Van tried not to smile as he watched Hitomi make rude faces behind thier tutor's back. This whole trip was a first for them and Clemmons was determined that they forget nothing of their lessons. Everything from political ties between each memebr of the Asturia court right down to table manners was being reviewed.
Of course Hitomi could afford to sit there and make faces. That girl's memory was better than even Clemmons'. As their tutor the old man refused to accept that she really did know everything he had already said so she was also stuck there listening to him go on and on. Van, having a bad memory for names needed the review session but hated to admit anything like that around his best friend for fear she would think he was slow.
The bouncing carriage distracted Hitomi from her constant string of different faces and Van saw that after awhile she had gone rather pale.
"I believe my Lady Wife needs air." Van cut Clemmons off in the middle of his description on how sturians dances went.
Catching the look on Hitomi's face Clemmons, who had always had a weak stomack, cleared his throat and called the carriage to a stop. The schollar managed to hold the door open as Hitomi sprinted past him and into the foggy day.
At barely sixteen the princess was now nearly as tall as their tutor's chin, a height Van had long ago passed. The day he had realized that his tutor was shorter than him it had felt like the world had tilted just a bit off course. His brother had told him that had their father been alive he would have hooted in joy and clapped Van on the shoulder. His father had always been joyly and proud of all the things they did. More than anything Van could remember how the Late king had picked out Hitomi as Van's future wife. Folken's wife had also been chosen for him and he was married at the age of fifteen when their father fell ill.
For five years both young princes had watched their father slowly fade before their eyes. After his death their mother also died of what Folken said was a broken heart.
At the age of ten Van was married to Hitomi, the girl his father and mother had brought to live with them after she had been hand picked to one day be his wife. They had grown up together and learned together.
Van found Hitomi doubled over in the tall grass with a few of their guards standing a respective distance away. She looked so little in the tall grasses as she turned towards him with tears in her eyes.
"I hate carriages." she whispered as he hugged her to him, "They make me ill."
He knew what she was asking him and he couldn't refuse her when she was so miserable. It took quite a bit of talking but he was able to get them a horse.
"They moved some of our bags into the carriage so we could ride into Asturia on horseback." he loved to see her face light up and her smile was very bright indeed as he took her hand and led her over to the horse they were to share. Her tears of frustration were gone and her color was even back to normal.
Two hours later they were approaching the gates of the Kingdom they would be guests in for the next three months for the gathering of Kingdoms treaty. Folkon should have been the one to go but his wife was far too along with child to travel anywhere and he would not leave her side. All of Gaea could have been offered to him and he still would have chosen to stay by his beloved.
Van was honored that his brother would trust him with such an important task but at the same time he was nervous. He'd been to Asturia once and that had been when he was too small to remember but he had heard many things through out the years and not everything sat well with the young prince.
"Look at the towers." Hitomi whipsered in awe and Van's attention was suddenly and completely on her, "They are so very high."
"I hope we will be able to see much of Asturia." he felt her lean back into him a bit more when the crowd caught sight of them coming through the gates, "I want our visit to be a pleasant one."
Hitomi just nodded, turning shy in the face of so many watching and shouting people.
Van brought a hand up and checked his circlet before also seeing that Hitomi's was in place and straight. She swatted his hand away, making him laugh as they reached the crowded streets that would lead them to the palace.
On the stairs in front of the large palace stood three figures. Van knew them atonce from all of Clemmons reviewing. King Aston stood with his daughters. Eries on his left and Millerna on his right. Behind them stood a handfull guards and a few servants waiting to assist with the bags once everyone of importance was inside.
They were greeted warmly and led inside by the royal family and few of the higher ranking guards, one of which Van couldn't help but notice had unusualy long hair. As someone who had gone through many sword fighting lessons and hours of training Van wondered how the man hadn't managed to chop it all off accidentally. The mental image was almost enough to make him laugh out loud but as usual Hitomi took his hand at just the right moment and distracted him enough away from his own thoughts to hear what was being said around them.
