When the evening of the ball had come Teela was in the meeting room together with her guardsmen, giving them some final instructions.
"You know it's a special event. I don't want any unpleasant incidents. Does everyone have the programme? Good. You're dismissed."
Teela had already focused her attention on the schedule again when a young guardsman raised his arm and asked: "Um, Captain? I've got a question –"
Teela raised her head. "Didn't I express myself clearly enough?" she snarled at him.
Taken aback he stammered: "No, Captain... you haven't... I'll be on duty then."
Quickly he disappeared. Teela regretted her uncontrolled reaction at once. She knew that she was in a bad mood, but that was no reason to treat the guards like that.
On their way out the other guardsmen threw astonished glances at her. They weren't used to their Captain behaving like that.
When the room had emptied Teela remained sitting for a while. She rested her head on her hands. She knew exactly why her mood was that bad – somehow she couldn't stand the thought that Adam would be engaged to Gwendolyn from tonight on. Although she had never met her she felt deep dislike for her.
At noon Lord Merkon had arrived with his entourage. At the sight of the approaching vehicles Teela had preferred to withdraw in order not to be introduced. At that time she had still told herself that she had more important things to do; but if she was honest to herself now she had only wanted to avoid meeting Adam's future wife.
She didn't quite understand it herself but she was jealous.
Still deeply lost in thoughts Teela went to her room. She had hardly arrived there when somebody knocked at her door.
The door opened and her father entered.
"Oh, hello father."
"Teela, the ball is going to start soon. Are you sure you don't want to come?"
"No, I can't, I'll be busy all evening."
"Alright. You know where to find me in case you need me," Duncan said, thinking to himself that it was probably better for Adam if Teela didn't show up at the ball.
After her father had left she got up and began pacing up and down the room restlessly. In a moment the ball would begin, and soon after Adam's engagement would be announced. And after that, nothing could be changed anymore. Then it would be too late.
Too late for what? When she had had the choice she had thought that she was in love with He-Man. But for quite some time already she was not so sure anymore concerning He-man. And now, now that she was on the verge of losing Adam – yes, losing him, that was exactly what it was – she was sure that her feelings for He-Man had never been very much more than admiration for the great hero.
And Adam? She knew him as well as no-one else. True, he was a joyful – carefree – person, yet she had always known him as an understanding and considerate man. Moreover, he was very intelligent, even if he often hid this behind his laziness. And nobody could doubt that he wasn't a handsome young man, too.
She had always known that she could rely on him; and even if he had changed: Teela knew that he hadn't always been the young prince who took life easy. And though she liked teasing him with it, she knew that even today this was only partly true.
Adam had always been there since she could think.
She couldn't bear the thought that another woman was about to take him away from her.
Because now there was one thing she was sure of:
She loved him.
And she would make the biggest mistake of her life if she didn't go down to the ball room and told him exactly that – before it was too late.
She was already on her way to the door when suddenly she hesitated. Wasn't it too late already? She couldn't simply burst into the ball room! And if she did, what would be if Adam didn't want to hear her explanations anymore and rejected her?
It didn't matter! It didn't matter, even if she caused turmoil and made a complete fool of herself, she had to try it.
Resolutely Teela opened the door and ran down the hallway to the stairs where she stopped for a moment, breathing deeply. Briskly she went down the stairs which led to a side entrance of the throne room. Carefully Teela put the curtains a little aside and peered into the room. The king was holding his opening speech. As Teela knew the program of the evening by heart she knew that the announcement, noted on the program as 'ceremonial address' would take place later.
As her gaze wandered through the hall she realised the guests' dressy clothing. She was aware that her own uniform didn't quite fit the occasion and that she had better go and get changed as she still had enough time left.
Just when Teela wanted to let go of the curtain her gaze fell on a young, pretty woman with blonde hair who sat next to Lord Merkon making a smug impression. This had to be Lady Gwendolyn. Actually seeing her with her own eyes only served to make Teela more determined in her plan.
She turned around and quickly went back to her room. She took the ballgown her father had given her as a present out of her wardrobe. It was made of heavy, dark-blue silk, at ankle-length, backless and with slim straps.
She quickly put it on. Then she loosened her hair and brushed it so that it fell down on her shoulders in soft red waves. She put on some make-up and finally used some of Adam's perfume.
She hurried back to the ball room, this time to the main entrance. The guards on duty there looked at her in surprise and opened the curtain. Teela entered, her heart beating wildly. Now she was nearly there.
When she had entered she immediately felt curious glances resting on her – among them Lady Gwendolyn's, who exchanged a few whispered words with her father.
Teela went over to the dance floor and looked for prince Adam. A song had just ended and she saw the prince thanking his dance partner with an elegant bow. He noticed Teela and came over to her. Seeing her made his heart ache. Why had she come?
"Teela." At that moment the music began to play again. "May I have this dance?"
Teela agreed, and Adam led her onto the dance floor. He would have loved to tell her how beautiful she looked in this unfamiliar attire, but he wasn't sure if it was appropriate now. Slowly they started to dance.
For a moment Teela felt reminded of the dancing lessons she had had as a young girl. She had never been very interested in social events like this and that was why she had only danced a few times since then. She thought of herself as a very mediocre dancer; after a few steps, however, Teela realised Adam's firm hold on her and the way he led her over the dance floor elegantly and with the greatest of ease. He was indeed as good a dancer as everybody said. And she liked it!
