The Accidental Princess (Part 11)
Prince Kit x Reader
Synopsis: A contract has been found after twenty years, bearing your name and the Prince Kit's... bound in matrimony.
Chapter Synopsis: Kit does all that he could to find you
Word Count: 13.3k words
Warnings: angst, violence, mentions of murder, period-typical misogyny, poorly translated German, if I miss out on anything lmk
A/N: Hiya! Long time no update! So, I'm very very sorry it took me this long to write it. And I'm also sorry that I said it would be one large chapter but as I'm looking into it, it felt like a lot was happening to just have it in part. So, here is 11. There would be a 12 and an Epilogue (let us hope I stick to that the next time I update). As per usual, I love hearing your thoughts. They fuel me to write more! Your comments, suggestions, requests (and reblogs) are so very much welcome! Not beta'd, mistakes are mine. Here is Part 11!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Epilogue
“Did it help?” Louis asked as he handed his cousin a goblet of wine. “When you threatened him?”
Kit sat by the fireplace in his father’s room once more. He drank the wine he was given, prolonging his reply to his cousin’s question because he would not give him a satisfactory answer.
It did not help him at all. He thought that if he were to threaten the man with death, he would spew all his knowledge of what he had done. Instead, the man took pleasure in watching his outburst and only inflamed it with insults of him and you. He would not tell him of where you were, only goaded him of the possibility of your demise if he did not find you soon.
The nobleman was the devil incarnate.
He killed the benevolent queen to gain riches of a kingdom that was not his, killed his mother just because he could. And he praised you for uncovering his plot but did not disclose where he had kept you. The man only held contempt for the two women in Kit’s life and he took great joy in eliminating them to seat a woman from his life to be the queen of the kingdom. Kit had to remind himself that Chelina had not known any of her uncle’s plans, and therefore was not at fault for anything that had happened.
“No.” Kit replied in a gravelly voice. “It did not. It only made me angrier at him.”
Louis sighed, taking a seat before his cousin. “But you held back as much as you could, cousin.”
“If you had not been there, I would have killed him.” He watched as the flames danced in the fireplace. The way it flickered mimicked the cacophony of the rain outside, swaying here and there with no definite direction nor rhythm. It shadowed the turmoil in the prince. The flames, he could douse. The tumult inside him, he cannot.
“And I would remain as clueless as I am now as to where Y/N is.” Kit took his eyes off the fire and looked at his cousin. “Thank you for stopping me, Louis.”
“Sometimes I think I was born to keep your head level, cousin,” he said jollily as he sat back on his seat.
Kit felt himself smile weakly at his cousin’s jape.
“You must rest,” Louis insisted after a while of silence. “Chelina would not hear of me going out to investigate without proper sleep. I feel she would want you to do the same thing.”
He shook his head. “I cannot sit by while she is out there in the storm. I need to find her.”
“Kit, it is nearly midnight. I do not think you would be able to see anything with the darkness and the storm.” Louis told him, turning towards the window and his cousin followed his action. The trees swayed violently, fat raindrops battered against the window. The storm rattled the glass as it grew in intensity by the minute. The whole room shook when new thunder roared after a crack of lightning lit the gloomy sky.
Kit had never feared the storm more than he had at that moment.
“So would she.” Kit insisted.
“My men and yours are already looking for her.”
“It is not enough.”
“I know it isn’t but it is the best we have at the moment.”
“Not if I join them.”
“Kit. Cousin.” Louis sighed. “I myself would have gone out there, even in rougher conditions, to help find her but I do not think I would be of any help while I am tired. I would only slow down the people looking for her.”
He knew his cousin was right. Kit was not fit to search for you, especially now that he felt the start of his hunger and fatigue. While he did not want you to wait, he needed to rest his body so he may be better prepared to join the party in search for you.
“Get out of your wet clothes, cousin. A warm bath will do you good.”
Kit heeded his cousin’s advice without any further arguments and took a bath in his chambers. The warm water cooled his chilled bones but it did not assuage the coldness he felt with you being gone still. He longed to have you in his arms, enveloped in his embrace as he promised to never let harm come your way. He wanted to spare you from all the evils in the world. He would keep you with him so he may defend you from anything that would hurt you.
If only he found you.
Kit rested his head against the edge of the tub, looking at the ceiling as he thought of the last time you had been with him. He should have prolonged the kiss, should not have minded Abigail’s presence and continued his sweet ministrations to your lips—and more, if you had been as enthused with the idea of it as he was—in the carriage as you were heading home. If he hadn’t brought you to the Great Study, he would not have seen the heartbreak in your eyes at his father’s news of the nullification of your marriage. It was the last thing he had seen before you left him to go to the Grand Duke. He would not want that to be his final memory of you.
He stayed in his bath for as long as he could, until the water had gone equally cold as his room. He could not move, would not move because if he had, he would have scoured the whole kingdom for you. To search for you was the only thing he was to do; the Grand Duke was in custody and would not cause any further harm, his father was recuperating well, and all pieces of evidence were with Thibault, where he would arrange them to make the case against the nobleman more compelling.
When he returned to his father’s chambers, he found his cousin poring over paperwork at the long table. Princess Chelina sat next to him, equally busy with writing her own missive.
“I will be in the study, cousin,” Kit told Louis, who had looked up. “There are some businesses I must be getting back to.”
“Of course. We will keep watch of my uncle.” Louis nodded.
“Do not forget to rest, Kit. You must keep your health if you wish join the search for your wife.” Chelina told him.
Kit thanked them both. He ordered the footmen standing guard outside his father’s room to call for him should any need arise. He also ordered a maid to bring more refreshment and snacks for his cousin, the princess, and the physician.
Kit walked to the study with slow steps, mind occupied with thoughts of how to torture your whereabouts from the nobleman. As much as it would ease the torture, he thought against using cruel devices, knowing his cousin would disapprove of that. And the Grand Duke would have welcomed the pain, seeing as he was not afraid of the sword against his neck when Kit had confronted him earlier that night. The man was demented.
He entered the library first, with the intention of searching for the book you had written in the letter. He trusted his cousin’s report of not having seen it but he knew in him that he must look for it himself, just to confirm that it was indeed missing. He remembered the shelf where you had returned it but, true enough, the space was devoid of the book. The dark, empty gap stood stark against the colorful spines of the other books. He searched through each of the books, hoping it had been kept in another place but he could not find it. He was disappointed by the lack of it but he was hopeful for the other evidence they have gathered.
He went on ahead to the Great Study, to the table he claimed for his own use and found the paperwork the nobleman had left for him to peruse. They were for the transfer of the ownership of the ridges and islands from his father’s name to the Princess Chelina’s. Beneath that mountain of paper sat another marriage contract, this time bare of the names of the parties to be married. Kit knew it was for him and the princess. The Grand Duke wasted no time in seating and establishing his niece to be the new queen of the kingdom. Ambitious man, Kit thought bitterly.
Kit disregarded those papers and resumed on different matters. For the rest of the evening, he pored over businesses of the kingdom, signing treaties, and implementing laws that he knew would better the land. He also worked on his mother’s proposal, now without the constraint of the Grand Duke’s objection. He continued on until the room had grown considerably cold and dark.
He went to the fireplace with intentions of adding more logs to the dying embers when he saw a slip of blue in all the ash and soot. Taking a fire iron, he pulled out the blue piece. What came with it were pages of texts and botanical illustrations. He turned the burned book over and read its title, only to stop when he realized what it was.
His mother’s German herbology book. The very one he had been looking for.
The Grand Duke had burnt a piece of evidence against him.
Bringing the remnants of the herbology book with him, Kit headed for Captain Thibault’s offices. The Captain looked up in surprise at the prince’s sudden appearance.
“Your Royal Highness.” Thibault said as he rose from his seat to bow at his friend.
“I found it.” Kit dropped the book on the table.
“Is this the—”
“Herbology book, yes.” He turned it over and showed the Captain the creased spine, luckily unburnt given the state of the rest of the book. “The reason why my cousin could not find it was because it had been burned in the Great Study’s fireplace.”
The Captain inspected the book, flipping the pages to see what had remained. “The crease does indeed open immediately to Digitalis purpurea but half of the page, and most of the book, is burnt.”
He pointed at the title of the illustration, at the words Digitalis purp-- and looked at the prince.
“But isn’t what matters is I had found it burnt? It is the Grand Duke trying to burn any evidence against him. How he knew of the book, I could not care less but now that we have it, wouldn’t it make for compelling evidence against him?”
“That is not for me to say, Kit, but I will present this to the magistrate, along with the others that you have gathered.” Thibault said.
That satisfied the prince. He sat heavily on one of the seats, mind exhausted. He refused to return to the stuffy, cold Great Study and so he stayed in his friend’s office as he rested his mind.
“The Grand Duke hasn’t confessed to anything more,” Thibault told him.
“Where is he kept?”
“In the first cell of the east dungeons.”
Kit nodded. “Have you searched him for any personal effects that he might use on you or the guards?”
“We did not find anything but we gave him a change of clothes so that we may inspect his garments further. He had no complaints.”
“Keep any sword or dagger away from his cell.” Kit commanded. “And starve him. Do not give him any food or water, not until he confesses to whatever else he has done.”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness.” Thibault closed the burnt tome and added it to his pile of evidence. “The apothecary has agreed to testify against the Grand Duke. Once I send all the evidence to the Magistrate, they will schedule a trial.”
And it was, Kit thought as he started to pace the length of the Captain’s office. He had found all of the proof against the man, the apothecary was willing to testify, and with enough persuasion, so would the former royal physician. He had everything to indict the man and make him pay for his transgressions.
It was nearly done.
All that was left was for you to be found.
“There is still no news of her,” Thibault told him, as though he could read the direction of the prince’s thoughts. “But do not lose heart, Kit—”
That stopped the prince’s pacing. He speared the Captain with a look, not of anger but of desperation.
“She has not been found, Thibault! What if we are too late! What if all they can find of her is her corpse?” he cried passionately. “I cannot bear to be without her. I do not think I can live without her. She is my wife even when that damned paper says otherwise!”
