Disclaimers ~ These characters belong to me. If they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental.
Bad language ~ No.
Love/sex ~ Romance between conseting women. If this offends you, you're in the wrong place. Go back now and forget you were ever here!
Author's note ~ Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome. Loves_to_write_fic@yahoo.co.uk
Copyright © 2008
Keera woke up, blinking as the rising sun hit her eyes. Sitting up, a slow smile spread across her face as she remembered today was Leslie's graduation.
It was also the day she planned to propose.
The past couple of weeks had been hard, with school coming to an end, the warriors' training getting more intense as they neared they departure date, and Rayna brooding over the Princess' decision not to see her, Keera herself had come to an important decision. She loved Leslie Youngs, she did now and always would. And, now that it was her love's graduation and she would be free of her studies, the warrior had decided to propose.
Rolling out of bed, the warrior stretched, moaning in delight as everything popped back into place. Naked, she walked over to the drawer where she had hidden the ring she'd had made for the redhead and took it out, holding it up to admire the beauty of it.
I am about to go off for a year, I might not be back, and yet I'm going to ask Leslie to marry me. Keera frowned. Totally selfish. She ran a finger lightly over the gold, Celtic designed ring. It had cost her a lot to trade for, but Leslie was worth it. But I have loved her my whole life, and I want her to know I want to love her for the rest of my life. She put the ring back down and proceeded to get washed and dressed for the day.
Dressed in the smartest trousers she owned and a clean white shirt, Keera walked out of her bedroom and found her family already seated around the small kitchen table. "Good morning."
Three heads turned in the young warrior's direction, her parents smiling and greeting her, while her younger sister laughed.
"You're awfully dressed up for breakfast!" Flora commented in amusement.
Keera scowled. "I'm going to Leslie's graduation. I wanted to look smart for it." She sat down, thanking her mother as a bowl of porridge was set in front of her. "Are you going to be at the graduation ceremony?" she asked Karita, seated on her right.
"I'm not sure. I am assigned to Arcadia but I'm not sure if she's going or not."
"Hasn't she started doing her Royal duties yet?" Valonia, Keera's dark-haired mother, asked. "I thought Queen Athena would have started teaching her all she needs to know and making her attend those sorts of things?"
Karita nodded. "She has. Arcadia joins her when the senate meets, and she attends visits around the island, all the usual duties. She is suppose to attend graduation with the rest of the Royal family, but she might opt to spend the day elsewhere."
"Thank you for breakfast, mother," Flora said. "I'll go and start seeing to the sheep," she said standing.
"Okay, love. I'll be out once I've cleaned up the kitchen," Valonia told her.
Flora was the youngest daughter of three. Valentina, the eldest and first child born to Karita and Valonia, had married Cass Masoun, a designer, and now lived on the other side of the island in a two-floored, modern house that her partner had not only designed, but helped to build. Then it was Keera, who was following in Karita's footsteps by becoming a warrior. Then the youngest, Flora, who unlike her sisters, loved the life of a farmer and had opted for that as her career.
"Mother, would you sit for a moment, please," Keera asked Valonia, once Flora had left out the back door, heading for the family's fields.
"Okay." The dark-haired woman frowned as she looked across to her wife, wondering what was going on. "Is everything all right, Keera?"
"Yes, fine. Well, hopefully." Keera cleared her throat. "I uhm...I wanted to let you both know that...uhm...I plan on asking Missy Young for Leslie's hand. I want to know that I have her acceptance."
The two mothers looked at each other, then at their daughter. Valonia smiled, eyes watery with happy tears, as she reached out for her daughter's hand.
Karita scowled. "Are you sure about this?" the Royal guard asked. "You're only sixteen. Valentina didn't get proposed to until she was nineteen."
"That's because she didn't know who her soul mate was. She did a lot of dating until she found Cass. I have never had that problem, it has always been and will always be Leslie Youngs."
Karita couldn't argue with that. She smiled in acceptance. "You are right. I'm sure Missy will give you her blessing."
"I hope so."
The Royal guard stood. "I better get going. Keera, do you want to walk halfway with me?"
The young warrior shook her head. "No, I told the Youngs' I would meet them in the village square, so I have awhile yet."
"All right." Karita walked around the table and kissed her wife. "I'll see you later, love."
"Bye, darling. Be safe."
Keera watched her mother leave, then looked back at her dark-haired mother. "Were you ever worried about marrying mother?"
"Worried?" Valonia frowned. "No, I don't think so. Why do you ask?"
"She was a warrior, and now a guard for the Royal family."
"Oh." Valonia smiled, a slight blush rising to her cheeks. "We got married as soon as we turned sixteen. Much like Leslie and you, we had known each other all our lives."
"How did you cope with mum being away for a year?"
"She wasn't away for a year, she returned after three moons."
Keera frowned. "Really? Why?"
"She was with child." Valonia smiled as she watched her daughter's dark green eyes widen in surprise.
"With Valentina!" the young warrior gasped.
"I...I didn't know that!" the young warrior spluttered. "I always assumed you had us all."
