A Passing Storm
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Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Kings & Courts

#1: A Passing Storm Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:13 pm
((Contains reference to adult activities.))

30th March, 1617

After all the excitement they had managed to cram into one week of festivities, it was a relief when life in Carantania resumed its normal ebb and flow. The princesses and ladies who had weathered their rejection with grace were hosted a little longer by the new queen, most of them eager to give advice and make sure she was settling in well. Those who had not had the grace to accept their rejection well had left before the wedding even took place. But three weeks after the wedding and coronation, life had resumed its usual course.

The King's days were taken up with responsibilities to the kingdom, politics, and all manner of other things; the Queen found herself responsible for holding court, and for being at least seen to care for the common people. She had invited an old friend, Lysette de Roulon, from Kediri to be her principle attendant, yet kept on many of the Carantan ladies who jockeyed for position and influence. But perhaps it was because she spent so much time with her friend that the court somehow "forgot" that certain events of the past should not, perhaps, be mentioned when the Queen was in the room.

Careless lips sink ships, but in this case, careless words had reached the ears of a young woman who was already vulnerable enough, believing herself to be falling in love with a husband who, it seemed, did not truly want her at all. Which was why a footman was currently running through the palace as fast as he dared, hoping to reach the council chamber before the Queen.

He failed. Serafina stormed into the room directly behind him, her pretty face flushed, blue eyes flashing with venomous fury. And all that fury focused on Frederick, sat in conference with his chancellor and several lords of the realm, all of whom visibly winced at the feminine outrage in front of them.

"You were in love with my mother?!"

To his knowledge, the king had never given his queen any reason to believe he did not want her. He was as attentive to her needs and desires as he was to those of the kingdom, or so he hoped, but he had not yet shared with her the carefully guarded secret he had kept so close to his chest, and now it seemed that mistake was coming back to haunt him. He swung his gaze toward her, alarmed at the fury in her eyes as she practically spit the words at him, more accusation than question. He moved to his feet, gesturing with a hand for her to calm down, though somehow he knew it would take a lot more than that.

"Sera, please ..." he pleaded, not wanting to air his dirty laundry in front of his entire council, as well as the servants and anyone who was close enough to overhear. And who wasn't, when she was shouting at the top of her lungs, it seemed.

She had warned him that her temper was a fiery one. No doubt he had been hoping never to see it in full flame. "Don't you Sera me," she warned him, one accusatory finger pointing toward him, heedless of the way the lords around the table actually leaned back to avoid being caught in the anger she had aimed directly at their king.

Franz covered his eyes, not even trying to look innocent of what he knew here.

"I came to your court, I married you, and now I discover that I've made a fool of myself in front of every simpering half-wit who bears noble blood enough to pass through those doors? How dare you do this to me? How dare you wed me and bed me and never once mention that you once loved my mother?!"

Some of the lords at the table had fiery wives themselves - as soon as the queen's hand landed on the inkwell near her, there was a sudden scrape of chairs against wood and carpet, experienced men scrambling to get out of the way of the projectile as she threw it.

Thankfully, the king had a cool head, though he had not been expecting this today and certainly not in front of his most trusted advisors, some of whom were even friends. "Sera ..." he pleaded again, though she apparently was in no mood to be so easily appeased. He couldn't blame her really, but hopefully, once she heard his side of things, she would at least understand, even if she never forgave him or spoke to him again. That hand was still raised as if to appease her or ward her off, it was hard to say which, but it wasn't enough to save him from his wife's ire. Thankfully, he was quick enough to dodge the inkwell, which went flying past him to crash against the wall, ink splattering against the wall and carpet.

"I must have been such a disappointment to you!" she raged on, advancing further into the room as Franz herded the by-now panicking lords of the council out of the room. Apparently none of them had expected the new queen to have a temper. Sera's hand closed on an empty glass as she rounded the table, barely aware of the door behind firmly closed behind her, focused entirely on Frederick. "How you must have been laughing at me - the silly little girl, so easy to manipulate, so easy to fool into thinking you actually cared anything about her! All this time, I thought you were seeing me, caring for me, and no, you've been living out some fantasy where my ungrateful, careless, thoughtless mother didn't reject you and marry the first man to ask for her hand in the country she ran away to!" There was a loud crash of glass as the receptacle in her hand hit the wall behind him.

