* IX *

I felt sorry for him. Emrald couldn't hurt anyone. It was time for me to be strong and give him some advice and support. After all, this turn of events affected me as much as it did him.
"Go," I told him. "Tara hasn't said that I can't come and these people need you. Who knows: we might find a way to take this responsibility away from you when we get to the city."
Emrald still looked sad. "If we can't, I might never see you again. You'd have to come home at some point so you could finish your education and live the life you'd planned to have."
"I wouldn't leave you," I murmured, taking his hand and squeezing it tightly.
"What about your parents?" he asked gently. "They'd be so worried about you. I'm not sure they'd even let you go in the first place."
"I don't care. I love you."
Tara frowned but said nothing.
"I love you too. You might be safer here, Anna, cherished one."
"I don't care! I've never cared about myself - I've only thought of you. All I want is to be with you. Let me come with you."
Emrald turned to Tara. "If I come, can Anna come too?"
Tara nodded. "Of course."
Turning back to me, Emrald asked, "Are you sure?"
"Of course I am," I replied.
He stroked my face. For some odd reason, Tara looked uncomfortable. I ignored her and leant in to kiss Emrald.
After a brief, wonderful minute, Emrald gently pushed me away and said, "We'll go."
"I'm sorry about all this, son," Emrald's father apologised. "If there were any other way, I'd help you out. I can't even come to Sapphire City with you."
Emrald looked shocked. "Why not?"
"I was exiled for loving your mother."
"That's awful! Is that why we don't live there?"
Mr Anvair nodded. "Plus the fact that your mother hated it there."
"Why did she dislike it so much?"Mr Anvair looked uncomfortable. "There were rules on who you can love."
Emrald looked horrified. "Would they have a problem with me loving Anna?"
Mr Anvair shrugged. "I don't know how things are now. Ask Tara."
Emrald turned to Tara. "Well?"
"I'm sure another princess will take your fancy," Tara replied dismissively.
Emrald looked furious. "I am not ending what I have with Anna. We've been going out for more than a year now."
"Come and sort things out at the Palace," Tara said.
"No. Why should I when they won't want me to love my girlfriend?"
"I told you," Anna said exasperatedly; "Sapphire City will fall without a king."
"We can sort this out," I told Emrald. "Perhaps the city will benefit if you lead them."
Emrald still looked annoyed but said, "Okay. Let's go."
Tara smiled and curtseyed. "Thank you, Your Highness."
She led us out to the limousine parked in front of the house. A chauffeur opened the door for Emrald but looked disapproving when he saw me. I hoped that other people weren't like him.

The End

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