Chapter 09

After she was washed and dressed more appropriately, for why Aracely did not know. It was nearing time again for bed so she did not see the need for such fancy attire. Teyla had not brought her own dress in to help her but one the castle had for their royalty.

“May I explore the castle?” she asked as Teyla finished tying the chords to the back of her gown.

“Of course you may, Princess.” Teyla answered her. “John mentioned he wanted to show you the Castle, and I am sure he will be back in a few moments. You are also free to explore the castle on your own if you’d like that.”

“Oh, well…If he said he would return, then I can wait. It is only fair as I had shown him my village, yes?” she smiled.

“Forgive me if I am out of bounds, but how did your village respond to John’s arrival? Surely they must have thought that the Prince was a fool for traveling by himself!” Teyla asked. “I told him to take Ronon with him on his travels, and one day he had left without telling anyone, only that he had planned on finding a bride that would love him for who he is… I do not understand the concept of that. Surely everyone knows what the Prince looks like!”

Aracely sighed as she thought back to the first day. “Well, he had said his name was Johan and he had dressed in the clothes of a farmer. My people tend to be wary of strangers, especially so close to the season. Apart from the required taxes when the clergy from the castle comes, we truly have little to do with the King or the Prince by way of news and affairs.”

“Sorry? Season?”

“The men from Chulakka come to our village to claim our women and younger girls that are most fit for bearing a child. Our men defend us the best they can but with little resources it is difficult,” she replied. A few of their buildings had secret compartments where they would hide, but they were not always easy to get to if the village was caught off guard. That was also one thing she would also not say to a single person for it was their only defense. Even if she did grow to trust John’s people, Aracely knew she had hers to protect should that information fall to the wrong hands.

“You’re from the border lands then, Aracely? However, I cannot believe that the Chulakkans are that violent. The King would certainly have done something had the word reached him, he may have been an old fool, but he did not take attacks on his people lightly.”

Sighing, she felt the onset of head pain coming. It was a story said many times and again. “John had said much of the same. They are a dangerous people. We had petitioned and begged for help from your warriors at the outpost but they were of no assistance. Not until – Johan came. I have seen the damage they have caused with my own eyes, seen the pain in the faces of friends when their wives or daughters were taken. We would not create these untruths, for what? A few pieces of bread and medicine?”

“I am not saying you’re lying, Princess, but you have to admit, the soldiers refusing you any help sounds a little untrue.”

“Teyla, stop pestering my wife.” John’s voice suddenly sounded as he held out her hand for Aracely. “Are you coming? I will give you a tour of the castle.” He smiled widely, trying to put aside the feeling of grief about seeing his Father being carried out of his chambers in a coffin and being settled in the Main hall for the time being in order for the Royal court to say their goodbyes.

Aracely was grateful for the interruption. She nodded as she took John’s hand for him to lead her out. “Please forgive her, and me. I do understand how it may sound to those who have not lived through such horror,” she said quickly.

“I have seen enough at your village to know you are speaking the truth, my love.” John smiled at her. “Radell’s blacksmith shop looked as if it was ready to fall apart!” He chuckled. “I would not have helped you trying to make a better defense if I hadn’t believed it was necessary.”

As he lifted her hand to press his lips to it, she smiled feeling a sense of warmth filling her. “Thank you,” she whispered, her eyes transfixed on the man’s lips. “Uh – what duties is there to fulfill now? I fear I wasted a great deal of time by remaining in bed for so long with that still has to be done.”

“Right now, it is my duty and pleasure to show you around the castle, and the gardens.” John smiled. “I’m particularly fond of the garden, I have my own corner there that I like to work on.”

“Hmm,” she murmured thoughtfully as she studied him. “Would I be correct to assume that it is filled with roses? You seem to be the rose type of man I believe.”

“Oh I love roses, there’s a special part of the gardens for that, a beautiful rose garden… but no… my part of the garden has herbs such as lavender and rosemary and fruit trees, useful things.”

Aracely looked surprised. “I would love to see your garden even more now,” she replied. “Perhaps before dark?”

John lead her out of the castle in to a small portion of the wide gardens. It had benches, a small river and trees a plenty. Smiling, he took her to his little corner of the garden, a well tend to section.

She walked out under and through hanging vines of leaves and flowers in awe. While they did indeed pass over abundance of rose bushes to overwhelm a person, she found John’s personal paradise to be just that. “It is lovely,” she chanted as she looked around constantly turning to try to see everything at once.

Reaching out she touched petals of jasmine and lavender, feeling the texture and inhaling their fragrances. Aracely did not stay in any one spot long before moving on, now to play as she danced through the leaves of an overgrown willow tree. It had been one of the first times that had truly forgotten the world around her and simply felt alive.

He chuckled as he sat down on the grass, watching Aracely dance around the garden. “This is the one place I go when I want to be alone. This is off limits to the maidens, and the servants only come here if it is necessary.” He looked at the soil between the rosemary saplings and made a face. “I need to weed the soil again though.”

