AN: When I was first read the series, I was quite young, young enough for the many hints Rodda gave about Lief's and Jasmine's feelings towards each other to go straight over my head. So, when they got married in the end, it seemed a bit random to me, though I was very happy none-the-less that they ended up together. So, remembering that now that I'm older, it was the first inspiration for this story. The second was the thought that not everyone might be quite happy that Lief wanted to marry his friend the 'witch,' especially since next to nothing is known about her amongst the general population. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Deltora Quest. Emily Rodda does.
One brisk winter morning, far from the prying eyes and ears of the people of Del, under the trees where they had first met, where his journey had first truly begun, and that had once been her home, Lief, King of Deltora, asked the 'wild girl' Jasmine to marry him.
Within a week, everyone in the kingdom knew that she had said yes.
Not everyone who had heard the news was pleased about it.
Amongst some of the Torans, despite the knowledge of just how nontraditional of a king Lief was, it had become an assumption that he would at least honor the oldest of them all and take a Toran woman to be his queen. Although his list of potential brides had been diminished by the sheer number of people who had turned out to be descendants of Adin, possible heirs to the throne that had to be kept separate from the current royal family, many young women still remained that would have faithfully served at his side. Educated, well learned in the magical arts, and each one supposedly more beautiful than the last, it had been agreed upon that any of the Toran maidens, though none from the high families, would make a queen Deltora could be proud of.
So while most of the people in the city had begun to celebrate at the news of the engagement, a few had muttered angrily that a young girl who had grown up wild and unsupervised, whose total knowledge of men and desire was unknown to others, was more than unfit to marry the king. It was almost an insult to everyone who was.
Amongst the rest of the general population that resided outside of the capital city, girls with broken hearts argued that Lief was settling for someone he did not truly love out of his duty to produce an heir, that if he would only just wait a little bit longer, the young women would be able to make their way to the palace so that the two of them could finally be together, despite the girl in question having never before even met Lief. Desperate parents that wanted to claim kinship to the King pointed out that Jasmine was not yet of marrying age, though she would be by the wedding, and that Lief himself had only been old enough to take a wife for a few weeks, surely not long enough to truly know what his heart desired. It would be beneficial then, for everyone, if the ceremony was postponed for a just a little while, just until their own daughters reached adulthood, until after the King had gotten to know some more of his citizens in a much more personal way, so that everyone could be completely sure about their loves.
Amongst these people, it was generally forgotten that, while their King was young in age, he was old in the deeds most could never have dreamt of but that he had accomplished. With this in mind, age was nothing more then a number, while love was much more than just a feeling between the two teens.
And for most Deltorans, these complaints were no reason for their beloved monarch to not pursue his absolute happiness.
But for most 'loyal' Deltorans, especially the ones that resided in Del, the fact that their King's happiness depended upon a witch was.
"She can talk to the birds and the trees to force them to do her bidding," the very true whispers said, spreading from mouth to ear faster then a wildfire during a drought. "She knows the plants that can give life and bring death, that can awaken the sleeping or put the awake to sleep, and all of them are under her command," the restless lips sighed as they worked. "She can make potions that befuddle the mine and confuse the senses, all while showing you the truth of the world. The rodents are her friends, the grasses are her allies, and nothing, nothing, can deny her."
And that was what the people feared the most, for 'nothing' did, in fact, include the king.
It made sense, some said, to suspect foul play, for to those who had just been casual observers of their relationship, the engagement had seemed rushed and out of the blue. One day, it had seemed as if the two teenagers were nothing more then friends, only companions that had seen each other at their worse and still wanted to be near each other. They had been helping hands for when said help was needed, trusted confidants, but that had been it. Then, the very next day, without the warning of a proper courtship, the two had been engaged to be married.
For many of the less suspicious minds, thoughts had immediately turned to those of a royal scandal, for why else would there be such a rush for the wedding to be in the spring, less than three months away, if the heir to the throne wasn't to be born before nine months of matrimony had passed? However, for some, those who had seen too much of the world in too short of a time, their minds wandered down much more sinister roads.
It was well known that the Shadow Lord had many plans for success. In the slim experience some people had had in dealing with the sorceress Teagan, witches and others with magical powers could do almost anything they wished without consequences. And as any who had visited Ava's shop could tell, love potions truly did exist.
