AN~ Just on time. I wrote most of this in two days because I was procrastinating, but it's done now.
QotU: Favorite kind of weather and why?
Old QotU Winner: SilSha, who I'm pretty sure is Silver Shadows, yes?
Sabrina hated Puck. That was all there was to it. She hated him.
They'd been stuck together for three weeks five days, nine hours, forty-one minutes, and eighteen seconds (nineteen seconds. Twenty seconds), and he wasn't even acting sorry. She'd spent most of the time glaring silently at him, when she wasn't screaming at him or hurting him. She hadn't even left the palace. It was too embarrassing. And Granny wouldn't even let her near a lockpick. It had been a very miserable three weeks.
Jonas had tried to help, and he'd made things a little bit better, but there would be no better until she was free of this thing tying her to Puck. And there would be no getting free of the thing until Granny was sure she wouldn't run off after Daphne. That wouldn't happen until they knew Daphne was safe and sound, Sabrina was sure of it. She wasn't even sure herself that she wouldn't go running off after Ms. White if they let her go now.
That made it worse, that they were right. That they were justified in doing this. It was humiliating, and she hated them all for it. Having to go everywhere with Puck was not how she'd have wanted to spend even one day, let alone three weeks.
She gave out another monstrous sigh and sent Puck a death glare.
"Would you stop that?" he asked. "That's the fifth time in an hour! I was just doing what your grandma asked! Take it up with her!"
"She did not ask you to attach yourself to me," Sabrina said. They'd had this conversation before. She didn't care. Maybe if she got boring or annoying enough, he'd unlock them himself.
"No, but she told me to keep you here however I had to. And I did that."
"I wish you'd, I don't know, tied me to my bed, or something," Sabrina muttered. She glared at him again. She wished she had a way to turn her eyes into daggers. Then she'd be free.
"No you don't," Puck said complacently.
That was true. She didn't, really. But she wasn't going to admit it.
The two were sitting in Sabrina's room eating lunch, the way they had for the past three weeks. They'd actually spent most of the three weeks in Sabrina's room. She'd hung a sheet up between the two sides of her bed to give herself some privacy, and the seamstress had outfitted a few of her dresses so that the sleeves could be unbuttoned and Sabrina could undress, safely hidden from Puck behind a screen. Puck didn't bother to change his clothes. Jonas came and kept them company sometimes, but today he was out getting lessons on something sneaky, so the duo was alone.
Sabrina tried to be alone with Puck as rarely as possible.
In fact, she'd managed to be alone with him only seventeen hours this past three weeks. She didn't care if they were engaged. She didn't want people thinking... that. Besides, she was too mad at him to want to be alone with him even without that dynamic.
She was too mad at him to want to be with him at all. That, though, was unavoidable. He'd made sure of that. She couldn't even relieve herself without having him five feet away!
She glared at him again.
He ignored her.
She glared harder.
He still ignored her.
This was pointless. She knew that. He'd gotten a lot better at ignoring her glares recently. But she had nothing better to do, and no distractions from her predicament. She could almost have a good time when she had something to distract her. Something like-
The door burst open, and a servant in rumpled clothes ran in, panting.
Something like that, actually.
She pushed aside her lunch (it wasn't that good anyway) and stood up, trying to walk towards the servant. Puck hadn't stopped eating, though, so she only made it about three steps forward. She gave him another glare and gave her arm a futile tug, then turned to the servant and asked, "What is it?"
"Messenger," the servant panted, "in the- in the courtyard. From Magica. Important. Regent says- to get you- now. Quickly."
Sabrina yanked at Puck, sending his face tumbling into his food, and almost knocking the table over as she rushed for the door, nodding at the servant as she went. She ran to the courtyard, dragging Puck behind her as he stumbled after her and picked food from his clothes, popping the bits into his mouth. She shook her head in disgust and ran faster, skirt billowing behind her.
Once they'd wound their way through the many small twisty corridors that led from Sabrina's room to the main courtyard, they burst into bright sunlight and nearly ran into the backs of several guards. Sabrina pulled herself up short, stopping in time, but Puck threw her off as he tumbled into a particularly large guard in purple livery. Sabrina fell on top of him, and the three almost fell over. They were saved from a domino trail of soldiers, though, by the bulk of the guard, who gave them a very intense glare.