“So, no one is permitted to interrupt?” she asked as she looked over him as she went to breath in more of the flowers, that were not roses. “Of course unless it is of urgency.”

“Exactly.” John nodded. “The constant interference from Teyla and her servants drive me mad sometimes, I needed a place for myself and me alone… and now I’m sharing it with you.” He jumped up and walked to the pear tree, seeing that the pears were ripe. “Would you like to have a pear? These are the sweetest and juiciest you’ll ever taste.”

“Mmm thank you,” she sighed as she turned to fall into a patch of grass with a large smile. “I have been here not more than two suns and I understand the desire to run from the staff. I do not envy your life here. Perhaps I fell in luck with Gabriella. She always seemed to know when I desired to be alone with my thoughts.” This was like a small piece of heaven inside the thick walls of the castle and for him to share it, she knew was a great deal. She knew she was certainly fond of John, before even before. Aracely was not yet ready to commit to loving him as he expressed over. But, she also knew in that moment under his tree she was growing into that love and smiled.

John sat down next to Aracely and handed her a pear as he started to eat his own. He loved this playful side of her, she looked younger, happier, and carefree. “In some castle house holds, it’s even worse. It took me many years to get them to leave me alone when I asked them to, and even now, it’s still hard to get rid of them… as if I can’t dress myself!” John rolled his eyes and laughed.

She leaned on her arm to bite into the fruit. Aracely did not take concern if the dress got soiled from the dirt. If anything she found Teyla’s reactions to be amusing and wished to see her face after she made her wear this.

“Help is welcoming at times. Such as last evening with your Teyla. That dress was God awfully uncomfortable. She did not have to speak the words but I suspected that it had been intended for Princess Chaya from the very beginning,” she mused.

John chuckled. “You could have said no.”

“I was not given the chance to in that regard,” she narrowed her eyes as she looked up at the castle wall. In one of the balconies, she could see Teyla watching them and sighed. “Perhaps but I knew how important everything was to you and time was not on our side. I made do with the sacrifice of my comfort so that the service could move forward.”

John caressed her hair. “Don’t ever think you’re less important than me, Teyla can be a tough one, she likes rules and regulations even though she’s expressing herself freely. And, to be honest, I think she’s testing you out.” He took another bite out of his pear. “She doesn’t like insecurity, and with me deviating from the normal path that a Prince or a King should stay on, frightens her… she might even try to scare you with stories about me.” John sighed. “Fear me, I’m a monster with a beautiful garden.”

Her thoughts immediately went to her conversation about his aggression in the bed and frowned. “Why would she wish to test me if not to find I am unsuitable for you? Does she – have specific tales that she might speak?” she asked glancing back up to the woman. Never more was she pleased to be away from her where she could not hear her questions.

“I don’t know…” John said, “As far as I know I’ve been nothing but good to her.” He looked at her warily. “What did she say?”

Aracely pursed her lips not wishing to say. “We had not spoken much until after you left from my chambers this afternoon. But nothing that she did not immediately assure that I would likely experience,” she answered feeling as if she said too much already.

John was confused. “What are you talking about?”

She shrank back on her spot on the grass. “I do not wish to say…”

Sighing he laid down on his back, looking up to the skies in thought. “I talk in my sleep… which you experienced already… I have this habit of chewing my nails, hiding in my garden and enjoy a good cask of wine.” He said after a while. “I also regularly spar with Ronon… not with real swords as he’s afraid he’ll hurt me, but especially when I was younger, it was a good way to get rid of extra energy and frustration caused by mostly the servants.” He threw the remaining pieces of the pear into the bushes behind him, as he usually did. It would wither and serve as compost. “I would really love to take you out for a horse ride, a real horse ride, you know, on top of horses instead of in a carriage, through the village here, and then the open plains.”

She smiled at the thought. “It would sound lovely,” she said, watching him. Perhaps Teyla wished to provoke a reaction from her because as of yet he had not given any indication of the aggression that was described. He did already admit to the occasional bed mate, which was not unexpected.

As in bed that morning, she found herself behaving most unlike herself again. When John turned back to look at her she had leaned in and kissed him sweetly.

“Oh, I can get used to that,” he smiled as he kissed her back, and caressed her hair.

“Thank you for sharing your garden with me,” she said, studying his eyes with fascination. “It – does help my own apprehensions a great deal.”

“I told you, if there is anything you do not like, or if there is anything you would like… don’t hesitate to tell me and I’ll make sure you get what you wish for.” John gently caressed her cheek and smiled.

“Yes, but I’m afraid that one thing I wish for even you cannot give,” she said softly, before kissing him again and saving the taste of his lips.

John smiled. “First official thing I’ll do as King is send all the help possible to your village, my love.”

“And again, I thank you, but that is not of what I speak. Even you cannot completely absolve me of my fears,” she said. “My other curiosity would come in time as we learn each more.”

“You are a mystery, Aracely.” John smiled at her as he caressed her hair. “I like that!”

