tagErotic CouplingsThe Queen's Matchmaker

The Queen's Matchmaker

bythe_shires©

A queen could marry once she'd taken the crown.

That was the law that had been in place for many generations. It had been many years since the marriage choices of a Queen had been left up to councils and groups of smelly old men. That didn't change the fact that Marisa's choices were, in her opinion, horrifically limited.

She wasn't just the Queen, after all. She was a politician, she was a soldier, she was the kind of ruler her people hadn't seen in more than a few generations. They loved her desperately, but that had its disadvantages. Mostly that her people, the ones who loved her, also thought they knew what was best for her. While other women her age had one, maybe two Grandmothers to contend with in their search for a husband, Marisa had all of them, every elderly person in the land presumed to know just the right man for the job.

Iago was quite different.

"So, how goes the search for a suitor?"

He'd waited until they were in her carriage with only his apprentice for company, his dour professionalism melting away into a teasing smile. Iago was as old as sin and twice as ubiquitous. The elderly ambassador consistently knew more about her life than she did, despite being out of the country on diplomatic business every other week.

"Absolutely abysmal." She slouched in her seat, blowing her lips out like a horse. "Everyone had ideas and none of them are good."

"None of them? That is something."

"Well there's the Thorstein brothers, who are still tied to their Mother's apron strings. Or rather, chained to her wrist like puppies," Marisa sighed, "because it's not as though that Lady's ever worn an apron in her life."

Iago chuckled, his face pinching in the kind of wicked glee that only the elderly seems to get from gossip. His apprentice raised his bright blue eyes for the first time since the conversation began, his gaze a little shocked at his master's informality.

"The Cabbots, Carters and Valinums are the same."

"Weren't you quite taken with one of the Rangers of the Northern Wood last time we spoke?"

"Yes," Marisa muttered, mouth twisting into a frown.

"What happened?"

"Vow of celibacy."

"You're joking!" the old man exclaimed with a bark of laughter. "The Rangers take a vow of celibacy? I thought they were simply solitary by nature."

"I'm afraid not. I found that out the hard way."

"You have plenty of knights in your employ. Why not pick one of them?"

"They're soldiers! They fight in wars for me. How could I ever send my husband into battle? How could I expect a soldier that is so beholden to me to make the choice to fight? No knights." She rolled her eyes. "Besides, I can't just pick anyone. They'll be targeted by the newspapers for ages, and I can't drop that sort of scrutiny on anyone."

"It sounds like you're making this more difficult than it has to be, my Queen." Iago answered evenly, his tone cautious. They had a long relationship, but he was always careful when he spoke to her. Even so, his apprentice shifted nervously in his seat, his gaze flickering from his Master to the Queen he had so easily rebuked.

"Well, the whole thing can sod off." She muttered irritably. "Why is everyone in such a rush, anyway?"

"Well," Iago sighed. "Everyone loves a royal wedding, Majesty. Not to mention royal babies."

Marisa pursed her lips.

"I have six younger sisters, Ambassador. I don't imagine there will be any shortage of royal babies running about in a few years' time."

Her assertion startled a small laugh out of the ambassador's apprentice, which he quickly hid in a cough. Iago's eyebrows floated up toward his hairline, and he fixed her with a knowing look.

"That's not quite the same, your Majesty."

Marisa knew he was right, though she didn't want to admit it, so she simply turned to glare out the window.

"Would you like my assistance?" Iago asked after a beat of silence.

It was Marisa's turn to look surprised.

"You?"

"Do any of your advisors know your tastes better than I, my Queen?"

"Of course not," she laughed, signing "but I'm certain you have better things to do, don't you, ambassador?"

"On the contrary," he answered with a humble bow of his head, "I have some free time this week before I return overseas. It is my pleasure to assist you in your search for a husband, your Majesty."

Marisa opened her mouth, but snapped it shut again when the only words that came to mind were 'But you're old!'

"Does Majesty have anything to lose?"

Marisa sighed.

"I suppose not."

"Excellent. Jonas and I will make some arrangement and report back to you tomorrow."

The mention of his name made the apprentice jump to attention in his seat and stare at his Master in confusion.

"Me, Sir?"

"Yes you, Jonas. You know what a young Lady likes, don't you?"

"Well..." Jonas sputtered, one hand coming up to rub nervously through his pale blond curls, "I'd argue not, actually, Sir, since I haven't actually-

"Oh, nonsense. It will be fine. Just wait and see."

