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I'm in love with a fairy tale even though it hurts.

Cause I don't care if I lose my mind. I'm already cursed

A princess. A knight. A forbidden romance.

Saylin Ture wants nothing more than to escape the betrothal to a man she barely knows. To run away and never look back. Her duties as a princess don't interest her if she can't choose who she can rule with.

Tristan Lockheed is a knight sworn to protect the royal family. Growing up around the family has given them plenty of opportunities to grow close to the princess.

With the wedding fast approaching and unsaid feelings coming to light, can the princess and the knight find a way to be together before it's too late? Or will their romance be another tragedy lost to time?


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Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Most parties were meant to be enjoyable. They were special occasions, meant to celebrate new beginnings and the like.




The one set for this cool autumn night was for an engagement. The princess's engagement, to be exact, so it was a much bigger deal than ordinary occasions.




Well, to everyone except for the princess.




Saylin Ture currently sat at her vanity, quietly allowing the maid behind her to finish braiding her hair, mentally wishing that someone or something would come to whisk her away from this nightmare. To take her far away and keep her hidden from the world for the rest of her life. She knew she should be excited. Her father had finally found someone who was willing to wed her. It felt like a miracle to him.




Of course she would be happy if it wasn't for the fact that it was her fault she wasn't married sooner. Over the years, she had managed to run off every possible suitor, irritating the king to no end and keeping her happy and content. She'd told her father on multiple occasions that she wouldn't marry a man that she didn't know and hadn't chosen.




He'd blamed her fairytale ideals on the stories her mother had read to her as a child, alongside the ones she'd read herself as a young woman.




Now, he wasn't completely wrong. Those books had given her a very high standard when it came to love and "happy ever after."




There was more to it, however. The one thing he could never know:




The princess had fallen in love.




It had been subtle at first, something she'd hardly noticed when she was just a few years younger, but she'd quickly come to realize where her heart lay the first time her father tried to marry her off. The truth had reared its ugly head just as fast as she had at the mention of it, shocking her so much she'd almost fainted at the ball.




After that night, all she could think about was confessing her feelings to the man on her mind and running away with him.




The not-so-lucky man in question? A knight by the name of Tristan. She'd met him for the first time when she was thirteen, and while she'd found a friend at first, she'd slowly grown to want something more. Something she knew she would never be allowed to have.




Her heart was aching now, a small lump slowly forming in her throat. She'd done so well at keeping any future husbands away that she'd believed herself to have more time. If she had just been braver, she'd have figured out a plan sooner and would've bared her heart and soul to the man.




Unfortunately, fear of rejection had kept her just shy of doing that.




So now tonight, she was going to have to put on a fake smile, force a laugh here and there, and pretend that she was okay with the idea of marrying a man who barely seemed to look at her when she was in the room.




For being the man who agreed to marry her, Alexander Harrington hardly seemed interested in the princess. The annoyed side glances and irritated sighs when she got too close or tripped over her feet were enough of an indication that the life she had with him would be miserable.




It was enough to make her want to cry.




"All done now, Your Highness." The young brunette's voice was enough to snap Saylin out of her thoughts. She looked up into the mirror, meeting the woman's bright green eyes and gentle smile. "You look as beautiful as ever," she said, taking a step back to allow the princess to stand.




She forced her first smile of many that night before pushing away from the vanity, turning to face her. She did feel a little more beautiful than usual. Leah had done an amazing job on her hair, and the blue dress she wore did well to bring out her own blue eyes. The beads along the bodice sparkled when the light hit them and the skirt twirled with perfection. "Thank you, Leah." She couldn't be mean to the maid. She was one of the kindest ones she'd ever had the pleasure of getting to know.




Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the matching gloves that sat on the desk and slid them on, turning to face the door. It was time to make her way to the ballroom and face the music.




To celebrate the beginning of the life that she never asked for.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

The knights stood in perfect formation. Commander Hollis marched up and down the line, barking orders and inspecting their armour for any scuffs of dirt the men might have missed while polishing the iron plates. "You will not speak unless spoken to!" spittle flew from his lips, catching in his bushy mustache. "Unless given a direct order from myself, you will remain at your designated posts for the duration of this gala. I will not have any of my men rubbing elbows with the king's noble guests, do I make myself clear?"



"Yes, Commander!" Tens of voices sounded off at once, save for one.



Tristan hadn't been settled since the news had broken of the princess's engagement. Sleepless nights had left shadows under his eyes and exhaustion in his bones. Then he'd gone and been one of the men selected to stand guard in the ball room for the duration of the feast and ball. A punishment worse than lashings, if he was being honest. Tristan had always felt out of place among the elite ruling class; born with silver spoons in their mouths while he himself had scrounged for food that neither parent could put on the table. By some miracle he'd been granted an apprenticeship at the castle under Hollis's command, a twist of fate that led him to cross paths with her






Eloquence was never his strong suit. A poor education and quiet nature often left him a bumbling mess whenever she'd smile and greet him in passing. And by god, she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever laid eyes on. Still, he knew his place. Hollis reminded him often enough of that to never get his hopes up that he would be anything other than a friendly acquaintance that had grown up alongside her. This royal engagement was a painful reminder that she would only ever be his in his dreams. 



Nausea swirled in his stomach as he took his post, close to the head table. Prime position to see the entire room but also an up-close view of Saylin and her future husband. Tristan hadn't heard the most resounding endorsements of the man since the royal caravan had arrived at the castle. Staff gossip spread quickly. By the first night of his stay, Tristan had already formed his opinion of the narcissist who would claim Saylin as his bride. No one would ever be good enough, in Tristan's humble opinion, but certainly not the spoiled brat sitting before him.



Trumpets sounded. Guests rose from their seats to greet their royal family but it was no secret that most were desperate for a glance at the bride to be; Saylin, beloved by her people, had that effect. Tristan felt his breath hitch the moment she came into view. The woman that had stolen his heart with a single smile all those years ago when he'd been brought to the castle to train for royal military service. God, how was he supposed to focus on anything but her tonight?



"You could be less obvious," Klaus muttered beside him, the knight assigned as his partner for the evening. 



Tristan dropped his eyes immediately. The evening stretched out ahead of them, it would do no one any good if he were to be reprimanded and removed from his post before the first course was even served.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Any thoughts she had on keeping her chin up and a smile on her face left her mind the moment that Saylin laid eyes on Tristan. She shouldn't have been surprised that he was there. It only made sense, but damn if it didn't just knock the wind out of her. It would be almost impossible to keep a straight face now. How was she supposed to pretend to be happy and such when the one she really wanted was right in front of her?




She averted her gaze as quickly as she could, taking a deep breath. She could do this. It was only for a little while. Then she could crawl onto her window seat and curl up with one of her books. It would be a nice escape from the cruel reality she was living right now.




Instead, she put her focus forward to her future husband, meeting his gaze. A brow was raised, causing her stomach to flip, and not in a good way. If she wasn't careful, surely she'd be in trouble.




Stopping in front of him, she curtsied, bowing her head to keep from looking at him for a moment. She would guilty and she knew it. She'd never been able to keep her emotions hidden. No, Saylin usually wore her heart on her sleeve. It was why this situation was so difficult for her; everything had to be thought about before spoken and every movement had to be calculated.




One wrong move and she'd find herself locked up, she was sure.




No, that wasn't right. The king would blame the innocent knight.




She couldn't stand the thought.




Looking back up, she offered Alexander a small smile before being allowed to sit down, not even waiting for him to take her hand and place the usual kiss on the back of it. She didn't want it.




The first thirty minutes went by just fine. She was able to force herself to eat, despite the crushing weight on her shoulders, and even held a conversation or two. Her mind began to wander, however, and she soon found herself sneaking another glance at Tristan. She'd been staring far longer than she should've been, and it wasn't long before Alexander was clearing his throat. "Don't you think so, darling?"




Saylin's heart nearly stopped before she tore her gaze away, her cheeks turning bright pink. " apologies. What was that?" Oh no... That certainly wasn't good.




The irritated look on his face quickly melted away before he patted her head, something that irked the young woman more than anything. It felt so...demeaning. Like she was viewed as a child instead of an adult. "Nevermind, then. It wasn't important if you didn't hear it. I have to wonder, though, what was so important that it gave you such a faraway look?"




It wasn't a bad question. Not really, but every eye was on her now, causing her to feel even more pressure. "A story," she quickly blurted out. Perhaps too quickly.




A laugh escaped the man's lips. "And what kind of story would that be?" The question wasn't a genuine one. The slight, smug grin was enough for her to realize that.



Dread filled her before she forced a smile. "A fairytale. Nothing more..."




Another laugh. This one felt more...mocking. "A children's story? How fitting." The words hit like a punch to the gut, but she could only continue to smile. Laugh at her expense.




She wouldn't defend her love for books. It was the one thing she had left of her mother. The one thing that meant more to her than anything. She would not allow this man to crush any happiness she had left.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Was she enjoying the festivities? From his position it was difficult to read the expressions on Saylin's face but the tension in her shoulders had Tristan on alert. Not only that but it didn't appear that her future husband was even bothering to read her non-verbals, choosing instead to ramble of his own volition. The chatter of guests and cutlery made it impossible to eavesdrop, though judging by the void in Saylin's eyes it couldn't have been too interesting, he battled back a grin. Princely status clearly did not equate to charm. 


Alexander had guards of his own on post, evidently not trusting the hosting royals to provide competent security for the evening. Twice Tristan's size and vicious scowls, they hovered behind Alexander's chair with hands already grasping the sword hilts on their belts. "I've got a bad feeling," he murmured to Klaus, glancing away quickly as he noticed Saylin's eyes straying to him once more. Best not to be caught staring at the crown princess in front of her fiance. "The commander didn't advise us of external guard resources this evening."


"You're too paranoid. The richest people in the kingdom are in this room right now, the extra guards make sense."


"The fact that the richest people in the kingdom are in this room is precisely why I have a bad feeling," Tristan muttered.


The sheer number of guests would make any kind of scouting virtually impossible. He could pick out the names of each noble family, to be sure, but Tristan couldn't put names to faces, save for a few familiar ones. Guests overflowed from their tables to the corridors and out into the courtyard. Friend or foe would be challenging to differentiate. "Not like we have to worry about anything but the head table anyway," Klaus nudged his arm. 


Saylin's close proximity to the two unfamiliar guards was precisely Tristan's main concern. No doubt that they would interfere for their prince's safety, but he couldn't trust them to protect her in the event of an attack. Hell, he would bet all of his gold that the two men would gladly throw her to the wolves for Alexander's life to be spared. No, Tristan would not calm himself. Letting down his guard would open the head table up for danger and he would not allow harm to come to the princess.


Commander Hollis approached the table, pressing a fist to his chest and bowing to the king. "Your Grace, the perimeter has been secured. My men are stationed at every entrance as well as the courtyard, as well as additional horsemen continuing their patrol of the grounds. Any threats will be handled promptly and without hesitation."


You can't promise that, Tristan's hand shook behind his back. Perhaps he'd over-consumed caffeine in preparation for his senses to be on high alert. Too many people and too few knights to protect them all. "If I may," he ignored Klaus's foot kicking his own to step forward, bowing to the royals. "I would advise at least four knights patrol inside the great hall during the festivities."


"You will hold your tongue," Hollis's face turned purple.


"I do not mean to overstep but there are a great number of guests, Your Grace. Merely standing post at the entrances will not ensure security within the ballroom itself."


Hollis turned back to the king, forced laughter erupting. "Forgive me, Your Royal Highnesses, this young man evidently requires correction by his superiors. I shall deal with him, unless you see fit to handle punishment yourself?"

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

The air had suddenly grown tense, the room quiet, as Tristan spoke out about the guard detail. It was unexpected, to say the least, and had Saylin gripping her dress beneath the table. It was fairly obvious, to her at least, that he cared about the safety of the royal family and their guests.




Her feelings for the knight played no part in her agreement with what he was saying. It made sense, logically, to keep guards close by. While she had been lucky to have never dealt with an assassination attempt on her life, it was an assassin that had stolen the queen from them far too soon, and there had been many attempts on the king in all the years that they had ruled.




It made sense that they would want to be careful.




Her heart felt like it had jumped into her throat at the mention of punishment. It almost irritated her, in fact. Did no one else see that he was right? Or was she wrong and her personal feelings were, in fact, clouding her judgment?




Before her father could speak, she found herself responding instead. "My apologies for speaking out of turn, but I do believe Sir Lockheed has a point." It took all she had not to call him by his first name. One point to Saylin. "Dare we forget the brutal murder of my mother?" It was not something she wanted to bring up. She didn't even want to think about it, but if it kept the knight from getting into too much trouble then she would certainly use it.




She could feel Alexander staring at her, could practically feel the heat from his gaze, but she kept her eyes on those of her fathers and Hollis's when given the chance. A sad smile found its way to her lips. "Not that I doubt any of the skills your men have, Commander, but I do not wish to relive that same pain with my father. Or worse, that he relive that pain with me."




She purposefully avoided mentioning her fiance's men. She had no faith in them whatsoever. They had no loyalty to her and her family for the time being. "I know I would feel much safer with a few knights within the great hall." She looked away then, reaching out to grab the glass before her and taking a sip of the sweet liquid inside. "That's just my personal opinion, however. Take it with a grain of salt, if you really feel like you must."




