Her parents had arranged for her to marry a prince and even though she did not know or love him, she had willingly said yes to help her family. With their marriage there would be peace between the two kingdoms and that meant a lot to her. They promised to follow on another ship in a weeks time so her father could give her away and she assured them that she would be excitedly waiting their arrival. “Oi Princess, dinner is ready if you would like to join us.” The first mate Kelgi said and she turned to him with a smile.
“I think I will grab something for me and Owen and head up to the crows nest.”
“As you wish princess.”
Artair stood on his balcony staring out over the sea. His bride, Princess Liosa was on her way and would be arriving in the morning. He was not looking forward to greeting her, but he had no choice. It was either marry her or the kingdom went to his brother Baltair and that he would not have. Baltair was wreckless, easy to anger, and a well known womanizer. He would have their kingdom at war within a week of his reign. His brother Calum was still too young and uninterested in running a kingdom. He preferred to spend his time running in the woods and howling at the moon than thinking about politics so responsibility fell to Artair. He sighed and went to bed, leaving his balcony door open so the cool ocean breeze could blow in.
Artair struggled to fall asleep. It didn’t make any sense to him why his father insisted he needed to be married to run the kingdom. it was no matter. He was sure he could grow to love the woman coming and if not they would atleast become good friends. Artair had heard nothing but good things about her and knew she wasn’t just some spoiled brat he had to marry. It was still unsettling to commit your life to someone you didn’t even know. Their parents could have atleast let them get to know eachother and see if they could have actually fallen in love but they just set it up, he had been given more of an ultimatum than a choice in the matter.
He decided not to throw too big of a pity party since he doubted she had much say either. He didn’t know much about her parents but he couldn’t think of anybody who would want an arranged marriage instead of one based on love and want to live out your life with that person. In any case he wouldn’t close his heart to her. He didn’t want this but he would open himself up to the possibility of falling in love with her.
Liosa sat up in the crows nest, too excited to sleep. She looked up at the stars as Owen talked about each constellation and how they had recieved their names. She always enjoyed listening to him, finding it very comforting. She imagined if he had any children that he was the best story teller. Her eyes finally started to drift closed a few hours later and Owen covered her with his blanket before going back to watching the ocean and stars. The next morning she woke to Owen’s voice and stretched while smiling at him. “Good morning my friend, have we made it?” She asked as she folded his blanket.
“We are just pulling into port ma’am. Would you like to see?”
She stood and gasped with wonder at the large city that was made of white marble and grey stone. It was absolutely gorgeous in the morning light and she wondered what it looked like at night. She and Owen climbed quickly down and she ran to the bow, waving and calling to the men below who were tying off the ship. “I can’t believe this will be my home.” She said excitedly then ran to thank the captain. She gave him a big hug and he looked almost sad to see her go. “How long will you and your men be here?” She asked.
“A few days.”
“Please come get me the day you leave so I may see you off.”
“You are such a gracious princess and it would do the men good to see your smiling face as we pull out.” She hurried off the ship, turning this way and that to take it all in as she made another turn she ran head long into someone and was knocked down.
“Are you alright miss?” She looked up and both she and the man froze. Her red hair and bright green eyes giving away her identity and the guards at his back giving away his. “Princess Liosa?”
“Aye, dia duit agus is feidir leat a bheith bheannaigh.” She said as he helped her to her feet.
“Sorry, I didn’t understand.” Artair replied as he looked at this strange woman with her wind blown hair.
“Oh sorry, it means hello and may you be blessed. It’s an old greeting that I sometimes use. I forgot you don’t know my native language.”
“I guess I will have to learn it” Artair said, trying to make an effort. “Oh no, I’ll just try not to speak it. We already have a language to speak together. Don’t trouble yourself”
“well, we’ll see. How was your boat ride?”
“Very nice. Everyone was kind to me”
“good” he answered, feeling awkard “so you like your new kingdom?” Liosa blushed “yes, I should have been watching where I was going. This place is so beautiful I lost myself”
“You are alright, just don’t behave that way around my father.” Liosa nodded, knowing his father as the cold hearted king. “I cna escort you around your new kingdom if you wish” Artair offered “thank you” she answered, knowing she had made a bad first impression. They both felt nervous as they walked around and he talked about certain things. Liosa was glad to see this kindness and know he wasn’t like his father. She atleast hoped he wasn’t.
“we need to return to the castle now for lunch so my parents and siblings can meet you.” Artair said in a semi emotionless tone. “alright” she said, giving him a smile then adding “thnak you for telling me about your home”
“It wasn’t any trouble. Gave us somthing to talk about.”
“Maybe you can show me the woods surrounding this place some time. I would really like to know every inch of my new home.”
“If I have the time.” They walked up the maid road, the two guards close behind them.
Liosa giggled and the two guards couldn’t help but smile at her happy disposition. When they made it back to the castle the two guards went their own way. A maid grabbed her bag and took it upstairs to the room across from Artair’s. When they entered the dining room all the men stood at the sight of Liosa. “Oh hello, nice to meet you.” She said with a bright smile. Artair pulled her chair out and she thanked him as she sat and he pushed her in. The men sat and continued eating.
“Princess, how was your trip?” Maol asked.
“It was very exciting, I’ve never been across the sea. I must thank you for the oppurtunity, it was truly a gift.” Maol frowned at how openly she spoke.
“I must ask to make sure your father spoke to you, but you do know what marriage between royals entails right?”
“Yes sir I do, it’s no big deal. I am to produce and heir and I’m supposed to start trying the first night of our marriage.” Her openess made Una blush, the king frown, and his two other sons cover their mouths so as not to laugh. They had never met someone like her.
“Excuse me father, may I talk to my fiance.” Artair said as he stood and grabbed her arm then pulled her from the dining room. “Women do not tend to speak so openly about such things here.” He said under his breath.
“I noticed, what a sad thing to never speak your mind. You might as well get used to it, I say such things all the time.”
“And how is having sex with a man you do not love not a big deal?”
“I do not do this for you or I, but for my family and for them I can do anything. Now, shall we go back to lunch, I feel walking out was rude.”