“I do not think that I am,” she said but grinned. “Please, I may be – difficult at times but should you wish to ask something of me I will answer for you the best I can. I know I have not been the most pleasant person in our meeting.”

“I can be difficult too.” John nodded. “Shall I show you the rest of the castle?”

She looked up and realized the sun was setting. “Of course,” she nodded.

“Or… you know… we could just lay here in the grass and watch the sun set,” John smiled widely.

“There will be many more setting suns where I am sure there are better places to observe among the castle,” Aracely pointed out. “However, I am quite at ease right where we are now and I am in no eager rush to return to being beckoned on.”

“You could always tell them to leave you alone,” John shrugged, snuggling up to Aracely, taking her in his arms as he continued to stare at the sky. “Or just tell Teyla that you’re done with her and that you desperately want Gabriella back, even if she doesn’t know where everything is yet.” He pointed out.

She shrugged as she laid her head back onto his shoulder, enjoying the familiar position. “I will think on it. Although, I cannot help but feel as if you and I are being spied upon,” she said with a teasing smile and motioning her eyes above to indicate Teyla’s continued vigil.

“As long as she’s staying there, all is well in the world.” He smiled widely as he caressed her hair, and then realized something. “This is not one of your own dresses that you’re wearing, is it?” He plucked at the fabric.

“No,” Aracely said, exaggerating on the one syllable. “Gabriella had given Teyla another dress of mine but when I finished my bath, she had come in with this. I was far too cold to stand there and wait so I settled and let her dress me in this. I had the feeling that I was being treated like someone’s new doll.”

John chuckled. “You need to set boundaries.” He slowly moved his hand over her torso.

She closed her eyes enjoying the feeling of his hands over her form. “And I will, once events begin to settle and I am sure my friends are well through the season. I cannot help but continue to feel as if I am standing on the edge of a cliff with worry.”

“I just hope our help will arrive in time for them.” John said softly. “Did you know that a member of the Royal court accused you of lying? He infuriated me, he has not even met you, nor has he seen the state of your village with his own eyes. He thinks that you’re making things up because I’m gullible when it comes to pretty women in distress.” John made a face. “I will make sure to remove him from the court when I get the chance.”

Aracely put her hand to his face in hopes to calm the man. While her eyes were filled with sadness she gave a small smile. “I am unsurprised at hearing that. Teyla, when I shared it with her did not believe me either, but she did not make accusation of deceit. Be patient with those people I ask. I am sure they will realize the err of their words in their time.”

“I had suspected that people would be unhappy with me not marrying Chaya, but I did not expect that they would so actively try to make me unhappy. We haven’t even been wed for a full day cycle, my Father has just passed away and it just frustrates me.” He then looked at her and sighed. “I wanted to propose to get rid of them all and replace them with all members of your village. I know it’s a fool’s decision, but at least I would be certain that your friends are all right and that you’ll be treated properly.”

She only smiled at him as he let out his words. When he was done, she kissed him briefly before turning her body so that she was nestled inside his arms where he would keep her warm in the now darkened garden. “In time, we all will overcome our fears,” she said closing her eyes against him.

They laid in comfortable silence for a long time until John’s stomach started to growl loudly. “Let’s get us supper.” He said, and slowly got up. He held out his hand for Aracely so he could help her off the ground.

“Sounds positively wonderful,” she replied feeling a bit hungered herself. Brushing off the dirt from the bottom of her dress she smiled up at John before following him out from the gardens.

After supper in the banquet hall, John decided to show Aracely around in the Castle, occasionally being stopped by Ronon or Teyla or even Meredith and George to ask him non-important questions. He knew that Teyla had put them up to it, and he was slightly irritated by it.

“Ronon, I have something to do for you.” John said after the third time Ronon stopped both him and Aracely. “Send out a group of men to the village of San Franciskus, tell them to ask for Sir Lorne or Halling and let them ask what they can do for the village.” He said. “I know I am not King yet, but I soon will be. I want you to do it now, it can not wait. I want you to go and see the soldier out post near that village and ask them why they have never helped those people, while they have asked. Appropriately punish them.”

Ronon blinked at John and sighed as he began to walk away. “As you wish.”

Aracely bit on her lip before reaching a hand out before Ronon was too far away. “Sir Dex? If I may?”

“Yes, milady?”

“If you could have your men to assure that Radell, our blacksmith, has some breads and dairies? I always brought him some for his family in the mornings. His mind is a bit different than ours and sometimes forgets when his food stock runs low for his family,” she asked with notable concern.

Ronon looked at John gave him an assuring nod. “We shall bring food, medicine and seeds, milady.” Ronon replied.

“Thank you,” she smiled gratefully.

Ronon bowed and continued to walk down the corridor.

“He’ll hate me for sending him away like that, for so many moons.” John grinned as he put reached out for Aracely’s hand to continue showing her around the castle.

Their walk had less interruptions after it was clear the Prince was less than pleased. Only those with questions regarding the upcoming services dared to approach the two, questions of which both were more than pleased to answer and share opinions.