"I had you and Flora. Your mother didn't really want to be away for a year, and she wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth, so chose to try and get pregnant. So, we uhh...well, you know. Then she went off for her final test, only to return three moons later when she found out she was with child." Valonia tilted her head. "I don't suppose there's any chance of you doing that?"
"I haven't even asked Leslie to marry me yet, let alone ask her opinion on children!"
"Oh, like she's going to say no to you!"
"She might. I have to go away for a year. Maybe Leslie would like to go out with other girls while she can. I mean, she has only ever been associated with me."
Valonia reached out and took her daughter's hand. "You won't know until you ask."
Keera took a deep breath and smiled for her mother. "Why don't you go and help Flora. I will tidy up in here, then leave."
The dark-haired woman stood, then bent to kiss Keera's head. "Thank you, love. I will see you later. With good news I hope."
* * * * *
In the village centre, the Queen and her consort were due to be seated up on the stage for the graduation ceremony.
The Royal family always sat up on the stage when they made a public appearance and for important celebrations, such as graduations and Royal birthdays and weddings. But the stage was also used by the women of the island, for trading and performing.
Today, up on the stage, slightly off to the side, a table had been set up and now held the scrolls of the girl's graduating.
Keera met Leslie's parents, Missy and Hestia, in the village square. Leslie was off towards the back with the other girls who were graduating in her class.
Missy led her wife and her daughter's sweetheart towards seats in the middle row. She didn't want to be too close to the stage, otherwise they would have to crane their necks looking up.
They had accepted Keera long ago and always treated her like one of the family, knowing that one day the two girls would be married and the families joined.
Before the two women could sit, Keera stopped them. "I just...I, uhh..." she cleared her throat and took a deep calming breath. "I plan to ask Leslie to marry me later on and I uhm...I wondered if I had your blessing to do so?"
Leslie's parents looked at the warrior in surprise, then at each other, smiling suddenly.
"Oh, Keera!" Hestia exclaimed. "Of course you have our blessing!" She pulled the young warrior into a hug.
Missy nodded. "We've known for a long time that you and Leslie belong together. In fact, I was a little surprised when you didn't ask on her birthday when she came of age."
Keera blushed. "I thought about it, but then I thought we should concentrate on our last few weeks of school."
Hestia took the young warrior's hand. "That was very sensible of you, honey. You have our full blessing."
Smiling goofily, Keera let the two women sit down, then took her own seat. Wow, I have their complete blessings! They are happy for us! Now I just have to ask Les! Green eyes widened. I hope she says yes!
Queen Athena and Dionis, dressed in their best Royal robes, left the Palace and began their walk towards the village square.
They were followed by the Princess, then the Queen's mother, Aaronia, and her consort Mina. Behind the Royal family and slightly off to the sides, were the Royal guards.
Athena greeted her people, often leaving her wife's side to wander over to the women lined up along the path to shake their hands and accept small gifts from them. She was a popular Queen and very much liked.
The Royal family finally reached the stage and climbed the steps to take their seats.
The women who were seated in the village square fell silent as the Queen took to the front of the stage, everyone waiting for her opening speech to begin.
Keera was fidgeting nervously and kept sneaking glances back over her shoulder to where the students were standing. Now that she knew she had the blessings of the Youngs, she really wanted to see Leslie. Alone.
"Women of Belleza, we are gathered here on this glorious day to honour a very special group of women," the Queen started in a loud, clear voice. "These young women wish to discover new things, they wish to improve our lives even more, and the lives of our future generations."
The crowd applauded.
"It gives me great honour to meet them and I wish them all the best in their career choice." Athena started reading out names alphabetically.
* * * * *
Leslie bounded over to Keera and flung her arms around the warrior. "Hey, honey."
"Hello, sweetheart. Congratulations on graduating."
"Thank you." The redhead placed a soft kiss on the warrior's lips, humming in delight from the sweet act, then remembering her parents, released her girlfriend to hug them.
"We're proud of you, honey," Hestia said, tears running down her cheeks.
Missy put her arm around her wife's shoulders. "What are you girls going to do now?" she asked the two teenagers, knowing Keera would want some alone time with her daughter.
Leslie blinked in surprise. "Aren't we going to the party that our community is throwing?" she asked, looking at Keera.
"Later. Let's go to the waterfall first, I want some alone time with you."
Waving goodbye to Leslie's parents, the two girls started walking, heading into the trees of the forest. There was no set out path that led through the forest, so they had to be careful, not only of falling, but of the wildlife that lived hidden in the dense forest as well.
They walked mainly in silence, Keera leading the way, lost in thought of how to propose, and Leslie with confused and slightly troubled thoughts.
Light green eyes flicked to Keera, then back down to the forest floor. She's going to break up with me! She's going away for a year and God knows what she'll get up to! We're going all the way to the waterfall so she can do it privately and any scene I make won't be heard or witnessed by anyone!
Reaching the smooth rocks that surrounded the large pool of water and the running waterfall, Keera stopped, smiling as she breathed in the air. "It's so beautiful here, isn't it?" she turned to look at Leslie.