After she had concentrated on the calm music for some time, she hesitatingly began to speak. "Adam... I've got to tell you something... I've realised something... I've made a mistake... I've realised now how much you mean to me... you are very, very important to me... and by the ancients, I don't want you to get married to another woman... and what I want to tell you by that is that I love you..." She stopped. "And I really hope that I'm not too late." She looked straight into his eyes.
Adam was so thrown off guard by Teela's disclosure that he momentarily fell out of step. But he recovered quickly and smiled happily at her, and all her fears were forgotten. The tension was gone and she smiled back.
Adam was the first to talk again: "Teela, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
"Yes, I will."
"Teela, do you know how much I would like to kiss you now?" He pulled Teela closer to him and whispered: "I love you."
For the rest of the song they didn't speak anymore and simply revelled in the mutual closeness. After the dance had ended they reluctantly parted.
"I'll talk to my parents at once," Adam said.
"Do you think there'll be problems?" Teela asked.
"I don't think so," Adam said with a hopeful glance to his mother. "None that can't be solved, I hope."
Adam led Teela to her father's table. Duncan looked at them grinning broadly, but said nothing.
"Thank you for the dance," the prince said with a smile a thanked his Teela with a flawless bow. Teela sat down on the empty place next to Duncan who took put his hand on hers to reassure her. "Everything will be alright."
When Adam turned around and headed towards his parents' table his mother got up and came to him. She had watched everything in relief – and she had already asked her husband to hold the speech instead of him. Randor had been surprised, but had agreed.
The two went a little away from the crowd.
"Mother –" Adam began.
Marlena interrupted him: "There won't be an engagement to Gwendolyn I suppose?"
Adam smiled at her, his eyes shining. "Yes. Teela wants to become my wife."
"Thank God. I'm so happy for you. For the both of you."
"Will there be problems with father?"
"No, certainly not. You just sit down, I'll take care of the rest."
They went back to the king's table and sat down. Marlena waited until the music had stopped, got up and stood in front of the thrones. King and prince followed her. The queen waited until all the dancers had gone back to their seats and then began her speech.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests, again I welcome you here..."
Adam wasn't able to listen to his mother's speech for long; he was much too occupied with his own thoughts. Again and again his gaze wandered back to Teela.
"I have the honour to announce tonight the engagement of our son, Prince Adam of Eternia."
A surprised murmur rose among the guests and there was a short applause. "Adam, would you please bring your fiancée here to us."
Smiling he went to Teela without realising Lady Gwendolyn's shocked face. The prince happily took Teela's hand and led her to his parents, followed by everybody's eyes.
Randor recovered quickly from his initial shock and said in a celebrational tone: "May I introduce you to the future crown princess of Eternia: Lady Teela, daughter of our Man-at-Arms and Captain of the Royal Guard."
When he heard Teela's name Cringer raised his head in astonishment, while Orko immediately began to clap enthusiastically. After a second the guests joined in, and now the applause was significantly louder than before.
It had taken Lady Gwendolyn a while to get over her shock, but now she was about to jump up and protest. Her father, however, held her back.
"Sit down, Gwendolyn. Everything is exactly as it should be. Can't you see how happy they are?"
"But..." she wanted to object indignantly. Her father looked at her calmly, and she gave up.
The orchestra started to play again and the newly engaged couple opened the dance.
After they had danced for a while Adam said: "I'm so glad that I won't have to marry Gwendolyn."
"And why is that," Teela asked teasingly.
"She can't dance."
As a response to this Teela pinched his arm.
But Adam immediately got serious again. "What about He-Man after all?"
"Oh no, was it that obvious?" Teela asked, astonished.
"I couldn't miss it." He watched Teela's face closely.
"He-Man has many admirable qualities," she began to explain, "but I came to the conclusion that I want to spend the rest of my life with you," she finished honestly.
Adam was relieved. Here with him was Teela, and she wanted him as he was, for his own sake, not because she thought that He-Man was out of reach and he was her second choice, and not because she knew they were one and the same person.
There would be a time when he would tell her everything.
Softly he drew her closer to him. For Adam there was only the woman in his arms at that moment. Lost in thought he said: "That's the perfume I gave you for your birthday, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is, why do you..." She remembered somebody else – He-Man – asking her the exact same question a few days ago.
"How did he know..." Teela murmured.
"Who knew what?" Adam wanted to know.
"He-Man..." Teela looked at Adam with piercing eyes. And suddenly it seemed to her as if the hero of Eternia was standing in front of her. Her eyes widened; she still didn't really believe it. "Could it be..."
"Teela, what's wrong?"
"All the years, and you didn't tell me."
Adam hadn't expected this, but nevertheless he felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"I would have loved to tell you."
Teela shook her head. "Let's talk about it later. Right now I'm happy to be here with you."
Contentedly Teela let her head sink against Adam's chest and they danced on in silence. After a while Adam's gaze fell on a figure in the window which had apparently been there for quite some time. Zoar.
I'm so happy for the two of you. I'm glad to see my daughter so happyhe heard the sorceress' telepathic voice in his mind.
Thank you, sorceress. I hope it's alright that Teela knows the secret now?
Don't worry. It was I who lifted the ban of the sword off of her, which prevents others to recognise you.
And Adam – I cannot imagine anybody I would rather have as my son-in-law than you.
With that the falcon turned around and flew away.
Adam returned his attention to Teela. When they came near the balcony he drew her out with him. There they were undisturbed. Adam lovingly held Teela in his arms in front of him. Together they looked up to the two moons above and listened to the music playing inside.
After a while he turned her around and drew her near. And in the silvery light of the moons they shared a kiss for the first time.