He ducked again, dodging the glass as deftly as he might dodge an arrow, though in truth, it was much easier to avoid a glass thrown by an angry woman than an arrow fired from an enemy's bow. "Sera, stop ... Let me explain," he implored her, spreading his arms in supplication. He could have commanded her as her king, but in this, he was only a husband trying to appease an angry wife. He was slowly and warily making his way closer, hoping to catch her arms before she could break anything else, including his head. "Whatever it is you believe is not true. I have never laughed at you and I have never considered you a silly girl."

"Oh, no? Explain to me then, your majesty, why I had to hear about your apparently epic love story with my mother from a snooty dowager and her puffed up primp of a nephew, who were, in fact, only telling me because I asked them who another pair of pointless fops were discussing within my hearing!" He did manage to catch her arms, but she was not in a mood to be calmed, struggling against his grip as her hand thumped against his chest. "Why did I even come here? Why did I let myself love you? My stepmother was right all along, this was a terrible idea, and you're never going to want me as much as you want the ghost of a woman who rejected you in the first place. The only reason you chose me was because I look like her!"

"That is not ..." he started, struggling a little to catch hold of her arms, even as she thumped a fist against his chest. "That is not true!" He grabbed her at last by the arms, firmly enough to hold her in place, but not so hard that he hurt her. A lesser man might have shaken her or even slapped her to stop her from ranting and raving, but he did not. He only waited until the tirade was over, doing very little to deny her accusations until she was all out of breath. He hardly even noticed that she'd admitted to loving him. What did it matter now, anyway? He had ruined everything by not telling her the truth, and now, it seemed his worst fears had come true, in spite of it. "Yes, you look like her, and yes, that was what initially attracted me, but that is not why I chose you!"

"Why should I believe you?" she demanded, and to her horror, she realized she was crying, her heart aching with the pain of being rejected before she'd ever even confessed her gentle feeling for him. Others had told her marrying a man so much older would only result in heartbreak and she hadn't believed them. "You've been lying to me. Why ... why didn't you tell me?"

#2:  Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:13 pm
He sighed, seeing her tears, his own heart aching with sorrow at having caused her this pain. Could he have spared her if he had been honest with her, or would he only have pushed her away? "Sera, love ..." he started, gentling his voice as much as he could, reaching to brush the tears from her face, if she would let him. "I have never lied to you, I swear. I did not tell you because ... because I knew how it would hurt you and how you would think I only loved you because of her, but that is not true, Serafina ... I swear it, on my mother's grave," he said, touching his fingers to his heart at the mention of his mother as though it pained him. He wasn't sure if she was ready for an explanation, if she even wanted an explanation. "I understand you are angry, but please hear me out. If you then wish to leave, I will do nothing to stop you," he promised, though it was tearing him up inside to say so. The carefully composed expression was gone, unable to hide the pain from his face, as she was unable to hide hers.

She quieted as he spoke, ashamed of her outburst, knowing that the entire court would know soon enough that their gossiping had reached her and done the damage no doubt some of them had been hoping for. Hiccuping, she pulled herself out of his grip, needing to be away from the closeness that until today had been her refuge against the politicking that filled court life.

"Tell me, then," she sobbed, groping in her bodice for her handkerchief to mop the tears from her cheeks. "Tell me what you should have told me from the start."

He would have offered her a handkerchief and brushed the tears from her face, if she'd let him, but as it was, she had moved out of his reach, putting some distance between them that he did not dare close. He shrugged his shoulders, as if the telling no longer mattered, which, in some ways, it didn't. What was done was done, and there was no changing it now, but perhaps he could at least make her understand. And when he found out just which waggling tongues had injured her with their hateful gossip, he would banish them from court, along with any others who dared speak against their queen. "It is a long story, I'm afraid," he admitted, sadly. Weren't they all?

"It was a long time ago, when I was young and foolish," he said, though it seemed that perhaps he had grown no wiser since then where women were concerned. "My father once told me that love was for commoners and fools, not for princes and kings. I did not believe him then, and I do not believe him now. Be that as it may, I have loved, but have never been loved, except by those closest to me." All this might seem irrelevant to his story, but it might help her to understand just how desperate he'd been to know love, even if it was not to be. "I met your mother at a festival. She did not know who I was at the time, and I was reluctant to tell her. A prince should not be seen with a commoner, you see ... or so I'd been told. She was the loveliest creature I had ever seen, almost as lovely as you," he told her, admitting that Serafina surpassed her mother's beauty, even if she didn't believe him. "She had dark eyes, dark hair, and she loved to laugh. How we both loved to laugh."

Silent, clawing her dignity back from the shreds she had reduced it to, Serafina watched him as he spoke, her arms wrapped about her waist as though embracing herself. As he spoke, she listened, but it was clear to her that she was not angry with him for having loved her mother. She was angry, and hurt, that no one had considered her capable of handling that information. That it had been used as a weapon against her.

