A cloud of dust exploded into the air, choking and tickling her throat and lungs with its bitter taste. Jasper pulled out a handkerchief and held it over his mouth as he searched for something to fan the dust away with. Elliot had made a strangled, half-whimper, half-grunt when he pulled his foot out from underneath the toppled over chest but was otherwise unharmed as far as he would confess to the Queen. The Queen pulled her collar over her mouth to keep from choking on the storage room's fifty-year-old layers of dust as she moved the chest upright.

"Are you sure you're alright?" The Queen asked.

Elliot nodded, "I-I'm fine!"


Jasper cleared his throat, "I am indeed alright, madam. When am I ever so bothered?"

The Queen smirked as her gloved fingers trailed over the coffer's tightly fastened buckles, "When you thought there were bats up here…?"

With a laugh, Jasper shot down the idea, "Why, a few bats wouldn't bother me up here! They are hardly as bad as the ones beneath the castle!"

"Well, we're almost finished up here. I want to look through a few more of Mother's old chests before we call it an evening, alright?"

Elliot nodded and Jasper began a long-winded spiel of affirmation that fell on uninterested ears.

"Your Majesty, shall I retrieve the lock picking set?"

"No, it looks like this one's rusted over… I can get it. Stand back."

The Queen drew her sword and both Elliot and Jasper took a few large, hasty steps backward. It only took one powerful thrust to either of the two buckles to sever the thin, rusted bindings. The broken locks clattered on the wooden floor and the Queen pulled open the coffer's lid with the enthusiasm of a child unwrapping birthday gifts.

Elliot and Jasper glanced at each other as the Queen looked into the box with an uncharacteristic silence. There was no witty remark, no amazed comment on some priceless artifact from her mother's expeditions, nor was there a disgusted, yet bemused laugh about finding boxes of rotten chocolates or candies-the former Queen had evidently had quite the secret sweet tooth, they discovered that evening.

"Is… is it empty?" Elliot asked.

The Queen gazed into the coffer a moment longer before shaking her head and reaching inside, "No… It is… another of Mother's guns."

"Another gun?" Elliot repeated.

"The Old Queen did, in fact, love her firearms," Jasper began, clearing his throat once again, "I might even say she was quite the enthusiast. Come now, Your Majesty, do show us which of her collection you've uncovered now! Ah, this is quite like being right there at her side once again, during those interesting voyages down to the gunsmith!"

With careful hands, as though cherishing the pistol the coffer produced, the Queen dipped her long, toned arms inside and withdrew a heavy, ornate six-shooter with lacy gold engravings that traced from the base of the gun's handle to the end of the barrel like a lover's caressing fingertips.

"That… is a beautiful gun!" Elliot all but gasped.

"Ah, yes! I recall the day your mother found that one! Eh, ah… a Dragonstomper .48… quite the noisy, tiresome thing. She had been so ecstatic about it, using it in all of her expeditions until… well, she just came to loathe the thing."

"Loathe it?" The Queen asked, turning and inspecting the priceless work of firearm art in her hands, "How could she loathe such a beauty?"

"You don't think it's cursed, do you?" Elliot's quiet voice came. The Queen smirked and rolled her eyes and Elliot added, "I-I'm serious! I once discovered a cursed mirror in my grandmother's attic!"

Jasper shrugged, "I hardly suspect that was the case. In fact, I'm sure it had something to do with that… that deviant that harassed her incessantly. If there was one thing he wanted more than her, it was that gun."

The Queen knew exactly who the said deviant was and froze. A warm, but weightless feeling flickered within her like a small candlelight at first before she snuffed it out and asked, "…so Reaver did not hesitate to follow Mother around, did he?"

"Well, 'follow' is a bit of an understatement, I might say," Jasper laughed, "You really have no idea how, er, pleasing it was to see that smug lady-killer spurned by the Queen. He had been so certain that she was going to choose him as a suitor. Instead, she picked your father instead. A wise choice, I might add. I've yet to see a more inseparable pair of soul mates."