"The treaty will take place in one weeks time." the King was saying as servants silently opened a large set of double doors, "You are among the last to arrive so I daresay you will have a lot people to meet over dinner which will be served in an hour."
Van was hoping the King wasn't insulted that they had arrived so late to such an important event. Folken's decision not to go himself had been last second and it had taken him nearly a week to convince his brother that it would be alright if he and Hitomi went in his place.
"I'm sure you will want to rest before dinner." Millerna, the younger of the Princesses smiled brightly at them, "Let me show you to your room."
Van almost asked her if she had meant to say 'rooms' because he and Hitomi had never shared a room before and he wasn't sure how well that would go.
"It's a pleasure to be here." Hitomi 's voice was smooth and melodic as usual, "Everything is so beautiful." she always sounded so calm and her pressence calmed Van in turn.
"We take great care to keep everything spotless." Millerna smiled back at Hitomi.
Van saw Hitomi smile back but as soon as Millerna was looking ahead Hitomi pulled a face as she looked at the stairs beneath their feet. He wanted to ask what she was thinking but knew it was better to wait untill she decided to tell him.
"This is your room." Millerna pushed on the second door on the first floor and it slid open, "I hope your stay will be nice."
"I'm sure it will be." Van and Hitomi said at the same time before smiling at each other. They did that alot and it never failed to make them laugh.
"See you down at dinner." Millerna walked away quickly. Looking eager to be elsewhere.
Hitomi frowned at the blonde's back as Van turned and entered their room. The first thing he saw was that they had their own sitting area and a desk in one of the corners. At the end of the room there was a door that he had no doubt led to their one bedroom.
"We'll be fine." Hitomi slipped her hand into his, "I'm rather sure we can live this close every day and every night."
"But we've always had our own spaces to go to." Van looked around the room again, "I just don't want you to get sick of me."
"It's been ten years." Hitomi squeezed his hand as she headed for the door at the end of the room, "I've never gotten sick of having you near. You are my best friend."
The door to the bedroom was simple dark wood and the door opened silently under Hitomi's hand. The room was was furnished in yellows in golds and the bed was the largest one van had ever seen. Each of the seperate pieces of furniture was the same dark wood as the door and each cushion was the same gold shade.
"This is..." Hitomi's voice trailed off unable to find the right word.
"Over done?" Van suggested and his wife nodded slowly.
Their rooms back home were very different without all the frills and shiney materials. Most of the furniture in Fanelia was simple wood structures with lovely designs that compliment the wood's grain but it didn't take away from the piece itself.
Out of the corner of his eye Van caught Hitomi frowning again.
"What's wrong?" she turned towards him, her eyes distance.
"Wer seem to be a bit of a mystery to everyone." she said quietly, "They will test us and our marrtiage and they will do it with a smile."
Van sighed, he had known that something like that would happen eventualy now that they were away from their home. Many countries had long ago done away with child marriages, opting instead for arranged marriages. Usualy the bride and groom would not meet untill the day of the wedding. Something that Van thought was rather barbaric.
At dinner Van saw that many pairs of eyes watched his and his wife's every move carefully. Most of the people that were there were older and had come with ther children, who all seemed to be close to Fanelian couple's ages. It was an odd feeling to know that in just a few days Van would be sitting down with all the men in the room to talk about the future of their countries. Even if Folken had come he would still have been the youngest man in the meeting.
The younger guests at the table did little to hide their curiousity. They stared and whispered among themselves.
Hitomi, being as sensitive as she was to what people were thinking and what was going on around them in the room and probably all of Asturia blushed every now and then as she dropped her eyes quickly down to the tabletop. Other times she seemed to be fighting back laughter as she 'listened' to what was going on around the table.
"What do you think?" Van asked and saw Hitomi's eyes scan each person at the table.
"They mean well but most are too distracted by their own greed. Be carefull when you speak to them of Fanelia and it's deffenses." her eyes had come to rest on the tall blonde knight Van had seen when they arrived. She frowned but quickly smiled when the man looked her way.