“speak your mind all you want with me but dont do it infront of my father. This will not go well if you keep on like that” Liosa sighed ‘I will be your wife and serve you as a wife does but if you’re fine with me talking and are to be king what does it matter. Are you afraid of your father.” Artair gave a sigh in return “I’ve heard much about you. Definitely not this but I guess there will be things we have to get used to about eachother. I’ve never met a woman like you so this is new”
“everythings new to me too but I made a promise to my family and am doing a service to my kingdom. If that means being with a man I dont love well then I’ll do it. A princess’s life isn’t her own. It belongs to her people. No matter what my duty is as your bride its no big deal because I’m helping the people I do love” Artair felt a bit childish now. Atleast he got to stay in his own kingdom. She had to leave her home and the ones she loved to be surrounded by strangers in a foreign land. He was definitely getting the much better end of this deal.
“No need prince, come now lets eat with your family.” They went back to the dining room and Liosa smiled as she sat back down and ate her food. Artair’s brothers Baltier and Calum asked her many questions about her homeland whish she was more than happy to answer. She could tell Maol was not pleased with her carefree attitude, but she did not let it get to her. She was who she was and she would let no man take that from her. As lunch was coming to its end and older woman entered the dining room, making all the men stand.
“I see she has arrived and no one came and got me.” She said as she crossed over to Liosa who came to her feet with a big smile. “You are more beautiful than we were told. I am Barabal, Maol’s mother.”
“How nice to meet you ma’am. May I have hug?”
“Of course, of course.” They hugged each other and Barabal took the seat next to Liosa. “I hope this lot is treating you well.”
“Oh yes ma’am, they have been very kind. I’m quite looking forward to living here.”
“I am glad that my grandson will have someone so perfect by his side.”
“Aye, it should be a grand adventure that I’m very excited about.”
Barabal looked at Artair. “Have you given her a tour of the castle yet?”
“No grandma, but I can right now if she would like one.”
Liosa’s eyes lit up. “Yes please and you can show me my room.”
“Perhaps you should go with them Calum to keep them from engaging in any inappropriate behavior.” Maol said.
“There won’t be any of that sir, I’m a virgin, but if he wishes to join us I would be most delighted.”
“I would love to go”Calum said as he stood. Maol looked surprised she was a virgin. Her parents must have not shared that with him. Calum was glad he was invited to take Liosa on the tour of the castle. He already liked his soon to be sister in law and was looking forward to having her around the castle. He actually found it refreshing to meet a woman who spoke and had a personality. The caslte might actually be a more exciting place with her in it. Artair took her from room to room he and his brother telling her what they were used for, some history and answering any questions she had about each room.
Calum even took her to his room so she could meet his rat. Unlike other women he had shown his pet too Liosa took the rat in her hands and gave him a few gentle strokes “Nice to meet you” She said then handed him back to Calum who set him back down on the bedroom floor. The last place Artair showed her was her room. “this is so gorgeous” she said in awe then Artair answered ‘you will be the next queen so you will always be lavished this way”
She laughed. “If you want to spoil me you’ll take me on a hike tomorrow.”
“I don’t know.” Artair replied.
“Oh come now brother don’t be such a stick in the mud. When was the last time you allowed yourself to enjoy the woods? When was the last time you shifted even?” Calum said.
“I have never seen a creature such as you shift before. Will you please take me and show me?”
Artair couldn’t help but find her enthusiasm infectious and told himself he didn’t care how his father reacted. Her smile and bright eyes made warmed him. “Alright, this evening then when everyone is asleep.”
“Thank you so much. I want to see it all and be able to take my siblings out when they get here. You’ll love my family.”
“Are they all like you?” Calum asked.
“Oh yes, we’re all wild. My youngest sister especially.”
Artair and Calum escorted Liosa out back to the big garden and she gasped in wonder, taking off at a run and turning in circles as she let the sweet smell surround her. She couldn’t wait to show Anna. She let herself fall into the soft green grass and looked up at the blue sky. “This place is so amazing. I just love it. Come and watch the sky with me, lets see what shapes we can pick out of the clouds.”
“We best not, our father would be out here in an instant to reprimand us for being so unprincely.” Calum said, his voice taking on a sarcastic tone.
“Your father needs to learn to relax. Being serious all the time is bad for anyone’s health. His face will permanently be stuck that way if he doesn’t smile.” She got off her feet, not even bothering to dust herself off. “Oh well, how about we go to the library. I want a book.”
“thats one of the few things our father approves of us doing so lets go” Calum answered. Artair followed, actually finding himself wanted to not be princly and have fun with this woman. She was bringing out a side to him that had long since been pushed down due to their fathers strictness. Being around her was the most alive he had ever felt. He still didn’t love her but in not even a day she had managed to make him fond of her. They took Liosa back to the library where she browsed the books. She seemed to be reading all the covers, unable to choose. Artair stood and walked to the bookshelf in the very back of the room.
He plucked a book quickly off the shelf and brought it to her. “I like this one a lot. Maybe you will too” She read a little bit and smiled “sounds like somthing I’d like, thank you”
“I will suggest to you all the books I like. Hopfully this will be a way you enjoy yourself here” Liosa was already comfortable and over the awkwardness but she felt Artair was still a little tense ‘you can relax. I like you even though you fussed at me earlier” Calum interjected before his brother could answer “that was probably more for your benefit. Dad is very strict and doesn’t appreciate women talking like you do” Artair nodded “it was, I find myself enjoying you. If I was going to have to go through an arranged marriage I’m glad they found me someone that will be nice to live with”
“I doubt I’ll be easy to live with, I’m extremely stubborn. You should have seen the faces of some of the boys who tried seducing. They were extremely angry.”
“Oh speaking of our brother Baltair is a bit of a womanizer and since he knows you two are not in love he may try his hand at getting your pants.” Calum warned.
“He’ll try if he wants his ass kicked. I’m not above smacking royalty.” Calum laughed and a smile tugged at Artair’s lips, making him look his age. “I have to say I really like your smile Artair, it’s quite cute.”
“Oh uh thank you.”
“I think I’m going to take this book and read in the garden for awhile. You are welcome to join me.”
“I have to get something for my rat, but you two can go ahead.” Calum could see the already growing affection and wanted to give it space to further blossom.