A small smile tugged at his lips, but it was tinged with sadness and regret. He turned his back on her then, moving toward the hearth to gaze into the flames, watching them flicker as he lost himself to the memories he had tried so hard to keep at bay. "I would sneak out of the castle each night to see her, eagerly waiting for day to turn to night so that I could see her. It was the first time I had ever fallen in love, and alas, the last, until I met you. I knew I was being foolish, but I didn't care. We shared some kisses, but no more than that. I would not take advantage of her in that way, no matter how I much I might have wanted her. One night, we were found out, and my father forbade me from ever seeing her again. I was to marry a princess, he said. Someone worthy of my bloodline. I told him if I could not have Genevieve, then I would have no one. You can imagine his rage," he said, not bothering to fill in the blanks there, almost feeling the pain of the blows again, though it was the pain to his heart that had stayed with him most. "I was an insolent, thankless brat, he told me. I suppose, in a way, I was. I was born to be a king, but I did not care about that then. I was only happy when I was with her. Perhaps if my mother had still been alive ..."

He trailed off again, not bothering to pursue that train of thought, as it was pointless. "I fled the castle, angry, ashamed, and determined to defy my father, even if it meant abdicating the throne." He turned the royal ring that graced his right hand as he told his story, a sign of nervousness or deep upset that he was struggling to keep in check.

Serafina did not need him to complete the story for her. She'd known her mother was a commoner, sent away from her own country for some reason or other, paid off and married off as quickly as possible. She hadn't known that breaking Frederick's heart was the reason. "And she rejected you," she said quietly. "Because she had already been offered money and a dowry to do so."

"I do not know anymore if I truly loved her or if I was only in love with the idea of being in love, but when I told her the truth, when I asked her to run away with me, she refused. She rejected me, yes. Franz believes she did so because she knew it could not be, but I do not know. I had little choice but to return to the castle and to ask my father's forgiveness. He was not an easy man to please, my father, but he told me to put it behind me and he never mentioned it again, in all the years that followed. I never knew what happened to your mother after that, and I am sorry she did not live to raise you and love you, but I am glad she, at least, knew love and that she gave birth to you." There was more, of course, as that still did not quite explain why he had not told her, and yet, if she thought about it hard enough, she might figure that much out for herself. He bowed his head as he looked into the flames, his sight growing blurry with tears that had gone unshed for many years. Yet it was not Genevieve he was in fear of losing anymore, but her daughter.

His wife was silent for a long time, understanding a little better her own father because of this tale, as well as her husband. When she finally spoke, it was in a voice that seemed too small in the quiet of the room. "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked, her eyes focused on the window across the table from her. "Why did you let them use it as a weapon to hurt me?"

"I meant to tell you ... I wanted to tell you ..." he started, exhaling a heavy sigh. "But how? When? There never seemed to be a good time, and I knew what you would think. You would think I only chose you because of her, and that is not true. If I'd known anyone was going to use it against you ... against us ..." He turned to face her, looking for the first time since they'd met ashamed, guilt-stricken, and full of sadness and regret. "I was trying to protect you, and I failed. For that I am sorry, but I am not sorry for choosing you or for making you my wife or for loving you because I did all of that for the right reasons, Serafina. I did not do all of that because of your mother, but because of you. It is you that I love."

Very slowly, she drew her gaze back to his face, reading the guilt and pain there, recognizing that he had not lied to her. He had been trying to protect her. It wasn't his fault that petty others had chosen to hurt her with a secret they should have had the good sense not to mention in court at all. And he loved her. Her. Not her mother, not the memory of a woman who had rejected him easily in exchange for money and a good marriage elsewhere. In a rustle of skirts, she swept toward him, catching his face between her hands to draw him down into a soft kiss. "I love you, you ridiculous man," she informed him fiercely. "It almost broke my heart to be so suspicious of you, to think that you only married me for the memory of her. You should have told me."

For a man who struggled to maintain a certain composure nearly every moment of his waking life, something broke in him at her reassurance, at her declaration of love - something that had been festering for nearly all of his life. He made a strangled sound as she kissed him, gathering her to him to hold her close, letting the tears he had refused to acknowledge loose at long last - tears of relief, of guilt and grief and most of all, of love. He did not dare speak, did not dare say a word for fear his voice would betray him, though his tears were already doing that for him.