“Now, if you ever need to find a servant to help you out… in the unlikely event that they decided to leave you alone for a while… this corridor houses all the servants, including Gabriella.” John said as he pointed at the corridor. “I just don’t like walking through there because they likely all talk all at once and sound like loud angry birds.”

She smiled as she looked down to find an occasional person crossing the corridor from one room to another with arms filled of clothing and other materials. “I will have to be sure to find Gabriella’s room once everything has settled,” she commented softly.

“You can always ask another servant to go and fetch her for you.” John offered. “As I said before, Teyla’s strong willed and probably extremely stubborn, but she is still your servant. If you want Gabriella to help you instead of Teyla, you should say so.”

“I will, I just don’t wish for her to overwhelm herself. It is a very new setting for her as compared to home before I ask her to tend to her duties again. Even she could use some rest now and then, yes?”

“Of course.” John nodded and continued to walk until they were at one of the exits of the castle. “Tomorrow, you should exploit your status of being relatively unknown, and walk around the village while you can, Gabriella and one of the other maidens could go with you.”

Aracely smiled brightly at the suggestion. “I would certainly love that! It will give me the opportunity to find some crafts to occupy my time within the castle when there is little to tend to.”

“Maybe I should send one of the soldiers with you, just to ease my own mind.” John said thoughtfully.

She looked up at him questioningly with a teasing glint in her eyes. “Do you believe that Gabriella and I would run away?”

“No,” He put his arms around her and planted a kiss on top of her head. “I am afraid that something might happen to you, that’s all.”

“You have said yourself that I am still an unknown with the people around the castle. I have been kept in your presence or within the chambers since arriving so I do not anticipate any harm to come before formal services for the crown is held,” she said feeling a bit defensive.

“What? I can’t be worried?” John asked and sighed. “I won’t send anyone with you, apart from those you want to come with you, that is.”

She gave him a pleased smile and shook her head. “I will be pleased to bring one of your men with us. Of course I ask that he not be dressed so – formally.”

“Thank you.”

Taking notice of the darkness outside, Aracely sighed and mourned the end of a rather eventful and pleasurable day. She still ached inside but continued to desire the company of John. “Perhaps we should consider ending our day,” she frowned.

He avoided the main hall on their way back to their sleeping chambers. “I’d love it if you would honor me with your presence in my bed…”

She bit on her lip as she looked straight ahead of them as they walked. “Are you wishing to…?”

“I just want your companionship, your warmth, nothing else… not everything in a man’s head involves sex.”

Raising her head to study his sincerity, she did smile again. “Very well. You cannot blame me for being – uninformed. And thank goodness because I am feeling still very … tender.”

He chuckled and took her to his chambers. “I’m sorry…”

“I know you are John. I’m afraid I won’t be capable of pleasing you again for a number of days.”

John shrugged. “That’s okay, my love.” He said, stepping into his chambers. It was nothing like the Royal Chambers, even though he had curtains to make the room darker at night, he had light furniture but the longer wall was filled halfway with shelves of books. “Your presence pleases me enough.” He noticed that the maidens had put a jug of wine on the table in the small seating area. “Wine?”

Aracely had wandered over see all the books before she replied. “I would love some, thank you,” she said in a soft, distracted voice. “I don’t believe I have ever seen so many books in one location other than a library.”

He poured them both a glass of wine and smiled. “I’ve almost read them all, you’re more than welcome to read them too.”

She nodded as she knelt to view the titles on the lower shelves. “Thank you,” she murmured, pulling one book off a shelf to carry back with her to the sitting area. “I can truly say that it has been an – interesting day,” she smiled as she sipped her wine.

John pulled off his boots and tossed them into a corner and relaxed into his chair, taking a sip of his wine, recalling the amazing sex they had earlier. “It certainly has.” He said with a mischievous grin on his face.

“No,” Aracely said shaking her head and pressed her legs together with a wince. “I hurt just thinking about it now.”

“Oh my!” John nearly choked on his wine. “You had sex one time and you think you know what I’m thinking!”

“Absolutely not! That grin on your face says enough and that has been the most life altering event that occurred to me since the sun had risen today,” she replied, setting her glass down in offense.

“In a good or bad way?” John dared to take a sip of his wine, even though he knew that he could burst out in laughter at any time. What harm was there in teasing?

She sat up straighter in her chair. “I have not yet decided,” she answered indignantly.

John grinned as he finished his wine. He set down his glass, got off his chair and kneeled down in front of Aracely. He kissed her softly on her lips. “You should be pleased I am a caring husband, and a very patient one.” He caressed her hair and smiled. “Do you want me to call one of the servants to draw you a bath so you can relax in the hot water?”

Her lips twitched as they sought to smile but she managed to resist. “If you would not mind,” she nodded.

John got to his feet and peeked his head out of the door down into the corridor. “Would you like me to draw you a bath, your highness?” A young voice sounded.

“It’s for Aracely, yes please.” John said, walking back into the chambers, sitting back down in the chair and poured himself another wine.

