After a while, I stood up and headed in the same direction as Archie had. I found that he had entered my throne room. I stood by the door, leaning on the doorframe, and watched him, longing for him to come back to me and kiss me again.
"Please, your Highness," Archie begged.
I was startled by the desperation on his tone. I focused on the conversation.
"She's already engaged," my father replied.
Was he telling Archie he could not marry me?
"I love her dearly, though."
Yes, yes he was! Oh no! Oh no, no, no! That wasn't the plan. He was meant to say yes! To make our dreams come true! Who would stop our dreams coming true?
My father, obviously.
"Yes, why cannot you marry Prince Nathan to your other daughter? He is also asking that."
"Yes, sir, please." It was then that I noticed Nathan also in the room. His tone was the same as Archie's: desperate, pleading. There was something awfully depressing about seeing two despairing young men.
"Fine, on one condition...: you have to both attend a quest to prove yourselves."
A quest?! I found myself running into the room.
"No, Father! You cannot send them on a dangerous mission!"
Felicity was standing next to Nathan. She looked frightened.
"I believe Archie; I trust him with my heart!" I said.
"A quest or no marriage," Father snapped.
Felicity hugged Nathan and they left.
"Come on, Tersa," Archie begged.
I started crying. "Father, please!"
"Tersa," Archie whispered, and then pulled me out. "I have to do it whatever: it's tradition."
I sobbed into him. "I don't want you to go on a quest. You might die! Oh I hate Father, I hate him." I suddenly looked into Archie's eyes. "Can't you kidnap me?"
Archie flinched. "No, sweet princess. I must prove to your kingdom that I'm a worthy prince."
I looked down, saddened. "But what if you die?"
"I won't," he whispered and stroked my cheek. "I need to go unpack. Do you want to help me?"
"Yes. I would follow you anywhere."
Archie smiled. He took my hand and led me to his room. He shut and locked the door, then began to unpack his clothing.
I moved between him and his suitcase. I put the case on the floor and sat on the bed. I hoped he would get the message. But Archie kept unpacking. He pulled out a sketch pad. He sat in a chair and began to sketch me.
I sat still for him, gazing lovingly at him.
Archie finished then hid the sketch pad in the closet. It didn't faze me. I was certain he had done a good job.
I walked towards him and sat on his lap. "I order you to kiss me," I said in a stern tone.
He leant in and kissed me quickly and sweetly.
I pouted as he leant back. "Do you honestly think that was a satisfactory performance?"
"Nope," he said, still sitting back.
"Do you not wish to satisfy me?"
But he remained sitting back.
"But I'm tired," he explained.
"We can lie down and kiss," I murmured, snuggling up to his warmth.
"I wish to go to sleep."
"Okay. Let us sleep together then. I never wish to be parted from you, sir." I stood up and pulled him to his feet. I started to unbutton his shirt.
Archie seemed frozen. "Uh... Tersa..."
"For bed, Archie," I said. I took off his shirt and pulled him to the bed. "Lie down."
Archie lay down, his cheeks flushed.
I pulled my dress over my head and fetched the dressing robe from the wardrobe that is provided for all guests of the palace, wrapped it around myself and then lay beside Archie. I closed my eyes as I snuggled up close to him. "Goodnight, darling," I whispered.
Archie was completely tense, unmoving.
"Archie, is there something wrong, my sweet?" I mumbled.
"Nothing," he mumbled and rolled over so that his back was to me.
"Why do you turn away from me? Do you not wish to be near me?" I sat up, bewildered and hurt. "Oh please Archie, tell me I've not done something wrong!"
His face was bright red.
"Why are your cheeks so flushed? And why do you not respond?" I stood up. "I shall go," I said in a sad voice. "If that is what you wish."
"No," Archie called. He sounded incredibly embarrassed. "I just... I... I've never been with a girl.
I sat back on the bed. "Oh. Well, I am sure it is simple, Archie. Let us climb under your covers. I am sure we would be more comfortable there. And then if you wrap your arms around me, we could fall asleep in each other's arms. Wouldn't that be romantic, darling?"
Archie nodded, silent. He did what I said, his cheeks still flushed and his body still tense.
I hugged him back. "Goodnight, my love. And do relax."
I kissed his cheek to soothe him.
Archie relaxed as he slowly fell asleep
I, on the other hand, fell asleep easily, resting my head against Archie's chest as my mind wandered into the Dream World.