Sea Hawk hesitated, then squared his shoulders and knocked.
"Enter," came Randor's voice. He looked up from his desk in surprise. "Captain Sea Hawk. To what do I owe this honor?"
Hawk cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Sire, I-I've come to ask for Adora's hand in marriage." He struggled to keep his voice steady before the king's inscrutable gaze.
Randor raised an eyebrow. "My wife seemed to think you had already asked Adora to marry you."
Hawk's face grew red. "Yes, Your Majesty, I did do so. I had intended to talk to you first, but I'm afraid I let my impulsiveness get the better of me."
Randor leaned back in his chair as he studied the pirate. "Not exactly a good trait for a king, is it, Captain?"
Hawk paled a bit. "King? But I thought since you named Adam as your heir-"
"Adam at this point has no heir to name," Randor pointed out. "Should anything happen to him, the throne would logically fall to Adora. Which would make you king." He watched the pirate's face carefully.
Hawk swallowed hard. "Then I would ask that you teach me all I would need to know, in case such a thing should happen," he finally managed. "I would not want to assume such a responsibility unprepared."
"You seem to say that reluctantly, Captain Hawk." Randor was enjoying this, though he hid that well.
"I would rather be out on the open sea, Sire," he admitted. "But to be with Adora, I would endure anything."
"So the throne holds no interest for you?"
Hawk shook his head. "I'm sorry, but no."
Randor finally smiled. "Then let's talk about finding you a ship."
Adora stood nervously when Hawk returned, looking somewhat bemused. She felt as if he'd been in her father's study for weeks, rather than a half-hour.
"Hawk? What did he say?" she demanded anxiously.
"He offered to make me a captain in the royal navy," he said as if in a daze. "He said I could even bring in any of my crew from Etheria that wanted to come."
Adora hugged him. "That's wonderful, Hawk! Now what about us?" she demanded impatiently.
Hawk smiled at her and took her hand. "He gave us his blessing," he answered.
Adora's face blossomed into a grin. "I knew it!"
The party to announce their engagement was scheduled for three weeks later. Eternian engagement parties typically were held on even more quickly, but Adora delayed it a week to make sure that Adam had enough time to recover.
Adam found that Duncan and the others hadn't been kidding. His body was exhausted, and he wasn't recovering as quickly as he was used to. He slept long hours and read more books than he'd had time for in the last five years combined. He did steadily improve though, especially since things remained quiet. It seemed odd for the twins to have so much time with their family, as He-Man and She-Ra weren't called for once. Serena and the Sorceress were strangely quiet as well.
A few days before the party, Adam and Adora were engrossed in conversation when a familiar voice interrupted them.
"You could have trusted me."
Adora and Adam exchanged looks before turning to Castaspella. Adam slipped some papers into his pocket.
"Castaspella! I didn't know you were here already!" Adora exclaimed, greeting her friend warmly.
Casta returned the hug, but still asserted, "You could have trusted me, Adora."
"With what, Casta?" Adora asked, realizing they weren't getting out of this.
"Your secret," the Mystacore queen smiled gently. "I could have kept it."
Adam leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms casually. "What secret is that?" he asked innocently.
"Don't bother to pretend, He-Man," Castaspella said, teasing him. "I saw too many things to be fooled any longer. And that spell the Sorceress cast didn't get through my personal shields."
Adora and Adam exchanged a slightly worried glance. That was a good indication that Shadow Weaver knew the truth.
"I hope you understand," Adora said with a hesitant smile.
Castaspella nodded. "Of course, Adora. And next time you're in Etheria, I hope you will come visit me and tell me more about it."
"You're leaving so soon?" Adora asked in surprise. "But you just got here! What about the celebration?"
Castaspella smiled sadly. "I have a good idea of what's going to happen there, Adora, and…I don't belong here." She glanced meaningfully at Adam.
"You're more than welcome to stay, Castaspella," the prince countered.
She gave him a warm look, then spoke to Adora. "I will be here for the wedding Adora, but not the engagement party. I just came to say congratulations." She hugged Adora again.
"Thank you," Adora answered. "And thank you for coming. I didn't see you on Etheria before I left, and it saddened me that I didn't get to say good-bye."
"Not good-bye," Castaspella disagreed. "Just…good luck." Castaspella turned to Adam again. "Farewell, dear prince. I wish you and Teela all happiness." There was a calm acceptance in her voice. Their eyes locked, and in that moment, Adam knew without a doubt that if he had not chosen Teela, he and Castaspella would have had something very special. He also knew she deserved a lot more than second place in someone's heart, and for him, Teela would always be first.
