Betrothed

Diana

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Her response was a soft giggle, mingled with mewling sighs of pleasure. Never did she imagine it could be like this! Frenzied passion slowly building up in to sweet heaven with only the moments of their bodies and the touch of his skin. Her hips shifted and twisted, taking him deeper with each little rocking movement and drawing murmured pleas for him not to stop.

"Oh Evan...!" Elaina's hands curled in to the sheets of the bed, every muscle in her body suddenly tightening with that first wave of orgasm. Biting her lip, she kept rocking. So determined to make sure Evan would ride that wave of sensational bliss along with her.
 
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Elaina's bliss filled Evan with so much happiness that he could cause such ecstasy in her, he was nearly overwhelmed. Time seemed to slow for him as he watched her face, marveling in how beautiful she was. It was more than he could have hoped for that his bride-to-be was such a lovely flower and amongst the many things that had befallen them, no where did Evan find even a shred of regret for going to retrieve her.

He could feel the sheets tighten beneath him and knew that Elaina was gripping the sheets, giving him impetus to finish. Soft and sultry to Elaina's ear, Evan whispered to her. "Elaina, give over to how you feel." Evan wrapped his arms around Elaina's waist then and sucked gently on her earlobe. Elaina's feelings were paramount to him and knowing that she was feeling the same waves of pleasure as he was made him feel marvelous.

"Elaina, my love, are you sleepy?"
 

Diana

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Elaina collapsed on top on Evan, her body feeling languid and spent. With a dreamy sigh, she nuzzled against his cheek and tucked her face away at his neck. So content to lay on top of him and feel the heat from his body, Elaina had no intentions to move. Smiling and murmuring a soft laugh, she nodded.

"A little sleepy, yes..." She shifted then, reaching down to pull up one of the sheets to cover them both. If someone should find them like this, she didn't care! The man would be her husband soon, and that was something she would be so proud to show to the world.

Moving to rest her chin on her arm, over his chest so she could look at him, she smiled wide again. "Could we be like this forever, Evan?"
 
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The sheets over Evan's legs felt restricting but he nestled as close as possible to Elaina beneath them, greedily basking in her warmth. A smile lit his features and he propped his head up on his arm. There was an intimacy between them that felt stronger than anything else he knew and it was a relief that their relationship at least was readily laid out for them. It gave Evan the confidence that he needed to wrap the other arm around Elaina and kiss her forehead.

"Of course we can. You're going to be my wife, after all. We'll always return to this, though there may be times when we can't lounge so languidly for the caterwauling of children..." Evan's eyebrow raised, wondering if she'd considered this prospect at all yet. Certainly he'd considered it. Before, he had not been so certain about children but then, before, he hadn't been too sure about the bride either.

Now, Evan felt content that they would have children and that they would be good children. Sweet and pretty like their mother, maybe. Evan kissed Elaina's cheek. "Get some sleep, love. We still have the trip back to the castle to make and I don't want you to be tired."
 

Diana

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Sleeping came all too easy for Elaina. Having drifted away with pleasant thoughts of children and more with Evan. A life that would no doubt be just as amazing as she had dreamed, and more than worth the torment of a few frightening days.

Come morning, their day was equally as languid. A hearty breakfast provided by the woman as well as fresh clothing. Elaina was a bit worried that Peter and Pipa didn't seem to have made it to the town. Were they lost in the forest? Captured again? Or had they made their way closer towards the castle and finally reached home to explain the absence of the Prince and future King?

Evening came all too slowly. But when it arrived, it came with the pleasant surprise of an official Royal motorcar and several armed guardsmen on horseback. They all tried to have impassive faces, but Elaina could tell they were relieved to see their Prince in one piece. It made her feel well in knowing she hadn't given away her heart in vain.

"Sire, the Crown has sent a car for you and Princess Elaina. We are to escort you to the Castle immediately." explained on of the men.

Elaina didn't want to interrupt, but she couldn't seem to hold the concern back. "...has anyone heard from Sir Peter and Pipa..?"
 
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It made Evan smile that his new princess, soon to be queen, was so concerned over the health of two of his subjects. It was a promising sign that she had become close with other members of her new household, it showed promise for her slipping easily into her life at the castle. As if on cue, a rustling came from the nearby trees. Those closest to Evan and Elaina were up in arms without hesitation but guard was dropped upon seeing the familiar faces of Evan's personal guard with horses and meager packs. The guard dropped to their knees without any ado, prostrating themselves before Evan.

