Elseron shut the door to the Atlas's bedroom as she moved over and sat herself onto the red silk bed sheets, in over three centuries of service that was one of the hardest nights he had ever had to work. These people are not Atlanteans. He thought staring into the grain of the wooden wall that sat beside the door, tracing its pale brown lines as they twisted and swirled along the length of the room. The woman was dangerous, he could feel it down in his bones, the cook had barely said a word and people that didn't talk made him nervous, as for the Aqua's...Atlas trusts them that should be good enough for you. A voice said in his head, yet....it wasn't. This wasn't Atlantis where he had guards and knights at his back...this was the outer-world and he was the only thing between harm and the Queen. 'I know what you are going to say Elseron...' she said softly. He turned to look her in the face, the face he loved, the face he'd seen every day for the past century. 'I am sorry for sneaking out, but you needed your rest.' she said looking like she did when she was a child when he caught her playing with his axe.
'The years surely have made you light footed my Queen.' he said coldly. He saw the hurt in her face and it nearly broke him in half.
'Call me that again Sir and there will be consequences.' Atlas stared at him her face a hard mask that she had inherited from her father. Staring back they said nothing for a long while.
'You should not have gone alone...this is not Atlantis,'
'Elseron when are you going to realise that we are with friends here! We're safe.' He almost laughed.
'Oh my Little Princess,' leaning with one hip against the dressing table he felt his body relax as he dropped his air of formality that he had around him all through the dinner. 'You cannot be more wrong, we've never been in more danger. You have never been in more danger! This place...there are no daggers behind roses, there are just daggers.'
'Is this about Sade Owens?' Atlas asked looking at him, her wall of politeness and discipline fell around her as she returned from being the Queen to simply being Atlas.
'She is little concern to me at this moment, I am comfortable with enemies I can see. It's the ones that lurk in the shadows behind our backs that give me unrest, ones that hide their intentions in a film of smiles and bows...' the accusation he danced around made Atlas jerk in horror.
'Finneous and Calliope are not our enemies Elseron! They gave us shelter! Food!'
'And where are you more vulnerable than in a locked bunker beneath the streets?'
'They were friends of my mother!' Atlas hissed raising from the bed, fists clenched in the folds of her dress. 'They are not our enemies and I will not hear another word on the matter.' she said decisively. 'You taught me to be a good judge of character and Sade was the only one who caught my eye.' she said beginning to walk around the bed.
'She wasn't the only one,' he interrupted staring at the back of her head. The comment immediately made her back stiffen defensively. He knew if anyone else had said something like that they'd have spent a night rotting in a rancid cell.
'I don't know what you’re talking about.' she lied, awfully.
'Don't you lie to me Princess. Now is not the time to be infatuated by some stranger.' In a swirl of pale ice white hair she spun, rage etched onto her beautiful face.
'You think this is why I come here? To meet some, some, stranger who I can have my way with before returning to Atlantis?'
'No Princess of course not,' he tried to continue but her wrath was another thing inherited from her father.
'Don't you dare ever imply that I have lost sight of why we are here Elseron! I will not let a striking face and comely body get in the way of the duty I owe to my people!' she paused taking in deep ragged breaths. 'I think your years of duty have blinded the boundaries between friend and foe Elseron, you are seeing blades around every corner even amongst the company of some of my families closest friends. Maybe it is you that has lost sight of his duty!' Ice cold fingers dove into his chest and gripped his heart, stopping its beat in one shuddering breath. That hurt. He tried to keep the pain of her words from his face and voice but he failed because she faltered for a moment noticing his expression, her amber eyes quickly swelling with tears. 'Elseron I'm sorry...'
'I have never once,' he said calmly with his fists clenched to the edge of the dresser so hard he could hear the wood screaming in protest. 'Lost sight of my duty, for one hundred years I have protected you from every enemy Atlantis had to offer, I am your appointed Guardian. But if her Majesty prefers someone younger and stronger I will humbly oblige.' firing from the dresser he made for the door but Atlas cut in front of his path quick as a flash.
'Elseron please wait,' she said pressing her hands against his chest. Tears running down her left cheek slowly. 'I'm sorry. I spoke rashly. Elseron sometimes I feel like you are my only friend in this world, sometimes I feel you are more a father to me than the King was.' that made him look down at her, amber eyes swimming with pearlescent tears, lips quivering as she fought to control her emotions. 'When the King was at court you were always at my side, more so than my own shadow. You taught me my letters and numbers, how to skip stones, how to write. Elseron I cannot lose you now. Not when I need you most, I can't...' resting her forehead onto his chest for the first time in almost twenty years Elseron didn't see her as a Queen or his Princess...but as a girl. Frightened and afraid with the weight of an entire civilisation on her shoulders. She was only just one hundred, she was so young...Too young to be given such a burden.
'Oh my Little Princess.' he said wrapping her arms around her, hugging her close. 'I couldn't leave your safety to the hands of another, I would be sick with worry. My Princess I just need to know how dangerous this world is, as long as you know I will never question it again.'
'I know it is, I didn't want to show it. I need to be strong. I'm the Queen.'
'Yes you are my Princess, but you don't need to be anything before me. You know that. But know this, no matter how much danger is in this world, no matter what you decide to do here. I will follow you until the end. And I will let nothing harm you.' She laughed and dried her tears as he released her. Her pearly white teeth glinting up at him as she glanced at him.
'I know Elseron, my Guardian.' She laughed again.
'Always and forever,' he smiled at her, saying the words that used to be her favourite fairytale as a child. She laughed more freely as her composure slowly returned to her bit by bit.
'You need to rest,' she said gently. 'You look awful.' he laughed deeply.
'Transportation never did agree with me, but I'm fine for the moment.'
'Elseron!' she said trying to sound forceful.
'Princess! You know I do wonder sometimes who Guards who.' she laughed folding her arms gently across her stomach; her laugh was a joyous sound. Even as a baby her giggle had always brought a smile to his face, and it did now. They were quiet for a time as she stared into empty space.
'I need a walk...fresh air.' Every one of his protective instincts fried into instant protest, but looking down at her now, looking how vulnerable she was. He couldn't deny her.
'Wear a travelling robe with a large cowl. I don't want you recognised but unwanted eyes.' she looked for a moment like she was about to protest against him, but after the moments they'd just shared she eventually decided against it, nodding her head with a weak smile. Leaving the room Atlas wore a dark emerald green travelling robe with the long hood ruffled around her shoulders and her curly white locks tied back into a bushy ponytail. Elseron wore a simple leather jacket with twin tails, his pole-axe at his hip.
'My Queen?' said Finneous's overly polite voice from the living area where he sat with his wife talking to each other across the dining room table. 'You're not leaving us already are you?'
'Of course not Finneous, simply going for a quiet stroll. My lungs crave fresh air. We will be back soon.' Turning into the room he learned over dinner was called an 'elevator' he pressed the button as the doors closed with a clean whoosh. Atlas raised the emerald hood so it covered most of her face, and as the doors opened once again, linked her arm with his.