Despite the confident exterior, she felt sick on the inside. She had overstepped her bounds, she was sure of it. The silence certainly didn't help ease the knot forming in her stomach. Had she said too much? Had she jumped to Tristan's defense too quickly? She hoped not. A glance at the king didn't help ease her mind. Not right away.




"I can volunteer my men for the job, then," Alexander said, breaking the tense air.




She quickly shook her head. "With all due respect, I don't trust your men as far as I can throw them." The words were harsher than she had meant for them to be, but true nonetheless.




"Saylin!" Her father's voice caused her to look at him, eyes slightly wide. Whoops.



"My apologies. That was rude of me." Another sip of her drink. "Half, then. Two of Alexander's men and two of ours in the hall. If something does happen, there won't be any questions as to who would be shielded first." She felt like it was a fair deal.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Eyes forward, don't look at her. Of all the people at the head table who could have spoken up on his behalf in support, Tristan hadn't expected it to be Saylin. He wasn't even sure why not. They'd gotten along well throughout the years and she never looked at him with anything other than kindness and respect, even if he watched her with lovesick puppy dog eyes. Saylin's support, against the scowling fiance beside her, caused a blush to rise from his neck to his face while he mouthed thank you the moment the other men looked away.


Hollis was ill-prepared for negotiations between the crown princess and the visiting prince. Whatever punishment Tristan had earned by speaking out of turn was surely going to be made worse over the commander's embarrassment. "Two men from each military would work the best, Your Grace," he conceded with the princess, seeking the king's approval. "Two men posted here at the head table and the other two can patrol the ballroom for a shift, and then the men can switch postings."


Alexander's jaw was clenched and if Tristan looked closely enough he was sure that he'd see a throbbing vein at his temple. The knight frowned. Such a barely concealed temper in a very public setting did not bode well for his personality behind closed doors. Glancing at Saylin, he tried to gauge her body language but could see nothing but a stoic exterior. "Two men from each army," her father finally gave his ruling. "Suspicious activities are to be reported immediately to Commander Hollis, do I make myself clear?"


"Yes, Your Grace," Tristan bowed his head, volunteering himself for the first round of patrol. Pausing for a fraction of a second beside Saylin's chair, he leaned down slightly. "Stay alert, Princess," he whispered.


An hour into the celebration and Tristan could not place the foreboding knot in his stomach. Intuiton will tell you everything you need to know, Hollis had pummeled the phrase into all of their heads during apprenticeship training. Trust your gut. What good was such advice if he had no idea where to even begin his search? Guests chattered and roared with laughter, not even in squabbles among themselves at their tables. Not a single noble appeared the least bit inebriated or miserable. Tristan prided himself on being able to read faces for evidence of potential threats but everyone appeared to be genuinely enjoying the festivities. 



Across the room he could feel Hollis's eyes on him. Not that the young knight was hoping for trouble to rear its ugly head, but it would make his actions and declaration mighty difficult to justify if nothing untoward happened. 


Klaus had taken the first shift beside Saylin's chair as direct protection against anyone who dared approach unwelcomed. "Tristan and I are honoured to serve you this evening, Your Royal Highness," he bowed to her, keeping his voice low enough to not grab the attention of Alexander, who had been speaking to the man on his other side. "If you need anything at all, please ask."


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

A small smile found its way to her lips at Tristan's gratitude. She could only nod since she didn't want to draw too much more attention to herself, but the fact that he was grateful made her heart skip a beat and her body just a little warmer. It felt nice to be able to do something for him, especially when she had to be careful with her words and actions. The pit was still in her stomach, however, at the silence that hung in the air still. Had she messed up by speaking out? She had felt she'd done a decent enough job of agreeing without being disrespectful. It was only the part about not trusting her fiance's men that was a bit much.




She was immediately filled with relief when her father agreed. She wasn't sure if she saved Tristan from any form of punishment. She prayed that she did, but she knew she'd have to check once everything had calmed down.




She soon turned her gaze away from everyone else, downing the rest of her drink. She was mad it wasn't alcoholic. She felt like she needed a drink more than anything right now. She, however, wasn't allowed to drink. Not at dinner, at least. Later on, she might be able to...if she could sneak a glass or two. For the time being, though? She'd have to do this sober.




The knight's voice in her ear sent an unexpected chill down her spine. She tensed slightly, trying to ignore the goosebumps that rose on her arms. Thank the stars for gloves. "Thank you, Sir Lockheed," she whispered, turning her head only slightly to respond.




Time seemed to drag after that. For the most part, Saylin stayed quiet. What else could she say? Alexander was hardly showing any interest in speaking with her. Probably upset that you insulted his men. He'd have to just get over that. While she knew she needed to be proper and lady-like, her mother had raised her to never take anyone's crap. She could be the sweetest person one would get the pleasure of knowing, but she also had a blunt tongue, and most of the time, she made no apologies for it. When she did, she usually didn't mean it.




She looked up at Klaus when he spoke, offering him a kind smile. He was another knight that she enjoyed the company of. Not the way she did Tristan, of course, but he had never been anything but nice to her, and there were times she felt that his kindness was genuine and not because it was part of his job. "I'm honored to have you two at my side," she replied softly. For a moment, she debated asking him if he could find a way to get her away from Alexander, but she was sure it would only lead to trouble. "I appreciate that. Thank you very much." She was going to hate when their shift ended.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Tristan had been right; there were too damn many people to properly assess pending dangers. If they weren't bumping into him in passing, guests were crowding each other to be heard over the musicians and their lutes. Frustration built. Drunken nobles were irritating on a good day let alone when security was of the utmost importance. A headache pulsed behind his eye. From across the room he caught sight of Klaus tracking him, offering the slightest shrug in response to the unasked question. Perhaps he was merely paranoid after all.


Alexander's man was not nearly as thorough with his own patrol. If anything he had a glass of wine at each table he stopped at, ruckus and laughter distracting him from his task at hand. Any complaint to Hollis about the lack of professionalism would go nowhere, given that he was a soldier not under his command and serving Prince Alexander. Tristan grit his teeth, hearing the commander's voice in his head telling him to focus on the task he'd all but demanded. 


Klaus bowed in farewell to Saylin when it was his turn to switch posts with Tristan. "Congratulations again, Your Royal Highness."


"Congratulations indeed," Tristan muttered under his breath. 



It was bad enough having to boil under a thick woollen tunic and armour without the reminder of why this ball was even being thrown. Saylin's betrothal irked him more than it had any right to. She was a princess, he was a knight. Any future his life would have would be spent in service to her family, not as a member of it. The sooner he accepted that fate, perhaps her imminent marriage wouldn't strike so hard against his heart.


"I hope you are enjoying your evening, Your Royal Highness," Tristan spoke once he was sure Hollis's attention was elsewhere. "We're all...pleased. For you, I mean. We're pleased for you and for this happy occasion."


Lies were bitter on his tongue but they just kept falling out. Happiness for her was out of the question when Prince Alexander was involved. Saylin deserved someone who understood her and treated her as an equal, not this egotistical narcissist who was more concerned with inheriting titles and fortunes than getting to know his bride. "Perhap-"




Klaus's shriek echoed over the noise, somewhere from the bustling crowd. Tristan's sword was drawn, barely catching the fiery red hair of a man he'd passed by twice before. Only this time, a dagger was clutched in his hand. 


And then that dagger was airborne. "Get down!" Tristan shoved Saylin's chair over, batting the knife from the air with his sword. 


The assassin continued his movement forward, the soldiers struggling to get to him through the scramble of bodies. Klaus was elbowing his way through as best as he could but it was no use. Tristan and the second of Alexander's men were the last line of defense. "The crown must fall!' the man bellowed in a thick brogue, seizing yet another blade from his belt. 


Guardsmen were well-trained but whoever this man was it was clear that he'd not been an amateur either. He matched Tristan's strikes blow for blow, as though knowing his movements before even he did. Alexander's man was as useless as the prince, merely standing in front of the head table to protect his employer and no one else. Growling, Tristan drove the hilt of his weapon into the man's jaw to knock him off-stride long enough for him to tackle the assassin around the waist. "Get me a pair of shackles!" he yelled, pinning the man to the ground while glancing back to ensure that Saylin was safe. "Go to her!" he ordered Klaus, who had finally broken free.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

This was exhausting. The fake smiles and the forced laughs were taking a toll when all Saylin wanted to do was sob. How was it that she could suddenly feel like a prisoner in her own home? Maybe it was some secret punishment for all the years of being difficult. She hoped this would be the last party for a long time. Perhaps it would be her last one ever.




While holding mindless conversations here and there, she'd been debating on how to escape. Which runaway plan would be the best. Living outside of the castle wouldn't be easy, she knew that much, but it would be better than being stuck with a man who only wanted to marry her for the title of king.




It would be a miserable and loveless marriage and she wasn't going to subject herself to that.




At Klaus's congratulations, she almost let out a bitter laugh. She wasn't quiet about her disappointment with the marriage. Did people just not see it? Or did they choose to ignore it? It was hard to say.




With Tristan soon taking his spot by her side, a genuine smile would spread across her face again. His words did nothing to help her mood, however. I wish you weren't one of them, she thought to herself. That sentence was on the tip of her tongue, almost begging to be said aloud. It was probably a good thing she wasn't drinking, then. She would've slipped up.




She turned to look up at him, wanting to ask him to speak of anything else, when shouting caught her attention.




It all happened so fast after that: the red hair, the blades connecting, and her chair hitting the floor. She cried out at the sudden fall, wincing as she landed on her shoulder. It was an sharp pain, but faded almost as quickly as it jolted through her. She could hear the struggle and the yelling, but she didn't dare move. Didn't dare look for fear of what she'd see.




"The crown must fall!




Those words sent a wave of shock through her. Memories of her mother came flooding back to her so fast it made her dizzy. Was this what she had felt? That sudden strike of fear? Her heart began pounding so hard in her chest that she thought it might burst.




She finally looked up when she heard Tristan call out, her eyes wide. It was only then that she realized she was trembling. The man hadn't gone after her father. Not like all the other assassins in the past. He hadn't even gone after Alexander. He'd gone after her. "Why?" The word came out so soft that she was sure no one had heard her. She wasn't even quite sure she'd actually said it.




Seeing Klaus approach, she scrambled to sit up. Her legs felt too weak to stand at the moment, but at least they would know she was unharmed.


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

It took four additional men to restrain the man, flipping him onto his stomach so that Tristan could latch the shackles onto his wrists, all while he continued his screaming tirade against Saylin and her family. "Enough!" Tristan lost his temper, slamming the man's head into the stone floor.


"Escort the prisoner to a cell immediately for interrogation," Commander Hollis yelled. "He is to be under constant supervision, and no visitors!"


The knights led the assassin away but not quickly enough to avoid him spitting in Hollis's face. Tristan's adrenaline was wearing off with each passing second. "Comman-"


"I don't want to hear a word from you!" Hollis snarled.


Reprimands were nothing new to soldiers but to be chewed out in front of guests and Saylin was a blow to Tristan's pride. Of course the blame would be spun on him; his entire patrol idea failed in spectacular fashion and the princess had nearly been killed. "How the hell could you have missed him, the man was a mountain!" 


"He was socializing with other guests both times I passed him sir," Tristan spoke through gritted teeth, knowing the king's eyes were on the confrontation. "Perhaps a better question is why the man was permitted past the guards at the entrance without forfeiting his weapons."


"Now is not the time for you to be a smartass! I will deal with you in the morning after I've dealt with the assassin. You and your partner will escort the princess directly to her chambers, and you will remain outside of her door until the morning. No one is to go in or out, do I make myself clear?"


It was rhetorical, of course. Tristan spun on his heel, seeking out Klaus and Saylin. The princess looked no worse for wear, though he was sure he'd injured her when he shoved her chair over. Klaus's sword was still in his hand. "Your Royal Highness, we must get you to safety," Tristan spoke with as much authority as he could muster. "The commander wishes for you to remain in your room until the castle is swept for any other threats. We will be posted outside of your door for security."


"Do they think there are others?" Klaus interrupted.


Tristan couldn't say yes or no. He was still kicking himself for having missed any signs that the red-haired man posed a danger, who knew if he had accomplices? "We will secure Princess Saylin's chambers as much as we can," he avoided answering. "Come, we need to go."


"And what about me?" Alexander must have been eavesdropping the entire time. He stormed over, face red.


"With all due respect, Your Grace, you have brought guards of your own so perhaps they will do just fine," Tristan snapped, brushing past him to lead Saylin and Klaus through the corridor.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin's face had paled by the time Tristan had approached her, having barely heard a word the commander or him had spoke. She was so focused on what had happened, so stuck in the past, that she didn't feel like she'd be able to pull herself back out. What would happen if the man broke out? Or if there was another assassin? Was the attempt a distraction from something else? So many possibilities... her head was beginning to swim.




Hearing him speak to her, she could only nod, her voice stuck in her throat. She wasn't going to argue against the safety of her room. She would feel much better than out in the open. She was positive, however, that she wouldn't be catching much sleep, if any...




Anger quickly tore through her at Alexander's words. She'd been right not to trust his men. None of them had come to her defense. They'd stayed by his side, despite the fact that it hadn't been his life in danger. She wanted to tear into him, finally put him in his place, but Tristan was quick to speak, and in truth? She didn't have the energy for it.




