She'd been lying there asleep for who knows how long. Her breaths, deep and long, causing the slender frame of her chest to rise like the tide and allowing it to gently fall again. Her very breaths were beautiful. The way her faintly parted lips sipped in air slowly and dispelled it back into the atmosphere holds him spell bound. Watching her lie there draped across the pillows in her family room drew Jared to a complete halt when he'd found her.
He'd known she was in their living quarters, he could feel her there the entire time. If Simone wanted to be left at rest, who would oppose her? Certainly not he, nor any other being with sound judgment. "How long do you intend to stand there staring at me?" Simone says in a raspy voice indicative of rest and relaxation. "My queen, forgive me for disturbing you" he bows reverently. "Don't apologize, and don't bow." She waves him off and snaps more angrily than she'd intended. "Of course my queen."
Simone instantly feels the heat of shame burn her cheeks. She can tell by the look on Jared's face that he'd been insulted and embarrassed at best. Despite her theatrics and the insanity surrounding her situation, Jared had been consistently kind to her. The least she can do is return his kindness with good, old fashioned diplomacy.
She pulls herself up from the cushions and blanket she'd wrapped herself in before and stands to her feet. She smoothes her hand across the front of her gown to find it immaculate, as if she'd never slept in it at all. The stand in queen, as she begins to consider herself, considers the impossibility of the sky blue gown being flawless after hours of sleep. "I've upset you" Jared says seeming sincerely concerned again. "It's nothing, everything here is just so strange to me. I didn't mean to snap at you like that. You've been nothing but kind to me since I woke up here, I don't mean to take my angst out on you Jared."
Simone reaches out and places her hand in his to squeeze assuredly, offering a slight symbol of trust despite her best judgment. He doesn't let go of her hand, but holds to her fingers gently. "Tell me my queen; I cannot suffer this kind of torment. Have you truly forgotten everything? Is it possible that you do not know who you are?" Simone can feel her chest tighten, she'd hated these kinds of questions her whole life, but they are so much worse now seeing someone's emotions tied so deeply into her lost memories.
"I don't know. When I went to bed I was single woman living in a small apartment in L.A. I worked in local government, and I had no memories past being found on a beach as a teenager. I don't remember my childhood, my parents, nothing. Then I wake up yesterday morning and I'm here, and you're acting like you know me and talking nonsense about Kings and Queens. That is all I remember, I don't remember you. I don't remember this place or any of you people, I promise you that. I am not lying to you."
Jared brings her hand to his face and holds it there, "I can sense your honesty, and you mean what you say. You are confused and you are scared, and you do not know who you should trust." Simone lets her hands slip from his as he finishes his assessment of her. "Do not be afraid. It is because we are married that I am able to read you that way. I feed from your powers and your emotions the same as you can feed from mines."
Simone doesn't speak, hoping to gain more insight. "Your powers, certainly you remember your powers." Jared's voice is anxious in his question. "My queen, tell me that you remember your powers, how to use them?" "I don't know what powers you're referring to. Powers to appoint, power to veto: I'm not sure what the legislative powers are here" "This is much worse than I imagined" Simone notices how his eyebrows furrow as he looks away from her, seeming to look for an answer in the still air.
"We must consult with Sarai; she has always been here with you. She may have some understanding that I do not." Simone is puzzeled by his insistence. "You and Sarai don't seem to get along" She'd a;ready observed a reserved yet heated debate between the two. "That may be, but she has a great deal of wisdom. It is why you have trusted her for so many years as your advisor and as a confidant for many years before that." "If its all the same to you I'd rather not involve Sarai. I'm sure that she is very wise, and I'm sure she has earned your wife's trust over the years, but I am not your wife and she hasn't earned anything from me. Right now, I'd rather just depend on you, if that's okay." A look comes over Jared that she cannot at all read. His eyes change shades from the rich blue they'd been to nearly gold. Simone is too shocked to ask why or how its possible. "I am always at your service my queen."
Another day passes and Jared continues to cater to Simone's needs. He arranges all of her meals and is finally able to convince her to see Sarai again. Sarai may not be his favorite person within the castle walls, but she likely knows more about Simone than any other living being. Simone sits quietly in her study reading. She had discovered books there on the ruling government of Shandria that had to be many decades old. Apparently their monarchy system is very young. The only rulers mentioned are King Darius and Queen Miriam who begat Queen Simone who inherited the throne as a small child. Slwoly, she is beginning to believe that this place is far more than an illaborate hallucination of a crazy woman.
"Your Highness, might I get you anything?" Sarai had come in so quietly that she hadn't heard her. "No, I'm fine Sarai. May I ask you a question?" "Of course dear" Sarai steps deeper into the room and sits across the table from Simone. "Tell me about Darius and Miriam"
Sarai sighs and closes her eyes. "I have been avoiding this topic with you since childhood. I've always known one day you would ask. I had hoped that since so many years had passed that you never would." Simone looks Sarai straight in the eyes. Her sadness seems genuine. "I'd like to know, what happened to the queen's parents?"
Both Sarai and Jared had become accustomed to Simone referring to the queen as a separate person from herself. Jared however had taken a particular dislike to it. She'd even gone to such lengths as to moving into one of the smaller bedrooms in the family quarters to ensure she did not take on the wrath of the real queen should she return before Simone figured a way home.
"The King and Queen reigned for many years. They created this nation, built it from the ground up. As far as all written texts go in Shandria, the King and Queen had always existed, they were the first and most powerful beings to inhabit this land. There were others however, others that came into existence near the same time as Darius and Miriam, but were not nearly as powerful. It was said that they became bitter and envious of the couple as they created life here and jealous of how the life they created flourished."
