A/N: This whole story has been revised and edited. Nothing has really changed, apart from some of the grammar. Enjoy!
Uberta would be boasting for years, or so Derek had mumbled under his breath as he watched her enthusiastically dash to greet a new set of guests. In her defence, the wedding had been colossal and the gathering had been of such grand proportions that Uberta suddenly looked to be the wealthiest and most decadent Queen ever to roam the Earth. That fact made her giddy with power.
Odette couldn't help the fond smile gracing her cherubim lips as she watched her mother-in-law fuss. Giving the Queen reign over the evening was like giving a new toy to a slave child: satisfying and immensely appreciated. She knew that organising large events was one of the few things that gave Uberta joy. Since there would be no need for any more "puff puff" balls in Derek's honour, Odette had made it her business to involve Uberta in every detail of the wedding.
As Odette continued to search the room, running her gaze from her folded hands to the guests crowding the ballroom, she had to placate herself. It was hard to believe that every single person in the room was there purely to celebrate their matrimony. Surely, she believed, at least one person had to have darker alternatives in mind. Seeing as the festivity was in the Swan Lake castle, a place which Odette had seen only in its most sinister days, it was natural for her to have uneasy thoughts.
Not to misunderstand, the entire castle had been cleaned and polished from top to toe four times, as per Derek's orders. He'd also ensured that it would be so well lit for the evening that the castle could be seen from three kingdoms away. But, it wasn't its current appearance that caused an internal storm in Odette. Not at all. Despite the new, ornate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, the pulled and dusted drapes, freshly rolled carpets, and the spotless windows, the castle was still eerie.
The building's significance was somewhat different to the Princess than to others.
To others, the castle was another dream piece of grand architecture added to Uberta's kingdom. To Odette, it was the place that she had been held captive for months by a twisted sorcerer.
And now she was celebrating her wedding in it.
Those thoughts made an unsettling sensation swirl below her lungs, causing her to hitch her inhale.
Derek heard the petite, strangled breath from beside him and reached over to secure her hand. He had silently assumed that Odette was, perhaps, still a little too fragile to tackle such an event, but he had never been able to confirm it thanks to her calm public facade. And with his mother doing all the organising, there was no point trying to discourage or delay anything related to the wedding.
His new wife smiled daintily in return to his comforting gesture, but Derek knew that he hadn't helped anything.
It was hard to convince Odette that she was now completely safe, that he would never let anything harm her again. He had verbalised it numerous times, but it only sometimes gave her the security that she desperately needed. He had no idea what else he could do and he was very quickly exhausting any advice from Rogers.
When it was announced that it was time for the newly wedded Prince and Princess' first dance, Derek noticed his bride's sudden rigidity.
Assuming the darkest of thoughts, Derek leaned over to whisper to her. "Odette, it's a dance in a room full of trusted people. I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."
But, it wasn't solely the dance that had Odette's mind frantically running through crazy ideas; it was the time of the evening that it marked.
That morning, when Odette had arrived in the south main bedroom to be dressed for the church ceremony, she had walked in to find the room occupied by Queen Uberta. She'd had her back to Odette, whimsically admiring the starched white dress hanging ready for the day. Her aged hand skimming over the fine embroidery of the bustier, Odette could faintly hear the Queen humming a soft, personal tune.
It was a strange atmosphere in the room, one not fit for a joyous wedding day. Odette had coughed gently into the silence, feeling awkward to just gawk in the doorway, and caught her soon-to-be mother-in-law's attention.
"Odette..." Uberta had greeted suddenly, flicking her gaze into the mirror to see the young Princess behind her. "Come. Let me take a closer look at you."
Odette's hands floated across the room and met the Queen's outstretched ones. Together, they turned in silence to face their reflections, and stared back in wonderment for very different reasons.
While Uberta saw the darling lady she had watched grow up and bewitch her son, Odette saw a terrified girl entering prematurely into womanhood.
"Today is your wedding day," Uberta had cried when she saw the frightened face. "Show a little cheer!"
Odette gave the little smile that the Queen sought, and then turned around so she did not have to look at herself trembling any longer.
"You look so much like your mother..." Uberta had said, taking hold of Odette's hands again. "She was so beautiful. But, you have your father's eyes..." Then she smiled ruefully at having spoken of the deceased - a topic not so often dwelled on at this stage of Odette's rehabilitation. "Oh, if he could just see you... He would be so proud – I'd have to have guards restraining him from coming in here right now. I can imagine it."
At the mention of her late father, Odette had to bite her lip. She yearned for his strong arms to cuddle her and his deep voice to recite a philosophical quote once more. It had been nearly two years since she last saw him, and for her to marry Derek was his last wish.
So she settled herself with the knowledge that she was fulfilling that wish.
"As a mother, it is my duty to share with you the sacred traditions of marriage..." Uberta began.
Odette stared back into the grey eyes of the woman she dared to call a mother figure, seeing untold stories and inner struggles stored deep set inside them. "I never spent enough time with Derek's father, and he was taken from us too quickly. Oh, how I loved him..."
