Break the Gilded Cage Ch. 06byElenia26©
Well, folks, here is the conclusion of break the gilded cage, a story I started in 2005, wrote most of...then just got stuck. I doubt anyone is still waiting anxiously but still, it's done.
If you want to read it by itself, that's fine, but it does better with the rest of the novella. Be aware that this is the only chapter that has sex in it.
Julian and Alania had been traveling for three months together and even Alania was surprised at how well they got along. Considering her upbringing, it was understandable that she was inclined to rebel at even the slightest male authority., But unlike her father or brothers, Julian never issued commands or ordered her about, and the few times he ever insisted on anything it was always reasonable. And he never said "no" without a reason, ever.
Julian on his part found her surprisingly charming and very intelligent for her age. Clearly she was well educated, if a bit behind on current events. However her tutor had not forsaken her, and she was always eager to learn more. She still spoke in the formal language in public, but her speech had relaxed greatly over time.
Julian had privately written James and let him know of the news that Alania would not be coming home soon, and that he, Julian, would be traveling with her. James expressed his worry but even he was learning that this sweet, well-tempered girl had resolve and could be quite fiery if pressed. Alania wrote, dutifully, as she had promised, once a week.
Until Alania decided differently, he was content to travel with her. She picked the directions, and he followed, her knight, her protector, and her friend. Husband in name only, however – he had respectfully maintained his distance since the night he had burst in on her attackers. She still called him, "My Lord," and "Husband," sometimes, but most of the time it was playful. And thus they got on.
He usually awoke before Alania, though she was no late sleeper. At home she had been awoken every dawn to the call for prayer, and still awoke most days. This morning, however, when he awoke, Alania was already sitting up in her bed.
They took one inn room, it being cheaper, with two beds. He had offered her a separate room but she flatly refused, saying it would do her good to share a room.
Alania was sitting, her back flat against the wall, her nightgown pulled girlishly around her knees, watching him. He realized with a start that she was nineteen now. Nineteen! And that much closer to her being twenty-one and at last free of her father – and of him. He wondered if she tired of him. At her age, in her culture, she normally would have had at least one child by now. And here she was, married to a man much older than her, and still a virgin.
"A copper for your thoughts, my Lord." She spoke up in her pretty, sweet way.
He wisely decided to censor himself at least somewhat. "I was wondering if you ever regretted your decision to run away, Rajkumari."
She cocked her head and thought. Adopting an I-am-thinking expression, she said, "May I come sit with you while I think?"
He laughed, and sat up, still entwined in the sheets. "You are always welcome."
Alania smiled happily. Climbing out of her own bed, she hurried across the room and crawled into his. She sat right up against him, and he put his arm around her. Many were the times they had sat like this side by side. She trusted him implicitly.
"Are you asking me if I regret my choices? But, my Lord Alexander, I have never had such freedom as I do with you! Every day is a new adventure and every day a new day."
"Thank you...but what I mean is, aren't you sorry to be stuck in this marriage?"
Here she considered, silently, leaning against his shoulder. "On the contrary, Julian..." her voice was silky soft and despite himself he felt a reaction. "It is you who should be sorry. I enjoy your company and am loathe letting you go, however, sometimes I think, you must want to have your own life."
Here she hesitated again. "A woman, perhaps." She turned to face him, putting her small hands on either side of his face and looking up into it. "You know, Julian, I wouldn't object or anything, if you...well..." she blushed here, and started over. "I know there are places you can go to, that men go to. I wouldn't have a problem with it."
She looked so beautiful, with her long hair down around her face, and those emerald eyes looking up at him, fringed with the black lashes. And her lips were full and young, and for a moment Julian forgot himself and just looked deeply into her eyes.
She was still talking, but his steady gaze was more than distracting, and slowly she trailed off as she became aware of his steady gaze on her. "As I was saying...Julian?" Her last words were barely above a whisper and without thinking about it at all he leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth.
It only lasted a moment, this pressure of his lips on hers, and yet suddenly he felt like a young man again. And in a moment of blinding clarity he realized that was why he was still here, after three months – only partly because of his duty and obligations. Mostly because she made him laugh like a youth, something he had thought he had lost long ago.