#3:  Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:14 pm
She let him gather her close, wrapping her own arms about his waist as he leaned into her. "I won't apologize for shouting at you," she warned, her voice soft against his ear. "Or for throwing things. You were warned in advance about my temper. I might apologize to your council, provided they have the courage to bring it up to my face." Which none of them would, except possibly Franz. Drawing back just enough to meet his eyes, Sera held his gaze for a long moment. "No punishments for the people who broke the silence," she told him quietly. "Don't let them believe they did anything but clear the air between us."

"I'm so sorry, Serafina," he told her in a raspy whisper, still not trusting his voice. He pulled away just far enough to dash the tears from his face, a little ashamed that she'd had to witness that, but it was his lack of courage and honesty that he was apologizing for. "I should have told you, but I was afraid." He said nothing about his council members or about those who had blabbed. The only person whose opinion he cared about right now was standing right in front of him.

"That I would leave you?" she asked softly, stroking her hands against his back. "You silly man, have you already forgotten what I promised you on our wedding night? I will never abandon you. I may shout and scream and cry and attempt actual bodily harm, but I will never leave you alone so long as you want me here. I gave you my word."

"That I would lose you," he corrected, though it was really the same thing. He met her gaze with watery eyes, his chest tight with emotion, though he was only starting to realize that his worst fears were not coming to pass, after all, and that she was not going to leave him alone and bereft the way her mother had before her. "I love you, Serafina. I have never loved anyone the way I love you," he told her again, wanting - needing - to say it over and over, almost wanting to shout it for all his subjects to hear. He loved her, and woe be to those who dared come between them again.

"You're an idiot, your majesty," she informed him tenderly, smiling as she touched a kiss to his lips. "And I love you, Freddie. Don't try to protect me from the truth again - I don't react well."

"Yes, well ... I have been called worse," he admitted with a good-natured chuckle at his own expense. "I shall try to keep that in mind, my lady. It's a good thing I learned how to duck," he teased in return.

Gently, she wiped his face dry with her own handkerchief, leaning into him as he smiled. It was a relief to hear him chuckle; a relief to feel herself smile in answer, the ache in her chest easing away at the knowledge that she had been terribly, terribly wrong. Her gaze flickered toward the door thoughtfully. "Does that lock from this side?"

The last time anyone had wiped the tears from his face, it had been his mother when he was a boy, but he was no longer a boy and she was not his mother. It was a strange feeling to surrender to her care the way he had, and yet, at the same time it was comforting somehow. He followed her gaze toward the door, brows arching upwards, not quite following her logic. "Yes, why do you ask?"

Sera's smile took on a decidedly wicked cast at his response, stepping back with a teasing tilt to her head before she turned to walk over to the door. She only ever smiled at him like that when they were alone ... and for the first time, they were alone somewhere that wasn't his bedchamber or the library. The sound of the key turning in the lock was strangely loud. She turned, leaning back against the door as she offered him that smile again. "Now what could I possibly be thinking?"

Though they'd only been married a few weeks, they had explored the various ways of lovemaking that he had hinted on their wedding night. Albeit shy at first, she had eagerly absorbed everything he had taught her and was quickly learning how to enjoy herself in the bedroom and how to please her new husband. A smirk tugged at his lips at her question, wondering if the argument had been worth the pleasure of making up. "I would not presume to know how your mind works, love. What did you have in mind?"

"I do have this handsome husband in front of me who desperately needs reassurance," she mused, pushing off from the door to stalk toward him. She'd learned very quickly that shyness brought her nothing but shame when it came to being herself with him. "A husband who doesn't quite seem to believe that I love him. However can I persuade him to believe me, do you think?"

He had a few ideas, but he was not bold enough to suggest them, still curious what it was she had in mind. His body was starting to answer that question for him, his imagination suggesting all kinds of possibilities. "Um ..." he started, uncertainly, not daring to guess.

Her brow rose as she reached him, fingertips walking up along the buttons of his waistcoat to tuck into the vee and pull him just that little bit closer as her lips teased over his. "Um?" she repeated sweetly. "Have you been struck dumb, sweetheart?"

"You seem to have that effect on me, wife," he replied, looking down at her as she walked her fingers up his chest, his hands settling at her waist. "Have I told you lately how lovely you are?" he asked, his gaze admiring the way her dark hair offset the mauve of her dress; the way her blue eyes sparkled like the sea; the way the jewels lay just at the hollow of her throat, where he knew her pulse throbbed beneath her skin.

"Just a few minutes ago, in fact," she smiled, using that moment to assure him that she had heard his assurance that she possessed more beauty than her mother had. She rose up onto her toes, seeking a kiss as much for her own reassurance as for his. They were both bruised from the careless gossip of the court; what better way to brush it off than to give the court something else to gossip about?

