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Love (of the true and unrequited variety)
I’ve been expecting it to happen for years now; everyone knows how these things work. It should’ve been no surprise when my father, King Naracion of Ishavnor, announced before the entirety of the people of Ishavnor the news of my upcoming marriage to Prince Aranhil of Raynemire.
However much I had prepared myself for this moment, my self-control lapses temporarily and I flinch noticeably. This is the first I’ve heard of this, despite my growing fear of this arrangement between our two countries.
Aranhil walks over to me and holds up my small cold hand in his larger warm one declaring, “Our marriage shall be a great bond between our two countries! Between us, we shall be undefeatable!” I squeeze his hand tightly, to keep myself from fainting in shock. Aranhil takes this opportunity to kiss me passionately on the mouth. A happy cheer spread throughout the crowd; I’m sure they believe us to be a happy couple, and not just a pair of pawns in the middle of our father’s countries.
This is it, I think. The end of my freedom. I have a few weeks at most before I will be forced to leave Ishavnor to live with Aranhil in Raynemire as his wife. I shudder at the thought. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like Aranhil. A lot. Maybe even love. From his sexy, teasing smile to his long blond hair, any girl would be lucky to have him. Not to mention his killer sense of humor and the fact that he’s a really good kisser. I just hate knowing that it isn’t my decision to make. I hate being used by my power-crazy father.
Aranhil interrupts my thoughts with a gentle nudge in the arm, “Let’s go. I think your father’s got it from here.” Luckily, he shares my dislike for politics and will jump at a chance to escape it.
“Definitely,” I reply, allowing him to guide me away from crowds and responsibilities. Aranhil leads me to the forest near the edge of Ivashnor’s capital. We used to always come here as children to run away from our parents and royal guards. I haven’t been here for years.
“Do you miss it?” I almost think Aranhil can read my thoughts sometimes. We settle down against a tall oak tree and I relax, leaning my head against Aranhil’s muscular shoulder.
“Yes,” My voice is barely audible, and I draw in a deep breath. “Do you?” I wonder aloud, glancing up and meeting his ocean blue eyes.
“I do,” Aranhil says seriously. “Everything was so much . . . easier . . . when we were children. I miss the simplicity of it.” I agree completely with him. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the old days, when my biggest worry was being lectured for getting my new dresses dirty. “Oh, Anira. I don’t want to force you into this,” Aranhil bursts. “I know that you don’t want to marry me; I just can’t see what I can do about it. I hate seeing you unhappy.”
I have to admit that I’m rather shocked by his short speech. “Aranhil. You’re not forcing me into anything. I do want to marry you. I thought you knew – I just hate that my father announced this without even bothering to tell me,” I assure him, placing my hand on his arm. “I thought that was obvious.”
Aranhil expels a relieved sigh. “Well, it wasn’t. I wish I would’ve known sooner, though. I would have asked your father to arrange the wedding earlier.”
I laugh loudly. “I’m only seventeen. Aren’t I young enough as it is?”
He chuckles softly. “Remember, though, Anira. I’ve been waiting for you for nearly seven years. I’ve been ready to marry you since the day I met you.”
I remember it well. I was ten years old at the time, and I knew that I was going to meet my betrothed. Aranhil was seventeen at the time and had told me ‘when you are older, we shall be husband and wife.’ I hadn’t known how to react at the time, so I slapped him and ran away to these exact woods until he came and found me. I gradually accepted the idea of a future with Aranhil. We started out as friends and I grew to love him as much as he claims to have loved me from the beginning.
“I wasn’t,” I inform him, to his amusement. “But now I am.” I bring my lips up to his, and meet them in a kiss. Aranhil kisses me back fiercely, and twists his fingers in my fiery orange hair. A soft groan escapes my throat as he pulls back to look into my emerald green eyes.
“I love you, Anira. I’ve always loved you and I always will love you.” Aranhil pulls out a small black velvet box and opens it to reveal a massive diamond ring. “Please, make me the happiest man in the world. My dearest Anira, will you marry me?” I know that we’re already engaged, but I still tear up a bit. My heart is about to burst with happiness.
I gaze into Aranhil’s clear blue eyes, “Yes.”