So she kept her mouth shut, only glaring at her fiance as she was led away. "Pig," she mumbled under her breath. "It would save us a ton of trouble if he'd been the target..." The words were harsh and cold, unlike anything she'd ever spoken before. Her hatred for the man ran deep, only enhanced by the nights events. Couldn't he at least pretend to give a damn about her?




Without thinking, and needing something to cling to, Saylin reached out and took Tristan's arm, not caring that Klaus was also there. She needed some kind of comfort and she'd take it wherever she could get it. Her hand shook and her legs felt like they were going to give out, yet she kept walking, unable to break down just yet. She'd wait until she was alone.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

The slight pressure of her hand on his arm stole more of his attention than it should have. Saylin had just endured a traumatic, potential life-threatening situation and here he was flustered like a schoolboy because she'd reached for him seeking comfort. Hollis would wring his neck. "The rest of the knights will ensure the grounds and castle are cleared of any further threats, Your Royal Highness," he laid his free hand on hers. "Klaus and I will not move an inch from your door, you have our word."


The first task once they reached her chambers was to confirm that there was no one and nothing waiting to cause her harm. Once the two men had done a thorough sweep, the curtains were drawn and secured to prevent any scouts or archers from tracking her movements. For added security, they barricaded the door to the balcony with the solid mahogany armoir. "I don't like leaving such a large access point unmonitored," Klaus pulled Tristan aside. "Even with the patrols on the ground, it isn't impossible for another assassin to toss a grappling hook and climb up."


Valid - and concerning - points. Standing guard in the corridor would do no good if an attack came in from outside. "Princess Saylin," Tristan looked to her, hating how unsettled the turn of events had made her. "Would you be opposed to Klaus and I standing your chambers tonight?"


Christ above, if his face got any redder he'd be a tomato. It was hard enough being in her proximity in the light of day surrounded by other people. Being inside her private chambers when she was in a vulnerable state of bedclothes and sleep? "Rest assured that we will remain on the opposite side of the room, away from your bed, Your Royal Highness," Klaus interjected. "Your bed curtains will remain closed at all times, if you wish. We only mean to protect you from both access points to your chambers."


Tristan locked eyes with her, hoping that they were able to bring her even a small ounce of comfort. "You will be safe with us, Princess. You have my word," his blue eyes shone in the light of the fireplace.


Both men would sooner die than allow harm to come to her. Tristan had always held a soft spot for Saylin, the compassionate princess who always showed him more kindness than most of his status ever knew in a lifetime. And Klaus? He was a third generation knight under the king's army. Pride of his family name and dedication to the crown made him one of the few men Tristan trusted with his own life, let alone protecting the royal family.


"You have the final say, Princess," Tristan reminded her. "If you would rather we wait in the corridor for the night, we will."


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

It shouldn't have, but Saylin's heart skipped a beat at the feel of his hand over hers. It also made her feel a little bit better. His attempt to comfort her meant so much more than he would ever get to know. The thought was a little saddening. "I appreciate it...thank you very much," she said softly. She wanted to reach up with her other hand and squeeze his, even if it was just for a moment. With Klaus present, however, she decided against it.




Waiting outside of her room just a little while later was...excruciating, to say the least. The thought that someone could be inside was a terrifying one, though she felt relieved when they found nothing. If she were an assassin, that's where she would've waited. That's how some of her stories led with an attempt, at least. The thought sent a wave of fear through her. Would someone try to come in and finish the job? Even if Tristan and Klaus were present, would they get to her in time? Would she even have time to alert them?




Panic had begun to well up inside of her, threatening to choke her, when Tristan spoke up. Her own cheeks reddened at the question, despite the fact that there was no ulterior motive behind it. In fact, it made a lot more sense for them to stay with her in the room than stand outside the door. Then she really wouldn't have a chance if something happened.




She tore her gaze away from Tristan for just a moment to give Klaus her attention. Hopefully, they couldn't tell how flustered she was, though she wasn't trying to hide it. She then glanced back at Tristan, obviously thinking over the idea.




On one hand, she really would feel much safer. Logically, it made sense, and it wasn't like she wouldn't have any privacy. She had a cover to change behind and she did indeed have the curtains to keep herself hidden. She had no doubt that they would keep their word concerning her safety and staying opposite of her in the room.




On the other hand... if her father or fiance found out that they had stayed in her room instead, she could only imagine what the backlash would be. Could they get in trouble for it if they were only trying to keep her safe?




Taking a deep breath, she finally nodded. "I would like it more if you two stayed with me... If I'm honest, I don't really want to be alone tonight, anyway..." Tears threatened to spill over her cheeks for a moment, but she quickly blinked them away. She wouldn't let them see her cry. She'd save that for behind the curtains.


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

"Then we will stay," Tristan assured her, nearly reaching out to take her hand for added comfort. 


Whatever exhaustion he had felt earlier on in the evening was entirely wiped clear. There was no time to lower their guards and get comfortable when there could be threats lurking around any corner. Klaus and Tristan both reached for their swords at the sound of clambering feet hurrying down the hall, only standing down at the confirmation that it was a platoon of Saylin's army continuing their sweep for danger. "Do you think he acted alone?" Klaus spoke softly, hoping that it was quiet enough the princess couldn't hear. "The assassin?"


It was hard to say. An attack waged against the crown princess was almost certainly a plot involved more individuals than only the fiery haired man however it did not necessarily confirm that they arrived in strong numbers for additional support. "He was the only one who moved in, and it didn't appear that anyone else tried to assist him once he was restrained," Tristan rubbed at the five o'clock shadow dusting his jawline. "I won't be comfortable until morning, when we can get a full assessment and report."


Now all that his time required was not allowing himself to stare too frequently at Saylin. Klaus is right here, he had to remind himself on more than one instance when he found his eyes lingering on the way the firelight danced across her skin. The king's daughter beauty was often discussed among the ranks of soldiers but Tristan felt a smug flare of pride that they weren't the ones who were seeing her now in the privacy of her chambers where she was safe from the outside world. He only wished it were under vastly different circumstances. "If you need us to step outside for you to change," he cleared his throat, realizing that he didn't have the strength to be in the same room with the temptation but would if she commanded so. "I know you've had a fright, Your Highness, but we will protect you. Please don't worry. It'll be as if we're not here, if you want to go about your...usual bedtime routine."


Christ, now he was thinking about what kind of garments she wore to sleep. Klaus came to the rescue, not waiting for a decision. "We'll be right outside the door when you're ready for us to come back in," he practically shoved Tristan into the hallway, grabbing him by the jaw in a firm grip. "I don't know what the hell is in that head of yours but you need to focus. No lovesick puppy dog eyes, no fanciful daydreams, you hear me? We're here for a job and I won't be reprimanded because you're too distracted."


"I won't," the younger man pushed his hand away. "I just think my adrenaline is wearing off."


Klaus didn't believe him but he also didn't press the issue. Once they were given the all-clear to go back inside, the two men settled themselves into the armchairs by the expansive fireplace. There was no sense standing until morning. It would only take one locked knee for either of them to take a tumble and potentially concuss themselves and then they'd be truly useless.


"Are you alright, Princess?" Tristan risked a look at her. "You've had a rather...eventful evening."


It wasn't just the assassination attempt that sprung to mind.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

"Thank you..."




The words were so soft that Saylin wasn't quite sure either of the men had heard her say it. She truly meant it, though. If it hadn't been for them... well, it wasn't hard to figure out what would've happened. Her home would be in total chaos, more so than it already was. That was a little fact she was reminded of when she saw them go for their swords. She quickly tensed up, taking a step back towards her bed. It was almost like she could hide under the covers and the big bad monster wouldn't be able to get her.




A childish thing, really, and something she'd grown out of long ago.




Or so she thought. In truth, it was all she really wanted to do.




She was filled with relief as soon as she knew that there wasn't another threat beyond the door, relaxing just a little. Tearing her gaze away from it, she looked at Klaus and Tristan, tilting her head as they spoke in hushed whispers. She was tempted to step closer to listen or even ask them what it was they were talking about, but it didn't feel right. Eavesdropping wasn't her thing, anyway. Not if she could help it.




Instead, she turned away, moving towards a window and looking outside. It was such a beautiful night... How sad that it had to be filled with such an awful experience.




She didn't stand there long, moving way just as quickly to open the wardrobe. As she walked, she could feel someone watching her. She glanced over long enough to catch Tristan's gaze, which immediately sent a wave of heat through her and caused her cheeks to flush a bright pink. Why was his gaze so intense? Had it always been that way? Or was it because they were in her bedroom? The light from the candles didn't help. It was too...atmospheric. Like a scene in a book she'd read one time...




Her cheeks flushed even more at the thought, quickly pushing new images from her mind. Her father would crucify her if he knew what occupied her thoughts. It'd be far more embarrassing if Tristan could read her mind. He'd probably run far away.




Then he spoke and it made her thoughts all the worse. She was almost like a lovesick teenager. It didn't help that she now held a nightgown in her hands, holding it close to her chest, almost as if it would somehow keep them from seeing her heart pounding.




She opened her mouth to respond yet didn't have a chance to get a word out before Klaus jumped in, the two leaving her alone. A gasp escaped her lips as her eyes widened. She nearly let out a squeak before she buried her face in the fabric of the gown. "By the stars..." She was hopeless. She knew she was... and yet, the way he had been watching her... It was enough to make her stomach flip.




She knew she shouldn't be indulging in the possibility that he fancied her, knew she had to push the idea from her mind, but it was sticking with her. If there was even the smallest chance...




Enough of that. Don't even go there. He had simply been doing his job. That was all.




With a deep, shaky breath, she quickly changed, setting the dress she'd worn for dinner on the back of her vanity chair. She was almost embarrassed to go get them once she was ready, having taken her hair down and allowing the curly mess to hang around her shoulders and face. Having two men in her chambers...surely some prick would try and twist that.




Regardless, she went to the door, opening it a little to let them know it was safe. With the door shut behind them, she made her way to her bed, keeping the curtain open once she was sitting, one leg bent on the mattress while the other hung over the edge. It was comfortable and kept them from being able to see anything beneath the skirt.




Tristan's question was an unexpected one, but not unwelcome. She could only shrug before she looked down at the floor. "If I am to be honest, no. What happened was truly frightening. My father is far better equipped to handle such a thing..." Tears welled up in her eyes. "This will sound naive, but I didn't realize that someone could hate me so much to want to see me killed. I've never done anyone any harm, have I?" She looked up at him then, the tears glistening in the light.




Alexander's reaction hadn't helped her at all. He'd been so offended by the fact that they hadn't offered him protection. It shouldn't have, but it hurt. She was important too, damn it. She wasn't just some bargaining piece for whatever political games her father was playing.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

It was the first time since he'd known her that Tristan had ever heard Saylin sound so distraught. Disenchantment with the royal family was inevitable among some of the more revolutionary countrymen but even they were hard-pressed to find a fault in their crown princess. Saylin expressed the utmost compassion everywhere she went. Her countrymen were not burdens to bear, but an honour to serve. She was one of the few royals Tristan knew to truly do everything for the betterment of her countrymen's lives instead of merely the nobles. And this was how she was repaid. With death.


"Forgive me Your Highness but as powerful and stoic as your father is, an assassination attempt would rattle anyone," Tristan spoke carefully. "I don't believe this act was carried out by anyone native to this country. The man's accent sounded more like that of the Highlands."


"Our lands have been allies for decades," Klaus frowned. "If the Highlands king wished to start a war, do you think he would strike such a drastic blow from the start? Not only did the assassination attempt fail but anyone who initiated it has to know that the king will rain hellfire down on whomever is behind it."


Moment by moment the scene played out in Tristan's mind once more. The target was not confused by any means; Saylin was the intended victim, not Prince Alexander. It was carefully calculated. Rumors of wars were not unfamiliar territory, but they were not actively at war nor was he aware of any stirrings of such. "Commander Hollis will assign additional protection for you and your family, Princess, until we have determined the threat level this poses moving forward."


"That also means that no one will be allowed to leave the castle grounds until an investigation has been thoroughly carried out," Klaus added.


It took all of his willpower to not roll his eyes. "That will include Prince Alexander's entourage," he spoke through gritted teeth. "Those who were not in attendance at tonight's gala will have to be investigated until their whereabouts can be accounted for, which I'm sure the prince will not be pleased with. He will have no choice but to surrender his men to Hollis for questioning."


Given the cold shoulder the prince had given to his bride all evening, Tristan would bet his last gold coin that Alexander would be less than pleased at his staff being treated as suspected criminals. "Your Highness if there are any qualms you have about who is assigned to your personal security detail, do not hesitate to speak with Klaus or I about it, if not directly to Commander Hollis. I don't believe a member of our army is behind this but I am unwilling to take the risk. You must be on high-alert at every moment. Trust no one, do you understand?"




He looked to Klaus, crooking an eyebrow. "Perhaps what?"


"I was merely thinking that it wouldn't be a terrible idea to arm the princess, for personal protection. Not that I think she will need it but surely having a dagger strapped somewhere on her person for immediate access in instances where she needs to rely on self-defense is better than relying only on soldiers?"