“Well come on then my dearest fiance, let me read to you while we relax in the garden.” He followed her back outside and they sat in the grass together. She flipped the book open and started reading. He couldn’t help but picture her reading to small children and instantly felt guilty. He hated they would be stuck in a loveless marriage and the idea of getting her pregnant only made it worse. She seemed so happy and content, not shedding a single tear or screaming in denial while he worried constantly about hurting her.
“Liosa, can I ask you something?”
“Do you want children someday?”
“Well yes, I think I would love that very much. I wonder if they’ll be able to shift shape. How wonderful would that be. I know there is a ritual your kind performs to give humans your abilities. Perhaps someday you could do that for me. Then we could all run through the forest together.”
Artair smiled “I’m glad you want children. As you read I could imagine you reading to our children and then I felt guilty.”
“Even if i didn’t want any we would have to have them. It’s part of the arrangement. The deal will be broken if I don’t become pregnant.”
“It’s amazing how selfless you are. I shamefully admit i was wallowing over this a bit”
“Well I’m glad you like me now. I’m already fond of you too. We just need to loosen you a bit. I was seriously asking if I could be a wolf someday though”
“after we are married I know my father and the other wolves would be happy to change you.”
“Then our kids will definitely be able to change right?”
“They’ll be so cute. I wonder what color wolf I’ll be. What color are you?”
“I’m a dark black”
“I’m excited to see tonight”
“When i come back into my human shape I’ll be naked though so be sure to avert your eyes”
“Thanks for the warning”
“would you mind reading to me some more. I really enjoy the sound of you reading out loud”
“Of course, I love reading” Liosa and Artair sat out there with their story until dinner which they were both shocked to be called for “how did so much time pass?” Artair asked. “I know, this is a good book. I will definitely take your recommendations” Artair gave her a genuinely happy smile. Lets go in and eat. My father doesn’t take well to tardiness from us. they qucikly walked inside then joined the rest of the family at the dinner table. “do you like the castle?” Maol asked “it’s gorgeous” Liosa responded.
“So how did you two spend your day?” Barabal asked.
“The boys gave me a tour, the garden and library are my favorite spots. Then I read one of the books Artair suggested. It was so amazing we both lost track of time.”
“I’m glad you are enjoying yourself dear.”
“There is much to enjoy here and I can’t wait for more amazing experiences. Something you wish to say Baltair, you’re staring rather intently at my breasts.” Her bold words shocked him and he jerked his eyes to her face and she smiled at him. “Are they really that nice, I always found them to be quite boring, but then again I have to live with them.”
Maol cleared his throat and she went back to eating, catching the smile on Artair’s, Calum’s, and Barabal’s faces. She was glad at least they seemed to love the way she was. She couldn’t help but be this way. She was raised in a family of outspoken people and there was no way she could stop herself from being so. “I heard you have sisters, are they all like you?” Baltair asked.
“Oh yes, except for the virgin part, that is just my youngest sister and I. My brother Ellar and sister Anna have both had lovers. Don’t take it the wrong way, they’re not whores or anything.”
Una blushed and said, “So what are they then?”
“Adults who have chosen to follow their own paths. Just like me ma’am. I choose to be here because I wish to be and I am truly glad I made that choice.” Maol huffed, but she ignored it as she enjoyed her meal. The food was so different than that in her homeland and very delicious so she ate slow to savor the new flavors. Once dinner was over she told them all goodnight and headed to her room. A couple of hours later she heard tapping on her balcony door and looked up from her book. It was Artair and she quickly got up and pushed the double doors open.
“Ready for some fun?” He asked.
“Then climb on my back and hold on tight because we’re climbing down the castle.”
Liosa did so with an excited smile. He climbed down effortlessly then they took off for the woods. Artair didn’t want to be near the castle and chance his father seeing him shift without reason other than fun. When Artair was sure not a soul would see him but Liosa he asked her to close her eyes and she did. He took off his clothes then shifted. he gave a small yip which told her she could open. She smiled at him then reached down to pet and scratch his fur. “I know men don’t like to hear this but you look so cute. I love those blue eyes” Artair made a happy noise to let Liosa know he didn’t mind her calling him cute in his wolf form though he hadn’t expected such a description.
He enjoyed her hands on him, more so than he thought he would. It felt so good, especially when she scratched behind his ears. It was amusing to Artair how she was treating him as if he was a puppy. He stgarted to shift back and she shut her eyes. When his clothes were back on he told her she could open and she did with a thank you “Do you want to go on a short walk?’ Artair asked. “That sounds nice” Liosa answered.
She took his hand and he felt himself grow hot. He was glad she couldn’t see the blush that crept into his face. He pulled her through the woods, showing her all the plants and making sure she knew which ones were toxic. She just smiled, seemingly fascinated by the land. He told her about the animals then took her down into a valley where there was a lake. “This is so beautiful, come on, lets play.”
“Tag.” She slapped his chest and took off running, laughing as she spun in circles. He took off after her and she gave a little shriek of delight as she ran from him. The wolf in him yipped joyously at the chase. When he finally caught her he lifted her off the ground and her kicking knocked him off balance so he fell in the grass. They lay their laughing and catching their breath.
“You’re pretty fast for a human.” He said.
“You’re pretty slow for a wolf or were you enjoying it so much you just didn’t care.” She said as she sat up and looked down at him.
“The second one.” He sighed and got to his feet. “Come on, we should be getting back.”
“May I have a piggy back ride?”
“Of course.” She hopped onto his back and he took off at a run back to the castle. He whispered for her to be quiet when they got back and quickly scaled the side of the castle.
“Thank you for that.” She said when he deposited her on the safety of her balcony.
“You’re very welcome. I’ll see you in the morning.” She kissed his cheek.
“Good night prince.”
Artair smiled and his blush returned. This one she could see clearly and he knew it. “Goodnight princess, maybe I’ll take you out again somenight soon”
“any time you’re willing to take me I want to go” Artair left, wanting to hurry to his bedroom. It wasn’t that he wanted to get away from Liosa but he didn’t want to be caught out of his bedroom late at night. Liosa laid in her new bed happily. She was actually enjoying herself despite Maol not liking how open she was. Artair liked it and he was the one she was to marry so it didn’t matter. If she wasn’t seeing things he blushed at her kiss which told Liosa her fiance liked her as much as she was begining to like him. Liosa found sleep rapidly. She wanted tomorrow to come so she could learn more about her home and spend more time getting to know who she would be marrying.
