Disclaimer: I don't own Narnia or any characters you may recognize from the books or the movies, I wish I did but I don't...
Summary: It was finally time to ask her one very important question.
A/N: This story is part of my A Light in the Darkness universe. Enjoy!
I couldn't help smiling down at him. He was just adorable with his reddish-brown coat and three white stockings adorning both forelegs and his right back leg. His hair and tail were a dark brown but he hadn't opened his eyes yet even though he did clutch my finger tightly in his little fist. Okay, baby Centaurs are very cute and it even made up for the fact that he was quite late in arriving. The little colt had been declared healthy and strong in the wee hours of the morn, on Sweethearts' Day of all days. He had been sleeping but his little face suddenly crumpled and then he sneezed.
The muffled steps of his da were the only warning before he leaned over me to carefully scoop his colt into his brawny arms. I smiled at the sight of Ardon cuddling his son close, murmuring to him with that dazed 'I'm a daddy' smile still firmly planted on his face. I turned back to Alithia and took her extended hand. "So, what did you name the colt who would not hurry? Cupid?" I lowered my voice even further and didn't bother to hide my smirk as I whispered, "Armitage?"
Alithia was obviously still exhausted from her long labor but she still rolled her eyes. "You speak nonsense, Alambiel." Her grey eyes flicked to where her husband was cooing (yes, actually cooing) down at their son and the maternal joy shining in them made me… Not jealous, but longing raised its head in my heart. I wanted to experience that joy…someday, mind. Alithia's voice was soft as she murmured, "We have named him Solon after Ardon's cousin."
Something in her tone nudged at my currently somewhat frayed memories. I still couldn't pin it down. But, I decided it would be better to ask Oreius rather than the new parents. I quickly smiled and gave Alithia's hand a gentle squeeze. "I'll be sure to tell Oreius that he needs to pull himself away from paperwork long enough to come visit this afternoon. Or tomorrow if you prefer."
"This afternoon around teatime would be a good time." Alithia studied me and I had a feeling her matchmaker side hadn't been completely subdued by the maternal side. "He has not asked you yet."
It wasn't a question but I shook my head anyway. "We're still getting back to where we were…I don't know when he'll ask. Maybe in the summer."
"And are you going to the ball tonight?"
"If Oreius asks." I smiled wider as I gave her hand another gentle squeeze. "I'll let you rest now. You're gonna need it." Rising before Alithia could protest (Ardon was definitely not paying attention to anyone except his colt), I slipped out of the little family's quarters. I considered going back to my own quarters but Leeta was probably lying in wait to ambush me into getting ready for a ball. I decided to go bother the Kentauri instead.
Soon, very soon, I would finally ask Alambiel to be my wife. Unable to resist looking once more, I unlocked the desk drawer and withdrew the box. Opening the lid, I studied the betrothal ring that had once graced my dam's hand–formed of twisted silver bands with a stylized sunburst in the very center while Celtic knots (as Alambiel preferred to call the everlasting knots) entwined with forget-me-nots ran from one side of the sunburst to the other. I could not help the slight smile that won its way free as I touched the sunburst and imagined how the ring would look once it graced Alambiel's hand, provided she accepted of course. The door burst open and Alambiel hopped in.
I quickly shut the lid on the ring and deposited the box in the desk drawer though I was not able to push the drawer completely to before Alambiel came over to my desk. Mischief and excitement danced in her eyes, lightening their blue shade, and I had to force myself to give her a stern look. "What are you up to now, Minx?"
"Why I came to the realization that I couldn't bear to spend another moment without seeing your scowl and I simply had to come get you to scowl at me." She grinned at me. "Angry eyebrows…ah yes, there they are."
I snorted. "I had hoped you would block out young Prince Corin entirely."
Alambiel giggled as she whirled away from the desk, her sapphire skirts flaring, then wandered over to the bookshelf nearest her chair. "I ran into the little Scátháin on my way here and they told me all about you and your angry eyebrows." I huffed again but she paid me no mind as she trailed her fingers down the spine of one book. "On Preventing Coups…I remember this one." She grinned over her shoulder at me. "You said it was defective because the author had never dealt with the phenomenon that is me."
"He did not and it was," I agreed, enjoying the little flash of teasing in her eyes. "He also did not make mention of the fact that salt water and simply the threat of salt water is enough to temper a cheeky little pest's enthusiasm for conducting coups." She stuck her tongue out at me. A moment later, she was examining one of the many reports stacked on the side table nearest her chair. "Alambiel, how many times must I tell you not to touch?"
Alambiel picked up another report and deliberately thumbed through it. "I fear I must inform you that I seem to have delinquent tendencies."
