tagRomanceThe Marriage Ch. 06

The Marriage Ch. 06

byDreamCloud©

I found my way, with the help of some courteous retainers, to my room. It would take some time to get used to the twists and turns of the halls, not all running in straight lines. Our trunks had already arrived so I dug out something fairly clean, and went in search of my son.

It was rare to find a king and queen crawling on a carpet. I found them in the library, chasing Hamund around on hands and knees. Hamund thought it great fun to escape behind a chair, and have Grandfather sneak around the other side to surprise him. I leaned against the doorway and watched, undetected. It was good to see my son so happy; it was a bonus that King and Queen found it just as pleasurable.

A careful hand wrapped around my waist. I smiled as Angelica moved silently into me. I put my arm around her and kissed the red hair atop her head. It smelled of flowers, some scent from her own bath. We took in the scene, King and Queen still oblivious of our presence. Hamund's squeals of delight were music to my soul. Angelica looked up at me and I down at her. We kissed like lovers. It caught me by surprise to kiss my wife with passion. It was such a rare thing. A cough from the queen woke me to the present.

"You two look better for a bath," the queen said, coming to her feet. Hamund saw Angelica and came at full speed. The king had to use the chair to help him stand. His knees were old even if his face had failed to show it.

"It was most welcome, my Lady," I said, letting loose of Angelica so she could sweep Hamund into her arms.

"You smell so wonderful," Angelica cooed to Hamund, "did you have a bath yourself."

"He gave a bath," the queen laughed, "I was wetter than he when it was done. He did so love the water." She looked to Angelica, "You were no different - there is much of you in him." Stubbornness came to my mind, but I wisely kept it to myself. Hamund was happy to hang onto his mother as she moved toward the queen. I sensed a moment approaching, mother and daughter time. The king sensed it also.

"What say we soak up some wine," the king offered me, "you can tell me of the road." He gestured toward the door, and I followed him out, nodding approval. I noticed his knees had still not returned to full operation. It was hard to see in such a strong man. We retired to the library.

"To Hamund," the king toasted after he had poured me a glass.

"To Hamund," I repeated. I could think of nothing more appropriate. We drank and then sat by the fire. The king looked at his glass and swirled the wine. He looked about to say something, stopped, then came out with it.

"Mylle and..." the king thought for a moment, " and Alia, that is her name?" I nodded. "They are still with you two."

"One of the reasons your daughter and I are so happy," I said, nodding. "It is strange, I know. It works well though."

"That kiss looked real," the king said. He had obviously decided to get things out now. It was better than letting them fester over the entire visit.

"We have love for each other," I replied, "it is hard not to with Hamund between us. Still, it is different than what would be normal. Alia and Mylle are aware." I took a sip of my wine, and let him digest my words. His face went through a few expressions as he thought. He had decided something, and looked up to me and raised his glass again.

"To my daughter's happiness," the king toasted. I smiled and raised my glass, and we drank to Angelica. "I am an old man, and see things differently at the end of my years. I will not fault you or my daughter for finding happiness amidst duty. The queen already chastises me for over-thinking it," he smiled, thinking of some past private conversation, "I think she feared Angelica would be miserable the rest of her life. She always understood it all better than I."

"Uri has difficulty with it," I interjected. Since we were getting things out in the open, I felt it a good time to broach the subject.

"No one better next to you in battle, that one," the king spoke proudly, "but hides none of his beliefs. I cannot change him, but I assure you duty will steer his ways. If the Lion calls, he will bring the Bear with claws bared."

"He had thought I would change Angelica," I added, "he does not understand that nothing will change her. She is different, and will always be so. She would give her arm to have him understand this."

"If I could find him a wife," the king smiled, "he would be too busy to bother with it. He needs his own heir to chase around." I tried not to laugh thinking of the large bearded Uri with a small child. It would change his perspective. "We have yet to find a suitable match. All getting more than giving, and no one even appealing to him yet."

"I find it surprising I am the topic," Uri stated as he entered the room, "there are more pressing concerns." The king did not jump as I did when Uri walked in. The way he kept finding me at ease and undoing it was grating.