When morning came she joined the others in a happy stride. “You slept well?”Brabal asked with a knowing smile. She knew her grandson had gone out with Liosa and was happy to see them getting along so well. She thought everyone deserved real love and hoped they would develop love for eachother.
“Oh yes, my bed was so soft.” She replied with a big smile.
“You have a bit of grass in your hair dear.” Barabal plucked it out.
“Thank you, I thought I managed to brush it all out, but I guess not.”
“So when is your family supposed to get here?” Maol asked as they waited for breakfast.
“My parents said in a weeks time, but knowing my father he has probably become impatient and they’re already on their way.”
“Good, the sooner the better.”
“I agree, I’m very excited about getting married. What kind of traditions do you have? We have a few that are a lot of fun.”
“Like what?” Calum asked.
“We have a dance that the family does for the bride and groom. They gather in a cirlce around the newlyweds and dance. It’s supposed to bring luck and happiness. Then we have the baking contest where the queens and the best bakers in the kingdom make their best dish and the newlyweds judge them. We also have wrestling competitions. Anyone is allowed to participate and it’s a lot of fun.” She answered.
“We have a play that tells the history of our kingdom and how the wolves came to be here then the townspeople give the bride and groom gifts and blessings.” Maol replied.
“That sounds like fun. I would love to know your history.” Liosa said with her big smile.
“Does nothing get to you?” Baltair asked.
“Nope, I have always had a very happy disposition. If you let every little thing make you upset then you will never see how beautiful the world around you is and you’ll fall into a depression. That is something I refuse to do young prince.”
Baltair, Artair and Barabal smiled at her answer while Una shyly ate and Maol didn’t seem to react in anyway emotionally. Barabal seemed laid back enough so Liosa wondered how he got to be so grumpy. She hadn’t met his father so maybe it came from the king before him. She would ask Artair what his grandfather was like later to hopefully solve the mystery. Breakfast was just as delicious as lunch and dinner had been. She hoped they had new stuff frequently so she’d get a chance to try all the new dishes this land had to offer her. If they didn’t change out their menu frequently she would change that once she was queen.
When they were excused Artair asked ‘will you continue reading to me where you left off last night? I already know the story so you don’t have to continue where you left off with me”
“That would be a nice way to spend more time together. I’ll be able to finish the book with how far I am so after that I’d just like to talk so we can get to know eachother better”
“alright, you can ask me anything. I’ll answer all you’re curious about. I’m curious about much more concerning you too” It only took her two more hours to finish the book then she asked ‘where’s your grandpa”
“He’s been dead for a few years now”
“was he serious like your father?”
“He was serious but not to the level my father is. He took how grandfather was and amplified it”
“Since I’ve been here I’ve wanted to ask him if he ate something disgusting. His poor face muscles must be exhausted from staying in the same position. Does he ever smile?”
“My mother told us that he smiled when were all born. I guess he would since we are all boys. I guess he smiled the day of his wedding. Other than that, I have never personally seen him smile.”
“How sad, I bet more people would approach him if he didn’t always make that face. So the way I heard it your kind are immortal beings. How did your grandfather die?”
“The ship he was on got caught in a terrible storm and sank. He was on his way home to my grandmother. He washed up a week later. It was very sad, though my father did not cry I could see he was upset. My grandfather was his hero.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss. Moge zijn ziel in verde.”
“What does that mean?” He asked and she laughed louder than intended.
“I’m sorry, it means may his soul be at peace. I keep forgetting you don’t understand my native language. Anyway, why don’t you ask me some things.”
He got a serious look on his face as he tried to think of something to ask. She smiled and he finally asked, “What’s your favorite color?”
“Brown, the color of earth. I have a hooded poncho that is a wonderful shade of brown. My mother made it for me so I wouldn’t get cold or wet.”
“Finches. I love the way they flit about, always chirping, never holding still and they make such a wonderful sound.”
“Just like you.”
Liosa smiled “I take that as a compliment, thank you”
“It was a compliment. To be honest, you are as beautiful as you are energetic”
“Well you being a wolf suits you. You are handsome but can be a fierce creature. I learned that with the angry tone you took with me on my first day. While you are a fierce creature you can be absolutely adorable and a wonderful companion. Artair gave a small smile “It truly was for your own good. I didn’t mean to come off so harsh”
“I know that now”
“do you think your parents and siblings will like me?” Liosa smiled at the fact Artair cared about that. “you make me happy so I’m sure they’ll like you. They will only care about how happy I am here. Why is your mother so quiet?”
“That’s truly just how most women are around here. She’s happy being submissive and quiet since she and every woman around her has been raised that way. You and my grandmother are an oddity in this kingdom.”
“I cant wrap my mind around being happy never speaking your mind”
“Truly most women don’t have a mind. Not to be rude but they aren’t taught much of anything other than how to be wives. I like how you and grandma are though. I’m sure you can tell how much my father dislikes it but hopefuly with you as queen the way women are raised can slowly be changed. I wouldn’t change it all right away but I’m sure if the change was slwoly made it could be changed without any uproar from people”
“I’ll probably frighten the poor dears. Can you imagine me climbing up trees to rescue cats or running into burning buildings or dancing with the children in the city center.”
“I will never let you run into a burning building.” He said seriously.
“I wasn’t aware you could let me do anything. Will you imprison me in a tower wolf prince? I think I could climb down.”
He frowned. “I didn’t mean it that way. I never want to restrict you, just protect you.” His frown deepened and she reached out and cupped his cheek.
“I was only joking, don’t get upset.” He grabbed her hand and held it there, loving the warmth of her skin. She smiled and he pulled her hand away.
“Don’t be, you’re really very sweet. I want to make you something as a thank you for taking me out adventuring last night.”
“You don’t have to do that, your smile is enough.”
“There will be no debating this. I want to make you a chocolate potato cake. Werewolves can eat chocolate right?”
“Sure we can, but my father may not like you in the kitchen. I mean my mother can cook, but he prefers the chef do it.”