He sat heavily on the seat and cradled his head in his palms, the exhaustion of the day finally dawning on him. He had finished his tasks and he should have been happy with the result but the one task that mattered the most to him was yet to be resolved. He could not function without you; he knew that much to be true. He had to find you, for your sake and his.
“I have failed her. I promised her father I would take care of her and I did not—have not.”
“We have our best men out to look for her. She will be found. I promise you that.”
He felt a fat tear roll down his cheek and he wiped at it, shaking his head desolately. He was a failure as a husband to you.
“My mother… I was not able to save my mother from the Grand Duke. And now my wife…”
Kit swallowed thickly. He did not like the picture his mind had conjured.
“I would not forgive myself if we are too late.”
Thibault did not speak. Kit was silent for the remainder of the hour, only sat there as his friend finished his business. He was not disturbed in his musings—for that, Kit was thankful of his friend—and when it was time for him to leave, the Captain only bid him a good night.
The storm had lessened significantly as the night progressed. Kit hoped you had found shelter and that you were safe, even if the conditions were not favorable. He wished someone had found you and had offered to house you until the storm had passed. He hoped and wished and pled. It was all he could do for the time being. But the moment the Grand Duke would reveal where you were, he would come for you himself.
He entered his father’s room and was surprised to see his cousin and the princess still keeping watch of the king. They had a game of cards between them, perhaps in a way to keep awake until he returned.
“I will look after my father now,” Kit announced to them. “It will be safe to return to your chambers. The Grand Duke will not be a threat to us. Thibault has him kept in the dungeons.”
“I can stay, cousin—” Louis said as he put down his cards.
Kit shook his head. “You have done enough, Louis. Please, rest. I shall see you again in the morning.”
Louis sighed but he relented. He helped the princess to her feet.
“You must rest as well, Kit.” Chelina told him as she placed her hand on the crook of Louis’s elbow. “Call on me to look after the king when you shall be taking your rest.”
“Thank you,” he told her, having no intention to disturb the princess’s slumber, and bid them a good night.
He watched them leave together. He then walked to his father’s bed and kept vigil by his side. He did not know of what to speak with his father. Whilst they were candid with one another, with the king’s current state, Kit did not know if telling him the truth of his mother’s death was ideal.
“Father.” Kit sighed as he held the king’s hand. He had kept watch of his father for an hour, no words spoken until the weight of his burden became unbearable.
“Father, I… I do not know what to do.” He watched the gentle rise and fall of his father’s chest, listened to his rhythmic breathing, and timed it with his own.
“I am unprepared. I am at a loss of what else should be done. I know that you have prepared me for when this time will arrive but I am humble enough to admit that I cannot take this on without your help. So, please. I beg of you, wake up. I need all the help you can offer.”
The king did not respond. The prince did not expect him to.
“You cannot give me your adviser. He has done a great sin to the kingdom but most especially to us. I cannot tell you while you are asleep but even when you are awake, as imperative it is for you to know, I would not want you to relive the hurt you felt upon mother’s death.”
His father remained unmoving on his bed.
Kit sighed deeply.
“He has stolen Y/N away from me. It had been a day and I fear that she is somewhere unsafe. The storm aggravates my thoughts but even if it were not raining, I would still worry for her welfare. Unless she is beside me, then I will continue to worry.
“I love her, Father. More than my life. More than the crown I will be wearing if you decide not to awake. If you will shun me, then I have no choice but to accept it. She has become my life in the short time I have gotten to know her. I cannot be without her.
“You must forgive me if my wishes do not align with yours. My only sin was to love someone I should not. She is faultless. Do not blame her for the love I have for her.”
He squeezed his father’s hand. The king did not return the gesture.
“Have I told you how wonderful she is? She treats everyone with kindness and fairness. She does not judge. She thinks of everyone else’s welfare before her own.” He gave a soft, sad chuckle at the memory of your first time in the square with him. “I believe I have not told you of the time she refused a free apple because she did not want the man to lose money for not selling it. It might seem insignificant to you but to me, I saw the goodness in her heart. She did have told me she wanted the whole of the kingdom to succeed, even the smallest of us.”
Kit squeezed his father’s hand once more. Every memory of you ached in his chest.
“It was her who discovered the truth of mother’s death.” The prince said in a whisper. His throat worked. “She had offered to help the kitchen staff label the tea leaves and it was how she found the poison that killed mother.
“She discovered it all on her own, Father. Just from the tea leaves, she deduced mother was murdered and she launched an investigation. I have it all in her writing. She gave a detailed account of her findings in the letter she was smart enough to leave with Louis before the Grand Duke had discovered what she knew of his sins.
“She is the reason you survived. When she plunged her hand in your throat, it was because she knew you were poisoned by hemlock. The emetic she was to use for herself, she used on you so you may live. She has done many things for us that we do not know.”
Kit yawned and felt the heaviness come down his eyelids.
“Y/N may not be born a royal, Father, but she is my princess. I will not marry anyone else but her.”
He folded his arm atop his father’s bed and rested his head on it. He looked at his father’s sleeping form once more, praying, hoping that he would soon wake.
“I love her, Father. I will marry her again, with or without your blessing.”
He closed his eyes and let sleep overtake him.
Kit felt a gentle brush against his forehead, stirring him from his slumber. He peered from his position, turning to the finger that had parted the hair that hung on his forehead, and saw his father watching him. He sat up immediately, not minding that his back had been sore at the improper position he had slept in. He could not care less for himself, especially now that his father was awake.
“Doctor!” he called.
He grasped his father’s hand in his again, smiling in relief at the sight of him with his eyes opened.
“Kit. Why are you asleep here, my boy?” the king rasped. “Why are you not in your room?”
The prince could only chuckle and squeezed his father’s hand tightly. “We were worried for you, father. You had been asleep for more than a day.”
The physician came over and began his medical ministrations about the king, checking his overall health. Kit ordered a footman to announce to his cousin and the princess that the king was awake.
“What has happened while I was asleep?” the king asked.
Kit hesitated to tell him, not wanting to send his father into another fit at the revelations of the days past. But he knew that prolonging the inevitable would only hurt his father more. And the king was bound to know the truth.
“You have been poisoned, Father.” he said.
“Poisoned?” the king echoed confusedly.
Kit nodded, grim as he told his father all that had happened that night. He spared no information and did not mince words as he told him of the treachery the Grand Duke had done. He watched the emotions that came upon the king’s face. There was betrayal and anger but it was mostly despondence and despair upon the truth of his wife’s death. The king was silent when he listened to his son but there was the unmistakeable anger in him that even the prince was afraid of.
“Where is the Grand Duke?” the king asked as he moved to stand from his bed.
The physician denied his efforts and gently pushed him down the bed, telling him that he would need to keep his health up before he could resume his business.
“We have him in our custody in the dungeons. I would be speaking with him later to know where he had kept Y/N.” Kit said. “We are yet to find her. Louis has sent his men, so had Captain Thibault but there is still no news of her.”
He held up a hand to stop the king from speaking any further. He would not want to hear his father dissuade him from finding you.
“No, father. You cannot sway me.” Kit told him. “I want her found. I will join the search party if I have to. I have done everything you had asked of me before but if you now tell me to sit by and call off the search, then you must forgive me when I disobey you. This is my wife we are speaking about. She has saved you. She has discovered the reason of mother’s death. She has risked her life to deliver proof to us. If you do not think her worthy of me, then I am inclined to think that you are not worthy of her. She is twice more than I will ever be because she is kind and courageous.”
The king watched his son’s impassioned speech and he was reminded of his own youth, when he had told his father of his love for an unknown princess. He and his son were so similar yet so different with one another. His own father had denied him his freedom to choose a bride and he was forced to marry Princess Amalie, who he had the good fortune of falling in love with. But to see his son Kit so passionate of you, the king knew he could not be like his father, would not force his son to face the same ordeal as he had. While the Princess Chelina was the obvious choice as queen of the kingdom, he would not want his son to be unhappy in his marriage.
The king held his son’s hand and squeezed it. “Find her.”
“Father?” Kit asked, confused. He had not anticipated his father to be convinced so easily, especially when he had been adamant of his betrothal to Chelina.
“Find her, Kit, and bring her back.”
Kit entered the Grand Duke’s cell and stood opposite of the man who was shackled against the wall. The Grand Duke watched him with unimpressed eyes and did not move to bow when he had been addressed. He gave no greeting but taunted him instead.
“So, you have me shackled because you are afraid of me,” the nobleman said as he shook his wrist. The chains clanged loudly against each link, echoing in the damp, dark dungeon.
“I am not afraid of you,” Kit replied. “But you should be afraid of the things I will do to you until you tell me my wife’s whereabouts.”
The man’s laugh was short and sarcastic.
“So you resort to violence when you do not have your way? You and I are not so different after all, Your Royal Highness.” The mad man made a grand gesture of bowing at the prince.
“We are different.” The prince ground out. “I am nothing like you, hurting innocents for your own personal gain.”
He snorted when he regained his position. “‘Innocent,’” he said disdainfully. “Your mother was hardly innocent. Did you know how many people she had crossed when she did not want to sell the mines? Or that insolent girl, Y/N? You think her innocent after she has trapped you into a marriage you do not want? They are not so faultless as you let yourself believe.”
“The mines are not any concern of yours. It was the queen’s prerogative to do as she pleased with her property.” Kit advanced to the man and stood just an arm’s reach away from him. “And do not insult my wife. She has discovered what you have done. She was only an innocent investigator and you stole her away from me.”
“That chit has disrespected me—”
“And you surely have disrespected her long before she stood up for herself. Before the divorce, she was a princess and I had never seen you treat her as such. For a nobleman such as yourself, that would be remiss. For the devil that you are, however, I think it in character of you to do so.”
The Grand Duke only glared at the prince. Guards arrived at the confining cell and flanked the man.
“Bring him to the Chapel,” Kit ordered as he watched the Grand Duke be taken out of his shackles.
“Am I to repent for my sins?” the man asked sarcastically as two guards pulled him away. “And I thought you called me the devil.”