The warrior stepped behind her girlfriend and wrapped her arms around Leslie's waist, her chin resting on the redhead's shoulder. Leslie covered Keera's arms with her hands, fingers lightly stroking bare skin. They remained silent, watching the water crash to the never calm water below, both savouring the moment.
Keera kissed the side of Leslie's neck. "I'm going to miss you so much," she sighed wistfully.
Leslie bolted out of the embrace and whirled around to face the shocked warrior. "You are breaking up with me!" she exclaimed, on the verge of hysteria.
Keera's eyes widened even more than they had. "What! No, love, no, I am not breaking up with you." She moved forward and cupped the redhead's cheeks. "Leslie, I have loved you my whole life. Why on earth would you think I'm going to break up with you?"
"You're going away. I...I thought maybe you wanted to experience...others."
"By the Gods! No!" Keera leaned in resting her forehead against Leslie's. "I...actually, I..." Dammit, Keera, spit it out! She kissed trembling lips, looking into light green eyes she adored. "Leslie, I..." She got down on her knees. "I have loved you my whole life, and will always love you, no matter what. There is no one else for me." She took the ring out of a small pouch she wore on her belt. "Leslie Tricia Youngs, will you marry me and let me love and cherish you forever?"
Leslie gasped in surprise, a hand flying up to her mouth. "You're...proposing?"
"Yes! Of course, yes!" The redhead fell to her knees in front of Keera. "I love you so much and there will never be anyone else for me either, Keera."
With happy tears running down her cheeks, Keera slipped the ring onto Leslie's left ring finger. "Are you sure about this, Les? You can think about it while I'm away, you know, so you are sure."
"Oh, honey," Leslie said, wrapping her arms around the warrior. She kissed Keera possesively on the lips. "I am sure. And I want to marry you before you leave."
Keera pulled back so she could look into the eyes she adored. "I don't think..." she started, shaking her head.
Leslie put a finger to Keera's lips, stopping her protests. "I know something could happen to you. That is why I want to marry you, Keera. I would rather be married to you for a few days, than not at all."
Keera smiled, fresh tears trailing down her face. She leaned forward and kissed her fiancée. "I love you."
"And I you." Smiling, Leslie stood. "Come on, let's get to that party. I want to tell everyone!"
Keera laughed as she stood as well. "I'm pretty sure your parents will have beaten you to it."
"You told my parents you were going to propose?"
The warrior blushed. "I uhh...I wanted to make sure I had their blessings."
"Oh, honey!" Leslie flung herself at the warrior, hugging her tightly. "You are so adorable!"
"Yes, well, don't tell anyone. I'm a warrior you know."
Leslie took Keera's hand. "Your secret is safe with me."
* * * * *
As the couple came into view of the celebrating women, a loud cheer went up. Both girls blushed furiously, but accepted the congratulations.
Missy, Hestia and Valonia stepped out of the crowd, all three in tears. They took turns hugging the girls.
"We're so happy for the both of you!" Hestia gushed, hugging Keera tightly.
"You make a lovely couple, it's about time you made it official!" Valonia added, shooting a mock scowl her daughter's way.
Leslie looked across to Keera and winked, before turning back to look at their parents. "And how do you know I said yes?"
The three older women stopped suddenly, the nearby crowd going quiet at the redhead's words, everyone looking at both girls seeking an answer.
Leslie laughed, followed by Keera. "Of course I said yes!" the redhead said, wrapping an arm around her fiancée.
Their mothers smiled brightly, shaking their heads at the redhead's antics. Karita appeared out of the crowd, holding six mugs of beer. She handed two over to the Youngs, and one to her wife, dropping a kiss on her head. Smiling proudly, she walked towards her daughter, handing over another mug of beer. "Keera, I am very proud of you!" She looked at Leslie. "And you, young lady. I am very proud to welcome you to the family officially."
The young couple smiled happily, arms around each other, both glad their families accepted their love.
Karita turned to face the large crowd and held up her own beer mug. "Let's celebrate!"
A loud cheer went up, women holding up their mugs in agreement. A group of women started playing their wood instruments and drums for entertainment, and other women started bringing out food and more drink.
"So, you finally did it!" Rayna called out, as she emerged from the crowd. "About time!" She hugged Leslie. "I was about to steal her away from you."
"You would have had to beat me!" Bedilia added, appearing next to Keera. She hugged her smaller friend. "I am happy for you, Keera. I am happy for both of you," she hugged Leslie, while Rayna hugged Keera. "I wish you both all the best and hope that you live a blessed life together."
"You see what a little beer does to them," Keera smiled at Leslie. "It turns them into mush!"
Leslie laughed. "And you too, my love. I have seen it with my own eyes!"
Rayna and Bedilia laughed heartily, as Keera blushed. The two taller warriors nudging their smaller counterpart.
"Come, my love," Keera said, taking her fiancée's hand. "I feel the need to hold you close, let's dance."
Rayna stood off to the side of a makeshift dance space, watching couples dancing to the soothing tones of a few wood instruments still being played. Her parents were among the couples and she smiled as they danced, their affection for each other evident.
"Something to strive for," Bedilia said, coming to a stop next to her friend.