"Sit, Uri," the king commanded. It was not a request. Uri did nothing to indicate he would prefer not to. He simply sat as ordered. The king poured another glass of wine and handed it to his son.

"We were speaking of your distaste for Cayden's marriage," the king spoke frankly.

"It is not the marriage I..." The king swiftly cut off Uri's response.

"We know what you dislike," the king continued, "you have made it quite clear. I had difficulty with it myself - as you well know. It is now Cayden who decides what is to be done about it. We either accept, or keep our silence." I was surprised at the king's power over Uri. In this room, it was obvious who ruled.

"You will have my silence, for now," Uri stated. He did not seem defeated, only respectful of his father. The king grinned at his son.

"Have you seen the boy?" the king asked.

"Not as of yet," Uri stated, "I was working my way to it." I feared Uri was trying not to see his sister. It was an argument he would not win, but could not stop himself from having. Somewhere in him, there was the desire to not be ignorant, but it was buried under the idea of family shame. He seemed a harsh soul next to his father.

"We can disagree, and not avoid each other," I offered. A truce seemed a first good step. He would be King some day, as would I. We should start putting this behind us. Uri tipped his glass and finished the wine in one swallow.

"I have drill in the morn, you will join me?" Uri offered back. I nodded. It was a first step, although a simple lunch would have sufficed. I suspected I was in for some sore muscles. Uri stood.

"I will see my nephew now," Uri stated as he walked off. I started to stand and follow, but the king indicated I should not. He waited until Uri was out of earshot.

"He will do better without you there," the king said, "my queen will draw a line if need be." I relaxed into the chair, and the king offered more wine. I accepted and we talked of mundane things. Mostly about the shenanigans of Hamund since that seemed to interest him most, and a subject I never tired of.

<<<<<>>>>>

Angelica and I retired early that night. We had done nothing strenuous during the weeks of travel, but they took their toll anyway. We were looking forward to a night of sleep in a warm bed. Hamund had gone with the queen for the first night. He seemed quite content with his new grandparents. They doted on him, as expected, and he loved them for it.

"Uri took to Hamund," Angelica said as she disrobed. "First thing, Hamund grabbed his beard and pulled. It was the first laugh I have heard out of my brother in years."

"Your father told him to be silent about us," I added, dropping my trousers. I was trying to see if Uri had kept his word.

"He was not kind or unkind to me," Angelica dropped her dress and then surprised me by removing her underclothes and crawling under the covers naked. "I could tell it stressed him to be near me without speaking his mind."

"Mayhap, Hamund will have more luck with him," I said strongly, "I must spend the morning with him." I pulled off my shirt. "I will not keep my word to you if he calls you broken one more time." I stressed myself thinking about it again. As the morning grew nearer, my agreement to drill seemed more taxing.

"Yes, you will." Angelica ordered. "You will ignore his words and leave him to me." She lifted my side of the blankets. "Come." I dropped my underclothes and joined her. I was a little upset with her, reigning me in like that. It was her brother, but I was her husband. I turned away from her in a childish manner. It felt stupid to do so. It would have felt even worse to undo it.

Angelica curved into me. I felt her breasts push into my back. I was not sure I could hold my anger in the middle of a cuddle. "Please do not fight with my brother," she pleaded softly, "I cannot undo hate." Angelica's hand caressed my chest as she whispered. Her lips found my neck, just below my ear. Only Alia knew what that did to me.

"You are negotiating unfairly," I said, knowing I was being manipulated. I did not move though.

"Alia has given me advice." I felt her smile on my neck. "I am to keep you relaxed. I have been told how." Her hand dropped slowly down my stomach. I almost jerked back at the surprise of her finding my manhood. I was not sure if I should let it continue. I was sure I wanted it to continue.

"Remember what Alia looked like, that last night." Angelica was using her soft voice, the same voice she would use trying to soothe Hamund. "She was so excited about teasing you. She knew you would like the way it showed her to you." My wife was slowly stroking me, whispering about my mistress. There was something so wrong about it, but it was too wonderful to stop.

"I saw the way you looked at her," Angelica continued, "your eyes watching her breasts through the cloth." Her hand was so soft and moving at a slow, even pace. I reached back, under her arm, and caressed her bottom. My eyes closed, and my head went into the clouds.

