Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
Jane nodded rather seriously. "I know you're still upset with him," she said. "I don't want you to stay angry with him forever."
"You make it sound like we're already married," Amanda joked.
Jane smiled. She reached up and gently brushed the hair from Amanda's face. "We've been married since the moment you first kissed me," she replied contentedly. "This is just to keep everyone else happy."
Amanda smirked. "Bob is going to love this," she said laughing.
Jane frowned. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"Bob's not that much of a royalist," Amanda explained delicately, "at least I don't think he ever expected to be related to them."
Jane smiled. "And Jessica?" she inquired.
"Oh she's really going to love it," Amanda replied brightly. "It's just a shame she has no one to tell."
In the evening they met Marc in the car. They drove silently for a time.
Amanda was the first through the door into the store.
Bob looked up and stared at her from behind the counter.
"I'm good," Amanda said nodding. "You?" she inquired.
"Same," Bob replied. He stepped round the counter and hugged her.
They stood back and smiled at each other.
"Little one," Bob said.
"Old Man," Amanda replied smirking.
They stood silently for a moment.
Jane shuffled nervously.
Bob frowned at her. "What?" he asked. He sounded worried. "What is it?"
In the morning Amanda woke groggily with a thumping headache and a rather conspicuous hole where her recent memories should be.
Jane rolled over and kissed her completely awake. "Good morning my little princess," she said brightly.
A little too brightly for Amanda's taste.
"What happened?" Amanda asked while wincing at the sound of her own voice.
"What do you remember?" Jane inquired.
"I think I remember going to Bob's," Amanda began while struggling to recall anything at all. She really didn't sound that sure. "I know you and he spoke and Jessica was really excited about something. I think Bob was happy then he opened a bottle of something called fermented-blood to celebrate. I really don't remember anything after that."
Jane smirked. "Do you remember this?" she asked while lifting Amanda's left hand.
There was a beautiful rose gold band surrounding her ring finger. It wasn't gaudy or over the top, just a simple band with a single blood red diamond held in an elegant clasp.
Amanda stared. She opened and closed her mouth. She didn't know what to say. "I'm so sorry," she cried while immediately bursting into tears. "How could I forget that?"
Jane kissed Amanda once more. She smirked. "You know you're a really cheap drunk," she quipped.
Amanda gently nodded. "Obviously," she blubbed.
They hugged and kissed.
Jane gently tickled Amanda's ear until she finally stopped crying and giggled out loud.
"How did I get back here?" she asked.
"I carried you," Jane replied. "You were asleep by then anyway," she revealed.
"Why didn't it affect you?" Amanda inquired.
Jane's smile faded a little. "You remember I was once hugely famous for going to bars and getting in trouble?" she said.
"Apparently I drank a lot," Jane explained. She looked and sounded more than a little embarrassed. "I'm not proud of it," she said.
Amanda smiled. "You're not that person anymore," she suggested.
"So I assume that everyone knows about you carrying me home, again?" Amanda asked wretchedly. It was becoming a bit of a habit. She could already imagine the rumours that must be spreading throughout the palace.
Jane shook her head. "No," she replied. "No one knows. Marc and I were very careful."
"And the engagement?" Amanda inquired sounding a little more hopeful.
"Same," Jane responded happily.
They stared at each other.
"That was the first time..." they said together.
They laughed, again a little nervously.
"That was the first time we've called it that," Amanda finished.
Jane smiled. "So how did it feel?" she asked.
"It felt good," Amanda confirmed. She smiled. "So what are we going to do now?" she pressed.
"I say we go give Mum and Dad a surprise," Jane suggested while smiling wickedly.
"They don't know?" Amanda asked.
Jane shook her head. "Not a clue," she revealed.
They showered together and dressed then stepped out into the hall.
Amanda thrust her hands into the pockets of her jeans. She'd decided to go with the grunge look as it better suited her current mood.
Romana, Marc and the other guards were as always waiting outside the door.
"Good morning your Highnesses," they said.
Amanda smiled. She looked at Marc. "Was that a smirk?" she jokingly asked.
"No, your Highness," he replied with a smile. "Just an involuntary tick."
Amanda laughed then immediately winced from the pain in her head.
"And how are you feeling?" he asked. He sounded concerned.
Amanda frowned. "Forgetful," she replied.
Marc nodded. "It can do that to you," he suggested.
Romana looked completely confused. She glanced back and forth between them. She didn't have the slightest clue what they were talking about.
Jane slipped her arm through Amanda's then they started walking up the hall.
Amanda was thankful for the support. The whole world seemed to wobble unsteadily and her stomach heaved. She resolved to never drink again. She turned to Romana. "Would you be able to find Pop, the Prince Consort?" she requested. "Ask him if he could join us in the Queen's study."