“If he has a problem then he can open his howler and say so to me, not that it’ll make much of a difference. Perhaps I can win him over with my food if not my obvious charm.”
“You are truly a brave woman.”
“Thank you, I’m glad you think so. Now come on, take me to the kitchen. I don’t know this place well enough yet to find it on my own. Perhaps the chef would like to learn how to make my cake.”
Artair took his fiances hand then guided her to the kitchen. The chef greeted them with surprise “prince, princess, how may i help you?”
“I’d like to use your kitchen to make chocolate potatoe cake”
“If thats what you want tell me what you need and I’ll get it out for you”
“Want to watch me so you know how to bake it?”
“Yes, anything that would make my future queen happy” Liosa listed the ingredients she needed and the chef quickly fetched them. She went over step by step everything she was doing to make sure the chef caught everything. When it was finally placed in the oven Artair breathed easier since his father hadn’t caught them both in the kitchen. He would be furious no doubt and give another one of his long, nearly never ending lectures. Liosa chatted with the chefs in the kitchen until the cake was done.
Everyone tried a piece and all agreed it was amazing. They savoured the new flavor as she had been savouring their food. “thank you for teaching me princess’ the head chef said. “I have many things to teach you how to cook but this is all for now. I’m glad you all like it.”
“I’ve never heard that about my food, but thank you all the same.” They heard voices coming and it sounded like the king and queen.
“They’re coming to go over the menu for the wedding. I forgot.” The chef said.
“Oh don’t worry about it, you can just say I pushed my way in here and wouldn’t leave.”
“I couldn’t do that.”
Liosa smiled and looked at Artair. “Please go and hide, no reason both of us should get in trouble.”
“I won’t run away and leave you to face him alone.”
She giggled. “I had no idea I was marrying such a stubborn man.”
Maol and Una walked in, the king stopping in his tracks. “Artair what are you and the princess doing in here?”
“What else would you do in a kitchen dearest king. We were cooking, well the chef and I were cooking.” Artair cleared his throat, but Liosa just continued to smile at the king and queen.
“Cooking is the chef’s job princess.”
“Cooking is the job of whoever wishes to learn it and besides we made something delicious.” She cut them each a piece of cake and crossed the room. “Eat it please, it’s really good I promise. I’ll leave now so as not to start anything. Artair would you like to join me?”
“I’ll catch up.”
“Okay, see you later then.”
She left the kitchen hoping the king and queen would enjoy her food. She knew even the meanest beast could be tamed by something delicious. She went into the library and looked over the books, once again having trouble deciding. “Need some help princess?” She looked back and smiled at Baltair.
“Only if you promise to keep your hands to yourself and not be too flirtatious. I will throw one of these at you if you try anything and I’m a very good shot.”
“aw, come on. I’m handsome, your beautiful and you have no love for my brother nor he for you”
“You not not of what you speak. Regardless, even if we weren’t falling in love it would be a disgrace for me to sleep with you. I made a promise to make vows to Artair, in making those vows I’m swearing to only have sex with him. I ahve never broken a vow in my life and wont start now. Please, lets not start our relationship on a bad foot” Baltair sighed “everything about you says your serious so i wont make an ass of myself. I know plenty of women who would have me so I wont throw myself at my soon to be sister in law.”
“so, you’re falling in love with my brother?”
“Yes” she said unashamed or embarrassed. “is he returning the feelings?”
‘I’m not sure, I think so though”
“I’m happy for you two then. I wish you all the best”
“Do me a favor though”
“What is it?”
“treat me like a sister and stop staring at my breasts and ass” Baltair laughed “I will, I’ll shift myself to think of you only as a sister” In the kitchen Maol asked his son “why are you lettign her cook?”
“I wanted to taste the cake and only she knew how to make it” Maol sighed “I have to admit it is good. I want this made for their wedding. We needed a dish from their land anyway” Maol said then ushered Una out of the kitchen. Artair coudl tell he was still mad and was glad he didn’t yell at Liosa or give him a lecture on how to make his princess behave. Artair knew it was only a matter of time before Maol blew a gasket trying to keep patience though. Artair would be shocked if his father didn’t eventually say somthing.
“How about this book? I see Artair reading it a lot.” Baltair said as he showed her a book of poetry.
“I didn’t know he like poetry.”
“I hope you like it. I read, but I’m no good at picking out books.”
“I’m sure I will. Thank you Baltair.” She smiled warmly up at him then headed out of the library.
“Oh princess, there you are.” A maid said as she ran over to Liosa.
“What is it, did something happen?”
“No, nothing bad. Your family is here.”
Liosa hugged the maid and took off running, book held tightly to her chest. When she saw her family they all ran to her and gave her a big group hug. “Oh look at my beautiful little girl, she’s practically glowlig with happiness. I was so worried.” Ailis said.
“I am so glad to see you all. I figured you would come early.” She replied.
“So where is this prince of yours. We want to meet him.” Ellar said and she laughed at how protective he sounded.
Artair was just walking past when he saw Liosa being hugged by her family. She turned and saw him and yelled for him to come over. She grabbed his hand when he was close enough and pulled him close. “This is my family. Everyone this is Artair. Be nice now.”
“It is very nice to meet you all. We should tell my father of their arrival.”
“Oh I’m sure the maid who got me has already done that.”
“did you all have as pleasant a trip as Liosa had?”
“Yes we did, the seavoyagers of our kingdom are all kind hearted men and women”
“I’m glad, I’d like you all to know that I’ve already grown quite attached to your daughter. You’ve raised an amazing woman” Liosas family all smiled aside from her brother who seemed to still be in protective mode. Liosa nearly laughed at him but it was a sweet reminder of how much her brother loved her. They weren’t talking long before King Maol and Queen Una came in “welcome” Maol said. “sorry we’re early” Ailis answered then Maol replied “your daughter warned us you might come early so it is no surprise. Please allow my servants to show you to your already prepared rooms. Then we will all meet in the garden”
Maids guided Liosas family away while Liosa, Maol, Una and Artair went ahead out to the garden. “I’m so relieved she seems happy” Ailis said to Eosaph “me too, I felt so terrible asking this of her”
‘leave to her to make this into somthing happy. She’s always been such a bright and wonderful woman. From the time she was born she was all smiles”
“yes, It was good to hear the prince is taken with her aswell. I wanted her to be with a man that loves her. I’m glad we can help our kingdom and still have our daughter happy” As Eosaph finished his words Ailis kissed him “lets go meet everyone now”
Maol just stared at Liosa as if he still didn’t know what to think of her and now her family who were all just like her. Liosa smiled at him when she noticed him watching as they waited patiently for her family. When they came out Liosa introduced everyone to Baltair and Calum who they hugged or shook hands with. “I can see where Liosa gets her attitude from.” Maol said, his face still serious.