"Mmm," the dark-haired warrior agreed, lifting her beer mug to her lips.
Rayna sighed. "Yes. This whole plan of hers is crazy, right?"
"It seems like it to me, but then, I never heard the extract from the diary. I guess it really hit her what could happen."
Rayna turned to look at her friend. "Do you think she is trying to distance herself from me, just in case?"
Bedilia shrugged. "I wouldn't go that far. I think she just wanted to give you space to concentrate on what's coming up. This way, if anything does, you know, happen, she can't blame herself."
Sighing again, Rayna turned her attention back to the dancers. "What's going on with you, Bedilia? Keera and Leslie are betrothed, I am...seeing the Princess. What of you, my friend?"
The warrior smiled, sipping from her own drink. "I haven't met the one yet, if that's what you mean. I have...stepped out a couple of times, but...they just weren't right."
"When we get back from our year away," Rayna paused, looking again at her friend. "Are you going to stay with the warriors or become a Palace guard?"
Bedilia blinked in surprise. "You know me, Rayna. I'm not one to stand around all day on the off chance one of the Royals wants to go out. And guard duty at the Palace is long and dull. I am fairly sure I will stay a warrior." She watched Rayna nod, her attention drifting again. "And you, Rayna? What will you decide?"
"You know me, Bedilia."
"I used to. Now...if I had to guess, I wouldn't be so sure."
Rayna finished her drink, taking time to consider her response. "I love Arcadia, you know." If Bedilia was surprised, she didn't show it. Rayna continued when she got no response. "I don't know if I could put her through that. Me being a warrior, I mean. The having to see me go off whenever our help is requested, the waiting and not knowing," the warrior sighed. "If I want a life with her...I think I have to give up what I always wanted."
Bedilia frowned, surprised at her friends decision. "Has she said she would prefer you not being a warrior? Has she asked that you give it up?"
"No. It's just...something I have been thinking about."
"Rayna, for as long as I have known you, being a warrior, the best warrior, has been your dream. I can't see the Princess wishing for you to give it up."
"You're right, she knows it is what I have always wanted, but...it wouldn't be fair to her, would it? She is to be Queen, that is hard enough without the stress of not knowing about your missing partner."
"But what would you do?" Bedilia questioned. "I know you, Rayna. You would get bored after awhile, then what? It's not like you can start a new career."
Rayna nodded. "True." She turned, smiling at her life-long friend. "I am just musing, my friend. We will see how things stand when we return. I don't even know if I am what the Princess wants."
"Are you attending her graduation?"
"I could. I could surprise her by turning up. What do you think?"
"I think I will get up and save you a seat."
Laughing, their arms wrapped around each other's shoulders, the two warriors made their way over to Keera and Leslie, wanting to carry on their celebration.
Long into the night the drinks flowed, music played, and the women celebrated, not only Leslie's graduation, but her engagement as well.
Tuesday afternoon was equally as nice as Monday had been. The sun was high in the pale blue sky and no clouds were in sight. A good day for Arcadia to be graduating.
As future Queen, she didn't need a career, but had been schooled as an educator. At a young age, the Princess had taken a keen interest in the island's history and her family, and for her thesis, had researched her entire family history. She was graduating top of her class.
"Can you see her?" Athena asked her taller partner.
Dionis scanned the throng of students standing towards the back of the square. "No, my love."
"She is here, isn't she? She hasn't gone off somewhere with Rayna?"
"Of course she is back there," Dionis laughed. "Athena, my love, calm down."
The Queen scowled at her wife. "Our little girl is graduating, how can I be calm?"
The dark-haired woman smiled. "You can remind yourself that Arcadia is graduating top of the class."
Athena returned Dionis's bright smile. "And so she should. She put so much time and effort into her research, she deserves nothing less."
Dionis kissed her wife quickly. "You just concentrate on your speech, my love. Arcadia will be fine and we will be celebrating in no time."
Aaronia and Mina stepped up onto the stage, smiling and hugging the Royal couple.
"Daughter, stop fretting!" Mina scolded Athena. "Arcadia is back there, you just can't see her."
The Queen gaped at her blonde mother. "How do you know that was what I was worried about?"
"I am your mother, and I know these things."
"Are we late?" Aaronia asked. "Were you waiting on us?"
"No, no, you're on time," Athena reassured her parents. "I was waiting for the women to settle."
"Oh, right. Well, good luck, sweetheart. I am sure your speech will be wonderful." Aaronia took Mina's arm and led her towards their spot at the back of the stage.
* * * * *
Rayna quickly made her way through the dense crowd, towards the village square. She had meant to get there early, but had overslept after the engagement/graduation party the previous night.
She hadn't told the Princess she would be attending her graduation, she wanted to surprise the small blonde, so she sent Bedilia ahead of her to reserve seats. Now it was just a matter of finding her friend and avoiding Arcadia.
As she half crouched her way along the rows of seats in search of Bedilia, something hit her on the back of the head. She turned, scowling at everyone behind her.
"Rayna," Bedilia waved.
Rayna hurried over and sat in the empty seat next to her friend. "Did you have to throw something at my head? It's a little sore this morning."