Sabrina, recognizing the guard's outfit as that of a Magician warrior, pulled Puck upright again with wide eyes. She gave him a very royal apology and then worked her way through the crowd with as much dignity as she could muster. It wasn't enough, really. She was still hooked to Puck at the wrist, and he wasn't the kind of person one wanted to be attached to if one was going to be acting distinguished. Still, she made her way to Granny and stopped next to her, looking down her nose at the emissary from Magica, a tall, thin man with a greenish tint to his skin.
Looking down her nose at someone who was as tall or taller than she was was a trick she'd learned from Snow, and it had come in very useful to her more times than once.
"Oh, Sabrina, good, there you are," Granny said, and Sabrina was a bit taken aback by the relief in her tone. "Now we can get on with things."
The emissary, looking only mildly cowed by her glare (it was that Puck was getting used to it! She hadn't lost her touch!), cleared his throat and said, "Yes. Do I have permission to announce the message to all present, Your Majesty, High Regent?"
Sabrina looked over at her grandmother, ready to take her cue from her. The old woman bit her lip, but nodded almost imperceptibly, gesturing forward with one hand. Sabrina turned back to the man and said, "Permission granted. Go on."
The emissary nodded, and unfurled a scroll that he'd been holding in one hand. He held it up to his face and read off in a loud voice, "The Princess Daphne of Sneak was recently arrested for violating the conditions by which she would be allowed to visit the grand nation of Magica. This ended the peace talks between our two countries, returning them to their former unstable state. However, this state has now been broken. Daphne Grimm disappeared from her prison cell with no trace, within days of her arrest. Circumstances being as they are, we are forced to conclude that someone from Sneak, or an ally thereof, extracted her and has brought her to her home country. The result is thus: We, Magica, demand that Daphne Grimm be returned to us, as is our right, within twenty-four hours of the reading of this message. Until this has been carried out, no Sneaks will be welcome within the borders of Magica. Any found there will be placed immediately under arrest. If the desired prisoner is not brought fourth within the specified time period, Magica will be forced to declare war on Sneak and all her allies." He paused, bowed to the crowd in the courtyard (mostly other Magician guards, but also several Sneaks), and said, "Thank you for your time."
Sabrina wasn't shocked. She was relieved- Daphne was free- and she was worried, but she wasn't surprised. She was impressed too, actually. The Magicians had worked this out incredibly. Now any war would look to be Sneak's fault from outside. And with Sabrina and Puck engaged, they had the perfect excuse to invade Trickster, too. They'd played right into the enemy's hands.
She glanced at her grandmother. By the expression on her face, it was evident both that Relda Grimm had already heard the message, and that she knew all the things Sabrina had just seen.
"You're dismissed," Sabrina told the emissary, doing her best to sound haughty and not worried. She thought she'd done a pretty good job. "We shall provide you with a place to stay while you wait for our reply."
The tall man, looking very put out because she hadn't reacted more to his message, nodded and bowed, backing away as he did so.
Sabrina and Relda walked off in the opposite direction, pulling Puck with them. They were headed for one of the slightly less private council rooms, a bigger one. It was located on a back corner of the second floor, where it butted against an outcropping of the cliff wall behind the castle. The room easily held twenty people, but there were hiding places everywhere for more people to listen in. Sabrina didn't mind, this time. This was important. This affected everybody. They had a right to know.
When she got to the council room of choice, Sabrina was surprised to see that it was already almost full. The Wolf was there, as well as Cinderella and a few others from the delegation to Magica, Jonas, and the most important of the other council members, excluding Snow. Jonas was probably the most unlikely addition to the party. She hadn't known that the ones who'd gone to Magica were back, but she hadn't quite expected to know, what with the mood she'd been in.
Sabrina took a seat at the head of the table, forcing Puck into the seat catty-corner to hers, and her grandmother sat down at the opposite end of the table. Everyone grew quiet.
"Well," Relda said, "I expect we all know why we're here. Shall we begin?"
"They want Daphne," Sabrina told Cinderella, who she assumed hadn't heard. Judging by the woman's expression, she'd assumed right. "They say unless we give her back in two days, they'll declare war."
"We should give her to them, then," Arthur, one of the lords, said. "We're not ready for war. Until we can prepare-"
"No!" Sabrina protested loudly, slamming the hand that wasn't attached to Puck down onto the table. "We can't-"
Arthur tried to cut her off, but Sabrina shouted louder over him. Other people burst in with their own arguments until it was a full-out shouting match across the table, half of the people arguing for keeping Daphne safe, and the other half arguing to turn her over to the Magicians to save everyone else.