"Spurned by the old Queen Sparrow, eh?" The Queen sighed, still looking over the gun. One part of her mind boggled at the thought-how could anyone resist that charming devil known as Reaver? Well, she had managed quite nicely in her last three years as the Queen, and it was a wise decision to keep a great distance between herself and the notorious deviant as well as keep any feelings under lock and key. The other part of her mind, the part she did well to listen little to, always gave a cheer when she heard stories of her mother's resistance to the man's charms—if Sparrow wouldn't have him, as unnerving as the thought often was, there was at least the chance that she would.

Again, that thought was swept under a heavy rug. Her mother had made a wise decision not to involve herself with Reaver and she herself would follow in the wise, former Queen's footsteps.

Yet… there was no reason why she could not act on desires and impulse at least once, in a chaste way.

"I would like to have this gun cleaned and cared for. I think I know just who would appreciate it more than I would. It will make a perfect gift."

"You have to be joking," Elliot laughed, "…you don't really plan on handing it over to Reaver, do you?"

The Queen shot Elliot an icy glare. He may have been her childhood friend, rumored suitor and closest companion, but that did not stop her from unsheathing the claws. Elliot backed away at that look and shrugged.

"Alright, alright. I'm just… I'm just saying that, well, only six were ever made, right? If you give him that one, you'll basically complete his collection. Don't you think you'd have a bit of leverage on him if you held something that he wanted, and he knew?"

The Queen eyed the gun once more. She already held something he wanted, and it was not just the gun. It was the one thing she would give to him in a heartbeat if it didn't put him so close to a position of power (which she would rather not see him near.) Then again, she also knew that if she had not been royalty, he would hardly cast a second glance in her direction. The sheer frustration he managed to leave her with without even being present was enough to make her consider keeping the cherished gun for herself.

Yet she reminded herself that she already had a custom, priceless gun herself that he had openly coveted. Having dubbed it the "Chickenbane" much to his disapproval—"My dear, wouldn't you rather give it a more… regal name? Chickenbane is so crass! Why is everything always so crass with you?"—she was happy enough with that to rival his collection of almost every Dragonstomper .48 in existence.

"I think I do owe him a bit of thanks for the work he's done for Bowerstone, don't you think?" The Queen said, rising to her feet as Jasper took the small coffer with the Dragonstomper .48 nestled inside.

Elliot scoffed.

The Queen knew that Elliot had suspicions about her "strictly business" relationship with the industry tycoon. He had every right to be jealous, however.

"I think we'll call it an evening. We'll finish cleaning this storage chamber tomorrow. Thanks again for the good work." The Queen smiled. Jasper gave a light bow, "My dear, you really don't need to thank me! That is one habit your traveling has left you marked with that I do not think you really need!"

"Oh, hush," The Queen said, leading the way down the tower stairs, "It's what Aurorans call 'good karma.' Besides, if you won't accept my gratitude, then I suppose Elliot will."

Elliot gave a wide grin, "Just what would that gratitude entail, Your Majesty?"

The Queen furrowed her brow and cleared her throat, quick to change the subject. How awkward things always got when Elliot tried to bring innuendo into their conversations!

The Queen could hardly be called a shy person. She was forward in everything she did—her decisions were voiced from deep within without the slightest hesitation, her combat was brave, reckless even, and she had stood alongside her soldiers, empowering them with her lack of uncertainty. There were no challenges for the Queen of Albion that would not be smitten with one sweep of her iron courage—except for the matter of her heart.

In the weeks that followed, a petition came to excavate a new mining site located near Driftwood. It went like many of the other petitions—Reaver Industries versus the people of Driftwood, who would rather not see their land torn apart by an excavation site that promised a lucrative outcome for the kingdom's treasury. The alternative was not to mine near Driftwood; opting for that was hardly as difficult as during her early days as Queen, when some sacrifices had to be made to fix the kingdom's economy (Logan had left it in shambles, of course.)

