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Grant let out a relieved sigh. It was a relief to her the words from Marilyn’s lips. It put his mind at ease and silenced the insecurities. These fears had plagued his mind since he had first sent out to Lirakin and now he could finally put them behind him. “Thank you, Marilyn.” Grant lean over and kissed the top of her head. He took her hand and guided her out the door.
He was content to simply wander down the hall, letting their footsteps fall into sync. Grant cracked a smile when Marilyn decided there was somewhere she wanted to go. “It will be my pleasure to accompany you to the garden.” He let her led on. When they arrived at the garden the prince drew the princess close to his side. Grant enjoyed being close to Marilyn and it was nice to be somewhere were the hundred eyes of guards and servant weren’t observing from the shadows.
Grant let his eyes wander around at the flowers but soon found that his eyes could not leave Marilyn. She was by far the most beautiful thing in the garden. “Stay right there for a moment,” he gently instructed. Grant waltzed over to the nearest rose bush. He drew his dagger from its place at his size and cut off on of the flowers. Grant ran the blade lightly down the stem to remove any thorns before presenting it to Marilyn.
“The garden is lovely, but I believe you wanted to hear the birds. Come, I know the perfect spot.” Grant guided her over to a large tree. He removed his jacket and set it down at the base before he sat back against the trunk. He motioned for her to sit on the jacket beside him. Grant wrapped his arms around Marilyn. His grip was strong and firm yet not possessive but rather protective. Above them the chirps and whistles of the birds sounded out into the warm air.
Sophie let out a lite sigh. It would be hard to ask those in Cadeweth to trust the help of Severijan. Luckily, the change of subject seemed to have lifted Zander’s mood. Sophie’s smile grew. This was what she had hoped for; to be able to calm his mind so that he would have the energy and clear thoughts for when he was desperately needed. That was the true duty of a queen.
The neko girl heard the elf prince’s word. While Sophie could read elfish she could not understand it as well spoken. Sophie’s cat ear’s twitched as she replayed his words in her mind. She loved the way it sounded and wished Zander would say it again. The feeling put in those words spoke meaning clear enough that the princess could tell it was a declaration of love. Sophie blushed and followed Zander along.
When they arrived at their suite, Sophie tilted her head to the side wondering what was going on in Zander’s head. She blinked in disbelief. He wanted to get married immediately. “Right now?” Sophie was barely able to ask the question as Zander pulled her into a kiss. It sent her heart racing instead of its normal flutter. At first she was in a shock at how passionate he was but soon Sophie responded by wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing back with equal passion. When the kiss ended, she pulled back and nodded. “Yes, let’s get married here in Lirakin. I know that there will be a ceremony in Cadeweth where all the delegates from neighboring kingdoms but I want my parents to be in attendance and the only way we can have that is if we get married here. I totally agree we should.”
Sophie grinned widely. “It could be a secret wedding, small and private. We could hold it in the gazebo or the music parlor. What do you think? I know just the right person to ordain the ceremony. Captain Thomas can do it. I’ll just have to find my parents while you find the captain. We’ll get ready at meet at where the ceremony will take place.” The more the princess thought about it the more she agreed with the prince. They just has to agree on a few details.
Zander sighed, "I think he is truly trying to help us, I honestly do. However, even if I accept his help- I can't guarantee that my father will as well. Will-" he paused for a moment, thinking of the best words to describe his closest friend, "Will is very stubborn and having to work with Severijan... Will would do anything for me, as I would him, but this might be asking too much." Zander was having trouble making his words come the way he wanted them to, since so much was going through his mind.
Zander smiled at her, "It's not that I don't trust Grant. I think he's much different from his father, which is very good. I think he's someone that I can work with, but he seems- secretive. Whatever plan he has cranking through his mind, he isn't sharing- and I'm not a mind reader... well most of the time." He pressed his lips against her forehead. "We have more concerns than figuring out the details of Grant though, my love," he said. "I don't think Grant is our enemy. I'm wary, yes, but he seems genuine."
"I'm sure dinner will be wonderful," he said. He watched her, a smile crossing his face. He was a prince, he was trained to be a king, worries did not leave his mind easily, but she was a distraction enough for him. He spoke to her gently, in elvish, "You are my life and my world. I love you beyond the reach of the stars."
