"May I walk you to your room?" Leopold asked as the evening ended and Nieneve attempted to escape the room without being seen by the King again.
"Yes, thank you." She replied, anxious to leave.
"Excellent." He replied, with a smile that reached his eyes in a whole different manner. His eyes said 'success!' Nieneve considered this look carefully as he led her through the door. She realised that he was flirting, or had been, throughout the entire evening. It was not something he necessarily had to do, since the marriage had been arranged, so he must be doing it for his own gain, or out of real attraction to herself. Where she had been told she was beautiful, she did not believe it truly, so she found it hard to believe it was entirely the latter. Something for his own gain seemed much more likely. But what? She wondered.
"Your father..." She began but he stopped, back to her, then turned round with a fake smile.
"Let us not discuss such depressing things. We are to be married."
"Yes. I just wondered if he had been the one who chose me for you."
"Yes." The Prince replied with his teeth slightly gritted. Then he seemed to shake himself and returned to a smile. "I am happy that he chose such a beautiful woman to be my bride." He reached his hand out to touch her face but she politely backed away a step to prevent it.
"I do not believe I am very beautiful." She feigned embarrassment to look down and give herself the opportunity to narrow her eyes in response to his presumptuous action, without being seen.
"You are. Very beautiful. I apologise if I have offended you."
She looked up, still feigning embarrassment, but this time with a smile.
"Thank you." Nieneve was a good actress, brilliant in fact. It was one of the things she hadn't had to be trained to do. It came naturally.
"Shall we continue to your room? Or we could take that walk?"
"My room will be fine. It would be inappropriate to be out at this time don't you think?"
"Surely not for two, young, betrothed members of the court?" He suggested.
That did it. He was trying to get her to do things that would call her reputation in to question. Maybe he didn't want to marry her after all. That would mess with her brother's plans, so she would have to throw him off.
"I'm afraid that our status would perhaps make it work. People might think we were doing things we shouldn't be, before we were wed. We wouldn't want that would we?" She smiled innocently and then continued to walk across the hall towards the stairs. A few seconds later she heard Leopold following. He caught up with her half way up the stairs, smiling, even though it did not reach his eyes. That was all the confirmation Nieneve needed. He was unhappy that she had turned him down and although it might have been because he had never been turned down before, she suspected it had something to do with his sudden desire to get her alone.
They walked along the corridors until they reached Nieneve's room.
"My lady." He bowed.
"Thank you your highness. I shall meet you tomorrow for our walk?"
"I shall collect you. I believe there are some events tomorrow, jousting and the like. We may see each other there before our evening's exercise."
"Shall you be competing?"
"No, I am not permitted to compete. The country would not want the only heir to the throne to be in a life threatening situation. No matter how good I am." He added bitterly.
"Maybe you could enter under a different name and house?"
"Are you suggesting I pretend to be someone else to get a trophy that would not be under my name?"
"Not at all. You would reveal yourself at the end of the match. Of course if you are concerned you might be injured then perhaps it would not be such a good idea. We couldn't have the Prince being injured. Well, goodnight." She smiled, curtseyed, and retired to her room, leaving the Prince in the corridor, a thoughtful look upon his face.