Kit ignored him and followed as they went further down the dungeons.
The Chapel was no house of God. It was, ironically, a torture chamber. Built by his predecessors, the torture room was one part of the palace that had remained unchanged in centuries. It boasted of vaulted ceilings reminiscent of those in churches, with trusses from which more shackles swung from where they were hung. It had no windows for light and air to pass through. However, it had a vast array of torture devices covering the walls for any of the Royal Guards to use on criminals.
“Kit, there is still time for you to back—” Thibault said as soon as Kit arrived in the Chapel. The Captain had seen the prince in the battlefield and knew him to be ruthless as a warrior and as a tactician. He knew Kit would not soften every blow he was to deliver just because he had been the king’s adviser.
“I will not back down,” he told his friend, tone unyielding. “I will not lose my soul upon the torture of a clearly deranged and guilty man.”
Thibault only nodded, knowing he could not sway his friend, and stepped aside.
The guards had bound the Grand Duke’s wrists and ankles to the chair in the middle of the Chapel. Kit had taken off his coat and neared him, bringing with him a bucket of water.
“You mean to drown me with a bucket full of water?” The Grand Duke taunted with a wicked gleam in his eyes. “My, my. What an ineffective means of torture.”
“Where is she?” Kit demanded.
The nobleman only looked at the prince before he shrugged his shoulders impassively.
Kit splashed the icy water on him forcefully, causing the man to gasp and sputter in surprise. When the water had drained away, he only looked up at Kit with an unconcerned air.
“You stole her from me! Where is she!” Kit yelled.
He dropped the bucket he held and leaned in closer to the malicious man, spearing him with a hateful glare. The nobleman challenged his stare and said nothing. It only irritated the prince further.
“I will not be kind the next time I ask, Grand Duke. Tell me now—”
“Or what? You will untie me? You will set me free?” His laughter erupted from him and the sarcastic sound grated against Kit’s skin. “What will I get out of my telling you where I had left her?”
“Then I say nothing.”
Kit fought against his need to resort to violence and his fist made contact with the nobleman’s gut. The Grand Duke sputtered and coughed yet again but did not reply.
“I did say I will not be kind.” Kit drew back his fist for another pounce.
The Grand Duke eyed him disdainfully.
“Now, I ask again. Where did you take my wife?”
“Aren’t you delusional, boy? Did you not hear what your father told you? You are not married anymore. That girl is not your wife.”
Kit socked him hard in the ear. The force sent the nobleman tumbling, falling heavily on his side, still in his seat. The prince crouched down to the man, seething with anger. There was a small trail of blood that trickled from the man’s ear. Kit did not feel an ounce of remorse at his actions.
“I am not in a gaming mood!” Kit yelled. “Tell me where she is!”
The Grand Duke did not crane his neck to address the prince. His eyes only turned to him and he looked far more sinister in this position than when he had been upright.
“You have the Princess Chelina to marry. Are you willing to defy your father’s wishes, all for your misguided notion that she is in love with you?” He chuckled darkly. “You are foolish, Kit. Of course, any young woman will fall for you. You’re the prince. It is your title she wants, not you.”
Kit drew back in derision for his words. The Grand Duke only spoke of falsehoods and yet, he spoke with assurance that the prince momentarily believed his lies to be true.
You never cared that you were a princess. You hurt when the news of your divorce broke. You returned his kisses when he kissed you. You understood his aches and pains and your very presence took all of those away because you loved him. You loved him.
The prince stood to his full height, sneering at the man, and nodded at the guards. “Sit him up.”
Once the Grand Duke was upright, Kit turned to the man again. He gave a sarcastic smile of his own, at the nobleman’s words that intended to hurt him but it only made him pity the man.
“Of course. Of course, it must be my title, much like it was yours when you took a maid to be your lover.” Kit said. “It is no question she is merely using you to gain a higher status in the household. She holds no love for you and because of that, she will have no qualms in telling us of all the sins you have committed.”
The Grand Duke’s mouth remained shut. His eyes only grew more and more crazed as the hours went by. Kit inflicted whatever torture he could think of, hoping with each one that it would force a confession from the man. The noble held strong, keeping your location a secret. It went on for a while, with Kit unrelenting in his tortures and the Grand Duke not giving any indication of your whereabouts.
“Do you want to know why I did it?” The Grand Duke asked after hours of water torture and strikes to his person. It did not seem to bother him that his pristine white shirt was now tinged pink with water and his blood.
“Why I killed your mother?” He asked it so casually that it renewed the anger in the prince.
Kit’s body grew colder at the mention of his mother. He did not like it when the subject was broached, most especially by the man responsible for her demise.
“You told me it was for the riches.” Kit spat as he glared at the man.
Despite the swelling that nearly closed the man’s left eye, there was a diabolical gleam in them, one that told Kit he enjoyed the game they were to play. “Most of it was because of that, of course. Am I to just kill her because I liked to? Yes, but I much rather I get something from it.”
The prince fisted his hand, drawing it back to charge and punch him. This time, the nobleman took the hit to the jaw. The man’s face had been battered enough, to the point where Kit’s fist ached for having caused it. He would not show it because he could not afford to show weakness to the man whose answer holds your salvation.
“You see, I do not like it when women have more power compared to me.” The crazed gleam returned in his eye. “They are feeble-minded creatures, so easily swayed with simple gifts and ideas. Whoever thought a kingdom needed a queen was clearly not of sound mind. A king is capable. Man is capable. Women? They are not.”
Kit only watched him. He did not move from where he stood—would not move because if he did, he would easily kill him.
“Your mother was no exception. She was readily persuaded by my gifts. She’s a simpleton, you see. Quite the opposite of what you and the kingdom make her. You think her brilliant but she is not. Simple laws just to please the people. Nothing to advance it to greatness.”
Kit knew the words from the man’s mouth were all lies. He refused to believe to any of them.
“And you have something to offer for the kingdom’s advancement?” he asked instead, humoring the man in hopes of finding his answers.
“I offered my niece.”
“Ah, yes. Another woman for you to control and be rid of as you wish.”
The smile that graced the Grand Duke’s face was patronizing and proud. “Ah! Now you see my point!” he crowed in delight.
Kit glared. “I see your sinister plans. Chelina is not for you to control. So was my mother and as is my wife. They were never yours to do as you like.”
“And yet I still did. Such is the power of men, don’t you think, Your Royal Highness?”
“You forget that the reason you are here is because of Y/N. She pieced together all of what you had done to my mother. It took a woman to defeat you, Grand Duke.”
“And I defeated her. Wherever I had left her, she will not survive. She might even be dead, now as we speak.” He gave Kit a challenging look, smirking as though he enjoyed this game they were playing. “I still win.”
A muscle jumped at Kit’s jaw.
“You will thank me one day, Kit. You do not need that chit whom you fancy yourself in love with.”
The self-satisfied smile remained on the nobleman’s face. Kit wanted nothing more but to wipe it off.
“Were you ever loved, Grand Duke? Is this where the hatred comes from?” The prince asked and watched as the smile fell of his face. “Because, clearly, you have never loved. I do not think your heart has the capacity to hold such emotion.”
“Love,” he spat disdainfully. “Holds us back. It gives us nothing—”
“It gives satisfaction and contentment; two things you will never find if you scorn the very emotion from whence it came.”
“I have no need of it.”
“I am sure you don’t. You’ve displayed contempt for anything akin to that.” He looked directly in the man’s eyes. “Your parents, they favored your sister, did they not? Loved her above all else, above you. This is why you loathe women.”
The Grand Duke’s eyes blazed in anger. Kit picked more at the wound he had just opened.
“So you despise them as a lot because they reminded you of what you did not receive when you were younger—”
“I was the heir but they did not care for me! They wanted my sister for the opportunities she could bring us!” The Grand Duke strained against his bindings. Veins had made themselves apparent on his neck. “From the moment of her birth, she had been coddled and loved! They had given her everything that was supposed to be mine!”
Kit bit back a triumphant smile and regarded the angry man impassively. The noble struggled to break free in his seat, livid at having been caught the cause of his vulnerability. The muscles on the man’s neck jumped as he seethed at the prince.
“Love did not bring them satisfaction and contentment. It made them weak. The moment my sister was of age, they married her off to that pompous Zaragozan prince and used all of my money as her dowry! They left me desolate and poor, all because they loved the weak one.”
“So you chose to not love?”
“I chose to be strong. That blasted emotion will only weigh me down. I had been successful without it because I was not held back by that foolish emotion.”
Kit swore he saw the muscle at the man’s jaw twitch but it did not frighten him. He had the upper hand. The Grand Duke looked at him with all of the disdain and fury in the world.
“I am nothing like you, so desperate to save your loved one from drowning. With the unending storm, you will be too late. You will never save her. Love will not save her. It will only make a fool out of you.”
Kit prepared a rebuttal to his verbal attack but halted when he realized what the man had said. The Grand Duke had not mentioned of you drowning in any of the times Kit had asked for you. He never gave your location nor did he give any clues as to where you were kept. If he said you were to drown… then it could mean you were near bodies of water.
The Grand Duke seemed to have noticed his mistake and kept his mouth shut. He said nothing further, only looked at the prince with as much contempt and anger he could muster.
“Why would she drown?” Kit asked as he neared him once more.
The noble did not speak.
Kit fisted the front of the man’s shirt dress. His anger and desperation provided him with enough strength to hoist the man up, chair and all.
"Tell me where she is!" he demanded. “I had played long enough with you, Grand Duke. You are to answer my questions if you want to survive.”
He only looked at the young royal, unblinking.
“Where did you leave Y/N?”
“You will not be given food until you tell me where my wife is!”
“Then I would much rather starve.”
Kit dropped the man unceremoniously and turned to the Captain.
“Return him to his cell. Do not feed him. Do not give him any water. Make him suffer until he confesses where she is.” He commanded. “Get your best men to search at any bodies of water. Tell them not to return to the palace without my wife.”
“What will you do, Your Royal Highness?” Thibault asked after he had commanded his men to do as the prince ordered.