Zander took her hand in his, "Come," he said, still speaking elvish. He moved down the hall and into their suite that they were staying in. He stopped almost as soon as they were in the door, "I want to marry you now," he told her, pulling her into him. His mind was curious, he was definitely distracted by her. His hands slid along her back, stopping at her waist. He lifted her face up and pressed his lips to hers, none of his customary gentleness accompanying his movements.
Marilyn heard him speak and tilted her head, "You want to help Zander and Cadeweth, don't you?" She smiled, "You're much different than your father. I've seen that as we've spent more time together. You have love in your heart, and kindness." She watched him quietly, but didn't ask any questions, not yet. She could tell the subject was still touchy, seemingly off limits. He didn't know how he would respond if she pushed too much.
Marilyn paused for a moment, "I was scared when I found out I was engaged to you," she admitted, her voice small. "However, I did not want to go to Cadeweth. Prince Zander had come here once, with his father when the alliance was being formed. We were young but I remember him, and I could never love him. I knew that."
Marilyn looked cautious before she spoke again. "You were a chance at protection for my people, against those they feared most. I didn't know what you were going to be like, but my father told me of your father, and I expected you to be the same. I didn't know what would happen between us, or if I would love you either, but I was willing to make any sacrifice I needed to, if it meant keeping my people safe."
"You aren't anything like I thought you would be," she told him. "I had decided, when I saw you for the first time, that I was going to let you show me who you are. I wanted to get to know you, for who you were. I was scared but I'm glad I did it. I do love you Grant, because you aren't a monster," she told him. She went over and knelt beside him. She smiled when he stood and took his hand, "A walk sounds absolutely lovely."
Marilyn let him lead her to where he wanted to go. She was quiet at first, just enjoying being with him. She found a door and led him outside. "Come to the garden with me?" she asked him. "I want to listen to the birds."
Sophie forced herself to calmly respond to Grant’s story. “I am glad everything turned out fine and you both were able to return to us.” She followed Zander out of the room and down the hall. For a moment, Sophie walked beside him in silence, letting her thoughts settle in her head. “So… there was a mountain lion? You said Grant saved your life. You never lie to me; occasionally you hold of telling me what is happening, but you always tell me eventually. Why would he lie?” It didn’t seem to make much sense to Sophie.
The princess sighed. “You don’t trust him do you? I am unsure whether to trust him or not. Marilyn does and I don’t think she would be easily tricked. At least I hope not.” Figuring out Grant seemed to be the least of their worries at the moment. There was the threat of war and who knows where the assassins where and what they were planning. It was a lot of stress that had fallen on Zander’s shoulders.
Sophie cat eyes perked up as she stepped in front of Zander and turned to face him. “We shouldn’t worry about what is out of our control. I am sure Cadeweth’s warriors can handle things in your leave and with the letters sent we should know more by tomorrow. Then we will decide a course of action.” She kissed him on the nose before flashing him a bright smile. “For now let us enjoy Lirakin. I bet tonight’s diner will be a feast and there will be singing and storytelling later. It will be fun.” Sophie twirled hoping her spirits would raise Zander’s.
Meanwhile Grant sunk down into one of the chairs in the king’s office. He rubbed his forehead. “You’re a fool Zander,” Grant thought to himself. “You should have just accepted my offer and the story. Father would have done anything to pay off the debt to Cadeweth. It would have kept your kingdoms safe a while longer. You have no idea what he would do if he found out I saved you! He would demand payment immediately; take some of your land and much gold. Garth has put Lirakin and Cadeweth in a venerable spot and if the conflict is not resolved quickly Severjian will march and take both kingdoms by force.” The prince continued to stare down at his reflection in the polished surface of the desk.
It took Grant a moment to realize that Marilyn was still in the room with him. He turned to face her but did not speak. Grant studied the princess’s beauty before finally raising a few questions. “Marilyn, what was your first thought when you found out that you would be engaged to me? Would you have preferred to have gone to Cadeweth but choose Severjian instead to protect your sister? After all she does appear to be terrified of me. Did you think I was going to be a monster?” He laughed half-heartedly. “Sorry for all the questions. They’ve been haunting me since I arrived.” The prince rose to his feet, offering a hand to the princess. “Why don’t we go take that walk before diner is called?”