She had watched him the entire time and smiled as he returned to his chair. “Do you not plan to cleanse yourself?” she asked curiously.

“I would love to, but I’m not going to leave my chambers anymore. I will wait until you’ve taken your bath.” John looked at the servants coming into the chambers and followed them with his eyes until they disappeared into the washroom.

Aracely nodded and finished her wine as her fingers traced the edges of the book. It wasn’t long before the servant came out to announce the water was ready. Standing she followed the girl into the room and allowed her to help undo her dress before smiling.

“What is on your mind, Princess?” the servant asked as she put lavender twigs into the water. “Can I just say, you have a wonderful smile?”

“Thank you,” she replied warmly. “May I ask your name?”

“It is Janet, milady.”

“Janet,” Aracely repeated. “I can finish undressing on my own, however would you please ask Prince John to come in shortly? I have something I wish to ask him.”

Janet blinked at her highness and bowed. “Of course, milady.” She then left the washroom.

She let her gown fall to the floor before undoing her undergarments and stepped into the bathwater, moaning at the warm water as it lapped at her sore muscles. Easing her way down into the tub, she sighed as she ran a hand along the inside of her thighs where she ached still.

John finished his wine after Janet had told him about Aracely’s wishes and then looked around the corner of the washroom. “Yes, my love?”

Aracely turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Oh, well…” she said forgetting about how she was originally intending to invite him to join her. “I realized after I settled in the water that your bath is quite large to accommodate more than one body, and you have not bathed since the night before last that I recall.”

He thought for a second and shrugged. “Last night, after we arrived, before our marriage.”

“So you do not wish to join me in this very warm bath?” she asked sweetly.

“Well…” John put his hands behind his back. “If you insist…”

“If you do not wish to then you do not have to,” she blinked and turned back to focusing washing herself. If he was anything like he said, and that she suspected, his choice could sway. A part of her hoped he would not, to maintain his distance but another part hoped for another moment shared between them as such in the gardens.

“Uhh…” He had felt his cock twitch at her invitation and he wasn’t sure if he could fully control himself. iRonon in his under wear, Meredith in female garments… Yep, I can do this./i John thought. “Alright.” He replied as he started to undress himself. iGeorge naked on a… on top of… a whore… oh… wrong choice./i

She looked back at him again and smiled before continuing with her bath, humming to herself. She tried to remain calm as she heard his clothing being removed before falling to the floor. “The lavender smells lovely, don’t you think?”

“Hmm… I was wondering why a part of my garden missed some lavender.” John said as he approached the bath, wondering why it certainly was long enough, but not wide enough to sit opposite of her. His legs would simply get in the way. “Would you mind if I’d hold you while I’m in the bath with you?”

She looked down at the tub and shrugged. “It would be difficult not to. Unless I move further down for your comfort?”

“That wouldn’t be comfortable for you,” John pointed out as he walked around the bath. “Move just for a moment, so I can get in.” iNaked horses… wait they are naked. Ronon naked in a vegetable patch… no a flower patch filled with bees… Teyla in her… noo bad John. Meredith eating./i

“Of course,” she said sliding down to make room. Aracely blushed as she kept her eyes down on her hands as she felt the water shift as he stepped into the tub. Once he was submerged, she lifted her head and smiled. “Are you settled?”

“Yes, I am.” John answered.

She turned and moved back until she was able to lean against his body. “Why is it that you are so warm? My Lord!”

“Well, look at it this way, you won’t be cold during winter time.” John chuckled. iRonon in women’s garments… Meredith eating a juicy grilled chicken with fat dripping down his chin… Ah, that’s helping./i

“Are you saying that you wish me in your bed often?” Aracely asked as she reached forward for the washing cloth that had escaped her, unintentionally exposing her back more.

“I’d like that.” John couldn’t help but gently placing his hands on her back and run his fingers of her skin. “I mean… it’s not what is common but I’m not normal in any regard.” He found it difficult to think of nothing else but methods to continue to keep his growing erection from seeking more.

Returning to his arms, she thought about the concept of sharing the Prince, no, her King’s, bed nightly. “I believe I may be able to accept that – of course, it would make sense if we had been any other wedded couple, correct?”

He nodded as he swallowed hard, unable to speak. His hands continued to caress her skin, wandering around around to her side and up to brush against the slight curve of her breast. Aracely turned and looked at him through narrowed eyes.

“I thought you had said you did not wish for intimacy,” she noted with a frown.

“My apologies dear Aracely. I was simply unable to keep from touching your fair skin. So lovely you are,” John whispered as he raised his hands to her face and lean in to kiss her. “I truly had – have no intentions. My blood, my body calls for you and is difficult to resist.”

She looked at him as she realized that she felt quite the same and nodded. “I do long for the warmth of your body as well. It is one of the reasons why I had asked Miss Janet for you to come.”

John took the washcloth from Aracely’s hands and gently started to caress her torso with it. “The other reason being that you just wanted me clean?” He asked teasingly as he softly planted a kiss on her neck after he pulled her hair off it.

