tagRomanceThe Marriage Ch. 05

The Marriage Ch. 05

byDreamCloud©

Author's Note: The halfway point and the plot is about set. Thank for editing Tim413413.





I awoke sweating the next morning. Alia's leg was lifted onto my thigh and Mylle, who must have changed places was Angelica in the night, was pushed up tight against me. I lifted my head, trying to not wake anyone, and saw Angelica with half the bed to herself. She was practicing to be Queen, I supposed. I tried to shift a bit, to cool some of my parts. Mylle shifted in her sleep and her arm came around to hug me. I could feel her small breasts on my side, and we now breathed each other's air. Everyone, but I, seemed comfortable.

I could not go back to sleep and lying still as an overheated pillow did not appeal to me. I maneuvered my limbs and slowly crawled out of the bed. Alia and Mylle made small sounds as I disturbed them. Neither had opened their eyes, so I pulled the blankets back over them. I fed the embers in the hearth new wood. It fired up quickly and began to eat at the slight chill that had filled the room during the night. I quietly dressed, not wanting to wake my three angels. I looked down at them, all three blissfully comfortable. At that moment, I loved all three more than life itself. I smiled at Angelica, mayhap four in time.

I left the room quietly and found Lucius in the hall. He was chatting with a young woman I had seen before in the kitchen. He was oblivious to my approach, his eyes and attention held only her. It lightened my heart to see it.

"My Lord!" Lucius said with a quick bow. I had caught him by surprise. The young lady gave a similar response and curtsied with a blush on her face. She was not where she was supposed to be. "I had not expected you up this early."

"A grand morn," I said brightly, "and who is this?" Lucius was about to answer when the woman beat him to it.

"Trinity, my Lord," she answered quickly, with a little apprehension, "forgive me, I am not in my place. I shall return at once." Now Lucius's face looked red. I smiled.

"Flee if you wish," I said, "I have no mind to disturb a friend in polite conversation." With that, I patted a smiling Lucius's shoulder and went on my way. I hoped she stayed, it gladdened me that someone else could be as happy as I.

I visited the privy and moved down to the kitchen. It was an anthill of activity. Most visitors would be leaving today, so breakfast must be served before they departed. I wished some biscuits and gravy. I could smell the gravy from down the hall and gathered a craving.

"Where is that Trinity?" Madeline yelled to whomever would answer as I approached. Madeline ran the kitchens and had done so since I been young. She was a large woman with a normally sweet disposition. The wedding had tasked her hard, and this morning seemed to add fuel to the fire.

"My apologies, mistress Madeline," I said cheerfully, "I had sent her with words for my steward. I should have consulted first." Madeline turned and her face calmed.

"No, my Lord. We are, of course, at your disposal," Madeline said carefully.

"I have come to convey my thanks to you," I added on the spur, "the feast was excellent. I was many times proud to accept the thanks of our guests for your efforts." I had made another person happy. It was going to be a glorious day.

"It was your wedding, my Lord." Madeline's smile spanned the kitchen. "I would have it no other way." I moved toward the gravy.

"My thanks all the same." My nose was over the pot and I could smell the sausage. "Might I have a bit of gravy over biscuits? It smells wonderful."

"Of course, my Lord," Madeline said, then served me herself. It was a plate load that would feed two, but I was not about to stop her. She was glowing, it had been a long time since I had complimented her work. I would make sure it would not be so long again. I would have to mention it to Angelica so she could add her praise.

I took the gravy outside, and it steamed in the crisp air. I could tell, from the brightening sky, it was going to be a clear, sunny day. The sun had yet to grasp full control of it, but it was cloudless all the same. I lightly fingered a gravy-soaked biscuit and took a large bite. It tasted as good as it smelled. I sat on the steps and prepared to enjoy my meal in peace.

"Did you mount my sister?" Uri had snuck up behind me and destroyed my mood. There was a brief moment when I had him wearing the gravy in my mind.

"Good morn, Prince," I offered without inflection. The alliance demanded tolerance. I turned my head to see him dressed for travel. He was not staying the day, and I found that to my liking.

"Must I ask again?" Uri demanded. There was only so much a man can take first thing in the morning. I was about to stand, and I sensed the results would not be good.