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

The fabric of her dress was gripped between Saylin's fingers now as she looked up at Tristan, tears glistening in her eyes. While it should've eased her mind that it might not have been one of her people, the fact that anyone would do it, to begin with still stuck with her. She had limited reach for the time being, but no matter who she met or where she traveled, she did her best to extend her hand and kindness to everyone. So who could hate her so much? Especially in the Highlands?




A pit settled into her stomach as she listened to them speak. She knew she should've kept her mouth shut, shouldn't have said what she did, but she couldn't help it. It slipped out before she couldn't stop it. "I would rather die, then. Prince Alexander and his men should be forced to leave. Let them deal with this on their own time and in their own home." The words were laced with anger. This whole situation was frustrating.




At Tristan's words, she slowly nodded. No doubt, she would be looking over her shoulder. Every creak, footstep, voice, and even the smallest sound would cause her to jump out of her skin, she knew it. She would never feel safe in her home again, especially with the heartless man she was going to marry. He would never help her feel that way.




No, the one who did was sitting across the room from her. So close, yet so far... If Klaus hadn't been present, surely she would've collapsed into him and begged him not to let her go for even a second.




She frowned at the knights' suggestion. "I hate to disagree, but I have no idea how to use a weapon. I'd feel much better with one, though I fear I'd be a much bigger danger to myself than any attacker." With her luck, she'd cut herself open on accident and bleed out. It wouldn't be the first time she'd injured herself. Despite her gracefulness, Saylin could be quite the klutz.




"Would Commander Hollis be so opposed if I kept you two near...? I would like to have it no other way." She wouldn't feel better if it were anyone else. She just knew she wouldn't.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

“With all due respect Princess Saylin, we were all untrained at some point or another,” Klaus issued his counterargument. “Daggers are the easier weapon to learn on, especially ones small enough to hide on your person. If you can dance a waltz, you can certainly learn to use a blade.”


Tristan was too distracted by her second question regarding Hollis. Their commander was many things but adaptive was not one of them, especially not if it involved someone else making the decisions. After the evening’s turn of events he wouldn’t doubt if the commander put him on latrine chores for the next month let alone approving him as private security for the king’s daughter. Klaus likely had a chance but Tristan? He might as well plead his case to the stone walls. “Past experiences have proven that Hollis is more likely to catapult us into the next town before he would approve of us requesting to be named your guards,” he sighed, rubbing at his brow. 



“That doesn’t necessarily mean he will refuse your personal request however,” Klaus spoke staring directly at Saylin. “You are the princess and therefore outrank him. If you make your demands then there is little he can do to refuse, short of disobeying a direct heir to the throne.”


A reckless suggestion in theory but it was their only hope to fall back on. Rising to his feet, Tristan approached Saylin. The knight he pulled from his belt was minimally decorated, save for a single band of leather wrapped around the handle for a better grip. Extending it to her handle-first, he tried to justify his actions not only to himself but for whatever god was watching him, lying in wait to catch him in the midst of temptation.


“We will protect you with our lives, you know that. But it will give us peace of mind knowing that you are armed as well for those brief moments you will be alone.” Christ but that wave of anxiety flooded through him again at the mere thought of someone capitalizing on their absence. “Your father would never approve, but if you get permission to appoint Klaus and I to your personal security then…I will teach you how to fight with one.”


The young knight might as well have volunteered himself for the gallows. To say the king would be livid to discover his daughter not only wielding a knife but being instructed by the men appointed to protect her, would be dulling the severity of the crime. Saylin had always been taught the ladylike way of noble society. Fighting and training with men was almost certainly forbidden no matter how good Tristan’s intentions were. “You realize that’s a deathwish, right?” his partner pointed out the obvious dilemma.


“I see no reason why a woman can’t be just as capable of defending herself as a man,” Tristan shot a glare towards the other man. “I have every faith that the princess could be taught to be just as dangerous as any man with a knife.”


Turning back to Saylin, he held her gaze. "I won't let you hurt yourself. Do you trust me?"

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

It was hard to argue with the point that Klaus made. She knew that the knights weren't just automatically good at what they did. She'd watched them train in the courtyard sometimes when she had nothing better to do. Admittedly, part of it was so she could watch Tristan, but that didn't change the fact that she had seen the training they had to put in just to be able to move and swing their weapons the way they did. "I suppose you're right," she finally said. It wouldn't hurt to have the extra protection.




Blue eyes made their way to Tristan as he spoke, frowning a little. Did the commander really hate them so? Or was it because of something else? She glanced back at Klaus before nodding. "Then trust that that is exactly what I'm going to do. Even if my father disagrees with my decision, it won't be hard to sway him to my side, meaning that Commander Hollis most definitely can't say no." Even with her outranking him, if the kind were to disagree, he would have to listen to him, not her.




After tonight's attempt, however, she was very doubtful he wouldn't see reason.




Tristan's sudden movement caught her off guard and it took all she had not to involuntarily step back. Looking at the dagger, she hesitated. She really didn't want to have to keep one on herself, but she knew she needed to. Reaching out, she took the blade from him, ignoring the chills that ran down her spine as her fingers brushed against his. It had been an accident, truly.




She looked back up at him, meeting his gaze. "I'll convince him." She had to, for her own peace of mind. A quick glance at Klaus before she found herself staring up at Tristan again. She was almost lost in thought as she watched the way the light danced across his face, catching each feature. Her eyes moved down for a moment, stopping briefly on his lips before she caught herself and met his gaze once more.




She quickly nodded. "I trust you more than anyone else inside these walls." The words held more weight than they should have, but they were true, and it was only fair that he knew that.


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

For a fraction of a second Tristan considered ordering Klaus from the room. One delicious moment of privacy with her and he could die a happy man but it was best to not push the already-fragile luck of the evening. "If you can get your father's permission to appoint us," Tristan recalibrated his thoughts. "Then I'll be able to teach you right here, away from prying eyes instead of risking training at the arena."


Perhaps he just didn't want to share her time with any other knight and their wandering eyes. Klaus was different, of course. The man was devoted to his wife and two young children; going doe-eyed for the princess was the furthest thing on his mind. It was the rest of the platoon that Tristan worried about. "You'll have to sneak some protective gear up here," Klaus was once more the voice of reason. "I doubt they'll be missed at the arena but it'll certainly draw some attention if you lug up one of our stuffed practice dummies."


"Practicality-speaking, it would be best to learn with a moving target," he agreed, forcing a reassuring smile at Saylin. "Namely me. Any real opponent won't be standing still for you to defend yourself, you'll need to be well-versed in hand-to-hand combat while on the move. Thankfully your rooms are large enough to provide ample space for us to navigate around each other."


Saylin will be fine, Tristan thought to himself. Any other option simply wasn't permitted. Her hand still held the blade, but he folded his own hands overtop of hers. "I consider you a dear friend, Your Royal Highness," he admitted knowing full-well he was breaking every royal protocol he'd been taught. "It would pain me greatly to see anything happen to you. So together, we'll make sure that you are prepared for any such future attack they may have planned."


But who had been behind the plan in the first place? Her father had made enemies throughout his life, to be sure, but Tristan couldn't recall even one person having a single bad thing to say about Saylin to even raise a red flag about evil intentions. And unless they found additional suspects, the redheaded man was unlikely to give them any assistance with naming his companions. Sleep be damned. Tristan wasn't going to get an ounce of rest that night, he already knew.


All too quickly he realized just how unbearably close he was standing to not only Saylin, but a pajama wearing Saylin who was sitting in the most intimate of spaces, her bed. Hands abruptly scalded, Tristan yanked them back and shuffled back to the vacant armchair to hide his blush against the glow of the fireplace. A taunt was on the tip of Klaus's tongue but he showed merciful restraint. "Is there anything else we can do for you this evening, Your Royal Highness?" he did one last lap around the room to ensure the doors and windows were secured.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

It shouldn't have, but the idea of Tristan teaching her how to use the blade sent an odd thrill through her. It would keep him close, to start, and it would be enough to help her later on. Hopefully, they'd be able to steal a good few times throughout their days to train alone. A blush threatened to paint her cheeks. This was about her safety. Not about spending alone time with the knight. Not to mention, if they were caught, it wouldn't exactly look good.




That didn't stop her from thinking about it, though.




Her eyes widened slightly at their back and forth, more specifically about the fact that Tristan wanted her to use him as her target. "I can't say I'm very comfortable with that idea. What if I hurt you?" She was doubtful that she would, since he could probably easily dodge any attack she made against him, but one wrong step and the blade could possibly go through him. The thought didn't sit well with her.




She jumped slightly as his hands covered hers, sending that blush across her face as she looked up at him. His words didn't help. "Thank you, Sir Lockheed. I consider you a dear friend, as well, and wouldn't trust anyone else with my life." It didn't matter if Klaus heard her say it. It was the truth. It wasn't like she would necessarily try and hide it.




An odd silence settled over the room for a moment, and she was very quickly made aware of the other knights' eyes on the two of them, though she didn't take her eyes off of Tristan. If they were alone right now, would she be brave enough to steal a kiss? Would she pull him closer to her? They were already close enough and it made her heart pound so hard against her chest that she was afraid one of them would hear it.




His sudden retreat caused her to gasp, eyes widening slightly as she watched him move away. Was her mind playing tricks on her? Was he blushing? Or was it just the light from the fireplace adding to a possible illusion? The thought of him actually red because of her sent another thrill through her, and only solidified the thought that he might feel the same way.




It was a dumb thing to hold onto, but it was enough to keep her happy for the time being.




Tearing her gaze away from him, she looked to Klaus, she bit the inside of her cheek. "Perhaps I could request a glass of water? Even if you have to call for Leah to get it, that would be wonderful." She smiled up at him, hoping her own blush had finally faded. Now that everything was starting to slow down, she felt exhausted.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago


"No need to bother Leah, Your Highness," Klaus rose to his feet. "I'd rather not have any of your ladymaids wandering the halls this evening until we know it's safe. I will get your water myself, and Sir Lockheed will remain by the door until I return."


Well away from her bed, the instruction was clear enough but Klaus threw a warning glare at his young partner. Tristan latched the door behind him and stood at attention. Eyes forward, he repeated to himself internally lest he start focusing too much on the fact that he was now alone with the girl he'd harboured a crush on since the day he'd arrived at the castle as a boy. A girl that he had no business whatsoever of pining for. Given the distance to the kitchen it was likely this was going to be the longest he'd faced such temptation without the security of Klaus there to bring him crashing back to earth and reality. 


"You shouldn't worry about hurting me, Your Highness," he blurted out once he was no longer able to bear the quiet. "During training, that is. Cuts and grazes are occupational hazards in my career. I'll bear them with pride if it means I do a good enough job training you."


Having Saylin's protection in his hands was a daunting but crucial responsibility. Tristan desperately needed to focus on that factor and not dwell on the thoughts invading his head about being within close proximity to her. A shudder tore through him. Whenever their hands so much as grazed each other it felt like his skin was burned. What kind of reaction would he get if she was pressed up against him entirely, personal space be damned?


He risked a look at her. "I need you to promise that you will tell me if you're uncomfortable at any point, Princess Saylin. You've been thrown into a situation where you will have little to no privacy if Klaus and I are following you around. I'm afraid we are ignorant men used to the messy life of knighthood and we don't always have the best of etiquette. The last thing I want is to do or say something that crosses a line."


Boundaries needed to be firmly in place. Friendship established or not, he was still well below her station. Her father might have been a kinder man than most kings but if he knew that a lowly knight was instructing his daughter in the art of knife combat, Tristan would be strung up in the courtyard before the hour was up. As such, they needed to tread carefully. Under no circumstances was he going to put her in a situation she wasn't comfortable with.


"Our friendship means quite a lot to me and I would hate to see it affected negatively," he bowed his head. "Especially if I were the one to make it so."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin wasn't sure what to say. Admittedly, she didn't expect Klaus to offer to get the drink for her. She had really thought that one of them would get Leah to do it, even though he had a good point. It wasn't safe for her so it certainly wasn't safe for the maids. She'd feel terrible if something were to happen to any of them because of her. "Thank you," she said, feeling a bit tense now. Too many thoughts had gone through her mind at the idea of being alone with Tristan. Not that it should be a big deal, but now that it was happening, she didn't know what to say or do.




Every idea was out of the window now.




She looked up at him as he spoke, doing her best to hide how she was feeling inside. It wasn't easy, that much was for sure.




She quickly shook her head. "I'm going to worry, Tristan, I am. I can't help that. Whether you're used to it or not, I'd feel terrible." She paused. His name was out of her mouth before she could stop it. Not that it should've been a big deal, but it was. She was so used to calling him by his last name that his first name should've never crossed her lips. Maybe it was because she was exhausted...or nervous. "My apologies," she said a moment later, looking away from him.




Hopefully he wouldn't mind, or if he did, he would say something.




She almost laughed at his next words. "Please, don't worry about that. I'll be sure to tell you, but I don't want you two to turn around and not be yourselves or anything because you're worried about offending me. I promise that I have most likely heard worse," she said with a smile. Anything she could say or do to make him feel better about it.




"I have some serious doubts that anything could ruin our friendship. You mean too much to me for that to happen." The deeper meaning to those words stabbed at her, despite the smile that stayed on her face. She really cared too much about him to let anything keep the two of them from at least being friends.