"Your highness, we cannot apologize thoroughly enough for our failure to protect you and the princess. We will take any punishment..." Evan cut the men off with a swipe of his hand, a smile curling the corners of his lips. Truly, it was a blessing to be so well-loved. Evan looked at the bent heads of each of his men and thought fondly to each of them. Tapping each one gently, Evan recalled fond memories of these men, many of whom were following their father's service to the crown and had known Evan since he was a boy.

"Will, Jeffry..." Even brushed his fingers along the tops of their heads with a smile "Darren, Warren, and little Tash..." they were all devoted men and Evan loved each of them, even despite their occasional mischief and shenanigans. These were the prince's personal guard, minus one. All were accounted for except Peter's best friend and the girl he treated as a sister, handmaiden to his princess. Evan opened his mouth to inquire the same question as Elaina had voiced, but it seemed as though it would be unnecessary.

From approximately where the guard had emerged, a single horse ambled out. On the horse's back sat the golden-haired Lord Peter. Tucked in front of Peter on the horse's back, less easily visible, was mousy Pipa. She'd once again donned her drab muslins and her familiar braid was back in place. Evan smiled and shook his head. He'd leave the appearance makeover to Elaina, she'd surely wake Peter up to the fact that his betrothed was more of a flower than she seemed.

"All accounted for then, it seems... " Evan motioned that the men ought to accompany the armed guardsmen. Having dismissed the rest, Evan flanked Peter's horse and nearly tugged him down. Peter helped Pipa slip down first before hopping off the horse himself. "I worried for you, Peter." Evan hugged the other man unabashedly.

Wrapping his arms around Evan quickly, Peter then pushed Evan away. "Less affection for me and more to your future bride or she's going to think you're interested in men" Peter scolded Evan, shoving him back toward Elaina. Evan huffed but before he could say anything else, Pipa approached Peter.

"You'll be on horseback with the others, right Peter? Can I ride with you?"

"Certainly not" Peter replied shortly, swinging up onto the horse's back one more. Pipa looked ready to cry and turned away, running to the car.

"You're an ass only when it matters, Peter. Just tell her that you think she'd be uncomfortable and save me the tearful drive home" It was Evan's turn to chide Peter now, a rare occurrence. Peter simply frowned and pretended he hadn't heard.
 

Diana

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The ride in the motorcar was considerably more comfortable than the rest of the days had been. Aside from Elaina trying very hard to help cheer up Pipa after the very strange exchange with Peter, Elaina was relieved to know that the two hadn't run in to any more trouble while they were all separated. She could only prey that the rest of the trip to Evan's home went uneventful and safely!

Even with the car, the ride took quite a bit of time. Elaina was almost asleep, leaning against Evan's shoulder when the horse riding guards led their caravan in to the capital city of Ellipis. On sight of it, she was instantly awake, scooting towards the window to get a better look! Compared to her home at Rosenthal, Ellipis' capital was a thriving metropolis. Homes and business' lined the streets, and despite the fact it was very late in the evening, there were still people milling about on the streets. Curious about the royal motorcar being escorted down the cobblestone roads. It was a wonderful sight.

That twinge of nervous was hitting her again. They were almost there! Soon she would meet the King and Queen of Ellipis, her soon to be parent in laws. Would they like her? Could the events of the past few days give them an ill impression of her?
 
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Feeling Elaina's stirrings next to him, where she'd been previously sleeping on the long drive to the capital, Evan opened his eyes and watched her for a moment as she stared in wonderment out through the window. Pipa was still snoozing comfortably, her tears having dried along her face, and Evan knew without asking that when she woke she will have forgiven Peter his harsh words.

Reaching over to run his fingers through Elaina's thick locks, Evan smiled at the sight of the citizens who were gazing at the motorcar in wonder. It made him happy to see their smiling faces and know that their looks of surprise were augmented with their affinity for whichever member of the royal family was in the car, though some knew and were busily telling everyone that it was their beloved prince brining home his new bride. The people were chattering amongst themselves, curiously trying to peek into the windows of the vehicle to see the woman that had been rumored to be absolutely hideous. Pretty women in the crowd wished that they'd been of noble descent so that perhaps Evan might have married them instead while everyone else was lamenting Evan's heart that could see past such flaws.