“I will look for her myself.”
The rains were relentless. It had not stopped since and you worried for the rising waters. You had not attempted to climb out of the hole again, what with your broken ankle having swollen twice its size. You could only scream out but your voice had gone raspy at the effort. The hope of being found was slowly waning every passing second.
Your will to survive was strong but your body grew weak. You had developed a fever from being submerged in water and also of the numerous broken bones and bruises you had procured upon the Grand Duke’s attempts of your disposal. A rest would have renewed your strength but in your current situation, the best you could do was recline against the jagged wall. The sharp stones did not faze you anymore. They had become your companion and only source of proof that you were still alive and awaiting rescue… if they ever knew you were gone.
You could not tell if a day or two had passed. There was only constant darkness. Your eyes had grown accustomed to it and you feared you were on your way to permanent blindness after having not seen the sun or light for so long. But despite that, when you close your eyes, vivid color and memories abound.
You saw the palace, the king having tea in the gardens and the prince training with the Captain of the Guards. You saw the jolly Duke of Granville, proclaiming sonnets with his usual flair. The Princess of Zaragoza was in the town square, perusing the gemstones of the kingdom. Your father, sailing the high seas. Your mother, smiling at you through the mirror and singing as she combed your hair…
You were sure the vision of your mother was a hallucination. You had been but a child when she had passed. It was impossible to have a memory of her with this older version of you, smiling encouragingly, lovingly. But you clung to that hallucination, to the song that had brought you comfort when you were young.
The water poured, urging you to rise to your feet. You kept your back to the wall, hands feeling the stones. Your ankle protested at the sudden added weight and you hummed to yourself to distract yourself from the pain. Your eyes burned at the discomfort but you were unsure if tears had fallen because there was only constant rainfall in your small hole.
If the rains did not stop, it would fill the space with enough water to drown you. Your dress weighed you down, your feet were useless with the injury, and even if you could try and swim, it would be futile if the hole was not filled to the brim.
Another thunder cracked the sky. You shut your eyes and started singing weakly with your mother the lullaby you knew that would calm you. You allowed yourself to be enveloped by the hallucination, of your mother’s comforting strokes against your hair as she lulled you to rest.
“Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly. Lavender’s green. If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you…”
Kit shared the revelation to his father, to Chelina, and to his cousin. His father had seen what an unstoppable force he had become in his pursuit of you and allowed him to join the search, provided that his cousin come with him. Kit protested, told them that his cousin had helped him with the errand of gathering information the day before but the king would not hear of it. Despite Kit’s many protestations and insistences, Louis became the last member of the small search party he headed.
They journey east, to the largest lake of the kingdom that ran adjacent to his mother’s mountains. The storm remained strong in that part of the kingdom and it already posed a danger to them as they rode towards it. To be in the middle of it, however, was a challenge in and of itself.
Kit ordered the guards to tie themselves to the tree once they start their search in the waters. The currents had become too strong for them to dive deep. The tree would serve as an anchor for them to not be carried away.
“As much as I want to find her,” Louis said as he neared his cousin. “I only wish she is not here. Even the best swimmers could not survive such strong waves and currents.”
Kit could not help but agree with his cousin. He knew how much you had loved travelling by boat but the fickle nature of that lake was nothing compared to the serene waters of the seas. Even if he was desperate to find you, he would not have wanted to be presented your corpse for trying to brave such conditions of the lake.
He watched as Louis tied the rope around his waist and to the tree to join the search underwater. Kit did the same, tying himself to the roots of the tree and swam as far as he could with his length of rope. He fought against the current, diving deep and groping whatever he could that resembled you. Every attempt proved ineffective and Kit rose from the waters, much more frustrated than when he had started.
One by one the guards went up from their search, each looking at the prince apologetically at coming up empty-handed. Kit only thanked them for their efforts and commanded them to search for you in another part of the lake.
He knew his cousin had started to worry when he emerged from searching the last quarter of the lake without you. They had reached its depths, finding unusual creatures and resources but nothing of you. Kit supposed he should have been thankful for not finding you at the bottom of one of the deepest lakes of the kingdom but he also hoped that he would have seen something at all that would tell of your presence in the body of water.
Still, he refused to stop in the search.
But he had not one idea how to continue.
Before them, the mountains loomed. Its peaks were nearly invisible in the clouds of the storm. They were the mountains his mother was gifted upon her marriage, the very ones the Grand Duke coveted and killed for. Whenever he rode past them, he often remembered how proud his mother had been at the discovery of the gemstones and how she longed to use them for the betterment of the kingdom’s economy. Now, they only served as a reminder that she had been stolen from them because of the greed of one foreign adviser.
Come to the mountains, a gentle, female voice called to him. Come and you shall find what you seek.
Kit felt the pull of the mountains. He knew there was nothing there; the miners did not work in such dire conditions. It sat abandoned during the summer months during its intense heat and raging storms. He did not know why it called to him but he knew he had to go there and see for himself why.
He donned his still wet shirt, accepting the coldness that clung on his back like punishment for having not found you yet, and mounted his horse.
“Where are you going?” Louis asked as he watched the set look on his cousin’s face before doing the same thing.
“The mountains. They—they call to me.” Kit said almost absently, intent on riding towards the mines. He kicked his heels against the horse’s flanks, making it gallop towards the mountains.
“Call to you? You have gone mad!” The duke said as he followed along. “How am I going to explain this to your father!”
The prince rode ahead, rushing through trees and land, much speedier than he had at the start of the search. He knew he would find it empty but the pull was too mighty to ignore. Was it his mother telling him something? It was an absurd notion to even think that his mother was there in the mountains—she had been buried in the Royal Cemetery—but to Kit, it made sense. The mountains were her pride and joy, in addition to him. It must mean something, this pull.
“You do understand that in order to drown, there must be water, cousin.” Louis told him when he had caught up beside him. “A mountain is not a body of water. I think you ought to know the difference of that at this age of yours.”
They reached the miners’ camp, a worn little village that had been abandoned for the season. There were no flicker of lights in any of the thatched houses nor movement inside; no sign of activity at all. But there was something there, Kit was sure. There was something that urged him to come and investigate.
Despite not wanting to stop in the search, Kit took the silence of the place as a respite form all the turmoil in and out of him. He may not be alone but, before the mighty mountains of his kingdom, he was at peace.
“We should leave, Kit. Continue on with our search. We are wasting daylight by ambling here,” his cousin said beside him.
He kept ignoring the duke and went his way around the village. Kit stopped behind the village, at the start of the quarry at the base of the mountain. His mother had advocated for the safety of the miners, ensuring that there be a barricade to the entrance of the shaft lest someone accidentally tread and fall through. That entrance had been permanently closed now, having no more stones or precious metals to be mined.
“I am feeling a sense of dread about the place, Kit,” Louis said as he stepped closer to the prince. “When you said it called to you, I was hoping it had been a figurative sense.”
“I heard a voice—”
“A voice? Have you hit your head on the lakebed?”
“It was loud and clear.”
Louis whirled around, at the emptiness of the village, and gestured to it with a flourish of his hands. “Well, it is clearly empty. We won’t find her here. There is no body of water where she can possibly drown in.”
“Just—” Kit sighed in frustration. “It called to me, cousin. It must mean something.”
Whatever—or whoever—it was that called him, it wanted him there for a reason.
He neared the entrance and looked beyond it, to the abandoned carts and tools. His cousin as right, there was nothing there of importance, but to see the mines strengthened his resolve once more. Kit would do whatever it was in his power to see through his mother’s plans. He would put emphasis on the mountains during his regency and he would implement your idea for the betterment of the kingdom. But he had to find you because he refused to be king if you were not his queen.
Kit stayed quiet, feeling the serenity the mountains brought. Despite the raging storm, the absence of the angry waves proved to be the cure to the uproar in him. He still could not think clearly but to see the progress of his mother’s project renewed his determination.
There is nothing here but only a brief respite, he thought to himself. He wanted to stay long, to bask in the peace of it but he knew he must return to his search for you.
He moved to follow his cousin back to the lake when he heard a different voice sing, albeit faint.
Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly. Lavender’s green.
If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
The lullaby flitted across the mountains, echoing, haunting, even in its hushed tones. His mother’s spirit was alive in these mountains, haunting him but in the best ways possible. Kit remained quiet as he listened to the phantom song that resonated around him.
Let the lambs play, dilly, dilly. Let the lambs play.
You shall be safe, dilly, dilly. Safe from harm’s way.
“I think I believe you now, cousin.” Louis said as he pressed himself beside Kit.
“What?” the prince frowned.
“Do you not hear it? The voice? It’s singing a lullaby.” The duke told his cousin, eyes surveying the empty mining village for where the voice originated.
“You hear it?” Kit asked. He thought it was his mother’s spirit, singing to comfort him, but if Louis could hear it… Then it meant the voice was real.
“Of course, I hear it. I can’t find where it’s from and I do not think I would want to know.”
Kit craned his neck, listening intently for the voice. It was difficult to perceive with the howling of the strong winds but the melancholy, hopeful tone made him want to find it. He stalked aimlessly about the place, turning his ear about until he could discern the voice properly.
“Kit, I do not think it wise—”
“Someone is here, cousin.”
“Aren’t the mines abandoned during the monsoons? How could someone be here when the entire village has left for the season?” He kept close to his cousin, eyes nervously darting about the place, fearing he might see something he did not wish to see. “And if you do see someone, I beg you do not ask me to look unless what you see is corporeal.”
Call up your men, dilly, dilly. Set them to work.
Some to the plough, dilly, dilly. Some to the fork.
The voice sounded stronger towards the end of the village and Kit headed towards it. He considered his cousin’s words, at the possibility of the voice being nothing but an illusion but it was too real—too human, even—to be anything but. It had to be a person, that and nothing more.
The voice seemed to emanate from the well that was situated on the farthest end of the village. A flat piece of wood covered the top but it had enough space for the voice to echo from the inside. As he was about to near it, Louis grabbed at his arm tightly, halting him in his steps.
