Disclaimer: All characters and places recognized belong to Tamora Pierce.
It had been two years ago today that Kel's entire world had changed. It wasn't just the fact that the war had finally come to an end, or that after everything she had done and put into New Hope, and Haven in the beginning, she was being called back to Corus. No, it was something much more personal than all of that.
Kel had been reporting to Lord Wyldon at Mastiff, and was surprised to find Lord Raoul there, when they received the news via mage link from General Vanget. Kel had been relatively shocked to receive the news of peace and her recall in the same sentence. Once the link had been broken, Wyldon had looked to Kel and asked her if she thought she would be able to pass the news to those at New Hope, and reminded her that they had three months to make sure things ran smoothly at the new settlement. Soon afterwards she was dismissed.
In the corridor, Raoul had quickly caught up to a still stunned Kel.
"Kel, I was thinking of loaning you a squad from the Own, they should be able to help with the last minute stuff and, just because peace has been called, don't expect all Scanrans to stop their attacks."
Kel nodded, still seeming to be lost in her thought. Before Raoul left, Kel had finally snapped back to reality. "Sir? How long will I have your men, and which squad will I be having?"
Raoul smiled, "You'll have Dom and his men. I know how much they care for the people of New Hope. Oh, and just make sure you bring my men back to me in Corus. The rest of Third Company moves out within the month."
Kel walked back to her room, thinking about how Dom was to come and stay at New Hope for three months. She had also been trying to fight the butterflies fluttering in her stomach at the memory of the last time she had seen the handsome sergeant. It had been at Steadfast, the double wedding for Raoul and Buri and Neal and Yuki. Kel had been chosen as Yuki's maid of honor while Dom had been Neal's best man; they had sat and danced together for a good part of the night, well every moment that the other men had not claimed. It had done nothing but increase her long repressed crush.
It had been while Kel was day dreaming about dancing with Dom that a knock had sounded upon her door. She had shaken her head at her folly for thinking of things she had no control over, besides Dom had always loved the curvy, pale court ladies, he would never go for a warrior woman such as herself.
She had smiled when she saw Dom waiting in the hallway. "Dom! How good to see you, do you want to come in?" She had opened the door wide, allowing him to pass.
"Thanks Kel." Dom had said, walking into the room and then closing the door behind him. Kel had looked at Dom strangely; never had he closed the door when they were in the others room.
"Dom?" Kel had watched him with surprise, as he quickly paced back and forth, running his hands through his hair, making it fall over his eyes. Kel's hand had itched to fix it.
Suddenly Dom had stopped. "Kel, Raoul just told me that he is assigning my squad to New Hope for three months."
Kel nodded, waiting for him to continue.
He sighed as he continued to mess his hair. "Kel, I…" He had stopped and turned to look at her. "Kel, this is hard for me, but I…I think that I should tell you now, before I lose my courage. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since the weddings. No, that's not true; I have been…growing more and more fond of you. At first, when you were a squire, I had told myself that it was only because you were Neal's best friend. Then you had that sweetheart, and I…I got jealous. That's when I knew that I cared for you. When I found out that that had ended, I was elated. I couldn't believe my luck. But, at the same time, you had just received your command, and the war was in full swing, I couldn't tell you then.
"My heart nearly ripped out of my chest when I heard that you had run off after your people. I would have gone after you even if Raoul didn't send my squad. I thought, maybe I could have used that as a chance to tell you, but between sneaking through the enemy territory and bringing everyone home, I couldn't bring myself to do so. And then at the wedding, I wanted to take you away, outside, tell you everything, but all the men kept interrupting."
Dom had finally looked up to see a stunned Kel watching him. "Kel, I think…I think I love you."
Without thinking, Kel had thrown herself upon Dom, finding herself in a slow sweet kiss. After they had broken away Kel laughed.
"I thought that I was the only one. I thought that you would never care about me like this. I think I love you too Dom."
