The Prince Ch. 11byRomanticRealist©
Being in love leaves you vulnerable in a way that nothing else does. However, that vulnerability will not inspire fear when the love is true. Instead, it will leave you feeling safe as though you have finally come home. This is true even when you may not have realized that you had ever been gone. But, in the end it is what we all long to find and must work even harder to keep. Enjoy...
His face changed. The expression he wore was a distant one. It did not belong to the room that they were now in and it also did not belong to a battlefield.
"You worried about me." The words had come from him slowly. They were difficult for him to believe. He had meant to say them as a question, but as he had spoken he knew that he had already found the answer.
"Of course I did," was all that she replied, as she gazed at him in wonder. "How could you have thought differently?"
He turned his head so that it was facing hers, but she could see him looking through her; she could see him looking at something in the distance.
When his eyes refocused and he was looking at her, he said, "It wasn't that I had thought differently. I hadn't thought on it at all. I just couldn't help but be amazed when I actually did."
Her brow furrowed as she tried to understand what he meant. "Let me ask you something."
"Anything," she said.
"Why do you care about me? Why do you worry about me? Why is that you fear for the safety of your captor?"
Amber hesitated and then said, "Because you are my master and I am a loyal servant to you."
"I must disagree with you," he said. "I must disagree with my being your master or you being my servant. We have not shared such a relationship since I first used your name, Amber."
"What are you saying?"
"I am saying that we are equals Amber."
"But we can't be, you are the Prince."
"Don't call me that."
"Don't call you what? The Prince? But you are."
"Amber, I will not have you call me by my title."
"Then what shall I call you by?"
He looked deeply into her eyes and slowly said, "The only thing that I would ever have an equal call me, Edward of course."
"But your father has forbidden it!" She exclaimed.
"Amber, I don't give a damn what my father said it is what I want you to call me," he stated clearly.
"But I can't, it just isn't proper. You are the Prince after all, I can't go calling royalty by their name as though they were just anyone else. It wouldn't be right it would strip you of your special status and everything that goes with it. No, no I can't do tha-"
"Amber, listen to me," he said to her clearly enough to stop her rapid speech dead in its tracks. "I don't want any special titles, not here, with you. That is what I was just saying before. And, before you attempt to protest further know that I will not yield in this matter. If you wish to address me you will call me by name or by nothing at all." Edward gazed at her fiercely, unwilling to yield in even the slightest way.
She looked back at him just as intensely and said, "All right, Edward, what was it that amazed you to the point of speechlessness?"
He looked at her softly and said, "Simply that I was happy to have you sitting next to me. I have not been happy in this way for some time, but that is a story for another time. There is a more pressing one that needs to be told right now."
She knew to which story he was referring. "Then please begin."
"As I am sure you knew already, a rebellion broke out in Lingley the night before I left. I was sent there immediately to insure that the peace was kept and that insurrection did not spread to other parts of the country.
"Upon my arrival I met with the general that was in charge of force that had been gathered should the rebellion turn violent or in any way get out of hand. He was hot-tempered and arrogant. The worst combination you could find in a leader in this type of situation. He told me that he could end it all in a day, all I had to do was give the word.
He scoffed. "The fool, as if killing farmers and tradesmen seeking to protect their livelihood would solve anything. In fact, it was because of his soldiers actions against the general populace that the people rose up in the first place."
"What did the soldiers do?"
"They stole openly from shop owners and food carts. They drank to excess and picked fights with anyone they could. But that's not the worst of it if the rumors are to be believed."
"What rumors?" she asked.
"The rumors that what set this whole chain of events in motion was that a man had tried to reason with the soldiers, had tried to stop them from assaulting a defenseless passerby. They said that he was beaten within an inch of his life and that his daughter, who had been with him, was stripped and violated in front of him while he was struggling to breathe."
She stared at him in horror and then whispered, "What is wrong with the world?"
He looked away from her and stared into the distance, saying, "I don't know. I don't know what could drive a man to the level of abomination. Or, what it is that could make them act in such a heinous manner.
"I find myself unable to acknowledge them as men at all. Someone who acts to defile the very nature of what separates man from beast needs only to be named as such and treated much the same. I feel no remorse killing a beast that would harm me or another man and it is with that same lack of feeling that I would slay any man that chose to act as a beast."
Amber could feel the tension that permeated his entire frame. The feeling bled over and into her making it difficult to determine where his body ended and hers began. Without knowing why she did it, she lightly began rubbing his arm.
At first this seemed to have no effect. It was as though he could not be reached in that instant, not by sight or sound or touch. Then, she felt it as the muscles in his arm released some of the violence contained within and were met with peace. His visage slowly changed from one with the desire to destroy to one of a somber calm.