“What if it were a dangerous animal?” Louis asked his cousin. His words may say differently but his eyes implored him that they leave the place.
Kit looked at his cousin and patted his shoulder. He had to investigate, even if it meant he would do it alone. “If you do not wish to see it, then you may leave. I will remain here.”
“Unwise thing to say and do, cousin. You know I cannot back down from any adventure.” The duke said before he squared his shoulders in an attempt to look big, so at odds with the tremble in his voice. “Let us only hope it will it jump away at the sight of us.”
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly. Some to reap corn.
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.
It sounded from inside of the well, louder this time but still weak. Kit and Louis took to one end of the wood plank and shoved it aside.
“Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly. Lavender’s green. If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.” You sang as you watched your reflection on the mirror in your home’s foyer.
Your mother had halted singing and had vanished. You frowned as you whirled around, in search of her. She had been beside you just as you were looking at your reflection. She had dressed you in a pink gown that was once hers and had fawned over you for growing up to look like her. She had even shed a tear at the sight of you, never thinking she would live to see the day to see you become a lady like herself.
“Mother?” you called out. “Mother, where are you?”
“Y/N, my love,” your mother called from above you.
You turned to her, smiling as she stood atop the spiral stairs, dangling the long ribbon down at you.
“Oh, Mother. I thought you had gone,” you told her.
“Tie this ribbon around your waist,” she said with a soft smile. “And whatever you do, do not let go.”
You were confused with her choice of words but heeded her orders nonetheless. You took the piece of ribbon and tied it around your waist, securing it with a knot you had learned from the sailors in one of your many travels.
You felt yourself being pulled upwards and the sudden action made you start and jerk around in your bindings.
“Try not to move around so much, my love.” Your mother said. “Remain calm. Keep singing to me.”
Hands tight on the thin strip of ribbon, you clenched your eyes shut and resumed the lullaby you had been singing with your mother.
“Roses are red, dilly, dilly. Violets are blue.” You sang shakily as you were being hauled up. Your eyes remained closed, afraid that if you open them, you would see how far you had been pulled up from the ground.
“Because you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.” You heard your mother sing with you.
You took a while to follow through her song, absorbed on keeping your breath and the galloping beats of your heart even.
“Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly. And the lambs play.”
“Very good, my love.” You heard the smile on your mother’s voice. “We are so near.”
Near what, you did not know but you trusted your mother.
“Look at me,” she urged but you declined her request. “You can open your eyes, Y/N. Look at me. I will not put you in harm’s way.”
You slowly opened your eyes, expecting to see the green color of your mother’s eyes but instead, you saw blue. The bluest of all blues you had ever seen.
Lines of laughter crinkled around the eyes you swore were familiar to you. Your own eyes smiled along at the sight of it.
“Sing with me?” the voice asked. It was not your mother’s anymore but it comforted you all the same.
Your lips curved upward, your first genuine smile in what you felt was a long time.
And in one voice, you both sang.
“We shall be safe, dilly, dilly. Out of harm’s way.”
The relief Kit felt was immense and immediate. It felt like water dousing the fire within him, of a warm bowl of soup after the coldness of the winter. It was like a part of him that had been missing had finally been returned to him.
And it had.
Yours was the mysterious voice that sang from the well but you were not the one that called him. Whoever—or whatever—it was, Kit thanked it profusely. If it weren’t for the voice that begged of him to seek the mountains, he would not have thought to visit it. He then wouldn’t have been able to find and rescue you.
He believed he only arrived at the most crucial of times because when you had been rescued from the abandoned well, you were feverish and delirious, badly bruised and your broken ankle had swollen nearly twice its size. You had shivered the moment you emerged from the well and Kit knew he had to take you to the physician immediately so that you would receive the best care.
“How is she?” Kit asked once the physician exited your chambers.
He had left you to the care of the Royal physician and his assistants and had remained outside of your room, unable to watch how they set your grotesque foot back to how it was before. He could not take it seeing you in this great a pain and having no power to take it away. You had suffered enough. Kit wanted to take all of it for himself so you may rest.
“She is asleep, Your Royal Highness,” the man told him. “I have bound her foot in a splint. She would be unable to leave her chambers until it is set properly.”
“And her fever?”
“There is only so much I can do with her fever,” he said. “Let us hope it breaks in the following days. If tonight, however, it has cooled, then she will be safe.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Kit asked, near desperate. “Anything at all I can get her so she may be comfortable?"
The physician shook his head. “There is nothing more we can do. It is all up to her. You must rest, Your Royal Highness. You must keep your health.”
He could only nod his head. He entered your chambers, careful and quiet when he passed through the door. You laid on your bed, dwarfed by the number of pillows they had placed around you. Your ankle had been wrapped in cloth and held still by the splint the physician had mentioned. You were at peace now, asleep, color now on your skin, looking far healthier than when he had first rescued you.
Abigail wrung the water from the cloth and laid it on your forehead.
“How is her fever?” Kit asked as he neared you.
Your maid stood in attention, bowing at the sight of the prince before looking forlornly at your resting figure. “She is still warm to the touch, Your Royal Highness. The physician told me to keep changing the cloth if it has become warm.”
Kit nodded inattentively, eyes and thoughts only towards your slumbering form. He wanted to near you, wanted to hold your hand in his and assure you—and himself—that you were home and safe and no harm will come to you. But instead, he remained where he was, immovable because he did not want to disturb your peace.
He thanked Abigail and left your room without another word.
“Cousin? Is she—?” Louis asked as he passed the prince in the hallway.
“She is fine. Asleep. She is resting.” Kit told him.
“And are you well?” he inquired, peering at the tired look on his cousin’s face.
“I am well,” Kit assured him albeit wearily.
Louis embraced his cousin in relief. “She is found, Kit. There is nothing to worry about anymore.”
Kit returned the gesture, wrapping his arms tight around his cousin. “Thank you,” the prince said, voice choked with emotions that he had been supressing the past days. “Thank you for helping me find her, cousin.”
The next few days proved to be challenging for the prince. Your fever had not broken in the first two nights since you had arrived. Kit had asked of the physician to remain in the palace for longer, afraid to be helpless if the doctor were out of reach and you needed his aid. The Magistrate had commenced the trial for the Grand Duke and had employed for him a lawyer in accordance with the laws of the land. Although the man’s guilt was obvious, the Magistrate found it fair to give him a just trial and be given the opportunity to defend himself from his glaringly evident sins. It frustrated Kit but he followed through with the wishes.
The Prince of Prussia arrived three days after you had been found. Whilst the foreign royal had no information of the duplicity the Grand Duke had done, he had not been surprised at the events.
They convened in the State Hall, with Kit presiding over the gathering. The king joined the meeting as well, albeit only to hear of what his son and the Prussian prince had to say of the Grand Duke.
“Am Großherzog war immer etwas Verwerfliches, aber wir haben nie herausgefunden, was es war.” Prince Frederick told Kit. “Ich schäme mich, dass Ihrem Königreich ein solcher Vorfall passiert ist, und das alles wegen eines Adligen, der aus meinem Königreich kam.” (There was always something reprehensible about the Grand Duke, but we never found out what it was. I am ashamed that such an incident happened to your kingdom, and all because of a nobleman who came from my kingdom.)
Kit only looked at the prince with a watchful eye. While he did not expect the Prussian royal to keep watch all of his nobility, he still should have prevented the man’s departure from his kingdom. There was also the matter of his being one of your admirers, a fact Kit had not forgotten since that fateful night of his mother’s death anniversary ball. He had inquired of you and your health upon his arrival. He was polite and apologetic but it still did not dissuade Kit’s iciness towards the other royal.
If the Prussian royal misinterpreted Kit’s contempt for anything but, he did not show it.
“Dann werden Sie sicherlich nichts gegen die Strafen haben, die unsere Gesetze gegen einen Ihrer Bürger verhängen werden?” Kit asked of him. (Then surely you will not object to the penalties that our laws will inflict on one of your citizens?)
Kit turned to his father and saw his nod in agreement.
“Obwohl,” Prince Frederick started and Kit turned his attention back to the Prussian. “Mein einziger Einwand ist die Vollstreckung des Urteils. Wäre es nicht humaner, ihn zu köpfen, als ihn aufzuhängen?” (Although, my only objection lies on the execution of the sentence. Would it not be more humane to behead him than to hang him?)
A regal brow raised on Kit’s face before it turned into a frown. Humane? A nobleman from his country had poisoned the queen and had thrown the princess in a well and yet the prince cried for humanity in his execution? It was absurd!
Kit squared his shoulders and speared the prince a glance that told the people in the Hall that his words will not hear any arguments.
“Du sprichst von Menschlichkeit und doch hat dein Edelmann nicht daran gedacht. Meine Mutter ist wegen ihm gestorben. Meine Frau litt tagelang am tiefen Brunnen, wo er sie zum Sterben zurückließ. Ihn aufzuhängen ist Gnade im Vergleich zu der Strafe, die ich ihm auferlegen will.” Kit told him in a quiet, cold tone that thundered against the walls. (You speak of humanity and yet your nobleman has not thought of it. My mother died because of him. My wife suffered for days in the deep well where he left her to die. Hanging him is mercy compared to the punishment I intend to inflict on him.)
Prince Frederick did not challenge his words and offered another apology at him. “Vergib mir. Ich habe nur gefragt, weil es nicht die preußische Art ist. In unserem Reich—” (Forgive me. I only asked because it is not the Prussian way. In our kingdom—)
“Er hat sich in meinem Königreich geirrt und soll entsprechend bestraft werden.” He told him icily. “Ich habe Sie nicht nach Ihrer Meinung gefragt, Ihre Königliche Hoheit." (He has erred in my kingdom and shall be punished accordingly. I did not ask for your opinion, Your Royal Highness.)
The Prussian Prince bowed as he ceded Kit’s words. “Ich muss mich noch einmal für den Schmerz entschuldigen, den er Ihnen, Ihrer Familie und dem Königreich zugefügt hat.” (I must apologize once again for the pain he has caused you, your family, and the kingdom.)
Kit nodded briskly.
