OMG I am extremely sorry for not updating! I had the writer's block to end all writer's block, and then the lovely Lady Arnirien was visiting for a week and so...

I basically just wrote this to get something written...a lot of reflection and whatnot, not a lot of dialogue...basically just a boring chapter but in a few more we should be into the "good part".

Thanks as always to my lovely reviewers, HoD91 and Lady Arnirien! Hopefully I'll get another chapter up before I leave for DC next weekend.

Also, congrats to us! We've hit a hundred hits! (no pun intended, but if you take it as a pun, that's good for me too)

Read on...

Chapter 5: The Wedding's Aftermath

The wedding feast lasted nearly a week. Ebekah had a different gown for each night, all pure white, some silk, some taffeta, some velvet and fur-trimmed. The meals were hearty and heavy, sitting in her stomach like a stone, and she drowned herself in fine mead and ale. The alcohol kept her euphoria buzzing in her veins and blurred the enormity of what had just happened. She allowed her trepidation to fade and fully let herself go for just one week. She giggled like a schoolgirl and acted otherwise quite childish, especially next to her more stoic husband, which one day she would look back on in shame. But for one week, she was content, more content than she had been since the day she had found out she was marrying a man old enough to be her father who, moreover, was king of a powerful country, who had slain a dragon, who had banished the Sithi…

Even their wedding night could not dull Ebekah's rapture. In the months leading to the wedding, it was this single event that had tormented her, keeping her awake at night, causing her to break out in cold sweat and chills in the middle of an otherwise warm afternoon. Luckily for Ebekah, the feast came first, and so several goblets of wine had blurred the edges of the world, and John seemed to have ample experience to make up fully for Ebekah's inexperience. Against all her expectations, it was almost enjoyable.

Even when the wedding celebration was over, Ebekah's coronation prolonged the general debauchery. It happened on a cold, clear Decander afternoon, with all the nobles who had attended the wedding present. Ebekah had changed out the white that had all but become the norm for her for a more noble purple, although she still wore, as she always did now, the Tree pendant John had given her. She sat ramrod straight in the smaller, plainer throne as the bishop placed a delicately wrought silver coronet across her brow. It was quite simple- twisted silver adorned with a single diamond- but it was nicely set off by her dark hair, and the diamond shone against her forehead. At the end of the ceremony she was to select her special champion, something she had prepared for for months.

She had chosen Camaris, of course.

As she gave him a token of her respect- a small embroidered handkerchief that wasn't really hers, for she had never used it, a chambermaid turned to her friend and whispered, "Isn't it ironic that the Rose of Hernysadharc has chosen the bearer of Thorn as her champion?"

The other chambermaid stifled a giggle, as the two were not supposed to be watching and she did not want to be caught by the Dragon, and muttered something about Camaris' "thorn". The two succumbed to noisy giggles and, fearing discovery, at last snuck off quietly when a roar of applause filled the throne room.

Ebekah sank into apathy once the festivities had ended. For a while, the presence of her family was enough to bring a smile to her face, but at last they departed for Hernystir, leaving her all but alone. Camaris was still in the Hayholt, but even he left to attend to matters in Nabban, as his father's health was declining quickly. Ebekah found herself with no one to talk to, and took to wandering the lonely garden paths as she had during her engagement.

Her one hope and joy was her upcoming visit to Hernysadharc. She clung to her promised plan with Lluth as a drowning man clings to driftwood, and it saw her through the dreary days of Jonever.

But Ebekah never visited her home in Hernystir, because that Feyever she discovered she was pregnant.

John and his subjects were elated. The king and queen had been married barely two months, and already John had an heir on the way. Once the news was announced, bells sounded all over Erkynland, and there was general celebration and joyous anticipation.