That had been the tender moment that had finally kick started the two into their long awaited romance. And it had held steady for two years now. There had been short periods when they were together; there were times when they were separated by duty. And then there were the times that the gods just seemed to be laughing at the couple. But they had made it work.
Telling people was the trickiest part of their relationship. They were almost afraid of Neal's reaction, and they knew that the men of the Own would tease them to no end. Even if they meant well, it was just not something they wanted to deal with.
So they didn't at first. Their last three months on the border, they had managed to keep their new found relationship hidden from all of New Hope's residences and their friends.
It wasn't very difficult, most of the time. Since New Hope had been preparing for the day that the knights would be leaving, most of Kel's old jobs were now being performed by Fanche. The residents had even started their own patrols. This left Kel free for hours at a time, seeing as Dom and the people of New Hope would not allow her to help with any of the new constructions being built outside of the walls, even a few that were being started further into the Greenwood Valley, such as a mill and other necessities that would thrive outside of the perimeters.
Even Dom had found ways of being freed from his men, either having them help with the further away projects as carpenters and guards while he stayed within the walls doing odds and ends jobs.
Even with their careful planning and discretion, it didn't take longer than a month before it became known that Sergeant Domitan had a new gal, the only question was who she was. It was times like that when Dom's history as a flirt played a major role in throwing people off track of the truth. All he had to do was wink at this girl, or make her laugh and the whole population would begin to speculate if she was the one who took most of his free time.
Kel even had fun at Dom's expense at one point, publically telling him to keep it in his breeches and let the women of New Hope work. They had quite a laugh about that later that night. It had also led to a conversation of jealousy.
About a month and a half later found New Hope in a jumble of preparing wagons and making last minute fortifications. It had become more and more difficult for them to spend nonmilitary time together, discussing things from roads to take them south, and how often a patrol should be sent to the new town.
Leaving New Hope for what could possibly be the last time was hardest on Kel. She had risked her life and shield to defend the people, earning not just their respect, but also lifelong ties.
That night as the knights and soldiers bedded down, Dom had managed to sneak into her tent. He spent most of that night reassuring her that the people would be alright. That she had trained everyone, right down to the children how to defend themselves.
That was the first night that they actually slept together. Nothing happened but Kel had desperately needed the comfort Dom's presence offered her.
Shortly after arriving back to Corus, Kel was given three months leave, while Dom's squad had only been given a month. Both decided to spend some time at their home fiefs and after only spending a few days in Corus they went their separate ways, writing to each other several times a week.
When Kel told Dom that she was going to be visiting Neal and Yuki in Queenscove, they both became more cautious of how often they wrote to each other, and what the letters contained.
Towards the end of her leave, she wrote Dom to inform him of her return. Sadly when she actually returned to the capital, she found a letter slipped under her door telling her that Third Company had ridden out three days previous and were not expected back to Corus for at least two more weeks.
Kel had to wait for a grand total of six weeks before they rode back into the palace. By that time, the couple was desperate enough to see each other that they threw all discretion out the door. They broke from their kiss to the sound of clapping and wolf whistles from the men.
Looking to the left, they saw a shocked Neal with his mouth hanging open and gasping like a fish. Within a few moments he had exploded, yelling about betrayal and death. It took Yuki with her fan to finally stop the loud ranting if not the glares.
When they explained to a small private group of friends and family about how their relationship had spanned eight months, Neal once again expressed his opinion of having been lied to for eight months by his best friend and his cousin. Once calmed, things went smoothly and the month that followed was relatively pleasant with Third Company staying in Corus to recruit and train.
While indulging in frequent dates and occasional escort to a royal banquet held in the war hero's honor, they still kept the public knowledge of their relationship secret. Dom had insisted that they do so, to save Kel's reputation. While agreeing that she did not need a renewal of slanders made at her, Kel had wished that they had no need of such worries.