“Und Sie müssen mir meine Unwissenheit über Ihre Ehe verzeihen. Ich hoffe meine Verwirrung ist entschuldigt. Ich dachte, du wärst mit Prinzessin Chelina von Saragossa verlobt?” Prince Frederick watched him cautiously, unsure how to continue without offending the other prince. (And you must forgive my ignorance of your marriage. I hope my confusion is excused. I thought you were engaged to Princess Chelina of Zaragoza?)
Kit looked around the Hall, to the guards that stood waiting for their orders, and he waved his hand to dismiss them. Prince Frederick did the same with his. When all were left were Kit, his father, Prince Frederick, and Louis, Kit answered Frederick’s inquiry.
“Meine Verlobung mit Prinzessin Chelina wurde vom Großherzog in der Hoffnung entworfen, mehr Kontrolle zu haben. Mein Vater und ich waren uns seiner Absichten nicht bewusst, als ich der Gewerkschaft zum ersten Mal zustimmte. Wir hielten es für klug, dass ich seine Nichte heirate, wegen der Dienste, die er meinem Vater erwiesen hatte. Während der Hochzeitsvorbereitungen fand die Sekretärin meines Vaters einen Ehevertrag zwischen mir und meiner Frau.” Kit said. (My engagement to Princess Chelina was designed by the Grand Duke in hopes of having more control. My father and I were unaware of his intentions when I first agreed to the union. We thought it wise for me to marry his niece because of the service he had rendered my father. During the preparations for the wedding, my father’s secretary found a marriage contract between me and my wife.)
The Prince of Prussia looked at him confusedly. “Sie wussten nicht, dass es einen solchen Vertrag gibt?” (You did not know that such contract existed?)
Kit shook his head. “Nein. Das war ein Vertrag, den ich als Junge unterschrieben habe.” (No. That was a contract I signed as a boy.)
Kit then explained carefully to his guest all that had transpired, from the signing of the contract to the days that led up to the discovery of the truth of his mother’s death. The prince listened intently to the tale, asking questions when Kit allowed them, and when it was over, he could only watch the royal family in awe and confusion.
“Verzeihen Sie, dass ich frage, aber warum bezeichnen Sie sie als Ihre Frau, wenn der Magistrat Ihre Scheidung bewilligt hat?” Prince Frederick asked him. (Forgive me for asking, but why do you call her your wife when the magistrate has approved your divorce?)
Kit looked at him directly, eyes passionate and sure. “Weil sie meine Frau in jeder wichtigen Hinsicht ist.” (Because she is my wife in every way that matters.)
That seemed to have quelled the Prussian royal’s curiosity, who only nodded in understanding.
“Ich muss Ihnen sagen, dass ich Sie dafür beneide, solch einen Edelstein zu beschaffen. Ich hätte meine Klage angeboten, wenn nur die Gesetze meines Königreichs so mild wären wie deine.” He told Kit. (I must tell you that I envy you for procuring such a gem. I would have offered my suit if only the laws of my kingdom were as lenient as yours.)
Kit said nothing to that.
Prince Frederick rose from his seat. “Ich werde in Ihrem Königreich bleiben, bis der Prozess gegen den Großherzog abgeschlossen ist. Ich werde dafür sorgen, dass er für seine Sünden bestraft wird. Darf ich in der Zwischenzeit meine liebste Freundin besuchen und sehen, wie es ihr geht?” (I will remain in your kingdom until the Grand Duke’s trial is complete. I will make sure he is punished for his sins. In the meantime, may I visit my dearest friend and see how she is doing?)
Kit stood as well, nodding once to his father and to his cousin. He led the prince to your chambers, entering once he and the Prussian prince were announced.
Chelina, who sat on one of the plush seats by the window, stood and bowed before the two princes. She had taken it upon herself to keep watch of you—her self-imposed penance for her uncle’s sins despite her being his victim as well.
“Your Royal Highness,” she addressed Prince Frederick.
“Princess, Prince Frederick wishes to see how Y/N is.” Kit told her
“She remains the same, still asleep but her fever has cooled.” Chelina replied as she cast a glance at your direction.
Prince Frederick turned to Kit as if to ask for permission. When it was given, he sat at the vacant seat beside your bed and began talking to you as though you were awake. Kit kept a watchful eye on Frederick, making sure he kept the appropriate distance from you.
“The physician is hopeful that she will be well, Kit.” Chelina told him as she passed him a cup of tea. “He thinks she will wake soon.”
Kit took the offered cup. “Thank you for watching her, Chelina.”
She smiled softly at his direction. “It is in service of a friend.”
“You were a victim as well. You must not claim his sins as yours.”
Her smile turned wistful and she turned away. “I am his sister’s daughter. Let me be ashamed for what my kin has done.”
“It is he who must repent.” Kit took a sip of the tea. “Not you. You are blameless.”
She gave him another of her grateful smiles. Kit left the Prussian Prince under the watchful eye of the princess and went about his remaining business for the day. Louis had appointed himself as his adviser for the time being while Kit took over his father’s business. They pored over countless laws and paperwork, signing and granting help to the people who needed them. Kit took to reviewing the proposals the Grand Duke had left and found that most of the funds that were to be delegated to the construction of a new village were instead being siphoned to his personal accounts. More and more of the nobleman’s deceit were being uncovered after every new proposal Kit worked on.
Come evening, he was exhausted. His princely education had not warned him that businesses went on for more than a day, that even after finishing one decree, there were three more waiting to be reviewed and signed by him. He did not complain, only finished another task before starting another. When his father had seen his diligence, he had praised him but had also told him that his health was much more important than matters of the state.
Kit walked to your chambers, finding the physician changing the dressing that had been draped on your foot. Your ankle did not look as grotesque as when he had first seen it and the swelling had gone down to what the physician deemed as “manageable.” Kit did not know what it meant but the way the physician said it assured him that you were in no more danger. He did not give any new prognosis, other than that you were bound to wake soon. The prince thanked the doctor before sitting on the seat beside your bed.
“Forgive me for being away for the day, my love. I had taken over Father’s work and his office. The kingdom is in disarray after the storm ravaged the crops and the villages. I’ve employed my mother’s plans for management in times of crises. I think you would have offered me the same advice if I had asked you.”
He smiled to himself when he took your hand in his. Yours was small in his and did not pull away when he squeezed it.
“Wake up soon, my love. I want nothing more than to see your beautiful eyes.” Kit pleaded as he placed a light kiss on the top of your hand.
He spent the rest of the night beside you, telling you of what had transpired throughout the day. He watched for every small movement, anything at all that would have told him you were to wake but you did not move. You only stayed as you were, asleep, having no idea of the fear that started to blossom in him with every moment you spent unconscious.
You did not wake that night.
The next morning, as Kit got up from spending the night in your chambers by your side, Chelina entered, holding in her hands a missive. It had been sent ahead of her parents’ arrival to tell her that the storm had delayed them and had been received by a nearby estate, only to stay there until the storm has passed.
"We must address one more concern, Kit,” Chelina said as she stood before him. “I have talked to your father about it and it is imperative that I have it with you as well.”
Kit merely raised a brow. He did not know what else there was that should concern the Zaragozan princess.
“I believe we will not marry each other.” She looked expectantly at the prince. “Our engagement was a ploy by my uncle and now that we have uncovered it, I believe there is no need to continue with it. My ideas and plans do not align with yours and we are both too stubborn to submit to one another. I do not think it a good start to any marriage.”
Her reasons were sound, if not a little illogical for people in their stature. He only shook his head. “No, I do not think it too.”
She smiled. “Finally. One thing we agree upon.”
He smiled tiredly.
“You would be free to marry whomever you wish,” she said as she cast a glance at you. “Follow your heart’s desires.”
He would need to speak with his father of that.
“They will not be happy with the broken engagement.” She said with a sigh as she turned to look at him. “After all, it was what they have travelled here for.”
“I shall talk to them. You should not shoulder all the burden your uncle has placed on us.”
Her smile was grateful. “I thank you, Kit.”
“What of you, then?” he asked.
“What of me?”
“You gave me leave to follow my heart. Would you not do the same with yours?”
Her silence—or reluctance to reply to his question—was answer enough for Kit.
“I thought you and my cousin love each other?” he asked.
She nodded forlornly and smiled sadly. “He is not a prince. My parents will only have me marry a royal.”
“He is my cousin. If I refuse to be king, he is next in line for the throne.” Kit reasoned. Louis was as good as a prince. His title may not be one but as his cousin, he had a claim to the throne.
“That will not be enough for them. And do not worry yourself on my account. I do not worry for it.” She waved a hand dismissively although the emotion on her face was far from it.
He would not want that for his friend.
“It is the consequence of our title, Kit. I am a princess. I am not given the choice to follow my own heart. It has been the same practice, done by my mother and my mother’s mother. Who am I to defy that?”
“Even if it means your happiness?” He frowned. Surely, after all the events, her parents would give her leave to do as she pleased.
“I am not allowed happiness. What I am allowed is to follow my parents’ wishes.” She sighed and took her hands in his, squeezing them. “I am thankful for your concern, Kit, truly I am, but I have resigned myself to this fate. There is nothing for me to do.”
However Kit wanted to argue, he knew the princess would not allow it. Instead, he only nodded.
“I wish you well, then, Your Royal Highness.” Kit told her sincerely.
Scarlet Lights & Golden Shields
Pairings: Ikaris x Male Reader. Tony Stark x Stephen Strange
A/N: Hey, there what’s up? This is the second story for Y/N and Ikaris. The first is my story of Golden Lights & Shields. Warning: This does contain Spoilers for Multiverse of Madness. If you haven’t seen it yet, then this story might ruin things for you. Hope you enjoy!
America knew the creature was close behind them. So close, in fact, that she could practically feel it breathing down her neck, gross! America and Defender Strange ran across the gap junction, the space between universes. Pillars and columns were floating high above them, and below as well. The sky was clouded and had different colors of pink, orange, and gold. America took a glance and saw the creature coming at them, full force. She had no idea what this creature was or its real name, but the Doctor Strange of this universe called it a Ribboned Creature. It tore through pillars like nothing, as it continued to charge forward and screeched horribly. Defender Strange looked back and saw the creature closing in fast and if he didn’t do something quick, the creature would get America’s powers and he’d be dead.