"I know you had her that night," Angelica was smiling into my neck. She was proud of the reaction she was giving me. "I could hear her through the door." My mind returned to that night, between Alia's legs. Her moans urging me on while her hands pulled me deeper. Angelica picked a good night to remember. Alia had been so soft and filled with passion. I was breathing hard as Angelica stroked harder.

"She loves you so," my wife continued, "so much so, she told me you would need this. I am Alia's servant in this. It is her hand you feel, her breasts against your back, her lips in your ear." That was all my loins to could take. It came as a groan, and I expelled my seed onto the bed. Angelica drained my anger and every muscle lost its hold. My mind was back in the warm bath.

"Is that not better, my love?" Angelica asked. Her hand was moving very tenderly, almost lovingly, along my tired phallus. I could not think straight away. Our love was so strange, now so intimate, but strange none the same. Alia had encouraged this, our love strange there also. I had three women controlling me with love. I wanted to stand my ground, but feared it would end if I did so. I never wanted it to end.

I rolled toward Angelica, ignoring the mess I had left on the bed. She was smiling, her smile of pride. I reached up and pushed her red hair behind her ear. Gods, she was beautiful.

"Was that pleasurable?" Angelica asked. She knew it was. It was the competitive part of her that wanted the acknowledgment.

"Very, my love," I answered, "I feel I am missing meetings." Angelica's smile grew as I caressed behind her ear. "Am I the topic of scheming?"

"You are the fulcrum, my love," Angelica replied, "we love you and wish you to be happy. Without you, we are all for naught." Surely, Angelica was as much a centerpiece as I. I traced my fingers down her side. I knew so little of my wife's body.

"I am happy," I confirmed.

"And we shall keep you that way," Angelica returned, "we might even invite you to the secret meetings." I had to laugh. It was the way she said it, so deeply in charge. "Come, you should sleep. You two princes will want to prove things tomorrow. I suspect you will need your strength." Angelica curled into me, and we fell asleep in each other's warmth.

<<<<<>>>>>

Storm was excited to be out and running. The long trip from Southerson was slow and tedious for a horse of his stature. The morn brought with it cavalry drills, and Storm bore me with pride. It was hard to hold him back, and keep the formed lines. It felt good to be in the saddle, the two of us working as one.

The Bear trained hard. I learned new tactics, and decided to hold back my own knowledge for fear of seeming all knowing. It was best to absorb Uri's command, and not impress my own. I could feel our competition as he called a charge. It was a race between us and Storm desired to win. I had no desire to hold him back, so I urged him forward and gave him his head. Twice we overran the line, both Uri and I. We both knew it was foolish, we both wished the other would concede. The other men could see it, so neither of us would give. Mayhap in private, we would not have let it get out of hand. It was in a group of men that we let our disagreement fester.

"Ironman!" one of the officers yelled. I looked over and thought it some kind of special maneuver. The shout was echoed by many, most looking at me. Uri smiled.

"As you will!" Uri shouted above the din. We rode hard back to the castle grounds. Ironman was no different than climbing the mountain. The selection was challenged-based as opposed to chance as done in Southerson. I feared the men wished to see Uri and me matched. Uri did not seem opposed to such an outcome. I could not decline without seeming the fool. Neither winning nor losing such a bout with Uri would hold benefit. Uri had let his pride loose, and I could not reign in mine.

I was challenged by a foot soldier first. I could not decline so I engaged with the desire to end it quickly. He was a powerful man, but had sloppy sword work. I got inside his guard after only a few parries. He bowed in defeat after the flat of my blade rapped his chainmail, just below an exposed joint. A real battle would have rendered his sword arm useless. I bowed back, accepting the victory.

Uri had a similarly quick victory. His sword play was quick, and I had a hard time forecasting his moves. It would not be an easy fight if we ended up paired. I watched a few more matches, until the challenges dwindled. It came back to me, a victor, to choose another victor to challenge. I chose an officer who was skilled. I did not wish success in another easy bout. I was half thinking of letting it go here, losing and not moving on. My pride was fiercer than my diplomacy.