Pointing to the white stone castle that could be soon over the roofs of the houses around them, Evan indicated his home with an almost childish glee at pointing out where he lived, even if it was obvious. The white stone shone faintly in the fading light, almost appearing to glow and Evan watched it with adoration.

"You've been here before, you know. You've met everyone and seen many of the rooms... do you not remember at all?"
 

Diana

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Elaina shook her head gently. "I was so young... I barely remember much about it all! I just remember how lovely your mother was and that there was this beautiful fountain in a rose garden."

Before her mother died, Elaina remembered at least one visit to Ellipis. Everything was so fuzzy in her mind now that it had been so long. But there were a few favorite memories she held on to desperately. The gardens where their mothers would sit and have tea. Elaina loved all of the roses and in her childhood memory it felt like she spent days wandering amongst the bushes picking the prettiest of flowers and making bouquets. Back then it was before Evan's sister was born, and he himself was off to a school for young boys. There never seemed to be an opportunity for them to meet, despite how their mothers so loved the idea of a betrothal.

Elaina turned to Evan with a wide smile. "Do you think your mother will recognize me...?"
 
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Resting his hand on Elaina's slim shoulder, Evan attempted to reassure Elaina. She looked quite different from the girl she had been, but there was little doubt that Queen Monica would mistake who she was, arriving in the royal car with her son. Fortunately, there was also the endless wisdom of a mother that made Evan suspicious that his mother would recognize the princess and that she'd planned it from the start, for she'd never shared the fears of her husband when faced with the portraits of a spoiled and warty hippopotamus in a dress and tiara.

"I'm sure that she will, though if she does not it is because you have matured so finely" Evan told her, in a rare moment of verbal acuity. He'd thought those words over carefully, decided that they not only sounded good but were also honest, and finally spoke them. He was pleased with them and he hoped that Peter would have been proud if he had heard. Perhaps there was hope for him after all.

Yawning into the back of his hand, Evan realized that this feeling of ease that was warming his insides was the comfort of being back home again. Now that their ordeal was over, things would finally play out as they were supposed to do. He had his princess, who would be a fine and suitable match in the eyes of all, their child born of the finest pedigree. More than that, he'd found a love for the woman that Elaina had become, and he was truly and honestly content with her to be his bride; Even didn't even feel the desire to shut her away in powder rooms with mindless handmaids. In a big picture sense, the kingdom of Rosenthal would be lifted from its economic despair while Ellipis would benefit from the addition of the lands so that they could use more of their own fertile grounds to nurture crops and raise their livestock in the less abundant soil of Rosenthal.

Reclining against his seat, Evan watched the marvelous castle come into view above them and his spirits were buoyed even further by Elaina's exclamations of awe and surprise at the beauty of the place, which gleamed in the sun. Evan was home and it was only a matter of time before he'd see his beloved mother and father once more to present to them his bride-to-be. Nothing, as far as he was concerned, could make the moment better than this.
 

Diana

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Upon reaching the castle, everything was a whirlwind of activity! From the moment Elaina stepped out of the motorcar, she was whisked away by several excited servants to a private wing in the castle. Elaina thought that she would greet the King and Queen right away, but it seemed there were other plans! The Princess was to be granted an evening of rest before meeting her new in-laws, something Elaina had decided she was eternally grateful for. After several days of travel and misfortunes, to get time alone to bathe and rest felt like bliss. And if she had any doubts about her feelings for Evan, spending the night away from him brushed those worries away. She missed his presence, his voice, and the way he left her feeling giddy and at comfortable all at the same time.

Come morning, it was like that first day all over again. Elaina was freshly bathed and dressed in a gown of rose colored silk. Several white flowers were weaved in to her dark hair and once again she looked like an appropriate princess. As she glanced at her own reflection in the mirror, she could almost catch the similarities to her dearly departed mother. If she were there now, she would probably be so pleased that Elaina was happy.

"I'm nervous, Pipa... I might say something ridiculous and offend the whole kingdom! Evan would spend the rest of his life being mocked for marrying a twit!"
 
