DISCLAIMER: Characters from the cartoon series belong to someone else, but what happens to them is entirely my own doing.

STORY: Alt Episode of The Gardens of Zinn. Just why did Zinn need a husband? And what would have happened if Eric hadn't run off! (Rate for Language and Adult Situations)

RATING: R

PROMPT: Written for the LJ Darkfic Challenge, #85 Indifference.


Chapter 1 – Blissful Ignorance

Zinn, the beautiful city of Zinn. It left him cold.

He was in shock.

The others had gone barely minutes before, and Eric wandered the halls in the company of his bride to be, hardly listening to a word she said as she strolled round the gardens and the castle, holding him by the arm.

He couldn't think straight. He couldn't get past the one, simple fact: He was going to be married.

What the fuck had he done! What had he gotten himself into! He was about to get married! He was about to GET MARRIED!!

The reality of the situation was starting to hit him and he just kept walking along beside Zinn in a daze hoping she wouldn't notice the panic was growing at the enormity of what he'd done: He was going to get married.

He was going to get married.

Saying it again and again didn't seem to help at all.

The woman by his side, his future wife, was walking and talking, pointing out various attractive parts of the castle. It appeared that she wasn't going to give up any time soon, either as everything they passed was fascinating and worthy of attention at the moment, but all Eric could do was smile and nod, at the appropriate points.

He was going to get married.

Oh shit.

He was going to get married.

But it wasn't just that; there were other worries churning inside him.

He was alone. They'd left him alone. The others had just left him behind and continued on their way to find another portal home.

Worse, at the time he'd wanted to stay! His powers of reasoning had been totally overwhelmed by all that gold, all those beautiful, shiny things she shad shown him. And barely hidden underneath all that was the promise of something more; she was to be his queen, she was to be his wife! His WIFE! And together, they were going to do… to do

His stomach lurched once more.

At the moment, he was dreading it. He was a teenage boy, sure, but frankly he had no idea what to do beyond what he'd seen in films. He'd seen a couple of Penthouses too, but apart from making him feel fantastic, they didn't give him much of a clue either.

He gulped. This wasn't helping the situation. He had to try and pull himself together and stop panicking. He would just have to make it up he went along. How difficult could it be, anyway! Everyone managed to figure it out!

Zinn was still talking, pointing out various parts of the Castle, and he was now totally lost and barely listening to a word she said. He just smiled and nodded, wondering what the others were doing.

Was Bobby ok now? Was Sheila safe with Solarz? Had they come to regret leaving him behind? Did they miss him? Were they thinking about him at all?

He was going to get married!! Oh, God!

He could think of nothing else.

The feeling of detachment stayed with him for the whole day. They could have gone marching round in circle for all he knew! The city and castle merged into some sort of blur, but he didn't care.

He only can back to reality with a nasty bump when strange little Gnome people started draping long, red robes over his shoulders.

He looked around. He was in some staterooms, presumably his own rooms. And he was getting ready. For his marriage.

He was going to get married: Very, very soon!

The Cavalier tried to argue with the Gnomes, but the right words wouldn't come out, and he couldn't think of what to say. So they just kept on working, draping ornate clothes over him, fussing over the colour and the way the fabric lay over his armour. They seemed almost impossible to please.

Finally, a beautiful golden crown was placed on his head, and he looked at himself in the mirror, seeing the gold glitter and the jewels sparkle. He stared at himself, feeling the heaviness of the crown, and realised it was too late to back out now.

It was far, far too late!


It was done. It was over. He was a married man.

At the feast afterwards, Eric was congratulated by a vast variety of people (his subjects!!) and fed a wonderful meal. There had been a lot of singing and celebrating, and everyone there had a marvellous time. Well, almost everyone.

He was the only one not having a marvellous time. He'd never thought much about being married before; but however he had expected to feel, it wasn't like this!

He felt numb. He felt empty. He felt terrified.

This wasn't what he'd ever imagined a wedding would be. He had been to a wedding of one of his cousins not long before he arrived in the Realm, and that had been different. If he was being honest, that had been better, even though it was small, and at the time Eric had been rather scornful of the whole business.

But this wasn't just a wedding, this was a coronation. He was a king! he reminded himself. A king, a rich king at that!

Strangely, that didn't make him feel any better.

He'd had a nasty turn when the official had started listing all his titles and duties, but the thought of all that gold had calmed his nerves a little. And then it was over. It was done, he was married and that was that!

And now he had other things to worry about.

The prospect of his wedding night preyed on his mind. Oh god, what was he going to do? Was she going to laugh at him? Was she going to be disappointed? Was she even going to like him!

He looked around him, suddenly realising everyone was looking at him and the room was totally silent. His stomach dropped about fifteen feet.

Zinn was looking at him, obviously trying to tell him something, judging by her expression, he didn't like that expression; it was much like the one she had had at the end of the ceremony, when they had been pronounced man and wife (or whatever the old man had said!). It was cold, it was calculating and almost… predatory. He shivered, and looked back, trying to smile.

Zinn jerked her head slightly to one side, towards the door.

Then he understood.

It was time to go: Upstairs!

Together.

He tried once again to smile and appear calm as he stepped shakily towards his wife, and hoped that his total terror didn't show on his face.

Once by her side, she took his arm and smiled round at the people present.

'My subjects!' she said, her voice ringing with a happiness that made Eric feel even worse. 'My subjects, this coronation is now at an end!'

The room erupted in wild cheers that lasted for minutes. When they finally settled down, Zinn continued.

'Now, this kingdom is complete! We have a king, and we have a wonderful future of peace and prosperity to look forward too!'

There were more cheers, and Zinn smiled and waved at her subjects.

He wasn't sure what he had expected to happen then, but the guests all started to leave. That was good, as Eric was getting tired of all this showing off in front of the eager crowd, but it seemed that they weren't going to leave quickly!

In fact, he and Zinn had to personally say goodbye to each and every one of the hundreds of guests! It took well over two hours before the hall was empty and by the end of it, Eric was almost dead on his feet.

Zinn, however seemed as radiant and relaxed as she had all day. She smiled at him, as the last guest left, and Eric gave a huge effort and smiled back. But instead of anticipation, all he felt was a terrible cold empty fear.

He was alone with his wife… his wife!

She took his arm once more and together they walked out of the empty hall. They walked slowly up the stairs in silence, and she led him down the hall to a room near to the one he had been in before.

This was it!

They stopped at the door, letting her hand slide sensuously down his arm as she broke their contact, and she looked expectantly at him.

It was every teenage boys dream: A beautiful woman who wanted him in her bed.

But actually, all he wanted to do at that very moment was fall into bed and go to sleep for a very, very long time!

He opened his mouth to give some excuse but no words came out, it was one of the few times he was truly lost for words. What was he supposed to say anyway, how was he supposed to think up an excuse, on his wedding night!

Zinn smiled sweetly once more, but the way she did it had Eric fooled into thinking that she was laughing at him. Then she spoke.

'I know our customs might seem quaint,' she said, looking demurely downwards to the perfectly decorated floor. 'I understand that a man such as you, a warrior and a knight that has travelled this Realm and searched out so many secrets would not expected the Old Ways to be still practiced, but…' she looked into his eyes, beseechingly, '… I would asked that our respect our ways, now you are King of this mighty Kingdom.'

It went without saying that Eric had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. He just kept looking at her, hoping she would tell him straight out what she expected him to do next.

Zinn opened the door beside them and took a tiny step inside.

'I knew you were a man of honour,' she said. 'And I thank you from the depths of my heart.'

She flashed him that same unnerving, dangerous and outwardly sweet smile, then shut the door in his face.