She just shook her head, not allowing the memories at all disturb her. They were for educational purposes, after all. "Don't make the mistakes I did... Don't deny him or yourself. Love your husband, and take every opportunity to be with him. I see far too much of Leopold in Derek to ignore it... You must make sure he doesn't get carried away with his duties. It will be his end..." Her voice changed then, taking on a sterner tone, almost like royal to servant. "You must beguile him – it is your duty as a woman. Coax him away from war and suffering, heal wounds too deep to see... A new man will appear when you share a bed, one that you may not recognise at first-" Odette opened her mouth to respond, but Uberta cut her off with the slight raise of a hand. "But, you must learn the ways to please. It is essential. You, my dear, as his wife, have great power that no one else ever will."
And so now that the dance was to begin, Odette was one definite step closer to the womanly duties outlined early in the morning.
Her fingers tingled as they came into contact with Derek's outstretched hand. As she rose gracefully out of her seat, the crowd began to part from the dance floor and applaud the traditional ritual. He led her unhurriedly down the few steps, careful not to scare or harm her in any way with his eagerness. Derek was always gentle with her, Odette knew, and it was something she appreciated enormously. Together, they walked out onto the cleared floor.
When positioned in the centre of the room, Derek and Odette manoeuvred their hands and faces to suit a comfortable, and socially appropriate, stance. On the small of her back, his hand lingered, pressing promisingly into her body underneath all the garments. Her hand went to his shoulder, and with a tentative step, their bodies pressed up against one another.
Over Derek's shoulder, Odette could just see Rogers instructing the orchestra to begin. With the flick of his wrist, the first glorious note resonated harmoniously around the room.
As if on cue, Derek took a step back, guiding Odette safely with him.
They moved gently to the music, a magnificent piece that Rogers had composed himself and fittingly entitled 'Far Longer than Forever'. It was both the Prince and Princess' favourite piece.
The audience surrounding watched on, almost in awe, as the newlyweds swirled about the floor.
Odette had never been this close to Derek before. Sure, she knew exactly what it was like to kiss him, or to be encircled by his protective arms, but she had never been so vulnerable with him. Never had she had so many body parts pressed up against him at a time. She understood well that that was because it hadn't been acceptable for an un-married couple to be so intimate, but now the rules had changed. She had never had that social barrier removed before.
Derek felt it too. Staring down at her, he saw a new world opened up to him, one filled with multiple dimensions, richer colours, and sweeter desires. He saw the woman he had grown up with and played cards against, a woman who knew his every mood by just looking at his face. He saw hope.
But, it was a fire that Odette saw in his eyes, one that she was ashamed to say she understood. His chest, for instance, was matched with hers. No longer did they have contours to shape and separate them; her breasts and his pectorals were one mass. The thought made her stomach, also pressed up against his, start to burn. Her fingers suddenly curled around the cape on his shoulders, trying to extinguish the swirling inside her by bringing him closer.
Derek snaked his hand further around her waist, holding her securely to him. He could feel the tiniest bit of warmth against his neck from Odette's exhales, and the mere concept of having her close enough for that led him to the bottomless ache he felt deep in his stomach. He needed Odette, mind, body, and soul. He wanted to make her his, to let no man be mistaken that they were each other's half. But, he was going to have to wait.
A brush of skin against skin, a sensual slip of the fingers, the sliding of one thigh against another... The two carried on, oblivious to any onlookers but aware of how dangerously close in proximity they were now allowed to be.
The tiniest touch of pink found its way to Odette's cheeks as they twirled about, and Derek found it strangely alluring. He pulled her hips a fraction closer to his.
When the music ceased, and the crowd stirred with cheers and applause, Derek took a look down at his new bride. Wanting to whisk her away and begin his night of satisfying desire, he had to pause with his lips hovering above hers to ensure he did not devour every inch of her. Odette's satiny lips brushed up against his when she breathed in. He was so close, he could almost taste her...
He, instead, placed a lingering kiss on her temple.
With such a small offering, Odette abruptly became aware that they were standing like targets in the middle of the room. She gripped on to Derek's sleeve with all her might as they turned to acknowledge the presence of their guests.
The two sported matching polite smiles as they bowed to their audience. They were met with a mighty cheer of approval, one of next-to-no loudness in comparison to her heartbeat.
Odette did not know all the people in the room, and some she only knew by name, but she found herself trying to place a personality to each and every face. Soft cheekbones said they were friends, hollow cheeks and they were suddenly Rothbart's followers. Looking around the room, discreetly over her shoulders frantically, Odette was counting far too many suspicious guests. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen... She began to feel faint.
And then everyone began closing in on her.
They may have looked like they were joining in partners to accompany her and Derek in a dance, but she saw otherwise. She saw an old world surfacing.
A/N: So, what did you think? Yes, there is more to come... The wedding night has barely begun! Thanks for reading!