Her lips were moist and very full as he kissed them. Her entire body went still but she did not move her hands away from his face. He withdrew, and opened his eyes.
She wasn't breathing, just looking at him, stunned, mouth slightly open, eyes wide and innocent. He blinked, and realized what he had done.
"Alania, I'm sorry."
She inhaled deeply, and gently removed her hands. Putting them in her lap, she looked down at them like she wasn't sure what to do with them.
"Alania, please – I wasn't thinking."
She was still taking deep breaths, and suddenly she looked up at him. "Please. Don't say any more."
He fell silent.
"That.... that was my first kiss."
"I know, sweetheart, and I am sorry. It should have been with someone else."
"Someone you loved."
She smiled wryly. "Does everyone always kiss someone they love in your world?"
He hesitated, and then shook his head, smiling. "No. Definitely not, in fact."
"Then...." she caught his face in her hands and kissed him, this time, clumsily and inexpertly, and oh-so-sweetly. Her lips were so warm.
She pulled away, and then, catching his surprised look, suddenly blushed scarlet, dark enough to show even through her dusky skin.
"That...that was rather shameless of me, wasn't it?"
"Rather." She looked up at him, worried. "Not that I mind. At all."
She gazed away from him for a moment, and then broke into a smile.
"What is it?"
"That was a wonderful first kiss, Julian." She turned and kissed his mouth once more, then jumped up, grabbed her bag, and fled into their shared bathroom.
The day was full of starts and stops. Alania was unusually distracted, dropping things and forgetting things and generally being a bit more scatter-brained than he was accustomed to. Julian observed her behaving like this, and her normally full of grace and élan, and a thought began to be born in his mind.
Nothing more was spoken of the incident for several days, until one day they had arrived in a new town. Upon entering, the guards stopped them.
"Hang on a moment, please, Miss. Sir? Step this way, please."
"What is the problem, gentleman?"
"It's just that you resemble someone who recently escaped from a jail cell two towns over and we would like to question you."
Alania drew herself up, looking every inch the Princess she was.
"You plan to question my husband?"
The guards looked back and forth between the two of them. "You are his wife?"
"His! I'll have you know, good sirs, this is none other than Sir Julian Alexander, knight, and you impugn his honor. And yes, I am his wife, the Lady Alexander."
"Do you have proof of your relationship?"
"I most certainly do."
"Bring it with you then, we'll show the Captain."
"Very well, good sirs.
In the barracks, they were put in an office to wait. Julian started to ask Alania what proof she had when the Captain came in.
"Greetings, my lord and lady. I am Captain Dimitri. I am sorry for the inconvenience. My men tell me you have some proof of your marriage."
"Of course, Captain. It is no trouble. Darling, hold this, please." She handed Julian her bag, and began rifling through it. She carefully withdrew a small chest, locked. From around her neck she drew a tiny golden key.
Alania placed the chest on the table and unlocked it. From within she withdrew some papers.
"This is our wedding certificate, Captain. Inside here is also my birth certificate. I am, as you can see, Princess Alania, daughter of Sultan Fadjlan ibn Ahmed." Julian blinked in surprise. Wedding certificate? He had never seen such a thing.
The Captain studied the documents closely and then returned them to Alania. "Thank you, my lady. I know who you are, Sir Alexander, and I apologize for the inconvenience to both of you. Allow me to congratulate you on your wedding. I did not know you had married?"
Somewhat sheepishly, Julian smiled. "Yes, I did – three months ago. It was a quiet ceremony so I don't imagine many people know yet." To his surprise, Alania's small hand slipped into his.
"Well, Sir Alexander, I have heard of your deeds. I actually wonder if I might ask you a favor."
"Of course. I am willing to listen."
Captain Dimitri sat back in his chair. "As my men said to you at the front gate, there is indeed a prisoner that has escaped from another town. He does rather resemble you, Sir Knight, and I was wondering if you and of course your Lady would be willing to assist us in a plan I have."
Julian felt a reassuring squeeze from Alania's hand, and he smiled. "Certainly, Captain. What is the plan?"
"Well, we have information that he indeed will come to this town. We were wondering how it would be if we were to arrest you."
