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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, '11, 7:58 pm
Returning to Palma was almost disappointing after our pleasant stay in Paseo. Nekise returned home to Camineet and I stayed in my palace, which now seemed even more cold and empty than it ever had before. I didn't want to go back to the way things were, but I wasn't sure how they were supposed to progress forward.

I loved Nekise, I was sure of it. The calm, soft-spoken man with the quick wit who had been my brother's best friend was now my own closest confidante. He knew me better than anyone else in Algol, which was simultaneously comforting and scary, but I trusted him. Having him be a part of my life felt so good, so right, and I couldn't imagine ever wanting to let him go.

We had returned to our routine of him visiting me at the palace several times a week. I was trying to figure out a subtle way to find out if he would be interested in staying here on a more permanent basis, but I didn't want to demand he give up his life in Camineet to be here with me. As much as I loved him and was so immeasurably happy with him, I wanted to make sure he was happy first.

I didn't get a chance to mention my concerns. We had climbed back up to the top of the Baya Malay tower one afternoon, and as I sat in front of him and leaned back into his arms, I thought he felt unusually tense. “Is anything wrong?” I asked, turning my head to look up at him.

He kissed the top of my head, but remained looking out over the horizon. “I don't know,” he sighed.

His answer was not particularly reassuring. “Okay...” I murmured, trying to decide on a course of action. I saw the corners of his mouth turn down into a slight frown and I began to worry. “I can't help you if you don't tell me what's bothering you.”

He wrapped his arms around me tighter, but his expression didn't change. “No matter how much I say and try to believe otherwise, sometimes it is impossible to forget who you are. And because of that, sometimes I wonder if I, a regular guy from Camineet, will ever have to give up this fantasy.”

“I'm still not entirely sure what you're talking about.”

“I don't know all the rules, or policies, or expectations.” He squirmed a bit under my inquisitive gaze and still refused to make eye contact. “Aren't you eventually supposed to wind up with a king? Or a prince? Or some other sort of royalty?”

“I haven't really noticed a line of nobles forming at my door ready to sweep me off my feet or a ruler from some far-off star system demanding an audience with me. Not that it would matter to me, of course. I want to be with you.”

“But is that always going to be possible?”

“I don't care what all the kings and queens before me have done. I'm going to be with the person I love.” I turned around all the way, sitting cross-legged between his legs, and forced him to look at me. “And that person is you. Nothing will change that.”

I saw a small smile finally appear. “You make everything seem so simple.”

“Why does it have to be complicated? Remember, I'm just Alis Landale, the girl who grew up across town from you and annoyed you when you came to see her brother.” That made him laugh. “Not much has changed...okay, I hope I whine slightly less these days.” I was glad that the mood had lightened a bit, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to change the subject just yet. “So come on, if you're a 'normal guy', treat me like a normal girl. What comes next?”

He put a finger to his chin and pretended to give my question some serious thought. “Well...normally, I would go have a conversation with your father...”

“Unfortunately, you're about eighteen years too late for that.”

“Do I need to go have a word with one of your advisers?”

“I don't think so. I like to think I'm the one in charge around here.”

“Then I guess I need to talk to you.” He took my hands in his and I saw him took a deep breath. “Alis, you know I love you so, so, much. I know we're still relatively young, but if these past few years have taught me anything, it's that everything can change in an instant, for better or for worse. I don't know what's going to happen next...all I know is that I want it to happen with us being together. Always.”

I felt a lump form in my throat and that familiar stinging sensation in my eyes, though this time it was finally for a good reason. “Nekise...” I whispered.

“Alis,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady. “Will you marry me?”

I didn't even bother trying to contain my tears this time. “Yes,” I managed to choke out before flinging my arms around his neck, nearly sending both of us to the ground. “Of course I'll marry you!”

We stayed atop the tower for several hours longer, gazing down at the beautiful landscape and feeling like we were the only two people on the entire planet. “You know, that wasn't really all that difficult, I guess. I was a bit nervous,” he admitted.

“You shouldn't have been, you should have known what the answer was going to be,” I teased.

“Cut me a little slack! I'd never proposed marriage to a queen before.”

“Well, I'm glad I got to be the first,” I said, kissing him lightly.