There were some parts that Kel really hated with their agreement on keeping their relationship hidden from the court, the court ladies were the worst.
At every court event that they attended, with Dom escorting her or not, the court ladies descended upon him like hungry jackals drawn to meat. Without fail Dom would become surrounded by packs of the giggling court ladies who ignored Kel, or would make snide remarks towards her.
While she hid behind her mask, Dom would kindly remind them of all the hard work Kel had done to end this war. While half of the mindless ladies would back out and leave her alone after Dom's praises, the other would just turn around and tell him that Kel was nothing special in the war effort.
Kel could tell that it was times like this that Dom wished he could just sweep her into a hug and kiss and just leave the ladies to brood. But they both knew that if they did that, then the gossip would spread that Kel opened her legs for any man who held a position in the military forces.
After basic training, the Third Company left for a month of field training, and to Kel's delight, she met with them on the hardest mission they had to face. The mission last a full two months. The job given to the Own and a few additional knights were to flush out some hill bandits from Hill Country.
It was on their first year anniversary that they found themselves in the worst skirmish since they had started to court.
Raoul had sent Kel with Dom's squad and Captain Flyn to scout the area. It was while they were a few miles out that the group was ambushed by a large group of bandits that they had missed.
It was during this skirmish that many of the men were injured before reinforcements arrived. By the time the fighting had stopped both Kel and Dom had been trying to fight with multiple injuries back to back. They passed out from blood loss right as the bandits broke into a run from the advancing reinforcements.
When they finally awoke hours later, it was to the grim face of Lord Raoul. "We got those bastards who jumped you."
"That's good Sir, but why are you looking so grim? Who died?" Dom asked.
Both Kel and Dom were bracing themselves for the new of which of his men had not made it. They had been close to all of them, had fought alongside all of them for years and enjoyed joking together.
"Flyn." This was not what they were expecting. "All of your men survived Dom, for which I am grateful. But now this places me in a difficult passion of finding a new Captain." Here Raoul sighed, the stress of his position showing.
"I have already conferred with the king, he has agreed with my decision. Congratulations Captain Domitan, I would like you to think long and hard as to which of your corporals should be promoted to Sergeant. Also, pick a new Corporal and a new recruit. We have lost two more applicants." Raoul walked away, leaving the couple behind to discuss all that had come to pass.
By the next morning, Dom had promoted Wolset to Sergeant and refilled the ranks of his old squad, all of whom congratulated him on his well-deserved promotion.
Luckily for the Own, that skirmish was the last of their mission and they found themselves back in Corus two weeks later. As soon as they arrived, Kel and Dom went searching for Neal.
Upon seeing Dom's new rank, Neal had sat down and started muttering about promoting useless apes of cousins before standing up and offering his congratulations. As soon as his initial shock was over, Neal noticed the still healing wounds of the people in front of him. He called them seven kinds of stupid for their valiant efforts on getting themselves ripped apart.
Two weeks later, the King sent Kel out to escort the newly married Prince Roald and Princess Shinkokami to the coast. The royal couple were about to travel to the Yamani Islands, along with Kel's parents and a few other key members of the court for their honeymoon and strengthening the ties between the two kingdoms.
With all the wagons, the trip was slow and seemed to drag. It reminded Kel of the Grand Progress. Once free, three weeks later, Kel was finally heading home, a week later, she arrived to Corus to find that Dom and Third Company had been sent out just the day before. But to her utter surprise, she found that Raoul had stayed behind.
When she had asked him why, he stated that it was a test for Dom, to see how well he commanded the company without having Raoul there with him.
Within two weeks however, Kel began to feel like that was not the only reason Raoul had stayed behind. She had noticed that her former knight master was spending more time that normal with the King. Usually after his meetings, Raoul seemed anywhere between pleased or more than slightly annoyed. She had even heard him mutter something about "pigheaded kings who should know better."