Bedilia laughed. "I know what you mean. That was definitely a great party last night."
"Why didn't you just call out?" Rayna continued complaining.
Bedilia puffed out her chest. "That is the first and probably the only time I have ever managed to hit you."
Shaking her head in amusement, Rayna turned her attention to the stage, the ceremony about to begin.
The Queen took her place at the front of the stage, ready to begin her speech. She was nervous for the first time in a long time, knowing her daughter was about to begin the next phase of her life.
Rayna fought the urge to turn around in search of the Princess. They hadn't seen each other for a week and knowing that the small blonde was behind her somewhere, was driving the warrior mad with the desperate need to see her.
"Women of Belleza, we are gathered here on this glorious day to honour our future teachers and historians," Athena started loudly. "These young women, who will record and keep safe details of our lives, our future children's lives, and those who will teach the next generation."
The crowd applauded.
Athena started reading out the name's alphabetically. Rayna was delighted and proud when she found out Arcadia had graduated top of her class.
"Your girl's a real brain," Bedilia commented, a little surprised.
"Yes she is," Rayna smiled proudly. Not just beautiful, but smart too.
"So...what does she see in you?" Bedilia joked.
Rayna elbowed her friend, scowling, then winked. "It's the muscles," she laughed.
* * * * *
The warrior made her way over to where the Princess stood with her very proud parents. Arcadia spotted her moving through the crowd and rushed towards her, a beaming smile pasted on.
The blonde jumped at Rayna, wrapping herself around the dark-haired teen, before kissing her deeply. "Mmm, you taste like ale," she stated, after their kiss ended. Her head tilted to the right. "Why do you taste like ale?"
The warrior smiled. "There was a party last night and I was drinking."
"Oh, okay. What are you doing here?"
"I came to see a friend of mine graduate. Couldn't find her, so thought I would come and congratulate you instead." She flinched as the Princess hit her. Smiling, she kissed the blonde's head. "I came to see my girl graduate and top of the class too. Why didn't you say anything?"
Arcadia blushed. "I don't know, I didn't know you were coming."
Rayna kissed the Princess again. "I had to come, wanted to surprise you."
"Well, I am surprised." Arcadia jumped down from Rayna and took a large warm hand in both of hers. "How about we slip away for awhile? I have really missed you this past week."
Rayna smiled. "I've missed you, too. Do you think your parents will let you slip away? It is your graduation, after all. Surely they want to celebrate with you?"
"Wait here a moment."
The warrior watched the blonde make her way through the crowd back to her family. She went to Athena, the two blondes talking briefly and smiling, then the Princess turned and made her way back towards Rayna.
"I am yours for awhile," Athena said as she stopped in front of the warrior.
"Lead on, Princess."
* * * * *
Rayna was sitting on the soft green grass, deep in the forest, leaning back against the thick trunk of a familiar old tree. The same tree they had been at when they had shared their first kiss. It was a glorious day, and not just because she had a beautiful woman straddling her lap.
The warrior ran her fingers through long golden hair, as her tongue danced with Arcadia's. She kissed her way down a warm neck, as the Princess turned her head to check on the position of her Royal guard.
Seeing that her guard had given them some privacy, Arcadia lifted Rayna's big, callused hands and placed them on her robe front so they were covering her breasts. "Oh, by the Gods, Rayna!" she groaned, as the warrior gently kneaded her breasts through the material.
After not seeing each other for a week, Arcadia realised just how much she really wanted Rayna. She had been miserable and desperately missed the warrior. After much thinking, she was pretty sure she would be able to handle the life of a warrior bride.
Sighing, Rayna suddenly dropped her hands and tilted her head back, breathing hard.
"Are you okay, love?" Arcadia asked quietly.
Rayna looked at the beautiful blonde and smiled at the endearment. "Uh-huh. We have to stop though."
Leaning back, Arcadia smiled, then leaned forward to claim her warrior's lips. Breaking the kiss before it could get out of her control, she tilted her head to the side and attached her mouth to Rayna's neck.
After being sure she had left a mark, Arcadia pulled back again. "There, now everyone will know you belong to me," she informed the dark-haired teen, her green eyes sparkling.
Rayna let out the rumbling laugh the Princess loved to hear. "I'm fairly certain everyone has already guessed, Cadie! You weren't exactly discreet in your greeting earlier."
Arcadia got up and moved the warrior's legs apart, taking a seat between them and leaning back against Rayna's solid chest.
Rayna leaned her head against Arcadia's and wrapped her strong arms around her. "Did I tell you why there was an almost all night party?" she asked, not remembering if she had said anything.
"No, you didn't. I assumed it was a graduation thing."
Rayna smiled and tilted her head to kiss the blonde's neck, just because she could. "Keera proposed to Leslie, and she said yes."
Arcadia turned in the warrior's arms, her face lighting up in delight. "That's wonderful! I'm so happy for them."
"So is the community," Rayna said. "We all knew they would end up together, it was just a matter of when."
"That explains why mummy dismissed Karita this morning," the blonde murmured.