"I was mounted well, my brother," Angelica stated firmly, "am I to be talked about like cattle all day?" Uri and I both turned to her. I smiled, and Uri went grimmer.

"Good morn, my love," I said cheerfully. Her timing was welcome and saved more heat than she knew. "You were sleeping so peacefully, I thought not to wake you."

"After such a thorough mounting, I had thought to sleep the day away," Angelica teased, "'tis a wonder I can walk at all." She looked at her brother with a sly smile.

"Apologies for my words, my sister," Uri said, wearing his personal gloom like a badge, "it pleases me the marriage has been consummated." He headed down the stairs toward the stables. With his back turned, he spoke again. "It is my hope the heir will not be broken." I dropped my plate and stood. My intentions were not pleasant things. It was Angelica who held me back.

"Let him leave, my love," Angelica whispered, "he has no one but his own mind. It is a black place, and you would only make it darker." I stayed my hand as requested and took a few deep breaths.

"I will not listen to it forever," I said in warning. His words were responsible for much of Angelica's pain.

"We will tolerate it," Angelica said, "he is family and part of the alliance. He uses only words, that is the extent." She pulled my face to hers. "You may protect me from all others, but leave my brother to me." She kissed me, not like an aunt. I would grant her her brother, but no one else.

"Bathe," Angelica ordered, "wash my scent off. Then go to your true wife, and prove I am naught but duty." Her smile was deliciously evil.

"You are more than duty, my wife," I said. Though the idea of Alia sped my heart.

"She knows," Angelica whispered, "it is a pleasant lie though." I kissed Angelica's cheek then went quickly to bathe. I intended to lie much.

<<<<<>>>>>

It was good day to win a match. I had finally mastered Tavia and I had Mylle risking her first match loss. I had won three games to her one. It had taken many weeks to get to this point, and I was enjoying being well ahead in the current game. We were evenly matched in skill now. The dice were more or less the determining factor, though it felt like my sheer mastery today.

"Angelica could not hold in her meal this morn again," Mylle said as she rolled the dice. We had tried four more times to conceive an heir. Each attempt was many days apart. We had developed a pattern that worked, strange as it was. It found the four of us in bed together, each doing a part to speed the process. It had become a function of necessity and had little to do with pleasure, though I was having trouble distinguishing between.

Alia had joined at the second attempt, more for my heart than hers. I felt the pain she should have, for me being with another. She found it humorous to speed my seed. Her whispered words at the right moment would shorten the process greatly. Angelica no longer found the process uncomfortable, but little pleasure was derived from my manhood. She did so like the idea of being a mother. Her smile at my completion was adorable. It was better than the completion itself.

"She did not tell me that," I responded. I hoped it was as my mother said, a sign she was with child. Mylle moved her stones safely, though it did little to alter her impending loss. There was something about winning a contest against the teacher that held a strong appeal. I would attempt to be gracious, though it would be difficult.

"That is three days," Mylle said, "it is promising." She watched me roll a set of matching pips. It did not seem to phase her.

"She could be simply ill," I responded. My mother thought otherwise. She was following Angelica around making sure she did not strain herself. I moved my pieces in a tactical way, increasing my lead, and limiting Mylle's ability to recover. I no longer had to count triangles by hand; the moves were intuitive.

"You are going to win," Mylle said with happiness. My insides were jumping up and down, but I had remained calm on the outside. Her admitting it, made me smile against my will.

"You have taught me to well."

"It is more fun if we are both good," Mylle added. She seemed more excited about my victory than I was. I enjoyed our games and wished them more often. Having her to myself was a treat. She was rarely in a bad mood. She cared deeply, and always worried about our feelings toward each other. I watched her face closely as she futilely rolled the dice and moved her pieces. None of this would have worked without her. She was Angelica's strength and my steadfast guide through the strangeness we had wrought. She smiled when she caught me staring.

"I have not told you how much you mean to me," I said honestly. She surprised me by moving around the board and sitting on my lap.

"I already know, but I will hear it from your lips," Mylle said sweetly. She was comfortable on my lap as light as she was. There was a serene intimacy born from waking with her naked body at my side.

"I have love for you," I said. Mylle smiled and kissed me. She followed with an embrace that I found most pleasant. Alia chose that moment to enter my room.