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Once they had arrived, Elaina was whisked away from Evan almost before he could say anything. There were servants who eagerly introduced themselves before pulling her into the doors of the castle, and to where she would be sleeping. Evan himself had hardly a moment of peace, either, since he too was pulled out of the car as soon as they arrived.

Unlike Elaina, who was ushered off to be pampered in her new quarters, Evan was hurried in to the banquet hall where his parents were planning and planning the feast of his marriage. When the door thudded shut behind them, Evan's parents turned and immediately rushed to him. His excitable mother was first, pulling him into her arms and planting kisses all over his cheeks. Speaking rapidly, she told him all about how she had worried about him though he missed some of the words in her rapid speech.

At first, Queen Monica was eagerly trying to convince the other two that she wanted to go see the princess, but at their urging she chose to wait until the next day, after she'd gotten her rest. It was late in the day, after all. Evan relayed instructions to the servants to bring Elaina something to eat for supper before heading to his chamber himself.

The next morning, things were back to usual and it felt almost alien to him. Evan woke to sunshine streaming through his window as Peter pulled the curtains back, a bright smile on his friend's face. Grabbing Evan's arm and hauling him from the bed, Peter embraced him so hard it felt as though his ribs were cracking. Pushing away, Evan took a deep breath.

"What's gotten into you, Peter?" The young blond flashed his familiar grin, one that Evan could distinguish as his real smile, as opposed to his false smile for the ladies of court. Before he would say anything though, Peter threw a pair of smooth green breeches to Evan as well as matching doublet with gold embroidery.

"Take a bath first, old friend. You smell like a horse's backside."

After he was bathed and clothed, Evan returned to Peter's side, anxious to see Elaina once more but also curious. Peter, however, was still smiling devilishly and wouldn't speak.

"Princess, you'll be fine! You were a princess in your own kingdom, there's nothing different. Also, you're no twit. Now come, come."

Pipa ushered Elaina out of the room, then, and nearly collided headfirst with Peter, who was leading Evan. Peter left Evan's side to smile broadly and tug Pipa to him.

"While we were separated, Pipa and I had a long discussion followed by a lot of... getting to know one another. When we got back to the castle, I asked her father if he would permit Lady Phillipa de Lierce to marry me!"
 

Diana

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At first Elaina was so very smitten to see Evan again. The halo of his hair and his handsome face. A night of rest did him good as well, and he looked as handsome as the day he arrived to her castle.

Then at once she realized the enormity of Peter's exclamation. Elaina squealed with joy, hopping on her feet and clapping with far more enthusiasm a princess should be showing. But it really was a very sweet turn of events! "Oh... oh this is fantastic! So wonderful!"

Elaina rushed forward to hug Pipa and kiss her cheeks. Mumbling many congratulations. And for Peter! A kiss on each of his cheeks for him too! Peter looked so smitten and mousey Pipa was all smiles. It made the petite girl look so very pretty and vibrant.

"We can plan such a beautiful wedding..! Don't you think, Evan?"
 
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Quietly dumbstruck, Evan glanced between Pipa and Peter, his eyebrows raised into his hairline so that they had disappeared. Evan felt his jaw drop a little bit and he embraced Peter numbly. Peter was all smiles, his face lit with a brilliant glow. Pulling away a little bit, Evan glanced over at Elaina, still shocked.

"This is wonderfully news, Peter. Wonderful. I don't even know what happened between the two of you. Who'd of thought you'd settle down, Peter? You can, I was going to ask you to be my best man, but if you want to get married at the same time, that would be fine. You probably want time though, don't you? I guess..."

Before Evan could continue awkwardly, Peter clapped a hand over his mouth. Smiling brightly, Peter shoved Evan toward the throne room, where the king and queen were waiting to meet Elaina. Pipa stood up on tiptoe and kissed Peter's cheek.

"We'll discuss all of this later on, but for now it's all about you, Evan. We'll speak with you over lunch. Go on then!"

Peter pressed a hand into Evan's back and urged him toward the throne room once more while Pipa hugged Elaina quickly, too shy to speak but with a smile painted across her face. Evan opened the door to the throne room sedately, motioning for Elaina to come with him. He was tingling with excitement himself, he couldn't wait to introduce Elaina to his parents.

His mother, he knew, would be giddy. She was only like Evan in features, his dark hair and eyes mimicking hers. Personality-wise, Evan was like his father, calm and sedate but better off staying silent lest they embarrass themselves.
 

