Author's Note:

Le gasp, what is this? An update?

Apparently it is.

I am still the same author fyi, and I still read comments and messages sent from people and I am grateful for the support. Honestly I just don't have much time anymore for this. I will try my best to finish this one day, however.

I am hoping I can update Warm My Heart at some point too.

Chapter 18:

|| Question ||


Horace paused outside Cassandra's quarters, a lump forming in the back of his throat. His resolve held steady but his hand that lay in his pocket, fingers wrapped around the ring he had personally got for her, shook slightly.

The two guards that stood posted outside her room glanced at him quizzically.

"Would you like us to ask the Princess to come out?" One offered for him, a look of sympathy across his face.

Horace broke out of his thoughts and shook his head slowly. "No, that won't be necessary." He replied.

With a small intake of breath, he reached and knocked on the door.

It was one of Cassandra's maids who answered. Her eyes widened in recognition and she smiled. "Hello Sir Horace, do you wish to see her highness?" She asked brightly.

"If she is able to."

The maid smiled again and opened the door, allowing him into the antechamber.

"Her highness is just finishing with a fitting session. New robes and all," the maid explained. "She won't be long."

Horace nodded and made himself comfortable on one of the seats, his body calming as he sat. He let his warrior's instincts take over, so he calmed himself and focused on what was important here.

Cassandra must have been informed he was waiting, because she appeared from one of the rooms adorning her chamber, dressed elegantly and simply.

When her face lit up at the sight of him, Horace was as usual in awe of her beauty. He stood at attention, an unusual show of protocol from him.

'This is what I'm here for. For her. Spending the rest of our lives together,' he thought.

"Horace, I didn't expect to see you today. I hope you weren't long waiting; I had to be fitted for a new dress for one of our upcoming parties. Such a drain," Cassie explained, flicking away a few stray strands of blonde hair. She looked worn out but managed to smile in his direction.

"I haven't been here long, just got here in fact." He replied, his gaze flickering around the room.

"Are you okay?" Cassie asked, tilting her head to the side.

"Yes, I am. I'm fine." Horace said quickly.

Cassandra gave a small laugh, hidden behind one of her hands. "I'm not sure what's wrong with you but you're being oddly formal." She told him, trying to suppress her giggles.

Horace felt his face flush slightly and inwardly told himself to calm down. "Cassie, could we talk in private, perhaps?"

Her green eyes narrowed slightly. "You know my maids won't pry."

"I know, but I also know they are still there." Seeing her confused expression, Horace quickly joked, "and it's not like you can tell me it's inappropriate for us to be left alone. You're always the one throwing caution to the wind."

Cassandra grinned at this and shrugged. "Yes you are right. Maybe it's the thrill that gets me." She joked and then turned to call in her maids from the other rooms. "Take an early lunch on me ladies." She told them with a smile.

The three maids that usually looked after her nodded politely and moved to the door, with one of them turning back with a curious expression.

Once they had left Horace felt more at ease.

"Now, what do you want to speak about?" Cassie asked, taking his hand and leading him back to her couches.

Horace helped her seat herself first and then surprised her by not sitting next to her.

"Horace-," she began, but he cut her off with a raised hand.

"Cassie, I think it's time we had a talk about our future." He began, aware that he was blushing profusely.

"What about it?" She answered, an innocent pout crossing her features.

Thrown off by her easy response, Horace swallowed and cleared his throat. "Well, for one thing I'm only courting you. I think we should make that more official."

Cassandra smiled and raised an eyebrow in his direction. "What do you mean? Everyone already knows, how more 'official' can this get?"

"Well, I'm talking about our marriage." He blurted out.

Again she laughed. "We're not married."


"You want us to get married?" She asked coyly, battering her eyelashes to confuse him further. She was taking pleasure at his nerves.

"Well, yes, actually." He answered, his voice struggling to stay steady. But he stood tall and held his ground, letting a breath out.

Cassandra's green eyes widened in surprise as she looked upon the man she loved.

Before she could give a response, Horace knelt down and reached into his pocket, withdrawing a ring with a single emerald. He had bought the gem with his own earnings and commissioned the ring long ago when he was still pondering making his relationship with the princess public. It was very simple, because he knew if they were to become a proper bonded couple, she would be required to wear some huge monstrosity on her finger. He wanted this to be worn, perhaps not on her wedding find, maybe on her other hand even, just so they both knew it was from him.

"Cassie," he began, and then stopped to take a breath. "Cassandra, I love you more than anything and I would give my life to protect you. I'm not very creative and can be shy and awkward at court, and sometimes I wonder if I will ever be prepared for what comes from this, but I know that if you'll have me, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

The Princess reached forward and took his hands to pull him up with her so they stood toe to toe.

"Yes, yes of course I will." She answered with a smile. Tears sprung to her eyes and she laughed as she tried to wipe them away.

Horace took her spare hand to place the ring on her, choosing the fourth finger on her right hand. He then gently wiped the tears from her face as she kept laughing and blushing.

"I've been waiting for this for so long Horace, I'm so glad you asked me. I was expecting I would have to ask you." She joked.

"I was always going to have to ask, but I just wanted to ask you in private. I'm sorry it wasn't more romantic."

"Oh Horace, this was perfect, trust me."

Cassandra reached forward to kiss him, allowing them a moment of tenderness.

He was the first to break their embrace, smiling bashfully.

"Ah, but I don't envy you now." She giggled.

"Why's that?" Horace asked with a frown.

"Well, you have to propose to me in front of my father."

"Actually I just had a chat with him, that would be fine I think."

Cassandra gave him a sympathetic look. "No Horace, it has to be in front of the court as well."

"Oh." Was all he could muster in response.

A week later, when most of the fuss regarding Horace's engagement to the Princess had subsided, he found himself at Redmont.

He was seated at Halt's cottage, with Halt and Will talking and drinking coffee.

"So how was it?" Had been Will's first question.

"Um, horrible." Horace confessed, laughing at his memory of proposing to Cassandra in front of Araluen's royal court. "I mean Duncan seemed sympathetic, but I think that made it worse for me. I'm glad I had asked her personally beforehand."

Will smiled. "That does sound terrifying." He agreed.

"So how are you holding up now?" Asked Halt casually, his eyes settling on his coffee with appreciation.

"Well the guards are a bit frustrating." Horace admitted. He had a small retinue that were now at Redmont and would follow him wherever he went outside Castle Araluen. As the future consort to Cassandra, he was to be protected. However they had left him alone in the presence of these two Rangers, assuming the three most dangerous men in the kingdom could keep each other alive. "Court life hasn't really changed, some people treat me differently, and some don't. I guess it wasn't a surprise. I think it will be more of a shock when we actually marry." He continued.

"Our Horace is rising amongst the ranks." Will joked, nudging Halt in the ribs.

The grizzled Ranger raised an eyebrow at his younger charge's action but made no response.

"I'm sure you will give him the proper respect when he becomes your King." Was all Halt said in a neutral tone.

Will made a huffing noise and laughed at his former mentor's response. "Yeah right."

Horace grinned, not taking offence at his remark. They all knew they would treat Horace with his due respect regardless of the fact that he was to be their King.

"If at least I get to still visit you guys I will be a happy man." Horace announced, raising his mug in appreciation.

Halt and Will joined in, letting their cups clink together in unison.

"And we'll come visit you." Will promised.

The three nodded and set their mugs down, looking out the small cabin's window at the setting sun.


Well I'm probably very rusty but I hope it was satisfactory.

Reviews are love!

- Mae.