I watched her sleep and frowned.
"Do you love me?"
Why would she ask me that? Is it because she's so lonely? Or had she fallen in love with me?
I thought to my father who said he had fallen in love with my mother after their marriage. Perhaps Lillian and I could come to love each other before we married.
If someone had told me two months ago that I would be falling in love with an elf, I'd laugh in their face and suggest they go get their head checked. Yet here I was, holding her as she slept and feeling myself certainly starting to love her. I wondered what Elder Donne would say if I told him.
"He'd probably forbid that, too," I muttered bitterly and closed my eyes.
Lillian was in the washroom when I woke up. I figured she was bathing so I waited until she came out. I stared up at the painting, trying to think of different ways to get some green in here. Definitely gowns and a redesign of this room. I happened to enjoy green though I wouldn't tell the damn elder that. I wanted to defy him but, after yesterday, I was afraid to. I shook my head. I couldn't believe he took it out on Lillian.
I sighed and sat up just as the washroom door opened. Lillian dashed to the closet, wrapped in only a towel. I chuckled quietly and got out to start one of my own. The humans had come up with something called 'plumbing' and were kind enough to provide our palace with it. While the water warmed up, I stripped down. I sensed Lillian on the other side of the door and smirked. I looked around until I found the rag she must have used to clean herself. I covered myself with it and opened the door before she could knock.
She turned red and covered her face.
"Really?" she asked in a high pitched voice.
I chuckled. "Aw, come on. I can take it off if you'd like."
"You're an ass," she said in the same voice. "Goodness. I was going to see if I could join you today."
I laughed. "Of course you can. Just let me finish bathing. Unless you want to join me," I added.
She parted one of her fingers and glared at me. I grinned cheekily.
"Just bathe," she said.
I laughed again. While she turned, I saw a smile on her face.
When I was done bathing, I tapped my chin. What the hell? I enjoyed teasing her.
I threw the door open and she groaned loudly.
"At least a towel!" she said, turning her back on me. "Surely you can manage a towel!"
"But you used the only one."
She turned, her eyes wide. "Did I really- Oh my," she moaned and turned again. "You did that on purpose!"
I chuckled, drying myself with the towel I had left on the vanity.
"Not really," I said. "I really had forgotten it. Here, hold it for me while I dress, won't you?"
I rolled it up and tossed it over her head, enjoying the squeal as she caught it. I got dressed in my usual attire and walked out to see Lillian draping both towels by the fire to dry. Her face was still brilliantly red and I brushed my hair.
"Shall we, my dear?" I asked with a flourish, holding out my arm.
"You're an ass," she repeated as we walked down the hall.
"But I'm your ass."
She giggled. I liked this part of Lillian. The last three days had been awful for her and I wanted to make up for them the best I could.
Yes. I was falling in love with her.
When we got to the throne room, my parents were already there, communicating in that silent way they did. When my mother saw Lillian, she beamed.
"Faith would like to spend the day with you, if that's all right," my father said.
"Oh," she said. "Um.... Really?" she asked, her voice surprised.
"Of course," he said. "You're about to be our daughter-in-law. Perhaps tomorrow you and I can take a stroll."
"Okay," she said in a small voice.
I kissed the side of her head as my mother hurried over to her. I could sense Lillian's discomfort and knew my mother could, too. I sat in my throne and straightened my shirt.
"So you call her by her first name," my father said and I laughed, rubbing the back of my neck.
"You don't even refer to Liam by his first name," he pointed out and I blushed this time.
"Well.... I-" I groaned as he started laughing. "What will she and Mother be doing today?"
"I'm not sure," he said. "Elder Donne will be here soon to discuss Lillian's lessons."
I frowned. "What lessons?"
"On how to be a queen," he answered as if it were obvious.
"I'm not leaving her alone with him," I said immediately.
My father nodded. "I figured you'd say that. Your mother will be joining them. I know you want to go but you really do have duties you need to catch up on."
I wrinkled my nose. "Fine," I grumbled. "Is that why she's spending the day with Lillian?"
"Yes. She wants to get to know her, too. I was sincere. I wish to get to know her as well. Do they go by last names there?"
I shook my head. "By first names. You don't need to call her Miss Greentree. Just call her Lillian. I know that will make her more comfortable."
"You care much for her."
I shrugged, avoiding his eyes. "She's having her freedom taken from her," I said. "The least I can do is make sure she's as happy as she can be."
He smirked. "In other words: I'm in love with her and want to make her happy."
I turned red. "I'm not in love with her, Father."
"But you will be," he said and I looked at him. He was smiling. "I know that look, Roan. And it's okay to love her, even if she is an elf."
"I didn't think I could," I admitted, lowering my voice. "Different races and all that."
"It's true that you are different races," he said. "But your mother and I were, too. We didn't fall in love until after our marriage, but it wasn't a requirement that she become a vampire. Like I told you, she asked me to do it. Tell me what it was like in the elven realm."
I got comfortable and told him about the deer and their silver knives. He laughed when I told him about the trees.
"Oaken and Lillian teased me so much," I laughed. "I wonder if they'll heal them by the time we go back."
"And that soup really exploded?"
"Yes. I don't know the name of the herb but it was quite the experience. Oaken said it's the most effective for healing sickness, though." I frowned. "After we're done with Elder Donne, I need to speak with Elder Arlan. I need that recipe for when she gets sick."
"That's so odd," he said. "To get sick.... I wonder what it's like."
Before I could respond, Elder Donne walked in. I glared at him but didn't show any signs of open hostility. He held my gaze for a few minutes before bowing respectfully.
"Lillian Greentree's lessons will start tomorrow evening," he said.
"She sleeps in the evening," I interrupted.
"Not anymore," he said. "Now she will sleep in the mornings, just like us."
"She's not a vampire, Donne!" I shouted. "She can't function on one meal, she can't change her sleeping pattern, and she certainly can't commune with Caricus!"
My father frowned. "You want her to commune with Caricus?" he asked and Elder Donne nodded. "Elder Donne, he will kill her if she tries to commune with him."
"Not if she accepts him as her god," he said stubbornly.
"Enough of this shit," I said through clenched teeth. My mother will be joining Lillian in her afternoon classes and I'm going to see Elder Arlan."
"You are forbidden to-"
"I'm well aware," I spat, standing up. "I need to get a recipe from him for when Lillian gets sick. Don't you dare," I added when he opened his mouth.
I stormed out, slamming the door behind me, and headed for the Meeting Hall.