It was times like that that she hid, for more than once when he caught her; she was subjected to tilt practice.
It was about two weeks later when Kel discovered that Yuki and Neal were expecting their first child. While Yuki received the news with calm dignity, sharing her fears to Kel in private, Neal was a nervous wreck. Apparently Neal had no idea that Yuki had even removed her charm. Kel just smiled and kept thinking back to the future Irnai saw with regards to Neal's children. She shared this vision with Yuki who agreed that it would be best to not tell Neal.
Two weeks later as Kel was practicing the glaive with Yuki, much to Neal's annoyance, Thayet stopped the practice and told Kel that King Jonathan wished to see her for her next assignments. Escorted by the Queen, Kel entered the King's private study to find a smiling Raoul, a cheerful Sir Myles and a stressed looking King Jonathan.
"Lady Knight Keladry, please sit." The King had insisted as Queen Thayet walked to stand behind her husband. "Lord Raoul has been spending the last month trying to bring about several changes for the King's Own. While I agreed to the promotion of Domitan of Masbolle to captain, he is by far the best choice, and most natural leader, I have needed some persuasion for another future appointment.
Kel sat straighter, wondering why the King had called her to this meeting.
"Keladry, are you in fact in a relationship with Captain Domitan of Third Company?"
Kel had not expected that. "Yes Sire, we have been attempting to maintain a relationship for over a year."
The King looked at Kel with a level gaze. "You have been attempting it you say, why do you have to try?"
The King seemed highly interested, more so than he should have. But Kel was saved from having to answer by Queen Thayet.
"Darling, think about it, they started their relationship on the same day peace was announced, after coming home, they have been sent off in different directions, only seeing each other for a few days at a time. Keladry, correct me if I am wrong, but did you not spend your first anniversary with Captain Domitan fighting bandits and being unconscious from your wounds?"
Kel nodded, "Yes your majesty."
The King sighed, "I still don't fully agree with Lord Raoul, but he did make a fine point Lady Keladry, you are to take over the position of Knight Commander of the King's Own in two and a half months."
Kel turned quickly to Lord Raoul and glared as he laughed at her shocked reaction. "You are a bad man My Lord. You could have at least told me you were retiring and wanted me to take over." This caused a small round of laughter in the study.
"I have been training you to take over this position since I took you on as my squire. Alan is almost ready for his Ordeal; there is still time for me to enjoy my life as a knight, and not a commander."
The following two and a half months found Kel relearning some of the ins and outs of the Own. She worked with First and Second Companies, Raoul standing back and allowing her to learn. One of the helping graces was that Kel had become a war hero, a legend and most of the men in the Own respected her from the start.
Upon her request, and in Neal's case, threat, nobody told Dom or his company about the new commander, they did not even tell him about Raoul's retirement.
So it was on the very day that Kel officially took over the Own and set up her office that Dom returned. She was going over reports from First and Second Company when a knock sounded on the office door.
Before she could tell whoever it was to come in, a distracted Dom entered, starting his report. "Sir, Third Company just arrived back to Corus, our mission was a success. We…" Dom had finally registered that Raoul was not sitting behind the desk, instead Kel was. "Kel? Where is Lord Raoul? Has something happened to him?"
Kel stood, "Captain Domitan, please close the door and sit, it appears that we have much to talk about, would you prefer chilled juice or something stronger?" Kel heard Dom close the door and sit, having not responded, she poured him some chilled juice and set it on the desk before him.
"Now Captain, before you report, I must tell you what has been happening here in Corus during your four months of absence. On personal matters, I assume you have already heard that your dear cousin Meathead and his wife are expecting their first child?"
At Dom's nod, she continued, "Well, Yuki is doing quite well, the babe is growing healthy and she has surprisingly not killed Neal yet." She sipped her drink, wanting to draw out the moment. "And as far as My Lord, well, he finally persuaded the King that the Own needed a new Knight Commander, his last day was yesterday." She looked at Dom's stunned face.