Finally, Granny yelled over everyone, in a voice that shut everything down immediately, "QUIET!"
Dead silence fell over the room. Sabrina, who had been half standing to get closer to Arthur, very slowly lowered herself back into her seat, eyes wide. Several other people did the same thing.
Relda waited a moment and then said, "Thank you. Now, first of all, we are not going to be sacrificing anyone for the greater good." She put a hand up, silencing Arthur's protest before he could do more than open his mouth. "This is both because I find that very often 'for the greater good' means 'for my good,' and doesn't end up helping anyone very much at all, and partly because we cannot return Daphne. The reason for this is simple: we don't have her. I don't even know where she is. When Snow left, she didn't tell me where she was going, for good reason."
Sabrina sat back further in her chair, actually relaxing a bit now. Daphne was safe.
"We are here to discuss our reply to the Magicians and our next course of action," Relda continued, "not whether or not we'll be turning an eleven-year-old girl over to a group of people who would like nothing better than to destroy her."
Arthur looked suitably cowed and said, "Very well. What can we do, then? They're not going to take 'we don't have her' for an answer."
"We shall have to go to war," Relda said. "We all knew that was a likely possibility, and we've prepared for it."
"We can't!" Arthur protested, eyes widening. "We'll be slaughtered!"
"We won't," Relda said. "We will suffer, yes, but we have allies, and-"
"Our biggest 'ally' is a country full of half-trained lackwits!" Arthur snapped.
"Actually," Jonas cut in quietly. Everyone turned to look at him, and Sabrina was pretty sure they'd forgotten he was there. He blinked at them all and continued, "They're doing quite well. My father was a northern raider before he moved to Trickster, and he says that he's surprised by how well they're learning."
Relda nodded. "I've received similar news from Titania, and from the people we sent to train them. The Tricksters may not be as fully trained as we are, but they are ingenious, and quick learners, and they don't have a hatred of using magic the way Sneaks do. It is a valuable alliance. With them, we have a chance to last out this war."
"A slim chance," Arthur muttered.
Relda nodded again. "It was always a slim chance."
Sabrina turned back to Cinderella. "Could you write up a response?" she asked her. "Tell them that we can't provide Daphne because we do not have her, we're very sorry or something, and that we don't want a war? Make it all diplomatic and stuff?"
Cinderella nodded. "I most certainly can. Now, or after the meeting is over?"
Sabrina looked at her grandmother quizzically.
Relda thought, then said, "You may as well go now, unless you feel you have anything vital to add?"
Cinderella shook her head and said, "The Wolf knows everything I do about Magica."
"Go, then," Sabrina said. "The sooner, the better."
Cinderella left the conference room. On her way out, she almost tripped over a child who'd been leaning against the door. Sabrina shook her head as the child picked itself up, flushing. Amateur.
"So we're on to battle plans, is that it?" Sabrina asked, looking around at the people who were left.
"So it would appear," Relda agreed. "We ought to wait for Titania before we finalize anything, though. If I send a messenger bird, she ought to be able to be here before things get too bad. Then we can plan."
Sabrina swallowed a sigh. And here she'd been hoping that she could actually do something. But no, of course not. More waiting.
"So what can we do today?" Puck asked, sounding just as put out as Sabrina felt.
"We can decide what we're going to tell everyone else," Relda said, "And who's going to tell them, and who we want here helping make decisions versus who we want out in the field."
Puck made a face. "Sounds boring."
Honestly, Sabrina agreed with him. It did sound boring. Very boring. But it was a royal duty, and this was the first war she'd been in. She couldn't leave in the middle of planning and let her grandmother take care of it, not if she wanted to be a good queen.
And if she had to stay, so did Puck. It served him right for that thing with the cuffs.
So the two sat through the whole meeting. Sabrina mostly listened to other people's ideas and chose between them. Three years ago, she'd have done nothing of the kind. She'd have picked who she thought was best, or better yet, sent herself out to do everything, without listening to a word of anyone else's advice. She'd learned from those mistakes, though, and after several things blew up in her face, she was ready, now, to listen to other people's ideas. Most of them were pretty good, too. Arthur was still being difficult, but the Wolf, in particular, and her grandmother, had some excellent suggestions.