As tempting as it was with Reaver working his charms to get his way, she opted in favor of Driftwood's preservation. It disappointed Reaver, she knew, but she hardly cared. He made arrangements to continue the search for mineral deposits elsewhere, with an ever-optimistic, yet visibly annoyed smile. Her brother had let Reaver run so rampant during his reign and she was not about to let Bowerstone be crushed under a blanket of factory smoke and fumes again.

"Now's your chance, Your Majesty!" Elliot had prodded her as the meeting ended and the proud petitioners left.

The Queen had been rising from her throne when she heard Elliot's words and quickly sat back down. She had meant to do so—it had absolutely nothing to do with the sudden weakness in her knees!

He was right. She looked in Reaver's direction. He was conversing with one of his flamboyantly-dressed associates. Once the man was busied by his own world of business and management, there was no getting his attention. She noted this to Elliot and her childhood friend just sighed and shook his head.

"Look, you've had that box waiting for him up in the war room for the last week. Let me go get it, you can get this all over with today." Elliot said.

"No. I'll give it to him when he isn't busy."

"Don't tell me you're getting shy, Your Majesty." Elliot prodded once more.

The Queen stood and shoved past Elliot, "I do NOT get SHY."

"Yes, you do, my dear." She heard Reaver's voice from across the hall before she stormed out of the throne room. She had not intended for everyone in the room to hear. The throne room carried her voice a bit further and clearer than she had expected.

As Elliot raced after her, she was mulling over how much he had heard. Reaver always threw his little comments… he couldn't possibly have heard Elliot's suggestion!

When the Queen reached the war room, she saw the small chest that the Dragonstomper .48 had been set in. It was a handsome adornment for a gorgeous gift that she knew Reaver would love. Yet what was stopping her from just bringing it to him herself?

"You're flushed. Are you alright?" Her brother's voice came.

The Queen had not expected Logan to be fingering through the books in the war room. The former King was turned in her direction with three large tomes in one arm and his other hand on another nestled in a high shelf. He watched her with his eternally dark and tired eyes as he awaited her response.

"I am not flushed. I am merely bothered by a particular… fly!"

Elliot had shut the door behind him as he entered, "That's not a nice thing to say about the guy you love."

"I am not in love!"

"Oh, good." Logan said, grinning as he approached, "For a moment I was worried that you were going to marry Elliot."

The Queen looked up at Logan with a rather disheveled expression and took a deep breath, "…what? No, I did not… Elliot isn't a fly."

With a disappointed narrowing of the eyes, Logan added, "Ah, so you are still marrying Elliot?"

Elliot crossed his arms over his chest as the Queen did her best to right the wrongs in their ill-guided conversation, "I am not marrying anyone. I'm merely having a stressful day. That is all."

"Well, then. You should get some rest and relaxation. Otherwise this job will age you just as it did me." Logan said, passing the chest on a nearby table, "…and what is this?"

"Exactly what all this nonsense started over." Elliot said.

"Elliot." The Queen shut her eyes and spoke carefully, "…please."

"You're flushed and yelling over a box…?" Logan pried.

This was the last thing she would have liked to explain… and to the last person she would have had know.

"It's an important box." The Queen said.

"It's her little love gift for Reaver." Elliot all but hissed.

A cold draft slipped across the Queen's cheeks. An icy silence filled the room. In one slow but graceful motion, Logan placed the books on the table and took a deep breath before speaking. The Queen had never wanted anything more than to throw Elliot off a balcony.

"Forgive me for making you repeat yourself, but, well… who was it again? That you said this was for?"

The Queen hesitated and Elliot happily chimed, "Reaver! Reaver, sir!"

"Reaver." Logan said, nodding.

Logan took on that parental air that the Queen knew all too well from her days as the scrawny, unruly little Princess. It was something of a running gag among the castle staff that after bringing up his little sister, he had no more remaining interest in raising children. If there had ever been a more fatherly, disapproving sigh breathed that day, it could have only been from an irate Logan ready to stir up a storm unlike any the Queen had ever experienced, and if previous experiences hinted well enough, he was about to make that storm well-known.