“Um,” she said closing her eyes as she tried to think. “No. Although it does feel quite good but I believe it was more so that I may grow more used to the idea of you.”

He nodded as he slowly moved underneath her breasts with the washcloth. “You do know that you don’t have to spend time with me if you don’t want to,” He said softly. “I like your company, but whether or not you spend time with me is up to you, I know that you’ve had a lot of new experiences and changes in the last few days.”

Aracely let out a sigh as his hand grazed her breast again. “I – am aware yes, that I may keep to myself. You should know,” she started to say as she composed herself. “Vala did make an attempt to convince me to seek you romantically before the village had learned of your true self. I – may have considered it before your query…”

“Really?” John smiled as he started to stroke her stomach with the washcloth, making small little circles as he did. “Why didn’t you? I was trying too hard?”

“No,” she shook her head. “I let my fears and insecurities to take control on your earlier – advances. Too, the village and my friends were my priority and it has not been until I had met you that I believed that they will thrive again.”

“We start with San Franciskus, but I want Atlantica be one thriving and safe Kingdom again before our future heir takes the throne.”

She grinned as she turned back in the tub to move to rest against his body again. “Do you plan on us creating an heir so soon? I am unsure John… For that, I unsure if I am quite ready to become a mother of yet.”

John blinked and then had to chuckle. “Well then… I really… uh… You do know that with what we did this afternoon that ah…”

“I am not naive to the ways of child making. I too know that many women have difficulties in conception. Vala is one and trust my words she wishes greatly for a child.”

“My love, if you are not ready to become a mother, then… I shall behave myself.”

Aracely sighed and let her arm fall over John’s legs, tracing the muscle tone. “If it happens, then it would be meant to be,” she said as she closed her eyes as she had quickly come to feel weary from the day.

Feeling her hand on his leg made it even more harder to control his impulses. John swallowed hard and then managed to get out of the bath, wrapping a towel around his waist. “There, clean.” He smiled widely.

His sudden departure, and loss of heat for her left Aracely in surprise. She was about to say something when the reason for his abrupt behavior was clear beneath his towel. “Oh…” she let out. “I am so deeply sorry to cause you such – discomfort.”

“I’m not uncomfortable.” John told her and smiled. “I’ve merely lost my focus for trying not to get aroused and I’m keeping my word. I just want your company, your warmth in bed.” He planted a kiss on top of her head. “I’ll go and get into my sleeping garments.”

She nodded feeling a bit of disappointment. “I won’t be long. I am almost finished,” she said.

“Sorry!” He called out from the other room as he got into his sleeping clothes. “You’re just so beautiful inside and out.”

Smiling, Aracely finished her bath before Miss Janet returned to with her night clothes. Finding that she was truly weary, she found no hesitation when climbing into John’s bed and under the covers. Sighing, she smiled as she curled into a ball on her side as she sought comfort. “Your bed is truly more soft than my own.”

“We should get you a new bed then.” John answered, “Just in case you wish to sleep on your own sometimes.”

“Why can I not claim this bed for my own?” she asked teasingly.

“Because it’s mine… I love this bed!” John hugged one of his pillows.

“Then you are intending to move it to the King’s chambers once you are crowned officially? I believe I may cause you grief because I do not believe that I wish to leave the comfort of it should you wish to go to bed with a – another woman.”

John blinked, hadn’t he made himself clear before? “One; I am not moving to the Royal Chambers, even if they redecorate it. Two; Are you out of your mind? We’re married!” He sat up and got out of bed to start pacing around. “It’s that what you think of me? A man who just screws every one he wants to? I am not like that!” He ranted while he ran his hands through his hair. “I would not do that! But sure, if you want to be treated the way my father treated my mother, the way my grandfather treated my grandmother, then fine. Go to your room.” He continued and then looked at her. “No wait, I’ll leave.” He grabbed his housecoat, pulled it on and stormed out of his room.

Aracely sat up in surprise and tried to speak but he had gone on so fast that she doubted he even noticed. After he ran out, she sat down on her knees in the large bed just staring at the door. Had she anticipated that emotional of a reaction to something so very common, she would not have said a word but still, in the end she came to realize just how much it hurt him and that alone pained her greatly for all that he had done.

Not bothering with grabbing a covering, she flew off the bed and ran to the door. As she exited the room, she looked both ways down the large corridor, but did not see him. “John?” she called out. “Please, I am so very sorry…I did not mean…” she repeated as she spun around in place trying to decide the direction to seek him out but knew not of what else to do.

“Are you alright, Aracely?” Teyla’s voice sounded as she appeared from one of the rooms along the corridor. “Is something wrong with John?”

“I am afraid I have upset him. I did not mean – I wish to apologize but I do not know where he ran to,” she replied very upset. “Oh I am such a fool!”

“I do not mean to pry, but what were you talking about?” Teyla slowly approached Aracely with a light smile on her face.

She looked at the woman and sighed as she collapsed in a heap to the floor. “I thought that our talk was of light hearts but I had said something about if he chose to bed another woman…I did not mean it as he may think. He should not have chosen me. I will only make him a terrible wife.”

