What do you do when your father tells you, you are to me married to a woman you have never met. Why? because she is a princess and you are the heir to your father’s throne. Why? because it is good for both kingdoms and therefore your duty.
The princess, Archer thought. He still had to please her, amuse her but from what he had heard about her no precious embroidered cloth would do, not even the most precious stones from his mother’s, the queens, own collection would satisfy her. He thought of what he held precious to him, his bow and arrow what if he forged a weapon for her himself. That would please her.
“Marriage? What marriage?” Novia interrupted.
Archer chocked on the shock he always felt when they spoke of his marriage. Of course he wouldn’t leave the palace but bringing someone new in his little private bubble disturbed him. Although he wanted what Ilana and Lionell had, the companion and support from a loved one he wasn’t sure if he would love her as much as his parents loved each other.
Adalia raised her sword to block the one coming down at her fast. The clang of metal announced the beginning of the fight. Adalia liked training with the guards it was her way of sharpening her skills, ever since her father refused to train her. King Gabrielle wanted his daughter to be a delicate princess, a butterfly, but she wasn’t. Adalia was as good as any of the guards and better than most. More times than her father liked it she went out on patrol with Conan. She was well versed with the land and could easily lead her father’s army to a victorious ambush. “Adalia!” Liora’s stern voice rang through the air as the guards dropped on one knee with their heads bowed. “My queen.” Adalia gave her mother a slight bow and dropped the sword at her feet.
The two are confused at how to approach their marriage.
“What about?” he stood behind her.
“You, me, our families.” The word our hang in the midnight air, lurking around them waiting for them to take their vows of marriage. She exhaled wishing that she could let go of her insecurities just as easily.
“Our families.” He repeated an exasperated sigh escaping from his lips. He realized that there was one thing he was yet to ask, “Do you want to marry?”
“Will you force me to lay down my sword?
“Your brother wants to marry.”
Adalia finally noticed the loving way in which Novia hooked her arm into Randi’s. It was like she was floating, and if it wasn’t for the fact Adalia knew otherwise she would have been convinced that under the grand ball gown Novia’s feet weren’t touching the ground.
“Novia, what is this?” Archer went to his little sister’s side and for the first time that night feeling a sense of animosity for a man other than Xander.
“I want to marry him Archer.” She chirped.
He gently took her arm and dragged her to the side. He lifted his head and saw Gabrielle and his father in a corner whispering to each other. A chill ran through his veins, the two premiers were actually considering it.
“You are only seventeen Novia.” He stroked her rosy cheeks and tucked a stray strand of platinum blonde hair behind her ear, “You are still a baby.”
“I am not.” She blew air into her cheeks and pouted her lip confirming her brother’s view of her.
Archer pressed his index fingers into her cheeks and deflated them, “You are too young.”
“But you are getting married.” She fussed, “Adalia is only two years older than I am.”
“She’s the same age as I am. We are both old enough to marry. Besides, our marriage is for the kingdom.”
“Our marriage is for love.”
“What is it?” just by the touch of their skin, Adalia could feel the need inside him. Alexander’s eyes roamed around her face, as if he was looking for the perfect spot. “What is it” she asked once more.
“I’m looking for the right words,” he whispered, “but I realize there aren’t any right words for what I feel.” He dropped to his knee.
“What are you doing?” Adalia felt a shiver ran up her spine. Her eyes darted around, looking if anyone could see them but there was no one.
“I love you,” he began. He drew out his sword from his scabbard, “My sword will always fight for you.” He pressed her hand into the steel plate on his chest, “My armor will always protect you,”
Adalia gasped when she realized what he was doing. He was making vows to her. She had the immediate instinct to pull her hands away; to tell him to stop but the sweet melody in his voice cemented her in place. She wanted to hear more, to feel something other than the great doubt and fear she was already feeling.
Xander put a kiss in her palms, “I will always love you, listen to you, be faithful to you and I will always be beside you. Please will you marry me?”
“Yes!” the word escaped her lips before she could even think about it.