Some men might close their eyes when they kissed their beloved, but he kept his eyes open, watching her face, memorizing her features, admiring her beauty. How he had managed to win such a woman for his own? As their lips parted slowly, he rested his forehead against hers, a soft smile on his face. "I never thought it possible to love again, but I love you, Serafina. More than anything or anyone. More than life."

She breathed him in, one arm about his back, one hand teasing fingertips against his jaw as he smiled at her. "I have never been in love before," she murmured back to him. "I think ... I know what I feel will grow. An argument is not going to change my heart, Freddie. I'm yours. I think I have been since we first danced."

"I have wanted you since that moment," he confessed, brushing a stray tendril of dark hair from her brow. "You make me happy, Sera. Happier than I have ever been." And that was not an exaggeration. "Are you sure you would not prefer a bed? We could retire to our rooms to rest," he suggested, though he wasn't sure how much sleeping they'd do.

"And what would that prove to those fops and preening ninnies?" she pointed out. "That they hurt us so much, we ran away rather than face them. Whereas you could just take me here and now, and we could then complete our morning's responsibilities feeling insufferably smug before disappearing for the rest of the day when lunch is done. Couldn't we?"

"We could," he replied, not needing to glance around the council chamber to know the room offered little comfort for the ways of lovemaking. "But it will not be very comfortable," he reasoned, though that depended on just what she had in mind, which she had still not told him yet.

"Comfort isn't everything," she told him, her hands straying to remind him that his body wasn't going to let his mind talk him out of this now it was in his thoughts. "Isn't it a wife's duty to make her husband happy? Just think of the memories you'll be able to indulge in during boring council meetings after today."

#4:  Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:15 pm
"Good goddess, woman! I don't dare think of such things during council meetings or nothing will ever get done!" he replied with a chuckle. He hardly needed any reminder as his body could hardly forget what it wanted now that she'd sparked his interest. "You still haven't told me what you have in mind."

"Can't you guess?" she giggled, pulling him toward the long table where he took those council meetings. She leaned back against it, drawing him close into a slow kiss, daring him not to act on instinct.

"I can hope," he countered, following obediently as she tugged him along behind her until they came to a halt near the council table. Instinct or not, he surged forward to pull her close, tasting her lips before deepening the kiss. The hell with the council and courtiers. Let tongues waggle. He didn't care, so long as Serafina loved him.

And there could be no doubt that she did. When the door was finally unlocked quite some time later, it was to allow the young queen to exit the room, flushed and giggling and utterly unashamed in the face of the seven lords and the chancellor, who had been waiting outside all this time to resume their council meeting with the king.

"My Lord Chancellor," she inclined her head to Franz with a playful grin. "My lords."

With a last smile thrown over her shoulder, she walked off, leaving Franz to lead the council back into their meeting chamber, raising his brows above a smirk to his king.

Thankfully, he'd adjusted his accoutrements before she'd unlocked the door and allowed the lords and chancellor to re-enter the room. Hopefully, they hadn't heard what had been going on in the room, though it was a given they must have at least overheard some of their argument. It wasn't too difficult to imagine what might have taken place after that, but the king made no mention of it, only clearing his throat a little awkwardly as the men rejoined him, the barest hint of a smile at his departing queen.

"Now, your majesty ... where were we?"

As Frederick settled in to complete his morning's business with the council, Serafina returned to the court, buoyant, determined not to react to any more snide comments nor make any of her own. And, indeed, it seemed to work; any number of sharp eyes became distinctly uncomfortable under the queen's knowing smile over the next few hours, and many of them rushed to take their leave when the bells in the city across the water declared that the causeway was open and the morning done.

It was not an easy task to return to business after the interruption and ensuing interlude with the queen, but somehow the king managed. Not a single member of the council dared ask what had happened, and only when they'd all filed out, leaving him alone with the chancellor did he dare offer any explanation. Still, he did not mention what had happened after the argument, and yet, he had a feeling Franz already knew.

"Well, sire," Franz said as the doors closed once again, meeting his friend's eyes with a warm grin. "I did say she'd keep you young, didn't I?" He chuckled, remembering the rather sweet dignity with which the queen had swept from the room, even under all those fascinated eyes. "Your council will be thinking of her when they bed their wives tonight, you know."

"Let them. It's me she loves," Frederick said, an almost boyish grin on his face. Yes, he had used the word "love". "I do not know what I did to deserve her, but she loves me, Franz. Can you believe it?" He shook his head, hardly able to believe it himself, especially considering how close he'd come to disaster.