Romana nodded happily then raced ahead.
"I really hope we can do this with as little screaming as possible," Amanda suggested.
Jane smiled. "Your head?" she asked.
Amanda nodded then instantly regretted it. "Urgh," she groaned.
When they walked into the Queen's study the Queen looked up and frowned. "You look a little green," she said staring at Amanda.
"It was a big night," Amanda responded without giving anything away.
"Were you celebrating something?"
"I think Bob was," Amanda replied. "I just got caught in the middle."
Jane smirked. "Fermented-blood," she explained.
The Queen raised an eyebrow. "Rare and expensive," she said. "It must have been some celebration."
Pop stepped into the room looking a little confused. "I was summoned," he said.
The Queen frowned once more and glanced back and forth. "What's going on?" she asked.
Amanda and Jane both smiled and somehow managed to look completely innocent. They both thought it was amusing that the Queen, who prided herself on knowing everything, looked just as confused as Pop.
Amanda called to Romana. "Can you go to the kitchen and tell the others I'll be a little late?" she asked. "Wait for me there."
Romana again nodded happily. She bowed and was gone.
Jane chuckled. "Scream reduction?" she suggested.
Amanda nodded and again regretted it.
The Queen stared.
Pop stood back and crossed his arms.
They both looked as baffled as each other.
Amanda and Jane laughed.
In the end Amanda slowly withdrew her left hand from her pocket. She held it up. "We thought we'd better tell you about this," she said.
There was silence for a long moment then Pop suddenly whooped with delight.
Amanda cringed and held her head in her hands.
The Queen was more reserved. She smiled then gently hugged them both. She examined the ring. "A blood stone," she said approvingly. "Very appropriate. Your Great-Grandmother's I think."
Amanda flopped into a chair at the side of the room.
Pop sat beside her. "You should feed," he said. "It will make you feel better." It was clear that he'd already guessed why Amanda seemed so fragile.
Amanda tried to smile. "As long as I don't throw it up," she suggested.
Pop immediately frowned. "How much did you drink?" he asked worriedly.
Amanda glanced up at Jane. She had no idea. She could barely remember anything from the night before.
Jane smirked. "Less than a glass," she revealed.
Pop smiled and couldn't help but chuckle.
Even the Queen looked a little amused.
"Hey," Amanda said while sounding a little hurt. "I've never drunk fermented-blood before or anything really, not even as a human."
Pop placed his arm around Amanda and pulled her close. "Probably not the best thing to have started with," he suggested.
Amanda nodded. "I'm sorry I never spoke to you about Jane," she said sounding a little upset. "I should have asked your permission."
Pop smiled. He hugged Amanda even tighter. "You never needed to ask," he replied. "You will always have my blessing. Both of you!"
"Who knows about the engagement?" the Queen asked becoming a little more serious.
Amanda and Jane glanced at each other and smiled. It still sounded so surreal to the both of them.
"No one," Jane revealed. "Marc maybe, but no one else."
The Council enforcers and palace guards quietly surrounded then smashed their way into the building. It was in an older neighbourhood and from the exterior looked ramshackle and rundown. The interior was anything but. It wasn't opulent but had been vastly improved over anything else in this part of the city.
They searched the ground floor without finding anything. On the floor above they discovered a man's body with its head torn from its shoulders and clear evidence that someone had fed from the gaping wound.
They all stared, horrified and silent.
A younger guard eventually called to his superior. He pointed at a folded sheet of parchment held closed with a wax seal, which lay on a table nearby. "There's a letter sir," he said.
"Who's it addressed to," the older man inquired. He sounded thankful for any reason to tear his eyes away from the corpse. "Well!" he demanded as the other man seemed unwilling to respond.
The younger guard slowly looked up and stared. He swallowed nervously and clearly didn't want to reply. "My Sister's, Bitch," he reluctantly revealed.
Amanda walked with Marc back toward the kitchen. She was feeling a little better after having fed as Pop had suggested.
During the morning the Queen had called for the palace press secretary. She saw it as a bit of a coup for the palace to be able to release such exciting news without so much as hint that it was expected.
Soon after the whole world knew.
"May I be one of the first to congratulate you?" Marc asked.
Amanda smiled. "Thank you," she replied. It meant a lot. She held up her hand and looked at the ring. She was disappointed that she had nothing to give Jane, other than herself.
"It's very attractive," Marc observed.
Amanda nodded. "It belonged to Jane's Great-Grandmother," she revealed.
"A proud and noble woman," Marc replied, "and a beloved ruler."
"You knew her?" Amanda asked. She sounded surprised.