***

Jonas came to her first.

"The Ambassador has arranged for you to have dinner with a suitor, your majesty."

"Dinner? With who?" She was surprised when Jonas winced at her words.

"Ah, well..."

"Spit it out."

"The Ambassador has expressed a preference that you not be told who the suitor will be beforehand, Majesty."

The young man was built like a brick house, but he still looked like he might faint after saying 'no' to his Queen. Marisa scoffed loudly.

"What in the hell is he thinking?"

"I really don't know, Majesty." Jonas answered, his words tumbling from his mouth in a mad rush of explanation. "I don't. I would gladly tell you, of course, but the Ambassador hasn't actually told me himself, and-"

"It's fine." Marisa cut him off, worried that if he let him continue he would pass out. He was already growing pale.

"It is?"

"Yes. I'll have a talk with your Master later, but I'll go on this date first. When?"

"Tomorrow night, Majesty."

At that moment all Marisa could do was wonder what she'd gotten herself into.

***

Her date with Iago's first choice was predictably terrible. She could understand why he'd insisted on it being a blind date, because the young man in question was none other than one of the Thorstein brothers.

Admittedly her complaints during their carriage ride had been directed at the eldest two specifically. Their youngest brother Armond was known to be the rebel of the family, putting him in the running for Iago's little matchmaking game.

The plan might have worked if Armond didn't speak of his domineering mother the way most men spoke of recently ex-lovers. Full of arrogance and petty anger, the conversation during their meal had been entirely dominated by stories of Lady Thorstein and her iron fist. The effect was hardly pleasing.

Jonas was waiting for her in the front room of her quarters when she returned.

"Will your Master be joining us to explain himself?" She asked him curtly as the guard shut the door behind her.

The young man flushed, struggling helplessly under her hard gaze.

"I'm afraid not, Majesty. He's sent me in to do it for him."

"Well then, you ought to find a Master who cares more for your well-being."

She was surprised to see a lopsided smile sneak across the apprentice's face.

"Oh, he's not so bad, my Master. He thought Majesty might like young Lord Armond because he's a little bit of a black sheep, and he wouldn't be shy of the gossip involved in courting your Majesty."

It was the longest string of words that Marisa had ever heard from the young man. She found her initial anger abating under the warmth of his smile, unable to stay mad at a young man who was simply following his Master's orders.

"No," she sighed, spinning to fall back into a cushioned armchair. "I don't suppose he would. Then he could tell the whole damn kingdom how mean his Mummy is."

A snort from across the room. Jonas was still standing at attention near the door, his face twisted in an effort to hold back laughter.

"It's a joke, Jonas. You're allowed to laugh at my jokes."

He did chuckle then, and smile more freely.

"Yes Majesty," he told her, bending into a deep bow.

As he turned to leave, she couldn't help but steal a peek at his behind.

***

The next date was only a few days later, announced once again by the arrival of Jonas. The young man was wearing what were undoubtedly the finest clothes he owned, his hair slicked back and his cheeks flushed.

The royal ball that evening would include for foreign dignitaries than Marisa knew by name, so she'd suspected that this would be Iago's next move. The old ambassador would know each and every person at the party, making it easy for him to single one out for his Queen.

She took a moment to enjoy the sight of Jonas in his finery before addressing him.

"I suppose your Master's found the perfect man for me, hasn't he?"

Jonas flushed, aiming a shy smile her way.

"He certainly thinks so, my Queen."

"Well," she sighed, pushing herself to her feet, "do I get to know this one?"

"I'm afraid not, Majesty."

"Do you know?"

"No, Majesty."

"Have you been helping him?"

The question seemed to freeze the young man on the spot, his mouth dropping open.

"Ah... pardon me, Majesty?"

"I asked if you've been helping him." She prompted, stalking towards him with calculated steps. "You know, since you... know what a young lady wants."

She stood before him, a small smile on her lips that bared her teeth like a wolf.

Jonas trembled, his eyes darting toward the ceiling in order to avoid meeting her gaze.

"Ah, well, I'm certainly trying to help my Queen," he stammered, "although I am not terribly experienced with the wants of a young lady at all, much less a Queen."

"Oh, we're not so different." She purred, one hand reaching out to rest on Jonas' shoulder.

