For the 2010 Robin Hood drabblefest

Prompt: Isabella/Prince John; do you love me

Summary: He asks if she loves him but it's not love he wants

"Do you love me?" Prince John asked, staring out of the tiny window.

"Yes, of course, your Highness," Isabella said. The door to his chamber was closed behind her and two guards stood without. There was a dagger in her boot, which gave her some comfort. He was a prince, yes, and powerful. Worth taking risks for, in return for the favours he could bestow upon her. Yet still…

He was also capricious, cruel, and highly unstable. Insecure men were often thus; Isabella knew that all too well. Didn't she see the same wildness in her brother's eyes, the doubt, the hurt, the (justified) suspicion that he was unloved?

"How much do you love me?" John asked. He turned, idly passed one finger through a candle flame.

"With all of my heart," she said as sincerely as she could manage.

"Good. Because I'd hate for that to not be the case," he said. "I would be very, very hurt by that."

Isabella stepped forward boldly and kissed him, hard, on lips that stayed oddly still beneath hers. She drew back, puzzled.

"Very well. You may go." John gestured to the door with a flick of one wrist. Isabella curtsied and left the room.

He'd asked her to prove her love and she had. And now, dismissed like a common servant, Isabella didn't know whether to feel relived or scorned. She'd heard rumours about him, but had never paid them much attention until now – nor did it matter if they were true or not. Because it wasn't love he wanted, she realized. It was adoration.