“We’ll take that as a compliment won’t we love.” Ailis said.
“Oh yes, we’ve raised them all to be wild and rambuncious.” Eosaph added with a big smile.
“Your daughter told us of some traditions you have for weddings. She seemed very keen on having them as part of their wedding so I will allow it.”
“Oh come on now King Maol, we would have done it anyway and you know it.” Liosa said.
“Perhaps that it true and I simply do not wish to start a fight.”
“Then just say that.”
“Oh Liosa dear, I had your dress made before we came.” Ailis said with a big smile. “Brown and green, very earthy.”
“Then I will dress accordingly.” Artair replied.
“Oh I wanted to know dear king if we could please have the wedding out here in the garden. This has become one of my favorite places so would that be okay?”
He seemed taken back that she was asking his opinion. “Of course. Is the day after tomorrow alright since your family is here early and we already have everything being made?”
“Yes, that would be lovely. How exciting it’s happening so soon.”
Maol waved a servant over and told her to inform everyone the wedding date was moved up. She bowed then ran off obediently. “you need a tour of the kingdom as I got.” Liosa said so brightly it stretched a smile across Artiars face. Liosas parents smiled, it being obvious that their daughters husband was more than fond of their her. “my wife and i shall accompany you” He said trying to be gracious though these people got on his nerves. “That would be wonderful, lets go” They all stood, deciding to show Liosas family the town first.
As they walked Liosa hooked her arm through Maol’s and he looked down at her. “May I ask what you are doing?”
“I wish to be as friendly with you as I have become with the others. I know deep down there is a heart of gold and smile brighter than the sun and I wish to see them both. If you truly dislike me though and you never wish to smile for me then I will understand, but know that I like you just fine and that will never change.”
She turned her attention back to her family as she talked about the many places Artair had shown her. When she forgot ay details Artair would fill them in for her and her family would smile. Maol continued to look at Liosa for a few minutes, the first inkling of affection for the young woman starting to form in his heart. When they had showed Liosa’s family everything there was they headed back to the castle where Calum immediately asked Beatris if she would like to meet his rat. “Of course, but you will have to guide me around the first time so I can count the distance to and from things since this is my first time here.” She said and he took her hand.
“Since they will be preoccupied with young Calum’s pet, Liosa why don’t you come with me so you can try on your dress. Una would you like to join us?” Ailis said.
Una looked up at Maol. “Yes dear please go.”
“Alright then. Sorry my prince I am being called away. Please try to have fun with the men and keep Baltair away from Anna.” Liosa said and Baltair gave a loud hey to remind her he was standing there. “Well if you weren’t such a weirdo I wouldn’t have to say so, but don’t worry I’m sure Artair and Ellar can keep an eye on you.”
Anna laughed. “Oh sister dear, you are always looking out for others. You know I can take care of myself.”
“I know, but who wil pick up Baltair’s body after you have injured him? It’s best to have to strong men to carry him away.”
“Just have fun Liosa and leave it to us.” Artair replied warmly.
Liosa smiled back then went with her mothers to her room. Ailis helped her daughter into the dress and they marveled at it’s beauty. Even Una who had barely spoken a paragraphs worth of words in the time Liosa had been there offered compliments about the dress. “I wish you’d speak more Una. I like your voice” Liosa said and Una blushed “Men in this land like women who don’t speak much. I don’t have much to say anyway. I simply follow my husband all day”
“There’s nothing else you’d like to do?”
“No, I love being with him and my sons.”
“Have you tried doing anything else?” Liosa asked and Una shrugged “I’m honestly happy daughter.”
“I’m glad” Liosa answered. They admired the dress for awhile longer then took her out of it so Liosa could change back into what she was previously wearing. They rejoined everyone and found that Calum and beatris were still gone and enjoying eachothers company.
The rest of the day was spent with everyone getting to know each other and Liosa’s parents telling stories about when she was a child and all the trouble she got into. When it was finally time for bed Liosa went up to her room and Artair snuck over, wishing to spend more time with her. “Now what ae you doing here? We don’t have a date to explore tonight.”
“I know I just wanted to talk to you some more. Tomorrow is going to be so busy we may not get any time alone.”
“You are such a sweet prince. What would you like to do then?”
“Will you read to me a little bit, I love listening to you read.”
She smiled. “How about you read to me instead?” She grabbed the book of poetry and handed it to him. He took it and flipped it open, finding his favorite poem and reading it to her. He read until she fell asleep then marked his place and sat the book on the table next to her. He pulled the covers over her then kissed her cheek before climbing back onto the castle and going to his room. Just as Artair had thought the next day was extremely busy. They were being pulled around constantly to make sure they liked everything. The got to taste test the food that would be served and Liosa was happy to see that her wedding cake was going to be the chocolate potato cake. It warmed her heart and she hugged Maol, making him unable to say anything in his shock.
By the end of the day Liosa was yawning and ready to fall asleep wherever. Artair lifted her off her feet and carried her to her room. She opened the door for him and he took her straight to bed and laid her down. “I can’t believe we’ll be married tomorrow. Are you as excited as I am?” Liosa asked as Artair pulled her boots off.
“Yes, I’m very happy. Would you like me to read to you until you fall asleep?”
“No, go to bed and get some rest. You can always read to me another night. Tomorrow is very important so we both need our rest.”
“Okay goodnight Liosa.”
“Goodnight Artair, sweet dreams.”