"Raoul retired? Then…" he looked at Kel. "You? The King actually…?" Dom let out a whoop as he jumped up and walked around the desk, taking Kel in his arms and giving her a sound kiss. Having been separated for five months, the couple quickly found themselves on top of Kel's desk, all of its content scattered on the floor. Kel was on her back in her breast band with Dom above her without his shirt. After a few more moments, they both regained a since of control.
Dom quickly got off of Kel and handed her back her shirt and tunic. He then put his back on as well.
"Commander, I…" Kel stopped Dom from continuing.
"Shhhh Dom, we will figure out how to do this. We were friends before we started our relationship; we have fought together before and after it started. We will make this work." Kel kissed Dom again, this time ending it before things got out of hand.
"Now Captain, your report, we have a retirement party to attend."
The following two weeks found Dom and Kel, with help from their friends, come to terms of sorts with their unique position. While it did not fix all the problems, it allowed them talk. In a private meeting with King Jonathan on the running of the Own, Kel was surprised when he asked her how things were with her relationship. Upon her statement that they were unsure about how to work it out, he smiled.
"Lady Keladry, I had a…similar problem when I was a new knight. You see, I was in love with my squire. I spent more time than I ever let her know tormenting myself over her. I tried to…drown myself in the flocks of court ladies that surrounded me. In the end, I gave in. I know now that Sir Alanna and I would not have made a good ruling team. She enjoys beating diplomacy into people more than talking to them. While my relationship could not, and would not have worked out with my famed Champion, I have a feeling that wonderful things will be achieved if you were to continue and advance in your relationship with Captain Domitan. Just keep in mind that, while you as Commander of the Own can marry, the law prohibits Domitan from remaining in the Own if you two are married."
"I know sire, it is one of the current complications. I do not want to be responsible for Captain Domitan leaving the force. He loves his work and the Own is in need of his leadership. Lord Raoul said it to me once and its true your majesty. He once told me that commanders are just as rare as heroes. Dom is a true commander, he keeps an eye out on those around him, he knows who he can trust with larger responsibilities, and everybody in the company respects him and follows his orders without complaint. There are currently no other true commander within Third Company." Kel sighed. "With how rare they are, I expect that Dom and I will never marry, not because we don't love each other, but I would not take him away from the people of Tortall."
Jonathan looked thoughtful after Kel's speech and soon sent her off to her other duties.
Two weeks later Kel and Third Company, who were elated to have Kel back with them, were off to a mission involving clean up after mudslides and earthquakes. Kel was more than happy to leave the palace, for a full week after her very awkward conversation with the King, shouting could be heard between the monarchs. Nobody knew what had made Queen Thayet so angry at her husband, but they all figured that it had something to do with a new progressive law that she wished to pass. They had done it many times before.
After Sir Alanna arrived at the palace, she too was found yelling at her King, although this was far more normal; people were starting to become more uncomfortable in the palace than they had been since Duke Roger walked the halls after death.
Kel was shocked when as they were about to ride out the party was joined by the famed Lioness and Queen Thayet, for once without her Ladies. It took about an hour for an angry letter from King Jonathan arrived, demanding his wife and Champion back to the palace. Kel didn't know what surprised her more, the anger in the King's letter, or the fact that the two older women seemed to be put into darker moods upon its arrival.
It wasn't until they were making camp for the night that Thayet and Alanna took Kel aside to talk to her. "Kel, we're sorry to pull you into this, but Jon has been more pigheaded than normal." The Queen told her. "I just needed to get out of that Palace and remind him that I am a woman who is independent, not some spoiled court lady who is owned by her husband."
Alanna laughed, "I thought that he would remember the last time he thought of you like that, I had half a mind to leave him with all of his wounds." She looked at Kel, "Sometimes Jon just needs a reminder that we women have needs, time with our families, a chance to breath, even the freedom to live the life she wants without giving anything up."