Marilyn sighed slightly, "I'm sad that you may have to miss the ball, but I completely understand. Zander has to put his country first, he'll be king one day. You, as his future queen, must be by his side." She hugged Sophie, tightly. Sophie seemed so stressed out about all of this.
Marilyn nodded to Grant, "We'll come back with you," she agreed with Grant. She stayed close to Sophie as they walked back to the office where Sophie had left Zander. Marilyn could see the troubled look in the Prince's eyes clearly, although he tried to erase it when Sophie came over to him.
Sophie knelt next to him and Zander turned kissing her head. He hadn't spoken yet, he stared at Sophie first, then he found his voice. "I finished my letters, yes," he told her. "And I don't think you need to talk to your father quite yet my love," he said. "I'm not sure what help Cadeweth needs, or if we need any help at all. This could just be a small thing."
Zander wasn't planning on accepting Grant's help either quite yet, especially since he still didn't completely trust Severijan, but before he could talk Grant worked right into a lie about how Zander had saved his life. Zander saw Sophie's face, and gave a look that begged her not to have any kind of reaction.
Zander smirked after Grant's tale, "Thank you for the offer, but I'm still not sure of much. If Cadeweth needs your assistance I will take you up on that offer. We're not in a war yet, and we might be able to limit this ordeal to one battle." He stood, pulling Sophie up with him.
Prince Zander couldn't outright tell Grant that Cadeweth would struggle to cooperate with Severijan. He knew how to be diplomatic and was careful not to upset the Prince standing across from him. He knew Will wouldn't be happy to have to cooperate with any troops from Severijan, and the King of both countries had a long standing hatred for one another. There was always the fact that after Grant's lie, Zander wasn't sure if Grant had an altierier motive.
Sophie looked over at Marilyn and nodded sadly. “Apparently, Cadeweth was caught by surprise too. We…we might have to leave Lirakin and return to Cadeweth. I might have to miss the ball.” She sighed and forced a smile on her face. “I’m sorry but I belong at Zander’s side. His country may need him. I was just on my way to find father and tell him of the news so that if there is anything Lirakin can do we can be ready to do it.” Sophie hugged Marilyn trying to reassure her sister that she was fine. Sophie stood up and turned to leave but froze. Maybe she should return to Zander and find the king later. After all Zander was the one who had the most to worry about.
Grant placed his hand on Sophie’s shoulder causing her to jump. “I heard the king was in a meeting and should not be disturbed at the moment. You should return to Zander for now. I’m sure you’ll get to talk to him before diner.” Grant let out a relived breath. He had heard that king had returned and was most likely deciding what to do with the mountain lion. Suddenly an idea hit Grant. “Marilyn why don’t we escort Sophie back to Zander. I think she could use the comfort and I wish to have a word with Zander.” Sophie nodded. They headed back towards the office.
Sophie slowly opened the door when she arrived. “Zander? Have you finished your letters?” She came inside and walked up to her prince. Sophie kneel beside his chair. “I haven’t been able to talk to father yet so we have time to think of what to say. I did however bring some company back.” The princess turned to smile at Marilyn and Grant. Grant cleared his throat. “Zander, Severjian will be willing to pledge troops and supplies to Cadeweth,” he stated before his gaze drift across each face in the room and stopped on Marilyn’s. “After all it is the least I can do when I owe the crown prince of Cadeweth a life debt.” Sophie’s smile turned to a confused frown. Grant continued. “I hoped you find this out later, my love, and I had every intention to tell you when the timing was right. Today’s hunting trip went not all well as we had hoped.” Grant wrapped his arm around Marilyn. “We had just brought down a deer. I was proud of our success and in my pride I had grown careless. I failed to notice we had been stalked by a mountain lion. If not for Zander’s skills and quick action I would not be here right now,” the prince lied. Sophie turned to Zander with shock and confusion. Hadn’t Zander told her earlier than Grant had saved his life?