"Thank you, Castaspella," Adam responded quietly, his unreadable blue eyes holding hers. "And good luck in rebuilding Etheria. Let us know if we can help in any way." Castaspella nodded, stared into his eyes for a few more seconds, then quickly and quietly took her leave.
Adora watched her walk away, then turned to Adam. "If I didn't like Teela so much, I'd be saddened by that whole exchange," she muttered.
Adam raised an eyebrow at her. "That's exactly why she's not staying," he said.
"I know," Adora grumbled. She shifted herself to see the list in Adam's hand again. The list of Horde-controlled planets.
"So what do we do with it?" she asked.
Wordlessly, Adam held it up, and Grace swooped down out of the sky, ripping it from his fingers.
"We let the Sorceress keep it," he replied quietly. "If anyone comes to us asking for help, we can use it to make sure they're telling the truth. But hopefully Jed has it under control. Besides, I think that maybe Castaspella and my father are right. You and I can't be responsible for the entire universe."
Adora nodded slowly. "No, I guess we can't."
"Duncan?" Adam cursed the waver in his voice. He shouldn't be nervous about this. He and Duncan were too close for that. They'd already touched on the subject before. So why were his palms sweating?
Man-at-Arms looked up from his latest invention. "Hello, Adam. How are you feeling?"
Adam smiled at his mentor. "I'm fine, Duncan." His smile faded as he met Duncan's eyes. "But I do have a question for you."
Duncan set his tools down and wiped his hands on a cloth. "This sounds serious."
"It is." Adam's solemn eyes caused Duncan to lean forward slightly in concern. "I want to ask Teela to marry me, and I'd like your blessing."
Duncan grinned. "Well it's about time."
I agree, came the Sorceress' voice.
Adam blew out a breath, relief on his face. "I was hoping you'd both feel that way." He raised one eyebrow. "I do you have your blessing then, right?"
Duncan recognized the tension in Adaam and felt touched that his approval meant so much to him. A part of him even got a kick out of the idea that Eternia's prince and hero had been nervous about this. Duncan's grin grew larger and he clasped the prince on the arm. "You've always been like a son to me, Adam. It'll be nice to make it official."
I feel the same way. Welcome to the family, Adam.
Teela yanked open her door at the loud knock.
"I said I'd be right—oh, sorry, Adam, I-I thought you were Orko again," she said, stammering slightly. He smiled at her, though she detected a hint of nervousness in his eyes.
"If you're ready, I thought we could talk a short walk before we go down," he said, his eyes holding hers.
Teela glanced down at herself. "I guess I'm ready." The emerald dress, shoes, hair done…everything seemed in order.
"You look more than ready. You look beautiful," Adam corrected, his voice husky. Teela smiled almost shyly at him and took the corsage of plain white lilies he offered.
"Thank you," she said. "They're lovely."
Adam led her to a quiet alcove the queen always kept filled with gorgeous tropical flowers. Teela breathed in deeply, then realized with a start that this was where she had learned the truth about Adam. She glanced at him, slightly startled, as he led her all the way in and turned to her.
"It seemed appropriate," he admitted as he caught her look. Before Teela could ask him what he meant, he was down on one knee in front of her, and her breath caught in her throat.
"Teela, we have been there for each other through everything. You've seen the best and worst of me," Adam said, his voice rough with emotion. Teela was captivated by the love in his eyes. "You're my best friend, my strength…you are my soul mate. I want to spend the rest of my life making you smile." He swallowed hard, the rest of what he'd wanted to say lost as he gazed into her eyes. "I asked you once as a child, but now I'm asking you as a man who loves you more than life itself. Will you marry me, Teela?"
Teela couldn't speak for a few seconds. Just as Adam's stomach started to twist uncomfortably, she spoke the words she had thought just over a month before. "You are my best friend, my prince, my hero, and my love," she answered softly. "Yes, I'll marry you."
Joy lit Adam's face and he sprang to his feet, lifting her and twirling her around as she laughed. "I guess you really are healed," she teased him as he eased her down. Adam smiled back and kissed her. Then, before she quite knew what was happening, he slid a ring on her finger.
"My mother told me you were fascinated with Earth's tradition of giving an engagement ring," he told her softly. "I thought-"
Teela smiled through her tears, blinking rapidly. "Thank you," she whispered, looking at it. "It's beautiful, Adam."
"Not as beautiful as you," he argued with a smile, and bent his head to kiss her again.