Diana

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Peter and Pipa! It was a delightful thought, and Elaina could already picture a beautiful double wedding. or even separate weddings, that would be even better because Pipa wouldn't have to share her special day with anyone. Wasn't that what being a bride was all about?

Speaking of being a future bride... Elaina tentatively took Evan's hand, allowing him to lead her in to the ballroom. His castle home here in Ellipis was stately, beautiful and well kept. The throne room was a long wide hall, grand enough for official affairs or gala parties. The realization that she was about to be formally introduce to her future parent in laws struck her rather suddenly. She was feeling a bit light headed, but steeled her nerves. Her smile was a little nervous, yet retained that genuine sweetness she always so willingly offered.

Elaina squeezed Evan's hand to give herself a bit of courage. Once they arrived before the Crowned Rules of Ellipis she gave a graceful courtesy. Finding her voice to speak, though, was a different matter. She looked to Evan to make introductions.
 
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Giving her hand a gentle squeeze in return, Evan led her to the thrones where his parents sat until they stood not three feet in front of them. He turned his head slightly, looking down at Elaina's nervous features before facing his parents. His eye contact was made with his father first, whose lips were twitching into an almost imperceptible smile at the corners. Evan could tell already that his father approved of their timid closeness. Was this why he had sent his son to fetch his bride? Evan doubted that he would ever know.

Taking a deep breath, Evan nudged Elaina a little bit forward and he tried hard not to stumble on his words, knowing how important this was for everyone. He had little faith in himself for this, usually, but court introductions were hard to mess up and he heard them all the time. He was hopeful that he would be able to say everything smoothly and effectively.

"Your highnesses, I present to you Princess Elaina of Rosenthal. Father, mother... I would like you to meet my future bride, Elaina." A huge grin spread across his mother's face as he spoke and a smaller, identical smile played across the lips of father and son. The king rose first, stately and august in appearance, which was perhaps the reason he spoke so rarely. He struck a powerful figure until he was stumbling over his words. Then the queen stood an before any of them could do anything else, Monica embraced Elaina tightly.

"Welcome back to Ellipis, my dear Ella! When do you two wish to have the wedding?"
 

Diana

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Elaina let out a relieved breath, wrapping her arms around the Queen to return her hug and laughing softly. Knowing that she was accepted was all Elaina needed to relax and feel more confident.

"Could I say Now? But that would be silly... Soon, though! Tomorrow! This weekend! Or when ever would be reasonable. The past few days have been trying, and I would swear that something is trying to stop us from being married, but that would be ridiculous." The thought had occurred to her more than once over the past few days. Yet, she couldn't imagine any force in the universe wanting to prevent what Elaina hoped would be a true and lasting love. A marriage she was very much looking forward to.

"I am so glad we've made it. And so very grateful to be a part of your family!"
 
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When his mother hugged Elaina, Evan was initially surprised but found after a few seconds that it was really very fitting for his mother to have done so. She had been close with Elaina's mother and it was only natural that it was easy for her to accept her best friend's child as her own. Evan was thoroughly pleased that his family liked his future bride so much, but the uncertainty of the wedding date was a little daunting to him. His father, however, seemed to have been planning something of this nature and now the older gentleman smiled and took his wife'a hand in his own.

"It's all right, Monica. As soon as I had word of where the children were and before I had even sent someone to fetch the happy couple, I was making preparations for the wedding. There has been a holiday declared the day after tomorrow and a ball to be held in the castle after the ceremony. Foreign guests have made time to come and visit while food and decoration has been ordered. All is well, my queen." The surprise on Monica's face was priceless, but he had little time to dwell on that.

Feeling a little breathless, Evan realized that this meant that he was going to be married. It felt like a new chapter in his life was opening and he could scarcely believe it. After all the hassles and ordeals in the past few days, he was surprised that he had finally come to the end result. He was soon going to be married, after twenty-five years of life. He had met the woman that he was hopefully going to spend the rest of his life with, the mother of his children. These realizations hit him suddenly and he felt a little weak in the knees. All it took to chase away the sudden fear that impacted him though was to glance over at Elaina, whose face was a portrait of ethereal joy.