Zander wrote what she asked him to in the letter to his mother. He knew how worried Queen Elizabeth was. The king hadn't been to the front line in years, and he wasn't the fighter that he had been. Having a child and a wife had changed him, made him more cautious. The king had wanted to be there to raise his son, with his wife, so he had tended to stay away from battle if he could. Now, Zander was grown up and didn't need him, or at least that's what the King thought. He didn't realize how much Zander still wanted his father around. Zander could be king, if he needed to, but he didn't want to... Not yet.
Zander watched Sophie run off, before his protest could escape him. He didn't know if he needed to talk to the King of Lirakin yet. He didn't know what Cadeweth needed, if they needed anything at all. He added that Lirakin was willing to help where they could in the letter to Will. Once he was finished he sealed both envelopes and gave them to a servant to have them delivered. He went back into the office and sat at the table, waiting for Sophie to come back. He figured that seeing the King couldn't be bad, he could find out what Lirakin was willing to give for assistance.
Marilyn looked at Grant as he spoke. "I'm afraid that if you stay here, and one of your brothers become the king, that Severijan will still take over Lirakin. If you have to go to Severijan, if we have to go to Severijan, in order to keep my kingdom independent then it's what we'll do." She paused for a moment and kissed his cheek. "We don't have to worry about that now though."
Marilyn nodded and followed him outside. She jumped at the sight of Sophie. "Cadeweth has been attacked? I thought Cadeweth and Grath had made a truce. I believed the war was ended between them," she said. She had suddenly forgotten about getting some air with Grant. She wanted to figure out how to help Sophie, since she seemed so worried.
Sophie found a second quill and began to write a list of everything that Lirakin could do to aid Cadeweth. Peace advisors would got see if Grath’s leaders were open to negotiations or figure out why the truce was broken. The supplies would need to be gathered both to send to their ally and provide for support for potential refugees. Any knights that could be spared would also leap into action. “Tell your mother I send my love and support. Tell her that if there is anything she needs don’t hesitate to ask. Lirakin will be ready to assist at a moment’s notice.” Sophie read over her list. Her mind wandered to the people she had met in Cadeweth mostly Jane and Calvin along with their families.
She folded her list and went over to Zander to give him a reassuring hug. She scanned the note he was writing Will. “You finish writing Will. I will go fetch the king and inform him of what has begun. Cadeweth and Lirakin are tied together. What effects one will surely affect the other. I will be back shortly.” She didn’t wait for Zander to protest. Sophie rushed out of the room and decided to check the throne room first for the king.
Grant sat up stiffly. “No! No, you will not go to Severijan! Not yet, not ever if I can help it. I won’t allow you to become a political prisoner within my own country.” His gaze and voice grew dark. Seeing Marilyn’s trembling snapped him from his wave of anger. She was terrified of the future; more so than him. Grant rested his head in his hand taking a moment to collect himself. “I’m sorry.” Grant gently cupped Marilyn’s face in his hand so she could not avoid eye contact with him so easily. “Hey, please calm down. Look. We’ll…we’ll figure this out. I promise.” He rested his forehead to hers. “Don’t give up hope yet.”
Grant rose to his feet. “I think, I need to step out for some fresh air. Care to join me?” He opened the library door. A thump and ouch came from the other side. Sophie collided right into the wooden door. She had been so distracted and in a rush she hadn’t notice the library door had opened slowly in front of her. “Are you alright Sophie?” Grant asked. The neko girl nodded then shook her head. She turned to Marilyn. “Cadeweth has been invaded; by Grath. I was searching for father. They may need help.”
Zander met her eyes, taking her hand in his. "No. I don't have to leave yet, not until I'm called upon. I'll take you with me if I have to leave, I'm sorry," he told her. He knew she was right, he couldn't keep her out of affairs she would have to deal with as Queen.
He followed her willingly to the office, not saying much. His eyes held an apology as he sat down with the paper and the quil. He started with a letter to his mother. He wrote words of comfort, trying to convince her everything would be fine. He looked at Sophie, gently kissing her cheek. He finished the letter, signing his name at the bottom in his typical scrawly handwriting. He then wrote to Will, asking for details of what was going on. He was worried about the battle being to near the villages. He didn't want any citizens hurt during this war.