Defender Strange conjured his magic, a light blue in color, as he sent ice discs at the creature as America and he jumped over a huge gap in their path. Defender Strange landed safely and so had America as the magic he used on the monster frozen it solid as it fell to the ground.
“¿lo mataste?” America asked in Spanish. She hoped the answer was yes as they continued to run.
Defender Strange shook his head. “No. pero lo mataremos con eso.” He pointed ahead to a bright blue light. In a floating pillar was a book, but not just any book, it was a magical one. This book is what they needed to win. To stop this monster.
“The Book of Vishanti!”
The Ribboned Creature broke free from its icy prison as it began to pursue Defender Strange and America once again. “We can't let it take your power. Get to the book.” There was a huge gap ahead of them. The path between them and the book had been cut off as part of the path had been broken in the middle. Luckily, there was a slow falling pillar in between them, and that gave Defender Strange an idea.
“How do we get across?” America asked him.
“Jump!” Defender Strange said, as they jumped as high as they could as they slid down on the falling pillar, just as another from the left came and rammed into it. They kept each from falling off the pillar as they jumped once again and landed on another floating piece of pillar. They were almost there. Before they could run again, the pillar in front of them exploded as the Ribboned Creature broke through and stabbed Defender Strange in the leg with one of its tentacles. Defender Strange gasped in pain as the creature pulled back its tentacle, leaving a gash on the Sorcerer Supreme’s leg.
The creature roared as Defender Strange used his magic and threw broken pieces of rubble at the monster. America watched as Strange formed a bunch of broken rubble together and formed it into a ball as he began to trap the creature inside of it. Defender Strange cast a barrier spell on the ball to keep the Ribboned inside, but it was too strong. He wouldn’t be able to keep it trapped for long. “It's too strong. I can't hold it.”
America looked worried. If Defender Strange couldn’t protect her from this creature, then no one in this universe could. All of this had been for nothing. Defender Strange was slowly losing his grip as the pain in his leg burned like fire. His leg was black with infection and it was spreading. Sooner or later it would kill him. The Ribboned creature was breaking through the barrier spell and the sorcerer knew he was out of options. He had no other choice. He glanced at America, a look of pained pity on his face. “I'm so sorry. This is the only way.” He used his other hand and began to lift America into the air as he began to absorb her powers.
“W-What are you doing?!” America asked, frightened. Why was he doing this to her? She thought he was her friend.
“I can't let that thing take your power. You can't control it.” Defender Strange looked her in the eyes. “But I can.”
“But we're friends!” America pleaded. “You're killing me.”
Defender Strange was close to tears. This was the last thing he wanted to do. To hurt America like this, but he had no other choice. It was either her, or the entire Multiverse. “I know. But in the grand calculus of the Multiverse, your sacrifice is worth more than your life.” Pain exploded through Defender Strange’s chest as the creature had stabbed him from behind. America fell to the ground and watched as the creature lifted Defender Strange into the air. She looked and saw there was a path to the book of Vishanti, but she would have to run underneath the monster to get it.
America got up and ran as she dodged the creature's tentacles and jumped over broken pillars to reach the book. She used the tentacles like a swing and landed on the pillar with the book, as the Ribboned monster dropped Defender Strange to the ground, who had two red gashes on his forehead. America was so close to the book, that she could actually feel the smooth leather of it. Just as she reached out a hand to grab it, tentacles wrapped around her arms as they held tightly and lifted her into the air. America struggled as the creature trapped her legs as well. She couldn’t move at all. The monster roared furiously at her as American’s eyes glowed blue and she screamed as a giant star shaped portal opened up behind her, and began to pull anything close to it inside.
Defender Strange was pulled towards the vortex, as he used the last of his strength to summon sharp discs as they cut through the creature’s tentacles and freed America as she was sucked inside the portal as Defender Strange was pulled in as well as he began to spin and scream as he…
Stephen Strange woke up with a start, as he sat right up in his bed. Beads of sweat were dripping down his body. He was breathing heavily as he put his hands on his face and traveled to his hair as he tried to calm himself down.
“Must have been one hell of a dream there, Doc.”
Stephen turned to see his husband, Tony Stark aka Ironman, standing in the doorway of their bedroom. He had a cup of coffee in one hand, and a gadget he built in the other.
“You could say that, Tony,” Stephen said as he glanced to his left at his broken timepiece on the nightstand. He reached over and grabbed it, as he threw the covers off his body as he got out of bed.
“You want to talk about it?”
That’s the last thing Stephen wanted. He didn’t want to talk about it, because talking about it made him relive it all over again and he had a hunch that it was no dream. It seemed so real to be a dream. “It was just a little dream that’s all, dear.” Stephen faked a smile and kissed Tony on the cheek. Tony knew Stephen was lying, but he wasn’t going to push for an answer. Stephen would tell him when he was ready to.
“If you say so, Hogwarts,” Tony said as Stephen smiled. “You should probably start getting ready. Christine’s wedding is in about two hours.”
“Right, I almost forgot.” Stephen headed to the bathroom and turned on the shower. “Did you invite Y/N and Ikaris like I asked you too?”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Of course, I did, honey. They’ll be there.” Stephen began to strip himself of his clothes as he stepped inside the shower and let it work its magic. Tony had a dirty smirk on his face at seeing his husband wet and naked. “Want some company, honey?”
“No, thanks,” Stephen said. “If I let you join me in the shower, then we’ll be super late to the wedding and Christine will kill us both.”
Tony chuckled at that. “You're loss then.
“Chocolate!” Tommy, Billy, and Icarus cried as they came into the kitchen and dipped their hands in the mixing bowl of chocolate. Y/N saw them out of the corner of his eye. “Hey! What did I say?” Y/N told them to wait later for the chocolate cupcakes he was making. There was no heat behind his words, as he chuckled a little bit.
“But we couldn’t wait,” Tommy protested.
“Yeah, dad, your cupcakes are just so good,” Billy added.
“Well what did I say?” Y/N put his hands on his hips and looked down at the three younger boys.
“Well, how come dad gets some and we can’t?” Icarus asked.
“Your father’s not getting—”
Y/N turned to see his husband, Ikaris with his hands in the mixing bowl as well.
“Iceberg, what do you think you’re doing?”
Ikaris stared at the bowl of chocolate, then back at Y/N as he sheepishly smiled. “I couldn’t wait either.”
Y/N sighed. It was like having four kids instead of three. “Get your hands out of there right now, Mister.” Ikaris slowly put his hands towards the bowl again. “Don’t you dare.”
Ikaris scooped up another handful and licked it off quickly as he told his sons. “Run boys, run!” Ikaris, Tommy, Billy, and Icarus ran out of the kitchen giggling as Y/N chased after his family with a wooden spoon. “Yeah, you little chocolate bandits better run. When I get my hands on you, you’ll be sorry.”
After hours of laughing, tickles, food, and an unhealthy amount of chocolate cupcakes, Y/N and Ikaris tucked their children into bed, or at least tried with Tommy and Icarus.
“Dad, come on,” Icarus said as Y/N tried to tuck him in.
“Yeah, we’re too old for that,” Tommy agreed.
Y/N held his hands up in surrender. “Okay.” Icarus was their eldest child, named after Ikaris and had blue eyes like his father, but blonde hair instead of dark brown. He had all the powers of the Eternals and was sweet when he wanted to be. Thomas ‘Tommy,’ was considered the ‘cool sibling.’ He was the eldest twin brother of Billy and had powers like Y/N’s older brother Pietro.
“You can tuck me in, Dad,” William ‘Billy’ said, softly. He was Y/N and Ikaris’s baby. He was intelligent for his age and he was a lot like Y/N and Wanda. Not just because he had magic like them, but because he was more reserved and soft spoken, compared to his brothers.
“I will.” Y/N smiled as he tucked Billy into bed.
“You know boys... A family is forever.” Ikaris said. “We could never truly leave each other even if we tried.”
“That’s right. You boys are the most precious things in the world to your father and me, and we love you so much.”
“Dad, I changed my mind. You can come tuck me in if you want,” Tommy said.
“Yeah, me too, please?” Icarus said.
“Okay.” Y/N smiled gently as kissed Billy on the head and got up to tuck Tommy into bed as Ikaris tucked in Icarus. Once all three boys were safely snuggled in their beds, Ikaris took Y/N’s hand and led him to the doorway.
“Dad, the lights?”
“Oh, right.” Y/N waved a hand and a nightlight turned on and the lights in the room turned off.
“We love you boys,” Ikaris said.
“We love you too dad and dad,” all three boys said as their dads closed the door behind them.
Y/N smiled happily at Ikaris in the hallway. “We’re lucky parents, you know. We have three beautiful and healthy boys.”
“Maybe we should try for another or maybe a baby girl this time,” Ikaris said.
“In your dreams…”
Y/N mumbled as he gently opened his eyes as the morning afterglow of the sun showed through the dark blue curtains of their apartment, and right on his face. It was a dream. Y/N had been dreaming wonderfully like this for months now. Maybe it was a sign for him and Ikaris to start having a family together. Just like in Westview.
“You must have been having a great dream, or one hell of a nightmare.”
Y/N smiled as he heard Ikaris’s gravelly voice next to him. He felt the bed shift and move as he felt his husband turn towards him as Y/N felt his phantom lips ghost their way onto the back of his neck. The young Avenger gasped a bit as Ikaris teased him with a smirk.
“What were you dreaming about, Duckling?” Ikaris asked as he brushed his lips onto Y/N’s neck, causing the young boy to close his eyes in pleasure. “Something naughty perhaps?”
Y/N tried to form a coherent sentence, but it was kind of hard to do with Ikaris sucking on his neck. The Eternal flipped Y/N on his back and got on top of him, smirking down at his young husband.
“You wish, Iceberg,” Y/N said. “I was dreaming of Icarus again. Along with Tommy and Billy, but they weren’t my nephews. They were my kids.”