Ebekah slipped into a state of reminiscence, her pregnancy reminding her of her months of engagement- the same trapped feeling accompanied her swelling belly. She tried to remember the carefree girl who had refused a carriage on her trip to Erchester, who rode into the Hayholt with her hair tangled and undone and her gown travel-stained. She struggled to picture the girl who had conquered her shyness to confront the world's greatest warrior, who had felt electricity at the touch of his hand. The reconciliation of that girl with the cold, apathetic woman she now was seemed impossible. She felt that by accepting her new name, she had accepted a new personality, a new identity, and that she had become a person she never would have recognized or even particularly liked. She divided her to personas into Efiathe and Ebekah. Efiathe was the quietly stubborn girl, willing to fulfill her duties to her country even if it meant sacrificing her own desires, but at the same time stuck on her morals. Ebekah was the meek, nearly silent queen, regal because of her coldness, who put on a show of joy while really she had no feelings. She felt sure the infant in her womb had caused her apathy, and for a while she all but hated it. But as the months passed and the hopeless winter became a delicate spring, she began to feel warmth toward her child at least, and certainly towards her husband, who was so kind to her always. But still the emotion felt feigned.

Camaris returned in early Yuven from Nabban. His father had pulled through and was again capable of managing his affairs, but Camaris had left his brother Leobardis to assist and take control should Benidrivis' health lapse again.

Two days after his return, he sought out Ebekah.

He found her in the gardens, seated upon a bench in full sunlight, one hand resting on her slightly swollen belly while the other toyed with a rose in her hand. When she noticed his approach, she jumped and cried out in pain.

Camaris rushed to her side. "My lady, what is wrong?" he asked, concerned.

Ebekah smiled slightly. "It's nothing, Sir Camaris. I merely stuck myself with a thorn." The wound on her finger, when she proffered it, was all but invisible.

He let out a relieved breath. Perhaps it was a horrible, chauvinist thing to think, but he pictured her as delicate, easily bruised, and the child in her womb as more precious. Any pain, to him, might be the death of her.

"Forgive me for worrying so, my lady," he said softly, taking her hand, flipping it over, and kissing it gently.

Ebekah pulled away. "Please, Sir Camaris, you need not use such formality when we are alone."

"Of course, my- Ebekah. But I must request that you drop my title as well, so that I do not feel overly casual with you."

This drew a genuine smile. "Of course, Camaris. Please, tell me about your journey."

She placed her hand on his offered arm, and they strolled through the gardens as he regaled her with tales of Nabban and his family there.

"My brother is betrothed at last, to a young noblewoman named Nessalanta," Camaris told her. "I'm happy for him: he needs a wife."

Ebekah laughed- she too had seen Leobardis' failed attempts at flirtation with the Erkynland ladies. But her laugh was less at the joy she felt at Leobardis' good fortune than at the slight tingle she found was still in her fingertips where they rested on Camaris' arm.

"What of you, Ebekah?" Camaris asked at last. "How have you been? Are you excited for your child?"

Ebekah looked away, pretending to concentrate on a dying hydrangea. "I've been quite well," she said, still keeping her eyes averted.

But Camaris sensed something was wrong despite Ebekah's nonchalance. "What's wrong?" he asked.

She looked up at him- way up- and burst into tears. Immediately Camaris drew her over to a nearby bench, where he held her and listened as all her fears and worries poured out of her mouth. At last, she calmed herself and dried her eyes.

"I'm so sorry," she said, ashamed. "It's just been so hard…I feel like I can't feel anything, and that scares me. What if I can't love my child? What if I can't love John? He's so kind to me, and he loves me, I can tell."

"I wouldn't worry about not feeling anything, my lady," Camaris said, half-smiling. "It seems as though you have plenty of emotion. And just worrying about loving your child shows you love him already. And John- that will come. In fact, the only real change I see in you is that your charming blush hasn't made a single appearance in all the time I've spoken with you."

He brushed a tear off her cheek, and- to her shame- she blushed. "There," Camaris said, laughing. "You're back to normal." And Ebekah could hardly help but join in his laughter.

Like I said, extreeeeeemely boring chapter...R&R anyway, please!!

Also, if you're a fan of the TV show Supernatural, please check out HuntressofDarkness91She has one humor story, a Weechester oneshot, and Love Bites, her "real" fanfic. Her stuff's pretty awesome so check it out! (See, I told you I'd endorse you!) After you're done reading her stuff, I have a Supernatural oneshot, Supernatural Angst, which I would also suggest you check out cuz it's pretty awesome.

All for now

--The lovely Mazzie--