“That is true.” Teyla nodded and helped Aracely to her feet. “You will have to get used to this, John is much like a spoiled child, he is driving us mad with his need to change the way the Royals have lived for numerous of generations, tradition that has served the King and Queen for many years, and he doesn’t give up. John should bed other women, it is what is expected of him. You have done a good thing tonight, Aracely.”

Looking at her, Aracely could not help but feel anger. “How could anything good leave one feeling so bad? How could having a different vision for a future be so wrong? You say he is a good man, of good heart and well intentions yet you paint him as – as … No!” She pulled away from Teyla before going down the hall to begin searching, to beg John for his forgiveness for her misspoken words with great determination.

Teyla walked after Aracely, sighing. “Stubbornness is a great personality trait for a King, tradition is even better. With John straying from the path his ancestors set upon, he will fail the Kingdom. You should leave John to stew for a little while.”

“Leave me Teyla or so God help me I will not be held responsible for what I may say or do,” she replied in a dangerously low voice. “You had made it clear since my arrival that you had preferred the King’s choice of Princess Chaya for John, but the King is dead and John had selected ime/i. If you do not like that then you are free to leave the castle itonight/i.” With that she turned back and continued on down the hall in search of the man.

“Congratulations, Princess Aracely.” Teyla’s voice sounded. “You’ve passed.” she added smugly. “I am sorry if I caused you trouble by feeding you lies about John, but you need this attitude if John pushes his plan forward by making you rule equally at his side. The members of the Royal Court are brutal.”

Aracely ignored her as she was still greatly angered. Turning the corner she prayed that she would soon find John and settle their misunderstanding – and come to a decision about Teyla’s method of conditioning that would cause such strife between the two who needed to come to terms with one another.

“You might find him in the Main Hall, at his Father’s side, Princess.” Teyla kept following her. “It is your right to be angry with me, and John will certainly be as well, but trust that it was for your own good.”

“Leave me, inow/i,” she repeated as she tried to recall the direction of the main hall before turning down another corridor. iWhy must this place be so large/i, she thought as she hoped she was going in the right direction.

“Go the next corridor left, then take the staircase down.” Teyla called after her before walking away.

She muttered a thank you, but not loud enough for it to reach the woman’s ears before going as she said. Praying that it was not another trick of hers, she quickly located the staircase and hurried down through a final corridor off the landing. True to her word this time, Aracely found John at the King’s side. Taking a deep breath after she paused briefly, she made her way across the floor with her face set with determination.

“You were a fool to let Mother raise me like she did, Father.” John spoke softly as he looked at his still form. “I’ve come so far, but they think I’m mad.”

“It is everyone else that is mad while you are the one true light amongst the darkness,” Aracely spoke from behind him, looking up with courage of strength, but fear of rejection in her eyes.

“Go away.” John said, rubbing his eyes as he refused to turn.

“You will have to make me,” she said in much of the same tone she used with Teyla, but softer. “I was wrong and will gladly shout that from the balconies at the sun’s rise, but I will not leave you like this.”

“No, you were right.” John replied. “My Father was delirious when he spoke his blessing of me breaking with tradition.” He still didn’t look at her, he was furious.

She heaved a deep breath before slowly stepping up to stand beside him on the pedestal. “I assumed you to be just like the many suitors before but you filled me with such a strong desire and curiosity of life that had not been there before. You have done so much without my asking of you and I treated you – I continued to assume you were no different. You are. So much more than anyone could dare to dream,” she spoke as she carefully moved closer. “Your visions may not be welcomed by many but that does not mean they are wrong or that you are a fool. John…John look at me!”

“Don’t worry, Aracely, I will not throw you out of the castle. Stop making excuses and do not tell me – Just leave me alone.”

Between Teyla and John’s miserable self pity, she had enough. Taking the final steps up to him, forcing him to face her, her hand flew across his face. The sound of her slap echoed through the empty hall but she could only look at him. Anger, sorrow, passion in her eyes as she struggled to keep her breathing in control.

“Ouch!” John glared at her. “What? Make up your mind, Aracely, because at one moment I feel like you’re my soul mate, and the other moment I think you’re Teyla, trying to change me and force me back into tradition!” He rubbed his cheek, she could hit hard, he hadn’t expected that.

“I have made my mind the moment you ran from the bed chamber. And Teyla! After all she put me through the last two days, I think it may be best that you take that – insult back!” she said, her voice just an octave from shouting her emotions. “If she comes near me again, it will only be too soon!”

“Yes, well… I don’t know what you two have been up to when I wasn’t around, but I am not taking that back.” John said, “I have no idea what she has been telling you, maybe it was wrong of me to tell her to tell you about the life in this caste.”

Aracely raised her chin as her eyes flashed in hurt. “Then by all means. Be the King that everyone expects you to be. Be the man who uses and abuses women in his bed for his own pleasure and amusement. Use me as what a wife is intended to be – a vessel to produce your heir and nothing more, but do not – do not come to me for advice or companionship because you want to be a stubborn pig!”