"Strangely, sire, I can," his friend chuckled in his warm way. "Am I permitted a small I told you so, or would you rather I kept my smugness to myself?" His chuckle became a grin of his own, more than happy to accept the credit for the indelicate invitation that had resulted in what looked to be a prosperous marriage for his friend and king.

"I owe you an apology, Franz," Frederick continued, his expression turning serious. "I should have told her about her mother. You were right about that, too." Thankfully, he no longer had to carry the weight and worry of that burden on his shoulders, but what would have happened if he'd listened to his friend in the first place?

"Such tidings are never easy to convey," Franz said placatingly, knowing he had struggled with the burden of that secret for weeks. "If you wish, a few discreet inquiries can be made to determine who it was that decided to air your personal history within earshot of the queen. They are the true malefactors in this, no doubt for some petty grievance they will no doubt attempt to deny."

"No doubt, though the queen seems to think that seeing us happy is punishment enough," Frederick pointed out, though he was not sure he was in agreement. He would have preferred to have banished them from court, quietly perhaps, without her knowledge, but that all depended on who it was that had been blabbing.

Franz raised a brow, considering this for a moment. "That is a very subtle form of torment, your majesty," he replied. "Are you quite sure your wife isn't intelligence-trained in secret?" He chuckled, shaking his head. "She is quite right. The words were aired to cause trouble in the royal house, perhaps even to separate you from her. By remaining together, by showing your united front ... by canoodling when you should be in a council meeting ... you do nothing to damage your own relationship, and much to damage the standing of those who think they can leverage concessions among their peers by hurting you."

"That said, I would still like to know who was behind this and whether it was merely a matter of badly timed gossip or if it was done with malice," Frederick said, knowing Franz would mostly likely not rest until he had found the answers to those questions. "I have certainly chosen a lively bride," he said, the hint of a smile on his face.

"I will make inquiries," his chancellor assured him, though it was a pretty fair bet that those inquiries had already begun. The comment on his queen made him smirk a little. "I am not going to ask what precisely you were doing in here, but she certainly gave the council pause for thought," he grinned. "So dignified for a young lady whom we all knew had only just finished doing something scandalous to our king."

"I'm sure the council would be shocked and appalled, but there is no reason for them to know, and it's far more amusing to let them wonder," the king replied, a small smirk on his face at the thought of what she had done. "She loves me, Franz," he repeated again, with a happy sigh of breath. "And we are going to add to the scandal by spending the remainder of the day in our quarters. Alone."

"How marvelous for you, sire," was Franz's only slightly teasing response. "In that case, I should inform you that I have already cancelled your appointments for the afternoon, and rescheduled your dinner with the Marquis du Rellion for tomorrow night." They had been working together for a long time, after all; if Franz couldn't predict how certain things were going to go, Carantania would have been in a worse state by now.

"Are you coddling me, Franz?" Frederick asked, knowing his friend well enough to know that he was teasing him. "You know me too well, I think," he commented further, clapping one hand on his friend's shoulder. "Walk with me?"

"I know what a determined young lady can do when she sets her mind to it," Franz corrected him laughingly, laying his papers to one side. His secretary would collect them. "Of course, sire. A walk may do us both some good, especially since you will shortly have to sit through a public luncheon with your irrepressible wife."

#5:  Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:15 pm
"Hmm, hopefully we can get through it without her creating a scandal," Frederick remarked, though from the gleam in his eyes, it didn't seem he'd really care. It was likely the king and queen would be laying it on a little thick at the luncheon, just to annoy whoever had tried to create conflict between them.

"Are you so sure it will be her creation, if there is scandal to be had?" Franz mused with a smile, rising to his feet to walk with his king. "She is a good influence on you. You have far fewer headaches since you married."

"I am not the one who is likely to have wandering fingers," Frederick pointed out, knowing his young, impetuous wife all too well by now. "Ah, but such revenge is sweet, is it not, my friend?"

Franz chuckled, shaking his head as he glanced at his friend. "In getting you married, I fear I have gained yet another little sister to keep in line," he bemoaned comically. "Though I doubt she will ever listen to me."

"How you love your little sisters," Frederick teased back. It wasn't often he was able to find a reason to tease his friend, and he wasn't going to miss a chance to take advantage of it. "Shall I tell her you consider her a sister, then?"

"Only if you promise not to let her throw anything at me," was Franz's practical reply. "I still haven't fully recovered from Alayne's small tantrum involving that quartz paperweight you gave her for her birthday." He reflexively rubbed his right shoulder; the youngest of his sisters had a very good arm.

