I don't own the characters of Ranger's Apprentice. Disclaimer for whole story.
Reviews appreciated. No Flames.
So yep, this was my first chapter of my oneshot fic. I've decided to make it into a story, I have no idea where I'll go with it. But hey, that's the risk I'm willing to take.
Half inspired by my reviews and by my need to keep writing this pairing, I do think it would be fun if Horace became Prince/King, and so this is a fluffy Horace/Cassie story, as well as other pairings.
Hope you like it!
|| Decision ||
Their relationship had not been planned.
As they say, 'friendship heals a broken heart,' and so he had offered his hand to help her through. Surprisingly they reached out towards one another and discovered something they hadn't anticipated.
In the way of romances, theirs was not typical or easy. It lacked simplicity and was terribly complicated and almost an inconvenience to their lives.
But it couldn't be helped.
Every night alone in his chambers, Horace would go to bed with thoughts like a chaotic storm raging in his head, unable to settle or calm.
He couldn't get her out of his mind, she was everywhere he went.
It was bad enough that he knew he loved her, but that each wall; painting or symbol of royalty hurt him as if a sword stroke had broken through his defence.
He loved the Crown Princess, and in the end he knew it was pointless, he could never claim her as his.
Secrecy was their enemy and ally, for it is only as good as long as it is kept a secret.
Every time he was in court, he couldn't look at King Duncan properly. He wouldn't know what the King would say; if anything he could be banished.
He may be Cassandra's chosen Champion and one of the greatest knights in his Kingdom, but he was a peasant. Not a drop of noble blood ran through his veins.
Each time he resolved to end their relationship, he would fail. He couldn't bring himself to do it. Although Horace was a thoughtful and chevalier type man, he was selfish, but only in this matter.
He couldn't let her go.
Horace shook his head, gripping the sword at his belt tightly as he strolled through the courtyard.
Now an accomplished swordswoman with the sabre, Cassandra opted to train with Horace instead. He never attacked her too fiercely, for his skills easily surpassed hers and that logically, it was unlikely she would encounter a master swordsman on her won without guards or even Horace.
He was on his way to practice now, in her private courtyard, scarce of guards at present. They would be preventing people from entering the courtyard and anyone who had been hiding inside the yard would have Horace to answer to.
Cassandra was wearing light white breeches that didn't cling, typical for exercise. Her midriff was covered modestly by a light leather vest, enough protection against minor cuts. She didn't need chainmail against Horace.
With no make-up and her golden blonde hair tied into a high plait, she reminded Horace of their adventure in Arrida. She didn't look like a Princess and it comforted him.
But she was still stunningly beautiful that it took his breath away.
Horace bowed when he approached her and gave a sincere smile, keeping his distance.
Cassie gave a small laugh at his awkward formality, stepping forward to run a finger across his cheek and give him a quick kiss on the lips.
They sparred for a good hour, Horace pushing on the attack and breaking down Cassie's defences.
She was getting better each day. It did well for her father to know she was fit and strong enough to protect herself. With official delegations and negotiations overseas, Duncan was less reluctant to let her go now she could wield a proper weapon.
Horace stepped away Cassie pushed him back with surprising force. It wasn't his best attack, but it was set to be difficult for her. He was pleased she had countered it.
'That was great. I didn't expect that.' Horace panted as he caught his breath.
Cassie only had the energy to grin, stretching her arms up to let air into her lungs.
'Let's get some water.' She suggested, shading her eyes at the sun that was high above them.
Horace grunted an agreement, letting go of the heavy mail armour he always wore, as well as his shield. He kept his sword at his belt in case he needed it.
They moved to their typical spot after practice, a small room in the courtyard that was disconnected from the castle. It stood alone, providing shade and shelter. It was stocked with herbs and bandages for wounds, as well as a small well nearby that offered them a drink after their practice.
Cassie sat down and wiped the sweat off her brow, loosening strands of her hair.
Horace ignored the temptation to push away the hair and focused on pouring drinks.
He handed the first to her, which she accepted gratefully and drank slowly so she didn't flood her body.
When they had both quenched their first, they sat in companionable silence, regaining their breath and strength.
It hadn't always been like this.
At first when Cassie preferred Horace's training instead of her previous master, there had been stricter protocol with guards and attendants. Straight after training Cassie had been whisked away by female servants to change and refresh her, while Horace was left to his own devices.
But that was years ago and they were young adults now, capable of being responsible. Duncan easily trusted Horace with Cassandra's life and knew he wouldn't do anything lecherous while they were relatively alone.
And it was true; although Horace loved her and they were more or less a couple in secret, he never made a move against her. It was his chivalry and righteous attitude that prevented him even if he wanted to.
Cassie understood this from the moment she had replaced her need for Will with Horace.
It was the noble and responsible nature of Horace that enthralled her. He was strong and brave but dependable. He wasn't arrogant but humble and fun compared to some of the boring routines she went through in the castle.
She sighed, pulling her rough plait out and letting her hair tumble around her. Cassie rested her head on Horace's shoulder, closing her eyes briefly.
It pleasantly surprised her when he wrapped a reassuringly strong arm around her waist, keeping her close.
