So…welcome to the sequel to Happily Ever After…enjoy
"I'm just saying Jason, if you opened up that mountain pass when it's clear during summer…"
"And I'm just saying, not a chance Matthew," Jason's smooth voice cut in. "It's much too dangerous, even with several earth mages, and too many of those will make it unprofitable for both of us." Heath politely excused himself from the noblewoman he was speaking too, and crossed the room as gracefully as he had ever been able to manage it.
"Sorry to interrupt your majesty, but would you be amicable to letting me steal my husband away?" He offered a warm smile to King Matthew, and took Jason's hand as Matthew bowed low.
Jason led Heath onto the dance floor, and rested his hand on Heaths lower back, caressing the white silk that lay between their skin.
"My love, you promised me that there would be no business on our wedding day," Heath reminded him, the soft smile on his lips belaying the annoyance in his words.
"You know how Matthew and I get dear, and this trade deal is extremely important," Jay argued back, a fond smile on his lips.
"And it can certainly wait until after our honeymoon," Heath reminded him. "I know that trade in Winterscrest closes in a few weeks, but surely whatever is going on is not that urgent."
"Unfortunately it is," Jay sighed. "Otherwise I'd happily leave it alone until after our honeymoon." He noticed Heaths attention straying towards Adam, his younger brother creeping unobtrusively towards Matthew and Jeffrey talking quietly in the corner. Jason tucked Heaths hand into the crook of his elbow and strode over towards the other men.
"This trade deal is damned important," Matthew was saying softly. Jason stopped not far from them, and listened intently to the soft conversation.
"And it's his wedding day Matthew, maybe we should leave him alone," Jeff argued back. "It's not like it can't wait."
"It can't!" Matthew exclaimed, taking care to keep his voice down. "Once the snowfall starts in Winterscrest, trade negotiations have to stop. Winter trade begins at first snowfall."
"The weather mages are estimating that would be in only a handful of weeks," Jeffrey hissed, suddenly comprehending the urgency of the negotiations.
"Uhmm…excuse me Your Majesty, Your Highness, but maybe I could take Jason's place in the negotiations?" Adam suggested, making his presence known from behind Jeff. Both men turned to look at him, and Jason led Heath up to the group. Matthew chuckled, and reached out to ruffle Adams hair.
"You have no experience Princess, there would be nothing that you could do to benefit your kingdom," he laughed.
"And experience has to do with what exactly?" Amy asked, coming up to join the group with Tara trailing behind her. "If you'll recall, I also had no experience in trade when I took the throne, yet I do believe I have managed to thrash out some sound deals, including several with you yourself Matthew." Matthew had the good grace to look ashamed of himself, even as Heath cast a grateful look toward the redheaded queen, resplendent in a sleek emerald-green gown.
Adam clasped his hands in front of him as he gazed between Matthew and Jason, eyes pleading for his brother to back him up in his attempts to help out.
"You've still got no experience," Matthew challenged. "You don't know anything about trade, you'd be useless in a trade negotiation."
"So what if I know nothing about trade," Adam retorted. "I know that if you don't convince Jay to negotiate with you, your people are going to starve over winter. The orphans first, then the war widows. They'll die. All because you didn't believe that I could negotiate a deal."
Both Amy and Heath hid smiles, neither surprised at Adams gumption. Amy in particular had noticed the change in the shy blonde in the mere 11 months since the gathering in Snowfall. She knew that it was due to Heaths guidance, that the new Queen had been encouraging Adam to take responsibility for small parts of the kingdom, trying to bring the young Princess out of his shell. Trish had informed her that the servants had been gossiping to her – despite the fact that she had been a Queen for almost 6 months her wife still felt more comfortable around servants than her fellow royalty – and that they had mentioned that Heath had been including Adam in his decisions around the castle, and that the responsibility for the stables had been completely handed over to Adam.
Additionally, over the three days they had been visiting before the wedding day Adam had been telling Tara about the small village that he had been watching over, a tiny little village right on the edge of Goldenrock that was primarily made up of young orphans, and outcasts from main society. They were the ones who were really benefitting from Adams new outlook on life, and on his position within the kingdom.
"Jason could do it," Matthew argued. Jason looked at Heath, his eyes seeking guidance from his new bride. Amy watched Heath as well, praying he would make the right decision.
"Let Adam try," Heath advised. "He's right, if this trade doesn't go through people are going to suffer. First Winterscrest, and then Snowfall will follow. We do good trade in the winter months."
"Jason, you've just married," Amy added. "It's time you started delegating responsibility instead of trying to hold the whole kingdom on your shoulders. A trade ambassador would be a good start, and honestly Adam would be all the better for the experience. One day he is going to marry a prince of his own and knowing how to negotiate trade will be a valuable skill for him to have."
"I agree," Heath admitted. "And Adam is more than capable. I know that he will be a fantastic ambassador. And I know that Matthew and Jeffrey will take very good care of him." Jason considered his options before he let out a soft sigh.
"Fine, Adam has my permission to become a trade ambassador to Winterscrest," he announced. "I know he'll do me proud." Adam beamed at his brother in return, not noticing the devious look that spread across Jeff's face at the announcement.
"There is however, one condition on the ambassadorship," he continued. He turned and met Amy's eyes, fixing the redhead with a piercing gaze.
"You told me that you wanted Tara to start learning the intricacies of her position as Princess," he stated. "I'll consent to Adam becoming trade ambassador if you will consent the same for Tara." Tara perked up at Jason's words, clinging to Amy's arm.
"Oh please Amy!" she begged. "You did promise that I could begin to learn skills that would help me in the future!" Brooke stood silent and stiff behind Tara, dressed in black breeches and a deep red blouse that she made look extremely uncomfortable, despite the obvious fine quality of the clothing. Amy eyed up the young women, taking in Brooke's sharp nod as a promise to follow and protect Tara no matter where she may go, and let out a sigh of her own.
"Oh very well," she grumbled good naturedly. "Go and learn the trade of trading child." Tara let out a very unladylike squeal and flung her arms around Amy, hugging her tightly.
"Thank you Amy," she cried, before pulling away and clasping Adams hand tightly.
"Now if you have all quite finished negotiating at my wedding, I do believe that I shall steal my husband away," Heath announced, and linked his arm with Jays. The two of them moved away, the black of Jays finely tailored suit contrasting brilliantly with the stark white of Heath's full skirted wedding dress. Adam giggled and offered his arm to Tara, the two of them following the new bride and groom to the dance floor. Jeffrey followed the two princesses, his own mind as to whether he would prefer to watch the two dance, blue silk twirling around fire-red satin as they twirled and moved, or whether he would cut in and steal Adam for a dance of his own.
"Oh to only have their enthusiasm again," Matthew sighed, as Amy joined him leaning up against the wall.
"Indeed," she agreed. "Don't they ever make you feel old, and just a little decrepit?" Matthew chuckled and allowed his eyes to rest upon the bold King Christopher, who was easily holding court at the far end of the ballroom.
"If only their enthusiasm extended to the proper princess pursuits," he mused. "Not that we mind of course, but I do know that Jeffrey has his eye set upon Princess Adam, and certain stuffier kingdoms do frown on independent princesses."
"Oh they can go and frown all they like," Amy announced flippantly. "I wouldn't have Tara any other way." She sketched out a curtsey to the King, and moved away to take Trish in her arms with a warm smile. Matthew bowed his head in order to hide his smile, considering what would have to be done to accommodate the two princesses in his kingdom for several weeks.