I folded my arms over my chest and intoned gravely, "I am aware."
"And I have decided that it might be easier to get through my day if I don't resist every last delinquent tendency."
"This I can see. And why did you decide to come see me?"
Her stance changed, softening as she set the report down and turned back to me. "I came to see you because I had to tell you that you must clear your schedule for teatime. Ardon and Alithia have their foal and you must come see him." She sounded a little wistful as she murmured, "He's absolutely adorable with those three white stockings."
I smiled. It was more than past time for Ardon and Alithia to experience that happiness. "A colt then?"
Alambiel nodded. "Just wait until you see him, Oreius." Her smile turned a touch mischievous as she added, "And Ardon is simply beside himself about being a father. He opened the door with the greeting of 'I am a da.'"
I laughed. It certainly was in keeping with his character. I wouldn't have been surprised if he greeted me the same way when I went at teatime to see the colt. "What did they name him?"
"Solon." Alambiel studied me. "Do I know him?"
"No." I shook my head, dispersing the old grief. "No, Solon and his twin brother, Straton, died during the Long Winter. They were Ardon's younger cousins. It is a good way to honor his memory."
"I'm sorry." She turned back to the reports but did not touch them.
"Alambiel." I waited until she looked over her shoulder and met my gaze before I smiled. "It is always your right to ask these questions of me. And I never mentioned Solon and Straton to you before now." She tried to hide it as always but I still saw the slight ease in my beloved's face when she realized she had not forgotten something else. I looked down at the half-open desk drawer then looked back at Alambiel. She still watched me over her shoulder. I smiled again as I slipped my hand inside the drawer and felt the box.
"What are you thinking, Kentauri?"
Her question was the perfect opening. "I think we should have foals of our own." Alambiel turned completely around, her eyes wide, but saying nothing as I withdrew the box and approached her. "You are my heart, Alambiel, and I can imagine no other as the mother of my children. These past months have been difficult and we have been forced to make a strategic withdrawal until we might retake the ground that was lost. I believe that we have done so on the most important front. Whatever else comes, whatever else is required of us, I do not wish to face it save with you by my side. As my wife." I opened the box, showing her the ring. "I love you more than life itself and I want naught but to spend the rest of our lives together for as long as Aslan grants us. Alambiel, will you marry me?"
Alambiel's gaze flickered from me to the ring then back to me. "Oh."
Oreius' dark eyes were filled with an earnest hope and love. A tightness filled my chest. "Oh. I didn't expect…I thought you would wait longer…until summer." I cut myself off then stared at that very real ring again. By the Lion, I hoped I wasn't having a panic attack. Who reacts to a proposal, especially that sort of a proposal with a panic attack? Not me. I took a deep breath then nodded. "Yes. Yes, I will." The tightness eased as the shock wore off then I laughed and threw my arms around his neck. "Yes!"
He chuckled then eased me back from him. But there was no denying his wide smile as he removed the ring from its box, setting it on the shelf. Then, lifting my left hand, he slid the ring onto my index finger. He drew my hand higher and pressed a kiss first against the ring then against the star-shaped scar marring the back of my hand. Oreius reached out with his free hand to stroke my cheek, smiling still. "I love you, Alambiel."
"Is breá liom tú ró, Kentauri." (I love you too, Kentauri.) I looked again at the ring. There was a reason he put it on my index finger and not my ring finger. I knew there was a specific reason but I couldn't remember. "Where did you get it?"
Something in his face softened further and I could feel him opening up to me as he would not do if we had not been alone. "It was my dam's. I fetched it from my family home the last time I went there on business with my herd." He caressed my cheek again. "I know the Centaur tradition of betrothal rings residing on a different finger than the ring finger, reserving it for the marriage ring, is different from human customs. And perhaps you were expecting a diamond ring like the one the High King gave his wife or the one Marsalla wears, but I wanted you to have my dam's ring. Selene was everything to my sire as you are everything to me."
I shook my head, willing myself not to let any sappy tears escape. "No. I am Centaur-kin and I have chosen a Centaur. I am honored that you would give me your mother's ring." I touched the ring and smiled. "I had almost forgotten that Selene was the one to first teach me about forget-me-nots and why they needed such a long name."
Oreius tilted my chin up and smiled before he rumbled, "There is none more deserving to wear it." And then he kissed me, a gentle and sweet kiss that left me breathless.
A/N: Please Read and Review! So, KnockOut fans, what do y'all think? This story isn't over yet, by the way. Brace yourselves the reaction is coming. Leave a review and please tell me what y'all thought about this long-awaited moment.