“I don’t want you to… I don’t! It’s iyou/i who thinks that I should do that. And then to even think for a isecond/i that I would be unfaithful and sleep with other women underneath the same roof as my wife? I must have really done something wrong since we’ve met, because I have done nothing but treat you with the respect that you deserve!” John hopped off the pedestal. “And I can’t believe we’re having an argument at my Father’s body!”

“It had to be said, no matter the location. I was only trying to be the wife – the Queen everyone expects ime/i to be. Until you came I had no intentions of living a life such as this,” she cried throwing her arms out to indicate the grandeur of the hall. “I know nothing of – love other than the stories that are spoken to me … My mind is so confused! In one ear I have Vala’s encouragement to follow my heart that I would have a happy life with you that she has with Danyel – in the other other ear I have Teyla making me feel that I am unworthy of being your wife… I just don’t know what to do anymore – to please you, to gain the confidence of the people here…”

He crossed the space between him and Aracely and took her in his arms. “I just want you to be you… the Lady Aracely of San Franciskus, the leader of her people.” John said, caressing her hair. “I don’t want a Queen, I want my Aracely, the one who gave a traveller a chance to prove himself worthy of you despite him being slightly mad for travelling by himself. The one who earned the respect of her people, the friendship of her people, with her big heart… I don’t know what Teyla has told you about me, but I told you to always – ialways/i come to me if you have questions that need to be answered… or to verify if stories are true…” John sighed. “I know I’m not someone like Halling or Danyel, or like any man you expected me to be… but I am no different than that traveler that got a change to win a pretty lady over.”

Her eyes filled with tears as she nodded. “I am so sorry, I truly did not wish to anger you like that, please forgive me,” she cried. “I know, I truly know now that you were never the man that I was told you were. I do not know what had come over me to believe her words.”

John knew who Aracely meant when she said iher/i. “I am sorry… I knew that Teyla was going to try to test you… but I had not expected that she’d tell you that whenever I bedded a woman that I’d treat her without respect, that I would be abusive, as you said…”

Unable to say anything more, for all had been said, she could only let her tears fall as she let herself cling to his body, wrapping her arms around him. There was a comfort that only his arms could give and after all the words exchanged, she desperately desired them.

John lifted her up and started to walk back towards his chambers. “I will deal with her tomorrow, when you’re in to town with Gabriella. Right now, we both need some rest.” He planted a kiss on her forehead.

“I already said some words to her,” she sighed as she held onto him. “I told her that if she is unhappy with your choice in me then she should leave tonight. I was so angry!”

“She didn’t like Chaya much, I doubt she leaves.” John said. “But good on you for speaking your mind, you’re her Princess and tomorrow you’ll be her Queen, she needs to play by your rules.”

Aracely tucked her face into the crook of his neck and sighed into the warmth he wrapped her in. “When you offered to share your chamber…”

“Yes?” He easily walked up the stairs carrying her and walked through the corridor. “I meant it, why should things be different for a married couple in the castle, while they would share the same bed if they weren’t as well off.”

“I like that,” she smiled. “I am so sorry.”

“So am I.” He smiled at her and kissed her tenderly, almost stumbling into a wall.

Aracely could not help but to laugh. “I do wish for us to return to our bed without finding ourselves bruised!”

“Don’t worry, I know where we’re going.” John chuckled.

“Last I recall, neither of us have the ability to walk through stone walls,” she teased.

“Fortunately not.” He turned a corner. “We’re nearly there.”

“Thank goodness because I do truly find your bed quite comfortable and after all this, to lose that would be quite difficult…”

He pushed the door open with his foot and closed it with the same foot after walking in his chambers. He then gently placed her onto the bed and disregarded his robe. “There, all comfortable.” He smiled as he pulled the covers over her as he got into bed himself.

Once John settled down, she shifted over, cautiously lying beside him. In the quiet of the dark, as they slowly let the stress of the day dissipate, Aracely could not help but say softly, “And I am still quite sore…” before laughing.

He chuckled as he took her in his arms. “You will be for a few days, I’m sorry.”

“The ache – is not a bad one. Though it does become distracting at the most inopportune times, such as now when I wish to sleep.”

“Do you want Janet to draw you another hot bath?”

“No, because I would wish for you to join me again and I fear we would simply end up back here,” she replied.

“Well… there is a good way to remedy your ache…” John said thoughtfully.

She lifted her head from his shoulder and narrowed her eyes. “I am almost afraid to ask…”

He grinned and softly kissed her forehead. “Well there’s that… but I’m keeping my word.”

“Such a gentleman you are,” she sighed before settling back in for the night. “I still won’t feel particularly friendly to Teyla in the morning. I just wished to let you know.”

“Well I’m not happy with her either. I am sure she’ll make herself scarce in the morning.” John kissed Aracely tenderly. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

“I believe you,” she said with a yawn. “Sleep well my John.”

“Sleep well my love.”


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