Even this stupid marriage.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

As a knight there were few things left that could render him a stammering, shy fool. Saylin's soft voice reciprocating his fondness did just that. Tristan's cheeks were a darker red than the blush he'd fought off already yet he found himself unable to look away from her. "I'm glad to hear it, Princess."


How many chances would they get like this? Where they felt free enough to shed propriety and societal boundaries, sharing their thoughts openly with one another? As soldiers of the crown, they were forbidden - mainly by Commander Hollis - from being too amiable with the royal family; ideas of friendship or more was simply out of the question. But still...Saylin seemed comfortable enough conversing with him. What harm could small talk do? Klaus was ninety percent of Tristan's impulse control on most days so without him there to rein the young man in, Tristan dove right in to uncharted waters.


"Do you remember the day we met? Must have been the first week or so that Hollis had taken me on as an apprentice knight," he adjusted the viewpoint of his chair to see her straight-on. "I got lost trying to find my way around the castle. Hollis had sent me off on an errand and I stumbled into your tutoring lesson. I thought your tutor was going to wring my neck for staring at you."


A soft grin pulled itself free on his face. "She would have marched me right to your father and Hollis if you hadn't stepped in to save me the embarrassment. That was when I knew that the princess of the kingdom was truly as kind and compassionate as people always said you were. Even that young, you never treated us with anything but respect. And for that I will be forever grateful and in your debt," his head bowed slightly.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin couldn't help but smile. There was something about Tristan right now that was putting her at ease. She was partially sure it was because she'd made him a little happy with her words. It admittedly felt nice to know that she could do that, even if the moments would be few and far between.




For a moment, her mind wandered. If she were able to get him as one of her personal guards, would she have more chances to try and make him smile? Would she get more moments alone with him like this? The thought made her heart skip a beat. She could only hope and pray that she could make her father see reason. It only made sense to keep him and Klaus nearby. After all, they had been the first two to act when the assassin had come after her. It would be the only way she felt safe and comfortable.




None of it had to do with wanting to keep Tristan close.




Keep telling yourself that, Princess.




Hearing his voice quickly snapped her out of her thoughts. The memory quickly made it's way to the forefront of her mind and she couldn't help but grin. She'd felt so bad that he would get in trouble, of course, she had to do something. It hadn't been his fault that he'd gotten lost. Anyone could've found their way into the room. It just so happened to be him that time. "Well, it wouldn't have been fair for you to get in trouble with the two of them over an honest mistake." She watched him for a moment before looking towards the window, pushing blonde strands behind her ear.




"I was only doing what anyone should have done," she said, a faint blush painting her cheeks. She then took a deep breath before glancing back over at him. "You don't have to be so formal," she said with a chuckle. "Not when it's just the two of us. It feels a bit strange when we're supposed to be friends."




It was dumb, trying to encourage him, but she felt like she had to break his shell just a little. She'd stop once Klaus came back, but for the time being, she wanted to see him relax and be at ease around her. "I do tire of the formalities. It's something that keeps people at a distance." She let out a sigh. "I don't want to be the princess right now. I just want to be Saylin." Being the princess was too stressful at times.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Even with her permission it felt dangerous to even think her name in such a familiar manner. Would he forget his place and let it slip out in the company of others? Hollis would have him maimed. "With your blessing," he found himself speaking, unable to deny her anything. "Saylin it is. And I suppose it would only be fair that you call me Tristan. None of that 'Sir Lockheed' business."


Tristan never had been one for formalities until he'd come to the castle. Hell, he'd barely had an education let alone etiquette lessons. He knew to bow, of course, and to address nobility by their titles but it never felt like second-nature to him. Hollis had been rigorous with his apprenticeship; assigning one of the elder knights to instruct Tristan and the other young lad they'd taken in how to read, write, and the proper ways to address the royal family under any and all circumstances. Speaking their first names alone was definitely not on Hollis's approved teaching list.


Tristan pretended that he was merely doing an investigative sweep of the room though it was truly just an excuse to move closer to her. "Do you think your father will cancel tomorrow's activities?" he glanced at her. "We were told that your family would be accompanying Prince Alexander into town as a celebratory parade for your engagement."


The word alone filled his mouth with bitterness. Alexander didn't deserve her; his actions - or lack thereof - at the banquet proved that fair and square. The diplomatic visit would be chock full of more engagement festivities, which Tristan had been dreading since the knights were given the itinerary. "I believe a leisurely boat ride down the canal was also scheduled."


If there were a god, surely this was some cruel trick meant to torment him. Tristan would rather ride into battle with no support behind him than spend the next few days witnessing what he could only assume were to be romantic outings between Saylin and her betrothed. "How are you finding him?" he paused by the window. "Your fiance? I'm afraid I know very little of him other than a brief introduction this afternoon."


And what a twat he'd been. Tristan was used to nobility turning their nose up those of lower class but Alexander took it to an entirely new level by critiquing everything from their armor polish to how 'rudimentary' their training techniques were. Why the hell he'd even wandered down to the training arena was a mystery, surrounded by an enterage of twenty-odd knights of his own in uniform that had likely never seen battle before.


Klaus could return at any moment yet Tristan found himself unable to move away, now that he was within arm's reach of her. "I don't mean to overstep, Pri- Saylin," he corrected. “It's just...your happiness matters to me. To all of us. What we think doesn't matter, so long as you are pleased with your pending nuptials.”

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin it is.




The way he said her name sent a chill down her spine and it took all she had not to let it show. It was a lot harder to hide the physical reaction than expected. She did, however, allow herself to smile at him again. She wished that she could call him by his name all the time, and vice versa. It just didn't seem fair that they couldn't. Hopefully, they could keep themselves in check around other people. Alone, however... she'd hope they could fall into the familiarity.




She shifted on the bed as he moved, sitting on her knees for the time being as she watched him. Her heart was pounding again at his close proximity. If the Commander came back and saw that Tristan had moved, he'd surely get in trouble... That didn't stop her, however, from leaning forward, bringing her arm up to reach out to him. She stopped just as quickly as he brought up the plan for the next day, her body going rigid instead.




She leaned against the railing of the bedframe, playing it off as if that was what she'd been intending to do in the first place, and let out a sigh. She didn't know what to say. She hoped he did. If he didn't, she would either beg or feign being sick. The thought of being out in the public eye terrified her right now. Someone had managed to get into the castle. It would be so much easier for another assassin to take a shot at her while she was out in the open.




Finally, she turned those blue eyes up to him, tears filling the corners. She hated that she wanted to cry again. She hated crying in front of people, but between the pain of being engaged to such a horrible person, the flashes of her mother's assassination, and the attempt on her own life, she was dealing with a lot of emotions. "I shouldn't say this, I know I shouldn't, but I can't stand him, Tristan. He's horrible. He barely speaks to me, and when he does, it's like it's an inconvenience for him. I feel like I'm drowning and I have no idea how to keep my head above the water."




She quickly buried her face in her hands, finally allowing herself to sob. "I feel so lost right now," she said, her voice cracking. "I don't want this and I don't know how to get out of it."


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Only knowledge that he would be imprisoned for the rest of his life stopped him from barging from the room, finding the unwelcome prince and threatening him within an inch of his life, should he ever make Saylin feel as horrible as she'd just expressed. The princess was goodness incarnate. To see such a kindhearted soul cracked and broken at anyone's hands should be forbidden. Tristan was unable to offer the comfort he longed for; to wrap her in an embrace and protect her from Alexander until his dying breath. Instead, he lowered himself to his knees beside Saylin's bed and carefully reached to rest his hand on hers, gently prying it from her face. With the other, his thumb brushed the tears from her cheek.


"I cannot promise you that everything will magically get better, or even tolerable. My power is quite limited," he offered a small, sad smile. "But you have my word that I will do everything that I can to make this easier for you. Please don't feel like you need to bottle these emotions up and keep them to yourself, Saylin. Whatever it is you tell me will never be repeated elsewhere. Everyone needs support, and I will be yours whenever you need someone to listen."


Tristan knew this was dangerous grounds they were treading but there was not a single bone in his body that cared at that moment. Saylin may have been born into a life of wealth and privilege but being married off to someone as cruel and narcissistic as Prince Alexander was the worst fate Tristan could imagine, and one he wouldn't wish upon his worst enemy. Alexander would ruin her. Every wonderful quirk about the princess would be shattered beyond repair until she would be no longer recognizable as her joyous self. And he would have to witness it firsthand. 


For a long moment neither spoke. Tristan stared at her hand in his, absent-mindedly stroking the soft delicate skin of her palm with his thumb. "You deserve much more than the fate you've been handed," he murmured, brow furrowed into a scowl. 


He nearly didn't hear the approaching footsteps in time to step away to a respectable distance. Klaus must have only been a few feet from the door when Tristan yanked his hand away and darted back to the window in an attempt to appear occupied when the door opened. "I've brought an entire pitcher for you, Your Highness," the door was locked behind him. "It would not be wise to wander the halls too frequently so this should keep you until the morning."


"Smart," Tristan double-knotted the golden cord keeping the curtains shut. "We'll be safe here until sunrise."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin tried to calm her pounding heart, but that was hard to do once Tristan was in front of her, his thumb running across her cheek. It was enough to send a shiver down her spine, a reaction she wasn't able to hide very well. He was closer than she could ever recall him being, and it took all the strength she had not to lean forward and bury her face against his chest. To just fall into him and let the rest of the world fade away, even if it was just for a moment.




His words, whether he knew it or not, did offer some comfort. She was glad she could rely on him. He felt like the only person she could talk to about the situation. She knew without a doubt that he wouldn't run to her father or tell anyone else. She trusted him completely with the information. "Thank you," she said softly, sniffling a little from the tears.




If only she could keep him this close forever. Tristan was a genuine person when it came to the Princess. Never once when she had spoken to him or been around him did it feel like she was an inconvenience to him or that he was being nice to her because he had to. He had always made her feel like she was welcome around him. It was one of the things that had drawn her to him not long after they'd met, and one of the things that had led to her falling for him so hard.




For now, all she could do was savor this small moment. The burn of her hand as his skin brushed over hers, the way the light danced across his face, and the comfortable silence that had settled around them. Her eyes darted to his lips as he spoke, and for just a moment, she could imagine leaning forward and finally sating her curiosity. To take that leap she was so afraid of. She opened her mouth to say something but gasped instead at his sudden movement. It wasn't until she heard the door open that she understood why.




For a second, she sat frozen, unable to turn and face the other knight. Her hand was cold now and her cheeks were flushed a bright pink. She felt a bit embarrassed that they had almost been caught so close together, which seemed silly as she thought about it. It wasn't like they were actually doing anything, despite the fact that had Klaus caught them, Tristan would've probably been sent out of the room and punished just before kneeling in front of her.




Taking a deep breath, she finally got the nerve to look up at him, smiling. "Thank you so much," she said, shifting once more to get comfortable on the bed. "I... honestly don't know what I would do without you two." It felt nice to have the guarantee that she would at least wake to see the next morning, something that she probably wouldn't have if it were anyone else.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Klaus pressed a hand to his chest and bowed. "It is our honour to serve you, Princess Saylin. One of us will remain awake and vigilant at all times, to ensure your safety."


Taking the night in shifts would be more tolerable than Tristan facing the senior knight's suspicious gaze until the sun rose. Hell, he doubted he could even meet the man's eyes after what he'd almost witnessed. "I can take the first watch," Tristan offered. "After the night we've had I doubt I could sleep right now anyway. Make yourself comfortable, Sir Richter." 


It wasn't a complete lie. The adrenaline had worn off but his body was still tense and prepared for another assassin to appear at any moment. Klaus watched him for a moment, assessing the offer before finally nodding. Dragging one chair closer to the fireplace, the knight got as comfortable as possible wearing chainmail and armor. "Wake me in a few hours and we'll switch."


The man must have been more tired than he'd let on for it was only a few moments until his snores were known. It was another little while before Tristan was confident enough that they would not be overheard by their companion. "He is a good man," Tristan noted, looking from his mentor to the princess. "A little strict and a stickler for propriety, but one of the more pleasant partners I've had to work with."



The atmosphere was different. When the two were alone there was a certain charge to the air that prickled his skin and made his hair stand on the back of his neck. Now that Klaus was an added presence there was a feeling of guilt spoiling that charge. Tristan should know better than to drift from what was appropriate for a man of his station. Hollis had given him a chance to escape a life of uncertainty, and the royals had given him a career that he was proud of. And here he was, expressing his gratitude by toeing the line of familiarity with Saylin, potentially endangering Klaus's position as Hollis's most trusted knight.



So why didn't he feel the need to control himself?


 "Please don't feel obligated to stay awake to keep me company," he murmured to her, treading lightly to return back to her bedside. "I'm used to long nights on guard. But if you aren't able to sleep, I certainly don't mind your company. If you wish to continue talking, that is."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin nodded at the knights' words before she rested her arms against the frame of the bed, laying her head down for just a moment. Her mind was racing, thoughts swirling around so fast she couldn't keep hold of one for long. The events of the night kept replaying in her mind, interrupted every once in a while by the feeling of Tristan's hand on her cheek. Was this what going insane felt like?




Looking over to Klaus, she frowned. She hated to see him sleep in the chair yet knew she couldn't offer him her bed. She was doubtful that he would take it anyway but that didn't stop her from feeling guilty. She didn't want to get a good night's sleep if they weren't able to.




Then again, it would be a miracle if she fell asleep at all...