"Sent her home to bed, she looked terrible!" Arcadia laughed. "Are they going to wait until Keera gets back?"
The warrior shook her head. "Friday."
"Friday? They're getting married this Friday?"
Rayna nodded. "Yes. Keera told Leslie she didn't have to answer, you know, when she asked, but Leslie said yes then and there and told Keera she wanted to do it before we leave."
Arcadia's smile dropped a little. In case something happens to Keera, she thought with sudden horror. She would rather be married three short days to her sweetheart, than not at all! Like great, great grandmother Abrona! Suddenly filled with melancholy, the Princess wrapped her arms tightly around Rayna and kissed her.
"Mmm. What was that for?" Rayna asked as the long, deep kiss finally came to an end.
Rayna smiled and returned the kiss, though this one brief. "So, are you busy Friday?"
Arcadia tilted her head in thought. "Uhm, I don't think so. Why?"
"I was wondering if you wanted to come to the wedding with me?"
"Oh, right. I will probably be there seeing as Leslie is my cousin."
"Oh, right." Does that stop her from coming as my date? Or maybe she just doesn't want everyone seeing us officially together? I guess with me going away, she'll date other girls. She felt a pang of hurt and jealousy, and quickly cleared her throat. "Maybe I'll see you there then," the warrior said as she stood up. "I better be getting home. I hardly had any sleep and I have chores to do."
"Rayna," Arcadia started hesitantly.
"Would you...would you like to come to the graduation dance with me?"
Rayna blinked in surprise. "You want to go with me?"
Arcadia smiled. "We'll uhm...have to make an announcement."
"That we're going to a dance together?" Rayna asked in surprise, her brow furrowed.
The blonde nodded. "The people like to know these things, who I'm stepping out with, my public appearances, blah, blah, blah."
"Wow, you're like...Royalty," Rayna joked. "You didn't tell me you were Royalty!"
Arcadia reached out and slapped the warriors thigh. "Apparently it's been the same for each member of the Royal family. It will be the same for our children." Light green eyes widened. For our children! By the Gods are you trying to scare her away, Cadie!
Rayna grinned at the adorable blush the Princess suddenly wore. "Sure, Cadie. I'll come to the dance with you. You go ahead and do whatever it is you have to do."
The blonde chewed on her bottom lip. "We uhh...we could tell everyone together. They'll probably be a bother to you if we don't face them."
Rayna smiled and reached out for Arcadia's hand, kissing the backs of her fingers. "Okay, Princess. Just tell me when and where."
* * * * *
"Are you ready, sweetheart?" Arcadia asked her fidgeting warrior. She was a little nervous about the upcoming event, and knew Rayna was even more so.
"Yes, I suppose. You...you didn't mention we would have to go up on stage."
"I know. I didn't want to scare you." Arcadia stood on tiptoes and kissed the dark-haired teens lips. "It'll be fine, Rayna. I'm going to be right there with you." She tugged on the warriors hand, leading her out of the Palace. "It won't be so bad once we get started, you'll see."
The two teens stood side-by-side up on the stage holding hands. Jada Theccan, a worker on the Queen's public relations committee, stood in front of them, facing the crowd.
"Okay, ladies, listen up," Jada said loud enough for all those present to hear. "Princess Arcadia, next in line to the throne, will be attending the graduation dance with the warrior, Rayna Banks." She paused while the large crowd muttered and whispered and called out questions. Jada held up a hand, not speaking until everyone fell silent. "They will now take some questions. But remember, they are young, and this is nerve-wracking." She stared long and hard at the crowd before stepping out of the way, standing off to the side of the stage.
Arcadia tugged Rayna forward.
"When did you two meet?" an energetic blonde, near the front of the stage asked.
The Princess smiled, squeezing Rayna's hand. Good, an easy question to start. "We first met back in school, on our first day."
"Have you kept in touch with each other all this time?" Was the next question.
"No, we lost touch when I was pulled out of school to start my Royal teachings."
"You met up again just recently then?" Coralee Atwell called out.
"Yes," Arcadia nodded.
"Who asked who out?" Yolanda Sexton asked, her daughter, Kemina, having had one date with the beautiful blonde. "Traditionally, it's supposed to be you, Rayna. How did you do it?"
Rayna blushed crimson and cleared her throat nervously. "I uhh...I didn't. Arcadia, I mean, the Princess...."
"Arcadia is fine, sweetheart," the blonde quietly told her girlfriend, giving her a reassuring smile.
Rayna smiled, then turned her attention back to the crowd. "Arcadia got tired or impatient of waiting for me to ask her out, so ended up asking me."
Some of the women laughed.
"How did you ask, Princess?" Coralee asked.
"I went to one of Rayna's training lessons, and afterwards, after having the life scared out of me by her tree-top antics, she came over to say hello, and I sort of blurted it out." The blonde laughed. "We just sort of went from there."
"You went to the Princess' graduation, didn't you, Rayna?" Blyth Sheehan started. "Does that mean the Queen gives her approval of you two going to the dance together?"
"My mother is happy if I'm happy," Arcadia replied quickly.
"Is there more to your relationship than just going to the dance together?" Blyth continued. "Should we rush out to get wedding dresses?"