"What is this?" Alia demanded, hands on hips. My heart sank. I was confused when Mylle giggled.

"I felt his heart jump," Mylle said, "you have scared him." She made no move to disengage from me. Alia dropped her hands and laughed. I smiled half-heartedly, trying to figure out where I stood. Mylle hugged me close again. "He has told me he loves me. It is out now."

"What is this?" Angelica entered. Her seriousness was not as well defined as Alia's. "I am near death with sickness and you two abandon me." She did not look sick to me.

"Cayden is professing his love," Alia said.

"So Mylle is your favorite?" Angelica added.

"I am, am I not?" Mylle asked, grinning. I recognized the teasing and decided it was best to ignore it and change the subject. It was a trap best avoided.

"How are your feeling, my wife?" I asked brightly. It seemed strange to say it with Mylle in my lap.

"Better, my husband," Angelica answered, "it comes and goes." Her smile grew. "I am thinking it is a sign." I could see the happiness in her face and wished it to be so. I had never met a woman so intent on being with child. It went beyond the duty to bear an heir. It was something deep inside her that desired someone of her own making. I hoped it would be a child who liked smothering for it would be swamped with love.

"You have not chosen," Mylle said, returning the conversation back to the quagmire. Angelica and Alia were smiling, Mylle pouting. It was a question best not to answer.

"I could no more choose the best flower in a field of blooms," I said. It had come to me suddenly and I was proud of it. Alia leaned down, her lips to my ear. She whispered things that made me forget my words.

"Oh!" Mylle complained, "she schemes unfairly." I stood, putting Mylle on her feet and kissed her forehead.

"Sorry, my love," I said to Mylle, my eyes moving to Alia's soft eyes, "Alia cheats well." Angelica grinned and grabbed Mylle's hand.

"Come, my love," Angelica said to Mylle, "I will sooth your broken heart." We never did finish the match. It mattered little when Alia disrobed and her whispers became real.

<<<<<>>>>>

It was spring when we knew for certain. Angelica had not started to show, but even the chirurgeon agreed. Mother was informed and proved it correct in her mind. Father was thrilled, but we kept it from the court. Angelica and I had decided to not follow tradition. We did send a rider to Angelica's parents so they would know by our word.

We had found Balen herding his sheep on many of our rides. Angelica and I had made it a point to stop to ask about the wellness of his mother and his employment as a second. They were always informative chats, and we learned much of the opinion in the land. We had learned, through him, about the spring festival. It was for common folk and no one titled had ever been. Food and dancing were the order, and many a marriage agreement was negotiated.

I was shamed the crown was not aware of the festival. It was our own people that gave it, and in our own kingdom. It was time for the future king and queen to venture about. We told Balen nothing of our desire, though we knew he would be there. Angelica had sensed there was someone the young man wished to court. I did not see it, but I missed much in that area.

On the day of the festival, we rode Storm and Sunrise into the town proper. We tipped a shocked hostler well to stable the horses, and walked toward the music hand in hand. On the edge of where the festivities began, we stood and watched. Angelica pointed to large chairs where the king and queen of the festival held court. It was somewhat a mockery of the crown, but it was done in jest and not meant to insult. The 'king,' an old jolly man with a broad stomach, was shouting useless commands down toward the throng of dancers. The 'queen,' most likely his wife by the familiarity she showed, was smiling and waving to all she knew. They had crowns of braided stick and wore red cloaks over their clothes. The 'king' seemed to be overfond of what was in his mug and demanded it refilled as it emptied.

Angelica and I joined the dancers neatly. No one realized who we were, and made room for us. It was simple dance all could do, child to the elderly. Angelica found herself holding the hand of a small girl as we executed a simple set of paired turns. The girl was all smiles and melted Angelica's heart. I think she saw a vision of the child she carried in that girl. Partners changed and a shocked Balen came face to face with the princess.

"My Princess!" Balen exclaimed as he dropped to his knee. There was a moment of confusion since our faces were not well known. It was quickly followed by many dropping to their knee.

"My dear master Herdsman," the princess said clearly for all to hear, "it is good to see you again. Please come out of the dirt, 'tis your festival, and we have come to enjoy it." There was hesitancy in everyone's movements. Balen rose with a smile, and Angelica offered her hand. He bowed and kissed her knuckles. There were whispers as our identities flew on the wind.

