
“Save your willingness to fight for the battlefield!” His father insisted, stepping a bit closer to them to subtly remind Phillip that it was his duty to be obedient and follow orders.
“You two seem to be under the mistaken impression that your marriage is anything other than a political contract!” The Demon King stated menacingly. “If Phillip breaks any of the terms of the contract, I will be within my rights to nullify your marriage and send my armies to his Kingdom to burn it to the ground!”
Phillip was obviously torn by the prospect, but he took a deep breath and focused on Cedric. “My loyalty is to you above all else. Whatever you want, I'll do it.”
Cedric slumped slightly and released his fire so that it couldn't accidentally hurt someone. “I know... and I can't let anyone else be hurt just so that we can selfishly be together somewhere far away.”
Lita sensed his sadness, and placed a hand on his cheek. “Da? What wrong?” At two years old, she could talk, but still usually in short phrases.
Cedric rested his head on her small shoulder. She was too young for him to try to explain things, but he felt trapped and helpless. There seemed to be no way that they could escape their duty to fight and conquer the world.
Phillip placed a hand on his shoulder. “Are you sure?”
Cedric nodded. Guards stepped as close as they needed to to gently push Cedric in the direction of his chambers. He was supposed to be confined to quarters after all. Another guard tried to take Lita away so that she could be brought to the royal nursery.
Phillip punched that guard out. “Don't you dare try to touch my daughter!”
Both Kings looked like they longed to have a healer tend to their throbbing headaches. Phillip's father unconsciously rubbed his right temple.
“I'm tired,” Cedric announced. “It's been a long day. We should rest for a bit.”
Phillip nodded. “It's time for Lita's nap anyway.”
Lita had already snuggled into Cedric's chest and fallen asleep, comforted by his heartbeat.
Princess Alanna stood up to follow them. As Cedric's wife, she was supposed to be by his side. Besides, she far preferred her husband's company to that of his father. Not to mention that her belongings were already in his chambers, and she had officially been staying there since her arrival – after the marriage had been made official.
They left the room silently, surrounded by guards in case they tried to make a run for it after all.
“I don't know what I'm going to do with that boy!” The Demon King cried out in frustration.
Phillip's father stroked his chin in thought. “It seems to me that he has the power to compel deep loyalty from others. You may want to reconsider sending him to the front lines and effectively handing him a tool to use against you someday.”
The Demon King thought this over carefully. The two of them had become friendly rivals since the merging of their Kingdoms. They got along well – both being inclined to make war and build an Empire – their only real problem was that they continually bickered over who would be the better Emperor.
“It's not all bad though,” Phillip's father added with a wry grin. “Your son seems to get along nicely with his wife. I'm willing to bet that you'll have plenty of heirs in no time!”
“Maybe then they'll stop doting on that foundling of theirs,” the Demon King hoped.
Back in Cedric's chambers, they were grateful that their luggage had arrived. Phillip quickly located Lita's favorite blanket, and covered her up after Cedric placed her in the middle of his enormous bed. They lay on either side of her wondering what to do now. Obviously, running away was not such a good option after all.
Princess Alanna watched them uncertainly. She fiddled with her fingers nervously. Then she started fiddling with her hair. Cedric finally took pity on her.
“Relax!” He laughed. “We're not going to suddenly tackle you into bed with us!”
“I don't know about that!” Phillip stated suggestively.
Cedric laughed with genuine humor. “Wouldn't that just ruin all my father's carefully laid plans! He'll think they're his valuable heirs but we'll all know that they're really yours!”
Princess Alanna whimpered. Convent life hadn't prepared her in the slightest for this possibility!
Phillip grinned at Cedric. “We should send for a child's bed from the Royal nursery so that we can get Lita out of our bed.”
“I'm pretty sure that there's a massive cushion in here somewhere that we can lay her on.
“My Prince!” Alanna burst out in protest. “I must object! I... I... I...” She had no idea how to explain what she was feeling at the moment!
Both men laughed at her assumption, but decided to tease her a bit more.
“Don't worry, we won't hurt you,” Cedric assured her.
“We promise to be very gentle with you,” Phillip added with a knowing grin.
“But! But!” Alanna held her breath for a moment to quell the rising panic, and then sighed in defeat. She looked to the floor, and murmured, “Very well. If my husband commands it.”
Cedric immediately knew that he had gone too far. He climbed out of bed and faced her so she could see that he was being serious. “I would never command you to do something like that if you didn't want to.”
She looked down once more. “I don't know anything at all about the marriage bed except that I must do whatever you want me to. I hear whispers and innuendo around the palace, of course, but I have no real knowledge other than you will plant a child inside me. I'm so nervous that I pray you will just get it over with so I don't have to wonder and... and fear it any longer!”
“Perhaps I should leave you two alone for a bit,” Phillip suggested, understanding that his presence would just make the Princess' anxiety worse.
The way the Heir's Chambers were built, there were two main bedrooms and several smaller bedrooms in addition to a large sitting room. This was much the same as the King's Chambers, and allowed for the heir to have his own room, a room for his first wife – or in this case husband – and then rooms for any other wives or lovers he may eventually have.
Royal and political marriages were often complicated!
In any case, Phillip could easily take Lita into one of the other rooms for the rest of her nap to give them some privacy. Cedric thought this over indecisively.
A knock on the main door to the Chambers startled them all, even Lita, who woke with a tiny grunt of displeasure. A moment later, a messenger entered the main room, looked around to make sure that they could see and hear him, and then stared at nothing as he announced. “Prince Phillip, your father demands your presence. He says it's time to meet your bride-to-be.”
Phillip sighed reluctantly, scooped up Lita, and sent the messenger off to tell his father that he'd be there in a moment. He shifted to the side of the bed slowly as if trying to delay the inevitable. Cedric walked to stand in front of him.
“Should I pray that she likes you and wants to marry right away, or should I pray that she hates you and demands to leave?” He asked.
Phillip chuckled mirthlessly, standing up. “I really don't know.”
“I love you,” Cedric murmured huskily, staring at Phillip's lips.
“I love you too,” Phillip replied, leaning over to kiss his husband. They both opened their mouths and had a light sparring match with their tongues.
“I still say we just run away,” Phillip said a moment later, holding Cedric close.
“If only it were that simple,” Cedric replied, resting his head on Phillip's shoulder. “Go on, before your father comes barging in here to drag you to meet your bride by the ear!”
“He would too!” Phillip laughed. He held Lita up to Cedric so that he could give her a kiss.
She was used to the two of them squishing her between them as they hugged or kissed, and had been silent so far. Now, she cooed happily that Cedric was finally paying attention to her. She waved to him as Phillip carried her out of the room.
Cedric watched them go, and then held out a hand for Alanna. “Come here,” He beckoned.
She had been watching them with mixed emotions – curiosity, jealousy, even awe at the strength of their love... – and now her nervousness returned full force. She took a deep breath, and then joined her husband where he stood next to the bed.
“I'm not going to just get it over with. I'm going to show you why you do not need to fear the marriage bed,” he informed her.
He brushed a strand of hair out of her face, and then tilted her head until she was looking at him. His kiss was soft, gentle. He didn't want scare her because she was already trembling.
Alanna didn't know what to do, so she let her hands rest on his chest, and then tangled her fingers in his clothes as she relaxed and parted her lips just a little. She had watched them kiss, and was curious to know what that felt like.
Go To Part IV
Go To Part IV