"That is not why I gave it to her, you know," Frederick pointed out again. "It's a good thing I've learned how to duck, or I might have had a collision with an inkwell," he added with a chuckle, though it hadn't been very funny at the time.

"Perhaps you should tell your wife that a ten year old taught you that dodging was a good thing by scoring a direct hit on your crotch with a pineapple," Franz suggested in amusement. His home situation was unusual in their world; his sisters were all at least twenty years younger than he was, and the elder ones yet to find suitable husbands. Thus Franz Schmaeda was surrounded by little women in his own home, despite never having married.

"She would find that too funny," Frederick replied with a thoughtful frown. The inkwell would not have been funny if it had found its mark and neither was the pineapple. At least, his crotch hadn't thought so. "It's easier to dodge when someone is aiming for your head."

"In a way, Elisa was aiming for your head," Franz defended his youngest sister with a grin. "It is hardly her fault you weren't protecting the right head." The only reason he could say things like this? He'd experienced far worse at the hands of his little sisters.

"Which head?" Frederick replied almost in unison with Franz's remark about the "wrong head". "I am just happy Serafina wasn't aiming a little lower," he pointed out, as the strolled the halls of the on their way to the Great Hall for the noon meal.

"Sounded to me as though she made contact a little lower," Franz smirked, glancing at his friend and king as he walked with him toward the public spaces of the castle. "A bulls-eye, in fact."

Frederick couldn't help but smile at his friend's reminder of what had taken place in the king's council chambers just a short time earlier. "She is a very special woman, Franz." As Frederick was quickly finding out.

"Well, I don't think any of us are in any doubt that she's a woman," the chancellor chuckled, shaking his head at the love-struck look on Frederick's face. "I take it dinner is to be served in your private dining room this evening, sire? I doubt either one of you is going to be fit for company."

"How very astute of you, Chancellor," Frederick replied with a grin. "As a matter of fact, we are going to be rather busy working on the matter of producing an heir." Which was a very serious matter, indeed - at least, for a king who had none. That didn't mean he couldn't enjoy it.

"Oh, yes, very serious," Franz laughed, rolling his eyes at the sheer boyish nature of his king's smile. "That would explain why you're grinning like an Edessan who just got his first axe." He grinned back at his friend, glad to know that the marriage was proving a success, despite its bumps along the way. "Do try to let her come up for air, there's a good man. I do not want to have to explain to the court how the queen choked to death on the king because he was enjoying himself."

"Actually, I think I got my first something else," he replied with a grin, though there might be some argument as to whether it really was his first or not. He snorted a little at his friend's remark, more amused than insulted, knowing the teasing was just that. "I do have some self control, Franz!"

"Your wife doesn't," Franz snorted with laughter, pausing just enough as they entered the corridor outside the Great Hall so that Frederick was one or two steps ahead of him. Serafina was waiting outside the great doors with her friend, Lysette; for some reason, the monarchs of Carantania always made an entrance.

Frederick might have remarked on that, but they had reached the Great Hall, and he didn't want to chance anyone overhearing and guessing what they were talking about. That smile of his only widened as he caught sight of the queen, as if they shared some secret between them. "Shall we, love?" he asked, a nod of greeting to Lysette before taking Serafina's arm to lead her into the Great Hall.

Serafina's smile held its own secrets as she answered her husband, curling her arm through Frederick's comfortably. "We shall," she agreed, lowering her voice to add, "but probably not at the lunch table."

Behind them, Lysette met Franz's amused glance with her own, both of them quickly schooling their expressions to something far more neutral. It wouldn't do for the court to start guessing that more than just the king and queen were in on the joke that was anyone trying to disturb their matrimonial bliss.

The noon meal was fairly uneventful. Nothing was said about what had happened a few hours earlier, but it was perfectly clear to anyone who was watching that there was no animosity between the king and his queen. In fact, whatever it was someone had hoped to achieve by spreading rumors and gossip where Serafina would overhear seemed to have had the opposite effect. At least, if the flirting and teasing going on between the king and queen was anything to go by.

Not all the teasing was visible, even to those who were watching closely. Serafina seemed to have made it her mission to wind her husband to breaking point. Careless touches, graceful innuendo, deliberately speaking past him to Franz and to others while knowing the flicker of her fingers at her neckline or over his thigh were holding his attention ... she was laying siege to his self control, and they both knew it. When the meal was finally done, she played her hand even further, waiting until the last of the courtiers had left the room before rising herself. "Are you quite well, husband? You seem a little flustered."