"Then the gowns must be fitted and I must take Elaina to do things and get the flowers arranged and make sure that Evan fits into your formal suit, else we'll have to get a new one or hem the old one or..." Her husband's answer seemed to only fluster Monica more and before anyone could say anything, she'd grabbed Elaina by the hand and whisked her away toward the upstairs chambers to try on her old wedding gown.
 

Diana

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Elaina was whisked away by the Queen of Elipis so quickly, she scarcely had a moment to catch her breath! But all was well now. Her worries gone, and there was nothing left but a bright future for her to look forward too. This was going to be her new home and she was thrilled knowing that she was going to be married the day after tomorrow. It was so soon, but she just couldn't wait.

The upstairs chambers were clearly ones belonging to the Queen. They were quite fine and so much of the decorations reminded her of her own mother. There were the faint sparkle of tears at the corners of her eyes as she ran her hands over a small statue, waiting patiently for the Queen's wedding gown to be drawn out.

"It's been so long since I've seen my mother, I fear I've almost forgotten her. But you remind me so much of her." Elaina confessed, stepping away from the statue to admire a painting on the wall. It was very clear that it was a young Evan, not more than five or so. Looking so serious, even as a little boy.
 
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"You're too much, father" Evan chuckled, watching his mother rush away with a shocked looking Elaina. With the women gone, King Berand wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders and pulled him into a head hug. Evan smiled up at his father, noting the small tears at the corner of the old man's eyes. He couldn't, wouldn't, address it though. He knew well that it would only serve to embarrass the man who had been a stern king, despite his kind nature. The kingdom had run smoothly beneath the watchful gaze of the king that the children 'round the land had known affectionately as Father King. Truly, he had been the firm hand that it had needed to prosper and Evan could only hope that he would do half so well.

With a slightly affected gait, the king made his way to the stairs opposite where Elaina and Monica would have disappeared to go to the Queen's chambers. While each had their own wing of the castle, they were across from one another and met in the middle. Atypical of many royal marriages, Berand and Monica had been very much in love and slept in the same bedchamber, a large room meeting at the middle of the two wings.

Where the chamber of the queen were brightly decorated, soft and beautiful with fabrics and flowers, the kings were scented with oiled leather and woodsmoke. The walls were adorned more simply with only an occasional tapestry. The exception to this was in the room that the king led Evan to now. It was one that Evan fondly referred to as the Room of Memories. A wardrobe with fine clothing sat at the back. On the walls hung portraits of Evan's ancestors, all the kings with serious expressions and kind eyes. Evan found joy in seeing his own features reflected in their faces, a sense of kinship despite how small a family he had with only a surviving mother and father. It was from this wardrobe that his father extracted the wedding attire to hand to Evan.

First from the wardrobe was pulled a single breasted vest in charcoal gray made from a material that felt fluid in Evan's hands. Next came a pair of sensible black trousers who, upon feeling them, Evan realized were combed cotton. A white collared shirt came, followed by a black silk damask tailcoat and ascot, and finally a pair of mid-calf black boots. Overwhelmed, Evan teetered a little with the pile of clothing. His father stepped out to allow his son privacy in changing.

Queen Monica listened to the girl's words, a pang of sadness hit her chest. It must have been difficult, growing up without her mother. Nodding solemnly but not knowing what to say, Monica felt the absence of her best friend as well. It was tragic, really, not having her around for this day that the two of them had so cheerfully planned. When Monica had discovered her girlhood friend married in the kingdom near hers, she had arranged for visits all the time, at least twice a year, between the two. Letters were frequently exchanged between them and it had been a dream to discover that they were pregnant at the same time. Their giddy plans to be related, truly, at last were strengthened by Monica's resolve to help the enfeebled Rosenthal. The sadness was acute, an undercurrent to the joy.

When she noticed Elaina eyeing the portrait, Monica was happy for the chance to shift the conversation to more cheerful topics. "My darling little boy, isn't he the sweetest? He always looked so sour like that. The artist wanted us to have him smile for it but Evan simply wasn't having it." Twirling a little, partly so that Elaina would not see the tears prickling her eyes, Monica drew out the dress.

"I am flattered that I remind you of her, dear. She would have been so proud of you; I know that I am. You're a lovely lady, all the best I could have hoped for when I saw you as a child. Here, won't you try this on?"

Monica was handing the dress to Elaina now, her face a portrait of mixed sadness and joy.