Artair tucked Liosa in then went to his bedroom. He wanted more time with her but knew starting tomorrow he would have her in his arms every night. It was something he thought happily about even though only nights ago he was sad to meet the woman he was being forced to marry. Now it was a gift and he felt lucky this all happened, especially since she loved him too. Tomorrow he would say it to her and hoped he would get the verification that she truly loved him aswell. Everyone slept soundly in the house that night and rose early for the preparations. Liosa was excited beyond words with not a hint of nervousness which surprised even her mother that she wouldn’t be the least bit nervous on her wedding day.
Her father was another story. As far as he knew Liosa had never been nervous in her life so why should this be any different. When it came time for Liosa to walk down the aisle Artiar watched the door with happy expectancy for his bride. He was adorned in colors to match her dress and couldn’t wait to see what it actually looked like. Over the course of the morning he had pictured it looking in so many ways but he doubted he had even come close to getting the look right.
Artair was taken back by Liosas beauty when she stepped through the doors with her father. He looked proud while she looked absolutely radiant. She was half way to the alter when Artair realized he hadn’t been breathing since the moment she stepped through that door. He was almost feint but hastened his breathing for a short period to catch up on the breath he had lost. Liosa smiled, holding back her giggle since she noticed. her eyes had been just as locked on him as his were on her. They barely heard the preacher who spoke as they dove into eachothers loving eyes. Artair saw her response already before he even asked her. He coudl see in those beautiful green eyes how much she loved him.
When they were prompted to kiss they both could have sworn the very earth moved beneath them. They lingered longer than was proper but Maol didn’t give a scowl. Liosa was different than he was used to but he had softened and knew she would be a wonderful addition to his family. He was glad he had kept his patience loing enough not to chase her away. The celebrations that followed were full of joy and laughter. Everyone who came enjoyed it and the people of Artiars kingdom loved Liosas kingdoms way of celebrating marriage.
The celebrating lasted well past dinner and even then everyone was still lively but thry knew Liosa and Artiar needed their time now. They were expcted to go to Artiars room and produce their heir. Liosa hugged her family goodnight then Artiar scooped his wife up to carry her to his bedroom. He shut the door with his foot as he walked through it then set her gently on the bed. “you’ll have to help me out of my dress”
“Are you sure? I don’t care about tradition, I just want you happy.” He said softly.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t sure. I want you to make love to me.” He pulled her shoes off then tugged her to her feet and unbuttoned the back of her dress, letting his fingers run down her spine so she shivered. He hooked his fingers in her sleeves and pulled the dress down, letting it fall to the floor. His breath caught in his throat when he saw how beautiful she was and he pushed her onto the bed and took off his own clothes before getting over her. She was blushing and it made him smile as he kissed her and allowed his hands to drift over her soft skin. Her heart rate spiked and her breathing went faster as he kissed his way down her body, his teeth nipping gently so she gasped.
He pulled her panties off as he kissed over her abdomen and she swallowed nervously. “Don’t worry my love, I just want to taste you.” He pushed her legs open and covered her with his mouth, letting his tongue move slowly over her so so she moaned loudly.
“So good.” She said between moans, loving the new senstations he was producing in her. Her insides quivered and her back arched off the bed as a loud cry was torn from her throat. She panted and whimpered as he kissed his way slowly back up her then settled his hips between her thighs. She could feel the tip of his shaft pressing against her and she begged him to hurry and take her.
“I’m going to be gentle and slow your first time.” He whispered then kissed her as he pushed into her tight heat. He thrust hard enough to break through the thin barrier and caught her cry of shock and pain in his mouth. Tears filled her eyes and he moved in and out of her at a slow pace, kissing her tears away as he brought her over the edge. She clung tightly to him and he pushed into her a little harder as he felt himself getting closer to his release. Their loud cries of ecstasy filled the room when he finally filled her and he kissed her softly when he noticed her still flowing tears. “You okay Liosa, you’re still crying. Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head and he wiped her tears away. “Sorry, I’m just so happy. I really love you Artair, even though I never thought I would.”
“Oh Liosa, I love you too. I have never been this happy and I am truly glad we were forced into this. You are a true blessing and the most beautiful woman I have ever met.” He pulled out of her and dragged her to the top of the bed and pulled the covers over them. He pulled her into his arm and rubbed his hand up and down her back as she cried herself to sleep.
When Liosa was resting Artair kissed her head then alowed himself to rest after the busy day and wonderful love making he just experienced with Liosa. The birds outside Artiars window woke him the next morning and his kiss is what woke Liosa. She smiled asking “can we shower before breakfast?”
“I’d like to aswell” After the shower Artair asked “you still want to be a wolf right?”
“I’ll ask my father to arrange when we see him at breakfast. It’s perfec tot do it now so your parents can see the new wolf in you” Liosa finished pulling her clothes on then hugged Artair “I love you”
“I love you too” They walked down to breakfast holding hands. Liosa and Artair were the last to arrive but on the morning after their wedding it was to be expected. Maol almost asked how thing went last night but stopped, realizing Liosa might give him more information than he wanted. Artair let them get a good ways into their meal before speaking “father, Liosa and I would like her to be turned into a wolf. I’d like it arranged as fast as possible” Maol smiled in approval “there’s a full moon tomorrow night. I know I can have wolves gathered by then”
“can we watch the change?” Ailis asked and Maol said “yes of course. You call can bare witness to your daughters change into one of our kind” Calum and Beatris had become fast friends though Artair could see more want than that in his younger brothers eyes. He felt bad for Calum that Beatris would leave when Liosas parents did.
As breakfast was ending one of the maids came into the dining room and went straight for Liosa. “Princess, there is a ship captain here to see you. He says you promised to see him and his crew off.”
“Oh yes, thank you so much. Artair would you like to accompany me to the docks?” She said happily.
“Of course my love. Everyone please excuse us.” They got up and walked hand in hand to the entry way where the captain of the ship who had brought her here was waiting.
“Princess Liosa, how good it is to see you again.” He said.
“And you.” She hugged him then pulled back. “This is my husband, Prince Artair.”
“Nice to meet you young man. I would linger here longer, but we have to be pushing off.”
“Of course, lets go then.” They walked happily through the city, chatting about how they had been since last seeing each other. The captain was truly happy for her and couldn’t wait for the rest of the crew to meet her new husband. When they got to the ship every crew member came down to hug and congratulate her. Owen told her how sad he would be to see her go and she promised that she would come see them every time they made port here.