#6:  Author: SerafinaCan Be Found: Riftfell Castle, Carantania PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:16 pm
It was hard enough trying to get through the meal without Serafina's tormenting him, but eventually, the meal ended with the king hardly having touched anything on his plate. "I am thinking my wife might be in need of a good spanking," he muttered quietly, for her ears only, while he smiled and nodded to the departing courtiers.

"Try it, and next time I bite," she murmured back to him, her impish barb hidden behind her hand even as she inclined her head to the last of the courtiers.

On Frederick's other side, Franz cleared his throat, utterly failing to hide his own grin. "Perhaps, sire, you should relocate before something else scandalous takes place?"

"Scandal seems to be the order of the day, Chancellor, but I get your meaning," the king replied, turning a smile from Franz to the queen. "Shall we, wife?" he asked, offering her a hand.

"At your command, my king," she answered, slipping her fingers over his palm with another of those recklessly cheeky smiles lighting up her face. "My Lord Chancellor ... Lys."

"Your majesties," Franz replied, bowing to them as they made their way out of sight. Hopefully, he thought, they should reach the private wing before Frederick lost all patience whatsoever.

Frederick wasn't the king for nothing, but the walk from the Great Hall to the private wing that housed the Royal Apartments seemed overly long. Thankfully, no one stopped them along the way with any questions or comments or matters that needed immediate attention, and with any luck, there would be no servants to chase from their rooms once they arrived. Though the king had hardly eaten, it was a different kind of hunger that was tormenting him at the moment.

Serafina, however, was not above twisting the metaphorical knife a little more, however. She was genuinely fascinated to see just how far she could push him. "Your council were all very attentive at lunch," she commented to fill the silence as they walked. "It would appear that several of them have decided I am actually a woman, and not a form of paper doll."

"Yes, well, they did only just witness a display of your temper and would very likely prefer not to be on the other end of another thrown ink well," he remarked with a smirk, his amusement apparent.

"Apparently they also heard enough to spread it to their wives that flirting with you is now a lost cause," she told him, her lips curved in a bright, wicked little smile. "I wonder what they could possibly have heard? I wonder what they imagined I was doing?"

If anyone had flirted with him before she had arrived at court, he had hardly noticed. "Hmm, yes, I wonder," he agreed with that silly grin on his face as he led her toward their quarters. Whatever it was, Frederick knew the truth of it was much better than anything they could have imagined.

"By the end of the week, I'm sure everyone will believe I was stark naked on your council table inserting a daffodil into your backside," she offered sweetly as they reached their rooms, glad that he did not keep a footman there to open this door. Pushing it open herself, she left him with a giggle on the threshold.

"That is ridiculous," he told her as he followed her inside, swinging a quick glance either way to make sure no one had been in earshot of that, not that he really cared. He was the king, after all, but the fact that someone had attempted to come between them still rankled him, even if the attempt had been an unsuccessful one. Still, he'd left that to Franz to sort out.

Sera laughed at his response, leaning against the back of the ornate couch that dominated this first room of their private suite. "You have some issue with daffodils, sweetheart?" she asked him innocently.

"I certainly don't want one stuck up my ass," he said, loud enough for anyone lingering in the hallway to overhear before he closed the door to their rooms and shut out the world around them, for at least a little while. If anyone was eavesdropping, it would serve them right by overhearing that little tidbit.

Her laughter followed that remark, fulsome and without reserve, glad that he was not retreating into manners and customs after their exciting encounter in the council chamber. To go from screaming to love making in short order was certainly a new experience for her; she wasn't sure whether it was for him. "And where are you keeping your donkey these days, love?"

"Very amusing," Frederick retorted, closing the distance between them with a few short steps and reaching out to pull her closer. "I hope that your teasing was not merely that, wife," he warned, his arms circling her waist, as he dipped his head to touch his lips to that sensitive spot he'd discovered just below her earlobe.

Her smile widened to a grin as he enveloped her in his arms, her gasp turning to a tender moan as his lips brushed that spot on her neck. "Yours to command, my king," she murmured against his ear, still teasing, but this time warm and eager. Her fingers curled into his hair, gripping tight for a moment before relaxing. "I want you."

He'd heard those words before, but perhaps for the first time in his life, he actually believed them. Not just because he wanted to believe her or even needed to believe her, but because for the first time in his life, he knew it and felt it and wanted her, too. But most importantly of all, he loved her, and as they lost themselves to each other's embrace, he hoped with all his heart that this love was a love that would last.

Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Kings & Courts

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