The apprentice froze, clearly unsure of what to do. Courtly behaviour dictated that one should never touch the Queen, after all. Marisa took a moment to enjoy Jonas' solidness before moving away and giving him a wicked little wink over her shoulder.

"You'll help me find him, though?"

"Pardon, Majesty?"

"You'll help me find my future husband?"

"Yes, Majesty."

"Good." Marisa smiled where Jonas couldn't see. "I need to change for the party now, will you-"

Bang!

The door slammed shut, and Jonas was already gone. Marisa slipped the arm of her day-dress off her shoulder with a wistful little sigh and murmured softly to the empty room.

"Perhaps you can help me more later."

***

Marisa spent the first half of the ball remembering a time when she used to like parties. Before she took the crown, party guests only had reason to introduce themselves and perhaps chat for a moment. Now that she was Queen it seemed like everyone was just waiting for the opportunity to bend her ear. No conversation could be had that didn't feel an awful lot like work, which dampened the celebration significantly.

Jonas was there, all bright eyes and flushed cheeks as he carried his wineglass wrong and exchanged cheerful greetings with guests. Two of Marisa's sister stopped to speak with him briefly, too young to show earnest interest but old enough to know a handsome face when they saw him. She was surprised by the pang of envy that shot through her.

Duke Cochran was droning, on and on, expressing the same opinion on trade relations with the East that he always did. His tone was monotonous, his expression patronizing, talking down to her as though the only reason she wouldn't agree with him was that he hadn't explained his point of view to her for the hundredth time yet. Repetition didn't fix threats of war, though, or potential for economic downturn, something the Duke was entirely unaware of in his narrow paradigm. She watched Jonas wistfully while he talked, wishing that she could go keep the young man's company instead.

Her aloof behaviour eventually brushed Cochran off, freeing her to wave Iago over.

"My Queen?"

"Tell me it's not him."

"Pardon, Majesty?"

"Tell me it's not Cochran you picked."

Iago scoffed. "Certainly not, Majesty. The Duke is a pig and a fool."

"Who is it then?"

Her old friend's eyes sparkled.

"I haven't seen you speak to him yet, Majesty."

"Oh," she groaned, "now you're just being obtuse."

"Beg your pardon, Majesty, but I must attend to the delegates of the southern province..." He disappeared into the crowd before she could say anything more.

Marisa made a frustrated scoff, turning away from her advisor's previous location only to run into a wall of flesh. It almost knocked her feet out from under her, and she would have stumbled had it not been for the strong hands that gripped her arms and set her gently back on her feet.

She looked up to see Jonas. Even in his finest clothes, the young man smelled of paper, wax and ink. His hands flew from her arms the moment she was steadied, a panicked look crossing his face.

"Majesty! I'm so sorry-" He started to bend in a deep bow, but she stopped him.

"It's fine, Jonas. You're not meant to dodge me when I come flying at you."

"Oh..." He stammered. "Of course not, Majesty. Are you hurt?"

"I'm not." She assured him, laying one lace-clad hand on his arm. "You're Master just ran off on me, though."

Jonas nodded solemnly, his voice lowering so only she could hear him.

"Have you spoken to the suitor yet, Majesty?"

"No," she grumped, arms crossed over her chest, "but I suspect that if I find anyone I like here, Iago will take credit. He does love to pull strings."

"He does," Jonas agreed with a soft chuckle.

"I would just as soon skip it, to be honest."

"The suitor, Majesty?"

"No," she scoffed, "the whole damned party. I wish I could still sneak off like I used too."

Jonas nodded, his eyes combing the crowd.

"I do imagine it would be difficult, my Queen..."

"Yes." Marisa sighed, voice wistful.

"... but not impossible."

The soft, low tone of Jonas voice changed into something she hadn't heard before, and it made Marisa smile before she could even meet his gaze. When he smiled back there was mischief in his eyes, a twinkle not unlike that of his Master's.

"Do you have a plan?"

"Perhaps. Give me a moment?"

"Wait, don't-" Marisa blurted, but it was too late. "leave me alone here..." Jonas was already gone in the milling crowd.

Marisa sat quietly chatting with several Ladies and a Duchess, almost giving up hope for her salvation from the societal mucky-mucks when a cry rang out through the room.

"ARGH! A RAT!"