"And him?" he couldn't help but ask when he saw how long the man's eyes lingered on his wife.
"I remind him of someone." she shrugged, "His mind is very full and hard to see."
Van looked around, afraid that someone may have heard her last comment. Seers and others like them weren't very well recieved in many palces, least of all in a country where it's king was becoming paranoid with age.
"Prince Van," King Aston's voice was more than loud enough for it to carry throughout the room, "I'm sure you don't remember but when you were little there were talks of you and my Millerna marrying."
Hitomi stiffened beside him and Van smiled politely at the King, "I do not remember that."
"We would have been married this year had your father not changed his mind at the last moment." Millerna, who was seated across from them beamed, "He never did give a reason for that."
"I'm sure he just wanted you to be able to stay closer to your family. Fanellia is a long way from here, Princess." Van took Hitomi's hand and kissed the back of it, making her blush, "In the end he found Hitomi, the daughter of a dying Lord who needed a family to love her."
"How old were you when you came to live with the Fanelian Royals, Princess?" the blonde knight asked, leaning forward slightly with a glass of wine held in his long fingers, "If you don't mind me asking."
"I was Six." Hitomi smiled and Van could just see her back then, hiding behind her lady maid, short hair wild from sleeping in the carriage.
"And we were married four years later." Van grinned, knowing that was what everyone wanted to talk about, "I will forever be in my father's debt for granting me such a wonderfull friend and wife."
Hitomi ducked her head, trying to hide how red her face had gone. Van knew that he was being too personal in front of all these people but he didn't want them to doubt for a minute that they were happy with the way their lives had turned out.
"Everyone was staring at us." Hitomi sighed as they reached their room, "And Millerna seems to feel that because of me she missed the chance to be Fanelian royalty."
"With the self important way she carries herself I would think that perhaps my father saw a bit of that even when she was young and decided fanelia was not the place for her and that she and I would not make a good match." Van watched Hitomi walk across the sitting area and over to the desk where she ran her fingers over the dark wood.
"I am happy to be your wife." she said quietly, "For more reasons than I could ever express."
Van walked up behind her and kissed her hair as she leaned into him. They were use to small acts of affection such as what they were doing now. Van barely remembered the last time they had actualy kissed. No, he did remember and rather well now that he thought about it. It happened when Folken had told them about the baby. In his excitement Van had scooped up his wife and kissed her hard as he held her tight. His actions surprised them both and he had avoided touching her for weeks afterwards. He had felt strange with her so close and was afraid of what he'd do if he were to be that close to her again.
She was his only friend and he was scared of ruining that.
That night as Hitomi slept Van watched her every breath, wondering just what Asturia would bring to their lives. After growing up with Hitomi he knew full well that everything was connected. This new place and their sudden step into the middle of what could be the most important thing Van had yet to do as Prince of Fanelia would change things. He knew that as well as he knew that their stay in this new Country would not be easy on Hitomi.
Here she had to hide what she was. Back home even the servants knew of her gifts. His father had been the first to realize how special Hitomi truly was and after that they kept her protected. She was their secret and their pride. The servants told no one and though a few of the citizens recognized her talents they too worked to keep it hidden from other nations.
Without the title of Queen it would be only too easy for someone to accuse her of Witchcraft and have her hung in the courtyard. It'd been years since such a thing was done but Van knew just how strangers would react to the news. They would fear her and in turn Fanelia. They would do their best to keep her from ever becoming Queen. As Queen she would be safe. She would outrank those who wished to harm her and no King or Queen would want to make an enemy out of a Seer.
Van moved closer to her in the huge bed as if his very pressense would be enough to protect her. He wished it were that easy.
A/N: Ok, a new one for you all. I know exactly where this one will go and hopefully now that my laptop is up and running I will be able to update once a week. I've already started the next chapter so depending on the amount of reviews it may be out in few days.
I hope you liked it.