“How odd. What could it mean?”
“Not sure. They say our dreams have meaning sometimes. Maybe there’s a reason behind all these dreams that I’ve been having for a while.”
“Maybe they’re trying to tell you that we should start a family of our own,” Ikaris suggested.
“Well in that case,” Ikaris leaned down and kissed Y/N. “We need to practice a little.”
“How’s that?” Y/N asked in between kisses. “I can’t get pregnant, unless Eternals have the ability to impregnate males as well as females.”
“No, I don't think we have the ability to do that. I mean, I've never tried it before. You’re the only male that I’ve wanted to be with in this way,” Ikaris said. “Eternals have an extremely low birth rate among themselves, having one child every millennium or so. However, Eternals who choose to mate with ordinary human beings often have children much more frequently, although these children will not themselves be Eternals.” Ikaris look down at Y/N.
“But if I could put my babies in you, then I'm sure he or she would be very powerful. Half Eternal. Half Chaos–Mind stone user.”
“Just like Icarus in Westview.”
“Exactly. But we can adopt like Ben and Phastos did. And we can still do the fun part of making a baby.” Ikaris leaned down, and kissed Y/N more feverishly. Y/N groaned against Ikaris’s lips as his husband took control of the game. He knew how to leave Y/N wanting more. Desperate to be touched and more. Y/N probably would have let Ikaris continue, but he glanced at the digital clock on the nightstand, and noticed it was already 12:30 PM.
“Shit! Christine's wedding starts in 2 hours.” Y/N pulled back from Ikaris’s lips and looked at the older man. “Iceberg, let me up. We had to start getting ready.”
Ikaris smiled down at Y/N, in an almost teasing manner. “Oh, and what will you give me in exchange to let you up, hmm?”
“I could give you a blowjob.” Y/N smiled. “Or I could just do this…” Y/N disappeared from the bed in reddish-gold smoke and reappeared in the doorway. Doctor Strange had been teaching him different kinds of magical tricks. Teleportation was one of them. “You should know better than to make deals with a warlock, Iceberg.”
“Oh, you're so dead, Duckling,” Ikaris said as he got up from the bed and chased after Y/N at super speed towards the bathroom.
After a longer shower than usual, thanks to special and erotic circumstances. Y/N looked in the mirror as he tried to tie a tie around his neck. He wore a buttoned up white shirt with black slacks and dress shoes. The Avenger could fight aliens, monsters, witches, androids, and Deviants, but when it comes to tying a tie; he’s hopeless. Ikaris watched his husband struggle to get it right, a smile on his handsome features. He was also dressed formally for the wedding.
“You’re staring,” Y/N said, looking at Ikaris’s reflection in the mirror.
“I'm gazing,” Ikaris said
“Will you help with this tie? I’m totally bad at this,” Y/N said.
Ikaris chuckled as strolled over, turned Y/N around, so he could help him tie his tie. A few moments later he was done. “There. You look even more handsome than you already are.”
“How are you so good with these things?”
“Well, I was there when ties were invented,” Ikaris jokes.
“Yeah, well, I’d like to meet the guy who invented the clip-on tie. A real genius.”
Ikaris chuckled again as he kissed Y/N on the forehead. “Do you have your coat?”
“Yes, I was just about to grab it, then we can head out.” Y/N looked around the room. “Where is it?”
Ikaris smiled as he waved a hand, as Y/N’s coat floated out of the closet and towards him. Y/N grabbed his floating jacket and stared at Ikaris in shock. “Did you…? Did you just use telekinesis on my jacket, Iceberg?”
“I did, Duckling.”
“How did you do that? I didn’t know you could do that.”
“Well, there’s a lot you still have to learn about me, Y/N,” Ikaris said. “Eternals can control the molecules and cosmic energies in our bodies and can channel that energy in different ways. Eternals can choose to focus this energy and use it to build up certain powers, and train them to become superior to others.” The older man looked at Y/N, his blue eyes were shining bright, as if he was remembering a fond memory.
“I chose to primarily focus my energy on my strength, speed, fly, and optical blasts, but I have a trick or two up my sleeve.” And just to prove his point, Ikaris disappeared from sight, then reappeared on the other side of the room. Ikaris placed a hand on his stomach. He finds self-teleportation physically unpleasant.
“Are you okay, Ikaris?”
“I’m alright, Y/N. I just haven’t used that trick in centuries. It’ll take some time to get used to it again.”
“Well as long as you’re sure you’re okay.” Y/N put his black jacket over his dress shirt. “So, how do you want to travel to the wedding? Fly there? Uber? I could probably conjure us up a car.”
“I’m sure you probably could, but let’s stick to flying. With traffic and everything.”
“Yeah, you make a good point.”
Y/N and Ikaris made it to the wedding just in time as they scanned the rows of Pews for their friends. They saw Tony wave at them, as they walked towards their Pew, and respectively passed already seated people to get to their saved seats.
“Well, glad you fellas didn’t get lost on the way here,” Tony said. “Would have been awkward sitting next to complete strangers.”
“Yes, thank you both for coming today,” Stephen said. “I know you both probably had to rearrange your plans in order to be here.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mr. Strange. Someone has helped you keep Tony on his leash.” Y/N smirked at the billionaire, who rolled his eyes in response.
“Kid, how many times do I have to tell you? No one tells me what to do.”
“Except your husband,” Ikaris said.
“You know I was just starting to like you, Sun–Guy. Don’t make me regret it,” Tony said.
The four heroes wait for the ceremony to begin as Stephen’s former colleague and rival, Doctor Nicodemus West, sits down next to him. Stephen is surprised to see him here, but he knew Christine too. Of course, she invited him to her wedding. “Doctor Strange.”
“Haven't seen you in a while,” Doctor West said.
“I was a little preoccupied being dust in the air for five years,” Stephen sarcastically says.
“So were a lot of us.”
Stephen looks at him. “While I was gone… Thank you for asking… I lost both my cats. And my brother.”
“I'm very sorry,” Stephen said.
“Thank you. I, uh... I guess what keeps me up at night is wondering…” Doctor West begins. “Did it have to happen that way? Was there any other path?”
“No,” Stephen said. He did what he had to do. He knew it was a big play, and he paid the consequences for it as well. He, along with half the universe, had been snapped out of existence and Tony had been placed into intense care for months after he used the Infinity Stones with his bare hands. He almost died because of Stephen, and that choice would always haunt him.
“No, I made the only play we had.”
“Of course, you did. The best surgeon and the best superhero. But you still didn't get the girl.”
Stephen looks down guilty as Tony glares at Doctor West. “He got the guy instead, you ass.”
“Tony…” Y/N began, but the sound of a church organ being played interrupted whatever he was going to say, as they stood up and look behind them as ‘here comes the bride,’ began to play as the blushing bride, Christine, walked down the aisle behind four flower girls as she gave a small smile. The sorcerer watched his former girlfriend walk towards her soon to be husband. He should feel sad, maybe, jealous of the life he was robbed of with Christine, but surprisingly, he wasn’t. He had loved Christine, but he’s found someone else to love; his loving husband Anthony Stark.
At the reception. Stephen is at the bar, sipping on a drink as he watches Christine and her new husband dance with each other. It’s very sweet. Tony comes from behind and follows where Stephen is looking, and notices the newly weds. A smile tugs its way onto his face. “Oh, should I be worried about that look? Christine gonna try and steal you from me?” Stephen turns to Tony and smiles at him. “Of course not, honey,” Stephen says as he kisses Tony on the lips.
“Good. Would have hated to ruin her special day for trying to steal my husband.”
Stephen chuckled as he looked over at the dance floor as Y/N and Ikaris gently swayed back and forth. They seemed so caught up in their own little world, that the rest of the universe seemed to fade around them. Christine walked away from the dance floor and towards the bar, as she told the bartender her drink order. “Glass of red, please?”
“Allow me, Miss.” Stephen used his magic to turn the clear liquid inside her glass to a dark red color. Christine looks at Stephen, impressed. “A little too on the nose?”
“What, for you, at my wedding? Nah. I think it was perfect.” Christine smiled as Stephen and Tony raised their glasses and toast with her. “Congratulations, Christine. We're both happy for you,” Tony said.
“Thank you, Tony.” Christine takes a sip of her wine as she notices her husband. “There's Charlie. I have to introduce you both because he's kind of... It's embarrassing, but he's a big fan. So…” She begins to walk away, and Stephen stops her. “Hey, uh, Christine... umm... I should have... I wish it had been different. I never stopped caring about us, but I had to make sacrifices. To protect you. I'm sorry if I hurt you in any way.”
“It was never gonna work out between us,” Christine said. “Because Stephen... You have to be the one holding the knife. And I always respected you for it, but I couldn't love you for it.”
“How long have you had that one in the barrel?” Tony asks her.
“Yeah. I bet.”
“Truly, I'm just glad that you're happy,” Stephen tells her.
“I am. I really, really am. And I'm glad you're really happy too. You deserve it,” Christine said.
She walks away as Tony drapes his hands over Stephen’s shoulders. “She's practically glowing.”
“Yeah, she is.”
“Listen, I hate to drink and run, but I have an o'clock business meeting,” Tony said.
“That’s okay, dear. Go. I’m sure you’ll be missing nothing, but the cutting of the cake,” Stephen said.
Tony smiled. “Thanks. “I’ll make it up to you tonight.” Ironman leaned forward and whispered in his husband’s ear. “We can have our own little private party tonight.”
Stephen blushed a bit. “S–Sounds good, Tony.”
Y/N is having a really good time with Ikaris, when the sound of a car crashing is picked up by his super hearing. Y/N frowns as he can hear people screaming as well. That’s not good. He glances up at Ikaris, who has a knowing look on his face.
“I heard it too.”
They leave the dance floor and meet up with Stephen. “Where’s Tony?”
“He had to leave for a meeting. What’s wrong?”
“Something’s going on. People are screaming in fear.”
“Let’s go then,” Stephen says as they all begin to walk towards the balcony.