The next month was a blur of plans and preparations. I would have preferred keeping things small and simple, but it was strongly suggested to me that the people of Algol would want to see their beloved queen wed the man she loved in a visibly lavish ceremony. I did my best to pretend to care about flowers and food and clothing and colors, but all I really cared about was starting the rest of my life with Nekise.

The big day arrived before I knew it, and I found myself surrounded by chaos that entire morning. A group of women, the wonderful Suelo included, were scurrying about curling and pinning my hair, applying makeup to my face, and lacing me into the gigantic white lace dress that seemed to take up over half the room. As I was sprayed, prodded, painted, and yanked, I wondered how Nekise was doing at the opposite end of the palace. The endless chatter of my assistants helped to ease my nerves, but my excitement wasn't diminished in the slightest.

All of a sudden, the room was silent and I realized I'd been left by myself as everyone had taken off to take care of some last-minute details. I managed to get myself and the miles of fabric that was attached to me over to the floor-length mirror; despite my initial reluctance, I had to admit I was pleased with the results. Unlike most other young girls, I had never really had the opportunity to dream about my wedding day, but though the day was still young, I don't think I could have imagined a better one.

Though I was glad to have a moment to myself to reflect on the joyous occasion, I did feel a slight twinge of melancholy. Being alone in the room was a reminder that even though I had a kingdom's worth of people looking on and wishing me well, I was still missing those who couldn't be there. Nero's absence especially was always lingering somewhere in my mind, and it was times like this that brought it to the forefront.

I'd been mulling over the losses and gains in my life for several minutes when I heard a strange, yet familiar, noise behind me. Thinking that the distinctive purr could have been a figment of my imagination, I turned around to see my first fellow fighter, the yellow musk cat. He was sitting at the feet of his friend, the massive blond-haired warrior whom we had rescued together all those years ago. Though I hadn't seen either of them in what felt like several lifetimes, they were a wondrous sight that brought tears to my eyes.

“Myau? Odin? What are you doing here?” I choked out.

“Nekise invited us,” Odin answered with a smile as Myau trotted over to curl up beside me. “You look beautiful.”

I don't know why I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps I had been distracted, perhaps I hadn't thought I would be able to track them down, perhaps I really had no good excuse whatsoever. It didn't matter now, though; my love had managed to surprise me once more and I was ecstatic. One question still remained, though, and I was almost afraid to speak it out loud. “And Noah...?”

“Sitting with the governor.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. I found it curious that Odin wasn't out there with them, though. “What are you doing back here?” I asked.

Myau's tail swished back and forth across the carpet and I could almost swear the cat was smiling at me, as if he already knew the response. “Well,” Odin began, “I'd heard a rumor that you were planning on walking down the aisle unaccompanied. It's up to you, of course, but if you'd like an escort, I would be honored to offer you my arm.”

I beamed at him. “I couldn't have asked for a better wedding gift. Thank you.”

We didn't have much time to catch up, as we were soon alerted that the ceremony was about to begin. A long, flowing veil was quickly pinned atop my head and a large bouquet of flowers was thrust into my arms. Myau scampered out of the room ahead of us to rejoin Noah as Odin and I gradually made our way outside.

The ceremony was to take place in the courtyard and we were blessed with a perfect day. Algol benevolently cast its rays of warmth upon us as we stood at the base of the mountain that reached up into the flawless cerulean sky. I slipped my hand through Odin's elbow and smiled up at him appreciatively as the music started.

We slowly walked down the lengthy aisle, between the rows of the invited guests. It was hard to make out all the details as I was shrouded by the white haze of my veil, but I didn't need to see their faces as I was secure in their support of me. The altar had initially seemed as if it were miles away, but before I knew it, we had reached our destination.

Odin gently lifted the veil and pushed it back, finally revealing my face to the crowd. He kissed me on the cheek before taking his seat with the others and I turned to fully face Nekise for the first time that day. He looked at me with such devotion and admiration in his eyes and in his heart, I felt as if I were about to explode in a glorious display of unbridled emotion. The priest from Camineet began reading as we took each other's hands and I prepared to publicly declare my eternal love for the man I had chosen as my partner as the rest of my kingdom eagerly looked on.
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