"I knew of her," Marc explained. "History of the royal family was required reading when I was in school."
Amanda smiled. She couldn't imagine Marc ever being that young.
"I wonder what future history books will say of yourself?" he inquired.
Amanda frowned. She'd previously thought the same herself.
"I'm sure the Prince Consort would be kind," Marc suggested.
Amanda nodded. She immediately wondered how Pop was coping with what Allegra had done and the legacy she'd left behind. Recording that for the future had to be difficult. In Amanda's eyes the Queen seemed strong and resilient, but Pop's nature was more reserved. Amanda felt a little selfish for not having thought of it before.
As they stepped into the kitchen all the staff clapped and cheered.
Amanda smiled but also winced in pain.
"Milady?" Romana asked. She looked a little concerned.
"Sorry," Amanda replied while smiling as best she could, "the lingering affects of last night's celebration," she explained.
Romana grinned. "Oh," she said.
As always there were orders to be signed and numerous questions to answered and decisions to be made. One question which Amanda certainly hadn't been expecting was when the engagement dinner would be and then later the wedding. She didn't feel ready to answer either.
Afterward she went and sat in the library with Pop and Jane.
"How are you doing?" she asked Pop while recalling the same thoughts she'd had earlier. "It can't be easy writing about Allegra."
Pop smiled. He nodded. "It hasn't been pleasant," he admitted. "But then I only need to think about you and Jane. Don't ever change," he insisted.
Amanda smiled. She leant over and gently kissed Pop on the cheek. "It's a deal," she replied. She sat back. "So do you record everything?" she asked. She couldn't imagine the amount of work that would be.
"Thankfully no," Pop responded. "I am only one of many historians," he explained. "I record what has happened within the palace or has links to the royal family."
"So quite a lot then," Amanda quipped.
Pop laughed. He nodded. "At the moment, yes," he agreed. He sat back and looked at her. He became a bit more serious. "So how are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm good," Amanda replied lightly.
"Don't believe a word of it," Jane said, speaking up. "She's terrified."
"Of what?" Pop asked.
"Of making a mistake at the wedding and embarrassing herself in front of everyone," Jane revealed.
Amanda glared. "You know that's not really helping," she said.
Pop chuckled. "You need to stop thinking like a human," he suggested. "Both of you!" He sat back and smiled. "The joining ceremony is not like a human wedding as you know it," he explained. "It's really just a dinner," he revealed. "I'm sure there with be a lot of guests but there's no speeches you need to make and no walking up the aisle or any grand pageantry which humans seem to love. At some point during the evening you'll sign the pledge documents then you'll be crowned and presented to room." He smiled once more and reached for both their hands. "Do you think you can you cope with that?" he asked.
"I'll try," Amanda said.
"That's all I ask," Pop replied.
Amanda smiled. She felt a little more relaxed already.
Marc was standing near the door waiting quietly when another guard rushed into the room. They briefly spoke then the second man handed something to Marc. He stared at it and his face immediately fell.
He quickly stepped over to the table where Amanda and the others were sitting. "Your Highnesses," he said rather seriously, "forgive me for interrupting."
"What is it?" Pop asked.
"A letter," Marc replied just as gravely, "from the former princess Allegra."
"Who's it for?" Amanda asked.
"Yourself I'm afraid," Marc responded. "I am sorry," he said.
"You've read it?" Amanda inquired. She wouldn't have cared if Marc had.
He shook his head. "No," he replied, as he reluctantly handed the letter to Amanda. "But I can guess what it might contain by how it has been addressed."
Amanda looked at it, turning it over in her hands. "Oh," she said while strangely chuckling instead of sounding upset as Marc or anyone else might have expected. She turned to Jane and smiled. "Apparently I'm your bitch," she revealed.
Jane smirked. "You are," she joked in reply.
Amanda sniggered and chuckled once more.
Even Pop smiled in a fatherly embarrassed sort of way.
Amanda was about to break the wax seal when she stopped and glanced at Marc. "It's not going to explode or anything is it?" she asked a little nervously.
Marc shook his head. "It has been tested," he replied reassuringly.
Amanda broke open the seal then carefully unfolded the parchment. At first she silently read what the letter contained. "It's really just a list of colourful insults," she revealed, "as well as a description of what Allegra plans to do to me when we finally meet again." It was so childish that Amanda was almost too embarrassed to read it.
Jane shook her head. She sounded angry, more than annoyed that Amanda was being put through this. "It's such a shame we can't reply," she said.
Pop sat back in his chair and frowned thoughtfully. "What would you want to say to her?" he asked.
Jane thought for a long moment. "Well, nothing," she replied.
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