There was a commotion, and a few shrieks that made Marisa want to roll her eyes. The royal family lived in a castle as old as time, and rats were simply a reality of the building's age. That didn't stop the party guest from panicking, the room immediately filling with people trying to catch the rat and people trying to run away from it. In moments, the ballroom was in chaos.

She felt a large, warm hand close around her elbow, and a hot whisper flood her ear.

"We should leave now, Majesty."

Marisa's mouth dropped open at the sight of a mildly dishevelled Jonas, who was crouched to hide himself from the general crowd.

"Really?" She hissed back, a big smile blooming on her face.

"Yes." He grinned back at her. "They'll think your guards moved you because of the commotion, but you have to go quick!"

Marisa didn't need to be told twice. She hitched up her skirt and hurried out of the room, Jonas' hand gripped tightly in her own. After they exited she pulled him aside, leading him into one of the private halls that branched off the main corridor leading to the ballroom.

As she closed the door behind him, she started to laugh, gratified when he laughed with her.

"Did you plant the rat?" she gasped out.

"Yes." He wheezed. "Oh, he was pissed about it too."

"Iago?" she asked, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

Jonas' laughter redoubled.

"No!" He choked. "The rat!"

It set her off laughing again, even as Jonas started to calm.

"Though," he reasoned, "I don't imagine my Master will be very happy either. Majesty." He finished, regaining his composure and his sense of propriety.

Marisa finally stopped laughing, and there was a beat of silence as something passed between them. Jonas cleared his throat.

"Where does this passage lead, Majesty?"

"To my quarters," she answered, gaze meeting his. Her voice was firm and commanding, leaving no room for misinterpretation of her words. "You should come with me."

***

The bedroom of her quarters was as lush and plush as a bird's nest, with muted colors and soft pillows swallowing sound on every surface. IT was built that way on purpose, in an attempt to give some privacy for the most public of figures. Marisa hadn't had much of a chance to take advantage since she'd ascended to the throne, but she certainly made use of the soundproofing that night.

The first thing she did upon slamming the door was start undressing a pliant and eager Jonas. The young man's clothes had an ungodly amount of buttons, prompting her to grab his head and push his mouth toward her neck while she worked on them. He kissed her their obediently, his lips so warm that they made her gasp.

His tongue was soft and skilled, so much so that it almost drove her to forget her cause in undressing him. Instead she took a moment to push the sleeve of her ball gown off one shoulder, groaning as he took advantage of the access with soft licks and bites that made her shiver.

Once most of his buttons were undone she grew impatient, pushing his shirt off his shoulders to bite down hard on his collar bone.

"Oh, Majesty!" Jonas groaned, his voice far rougher than she was expecting.

He took the initiative to push the sleeve off of her other shoulder before wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close. She ran her palms across the heated plains of muscle she'd exposed, delighted by the rigid strength she found there.

Jonas seemed to sense what she was thinking, shifting his arms and driving his body toward her with a grunt. In a moment he was lifting her, popping her hips against his and hoisting her skirts and all against the door of her bedroom.

She groaned when they made contact, the solid oak bolstering her against his sinewy body. It made her pelvis ache sweetly, through the padding of her ball gown wouldn't quite give her the friction she really craved. Marisa braced her hands against Jonas' shoulders. Relaxing her legs so that he could hold her more easily. His face fell forward to nuzzle at her partially exposed bosom, drawing a gasp from her lips. The softness of his mouth clashed with the rough hair on his cheek, burying her in sensation. She ran one hand through his curls before gripping them hard and forcing him to meet her gaze.

Marisa kissed Jonas hard, her teeth nipping at his lips. The young man's knees wobbled under them, prompting him to turn and walk two long pace into the room to drop her on the bed. The feat of strength only made her want him more.

She started to slide out of her ball gown, only to lose sight of Jonas. It took her a moment to realize that he had kneeled at the side of the bed, ducking under her skirts. The press of his hands on her thighs was the only warning she was given before she felt the hot, delicious swipe of his tongue.

She squeaked, a sound she didn't make often, before scrambling her hands through her own skirts to try and catch hold of him. She continued to cry out at the intensity of the sensation as she fought with the many layers of lace and satin, finally groaning in satisfaction when her fingers found the downy softness of Jonas' hair.

Jonas unexpected skill thrilled her. Noble men so rarely had to work for sex, knowing that their money would land them a wife no matter what. Jonas was suckling, licking and kissing her clit with the enthusiasm of a man eager to please.

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