The discussion held by the women varied far and wide, eventually landing on the topic of Kel's romance with Dom. "How do the men handle knowing that you and Captain Domitan are courting Kel?" Thayet asked.
Kel blushed, "They all know of it, but they seem to respect Dom and I enough that they leave us alone. Besides, it's not exactly as if we try to put our relationship on display." She sighed. "Things seemed to have gotten so complicated since my promotion. Dom seems to be…more distant since I was promoted, I know that it's not jealousness over my higher position. It seems to be more, like he is afraid that I would want more form him. Like marriage. I will not take him away from the Own, it is his passion, and he is wonderful as its Captain."
Alanna spoke up, "Kel, you need to tell him this."
Thayet nodded. "I agree you can't hope to fix this without talking to him."
Kel raised her eyebrows. "And this from the married woman who is running away from her husband?"
Thayet laughed, "I have been trying to talk some sense into Jon for two weeks, trust me, leaving is the only way he will see reason."
Shortly after that, Kel went out and found Dom in his tent. "Dom? Can we please talk?"
"Of course Commander."
Kel shook her head, "No Dom, I am not here as your commander. For the past month you have made yourself distant from me, why?" Dom looked at Kel, trying to decide what to say. "Please Dom, just tell me the truth."
He sighed. "Kel, I love you, I don't care about you being above me, and you deserve it. I am just worried what those at court will say about it. I don't want to put you in that position. I am also concerned about where this will go. I know that nobody is ready to take command as Captain, so I can't leave the Own. I feel that people will try to make me leave, marry you and leave the Own in the hands of some idiot that doesn't care about what the Own stands for."
Kel stopped his rant with a gentle kiss. "Shhhh Dom, I would never allow that. I know that nobody is better for this job than you. I would not be selfish enough to marry you and leave the people of Tortall with incompetent protectors. I have told this to the King when he was trying to encourage our relationship."
Dom looked shocked, "The King! He…he wants our relationship?"
Kel nodded, "So do Queen Thayet and Sir Alanna. But don't think about what they want. What do you want Dom? I would love to continue our relationship, as if there has been no change."
Dom smiled, "I want that too Kel." They ended their discussion with long kisses and caresses that had been missing from their relationship for nearly a month. Dom still seemed to hesitate, so Kel began to deepen the kiss and started to pull off Dom's tunic.
Dom pulled away. "Kel, I don't think we should do this here…" he was cut off by Kel kissing him some more. Before he could have stopped her, Kel had already removed his shirt and started on his breeches ties. Dom put a little more force behind keeping Kel from further undressing him. "Kel, please, let's just take this slow, we don't have to do this tonight, we just settled our relationship."
Kel bit her lip. "Dom, I'm ready for this step. I know the implements of this step, but I don't care. We have been dancing around this. Can you honestly tell me you don't want to?"
Dom groaned, placing his forehead on Kel's. "That's not the point love."
Kel kissed Dom again. "Then what is?"
Dom stared into Kel's eyes before giving in. This kiss was more passionate than any that they had shared before. Dom made quick work of Kel's clothes and she was laying beneath him on his bedroll when Dom paused and pulled away. "Kel, are you sure? I know this is your first time."
Kel looked up at Dom, running a hand across his bare chest as her other wound into his hair. "Dom, I have never been surer about anything in my life." And then she pulled his mouth back to hers.
There was no more talk that night and in the morning Kel had snuck out of Dom's tent with a large smile on her face. She returned to her own only to find a waiting Queen and Champion, both smiling evilly.
"I see that things went well in regards to your discussion with Captain Domitan Keladry." Thayet stated, with only a hint of amusement showing in her voice.
"I'm actually surprised Keladry." Alanna started wickedly, "if it were my laddy buck and I, we wouldn't be seen till after breakfast." She laughed at Kel's blush, and then sighed. "Having you emerging your lover's tent makes me remember all the times my lovers and I spent in tents." Thayet slapped Alanna on the arm.