When he spoke again, his voice was free of pain. "Anyways, I immediately informed the general that I would be assuming command. I gave orders that none of the soldiers were to enter the city or harass any of the populace there. None were to steal from the surrounding countryside or violate anyone's property or detain any persons without explicit orders to do so.
"I then set out to speak amongst the men in secret to better determine the source of the rebellion as well as the cause. I had found out that the man and his daughter had been very well respected in the community and that his son had been the source of inspiration to take up arms against the crown.
"I discovered that his name was Alexander Brasher and that his father was William Brasher. It was said that he had inherited his father's bravery and that he was an exceedingly principled and intelligent young man. I realized immediately that should he back down that the rebellion would end with him.
"I sent a messenger to request a meeting with him. He accepted my request on the condition that we would meet on neutral ground at one of the farm houses on the outskirts of the city. I agreed on the condition that we would both meet there with a contingency of no more than five men and that neither of us would carry a weapon to the bargaining table.
"When we met there we began negotiations immediately. I could tell that the main concern on Alexander's part was fear of retribution as they had been treated so harshly by the soldiers before. This put us both in a difficult spot as I knew that the troops could not simply be ordered away from the area and that Alexander would not see the people of the city suffer at their hands again.
"We left that day on fair terms and matters unsettled. We had made some progress, but time was critical and we both knew that time was running out and that one of us would have to act soon. He and I met each day until a messenger came from my father came ordering me back from the front and putting General Hastings in charge of the attack that would quell the rebellion.
"I left in anger and disgust. I sent warning to Alexander to move all of the women and children out of the city and to prepare for the siege that was surely coming. I liked him and did not want to see him die for nothing, but knew that there was nothing more that I could do.
"I rode away from the city with only a handful of trusted men. They were brave and good, but that did not prepare them for the road ahead. We were attacked by a group of men that mistook us for messengers. They did not wish for any information to reach the king and I am sure that they also wished to cut off the supply train for the army as well.
"Two of my men fell within a heartbeat of each other, their chests pierced by arrows. Those of us remaining burst into a full gallop and tried to outdistance ourselves from our attackers. We fought as we ran. Ultimately I was the only one that made it through. I do not know what happened to the others. My horse, Moongaze, was the only thing that saved me from the fate of my guards. He was able to outrun them and continued the journey home without assistance. I am glad to have taken him on this journey, for otherwise I would not have survived."
Both of them sat still and silent, letting the weight of his words settle. After a time, his eyes fell to her and hers rose to him. His face contained mourning and gratitude, hers held warmth and tenderness. As they looked into each others eyes he said slowly but clearly, "I am very happy that you are here, Amber."
Without breaking eye contact she grabbed onto him a little tighter. She saw a single tear fall down his face. "As am I, Edward, as am I," was all that she said in reply. She moved herself closer to him and wiped the tear off of his cheek, their lips nearly touching, their breath on each others skin. Each of them labored for air. Her lips met his.
He could feel the heat of her lips soaking through his He could feel the heat spreading throughout his body. He had not noticed how cold he had gotten, how weak he had become, how lifeless he had felt. He had forgotten that he could live any other way, but she had reminded him.
She could feel it as he grew stronger. She could feel it as the control of the kiss slipped away from her. He took that control from her little by little, shifting it from a tender kiss she was giving him to a tender kiss that he was giving her.
Time passed slowly as their lips were locked together. Time did not matter to either of them in this moment. Nothing mattered, but the warm embrace of the other. Nothing more was needed.
The kiss went on in waves. A slow, but churning passion, matched in both rhythm and form by the movements of their tongues. It was a an unending dance, something that had been there long before this kiss and would be there long after. They were both a part of a small bit of magic; they made it real.
So real, that the spell was not broken even as two sharp raps at the door. The knocking was taken from a harsh sound to dull thumps. Another sound was muffled; they could not understand the voice outside the door. They did not notice the noise of the door opening.
The kiss ended with each of them staring at each other, unable to take notice of anything else. Nothing could be as important as what they were each looking at. No sight or sound or experience could compare.
That was until Agnes finally shouted at the two of them, forcing a reluctant attention shift. It was as if each of them were slowly coming out of a dream and back into awareness. Amber did not remember where she was or that the blanket had fallen, exposing her bare breast. He could not seem to remember who the other woman was or why she could possibly be there.