Throwing Elliot off a balcony seemed so appealing at that moment!

"A love gift?"

"No." The Queen said, irritation carrying through her voice as she approached the box, "Hardly. You know I have higher standards than that, Brother."

"I would hope so." Logan warned, "If I find out that Reaver as much as put a finger on you, or even that damned cane of his, both you and Reaver will experience a reign of terror unlike any you could ever fathom, so quickly that your heads will spin."

The Queen stared at her brother for a moment, catching sight of a vein pulsing in his long, pallid neck. She glanced over her shoulder at Elliot, her eyes saying, "Are you happy now?"

Elliot looked positively terrified.

"Don't worry. I'll keep my hands off of your ex." The Queen said, before taking the box and making her way out the door, not even giving the stunned Elliot a mere glance.

"I-I-I am SO… SO sorry!" Elliot stammered, quick to follow after the Queen as Logan began to ramble about the things he would have done to the two of them if he were still King.

Despite the Queen's quickened step and her efforts to ignore Elliot's apologies, she carried the box through the empty throne room and saw that all who had attended the meeting were gone, even Reaver.

As Elliot caught up to her, apologizing still, the Queen looked down at the box, "…I suppose I could take it to him in Millfields."

"What's stopping you?" Elliot said.

The Queen looked back at him over her shoulder, wordless. She felt as clueless as she must have looked. Elliot's words looped in her mind.

"It's not as though he wouldn't like it. In fact, he might like it a little too much, knowing him." Elliot said.

"Maybe I'm afraid of that."

Elliot scoffed, "You? Afraid of something," he laughed, "…ha! Afraid of Reaver?"

"No!" The Queen narrowed her eyes, "Don't say that."

"You have stronger feelings for him than you thought, don't you?" Elliot said. He smiled as he spoke. It was the weakened smile of a battered heart, she knew. How could she have feelings for someone like Reaver when there was such a cherubic boy standing before her? Even the afternoon sun that cascaded in through the ceiling-high windows lit him up like some kind of angel that glowed as gold as his own heart.

Elliot looked down at his feet in that nervous gesture he'd had since they were children playing tag in the gardens. It was a look of shy defeat.

"Why not just accept that? Why keep lying to yourself?" It was odd to hear such words coming from the often-jealous boy.

The Queen swallowed hard, "I'm not lying to myself. Like I told Logan, I have standards. I'm merely giving this to him because he would care for it better than I would… besides, I… I love you, and you know that."

"You've been saying that since we were fourteen." Elliot smiled, "…but when I met Linda, I realized that sometimes we say things just because we're used to it. Not always because we mean it."

"Elliot, I don't think this is a good idea—"

"Just hear me out? Please?"

The Queen sighed and then nodded.

"I love you, and I know you love me. But that doesn't mean we'll ever be more than what we've always been… seeing the way you go red around him, seeing the way you laugh with him and can't tear your eyes away… I'd rather see you happy than guilt you into an unromantic affair."

"Elliot, I don't think you realize what kind of man he is."

"Then don't pursue him."

"You just said…"

"I am only saying that you should get this silly little gift episode over with. Be this a passing crush or something more, it should serve to show you a thing or two about your heart. Don't you think?"

The Queen nodded, still looking down at the box. She felt Elliot's soft fingertips on her cheek and had the box not been between them, she would have happily fallen into his embrace. He had a way of moving her to both tears and some higher awareness with his words. Elliot had always been that way.

"Elliot… I don't want to fall for him."

"Then don't." Elliot said, still managing a smile despite the pain evident in his voice, "Hearts are fickle things. You'll be over this. Something like a cold, right?"

The Queen nodded, "Yes."

"Just don't lie to yourself, alright?"


Elliot had always been one to tell her things about herself that she would have never otherwise known. It was he who had told her that she had an odd twitch in her left cheek when she lied, it was he who told her she stammered when Reaver came to see Logan, and it was he who pointed out that she wrings her hands together when she was nervous.