"Alanna!" She giggled, "I hope you are not talking about my husband."
Alanna turned red. "No."
Thayet raised her eyebrow in a mock royal command.
"Fine, maybe a little, but mostly I was thinking of my short time with Liam. And my many trips with George." Alanna looked wistful for a few more seconds. Thayet nudged Alanna.
"So Kel, was this your first time with a man?" Alanna asked, going into healer mode.
"Does anything hurt?"
Kel shook her head, turning red. "Just a little sore."
Alanna nodded, "I remember my first time it was my seventeenth birthday. I know Jon was being gentle, but I was tender."
Thayet nodded as well, "It will wear off soon dear, just continue like nothing has changed." She smiled fondly at Kel. "Speaking of normal activities, grab your glaive."
All of Third Company woke up to quite a sight that morning, their Lady Knight Commander fighting their Queen. From the looks of concentration, they knew that neither woman was holding back. But what really shocked them was when Lady Kel knocked Queen Thayet on her back and held the blade up to her throat. "I yield." Kel bowed and smiled as the men applauded.
They were right, although she had given a part of herself to Dom, nothing had changed, none of the men knew of what their commanders had been doing in the dark of night. But they were wrong at the same time, for everything had changed.
Third Company, Alanna and Thayet had been helping people who had been devastated by the slides and quakes for a month when an urgent message came, asking for Queen Thayet to return to Corus. So leaving Dom in charge of nine of his squads, Kel escorted Thayet back along with one squad and Alanna.
After returning, Kel sent the squad back with more supplies and stayed to inspect the other companies and work on the mountain of paperwork that had piled up on her desk since riding out.
Between paper work and working with the Own, Kel managed to find some time to spend with the now five month pregnant Yuki, who had been missing close female company since the Princess left.
It was happily that Kel rode out with First Company a month and a half later to meet with the newly returned royal couple. She was delighted to hear that their trip had been cut short due to the growing babe in her friend's belly, who was no further than a month along. On the return trip, they rode at a slightly faster pace than when they had left, reaching Corus in two weeks.
But what made Kel happiest upon her return was that they met a returning Third Company, Dom at the head of the column. While having to appear professional in front of two companies, they saved their true reunion until later that night.
As they lay in each other's arms within Kel's bed, they would alternate between talking and discussing topics not covered in Dom's report from earlier, such as the pranks that his old squad attempted to pull upon him. They would also spend time just exploring each other's body.
For once, Kel slept in, having hardly slept during the night. When she finally awoke, she was surprised to find a fresh tray containing enough food for two. A note written by Queen Thayet made Kel blush as she also made a mental note to thank the Queen when she saw her next. Hopefully at tomorrow's dawn practice, her absence that which tipped the observant Queen as to Kel's late night activities.
That was also the morning of several close calls. First, after breakfast and more time spent in bed with Dom, Kel heard insistent banging on her study door, the type that could only mean that Neal was on the other end. Both Kel and Dom agreed that they did not want Neal to know that they were sleeping together. Kel quickly dressed before Neal could break in, and Dom stayed hidden in her bedroom.
Sadly, what called the end to Neal's visit was the arrival of King Jonathan, George Cooper and Sir Myles. This left Dom stuck in Kel's bedroom with the knowledge that Neal was looking for him, they just hoped that Neal would not put Dom's absence and Kel's distracted and flushed look together.
When at last the men left, Dom emerged from Kel's room and they walked down to the mess together.
Kel and Dom spent two full weeks sneaking in and out of the other's room; they felt that that would be safer than just staying in one room every night. It was with luck that they were in Kel's room when an urgent call came in the middle of the night. Kel told the servant that she would inform one of the Captains herself that they would need to gather his men and ride out.