"Ah, I see – and make him think it is safe to enter."
"Yes, exactly. He would think we had arrested the wrong man, and he was safe. We would put up signs everywhere, and most likely we would need you to be somewhere in public – perhaps the town hall jails?"
"And my wife?"
"Well, her being the most likely to recognize a man who looks like yourself, I'd like her to spend some time at the most likely gate. I have a good idea of when he'll be entering, and my guards will be there, of course."
"Will my wife be safe?"
"I'll make sure of it personally, of course, Sir Knight."
"What do you think, Alania?"
She smiled at him fondly, and then turned back to the guard. "I worry, Captain – once my husband is 'freed' from jail – you'll make sure the populace knows it? I don't want any bad reputation to attach to him."
"I swear it, Madam. So it's a deal, then?"
"I think so, Captain," said Julian, after a glance at Alania.
"So be it." And they began to make plans.
The very next day the plan went into effect. Posters went up all over the town hall and the main buildings of the city, stating that one Garoth the Black, prison escapee, had been captured in the town of Bamako.
Julian and Alania had bid farewell to each other that morning, and he had been 'arrested', while Alania returned to the Inn to wait.
The next morning, she took her post at the guards as instructed. The Captain had promised that the real Garoth would most likely enter town either today or tomorrow. He was cocky, and would want to see who they had arrested in his place.
The first day went without incident, and that evening, she went to see Julian, carrying a basket with dinner, and treats.
He was being kept in a cell, but the door was not locked, and so he could come in and out as he pleased. The room was kept clean and aired and they had moved a desk and a lamp in so he could do some writing.
She was allowed to come in and out as she pleased, and, greeting the Sergeant who rose respectfully, she tripped down the stairs to the first cell.
It was agreeable; she had to admit, being known as the wife of Sir Julian Alexander. She got a great deal of respect. Lately she had even begun to really think of him as her husband.
Downstairs, the guard let her in, and she came to his cell to find him writing at his desk. She paused before entering. He hadn't heard her yet, and there was a curious air of vulnerability about him. He was wearing his spectacles, which he rarely wore around her, and he was leaning over his work with an air of concentration.
She stepped lightly inside his room and he looked up to greet her. Aware of the guard positioned in the hallway, she bent over him and kissed his lips lightly. His eyebrows shot up but he showed no other emotion.
"Hello, darling. I've brought you dinner, as well as some things for you to eat tomorrow. Nothing today – completely peaceful."
"Why thank you, priyatamma. You can just set it down over there." She did so, thrilling at his use of such an endearing term. Heart's delight.
"Come over here, Alania." She did, and to her surprise, and perhaps to his, he pulled her gently into his lap. She stiffened, but only for a moment, and leaned against him. On an impulse she slid her arms around his neck and looked into his eyes.
"How are you doing in here, my Lord?" Her voice was low-pitched and musical.
"Well enough. Bored, if anything."
"That's understandable. Is there anything I can bring you?"
He shook his head. "I can't think of anything else at the moment."
The moment, such as it was, stretched out between them. He was the first to lean forward but she was as eager for a kiss as he was, and he could feel she was trembling with anticipation.
Their lips met. Julian kissed her softly, and gently, and she responded, her warm body melting into his. He was painfully aware of her nipples pressing through her clothes and his into him – she was only wearing a simple cotton peasant dress, and he clad only in shirtsleeves.
He jumped in surprise when he felt her mouth open and a tiny tongue touch his mouth. He looked at her, half-scolding, and saw the suppressed mischief in her eyes. She wanted to play, did she?
He gripped her face gently and kissed her again, and this time, ran his tongue over her mouth. Her lips parted, and his tongue slipped in. He felt her gasp.
She let him explore her mouth, his tongue slipping past hers, her little hands tightening at the back of his neck, her slim body pressed against his. He was hard and pressing into her thigh, but she didn't seem to mind.
The kiss became more urgent, and their breath became shorter. Alania grew bolder, sliding her fingers into his hair, and returning the kiss intensely. Her body wound around his, and he heard her moan softly.
"Ahem." She stiffened, and pulled her mouth away from his to look over her shoulder. By the cell entrance stood the Captain, sheepishly looking away.