The Queen stopped wringing her hands together as she sat in the carriage beside the box. Millfields was a rather long travel and it had been the perfect opportunity for her to think on Elliot's words.

In one way, it surprised her that the boy with whom she shared her heart for so many years had so easily conceded defeat to Reaver. But on the other hand, it was all too characteristic of Elliot to push her in a needed direction rather than to stifle her for his own gain. Perhaps the opposite of what Reaver would have done in such a situation. The more she thought of the two men in her heart, the more she realized how silly her affections were! What right-minded individual, Queen or not, would make the wrong decision in choosing between an angelic man and a… well, devilish one?

It was not as though she were following her feelings anyway, she reminded herself. This was merely a quick run to deliver the gift! That was all. No more, no less. Elliot had even said so himself—she didn't have to act on her feelings if she did not want to… and she had more than enough reasons not to.

When the carriage came to a halt, she was jilted from her thoughts. Had they arrived in Millfields so soon? She leaned toward the window and nearly jumped when Hobson opened the door with a bright, pink smile on his chubby face.

"We've arrived at Reaver's manor, Your Majesty!" Hobson announced, all too excited to set foot within the same property as his hero.

The Queen nodded and picked up the box as she climbed out. Hobson was quick to ramble about Reaver's exploits during Logan's reign. It seemed that any decision, any factory, any odd-brained product that had the cogs and double R's of the Reaver Industries insignia, Hobson was enamored with. The thought of child labor being enforced upon Bowerstone was hardly a noble act, in the Queen's mind, but to Hobson, it was the most brilliant idea a man could think of.

As the Queen climbed the steps, nodding and smiling at the guards and doing her best to ignore Hobson, a strange odor reached her nostrils. It stole her attentions away from the clean air of Bower Lake, reminding her of some kind of wet dog.

When the door opened, she saw the source of the stench. A familiar man with a boil on his forehead and long, coppery hair brushed to the side opened the door and gave the Queen a rather foul smile through yellowed teeth and darkened lips.

"Barry…?" The Queen muttered in disbelief.

Barry grinned, "At your service, m'dear. What brings Your Majesty to Master Reaver's humble abode today?"

"…humble," The Queen scoffed at first, eying the large, ivory sentry Reaver had constructed of in his own image to stand before the manor, "…Barry, weren't you… What… I suppose I shouldn't question it, but,"

"Ah, right, the balverine." Barry said, his tone taking a decidedly less jovial note, "It seems I lived. Not without a few cuts and bruises, but as it turns out, balverines heal very quickly."

"B… balverines heal?"

An awkward silence fell over the two before Barry whispered, "…I have to shave a lot more."

The Queen nodded, "…ah. Makes sense. I imagine you're much hairier come evening."

Barry shrugged leading them in, "Come in, Your Highness. And yes. You have no idea."

Hobson took a small bottle of perfume from his coat pocket and sprayed the air around them. Barry glared at the other servant.

"I'll have you know that's a very exquisite odor. Turns out I got mauled by something of a balverine blue blood."

"Where is Reaver?" The Queen interjected.

Barry smiled once more, his tone softening despite the rosy scent causing his sensitive hook nose to wrench up in disgust, "Master Reaver is right this way. Having another statue commissioned. Always a generous patron of the arts, you see."

Hobson fanned his handkerchief around after tucking the bottle away. Barry groaned and covered his nose, sending Hobson a volatile death-glare. It seemed that his balverine nature made Barry more irritable than she remembered. While it would be more pleasant that he remain civil, the Queen secretly would not have minded in the slightest if a balverine 'accident' happened to Hobson… just as long as she could leave him there with his art-loving, balverine-servant-collecting Adonis.

They climbed the large flight of stairs and crossed a sea of black-and-white tiled marble to reach a grand room, darkened by drawn curtains and illuminated by candles as much of the manor often was. She had heard rumors of Reaver's eternal hangover and had seen enough of his party loving lifestyle to believe it.