As soon as the door was closed, Dom came out and kissed Kel goodbye before heading out to gather his men, he had heard what had happened and did not need to hear his orders. Kel met them down in the stables and saw them off.
Two weeks after Dom rode out; Kel sat upon her first council meeting. While there were some disapproving looks, things remained calm and civilized. It was a boring two weeks of discussing various details of the running of the kingdom, her having to report more than once on the current work performed by various companies of the Own.
Her interest was piqued upon hearing all of the laws, and even a few new ones that would be voted upon for change or enforcement. But she was highly curious as to why some of the laws were directed at the Own and Riders.
It was during the debates over laws regarding the Own that Kel began to worry that Dom would not be returning in time for their two year anniversary, which was two weeks away. The council was finally finished upon voting on all measures discussed. All that was needed was the signatures of both their majesties and the Lord Magistrate.
Kel spent all of her free time with Yuki, who with two weeks left of her pregnancy was confined to her rooms by her husband. They spent a majority of their time discussing their shared memories as children and the foolish things Neal had done. Kel even told her about how she and Dom had finally started to put her charm into use.
It was on her two year anniversary that she was with Yuki when she went into labor. While she would have loved to go in and be with her friend, Kel waited outside with a crazed Neal who kept insisting that he needed to be in there.
Finally tired of having to stop Neal from rushing in and disturbing all those attending his wife, Kel dragged Neal to the practice courts. While Neal only halfheartedly joined the duels, it gave Kel the chance to fully realize how much she wished Dom would be here.
Her wish was soon granted, for shortly after winning yet another duel, Kel heard clapping behind her and Dom's voice proclaiming "Well done Meathead, I see that Keladry can still easily beat you."
Not caring who saw, Kel through herself at Dom and gave him a long passionate kiss before telling him about Yuki. Deciding that they should return and see how the birthing was going, the three of them returned to the palace.
An hour before Neal's and Yuki's daughter was born; a servant appeared with an important looking scroll for Kel. Upon opening it, she let out a gasp; all new laws regarding the Own had passed. Unable to say anything, Kel handed the scroll to Dom who just stared at the paper. Unable to get a response from either one, Neal took the paper from his cousin and started to read it out loud, but his voice quickly faded until he cried out, "Members of the King's Own who claim the rank of Sergeant of higher, or those of the Queen's Riders who claim the rank of Commander or Second in Command may, if they so choose, marry and remain within their position."
Neal looked up shocked. He nearly fainted when he saw the scene playing out in front of him.
Dom was on one knee in front of Kel, holding a small trick box opened that held a magnificent ring. "My dearest Keladry, I was tonight as Captain Domitan of Third Company, to turn in my resignation papers to Lady Knight Commander Keladry of Mindelan. I was then planning on taking you out to dinner and proposing as just Dom. But with the passing of this law," here he set the box on the floor and drew out his papers and tore them in half, "I ask you to by my wife, to command me as my Knight Commander when the need arises, but to by my equal in marriage."
Neal stood still as he watched his best friend glow.
"Dom! I would have refused to accept your resignation from the Own, and had you insisted, refused your proposal. But, with these papers torn, yes!"
The very moment that they newly engaged couple kissed, a baby's cry was heard through the door, which was opened to reveal a very tired looking Duke Bard holding his granddaughter. He stared at the scene before him, Dom and Kel engaged in a long kiss and his son, the new father looking in awe at his new daughter, forgetting that just moments ago, he had witnessed what had once been his greatest fear.
Yes, it had been two years ago today that Kel's entire world had changed. Peace had been declared, her time at New hope was coming to an end and her life with Domitan of Masbolle had just begun.
AN: I have been working on getting this fic up since the 25th of September, which was in fact my two year with my boyfriend. I promise to all those who are reading and waiting for a new chapter of Out of the Fire, that all my writing efforts will be put towards writing the next chapter, which is started, I just need to find time to finish it, hopefully while I am not in class...