The officer was relentless in his attack. His footwork created a stable platform to press his advantage. I accepted his attacks with parries and learned his patterns. He was skilled, but had little originality. It did not take long to envision his movements in advance. I used that knowledge as he came in for another assault. I parried and stepped to the side, away from his next move. He swung at air, and found himself off balance. I stepped forward and placed the flat of my sword on his shoulder. He laughed in good nature at his loss. I was glad for his humor; I did not relish disheartening the men I expect to come if I called. I made a show of a sore arm, letting him know he was hard to beat. In truth, his blocks did send a sting to my arm.

The field of victors whittled down quickly. I had two more fairly easy matches. The opponents who challenged me were not highly skilled, one a bowman who fancied himself moving to sword. I was dismayed to see Uri was equally successful. In the end, it came down to us. I began to regret not losing to the officer as I stepped toward Uri. I expected a smile, and found only determination in his face. He meant to win, and extract a physical toll in the process.

There was anger in Uri's swings. I felt them in my hands with each block. I was forced into useless counter attacks just to keep his momentum from overrunning me. My ire raised when he swung in such a way that a missed block could have caused severe injury, possibly a lost limb. I no longer felt the need to be diplomatic. He may have sworn himself to silence, but his blade was most vocal. I began to return with the same fury I was offered. There was no time to tire, only attack and parry. I was no longer holding my swings back, and lost my fear of doing harm.

Every time we broke, I saw it in the surrounding men's faces. They knew this meant more than a match. Some had chosen to look away. Sweat began to make it hard to see as I drove forward, and was driven back in return. My muscles complained, but I was having none of it. Uri chose this, and I intended to finish it.

When we broke from a particularly vicious set of attacks and counters, turning about each other, I saw Angelica above on a balcony. She had covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes glassy. It was then I saw the futility of my anger. No matter the outcome, she would feel the pain. Uri was a fool, and I had become his accomplice. This must end.

I stepped forward oddly, forcing my weight back to my heels. Uri saw it at once, thankfully, and pressed into me while dislodging my lead foot. I went down with little grace, and the tip of his sword found my throat. For a brief moment, I saw hatred in his eyes and feared I had given too much. "No!" I heard Angelica scream. It was her desperation that made Uri throw his sword to the side. He walked off as I stood, never allowing a polite end. The ranks were silent as I retrieved my sword. Uri had succeeded in lowering their opinion of us both, and I had helped him do it.

"Your commander is fierce," I said, trying to add good humor to my voice, "there are few I have fought with his skills." My diplomacy was lost on them. The alliance had been harmed.

<<<<<>>>>>

Angelica was shaking when I found her in our room. She was hugging Hamund tightly and rocking him back and forth. Hamund reached for me as I approached and I took him in my arm. He had felt his mother's fear. Angelica wrapped herself in my other arm.

"I did not know it was hate," Angelica said, "it grows in him." I kissed her on the forehead, and tried to remain steady. She needed me to be her rock. "You will not let him win again. If it comes to it, I will not fault you." She looked up to me, her eyes telling me I was her family now. Her brother was now my concern, and I was to handle it my way.

"I must undo this," I said strongly, "it was a foolish thing and risks too much." Uri would be king one day. This had to stop.

The king was livid. Descriptions of our demonstration had flown through the court. It was not difficult to find them, the king's voice was echoing down hall from the library. I walked in, unannounced, just as the king was about to begin another tirade. Uri was sitting, brooding as his father berated his behavior.

"It was mine as much as his, my Lord," I said stiffly. Uri's head jerked up, caught by surprise, something I did not expect from him. The king looked up at me, his face red with anger. He looked back at his son and I saw him purposely calm his demeanor.

"Sit. Work it out," the king said, "it will be solved when I return or I will rethink the right of succession." Uri's eyes went wide. It was not a bluff that I could sense. It also was not done. I sat across from Uri. The king left and we both heard a loud clang in the hallway. I suspected the king just punched one of the shields hanging on the wall.

"It was foolish, what we did," I started. I tried for no emotion in my speech. Uri looked up at me.

"I hate what you have let my sister become," Uri did not hold back any emotion. It did grow in him. I sighed and tried to let the strain in my shoulders fade.

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