Alania blushed scarlet. She jumped off Julian's lap. "I'll come back and see you tomorrow," she said, all in a rush. Leaving her basket she fled past the Captain, not meeting his eyes.
Julian looked up at the Captain. "My apologies, Sir Knight, for interrupting you and your Lady. I thought we could go over some of the details if he does show up tomorrow."
"Certainly," said Julian. He willed himself to remain calm. Even after all of these years of self-control it was difficult. Alania's combination of innocence and desire made him lose whatever control he had thought he had.
The next day dawned bright and early. Alania had hardly slept, thinking of Julian mouth on her own, his arms intertwined around her. She was a complete virgin – Julian was truly her first kiss – but like all daughters she had been trained in the Garden of Delights in ways of pleasing her future husband. So she wasn't unaware of the proceedings...just inexperienced. She had often wondered what it would be like to be with a man, but she had not really thought of Julian that way until very recently, when he had kissed her that day.
She proceeded on to the guard post and waited. Today was the last day. She sat inside the post, watching through the small window.
Around midday, a group of people came in, and close behind them a hooded man followed. The guards requested him to remove the hood, and she instantly knew – it was him.
Garoth had dyed his hair, and grown a beard, but she would have recognized those eyes anywhere. They were indeed Julian's eyes, brilliant piercing blue. She came out of the guardhouse, the approved signal, and the guards immediately sprang into action.
"I'm sorry, sir, you'll have to come with us."
"Why?" The voice however was nothing like Julian's. Julian spoke with class and elegance. This voice was lazy and insolent.
"Just for questioning, sir."
"Sure. Always willing to help the town guards." They moved toward him...and suddenly he bolted. Unfortunately, the clearest path was directly to Alania, and he grabbed her and in a moment had his arms wrapped around her. A knife that he had produced from seemingly nowhere was pressed against her side. People screamed.
"That's enough now gents. You don't want to see me hurt her, now do you?"
The guards stopped. "No place for you to go, Garoth." And indeed, the town gates were already shutting.
"That's all right. You'll be letting me go anyway, I think."
Alania couldn't believe this. Well, she wasn't going to go so easily. She relaxed her body completely, and felt his grip on her loosen ever so slightly. She took her opportunity and let her body go limp, feeling pain on her side, but sliding right out of his arms and crumpling to the floor. He tried to grab her, but it was too late – the guards had reacted quickly and five of them had already fired crossbows. Later they found out three had hit. For the moment, he just crumpled to the floor, yelling in pain.
She rolled out of the way as the guards tackled him. Her side ached, and as she looked down she found she had not escaped unscathed. He had held the knife steady, and had scratched right up the side of her body. Her dress was already soaking through with blood.
Garoth was secured and the lieutenant and medic came hurrying over to her. The medic checked the wound briefly. "It's not too bad. Bring her inside where I can look at her properly."
She shook her head wildly. "It must be a woman!" she said. Both men looked at each other, and then the lieutenant nodded. "I'll get a cleric. You and you, go!" And two of his men ran off towards the temple district. In the meantime the medic got a stretcher and they lifted her and carried her inside the guard post, laying her on one of the cots.
The medic applied pressure through her clothes. Soon enough the cleric came, a sister from the Temple of the Dove, who clucked over her and shooed everyone out.
"This will be fine in no time, dearie." She caught sight of her ring, and said, "Just make sure your husband takes care of you."
"I think he will, Sister."
The sister fussed over her, and then patted her head. "I'll go and tell that nice lieutenant to come back in now."
In a moment, he did. "The Captain and Sir Alexander are on their way. Will you be all right?"
She smiled weakly at his look of worry. "I will be fine, lieutenant. I thank you for bringing the sister. In my culture, no man must look on me but my husband." And even he hasn't, she mused to herself.
"Of course. Are you sure you'll be all right?"
She nodded. "Just let me know when Julian is here."
"I'll go look for them."
It wasn't long at all before they came, though she must have fallen asleep, for when she awoke, Julian was sitting on the edge of the cot. He was holding her hand, and looking down at her in his intense way.
She smiled and started to say something, but instead just reached up to him, arms open. He didn't hesitate at all but immediately folded her into his arms.