“We have something for you princess since you were such an amazing and helpful guest on our ship. Owen, you and Percy go get it.” The two sailors took off running onto the ship and came back with something Liosa had not been expecting. It was a beautifully made cradle and it brought tears to Liosa’s eyes. “We figured you would have children at some point so a bunch of the men, Owen and I included, made this.”
“It’s so beautiful, thank you so much.” She admired the handiwork, loving the intricate picture on the inside of the head and foot board of a ship and at its bow a woman looking over the sea. She hugged everyone and kissed their cheeks before letting them board their ship. She waved as they pulled away and Artair kissed her, making her smile.
“I’ll carry the cradle my love.” He said and she just smiled and wiped at the tears on her face.
“I’m happy we’ll have somthing so beautiful to place our baby in when we have one” Artair said as he walked alongside Liosa. “I hope it’s soon. I really want children”
“I’ll give you as many as you want. I didn’t want children before but with you it would be amazing. You can read to all of us at night” Liosa smiled “yeah”The day flew by as Liosas and Artairs family mingled. Liosa also caught on that a romance was blooming between her younger sister and his youngest brother. She wondered if her parents or Maol and Una had noticed. Liosa didn’t say anything, knowing if Beatris wanted to stay she would say so herself. Beatris was just as outspoken as her and wouldn’t be shy to share her wants.’
That night Artiar and Liosa made love again, each hoping a child would come soon and just enjoying being one with eachother.This night Liosa didn’t cry but curled up next to Artiar happily. They exchanged sweet goodnights and slept soundly until the morning woke them. Liosa remindedhim of a beautiful brid again as she excitedly readied herself. Tonight she would be a wolf and he couldn’t imagine her in brighter spirits.
She greeted their families with smiles as they sat dow for breakfast. “You look absolutely radiant this morning.” Barabal said.
“We all know why that is don’t we Liosa?” Anna teased and Liosa laughed.
“Oh yes, we got into a wrestling match and I won.” Liosa replied.
“Now, now don’t lie.” Artair said.
Maol cleared his throat and Una’s cheeks turned a bright red. “Sorry father in law, I forgot you are easily embarrassed by such talk.” Liosa said.
“I am not embarrassed.”
“Of course you’re not.” Barabal said and everyone laughed. After breakfast Maol went out to gather the wolves who he would have participate in the ritual and Artair took Liosa out to the garden where he rested his head in her lap and enjoyed the warm sun. Her parents and Anna were being given a tour by Baltair and Calum and Beatris were talking on Calum’s balcony.
“You are truly the most beautiful woman in the world.” Artair said and Liosa smied down at him.
“How do you know?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well you haven’t seen every woman in the world.”
“I don’t have to see every woman to know that you are the most beautiful. I have eyes for you and only you.”
“My silly, sweet wolf. I love you so much. So tell me, would you prefer a male or female child?”
“I prefer healthy my love. Will you have our pups here at home?”
She leaned down and kissed him. “Of course, I think it best to have them at home so they can be in a familiar place with their family. Perhaps the midwife will let you catch the baby and cut the cord. You’d be the first to hold our children.”
“I would really love that.”
They sat talking about their wants for the future until it was time to ready Liosa for the ceremony. She wasn’t shy like most had expected her to be about being naked. Liosa simply stripped and allowed Barabal to paint her body with the symbols needed. When she was ready Artair was allowed to sit with her for comfort. He took her hand in his and held it tight. He was glad she didn’t look scared. The wolves began to gather around Artair and Liosa, clasping hands together as they found their spots. They let out a long howl to call spirits. They sounded a few more howls then turned their eyes to the center. Every wolf chanted at the same time which was creepy to Liosa but she still hadn’t lost any of her nerve.
Liosa even found herself liking when her markings warmed. The circle became silent then a howl that wasn’t one she had been hearing sounded. The noise grew closer and closer until she was face to face with a red haired wolf. It’s eyes were just as green as hers and Liosa found it to be a beautiful creature. The wolf nudged Liosas hand so she lifted it and gave the wofl a few loving strokes. Next thing she knew the wolf combined with her and the change started. Artair held her close, apologizing for her pain and wishing it would stop.
When the pain stopped Liosa opened her eyes and saw the wolf was gone “am i like you?” she asked weakly “yes you are’ He answered and the pack gave a few happy yips before leaving. To them they were rejoicing but the people of his kingdom were more serious than most. Liosa was jubilant despite her weariness from the change.
Liosa’s family gathered around, asking her questions about how it felt and remarking at how amazing it had been to see such a thing. She giggled as she answered their questions and only stopped when Artair wished to take her to their room. “Did you forget you were naked?” He whispered and she laughed.
“I guess I did. I need a shower and some water.” She answered with her same loving, happy smile. He took her straight to the bathroom where he sat her on the counter and pulled his own clothes off before switching on the water. “You’re incredibly sexy.” She said and he turned back to her, making her blush at the hunger in his eyes.
“Am I? Hmmm I thought that was you.” He nudged her legs apart so he could stand between them and let his lips drift over her neck and up to her ear where he bit at her earlobe. She gave a little moan and he smiled as he kissed her cheek and then her lips. “Let me wash you first.” He whispered and lifted her into the bathtub. He stepped in after her and grabbed the soap then washed all the blood from her skin. He teased her as his hands moved over her, making her moan and pant. He lifted her, pinning her against the wall and slamming into her.
“I love you Artair, so much.” She said as she clung tightly to him, allowing herself to get lost in his rough lovemaking.
“Me too baby, more than anything.” They released together then they finished washing and rinsing. He dried them both then carried her to bed and got under the covers with her, both of them falling quickly asleep. The next morning they found out Beatris has talked to Ailis and Eosaph about staying for a couple of years then coming home again with Calum. Their parents were truly happy for her and gave her their blessing. Liosa was sad that they were going back home, but she knew her parents had a kingdom to run so she saw them off with happy tears, knowing she would see them again.
“We’ll visit them baby.” Artair promised and kissed her softly.
“I know baby, I love you.”
“I love you too.” They stood there on the pier and watched as the ship sailed away, holding each other and smiling happily in their bliss, both of them thankful they had been brought together.