Chapter 50
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'How do we move forward from here?' Sera thought, as Lucien stands and hugs her in his arms, which she returns, wrapping her arms around her neck.

'If you only knew how much I loved you.....how much I still love you' Lucien thinks, tucking a stray hair behind Sera's ear and gazing into her starry eyes. Her deep and wondrous brown eyes, sucking you in deeper and further, until it felt like it felt like the secrets of the universe was within your grasp.

Sera takes in the beauty of this man, who desires with so desperate a passion that he was willing to shed tears for her sake. Bore his heart for her, for all the world to see.

His lips start tickling her neck as he kisses the delicate, thin skin there, her clavicle, her chin, unable to contain his happiness that she hadn't left him. With soft hands, Sera pushes his face away from her.

Shoulders sagging like a dog that's being disciplined, Lucien stops his advances.

Though he wanted to breathe in more of Sera's scent, take in and taste more of her sweetness, he stops. It was hard, when one moment before this, Lucien had thought that all would be lost to him. Almost, Sera could see imaginary ears perking down and tail sagging down with it.

"Is there something wrong?" Lucien asks.

"We need to talk."

"I thought we just did?" Lucien tilts his head at her, heavy brow furrowed, unsure.

Pulling his hand towards the large leather-backed chair behind the desk, and pushing Lucien down to sit, Sera pulls up her own pink brocade chair so that the faced each other.

"No, we need to talk about each other, get to know each other better. Like what did you do the past 5 years I was gone?"

Lucien didn't want to think about the 5 years Sera was gone. Those were dark times, terrible times. All light had disappeared in his life, time spent killing and hurting, hurting and killing. Unsure when he would go berserk and accidentally hurt an innocent. Heart starved for Sera's warmth and touch. It was a vicious cycle he'd only begun to break out of after news that he might be able to bring Sera back.

"I fought, most of the time.." Lucien hesitates, unsure of whether he should say it.

"..but I made sure to keep your promise"

Awkward silence.

"What promise?" Sera didn't remember any promise. She'd made a point of never promising Lucien anything during her first stay in Thornmere as Queen. Promises were important to her, and after signing the magic contract that bound her life to fulfilling what the old King wanted, even more so. By making any vow or promise, she was bound to fulfill it. No promises meant it kept her from committing to life here, reminding her that she was going to go home after this ordeal was all over and she gave birth to an heir.

This was also why she never responded to Lucien's 'I love you's. It would be better for the both of them.

"I'll show you, if you're willing to come out with me.."

It was easier to show her than tell her. Lucien felt like he'd used up all his luck to finally be able to Sera about the wedding and the plan behind it. For a man more used to actions than words, it would be easier for both of them if he showed her.

Lucien wasn't confident about his words being enough. Speaking to the woman you loved was completely different from speaking to a subject or one of his men.

Picking up the brush and new dress the knight had brought, Lucien gives a small smile.

"You'll need to change first. I'll be your maid"

Smoothly moving behind her, he starts to undo the buttons of her dress, and pulls it over her head, leaving her in a simple white satin chemise. Good thing the chemise wasn't stained with any tea.

But there were some droplets that had seeped through, sticky on her chest, on the skin above her heart. Looks like Lady Amelia was fond of a generous helping of sugar in her tea. Lucien, with a laser-sharp focus, concentrates on wiping away the light brown residue away with a cloth, wetting the cloth with a nearby pitcher. Not one of his motions ever touched her erogenous areas, moving with a detached, methodical purpose.

Biting her lip, Sera does her best to keep still under Lucien's ministrations. The soft cloth whispers over the sensitive skin on her neck and chest. Meanwhile the quick moments interspersed between cleaning her skin, when Lucien's large hands gently prod her to turn this way and that, was making goosebumps rise on her skin.

Was it only her that felt hot in this room? Her cheeks were definitely pink with a glowing warmth. Stupid Sera! Berating herself under her breath, Sera focuses on deep breaths, making her ribcage expand to take in air and slowly breathe it out. Why was she getting turned on by this! Lucien was only being considerate of her, and Sera appreciated the fact that Lucien's motions were not seductive in the least.

Finally, the new dress, in a warm pink color, descends with a flutter over her head and Lucien does his best, using his thick clumsy fingers to carefully button each small button on the back.

Lucien steps back from her to survey his work, and gives a satisfied grunt. Sera looked beautiful. She always did, but it gave Lucien a special satisfaction to know that the beauty before him now was something he'd had a hand in. If she'd let him, Lucien wanted the privilege of helping her dress every day.

Would that he could become her servant, and Sera, his Queen. The situation may have been completely different then.

Brown-eyed Sera in a pink dress, brown hair stained gold in the warm sunlight, tamed by him to fall in a subdued, glorious river down her back, the blush in her cheeks matching the soft hue of the dress he's clothed her in.

It wasn't about only what she wore. Something radiated from Sera, an irresistible warmth and a grace that drew people in. If the gods were real, this would be their masterpiece. Not a single vibrant bloom that vied for attention in his mother's garden could emit the same beauty and grace that she had.

Lucien didn't feel worthy of being in her company. Sera was light and goodness, her smiles making Lucien feel like he was someone. Lucien was dark and bloodstained, a murderer, a cold bastard, hating himself for the things he had to do and worst of all, making beautiful Sera suffer. Lucien knew he was messed up from the moment his Queen mother threw him away. At that very moment, his childhood had ended, and he'd had to grow up and become a Prince, to fulfill the duties his father expected of him.

But he didn't regret any of his past. Without it, he would never have met her. Because he was the Prince, he got to marry her. This was the one thing he was thankful to his father for.

His son was right, Lucien thought, remembering the reports that he required, small notes that Bea would write to him every day, telling him how his son's day had gone. Sera was a fairy.

Getting his cloak off a chaise in the back of the room, Lucien clears his throat and asks Sera.

"All done. Are you ready to go?"

Sera touches the hair that Lucien's braided into one long braid down her back. It was a good braid, not too tight and not too loose. Sera was the one who used to braid his hair before every battle before. He'd learned to braid on his own now too, while she was gone.

"Yes."

-----

They'd ridden Aslan together from the castle to the outskirts of town. After dismounting, and lifting Sera down off the horse as easily as he would a child, Lucien pats the big warhorse on the rump and lets him wander off into the forest between the castle and town.

"Thank you, Aslan"

Aslan's ears flicker, and he disappears into the forest, while Lucien pulls the hood of his cloak to cover his face again. There wasn't anything he could do about his size, but most would think he was a random knight on the bigger side.

The two suns were beginning to set, circling each other like old lovers in an unhurried dance, bathing the white walls of the town building in a golden glow. Not many townspeople were out now, fathers walking home from their workplaces, mothers busy preparing for supper, and older siblings calling the young ones in to wash their hands.

They walk through the town, side by side, as he guides her down a the main road of the town and off to the side, onto a familiar path.

 

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