After they'd decided on a course of action as best they could without Titania's input, most people left. Sabrina, though, as well as Puck and Jonas and the Wolf, stayed behind at a motion from Relda. Once everyone else had gone, the five sat down closer together, clustered at one end of the conference room.
"What is it?" Sabrina asked Granny, noticing the tight look on her face.
Relda looked at her granddaughter closely and said, "Sabrina- if things get too bad-"
"What?" Sabrina asked, because Relda had stopped herself, and looked like she might not continue without prompting.
Granny took a deep breath and said, "If they get too bad, if it looks like you'll be in any danger-" she halted again, then started, "I want you to leave."
"What?" Sabrina yelped, almost jumping up again. "What do you mean you want me to leave?"
"I want you to take the tunnels and get out of here," Relda repeated, voice steady now and no longer quavering or halting. "If things get bad, take Puck and Jonas, find whatever supplies you can grab, and go someplace safe."
Sabrina shook her head, setting her jaw stubbornly. "I'm not leaving. I'm the queen, I can't just run. I should be leading these people. What will they think if I abandon them?"
"You're barely sixteen years old," Relda said. "I may be your regent, but I'm also your guardian, and I want you to be safe. They'll understand. You wouldn't be at the forefront anyway. You'd be here, in the palace, directing from here. I can do that just as well, and if the palace gets attacked, it's more important that you stay alive to fight another day than that you lead your people. If you're dead, you can't lead them any better. And if that happens, the next person in line for the throne is Daphne, and she's-" Relda paused, letting the implications sink in, and said, "Magica will use that. If you die it'll be an enormous victory for them."
Everything about this screamed of wrongness to Sabrina. She shouldn't leave, shouldn't run. A captain always went down with his ship, and she should go down with her castle. But she understood what her grandmother was saying. If Sneak lost its ruler again, in the middle of a crisis, they'd be thrown into chaos, and Magica could come in and either fill the void of power or strike a particularly strong blow to the nation. And even with Daphne as next in line for the throne... Daphne was almost as young as Sabrina had been when she'd taken the throne, but she had an entirely different temperament, and the Sneaks wouldn't follow her as easily as they did Sabrina.
She sighed, giving in to logic. "Fine," she said. "I'll do it."
Granny looked very relieved and a little bit surprised. "Good," she said. "Now, I'm not saying it'll come to that. This is only if they attack the palace and get in."
Sabrina nodded. "I understand."
Relda leaned over the table and kissed Sabrina on the forehead. "I love you, liebling. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you."
"I love you, too, Granny," Sabrina said. "But I'll be fine. There are plenty of bolt holes in this place."
"I know," Relda said, "I just worry, that's all."
"I'll be okay, I promise," Sabrina said. "If it comes to that, I'll get all of us out of here."
Relda smiled, looking relieved.
"Hey, not to interrupt your gushy love-fest or anything," Puck broke in, "but I've got a question."
"What's that, Puck?" Relda asked, turning along with Sabrina to look over at the Trickster King, who had effectively broken the mood.
"Since Daphne's safe and all, do you think it'd be okay if Sabrina and I got unattached?" Puck asked. "She seems reasonable now, and I really can't stand being stuck to her like this."
Relda laughed and said, "Yes, Puck, I think it's safe to detach you two."
Sabrina almost ran for the lockpicks, she was so excited.
AN~ There. More Puck and Sabrina. You should all be happy now.
Feature: "The Depths of Her Heart" by SugarHighQueen44
A bunch of introspective oneshot-type things that focus on Sabrina. Go read them, please.
Some Review Replies:
Chicky: I will tell you what I tell everyone who asks for Puckabrina anywhere ever: I do a lot more subtle stuff than outright mushy gushy stuff, and I've got a plan for when they will get together that you'll just have to wait for. They like each other, they know they like each other, and that's about all you're getting 'til I reach the point where they confess.
Guest 1: Yes I did. :) A whole day early. The next update will probably still be next Thursday, though.
Guest 2: Geesh. I had like ten chapters in a row about Sabrina and Puck. Daphne's only ever gotten TWO in a row.
SilSha: QotD: WHY? Chapter: Geez, I can't win. When I'm writing about Puck and Sabrina everyone goes 'when are we getting back to Daphne?' and now that I'm writing about Daphne you're going 'I want Puck and Sabrina!'