The two teens looked at each other, not sure what to admit to just yet.
"No, I don't think so," Rayna answered. "We're going to the dance together, then I'm going away to finish my training. No one should read too much into it."
"So this isn't that serious between you?" a brunette asked, hoping she still had a chance with the blonde Princess.
"We're..." Rayna searched for the right words.
"We're taking each day as it comes," Arcadia picked up. "We care for each other deeply, a friendship that comes from our childhood. Right now though, we're...getting re-acquainted with each other. If it develops into a life long commitment, well..." she shrugged and offered a smile.
"We'll invite you to the wedding," Rayna finished, smiling at Arcadia with love in her eyes, as the crowd laughed.
Arcadia shot a look across to Jada, letting the woman know they were done for the day. "We have to get going, ladies. But thank you for all being so civil."
"Enjoy the dance, girls," an older woman called out.
"Save a dance for me," added another.
"Thank you," Arcadia waved. "Bye."
* * * * *
By Thursday, nervous girls had their dates arranged and new clothes ready in preparation.
Rayna was a nervous wreck from the moment she woke and got up, much to the amusement of Keera, Leslie, and Bedilia.
"Rayna, you have got to calm down," Keera laughed.
The girls watched the tall warrior walk back and forth across the house.
The dark-haired teen scowled at them as she stopped moving. "How can I be calm! Women are going to be hanging about the Palace waiting for me to arrive," Rayna said, starting her pacing again. "They'll be shouting out questions, embarrassing questions, and cheering or booing, and then," she spun around, looking at the women seated in front of her. "They'll probably follow us all the way to the grand hall."
Leslie burst out laughing, setting off the two warriors sitting either side of her. "Rayna! Take a deep breath, before you pass out."
Rayna flopped down into a chair. "And then we'll be watched all night!" she added, pouting.
"Rayna," Bedilia broke in. "You are dating the Princess. What did you expect?"
"So, are you two coming?" Rayna asked Keera and Leslie, changing the subject.
"Yes, of course," Leslie replied, squeezing Keera's hand. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"You know, 'cause you're getting married tomorrow."
"We're going," Keera said. "It's a chance to hold my girl close," she smiled at Leslie, who leaned closer to the warrior to kiss her cheek.
"And who are you taking, Bedilia?" Leslie asked, turning her attention to the other dark-haired warrior. "There's a rumour going around that you're seeing quite a few women!"
Bedilia buffed her fingers against her shirt. "What can I say, the ladies love me!"
Rayna and Keera laughed and shook their heads at their friend.
"I'm going solo," Bedilia finished, scowling at her friends.
"Really?" Keera asked in surprise.
"I couldn't decided who to take, so I thought I would go alone and leave myself available to anyone who wants to dance."
"God, why didn't I think of that!" Rayna said, earning a glare from Leslie.
"I happen to know just how much you care for my cousin," the redhead said. "Why you pretend otherwise, I don't know!"
"We're warriors," Bedilia defended. "We're all...tough and...hard and uncaring."
"Yeah," Keera nodded in agreement. "None of that mushy stuff."
The gong signalling nightfall sounded, causing Rayna and Bedilia to look nervously at each other.
"Come on," Leslie laughed. "This isn't a death sentence!"
Rayna straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath. "She's right. It's just a dance."
"That you're taking the Princess to, where everyone will stare, and...." Keera frowned at her fiancée, as the redhead covered her mouth with a hand.
"We'll see you there," Leslie said. "And Rayna, don't worry so much. She picked you, remember that."
* * * * *
Rayna stood in the dark, hidden by the shadows of the trees, as she watched the crowd of women hovering at the Palace gates. By the Gods! They're like dogs with a bone!
Kicking the ground at her feet, the dark-haired warrior realised she had to get it over with sooner or later. May as well be sooner, she thought. They're certainly not going to go away.
The warrior sighed and left her hiding place as she walked towards the gates.
"It's Rayna!" someone yelled out, everyone whipping around to watch her approach. The loud rumble of shouted questions startled the warrior. She couldn't tell one from the other as the voices merged.
"Rayna, will you be dancing tonight?"
"Rayna, can you dance?"
"Are you and the Princess betrothed?"
"Can anyone else approach the Princess, or are you two officially together?"
"You have been seen around the island together, your arms wrapped around each other...."
"Just how far have you two gone?"
Rayna scowled as she rushed through the gates as they opened, giving Karita a relieved smile.
"Hello, Rayna. Nervous?" the guard asked, a knowing smile quirking her lips.
The teen smiled at her best friend's mother. "No, ma'am."
"Liar," the guard replied, laughing. "Keera's a nervous wreck, despite attending with her future wife! You can go straight in," she said, pointing towards the Palace. "I think Dionis is waiting for you."
Rayna swallowed hard. "Thank you, Mrs. Shepherd. See you later." The teen made her way over to the Palace front doors, relieved to see the Queen waiting for her instead of her consort, who tended to be frightening when it came to her family.
"Your Majesty," Rayna greeted, bowing.
