One More Thing
Tamina stood outside on the balcony connected to her bedchambers. She looked out at the city as dusk began to settle in among the rooftops of Alamut, taking a deep breath as she shut her eyes. Relaxation such as this Tamina learned to appreciate and take advantage of every chance she had. As High Priestess, Guardian of the Sands of Time and Princess of Alamut, her duties to her city never seemed to be finished. Guarding the sacred dagger of the Sands of Time was trying enough—and the Gods knew that she had used all of her strength protecting it—as its power, though secret to most of the world, was desperately desired by those wanting to change their fortunes. Yes, her duties to the city were exhausting, but her efforts were finally being repaid. The dagger had been safely protected for a year, but not before the famed impenetrable walls of Alamut had been breached, the dagger she was sworn to protect was captured by the youngest Persian Prince, Dastan, then used to reset time, only to be returned to her as an engagement present, and her own marriage to the same prince who had initially captured her sacred dagger. She had to admit that things could have turned out far worse.
Her husband turned out to be the exact contradiction of the man she would have thought she would marry. He seemed slightly uncomfortable in the refinements of royalty, yet performed his duties as gracefully and as naturally as if he had been born in a palace and not in the streets. He also had a tendency to get into trouble as his mischievousness often led him to investigate problems himself instead of sending in soldiers to do his work. Tamina had at first attributed this need to fight as the result of an ex-warrior learning to deal with a more confined life. However, after he confessed to her that he had used the dagger, saved the world and would spend the rest of his life protecting her, she realized that he was honoring his promise. She couldn't help but wonder at what else had happened in that time that had never come to pass that could merit such a confession, but at the look in his eyes she had her answer. He had fallen in love with her in that time. As Tamina looked at him a knot began to tighten in her chest. As heartfelt as his confession of love was, she could not bring herself to feel the same thing in that moment—especially not for the man who had invaded her city only a day before. But he had not expected as much. He had simply smiled at her, grabbed her hand, kissed the back of her knuckles and bid her good night.
The next two months before their wedding Dastan had spent getting to know her between his new duties to the city and hers. They had walked through the gardens of the palace, the marketplace, and even on occasion gone on short rides in the desert around the city walls. Tamina soon found herself falling for the young prince who had captured her city and on the day of their wedding, she surprised herself with how honestly she meant the vows she made.
Tamina sighed and took another deep breath of the air around her. The incense and oils of the palace filled her nose and she felt herself relax further.
Until Dastan returned to their chambers.
She turned and looked into her rooms through the silky white curtains that hung loosely in the entranceway to the balcony from the room. She could make out the tall form of her husband in the ceremonial clothing he wore when addressing the High Council as he paced in and out of her line of vision, muttering loudly to himself. Tamina smiled as she made her way into the room and watched as Dastan ripped the turban off of his head and threw it on the ground. She silently took a seat at the foot of their bed, back straight, hands folded neatly in her lap and looking every bit a princess. Dastan kept pacing in front of the empty fireplace with his back to his wife as he ran a frustrated hand through his brown hair. One of the servants came to light the candles in the room as Tamina remained silent watching her husband. Once the servant had left, she leaned against one of the bedposts, pulled her legs up to her chest and allowed her royal demeanor to slide for the night.
"I take it your meeting with the High Council did not go the way you wanted it to," she said softly as Dastan continued to pace.
"Not entirely, no" he replied a bit sarcastically. Tamina smiled a little at his response. "They refuse to see reason and allow me to retrain the Alamutian soldiers. They think I'm going to use them for Persian campaigns if my brothers ask it of me."
"Would you?" Tamina asked.
"No, of course not. I'm just worried that someone may try to breach the walls and be a little more barbaric than our armies were."
"Well it's good to know where your priorities are," Tamina teased.
"I'm glad you know where they are. It's just convincing those old goats that in order to protect them I have to be able to train the army, but I can't train the army unless they approve it. They want me to protect them but they won't approve the training," Dastan said all this so fast, Tamina barely understood what he was saying. She laughed softly as began muttering to himself again. He grabbed roughly at the buttons of the ceremonial robe he wore trying to unbutton them in his haste to get out of the uncomfortable garment.
"Dastan, look at me," Tamina said. He ignored her and continued his pacing. Her temper flared slightly as he ignored her.
"Dast—" she started again.
"No," he cut her off. He stopped pacing and turned squarely to face the fireplace with his back to her. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and determinedly stared at the empty grate.
"What do you mean 'no'" Tamina asked her anger rising as she dropped her feet back to the floor and clenched her fists at her side.
"I don't want to look at you," he explained simply. "I want to be angry and upset a little while longer. If I turn around and look at you you're going to have that look in your eyes that is going to disintegrate my anger and right now I want to be angry."
Tamina's own anger dissipated instantly. She felt a little proud at his confession that she had so much power over him. She watched his shoulders move up and down as he continued to breath heavily and look at the fireplace. After a moment of silence, she walked up behind him. She wrapped her arms around his chest and laid her head on his back. His body stiffened when she first touched him, but relaxed at once.
"So much for being angry," Dastan grumbled under his breath as he held Tamina's hand closer to his chest.
"Dastan, you need to calm down. Diplomacy is difficult and takes time to learn, but I have faith that you will master it soon enough," she told him soothingly. "Besides, the council dealings are still new to you. Once you learn how they work and they learn to trust you as I have, they will realize your intentions."