Standing upon a plinth with his head held high and his gun held close, Reaver greeted them, making no effort to hold still for the sculptor carving away at a block of marble.

Reaver gave a coy grin and a flick of his jet black hair, "Well, well, well, if it isn't Albion's favorite little Princess. What brings you here, my dear? Have you finally decided to take up that offer for the private party?"

The Queen would have liked to just drop the box right there and leave for that comment, but she narrowed her eyes and replied, "Oh, no, I was actually just wondering where that foul stench was coming from. I smelled it all the way from the castle and followed it here. Turns out it wasn't the butler."

With a deep laugh, Reaver waved his gun around almost drunkenly, "Oh, you sweet little thing. You've always been quite the charmer. Just like Logan. Must be genetics. So pray tell, what is with that curious little box of yours? I usually just have Barry take my fan mail for me."

"Oh, nothing in particular. I just heard you liked guns, but… I must have heard wrong."

Reaver leaned his neck to the side, an audible crackling in his bones, "Percy, how long must I stay up here? Is the marble really that much harder to carve through?"

The sculptor's pace quickened as he replied, "No, no, feel free to move around, Sir! I-I'm just blocking out—"

"Good, I almost got a cramp," Reaver sighed, hopping down from the plinth.

"Another statue of yourself?" The Queen sighed, adding a short click of her tongue, "If only you could commission someone to craft yourself a twin."

"If only, right?" Reaver agreed, "Like I always say, my dear, no one can love you like yourself."

Hobson laughed.

The Queen and Reaver looked in his direction for one silent moment.

"Barry, go play butler games with him downstairs or something… Mummy and Daddy are sharing words."

"Yes, Sir. Do enjoy yourselves." Barry smirked, leading Hobson out of the room. The Queen looked back after them, watching Hobson disappear beyond the door as it shut behind them. Save for a very nervous sculptor, they were alone and all sorts of accidents could happen when one was alone with Reaver. She knew that all too well.

When she turned back to Reaver, she nearly jumped at how close he was. He had leaned in, eying the box and then eying her with pursed, painted lips that rose in a half-smirk when she looked at him.

"So enough with the pillow talk, darling. Why are you here? It's rather… charmingly uncharacteristic of you to grace yourself with my presence." Reaver said in a soft voice.

The Queen tore her gaze away—it was difficult to avoid his cerulean eyes. She took a step back to add a more comfortable distance between them but he merely took another greater stride forward, causing an electric jolt to rise up in her chest. Her fingertips clasped together on the other side of the box and she felt her cheek twitch as she lied.

"I'm just here to give you this."

"Why would you go through all that trouble when you could have just mailed it?" Reaver said, sounding more amused than anything, "…would it be wrong of me to assume you wanted to see me? I mean, I could hardly blame you."

"Yes, yes it would be wrong. Very wrong."

"Love, are you getting enough sleep, you have this awful twitch in your cheek."

The Queen turned away and replied, "I sleep fine, thank you."

"You'll sleep better next to me."

With that, she shoved the box against his chest and yelled, "Just take the damn thing, already!"

Reaver laughed again, taking the box, "Well, just like that, then? Not even a 'happy birthday?'"

"What? Today is your birthday?"

He eyed her, one dark, thick eyebrow arched and a coy grin on his pale, powdered face. He shrugged and brushed her confusion aside as he unfastened the clasps on the small chest.

"Is it really your birthday?"

Reaver cleared his throat, "No."

The Queen began to laugh, realizing just why he was having a statue made. A birthday gift to himself! How quaint.

"It is, isn't it?"

"I don't have birthdays."

It sounded like a sore subject, she thought with amusement. She would save that for another day.

When he opened the box, he fell silent, his face expressionless. She watched his eyes travel over each intricate line carved into the gold and steel of the gun. She watched him bring one gloved hand to the smooth surface, caressing it lovingly. His lips twitched, his throat shifted as he swallowed hard. Yet still, his face was expressionless… no coy grin, no smug glare, nothing.