'Horace?' She asked hesitantly.
'There are... things we need to discuss.' As soon as she said it, the arm her dropped and retracted to Horace's body.
She knew he would have a reaction like this.
Cassie pulled away, turning so she faced him.
'It's not bad, I promise.' She gave him a smile to show she meant it.
Horace kept his face neutral, nodding for her to continue.
'I have to tell my dad about us.' She tried to keep her voice level, uninterested. As if it were any normal decision they made.
'It would be bad if he found out later, it's better to tell him the truth.' Cassie went on. 'But I want your consent. I can take the blame, all of it, but I still won't act if you don't want me to.'
Horace turned his face away, expression unchanged. His mind contemplated all the consequences of telling King Duncan and the consequences of not telling him.
Cassie mistook his silence for anger or rejection and buried her face in his chest. 'Horace, I want to know what you're thinking.'
Horace gave a small smile as he turned his head back and rested it on hers, wrapping her protectively in his arms and combing his hands through her hair.
He loved that she never ordered him to do anything. It was always a request, politely spoken, as if she knew how hesitant he was about her royal blood. Likewise he never told her to do anything, unless it was a matter of her life.
'You can tell him. You're right.' He told her. 'But don't take all the blame. It makes me feel as if I was being used and didn't have any true feelings for you.'
Cassie gave a weak smile and lifted herself up from his embrace, holding his face in her hands.
'You know this could be the end of these sessions? Our time together? Dances, banquets, riding lessons?' She asked him.
'I know.' Horace's voice was slightly hitched but he didn't feel an inch of embarrassment.
'Then why would you risk it?' Cassie whispered.
'I already knew from the start I couldn't have you. If it turns out badly, no harm done. If a miracle happens, then it makes it even better.' Horace admitted softly.
'Dad understands me. He knows how great a person you are. We have to hope for the best.' She was trying to be positive, putting on a brave face.
Horace gave a grin; her optimism was just one characteristic that enchanted him.
'It's past lunch, we should go back.' Cassie murmured aloud, glancing out to the sun that had fallen during their time spent resting.
She stood up, stretching out her cramped legs. When she turned, Horace was getting up slowly.
'Come on.' She encouraged him, grabbing her sabre from a table top.
'Cassie.' Horace's voice stopped her in her tracts; it was commanding, reasonable and soft but he definitely wanted her attention.
He gently pulled her close, tilting her head up at him before she could respond. She was shocked at his speed and felt nervous and excited being close to him.
'If it doesn't work, I want you to know: I'll be here for you as long as you need me.' His voice was deep and resonated from within him, so she could feel his emotion as he voiced it.
'Horace -,' He cut her off, giving her a small kiss on her lips.
'I love you.' He breathed, hugging her completely so she couldn't see his saddened expression.
Cassie felt numb at his words. He knew her feeling for him, she had told him over and over again without much response. But he was so reserved when he tried to do the same. She suspected it was because he was forward and was very good at telling the truth. Perhaps he had been afraid of her reaction.
She looked up at him now and saw him for who he was.
Horace: reliable and loving and she knew she couldn't be without him.
Their relationship didn't make much sense with the rules of social standing and royalty, but it made less sense not to be together. They just were.
Cassandra pulled him off her, changing their stance so he had his arms wrapped securely around her waist.
She put on her best diplomatic face.
'Now, I am going to my father, the King. I will tell him that I love you too much to let you go, and if I can't have you as my consort, I won't have someone else.'
Horace laughed. 'Is that so?'
'Of course it is. I am the Crown Princess and will be Queen one day. I have to start making up rules as I go.'
'Do you want me there with you?' He asked her seriously, the smile gone.
'Yes, please.' Her voice was very quiet when she said it, blushing and looking down at her feet. It would be hard facing her father, but she had to stand up for herself.
Horace kissed her deeply, leaving her breathless and weak with affection and nervousness due to his confidence.
'I think we should go then.' He suggested.
Cassandra nodded as they both made their way out of the room.
They arrived at the King's official delegation room, where he spent many hours ploughing through royal decrees and paperwork.
When Cassie moved to the antechamber and knocked on her dad, the King's door, she felt the nerves take hold.
A commanding voice of 'enter' was heard, snapping her out of her thoughts.
She raised her head high, willing herself to be brave enough for this.
Her body trembled with anxiety, worried her world was about to be crushed.
But then Cassie felt the warm presence of Horace's hand grasp her own and he squeezed it to remind her that she wasn't alone.
Suddenly it didn't matter that she was the Princess and he was only her knight.
Looking into his eyes she knew that he meant more to her than any majestic title or privileges.
He wasn't going to leave her if she wanted him to stay, regardless of Duncan's decision.
One day Cassandra would be Queen and somehow she knew that on that day Horace would be beside her, even if the only reason was because she wanted him to be.
Didn't want to change this chapter too much since it got such a good response. But I don't want the rest to be as serious as this, more fluff is good :)
I have the next chapter and a rough plan of how this is going to be written. Ideas and comments are appreciated. I love other pairings, so of course some Will/Alyss will be going on. I just haven't really got a setting for the time this is happening, just that I'm putting them together.
I'd love constructive feedback :)