I woke up shortly after the sun rose. Elwin was already awake, smiling down at me. I returned it sleepily and he kissed me.
"Hi," I said.
"Good morning," he whispered.
"What time is it?"
"After breakfast," he answered, running his finger down my thumb and I closed my eyes for a moment with a smile. "I asked them to leave us, though."
He kissed me again and I rolled onto my side to kiss him back. Our tongues moved together and he moaned quietly.
We made love twice more that morning. It wasn't until someone knocked on our door that we stopped. A servant opened it just a crack.
"The king and queen request your presence in half an hour."
"I need to bathe," I said, sitting up and stretching.
He smiled at my exposed breasts and I blushed. He chuckled and kissed my neck before lying back down. Servants had brought in a tub for me. I had told the queen about how we need to bathe regularly and I was glad she had accepted the custom. The water was hot and I sighed in relief. Although he had been gentle last night, he and I were both a little... exuberant this morning and I was sore.
When I was done, a dress had been laid out for me. Elwin was mostly dressed aside from his tunic. I came up behind him in my robe and wrapped my arms around him. He jumped when my wet hair touched his back then chuckled. I kissed his broad shoulders and snuggled up.
"Did you have a nice bath?" he asked when I let him go to get into the provided dress.
"Yes. I don't know what soap they provided but it made me feel much better."
"You're hurting?" He looked guilty. "Was it my fault?"
I smiled and stood on my toes to kiss his lips. "No. This dress is amazing," I breathed.
He smiled at it. "Velvet and silk," he said, feeling the sleeve between his fingers. "The fabric of royalty."
"Just like yours," I observed.
"It feels odd," he admitted as we walked toward the throne room, holding hands. "I'm not used to such fine clothing."
When we got to the throne room, Elwin got on his knees and I bowed my head.
"Please, be at ease," Queen Keishara said and we obeyed. "How did you sleep?"
"Very well," I answered. "Thank you for providing a bath."
She extended her head. The king stared at Elwin.
"Was everything taken care of?"
Elwin bowed deeply. "Yes, King Orist."
He nodded in approval. "Then your union is complete. Now we must address the humans."
"This is talk for men," the queen said. "Camila, would you like to join me? On this day of the week, I play my harp. Do you know how to play?"
"No, your highness," I answered breathlessly.
She smiled and stood. "No time like the present." She bowed her head to her husband and Elwin. "We shall be in the music tower."
"Yes, my dear."
"May I say goodbye to my mate?" Elwin asked again and Queen Keishara gave her permission.
He kissed my lips lightly. "Enjoy your time."
"I will see you soon," I said and watched as he walked back with the king. I sighed. "I worry for him."
"Why?" the queen asked as she led me up some stairs.
"He feels responsible," I answered.
"He told you this?"
"No but I can feel it. I can't explain it," I frowned. "It's like...."
"You sealed your union," the queen explained. "Let me see your hand." I did and she tilted her head. "Now this is odd."
"What do you mean?"
She shook her sleeve back on her right hand and showed me her tattoo. It was a four pointed diamond. I looked at mine.
"Is it different for each pair?" I asked.
"No," she answered, leading the way again. "Is Elwin's the same?"
"Hmm. Perhaps it is because you are of two different races."
"It is the correct tattoo, though, right?" I asked nervously. "I mean, this isn't a curse for being different races?"
"What happens when you touch it?"
I giggled. "Sorry. I just felt a tingling up my arm. Elwin must have touched his."
She smiled. "There's your answer. If it makes you feel happy and warm, then it is true. If it caused you pain, however, then it would be a bad thing."
I smiled, too, and touched mine very lightly to return his thought. The majority of the afternoon we spent in the music tower. It was just as it sounded: a large tower with many instruments on different levels.
"Why not have all of them on one level?" I asked as we climbed the stairs.
"Each instrument has a special sound," she explained. "When put on a specific level, the sound is amplified and is more beautiful. It also increases the quality of the instrument itself."
"Magic flows through everything here," I breathed.
She sat at a harp and motioned for me to sit at another. "Yes, it does."
"It makes being from my world so... dull."
"I'm sure there are things in your world we would be envious of," she said. "For example, your changing of the seasons."
I stared at her. "You wish for seasons to change here?"
"I always have. I enjoy this neutral weather; it is peaceful. I do wish sometimes, though, to experience the change from fall to winter."
"Elwin said that if an elf were to leave the realm, they would lose memory of where your realm is. Would that happen even to you?"
"Yes," she said sadly and I felt uncomfortable seeing her so vulnerable. "The only time I would be able to leave is with my husband's permission. He does not trust humans, though."
"Our... our daughter sneaked out of the realm," she explained. "As is the custom, she couldn't find us again. Orist found her, though, and tried to bring her back. She was angry, though, because her memory of our home was taken from her. My husband explained everything yet again. In her mind, it was his decision, not Princess Linata's."
"He think a human corrupted her thoughts," I guessed and she nodded. "Why did Princess Linata make your people disappear?"
"It was in the interest of all of us," she said. "With us in our realm and you in yours, we would not be tempted to go into war again. Linata stayed with the humans while her mate stayed with the elves. When asked about her disappearance, he said she died in battle."
"Wouldn't the elves recognize her name as her story was told?"
"No. The evil king struck her name from their memories. One scribe managed to write it down, though."
"Was Linata related to the king?"
"She was his daughter," Queen Keishara said sadly. "She saw the cruelty in his heart and wanted to save both of our worlds. That is why she passed as a human until her death."
"She killed herself," I said. "That's what our history says, anyway. They say she fell into a deep depression because her husband had been killed in the war and she lost the will to live." I thought it over. "She must have done it to keep her identity a secret. They would have wondered if she had lived past the normal age."
"Princess Linata sacrificed much for our worlds," Queen Keishara said. "I wish we could celebrate her in the open but we must do it in secret."
"What do you do?"
"My mate and I have a special ceremony in our quarters." She touched her hair. "I give Linata a lock of my hair each year and Orist give her his blood."
"They are our most precious possessions. Much like the tokens you humans exchange when you become mates."
"Do elves not cut their hair?"
"No. A she-elf's hair continues to grow until she reaches the age of 130. A he-elf's hair stops at the age of 100, though."
"If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?"
"I am reaching my 200th year." I smiled. "What?"
"Sorry. In our realm, if someone looks young for their age, we say: You're aging well."
She smiled kindly. "You humans are so strange."
"Forgive me, but the same could be said for the elves."
She laughed. "Yes, that is true. Now, would you like to learn to play the harp?"
"I would love to."