For those who thought just a little too much, assuming that the Enemy had approached a young girl-who was alone and scared beyond all belief-given her the powers she needed to survive by herself and make friends with the creatures that were near, and then demand that she help cast him out of the land, steal the King's heart, and become a puppet Queen in his name was not outside the realm of possibility.
In fact, it was literally the perfect plan, for it was so unlikely it was most likely true.
For a long while, those who had their suspicions kept them to themselves, careful to keep word from reaching their clearly controlled king and his Shadow serving bride-to-be, lest the Enemy reveal his hand and proceed with the twisted plan he surely had in play. In fact, it wasn't until a month before the wedding was due to happen, at the last Full Moon Meeting that Deltora was to be free, with his people surrounding the palace, just waiting to free their king should no appropriate explanation be given, that the leader of the group told his tale of fear before all.
As Forin of Del's voice trailed away into nothing, a shocked silence fell over those who had gathered into the main hall to question their king, eyes wide and mouths gaping as they struggled to wrap their minds around the crazy yet obvious conclusion so many of their neighbors had come to. Lief was no better than the majority of his subjects, for the long minutes of listening to his people talk had shown him just how greatly the Shadow Lord, even in this time of peace, still weighed on their minds. Beckoning Jasmine to his side, it was with a gentle voice that Lief slowly began to tame the fears that still haunted his subjects.
"I thank you, Forin of Del, for telling me of the worries that have concerned you and so many others for so long, though I wish you have brought it to my attention earlier. For, you see, I am protected against every plan the Shadow Lord might attempt against me." Raising his hand as a soft twitter arose amongst the crowd, Lief waited until the noise had once again died down before he continued, his hand moving to hover above the great gems on the Belt. "One touch of the topaz, and my mind becomes clear. For a love potion to work, I would have to drink it willingly, knowing what it was, for the Belt would see it as a poison if it was given to me against my will. In this concern, at least, my affections for Jasmine are true." It was with a small smile that Lief saw some of the people begin to nod in agreement, the worry clearing from their eyes as they accepted his explanation without second thought. Seeing, however, that some were still unconvinced, he continued on to the second reason that would fix the claims his people had been holding against his love.
"You also claim," Lief said softly, forcing the people to watch him closely in order to hear him properly, "that Jasmine is a servant of the Shadow Lord, one of his many plans to gain and hold control of Deltora. This, I can neither confirm nor deny." Automatically, a wave of noise swept across the King and his beloved, who had come to stand by his side at his request. Feeling the glare that was drilling into him from Jasmine, Lief waited until it became clear to his people that he would answer no questions until after they were quiet, his words rising above the ringing silence as he continued. "For ten years, as you yourself have said, Jasmine was raised by the forest. Due to this, she has gained abilities beyond any we could understand. But whether or not she learned these skills through her own hidden ways or from the Enemy is not my concern." Allowing his words to fall away, it was with a slight jolt of surprise that silence met him in turn, his people waiting for this last bit of information that would calm their minds that they were sure was to come. Finding that his tongue would be nothing more then a hinderance, Lief turned to the woman standing by his side and, to the sound of the shocked gasps of his people, removed the Belt of Deltora and wrapped it around her waist.
It was well known throughout the kingdom that the Belt was death to those of evil will, and so as the minutes passed without change, a physical feeling of relief swept over the crowd, their fears and terrors sliding away as each moment left the young woman alive. Grinning at the change that was taking place amongst his people, Lief gently used the Belt to pull Jasmine closer, his eyes shining as he pressed a careful kiss to her lips, causing the diamond to glow with a shimmering glint that could only speak of the love between them. Deciding that no more proof was needed, Lief returned the Belt to its proper place before turning to face the crowd.
"I do not know if Jasmine was ever a servant of the Shadow Lord in the past," Lief said confidently, his arm wrapped around Jasmine's waist to keep her close to his side, "but I can assure you that there is no evil will within her now. I love her, of my own free will, and I can only hope that you, the people that I serve, can accept her as your future Queen."
For the rest of the month, whenever someone protested the idea of their King marrying one so wild and unknown, their worlds were quickly hushed by those who had been at the meeting, for they were the ones who knew just how much their King was in love, and for them, that was finally enough.