Marilyn listened to Grant, and hearing what he said scared her. He wasn't wrong, at first she had been terrified of him and his people. "You are kind Grant. So very kind. And as your soon to be wife, and one day your Queen, it is my job to make sure that kindness doesn't leave you," she told him. She wanted to give him comfort, "We are a team, you and I. While you may be a King, and a very powerful one, I will be your queen." She squeezed his hand. "Even if I have to give up my throne to my sister. It will protect Lirakin, being allied with your country. I am a princess that will do anything for my people. If I must go with you, then Sophie can rule Lirakin. Cadeweth will protect it, I know that, Prince Zander has seen Sophie's love for her home." She fell silent for a moment. She wanted to rule her land, but knew Severijan would take over Lirakin if Grant wasn't the ruler. The whole idea of it made Marilyn so scared, to the point where she was shaking.
“Grath?” Sophie rubbed her temples. It was difficult to wrap her head around all of this. She could have sworn it was news about the assassins. What did Grath have to do with them? “Your father has taken up arms? Does this mean you have to return to Cadeweth?” Sophie listened to zander and shook her head furiously. “I want to come with you back to Cadeweth if you have to. Don’t leave me here to worry. Someday I will be your queen and these are things I will have to live with. I don’t want to be left behind.”
Sophie took a deep breath. This wouldn’t help Zander. “What should we do?” she asked softly. The princess thought for a moment. “We should tell father. Lirakin would be willing to help any way we can even if it’s just supplies.” She tugged on Zander’s hand beckoning him to follow her back to the castle. “You’ll probably want to send a note to Will and respond to your mother. Father’s office will have everything you need. Even maps so you can coordinate attacks or strategies. Papa can help you find whatever you need.” She lead him to the office and entered. She retrieved paper and quill for Zander and motioned to the table across the room from the desk. “Lirakin doesn’t have a war room so all battle logistics are kept here.” Sophie stood off to the side wondering if she should give him a moment alone to handle this or remain with Zander.
Grant tilted his head thoughtfully to the side listening to Marilyn. He chuckled lightly at her dream which he agreed was a good dream. Her fear on the other hand made him frown. “Marilyn look at me. You love your people right? You would do anything to make sure they were safe and happy. This means you will make an excellent queen one day. I know the kingdom will be in good hands and I promise I will be right there beside you every step of the way.” Grant removed his hands from Marilyn’s so he could wrap his arms around her and hold her close to him. The Severijan prince felt a lot more comfortable being affectionate with Marilyn when he knew there were not many if any eyes watching.
Grant closed his amber eye for a moment, enjoying their peaceful time together. Why couldn’t he show his father that he truthfully cared for this girl and her people? He let out a deep sigh. “My greatest fear is that I will hurt you somehow. That there is more of my father’s rage in me than my mother’s kindness.” Grant smiled sadly. “You all know my people are so full of hate and violence. We were breed of war and destruction. There is very little love left in us. I dare to dream that it will all change when I take the throne; if I take the throne. I… I would much rather give up my throne so you may keep yours but what chance does Lirakin have if I do?”
Zander let out a deep breath before answering her. "It's a letter from my mother," Zander said. "Remember how I told you about our neighboring country, Grath?" He waited a moment before continuing. "It seems that our truce has broken. They attacked last night and my father ran off to the front lines. She's worried about him, and so am I. He's not in the same condition he used to be. He's strong, no doubt, but age has remove the warrior side of him."
He took her hands in his, kissing her fingers. "I may be forced to go join my father soon, I'm not sure what he will want. However, I don't want to bring you to a country that is not at peace. I don't know what to do, or where to go." Zander wanted to rush to his father's side. His instincts as a warrior were telling him to do exactly that. However, he didn't want to leave Sophie. He wanted to spend time with her in Lirakin, take her to the ball, and enjoy the company of her wonderful family and friends. "For now we'll have to wait," he said, attempting to shake the thought from his mind, tho is still rested there.
Marilyn smiled widely at him. "People are still adjusting, but I'm sure you know that. One of my dreams is to live a happy life with you," she said. She followed him willingly down the hallway until they were somewhere more private. She sat down with him. She hesitated before saying, "I'm afraid of what will happen to Lirakin once I'm it's ruler. I'm terrified I will not be an appropriate successor for my father." She kept his hand in hers.