It didn't seem to take long before he'd dozed off, the feeling of guilt still lingering as the other gentleman spoke. Blue eyes moved from Klaus to Tristan before she nodded. "He really seems like it," she said with a smile. She'd never had a problem with him in the past and was sure it would stay that way. He was just another man doing his job, only he was much nicer about it than most.




Watching Tristan, it was almost like she could see some kind of internal battle going on behind his eyes. She was tempted to ask him what it was, wondering if he would be willing to confide in her just as she was with him. The words stuck in her throat, however, as he made his way to her once more. If only Klaus were absent...




"If I'm honest? I don't believe that I can fall asleep. My body is tired, I can feel it, but my mind is still wide awake..." A sigh escaped her lips and she resisted the urge to reach out to him again. If she were to be more honest with him, she'd probably tell him that she didn't want to fall asleep alone. That despite the fact that the two knights were in the room with her, she couldn't seek comfort in his arms like she wanted to. To fall asleep to the sound of his heart beating in his chest and body warm beside hers.




Despite the company, she still felt alone.




"So, if it really is alright with you, I do wish to keep talking. It helps ease my mind... Definitely had nothing to do with the fact that it was him she was speaking with.


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Distraction was what they both needed in that moment. Tristan wouldn't speak it out loud but he was flooded with relief and an eagerness to have the opportunity to spend more time with her, just the two of them. He moved a chair as quietly as possible - though still a respectable distance away from her, should Klaus startle himself awake - to get comfortable by the end of her bed. "The only rule I have," he adjusted the sword hanging from his hip so it wasn't jabbing him in the side. "Is that worries about tomorrow aren't to be discussed. No more talk of assassins or Alexander. Tonight, we just let ourselves forget for a little while."


His voice held a warmth and deepness though he spoke softly. Tristan was desperate to make her smile, or at least feel a bit better so that she might find herself able to get some semblance of rest. "What would you like to be, if this weren't your life?" Imaginations weren't a crime, and perhaps her dreams would run parallel to his own. "No royalty, no obligations. No arranged marriage. Who would that Saylin be?"


Would it be something humble like raising a family on a farm? Or perhaps something with more adventure, on a ship sailing the world for treasures and the unknown. "I used to dream about what I'd be when I grew up," Tristan grinned, recalling his own mischievous childhood ideas. "I wanted to be an explorer, traveling the world. Find lands no one has ever been to, bring stories home about the people I'd meet. The kind of life that was just out of reach for a farmer's son."


Once Hollis had taken him on as an apprentice, his dream had somewhat come true. Though instead of adventure in the great wide open, Tristan saw bits of the world through the haze of war with few memories he'd actually enjoy sharing. "I suppose I can't complain too much," he rested his head back against the wall behind him. "I got out, in my own way, and elevated my position in society as much as I was able. And I got to meet you."


The words left him in a whisper. Saylin was the one constant source of joy in his life, even if it was from a respectable distance. Many a times he'd suffered a grueling afternoon of combat training or guard duty yet the moment he caught sight of her golden hair and smile, flanked by her lady maids, every bruise and cut was worth it. 


"Be honest, Saylin," Tristan locked his steel grey eyes onto hers. "What do you wish for yourself?"

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

A smile formed on soft pink lips before Saylin nodded, relieved that he wasn't going to make her talk about any of what was plaguing her mind. She was sure if she did she would just break down again, and while the feeling of Tristan brushing her tears away was one that would be burned in her mind forever, she wasn't going to risk him getting in trouble just because she couldn't hold back the tears. "An easy rule to follow," she said softly.




His question caused her to pause and she shifted again. Her legs were beginning to cramp from sitting down for so long. She wasn't quite ready to lay down, though. All she could do was try and get comfortable without accidentally flashing the poor knight for the time being. "That's...hard to say." She'd thought about what her life would be like, time and time again, had she been born to a different family or in a different country. The possibilities were endless, but they had never stuck, mostly because her mother had told her a few different times that she was lucky to be born into royalty.




She had never said it to be cruel or dismissive about how Saylin felt. It was more her way of trying to tell her that the grass wasn't always greener on the other side. Then again, if her mother were still with them, she'd probably finally understand where the princess had been coming from for so long.




She was snapped out of her thoughts as Tristan spoke again. She was glad that he did since it gave her some more insight as to who he was. Part of her wished that she could give him that. Another part of her knew she probably could. It wouldn't be hard to relieve him of his duty to them and give him the coin he would need to live that dream. The selfish part of her, however, couldn't bring herself to offer it to him. She feared if he left that she would never see him again.




The last part of his sentence caused a faint blush to paint her cheeks, eyes widening slightly. The way he said it... it was enough to drive in just how unfair the situation really was. If she could have it her way, he would be in Alexander's place.




It was too bad that the world didn't work like that.




Finally unable to take the cramping in her legs, she slid off the bed, careful to keep her steps light as she made her way to the window, pulling the curtain back just a little. It was probably reckless, with another possible assassin out and about, but she wanted to catch a glimpse of the moon. Plus, it might hide her blush for a little bit.




"That Saylin would want to travel the world with the love of her life," she said softly, gazing out at the garden that resided just a little way into the courtyard. She could see the stone bench that she liked to sit on sunny days, a book in her hand, and the breeze through her hair. "I would marry the man that I want to marry and we would find passage on a ship and just... go. As far away as we could. We'd do that for a few years before we finally found a town to call home, where we would settle down and have a family of our own." She smiled again, only it was much sadder this time.




She could see it so clearly...




A sigh escaped her lips as she closed her eyes. "I would be a free soul, able to make her own choices. That's what I wish for myself." She couldn't admit out loud that her wish included him. If Klaus wasn't completely asleep, or if he woke up for just a second to hear that, there would be hell to pay. She couldn't risk it out loud.




After a moment of silence, she opened her eyes and closed the curtain, as if closing the door on an impossible dream. "I apologize, Tristan. I didn't mean to say so much." She felt she'd gone just a little overboard, though it did feel nice to finally tell someone about her dreams. Not even Leah knew, and she was the closest thing Saylin had to a best friend inside the castle walls.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Tristan could see her dream vividly as if it were his own; the winds of the sea trickling through Saylin's blonde hair as she perched at the bow of a ship. Just as quickly the image changed to her in a meadow with two small children in tow toddling along with crooked smiles. Most of all he could imagine the sense of utter peace and contentment in her smile with her loved ones around her. The only thing that didn't match was Alexander being the one sharing that life. Not when it was everything that Tristan wanted.


"You never have to apologize for wanting things for yourself, Saylin. At least not to me," he was quick to assure her. "I'm not naive enough to think that the life you live now is nothing but sunshine and happiness. Autonomy and independence is not shameful to desire."


God knows he longed for more. It was hard not to burn with jealousy whenever he watched Klaus doting on his children or embracing his wife, the family man that Tristan one day wished to be. He was far from being in a position in which marriage and fatherhood were feasible. Knighthood offered decent wages once established but Tristan was barely out of his apprenticeship and still called the barracks his home. The reminder of how little he truly had to offer anyone, let alone the princess, was bitter in his mouth. 


"Do you wish to have a large family?" The idea of her as a mother was endearing, and no doubt she would be a fabulous one when she was ready. "My own mother had nine of us, the poor thing. We must have had her pulling her hair out in frustration more days than we behaved."


His eldest sibling had long since left home, a continent over and happily married while the youngest was barely eleven now. Tristan had fallen smack dab in the middle of the brood, young enough to not have the pressure of his parents' expectations but old enough to feel an obligation to be a good role model for the younger ones. "On these imaginary adventures of yours," the conversation continued playfully. "What kind of mystical places do you explore? Close your eyes and see it in front of you. Tell me everything."


They might not ever get to live the dreams they'd had for themselves, but the world couldn't stop them from experiencing it right there in their own little bubble with the world locked out.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

A sigh escaped her lips as Saylin watched him. Most people did tend to think her life was perfect. That the life of a princess was full of nothing but being pampered and getting one's way. A lot of them liked the think that she could just live the life of luxury and do whatever she pleased. She'd be so much happier if that were the case. They didn't know the truth. Only what they thought they knew when they saw her smiling in a carriage and waving to them. It was all a facade that she kept up to fool them.




"I wish it were so simple," she mumbled, looking away for just a moment. She felt like she had to apologize. It wasn't his job to sit here and listen to her "whine" and "complain" about the life she wanted when she should be content with what she had. At least, that's what she tried to tell herself for just a moment. The problem with that line of thinking was that Tristan cared how she felt. He actually gave a crap about what she wanted and he chose to listen to her. So why did she feel so guilty telling him about it?




A faint blush crept across her face again at his question. "I... Yes, yes I do," she said after a moment. "Maybe not nine, though I have to give your mother credit for being able to raise that many, but perhaps three or four?" She then shrugged. "Or maybe I would want that many. I guess I won't know until I actually have a child..." Her voice trailed off as the thought buried itself into her mind. She couldn't see Alexander being okay with a ton of children. She was sure he would just try for an heir, and once that was done, he'd discard her without a care.




Leaning against the wall, she did in fact close her eyes, trying to block out the pain her own thoughts had caused her. She had promised not to bring him up or think about it, so she would do her best to keep that promise. Even if it was just for a little while, she could enjoy whatever it was her imagination could come up with. "I like to think there's a place out there just full of happy families and children who get to run around in huge fields of flowers." She paused for a moment. "On the ship, I can smell the ocean breeze and see the sea life jumping through the waves, following behind it as it sails away." She'd never been on a ship, nor had to actually experienced it, but books were her best friend and helped with her imagination.




"It's not just me, however... You're with me," she said softly, the words out before she could stop them. She'd just gotten lost in the moment. Opening her eyes, she glanced at him once more, offering him a small smile. "If I ever had to leave, or if I ever got to make those wishes come true, I'd want you there with me so we could experience it together. You're too close a friend to get left behind," she said softly, forgetting for just a moment that they weren't technically alone.




It was a second or two where she didn't care what was said or heard. She couldn't tell the young knight how she really felt, no matter how much she wanted to, so she would have to settle for that. It was the closest she would be allowed to get it her true feelings.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

For the faintest moment Tristan allowed himself to hope that she meant what she said; that it was him, a poor farmer's son, who stood by her side in this fantasy dream world with children running around a meadow they've made their home in after spending a handful of years traveling the world side by side. A lifetime of memories together, untarnished by the slimey, arrogant Prince Alexander and his bafoons. Saylin and Tristan alone, against the boundaries of society.  



But reality struck him all too soon. [i you're too close a friend to get left behind]. His smile flickered and his eyes dropped to focus on the quilt atop her bed. "Friends," he confirmed. "I'm relieved to hold that status even in imaginary futures."


Would her real future even include him once she was married off to the prince? Alexander was unlikely to permit her a personal guard that he didn't hand-pick himself and Tristan could almost guarantee it wouldn't be composed of soldiers not from his own army. She would be out of his reach forever. The thought alone made him sick, particularly after watching how the prince and his men did nothing to step in and protect Saylin from her would-be assassin. How could Tristan ever trust them to keep her safe once she left the familiarity of home?


"You'd get bored of me and leave me at port on some island, I'd imagine," he teased, wanting to keep the atmosphere light. "I'm told my snoring is atrocious when I'm overtired, and I tend to practice my reading out loud. Your ship crew might not even wait to just toss me overboard."


It would do him no good to dwell on a future of what ifs. What purpose would that serve, other than leaving him wounded and devastated upon her inevitable exit from the castle. Every now and then Tristan considered himself a professional at keeping his emotions in check when it came to Princess Saylin, affirming his recognition of where he stood in the hierarchy. Yet moments like this had always succeeded in knocking him right back off that high horse and into the mud where he continued to worship at her feet.


"I think even if you don't get that future of adventure, you'll still do amazing things," Tristan met her eyes once more. "You are compassionate and courageous, even if you don't always think so. I've seen your determination firsthand, Saylin, and heaven help anyone who tries to stop you from being exactly who you were meant to be."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago





The way he said that one word sent a shot of guilt through Saylin. She wanted to walk over to him and take his face in her hands, to tell him that he truly meant more to her than that. Had they been alone, she would have. In fact, she took a step towards him, just so she could finally tell him. A snore from Klaus, however, caused her to pause, hoping the one step was subtle enough that Tristan wouldn't have noticed. Her heart hurt more, now. This isn't fair, she thought to herself bitterly.




His next words didn't help the feeling, despite the fact that his tone was playful. As if she would ever get bored of him or let anyone throw him overboard on a ship. They would have to toss her alongside him. She just couldn't see her life without him in it. And yet, at that moment, it struck her just how much of a possibility that was. Once she was married, she might not ever see him again. He would stay in her father's castle as a knight while she moved on with her life. A lump formed in her throat at the thought.




She kept her eyes on him for a moment longer, keeping the tears at bay as best she could. "You always had a way of making me feel better," she said after a moment of silence. Screw the distance, screw the fact that they weren't alone. She still wouldn't tell him how she felt but she wouldn't go to bed without doing what was on her mind. He deserved something.




Steeling the nerve before she lost it, Saylin finally moved away from the wall, approaching Tristan in his chair. Before either of them could say anything, before she could even think about it longer, she leaned forward, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face into the crook of his neck. It was close, intimate enough to send her heart racing again, but she didn't care. For the night, they weren't the princess and a knight. They were just a man and woman who desperately needed something different before fate, being the bitch that she was, tore them apart forever.