It was Amber who regained her senses first. Her face went through several shades of red and she quickly hid herself beneath the blankets with a squeal. The Prince quickly realized the situation once Amber had fled and looked directly at Agnes.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
Agnes gave him a snort. "Ah, so, you finally noticed me," she said shaking her head in disbelief. "I have come to inform you that you are to prepare for the king's arrival as he wishes to have you recount to him directly."
"Is that so," he stated more than asked. "When will he arrive?"
"In one hour's time," she replied moving to exit the room. "And if I may suggest, I recommend that she be fully clothed and out of here by then. I doubt that the king will be as tolerant as I."
He nearly glared at her for that remark, but as he looked at her face he saw that she had a slight smile. It was not a smile of gloating, but instead one of understanding. His brow furrowed in confusion as he attempted to make sense of her expression. The door closed before he was able to and the sound jarred him from his musings.
He looked down at the blankets that covered Amber's face. "Agnes is right, unfortunately, you need to leave."
Marissa was on her way out of the palace long before her work was done. She felt too trapped within the building to stay. Her stride was filled with a certain nervous excitement that made it difficult for her to have an even pace.
At first, she did not know where she was going or what she expected to find when she got there. She knew that it was silly and dangerous for her to act in this manner. The punishment for being caught was likely severe and it was not clear what she stood to gain by continuing to move forward. However, she found that she could not stop. It was not long before she ended up in the gardens near the Prince's home.
"Marissa, what are you doing out here?"
Her expression was slightly glazed over and it took a moment for her to recognize the speaker. "Oh, Dante, I simply seeked to escape the palace for a short while."
He stared at her uncertain how to respond. He had never seen her quite like this before. She spoke again before he could reply, "May I ask why I find you out here?"
"You know why I am out here," he said. "This is where I am assigned to work I have told you this before. I thought that the only reason that you had wandered out here was to see me."
This brought Marissa's mind back from its wanderings and focused it on the present. With renewed focus she said, "I am not quite sure why it is that I came out here. I wasn't really thinking anything in particular on the way over."
"And, here I was thinking that you wished to see me."
"It is not that I did not wish to see you," she replied quickly. "I assure you that is not the case."
"Then what is the case?"
"That is what I am attempting to determine," she said with more potency than originally intended.
"All right," Dante replied with caution, "Perhaps you should attempt retracing your steps."
"I came out here to get away."
"Away from what?"
"Away from the mess that seems to be all around me."
"I don't know, my entire life thus far, perhaps?" Marissa looked at him as she said this and then turned her eyes to the ground.
Dante had edged his way closer to her, "Now Marissa, what do you mean?"
"I feel as though I have lost sight of what is important to me. I used to be able to tell anyone what I wanted and how I was going to get it and now I no longer can say what is driving me forward. Nothing in my life makes sense anymore."
"What changed your life so dramatically from the way it once was?"
Marissa could not hold his gaze for more than a moment or two at a time. It was almost painful to see him for some reason she could not quite articulate. "I wasn't able to protect a friend. Protecting those close to me has always been my source of pride. I failed in my duty and now I fear that I am losing her and that if I do a piece of me will vanish with her. I need to do something. I have to redeem myself. Or else..."
"Or else what?" Dante asked, his hands gently gripping her arms.
"Or else I may never be able to live with myself again. How could I let this happen to someone dear to me? How could I be of any worth to anyone if I fail in my chosen duty? What good am I in this world?"
"Marissa, look at me." Dante said gently as she turned herself to face him. "Even if you can't protect her this time, you will not have failed as a person. It is impossible to save everyone no matter how much you may want to. It will be alright and I am certain that you will find a way to help this friend of yours. You to strong and determined to fail twice."
"If I am so strong why do I feel so weak?" She asked plaintively.
"Even the mightiest of heroes are mortal and are subject to the weakness caused by fatigue. You will recover and I will help you, if you will let me. No one should have to shoulder so heavy a burden on their own."
"You really mean that." It was not a question, she could tell from the way he said it.
"Yes, I really do," he said without blinking.
The two of them moved closer, nearly touching. He was staring into her eyes, when she turned her head slightly and backed away.
"I do not know that you will be able to help me with this," she said.
"I know that I can be of some service to you. I may not be able to solve this problem for you, but I can support you when you feel your strength failing you. I have already done so once," he declared. His eyes dared her to challenge his last statement. He knew she would not.
"Are you so certain."
Marissa could not deny him, she no longer felt weak or confused. She felt powerful, as though she could accomplish anything. Her heart beat proudly, she was so full of life in this moment. He kissed her and it only made her feel stronger. She knew that in those moment it was not he who held the power, she could bring him to his knees at any moment she wished.
She was planning on doing just that and he was planning on letting her. Because in the end he knew who truly held the power.