Sophie held Zander close snuggling into his embrace. The way he smiled in joy matched hers and Sophie could swear she had never seen the elf prince happier. She wanted to hold on to this moment commit it to memory. The neko princess was about to give Zander another kiss when the servant arrived.
Sophie sighed letting go of Zander so he could take the letter from the man. Worry bubbled up inside of her. Urgent message! That didn’t sound good. Why or why did ever happy moment the couple shared have to be immediately followed with bad news? Sophie’s maroon eyes flicked over his features trying to read his expression. Part of her urged her to read the not over his shoulder but to see Zander’s reaction, that his shock made him seek support before his mind wandered into deep though, made her think twice about doing it.
She played with the ring on her finger nervously, allowing Zander a moment. “Zander, is…is something wrong?” Her voice was barely audible. Tentatively, the girl stepped forward and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Zander? What has happened in Cadeweth? Please, tell me.”
Grant rubbed Marilyn’s back. “It’s alright my love. You want to protect your people and I should have been more honest from the start. I haven’t given you much proof that you can trust me.” He smiled widely after Marilyn kissed his cheek. His sharp teeth didn’t seem as scary anymore when his face was so joyful. “I love you too, my brave princess.” He took her hands and pulled her down the hallway playfully. “Come, I want to hear more about you; your dreams, your fears. We haven’t had much time to talk in private as everyone seems a little on edge with me around you. I have noticed them, always watching from a distance. The better we get to know each other the more their fears will be stilled.” Grant kissed Marilyn’s forehead before opening the library door for her.
Zander smiled and slipped the ring on her finger. He was so incredibly happy that she said he would marry her. He didn't want her to feel forced into this relationship because he did love her. He never expected to have the honor of asking Sophie, or the even better honor of her saying yes. He brought her into him as she sunk to her knees. "I love you Sophie. You are my world and my life." She smiled as she spoke of all the people she would have to tell, reading the happiness on her face and hearing it in her voice.
He got to his feet, pulling her up with him. He kissed her and held her close to him. He didn't want to let her go, didn't want this moment to end. He knew that it would soon have to. He wasn't wrong, just minutes later he heard someone calling his name. "Prince Zander!" a voice shouted. Zander turned and faced him. "Your Majesty," the man said. "I apologize to have bothered you, but I have an urgent letter from your father." Zander nodded and took the sealed letter and the man left.
Zander turned to Sophie, his eyes held an apology. He opened the letter and read it. His face was shocked as he saw what the letter contained. He leaned against one of the posts holding up the roof of the pavilion. He was obviously deep in thought, but he hadn't said anything. He had completely forgot he was supposed to say anything.
Marilyn smiled and nodded, suddenly feeling horrible that she had even asked. "I'm sorry Grant," she said. "I know you're not your father or Grandfather. I'm sorry I ever questioned you or your motives." Marilyn had grown up being taught to protect her country, so there were times when she was naturally skeptical. She leaned down and planted a kiss on Grant's cheek, "I love you, everything about you."
Sophie was enjoying dancing in the gazebo. She wondered how it would feel to dance beside other couples. Surely a lot of eyes would be on them, all the delegates and those not currently dancing. However, Sophie let those worries slide. Right Now, dancing with Zander alone in the gazebo Sophie felt like she was weightless and among the clouds of dreams. She was enjoying herself so much she couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when Zander stopped dancing.
Her disappointment slipped away quickly as Zander proclaimed his feelings to her. Sophie blushed and smiled. Seeing Zander get down on one knee made the neko girl gasp and her eyes water happily. Sophie couldn’t even speak. She could only nod her head excitedly and hold out her hand to allow Zander to slip the ring on her hand. He wasn’t required to propose on account of the arrangement of the two kingdoms which basically made them betrothed yet he still wanted to give her a choice. She was more trilled that he had listened to what she had told Zander earlier about her favorite spot when they had toured the castle grounds.