She couldn't give much, but she could give him this. "I'd never get bored of you, Tristan," she said softly, breath hot against his skin. "If it were up to me, you truly would be by my side for the rest of our lives." Those last words were said barely above a whisper. Had she not been so close to him, he probably never would've heard her.


Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Lord have mercy, she was going to kill him right then and there. Would he ever completely accept their inevitable separation, now that he knew what it felt like to have her in his arms? The warmth of her burned through even the thickest parts of his armor plating. Eyes closing, Tristan allowed himself to breathe in the floral scent of whatever perfumed oils her ladymaids had dabbed on her skin prior to the banquet. In that moment he knew Saylin would own every piece of him until the day he died.


"A dream I wish were truly possible," he murmured sadly, pulling away from the embrace before he allowed himself to linger any longer. "If things were different; if we had the freedoms to choose, then I would very much look forward to that future."


Klaus shifted in his sleep, choking on a snore. Don't be an idiot! Remember your place. Tristan could hear the words even if the man hadn't awoken from his slumber to eavesdrop on their charged conversation. The young knight did his best to adhere to protocol in most instances but when it came to Saylin, he yearned to break all of the rules. For a moment he even tried gauging how far they could get if he took the princess and ran for freedom.  A risk he would take if only she would ask it. 


"Does your father truly think this union is what is best?" he heard himself asking, eyes on her but unfocused. "Does he not care for your happiness?"


Blasphemous and treasonous to question a king out loud, he knew, but Tristan's manners were leaving him with each passing moment that she looked so devastated. Even his own sisters, as poor as his family was, had the dignity of choosing their own husbands. Despite nearing a decade under employment to the Crown, he found that he was just as confused regarding parents using their children as political pawns instead of human beings with their own thoughts.


"I don't mean to overstep my boundaries," he ducked his head. "I just...I feel quite protective of you, Saylin, and I fear that your future husband has yet to prove himself as a man of honour worthy of you. Any man who doesn't throw himself into harm's way to protect the woman he cares about is hardly qualified to even be called a man."


It didn't escape his attention that what he referred to was exactly what he had done the moment he saw the knife heading in her direction. Tristan hadn't acted on the instinct of being a trained guardian. It had been out of a gutteral fear that Saylin would come to any harm. Alexander hadn't batted an eyelash.



Lovely_Poison     103d ago

All too soon, Tristan had pulled away, leaving Saylin feeling cold. She knew right then and there that she shouldn't have hugged him. It had felt too comforting, had been just a little too tempting. Now she wanted just a little more and she knew she couldn't have it. His words didn't help, hitting her like a hammer to the chest. "If only," she said softly under her breath, her voice betraying how much the truth hurt. She would never be allowed to keep him with her, no matter how much she wanted to.




Hearing Klaus shift caused her to turn her head quickly, eyes widening. If he were awake then they were truly in trouble. While she trusted him with her life, she did not trust that he wouldn't run back to the king or someone else and tell them just how close the princess and knight were just moments before. If that happened, Tristan really would be lost to her forever.




His words brought her attention back to him. The question was a cruel one, but not one that hadn't crossed her mind. She was beginning to believe that was the case. She was just a pawn in a political game that he was playing. Not a person with her own thoughts and feelings. If it were true, it hurt. Surely she meant more to her father than that. If she were to speak to him, to beg him to call the marriage off, would he? Or would he tell her that it was a done deal and she was to live with the consequences? She was almost too afraid to try, not wanting to face the latter of those answers.




"Any man who doesn't throw himself into harm's way to protect the woman he cares about is hardly qualified to even be called a man."




Those words caused Saylin's breath to hitch, the air catching in her throat unexpectedly. She instantly remembered how he had reacted in the hall when the assassin had come after her, and it was enough to make her heart skip a beat, along with solidifying her suspicions. She wanted to ask him at that moment how it was he felt, to just come out and say it, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Not so directly.




So she decided to tiptoe around it, to see what exactly he would say. "You did exactly that, Tristan. Was that because it's your job?" Or because of something more? The last half of the question hung in the air. It was dumb to ask, and if he was like her, he would probably just dance around the question without issue. But she was burning inside now, her thoughts running wild and her hands trembled against her chest. If she were right, then she was convinced that she could fight to get out of the predicament she found herself in.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Was that because it's your job?


Tristan could say yes. He should say yes, that it was simply a matter of fulfilling his duty as her sworn knight to keep her safe from any and all harm. It was the right answer to give; to null and void any suspicions she may hold about his ulterior motives for why he stepped in the way he had. It was the safe answer.


But how could he lie when Saylin was looking up at him with the faintest bit of hope in her soft gaze? At least, it sure looked like hope. Tristan's own eyes flickered from hers down to her lips, and then back up again. "I uh..." he licked his own lips, feeling them suddenly too dry. 


No amount of eloquence would have helped him. It wasn't as though he could simply come forward to profess that he had been in love with her since the day he'd first laid eyes on her. No, the words couldn't be said out loud. Nothing would change even if he was brave enough to explain how nervous and bashful she made him just with her smile, or how he would gladly throw himself in front of a thousand knives if it meant she would be safe. At the end of the day she would still be married off to that dickhead prince and he would still be right here, pining for a princess he would never have.


"I protect those who are important to me," his voice broke in cowardice, too afraid to speak the truth in its entirety. "You are firmly in that category, Saylin. Not just because it's my job but because the thought of you being hurt in any way is almost unbearable. I would rather be gutted alive than to see you in pain."


Because I love you and I'm terrified of the moment you will leave me behind. Only she wouldn't be leaving on the arm of death, like she nearly had that evening. It would be on the velvet-covered arm of a man who didn't deserve to so much as look at her, let alone take her as his wife. Somehow that felt infinitely worse. 


"I would come with you if I could," Tristan allowed himself to admit. "To your new home. Maybe I wouldn't be employed as a knight but I have a farming background to be of use to someone. I'd be near enough to save you whenever you needed me."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Tristan was hesitating.




Saylin could see it on his face as he struggled to find an answer. Because of that hesitance, for just a moment, she held onto hope that he would say something, anything, about how he felt about her. She watched the way his eyes flickered down her face, the way he licked his lips, sending a wave of desire through her. He had to say it. It was the last push she would need to truly fight to keep him. To end this arrangement and choose her own happiness once and for all. She just had to know that he felt the same way.




Seconds later, her heart shattered into a million pieces.




She couldn't hide the flash of disappointment across her face. It was then she realized that he probably didn't look at her in any sort of romantic manner. That her feelings would never be reciprocated. Perhaps he thought of her more as family, like one of his sisters. It would explain why he was so protective over her. The thought almost brought her to tears, but she blinked them away and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Perhaps I can speak with Alexander and my father and arrange something," she said softly, choking as the lump formed again.




She moved away from him then, sitting back down on the bed and staring at the floor. Any hope she had that she could live the life she wanted to, to be with the one man who had her heart, was completely crushed. She would be stuck in a marriage where she wasn't wanted, loved, or cherished for the rest of her life, and she would have to suffer until it killed her.




What a miserable life it would be.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Fuck, he wanted to snatch the words right back out of the air the second her face fell. "I didn't mean to-"


"About time to switch watch?" Klaus groaned, stretching his legs out. "I don't need much rest to stay awake. Just a quick power nap and I'm ready to work."


Tristan's eyes dropped to the floor on instinct, cursing himself for not having noticed the man's snores had stopped. Had he heard? Was this Klaus's attempt to separate the two of them early-on in the evening, keeping them from whatever trouble he expected Tristan to fall into? He'd been looking warily at the young knight all evening; enough so that Tristan felt a shadow following his own. "I suppose it is, yes," he cleared his throat, eyeing Saylin once more with a bow. "Goodnight, Your Royal Highness."


He didn't know how Klaus had gotten comfortable enough to sleep in the damn chairs but he'd give it his best shot. Anything was better than allowing his eyes to wander back to Saylin in her bed, hurt because of his own blatant lies and stupidity. It's to protect us both, his conscience fought with his heart. Were he to give in to the longing it would only serve to hurt that much worse when she had to leave him behind. He could still feel the warmth of her in the empty space of his arms. If he knew the taste of her lips, or the soft whisper of his name in the quiet of the night, Tristan would never recover from her absence. No, he had to be cautious moving forward, for however long Saylin was still in his life.


"I do recommend that you get some sleep, Your Royal Highness," Klaus's voice interrupted his thoughts. "It's quite late and there is an early start to the day tomorrow. You'll need your rest for the canal excursion."


She doesn't want to go. Please don't make her go, Tristan pleaded silently. The less she was subjected to romantic endeavours with Alexander the better Saylin would feel, though Klaus wouldn't recognize her discomfort if it bit him on the nose. What good were they as her protectors if they couldn't ease her fears while still in her home country? 


By morning light he still hadn't slept. The two men had swapped shifts twice more during the late hours and it was Tristan who stood guard as the sun rose on the horizon. He wasn't sure what time Saylin had finally managed to get some rest. Looking down at her, hair splayed across her pillow, he felt the guilt return for having ruined things the night before when he should have been focused on making her last days at home something joyous for her. "Saylin," Tristan spoke softly, hand on her shoulder. He felt like an asshole, waking her up just to thrust her back into her royal obligations. "It's time to wake up."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Blue eyes left the floor for only a moment as Klaus spoke. She had to wonder if he'd heard her ask Tristan her question. Maybe he'd heard the response that was still echoing inside of her head. Not only did Saylin feel heartbroken, she felt embarrassed. How had she been so silly as to let herself believe such a thing? Perhaps it was a good thing that Klaus had woken when he did. Any more time alone with the young knight and the princess would've burst into tears. She kept them at bay, however, before she slowly nodded. "Goodnight, Sir Lockheed." The formality suddenly felt strange on her tongue.




Glancing up at Klaus, she forced a smile and nodded. "Of course." At least if she slept the pain would be numb, for however long that would be. She would be grateful for that relief. She did have to stop herself from telling him that she wasn't going out the next day. She had made up her mind on that, and no matter what happened, no one was going to force her out of her room. Whether she had to use the fear of the former night or to feign ill, she would not allow anyone to take her away.




With a soft good night, she finally convinced herself to lay down, practically hiding beneath the covers, where she would allow the tears to start falling.




The next morning came far too quickly in her opinion. Had the nights' events not occurred, waking up to the sound of Tristan's voice would have been the best thing in the world. Instead, it brought the pain back as she opened her eyes, the drowsiness slowly wearing off. Sitting up, she yawned and stretched her arms over her head, only to shake it before she looked at him. Her eyes were still a bit puffy and her nose red. "Please inform the king that I won't be going out today. I don't feel well or safe enough to leave this room." She had her books. She would be fine.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Tristan glanced back at a groggy Klaus, who merely shrugged as he stretched. Of all the responses Saylin could have given him, he hadn't been expecting outright refusal to get out of bed. "I believe your father will want to see you over breakfast, Your Royal Highness," he tried again. "Perhaps you can discuss it with him then?"

Silence. Not a solitary movement from her body to indicate that she was going to get out of bed. He wasn't about to pull back her blankets and haul her to her feet but they also couldn't not show up to the royal family's private dining room where she was expected. "Princess Saylin, can we-"

"Sir Lockheed can report to your father that you are feeling unwell from last night's stress, Your Royal Highness," Klaus regained control of the situation.

"I can?"

"Someone must and I believe it's my turn to watch over Princess Saylin, so yes, it will be you."

Tristan's jaw tensed. Was his mind playing games with him or was there a spark in Klaus's eye, daring him to defy a direct order? The two men were locked in a staredown; he could hear his heartbeat pounding in fear that Klaus was about to reprimand him and admit that he'd heard everything while only pretending to be asleep. Why else wouldn't he trust Tristan to remain alone in the room with the princess?

"Right. Well..." He cleared his throat. "I will report back to your father that you are declining today's activities."

Each echoing footstep felt like he was walking to his own death, though he personally had never been on the king's bad side. Were it any other day, the task wouldn't be quite so daunting however, King Roderick was unlikely to be pleased at Saylin's refusal to accompany her visiting betrothed. An embarrassed king was an angry king. Eyes down, Tristan reminded himself upon entering the dining room.

Roderick and Alexander were seated at the end of the table while other courtiers chatted among themselves. Guards of each royal household lined the walls, weapons at the ready. Tristan caught Commander Hollis's eye, silently acknowledging he was out of place. "Sir Lockheed, Your Majesty," Hollis finally cleared his throat and made the introduction.


"One of my men, Your Majesty. He was responsible for intercepting the assassin last night, and has been standing guard for Princess Saylin."

"Sir Lockheed?" King Roderick's gaze was piercing, sizing him up like a prized horse. "Hero of the day indeed. Commendation is in order for your quick reaction at the banquet. I am in debted to you for my daughter's safety."

Tristan bowed his head, hoping that the king's kindness was not to be short-lived. "Is my daughter to be expected soon?" Roderick continued. "We've a busy schedule ahead of us and after the events of last night I'd feel more comfortable with extra time to patrol ahead of the royal carriages."