"Master Balen, will you be so kind to present us to the 'king' and 'queen,'" I asked. He moved us deftly toward the makeshift thrones. The false king looked not well. His color, that was tinged red with drink when we arrived, was now a pale white.

"My King and Queen of Spring, may I present to you Prince Cayden Southerson and his wife Princess Angelica Douderson Southerson." I bowed and Angelica curtsied, both of us wearing large smiles.

"My Prince, we mean no offense to the crown," the 'king' panicked. I thought he might drop dead from embarrassment.

"The crown feels no offense. 'Tis we who have rudely invaded without invitation and beg your forgiveness, my King of Spring," I said with another small bow. It was the 'queen' who collected herself first and rose.

"Welcome to the Spring Festival," the 'queen' announced, "we gladly share our house and hearth. Enter and be at ease." The formal greeting was well said.

"We thank you dearly, my Queen of Spring," Angelica said. There were happy cheers when the awkwardness was over, and all saw we were here to enjoy.

"May I speak, my King of Spring," I shouted above the din.

"The Throne of Spring recognizes the Prince of the Land." The 'king' spoke louder than I had expected and the crowd quieted. I moved onto the dais where the thrones were perched.

"We are here to celebrate and announce news of the most pleasant kind." I spoke loudly and talk stopped. "I would have you all share our joy. The princess is with child. The land will have an heir." The festival erupted in loud shouts of well meaning. Angelica was beaming, so proud of her pregnancy. She was immediately surrounded by smiling women, wanting to know all.

Farmers and tradesmen were fighting to buy me a drink. The crown would have none of it.

"Master vendor, how many casts have you brought," I asked the thin man selling wine.

"Three, my Lord," the vendor answered after looking back at his wagon.

"I shall buy all three," I said, "no one will be short a cup today. I wish many toasts to the coming heir." We made many friends of our subjects that day. We danced, we laughed and we shared our joy. As the wine loosened tongues, issues the crown could solve became known. Some were simple, some required more thought. It was the crown's ear they wished, and I gave it to them. My family had become isolated over the years, content to provide security and allow its charges to handle the details. No more. Angelica and I would meet the people, and this festival would be the start.

We found much we did not know. Tax timing was of paramount concern. They did not speak well of the taxes, but understood their need. It was when they were collected that made it more difficult. The farmers preferred them collected after harvest when they were flush, not at the turn of the year. I saw no issue with it and would speak with my father. Some tradesman were concerned about the north road. There had been hijackings of goods. Though increased patrols had lessened them, it was thought the wagons could follow the patrols directly if some coordination could be achieved. It seemed well thought out to me, and something I could order myself. We all profited by safe trade.

All in all, the requests were not overtaxing. They and we were new to this and many stayed their hand for the more pressing concerns. Others thought the celebration of more importance. To those, we participated fully. I was even dragged out for a choral by the demands of my wife. To the joy of everyone, they found me an imperfect singer. I allowed my wife her fun, it was good to see her honest happiness. She loved to dance, and soon her belly would make it difficult.

At one point, I found Angelica talking comfortably with a young woman. They were laughing, about what I did not know. It was Balen who seemed uncomfortable with it.

"What does she say, my Lord," Balen asked me with concern. I knew then that Angelica had found Balen's interest.

"I am sure it is about you," I said warmly, "I do hope she is of interest to you, or you may have trouble when the princess is done." Balen's eyes went wide.

"She is of great interest, my Lord. I do not know if it is too soon. What if she has no interest in me? What do I say if she does?" Balen was rambling. Here was a man who stood up in court and sang without hesitation. Before a girl he favored, he was no more than a simpleton.

"To say or do nothing is the only wrong thing, master Herdsman," I laughed, though I tried to stifle it. "I would believe the princess would ferret out dislike, and only continue if the interest was mutual." Balen's face was turning red. I looked up to see Angelica approaching with the young woman. The woman was blue-eyed, slightly plump, but carried herself gracefully. Her smile accented her brown tresses well. Balen was a mess.

Report Story

byDreamCloud© 15 comments/ 50941 views/ 61 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

Next
3 Pages:123

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar:

   Cancel