Finally, Sophie found her words. “Yes. Yes Zander, I will marry you. I love you. I love you to the stars and back. I want to stay by your side for the rest of my live. I love you.” She dropped to her knees and threw her arms around Zander. Sophie gave Zander a kiss before hugging him tightly. “Thank you,” she whispered. This was a memory she was going to treasure for the rest of her life. The emotions of joy that coursed through the princess were beyond any description she could have given. Sophie pulled away to meet his gaze. She was beaming with happiness. “I can’t wait to tell Mama and Marilyn. Oh, I’ll have to tell Molly, too, when we get back to Cadeweth.” She giggled before giving Zander another kiss.
Grant rested his hand on Marilyn’s shoulder so he could look her in the eyes. “Marilyn, there is a reason I came here to Lirakin instead of letting you come to Severijan. If you had, you would have been separated from your family, friends and advisors which would give Severijan a political advantage. I doubt father would have allowed you to ever leave our country while he was still on the throne. I could not allow that.” Gingerly, Grant reached up to brush his princess’s cheek before pressing his lips to hers. He wanted to reassure her after giving her such heavy news. His amber gaze went from soft to stern. “I am not my father nor my grandfather nor will I ever be. Mother raised me to be kind and I will not stand for my kingdom to abuse others as long as I remain Severjain’s crown prince. I do solemnly swear.” Grant wrapped his arms around Marilyn pulling her close to him so he could rest his head on top of the girl’s.
Zander smiled at her, "Maybe one day I'll tell you. I wish I didn't have to keep secrets from you at all, but for the time being it is necessary. I don't want to start any arguments by breaking a promise." He wanted to describe what had happened to her, but kept the secret for more than just that he had promised Grant. He didn't want the details to scare her or to worry her, even though he knew she could handle it he didn't want to add any stress to her.
He chuckled and their dance began in the gazebo. Zander had remembered what she had said, about wanting to be proposed to in that gazebo. He had considered the idea before, and was even prepared, but he was nervous. Not knowing if she would want him to do that. He cleared his mind, pushing away his insecurities.
Zander broke away from their dance and held her hands, looking her in the eyes. "I love you Sophie. I love you more than I could ever express in words, and I promise to love you more and more everyday for the rest of eternity, if you'll allow me." He got down on one knee, pulling a ring from his pocket. "Would you do me the honor of marrying me?" he said, gazing up at her.
Marilyn listened to Grant and gasped, "They want to take over Lirakin?" She looked shocked, and scared. "Please don't tell me that's your goal too Grant. I love my country and I want it to remain it's own country." She knew their marriage was supposed to create an alliance between Lirakin and Severijan, but what if the king of Severijan had a secret plan to take over Lirakin? She was worried for her country, and about Grant. "What is your stance on all of this?" she asked.
Sophie swung her hands forward and back lost in thought. “If we convince the King to retire to the music parlor after dinner, he will have less of a chance to start talking about the hunt. Then you can remind him not to say anything about it. Though, you and Grant will have to spill to me and Marilyn one day.” Sophie playfully stuck her tongue out at Zander. She smiled at him again and found that they had ended up going in the direction of the gazebo and pond. Sophie grabbed Zanders hand and ran to the gazebo, pulling him behind her.
When they reached the gazebo, Sophie turned stopped, let go of Zander’s hands, turned around and curtsied. “Zander, may I have this dance,” the neko girl asked sweetly. There they were once again in her favorite place; she couldn’t resist the thought of dancing there. That and it would be a bad thing to get in some more dance practice before the ball. Sophie looked up to meet Zander’s gaze.
Grant nodded his head softly and slowly at Marilyn’s comment. He already his kingdom was feared by Lirakin. They were feared nearly everywhere on account of Severijan’s dark warring past that left deep bloody scars in history. “I wish it didn’t have to be that way. Until I take the throne I have little say in how father uses or rather abuses our power.” Grant fell silent for a full minute. He took a deep breath and locked eyes with Marilyn. “Severijan has a very…low opinion of Lirakin. To be honest, most in my kingdom think Lirakin is a small weakling of a kingdom that is perfect opportunity of conquest. Conquering or acquiring your kingdom will increase Sererijan’s wealth and political might.” He watched Marilyn for her reaction of his confession of his kingdom’s opinion. He would have been the first to admit it was a bit more brutally honest than he could have put it.
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