I shut the door and sighed. Lillian was looking around, taking it in. I did the same, seeing it through her eyes. The main color was black but my bed was gold as was the upholstery of my furniture. While I was gone, a vanity had been moved in. They had lit a fire, probably more for Lillian's comfort than mine. I preferred the cold and I wondered if that would be an issue between the two of us.
Not if she's a fucking prisoner in here.
Elder Donne had forbidden me to speak of it until we were already married. I hated keeping secrets and I sighed.
"This-This will be our closet," I said quietly, opening the door and she looked in. "Looks like my mother already brought down some gowns for you."
"Can I keep this, please?" she whispered, plucking at her skirt.
"Yes," I said immediately.
Elder Donne wouldn't approve but my respect for him was gone. I didn't care what he said about her clothes or about the shrine I had built for her.
Speaking of. I looked around and nodded.
"Come here," I said. I led her to the window. "This is where I keep my treasures," I explained. "When I was a child, I enjoyed sneaking things and hiding them. There was no need to, of course, but it made me feel rebellious." She smiled a little. I lifted the window sill. "We shall put Adelpha here for now."
She hugged me. "Thank you," she whispered and started to cry again.
"Don't thank me just yet," I said. "There are still some unpleasant things coming for you, Lillian."
She stepped back. "What do you mean?"
"Sit down," I said, leading her next to the fireplace. I scratched my head vigorously with both hands. "I have been forbidden to tell you everything. I loathe secrets. My parents have been married for hundreds of years and I know nothing good comes from secrets in a marriage. But, if I tell you everything, I could die. Do you understand why I have to?"
"Yes," she sighed. "I don't like it, but yes."
I rubbed my chin. "Elder Donne... he has plans for the two of us. Plans that he's keeping secret until he deems worthy to share. I don't know all of them but this next one will be difficult for you." I reached over and held one of her hands. "I'm here, though, to help you. I know how important your realm is to you and I wish there was a way I could change the five year allowance but I can't."
"Elder Arlan explained it to me," she said.
"Look at me," I whispered and she obeyed. "You're having to make a shit load of sacrifices and I want you to know that, not only do I respect you, I will do everything in my power to make sure that everyone - including Elder Donne - will see that you deserve more than you're being given."
She gave me a tremulous smile.
"I trust you," she said "But I am kind of hungry."
"So am I."
"I'll change," she sighed, looking at the closet.
"No," I said and put the bag down, holding out my arm. "I want you to wear that to dinner."
"Okay," she said and I led her down the halls.
Elder Donne may be controlling our lives right now, but I was going to remind him of who Lillian really is.
The dining hall was full of vampires and she hesitated. I led her in, though. A lot of the vampires were there just to feel important. The only ones that mattered were my parents, Elder fucking Donne, and our royal sorcerer, Lethan.
Everyone stood as we walked in and Elder Donne narrowed his eyes at her outfit. I ignored him, though, and led her to her seat beside my mother. The two women shared a shy smile and I wondered if my father was going to tell Lillian about her or if he wanted me to.
When we were seated, my father stood up.
"Thank you for joining us this evening," he said to everyone. "I am very excited to introduce you to our lovely future daughter-in-law, Lillian Greentree!" He gestured for her to stand and she did. "She will be visiting for a month with us until the wedding which we are all looking forward to. Now, please enjoy your meal."
Lillian sat back down and looked at the plate in front of her. She let out a watery laugh and I squeezed her hand under the table. I had made sure my father knew to put deer as the main meat. At first it was to continue our inside joke but now I wanted her to have a taste of home whenever she could.
"So, Lillian," my father said with a smile, "tell us about yourself."
She hates Elder Donne and probably resents us all.
"Well, I am... was a hunter in the elven realm," she said, taking a bite of her meal with shaking hands. "I was raised by Elder Arlan."
"Really?" he asked. "Why is that?"
"My parents passed away when I was a little elf," she whispered.
"How did they die?" a vampire nearby asked.
"Lillian, this is our royal sorcerer, Lethan," I interrupted, gesturing to him across to the table.
He beamed, showing his teeth, which made her shrink away a little.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Greentree. I will be your teacher."
"Teacher?" we said in unison.
"About our culture; our ways," he answered.
"I'll be doing that," I said, glaring at Elder Donne when he was about to speak. "Thank you, Lethan, but I'm sure you have many tasks to tend to."
"As do you," Elder Donne said. "You've been gone for a month, Mr. Dragomir. Your duties await."
"I'll take Lillian with me," I said. "It's a good chance for her to see what I'll be doing."
Elder Donne's face was sour and I knew I won the argument.
"How about we take a stroll through the palace gardens," my father said once dinner was over. "I'm sure they don't hold a candle to yours, but they are rather beautiful."
"I'm-I'm kind of tired," she whispered, tugging on her hair. "Is it all right if I just-just sleep?"
"Of course," he said quickly. "Just give Roan a moment and he'll be right there."
She nodded and waited by the stairs. My father pulled me into the throne room. His smile fell and he pulled me into a hug, something he rarely ever did anymore.
"I'm so sorry," he said.
"You know?" I hissed, backing out of his arms.
"Not until recently," he admitted. "But she seems like a lovely woman and I'm sure she'll be open to the idea once you-"
"No, Father, she won't," I interrupted. "And neither will I. We've agreed to the five year condition but I will not make her a prisoner in my bedchambers," I snarled, pointing a finger at him as my fangs extended. "I don't care what Elder Donne has ordered. Once you get to know her, you'll understand."
"Calm yourself, Roan," he said softly. "I agree with you. Calm yourself."
I sighed and my fangs retreated. "I'm sorry. I'm just so angry with him. After that, I'm sure he won't even let her commune with her goddess."
"She has a goddess?" he asked, interested.
I nodded. "We'll talk about that tomorrow." I looked over his shoulder where she and my mother were standing awkwardly. "Do you want to tell her about Mother or do you want me to?"
"We'll tell her tomorrow," he said, looking at them, too.
"Very well. Good night, Father."
"Good night," he said.
I took Lillian's arm and led her upstairs to my bedchambers again. I sighed and went through the many dresses.
"So, the plainer ones are your nightgowns," I explained. "The others are what you'll wear during the day." I pointed. "You have a million pairs of slippers so you'll have plenty of choices." That got the giggle I was hoping for. "For now, though, go ahead and wear this."
I passed her a gold nightgown and stepped out to give her privacy. When she came back out, she had her uniform folded carefully and put it in the hiding spot with her shrine. She kissed the small statue then looked around.
"We're supposed to share the bed, aren't we?" she sighed.
"Yes," I muttered. "And we'll have to. If we don't, they'll know."
She rolled her eyes as she got into bed. "More like Elder Donne will know."
I blew out the candles and held her hand under the blankets.
"I'm very sorry."