The Queen sighed and decided that if there was any time to make her way for the door, that was the time. After all, she had only come to give him the gun. That was it… nothing more.

"Wait," Reaver said.

The Queen looked back over her shoulder. He still gazed down at the gun in disbelief as he spoke.

"W… where did you get this?"

"It was Mother's. I decided that you would care for it better than I could. It would be a shame to let such a work of art fall into disrepair, don't you think?"

Reaver nodded, "…yes. Yes, you're right. But… you realize what it is, don't you?"

"That is why I wanted you to have it."

Reaver placed the box on a nearby table, still holding the gun and marveling at its splendor. She had never seen such a look of peace on his face.

"You're after my heart, aren't you?" Reaver said, that grin once again rising on his face. It made butterflies stir inside of her and she looked away.

"Hardly," she replied.

Before she could leave, she felt two large arms around her and his body warm against hers even through his many layers of silken clothes. His grip was tight and long enough for her to shut her eyes and savor the way his body felt against her. He had an intoxicating scent of spice and wine about him, she noted with a creeping smile. His neck felt soft against her cheek and she would have easily loved to stay in Reaver's arms if everything else about him were different. But they were not, and there was no point in wishing for what could never be.

"Well, you have it."

The Queen was silent. Her arms moved against whatever wiser voice protested in her mind. She put her arms around him, her heart beating nearly out of her chest as she listened to his breaths. She could not return whatever 'feelings' he may have been sharing with her at that moment, she reminded herself. It was probably the same confession of 'love' he gave every other concubine in his harem.

"…I don't need it." The Queen replied.

"But you want it."

The Queen laughed then as he leaned away, his arms still trapping her close. She glanced up at him for a moment too long and then again turned away. She felt one leather-gloved finger on her chin drawing her face up to meet his gaze.

"I… don't always give in to fickle wants and desires. I came to give you a gift… that was all."

Reaver smirked, letting a laugh escape him once more, "And why is that?"

"Tell me, are you going to have us stand here all day while you try to pry my feelings out of me?" The Queen feigned annoyance but Reaver did not buy it, instead stroking her cheek and brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear.

"We could take it to my bed if you prefer. It's much softer than this floor, I assure you." Reaver replied, "Or we could talk about me."

"…Reaver," The Queen rolled her eyes.

"Come now, it's hardly my fault that I'm so interesting! In fact, standing here all day wouldn't nearly be enough time to tell you about myself."

"I'm sure it wouldn't be. Perhaps you could tell me another time. But I should be going."

Reaver was silent for once and then nodded. He released her, making his way back to the plinth as he spoke, "Well, I'm sure you have a long day ahead of you as Albion's Good Queen. I shall not keep this poor kingdom waiting."

Against her best judgment, the Queen decided not to lie to herself. There had been one more thing she wanted to give him.

"Wait," she said, making her way after him.

He had barely turned before she reached him, grabbed him by the cravat and pressed her lips to his.

Reaver's reaction had been amusing—a choked sound of confusion, the tumble of his top hat from his head to the floor and a pleased moan. His lips were as soft as they had looked, her kiss too quick for it to grow into anything as rough as she knew he would have liked. Before he could as much as touch her again, she released him and made her way for the door.

"I love you," The Queen confessed, glancing back at him—his makeup was slightly smeared by her rough, brief kiss, "…and I will only say that once."

Reaver laughed, "Only once? Such a sweet lie, my dear…"

The Queen allowed herself to give him a coy grin to rival his own, "…don't fool yourself. The Good Queen never lies."

~ Oh no, notes! ~

Jestermation over on deviantart did a WINTASTIC comic that basically summed up the one thing I wanted to do when I found the Dragonstomper called, "The 6th Dragonstomper" that basically inspired me to do a fanfic. This is what came out. ^_^ I had a lot of fun with this. I should post some one shots more often~! Thanks for reading!