"Hello, Rayna. You look very smart this evening," the Queen said, smiling.
Rayna looked down at her new trousers and dark coloured shirt. "Thank you, your Maj-..."
"Just Athena while we're behind closed doors, hmm?"
Rayna smiled politely and nodded once in acceptance.
A cough from behind them made both women turn. Athena's green eyes teared up, as she looked at her baby looking all grown up and amazing. Rayna gaped at the vision Arcadia was dressed in a light blue dress that almost matched the warrior's own eyes.
"Are you charming my mother again, warrior?" Arcadia asked, smiling.
Rayna cleared her throat. "Well, she looks so beautiful, I at first thought she was you," she replied with a smile of her own.
Both of the blondes blushed at the compliment.
"Are you chatting up my wife?" Dionis growled, appearing suddenly.
Blue eyes widened. "Uhh...no, Dionis. I was...I was uhh..."
Dionis smiled and patted the warrior on the shoulder, putting the teen at ease. "You make me look bad, warrior." The dark-haired woman kissed her wife and winked, before offering the Queen her arm. "Shall we go, my love?" She led the blonde out of the Palace, leaving the two teens to stare at each other.
"You look...beautiful," Rayna finally said.
Arcadia smiled shyly. "Thank you. So do you."
"Are you ready?" Rayna asked, getting a nod from the Princess. She offered her arm to escort her date, and followed after Dionis and the Queen.
* * * * *
Rayna slowly made her way back through the crowd, trying not to spill too much from the mugs she held, to where she had left Arcadia talking with a group of girls she knew from around the Palace.
So far, the evening was going well. The young couple had only been bothered when they left the Palace, after that Athena ordered the women to be kept at bay so the girls could enjoy their evening. Keera and Leslie had met the couple and spent part of the evening talking to them, putting them at ease, despite all the stares coming their way, before Arcadia ordered her cousin to go and enjoy dancing with her partner. Getting over her unease, Rayna had asked the Princess to dance and had spent many songs holding the small blonde in her arms, the best part of her night so far.
Getting clear of the bulk of the crowd, Rayna looked up and felt her heart drop a little. Lexie Sheehan, daughter of the Queen's head adviser, was standing very close to Arcadia, openly flirting with her.
The warrior knew that many on the island thought that Arcadia and Lexie would be a good couple. Arcadia was predicted to become a great Queen, strong and competent in her role, learning everything she needed to know from the present, much loved, Queen. And everyone knew Lexie was being taught by her mother to carry out her role for the future. Married, they would be a power to be reckoned with. And it didn't hurt that both women were breathtakingly beautiful and would surely have smart, good looking heirs.
Sighing, Rayna walked over to the two women and smiled as she handed the Princess one of the mugs she held.
Lexie took the other mug and placed an empty one in Rayna's hand. "Thank you, waitress."
The muscles in Rayna's jaw jumped as she ground her teeth together. Taking back her drink, she growled, "It's Rayna, actually, and Arcadia is my date."
Lexie laughed loudly, getting the attention of a few girls standing nearby. "Why would the Princess be on a date with a peasant?"
Arcadia stepped in front of Rayna as she saw the warrior make a slight move towards the obnoxious girl. The blonde turned to face her girlfriend and wrapped her arms around her neck, smiling up at her. "Dance with me?"
Seeing that Rayna's now dark blue eyes didn't leave Lexie, Arcadia pulled the warrior's head down and kissed her softly on the lips, not caring that everyone around them was watching or that they would speculate about the couple's relationship. "Dance with me, love?"
Rayna looked down into sparkling green eyes, her anger dissipating. Bowing her head slightly, she smiled. "Of course, Princess." The dark-haired warrior led the blonde onto the area that was for dancing and held Arcadia gently as they swayed together, aware of the glare she was getting from Lexie and a few other women present. She had claimed the most sort after heart without too much effort, and not everyone was happy for the two girls.
Across the room the Queen's wife watched on in amazement. "Beauty soothed the angry beast!"
Athena laughed at her wife's statement. "Rayna is quite dashingly handsome."
Dionis glanced at her wife. "I suppose. What I meant was, whenever someone gets angry they turn beastly, hence the term the angry beast."
Athena smiled affectionately. "It was the same at our dance, my love. What is it with you warriors?"
Dionis frowned at the small blonde. "What happened at our dance?"
"You don't remember?" Athena asked, the hurt evident in her voice. "At our dance, you were ready to take off Zamira's head," the Queen recalled.
Dionis laughed loudly and pulled her wife against her side, hugging her. "Oh, yes." She kissed the blonde's temple. "It was her own fault, love, everyone knew we were together and very much in love!"
The Queen patted her wife's arm. "They know Arcadia is here with Rayna, they realise there must be something between them, sadly, it doesn't deter some from trying to interfere."
They watched the young couple dancing, the two girls as close to each other as they could be, whispering quiet words that made them each smile.
"Has our little girl found her life mate?" Dionis finally asked, her eyes on the good looking couple, one tall, dark, and strong, the other small, light, and calming.
Athena smiled warmly at Dionis, squeezing her knee. "Yes, my love. I think she has."
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