Marlena smiled knowingly as Adam and Teela entered, beaming smiles on their faces and Teela's ring flashing in the light. Few on Eternia knew what that ring meant, but soon the story would be all over, she knew.
She glanced over at Adora and Hawk, who wore similar smiles. Randor came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders.
"I see Adam's late as usual," he rumbled in her ear. "Some things never change."
Marlena turned to him and caught his teasing grin. "You know very well why he's late."
"Yes, I can see that ring from here," Randor said, his own face radiant with pride. "Now that everyone is here, I think it's time to begin."
Dinner was finished, and Randor had made a brief speech, thanking everyone for their support, and announcing not one but both engagements. A woman entered the hall as the king announced Adam and Teela's engagement. Thunderous applause and nearly obnoxious cheers greeted the declaration. The woman, her red hair spilling past her shoulders, made her way to the front of the room, where the royal family, Hawk, and Teela were seated at the head table. She curtseyed to the king and queen, her shimmering creamy gown flowing about her, then turned to Adam and Teela, who were staring at her with open mouths.
"Congratulations," she said, a sincere smile lighting her face. At the sound of her voice, they both stood and came around the table.
"Mother!" Teela whispered as she hugged her.
Adam stood by respectfully, and inclined his head slightly in greeting.
"Oh, Adam, we're going to be family. Don't be so formal," Teelana laughed at him, and pulled him into a hug. He obliged with a grin, delighting in the laugh he had rarely heard from her.
"You're free of Grayskull?" he asked, though he knew the answer.
"Yes, Adam. As you will be," she answered, her melodious voice unchanged.
Adam felt a brief moment of panic, and he automatically reached for his sword. It was still there.
"You and Randor have asked how you could be both king and He-Man. The answer is that you cannot. When you are crowned king, you will no longer be He-Man," Teelana said quietly, lest she be overheard. "She-Ra is here now; it will be her responsibility to defend Grayskull if needed. I tell you now so you have time to prepare, although," she added with a smile, "I don't think He-Man and She-Ra will be needed much anymore."
Teela glanced at Adam. He looked stunned by this revelation, and she thought it might be a good idea to change the subject. "Mother, there's something I've wanted to ask you." Teelana nodded. "Who was the third child? Serena or me?"
"Serena," Teelana answered immediately. "The prophecy spoke of three children who would be changed by Grayskull's power. Although the Sword of Truth responded to you, it did not change you as it did Adora, Adam, and Serena." She smiled gently at her daughter. "In a way, you were a hidden weapon, Teela. There was no prophecy to warn Horde Prime about you."
"Thank goodness," Adam muttered, causing the women to smile.
Duncan appeared at the side of the former Sorceress. "Excuse me, but I wondered if I might have this dance, Teelana?" he asked as the music began. Adam and Teela gaped as she smiled demurely and he led her onto the dance floor beside the king and queen.
"I didn't even know he knew her real name," Teela whispered.
Adam grinned as he led Teela out onto the floor for their own dance. "And the surprises just keep coming," he teased, shaking his head.
Teela sighed as she settled into his arms, enjoying the strongest sense of peace and security she'd ever known. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Marlena sighed in contentment as she watched them. The worst of the evils on both planets were destroyed. Her husband was finally proud of his son. And their daughter was home where she belonged. Marlena wished she could capture this moment, when everything felt perfectly right, and save it for when there was trouble in the future.
After all, this was Eternia, a world of technology and magic, good and evil. She knew from experience that it wouldn't stay quiet for long.
A/N: Well, there it is. Hopefully I caught all the loose ends. :-) I owe a big thanks to my hubby for putting up with this whole non-paying second job I've held for the last eight months, to my dad for believing in me, and to God for inspiring me. And thanks to all of my readers as well. I hope you continue to review other stories, because it really does make a difference in motivating some of us.
I had quite a few notes from folks who were asking if there was going to be another story. At the time, I said no, as I had no intention of doing anything else after this one...after all, I think I have a family somewhere outside this computer room. But I have to admit there's still a few ideas and questions floating around in my head...What would Teela be like when she's pregnant? How would Adam react if he had to give up being He-Man when he became king? How bad would things have to get for Adam to call on Skeletor for help? Would Skeletor ever return and ask for He-Man's help? Why are Orko's legs so short? (Just kidding on that one...) So you just never know...but I'm not making any promises either!
Oh, and since I haven't done it in a while...MOTU characters do not belong to me, they belong to whoever owns the copyright, I make no money off of this, etc.