"Forgive me, Your Majesty," Tristan's eyes remained locked just below the king's shoulders to avoid direct contact. "I'm afraid to say that Princess Saylin has been left unwell in the hours since her attack. She has requested the day to recuperate in the privacy of her chambers."

Alexander failed to mask the flash of irritation as he sank back in his chair, dropping his cutlery to the plate. Roderick stared down the young knight for another moment before rising from his seat. "You will escort me to my daughter's room immediately, young man. I will speak to her myself."

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin knew it wasn't fair to Tristan for her to be difficult. At the end of the day, he was just doing his job. She couldn't fault him for that. However, she had meant it when she'd said she had no intention of leaving that spot, and so when he tried to suggest she go to breakfast at the very least to discuss it, she simply shook her head and brought her knees to her chest, bringing the covers up with them. Physically and emotionally, she felt unwell, and she was doubtful her father would even take the time to hear her out.




So there the stubborn princess sat, unmoving, and staring down at the blue and white comforter. When Klaus spoke, she glanced up at him and nodded. "Thank you. That would be much appreciated," she said before she scooted back against the headboard. When Tristan left was when she finally glanced at the door before she rested her forehead on top of her knees, tears threatening to fill her eyes again. That was part of why she didn't want to go out that day. She wore her emotions on her sleeve. She'd surely bawl like a baby as soon as they left.




She was grateful that Klaus didn't say anything else. She wasn't sure what she would say if he tried to make small talk. She wasn't in the mood for it. With her luck, if he did speak, it would be about the talk she and Tristan had the night before. The thought only brought the pain back to her chest. It seemed so unfair that she could love someone so much only to be thrown back into reality. She'd truly believed there was a chance at something better, no matter how small it had been.




All sorts of thoughts ran wild inside of her mind before the door opened. She glanced up to meet the stern gaze of the king. Her heart sank immediately. That look told her that she was to get up and move. Her eyes glistened as she caught a quick peek at Tristan, though she couldn't stare at him for long. "I apologize," she said softly, dropping her gaze back to the blanket. "I really don't feel well enough to do anything today. If we could please just push it all off until tomorrow then that would be perfect." It would give her time to process everything. Once she had the time, she could move on.




The air was tense for a moment and the silence was so thick one could cut it with a dagger. She knew her father was angry. She could only imagine how Alexander felt. At the end of the day, though, didn't her feelings matter, too? Wasn't her health important?




There was a sigh and a pinch of the bridge of his nose before her father nodded. "We will postpone, but only for one day. I'll have Miss Leah bring up some breakfast for you."




Saylin felt immediate relief as she nodded and buried her face against her knees again. "Please make sure I have a knight nearby. I do not trust that another assassination attempt won't happen," she said softly. Let Alexander be angry. Let him show his true colors in front of her father. Maybe then this whole arrangement would be reconsidered.




But then what would she do? The one man she wanted was forever out of her reach now and she feared that nothing would change that.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Was it self-centered to blame himself for Saylin’s abrupt shift in mood? Despite the traumatic events that unfolded the night before she had appeared amiable during their conversation until he stuck his foot in his mouth to save himself from embarrassment. The princess was brazenly defiant this morning though she retained her polite demeanor whilst doing so. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up until the king resigned to her wishes. “Lockheed shall remain on guard for you this morning.”


Both knights blanched. “Your Majesty, I have no qualms about remaining on duty to oversee the princess’s safety,” Klaus interjected.



“You have remained on duty long enough, Sir Richter. You have a family, do you not? Word will soon spread through town about what occurred last night, I believe it is wise to return home and reassure your family of your safety,” Roderick left no room for argument.


Before the two men exited, the king paused in the door. “You may stay inside the castle Saylin but you are not to remain locked in this room, am I clear? We cannot allow anyone to believe we have been startled into hiding, especially not our guests. You may stay here until late morning but by early afternoon I expect you to make an appearance elsewhere in the castle.”


A glance at Tristan was all that was needed to emphasize his role; he would be in charge of actually getting her out of bed by any means necessary. Alone once more, the young man struggled with how to proceed. By the way Saylin could barely glance at him it was safe to say that he wasn’t in good favour at the moment. “Perhaps we could spend time in the library this afternoon?” he suggested weakly. “It will be quiet. Few people ever venture there so you will have your privacy, and the windows are high enough on the walls to avoid danger of spies. I can stand guard at the door.”


Or even out in the corridor, if she refused his company. Tristan’s mind gnawed at him for having been a coward in the late night hours, denying himself the right to pour his deepest thoughts and feelings to her when the opportunity had presented itself on a silver platter. But had she even been seeking such an answer, or was it her kindness and wanting to understand his motives for having defended her so fiercely without second thought?


“Princess,” he began, unsure if he still held the privilege of using her given name. “Is there anything I can do?”

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Blue eyes darted back and forth between the two knights, puzzled by both their reactions. She could think of multiple reasons why they looked the way they did and each one terrified her more than the last. Klaus had surely heard her last night, knew what she'd been wanting to hear. But Tristan...was it because she'd gotten so upset last night? Or was it because he didn't want to be alone with her anymore?




Turning her attention to her father she nodded, already feeling a bit better that she wouldn't have to get out. Perhaps she'd spend some time in the garden. That would ease her mind a little. "Yes, sir. Thank you." It was all she could say. She thought for just a moment about running up and hugging him, but he was out the door before she could act on it. Perhaps she would get a chance later in the day when the fog that clouded her mind finally went away.




For now, she'd let out a sigh before she slid off the bed, opposite side of where Tristan stood, before she made her way over to her wardrobe. Throwing open the doors, she scanned each dress, hesitant about which one she wanted. She ran her hand over one, gripping the skirt for a moment. It was a light shade of pink and one her mother had passed on to her. It wasn't too flashy or frilly. Perfect enough for a day around the castle.




Pulling it down, she glanced at Tristan before. "The library would be lovely. Perhaps the garden as well, if that's ok with you?" She was doubtful he'd say no, but it didn't hurt to ask. Moving behind a screen, she began to change, not too bothered that he was still in the room. He couldn't see her after all and she didn't want to be alone. She paused at his use of the word princess. She hadn't been expecting to go back to formalities so fast. It kind of stung. "Well, you can start by using my name," she said with a slight chuckle. This is fine. You'll be fine... Regardless of how he thought of her, he was still her friend. She didn't want that to change.




Stepping out from behind the screen, she set her nightgown in a chair, knowing Leah or another maid would get it when the room was cleaned. "Let's just head to the library. I could do with a good story or two." She finally offered him a smile, though it didn't quite reach those cerulean eyes of hers, nor did she meet his gaze with them. She was too afraid that if she did, she'd break again.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

"Well, you can start by using my name."



It was barely noticeable but her lips pulled back ever so slightly to reassure him that she wasn't angry with him. Or at least, that Saylin was not about to give him the cold shoulder for the remainder of the day even if he'd upset her. "The library it is," he smiled back in return, relief soaking in. The garden stroll was mildly alarming, out in the open with potential for an attack, but she looked so damn eager that Tristan couldn't bring himself to deny her. "Maybe you can find something to read to me in the gardens."



As expected, the library was abandoned. Tristan kept her carefully behind him as he performed a sweep of the room, going from aisle to aisle ensuring no one was lying in wait. Satisfied they were alone, he eased his sword back into the scabbard and looked to the princess. "Is there anything here you haven't read yet?" he teased. The crippling fear he had felt when she'd woken up still annoyed with him had ebbed away, allowing him the chance to be comfortably playful once more though Saylin remained politely stoic. "I feel like I always saw you with a book in hand growing up. It used to make me jealous, that you had an entire world to disappear into with every book at your disposal, when I could barely string a few words together on a page."


Tristan's face reddened. "I stumbled on you reading under the orchards a few times while I was on duty. I liked to sit and listen to you, especially when you did the character voices."


Tension was still separating them. He was desperate to snatch back that easy banter they had less than twelve hours ago, though it had been his own stupidity that created the chasm they faced now. An unfortunate side effect of his nervousness was the bumbling rambles that Hollis had yet to train out of him. "Do you have a favourite story?" his eyes scanned the shelves. "Perhaps one that doesn't include slimey princes being the hero?"


He wasn't an idiot. In every fairytale ever written it wasn't the low-born knight who won the hand of a beautiful princess; it was the prince charming, with shining unscathed armour and a castle to whisk her off to, to live happily ever after. Alexander might have the castle to offer but charming and happily ever afters weren't part of the package as far as Tristan could tell. Not to mention, Saylin wasn't a weak damsel in distress who needed saving. She had a brilliant mind and a knack for exploration. Given half the chance, she'd live a life of adventure and achievements that most could only dream of, and all without Alexander's prying schemes. 


Maybe that was why Tristan had fallen so hard.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

Saylin was doing her best to be okay but it wasn't easy. Her heart still hurt and her throat would tighten a little every so often, but she was able to keep the tears at bay and her voice from cracking. That was a win, at least. "That sounds like a good plan, then." There was something... romantic about the idea of reading in the garden with him. It felt too intimate, yet she couldn't tell him that she didn't want to do that. Then she'd be lying and the princess didn't like to do that when she could avoid it.




Following him to the library, she stayed pretty silent, unsure of what she could say now that the wall had been placed between them. She hated it, but she had to distance herself to keep from getting hurt even more. Their friendship would remain but she had a sick feeling in her stomach that their relationship wouldn't be the same as it had been the night before. It just didn't seem possible that they could go back to the playfulness they'd shared.




Or the brief looks at one another's lips.




Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered the look on his face the night before. She'd truly believed he was staring at her lips as much as she had his before. How could she have been so naive? She knew the answer to that. It was because of the stories she read. They'd given her some false hope about love and such. No other princess raised the way she was would ever have such fantasies, surely.




Making her way completely inside, she shook her head. "I've read just about everything here, except for the history books, but those were always saved for my lessons growing up." She'd never been a fan of history. It was almost always the same stories over and over again. She knew it was important, sure, because if one didn't know their history then they really were doomed to repeat it, but that didn't mean she liked reading about it.




Looking at him, she felt her own cheeks flush. To know that he would listen to her when she would read... she wasn't sure if she should be embarrassed or flattered. She decided on the latter. In truth, it was nice to know that he had enjoyed it as much as she did. The voices were her favorite part of reading. It made each character real to her and brought them to life. Like she was standing just on the outside and watching the life of each pass by right in front of her.




She paused as she made her way down a very familiar aisle, stopping for just a second as her fingers came to rest on the spine of a book. It seemed worn down just at a glance. That was because this particular one was her favorite. She'd read it so many times she could probably recite it from memory. Why was it her favorite? Because it was a very similar story to what she was living right now. A princess in love with her personal guard. A man that was always so close to her but that she could never have. Some of the differences, however, were the fact that she wasn't engaged and her guard would turn out to be a long-lost prince of a neighboring kingdom.




It was an amazing love story and one that she had hoped would come true for her.




Tearing her gaze away, she moved down, not wanting to tell him right away that that one was it. However, the further away she went, the more she realized that she would find an odd sort of comfort in the pages. Sighing, she turned back and snagged it off the shelf, running her fingers over the gold title embedded onto the leather cover. "A Forbidden Love. It's been my favorite since I was a little girl. My mother used to read it to me, but we never got to finish it before she..." Her voice trailed off before she looked up at him. "No slimy princes, but it does involve a princess and her knight." She watched his face for a moment to see if he had any reaction before she turned away. "I'm more than happy to put it away, however, if it doesn't sound like your type of story."




She was worried that she might make him uncomfortable or upset, but she had to answer him honestly.

Lovely_Poison     103d ago

"No slimy princes, but it does involve a princess and her knight." Tristan's throat constricted. [i "i'm more than happy to put it away, however, if it doesn't sound like your type of story."]


Was this a trap? He'd never known Saylin to be cruel, least of all to him, but his heart hammered in his chest as though in a panic; if he uttered a single word in confirmation, would he be arrested on the spot? Was she baiting him to admit something that was in all likelihood illegal, or at the very least frowned upon by most of dignified society?


Yet she had said it was her favourite. And just there in the deep blue of her eyes...was that hope? Conflicting emotions swirled in his chest, all screaming to be heard yet Tristan could do little more than allow his eyes to fall to the stone floor. "I fear it might be too much of my type of story," he couldn't stop himself from allowing the words to pass his lips. 


A moment later and no one had come storming in to throw him in chains. Hollis wasn't decreeing him a criminal, attempting to seduce an engaged princess above his station, nor was Klaus leading him away in disappointment. Punishment wasn't coming. At least, not in the form of her father's knights being set against him. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, if Tristan was honest with himself. The only punishment that was going to inflict any real pain was the acknowledgement from Saylin that his feelings were not - and could not - be reciprocated. 


"Forgive me, I spoke out of turn," Tristan backed up a step or two. "Please do not bother yourself with thoughts of my comfort, Saylin. I've grown quite used to setting aside my own wants and needs for the betterment of others, and I would do so gladly if it made you happy."


Christ, what he wouldn't do in order to keep her radiant smile glowing at all hours. He'd always believed her to be sunshine incarnate. Troubling her with his own conflicting feelings towards her was unfair of him, and Saylin didn't deserve for him to put her on the spot with admissions of love and fondness. The princess was torn in too many directions as it was.


"I'd like to hear you read again, if you'll agree?" He forced himself to meet her eyes. "You've always been my favourite storyteller."


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