Dastan turned around in her arms and draped his around her waist pulling her closer. Tamina looked up at him and saw the anger that he had wanted to hold onto earlier completely gone.
"You know, you are the most infuriating woman sometimes. I tell you to leave me to my anger and not to look at me, yet you find a way to both calm me down and obey my wishes."
"It is part of the training as a guardian," she smiled up at him. She placed a sweet kiss on the scar on his left cheek and walked back out toward the balcony.
"I hope your day was more productive than mine," Dastan said as walked over toward the bed struggling with the buttons of his robe once more.
"Oh much more so I believe," Tamina replied. She rested her hands on the balcony in front of her and took another deep breath of the perfumes of the palace. "I discovered two very important things."
"Oh? And what were these, pray tell," Dastan yelled over his shoulder as he sat down on the bed and pulled off the boots he wore.
"Well," she began, "I discovered that I hold a power over the Prince of Alamut, also known as the Lion of Persia, that no other person in the world holds for one."
"As if you did not already know you held this power," Dastan retorted walking out to join his wife on the balcony. He was still struggling with the buttons on his robe.
"Who said I was speaking of you?" Tamina teased as she turned to face him. She helped him unbutton the last button of his robe and he let it hang open.
"If that is the case, then I must meet this poor man for his destiny maybe far more unfortunate than my own." Tamina laughed softly as Dastan countered her remarks and leaned against the railing next to her. "And what of this second thing? Tell me you did not discover a plot to steal that damn dagger of yours."
"No, nothing nearly so serious," she scoffed. "I figured out what you can get me for my birthday."
"What to get you for your birthday?" Dastan joked surprised. "I was under the impression you did not wish for anything for your birthday. Let's see if we can find anything that you even need for your birthday."
"Dastan, please—" Tamina started slightly embarrassed.
"No, no let's make a list. Where to start, where to start," he murmured with a smirk as he again began to pace back and forth in front of her. "Well, you are a princess of both Alamut and Persia, your dagger is safe, your city is prospering, your people love you, and your husband is undeniably and irrevocably in love with you. So there's nothing that you need." He was quiet again for a moment and he slowly walked up to her. He saw the embarrassment that shone in her eyes and felt guilty for teasing her so. "Tamina, you know I am only joking."
"I know, but such a list makes me feel very selfish for even mentioning anything about my birthday," she confessed looking away from Dastan's gaze.
"I'm sorry, I did not mean for that to happen. What do you want for your birthday?" he asked sincerely. Tamina remained quiet, still averting her eyes from his. Dastan, knowing that he had really upset her, walked up to her picked her up easily and sat her on the balcony railing. He rested both of his hands on either side of her and forced her to look straight into his eyes.
"Let me start over," he requested. She gave the slightest nod and he continued. "What should I give my wife for her birthday," he mused. "I could give you jewels, but they would only clash with your eyes and your eyes are so beautiful. I could give you lands, but knowing your noble heart you would never accept them. I could give you a horse for I know how you love to ride with your husband, but you already have the best horse in the empire. So I ask you, Tamina, what could I, a simple man and your husband, possibly give you which you do not already have?" Dastan stared straight into her eyes as he waited for her answer.
Tamina was somewhat startled by his speech. She was still amazed at how he could tease her one moment and then in the next make her feel as if she could do anything. As she looked at him, she knew there was just one more thing that she wanted and only he could give it to her. She gathered all of her courage and reached out to cup his cheek.
"A baby," she replied quietly.
Dastan looked at her surprised for a long moment. Tamina watched his face as her words sunk in and worked their way through his mind. He stood up straight and looked past her toward the gates of the city as the darkness and chill of the night settled in. He looked back at Tamina and saw not the teasing dance of her eyes or the slightest twitch of her lips as if she was playing a trick on him. She looked just as serenely and seriously as she had when she had first told him the story of the dagger of the Sands of Time.
"A ba-, a baby?" he stammered. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. As a Princess of Alamut I have to ensure that there is an heir to the throne, and—"
"Please tell me you do not wish to have a child because of politics," he interrupted slightly angry.
"And as your wife," Tamina continued ignoring his remarks and emphasizing her own, "as the woman who is in love with you, I wish to have a family with you. Nothing could make me happier." Dastan was again silent. It was his turn to be embarrassed. She looked up at him as he thought about her words and refused to look away from him.
"A baby?" he said again with the smallest of grins beginning to spread on his face. Tamina nodded as her own face broke into a smile. "You know we may have to try for a while before you are with child," Dastan pointed out as he wrapped his arms around his wife again.
"Yes I know, and if there is one thing I know about my husband it is that he is very persistent in ensuring my happiness," she smiled back at him. Dastan leaned in to kiss her and as he did Tamina pushed his robe off his shoulders. Dastan pulled his arms out of the sleeves and let the garment fall to the ground.
"Is that some sort of signal to quit talking?" he asked huskily.
"Not exactly," Tamina replied, her voice just as low, "but if that is how you interpret it, I will not discourage you. Besides, I like you like this."
"Like what? Naked?"
"Well," Tamina started as if thinking about his words, "yes." Dastan chuckled bringing a smile to Tamina's face as well as he kissed her and carried her back into their chambers.