Simone feels like a small child listening to some amazing fairytale, but she can't discount any of what she is hearing. Judging by the things she's seen in the past few weeks anything is possible. She wasn't sure if she could believe her own eyes when jared escorted outside into one of her gardens for the first time. He literally laughed at her amazement at the two suns in the sky; one orbiting the other. It was more beautiful than anything she'd ever seen.
"Were they cruel leaders?" Simone prods her storyteller. "No, the people of Shandria lived in peace under their rule. The King and Queen were greatly loved, though some felt that their policies were too lenient and that they allowed the people of Shandria too many freedoms. When Miriam became pregnant, child, the entire kingdom seemed to burst with joy." A smile warms Sarai's features, softening the lines in her face that time and experience had left behind. Simone can't help but to smile with her.
"Some feared how powerful a child born of the two most powerful beings in Shandria might be, but Miriam would hear nothing of their concerns. She was so filled with happiness that she could hardly contain it. The King was no better, he walked about with his chest stuck so far out ahead of him, he looked as if he might float away." Sarai chuckles, obviously cherishing old memories.
"Darius, Miriam and I were so close back then, as close as any friends could be. When Miriam discovered she was with child she came running to me first, even before her husband. Her eyes were filled with tears of merriment and we cried and laughed together. Before the baby was even full term I could sense her strength. That child held power beyond comprehension, even more than her parents combined. It took the both of them to bring life to Shandria; this child would be able to breathe life and destruction at will."
Simone silently wonders what all of Sarai's abilities are. How could she tell prenatally what the child would be capable of? "How did you know" her curiosity gets the best of her. "It is my power Simone, I can sense the powers and abilities of others before even they learn them, and to some extent and can keep those powers from affecting me. For those with very weak powers I can inhibit them altogether. That is why I looked after the queen from birth when her mother could not be with her. Miriam exuded a gentle strength and was always able to rein in her daughters abilities, but no one else seemed to be able to do that. I was really the only available nanny who could survive the child."
Simone contemplates what that means and considers how many had tried to survive the kid and failed. "No one is really sure what happened to the King and Queen. They were very late in leaving their suite one morning, and I thought nothing of it. They were still very much in love and would now and again have a late morning, but after many hours I came in to investigate. I found them there in their bed lifeless. Their small daughter sat up between them, tears staining her tiny little face. She said to me ‘Mother and Father will not wake up Nana'. I will never forget the look in her eyes for my entire life sitting there between her dead parents. My heart broke a million times over."
Simone fights tears watching Sarai wipe her own. She hadn't expected to hear anything like that and begins to regret not trusting the woman. She can clearly see now why she had been so over protective. "I fought with every spell and incantation that I knew to revive them until I was too exhausted. I don't remember what all happened after that. A servant found us there sobbing while I held onto the young queen. They said they nearly had to wrestle her from my arms, I was so distraught. Since that day I have watched over her and protected her with my life. I wish I could have done the same for her parents."
Simone reaches across the table for Sarai's hand and holds firmly onto it. "I am sorry for everything that you have suffered Sarai. Forgive me for being so harsh with you at first; I'm certain you have been very loyal to the queen. I just didn't understand." Simone's voice is soft, attempting to mend a wound she'd inadvertently caused. "I know child, you are confused." Sarai stands to gather herself. "I only came to see if you needed me and look how I've imposed on your time with my old memories. Forgive me Simone, and do excuse me"
"Of course" Simone nods, excusing Sarai from the room. "Sarai wait, one more question" Sarai turns to face Simone again. "You want to know what I see when I look at you" Sarai says plainly. Simone releases a tight breath and nods again. "I see power beyond comprehension, even more than your parents combined. You are our queen, you are my dearest Simone, and you are far stronger than you can possibly imagine."
Simone sits quietly for as long as she can, her mind runs in wild circles trying to figure out what she can believe but continues to draw no conclusions. She finds herself exiting her study, marching out of the family quarters and into the grand foyer of the palace. She hadn't ventures that far out since the day she arrived and Jared had brought her safely back in. She'd been into the many gardens she'd discovered leading out of the family quarters, but that was as far as her adventures had taken her. She knew just from those small journeys that she was most certainly not in L.A., what with the two suns and all.
The moment she steps out into view the room falls silent and every man and woman takes a reverent bow. "As you were" she says loudly enough to be heard by all and everyone continues along their way as if she hadn't been there. If she'd have known crowd control was that easy she'd have done it the first time. She can feel all eyes on her as she walks through the foyer. Every person she passes pauses and bows reverently until she has passed them completely. She tries to keep up and nod at each one of them until she realizes she has no idea where she is going.
Simone pauses momentarily to gain her bearings. "You look lost." A young boy, no older than 7 or 8 years old, appears from nowhere just in front of Simone. She lumps back from him, not having expected his sudden appearance. "I didn't mean to startle you." Simone smiles at the well spoken young man. He is dressed equally as well as he speaks and the refined way he stands with his hands clasped behind his back is evidence of good breeding. Simone imagines that the well off speak a common language in any world.
"I am a bit lost. I was so involved in figuring out my way that I didn't see you walk up to me. Forgive me for being so rude." The young boy simply shrugs. His head is full of wild curls and his emerald green eyes sparkle against his toffee skin. Simone has never seen such an exotically handsome little boy before. She's never seen anyone who'd looked like him. His thick golden brown curls hang low and frame his face, making his eyes seem all the more mesmerizing. Being set against such a deep toned skin is enough to make them appear to gleam. Simone had seen black kids with colored eyes before, but nothing like his.
"I know my way around, perhaps I can help you." The boy volunteers. "Wont your mother be worried about you running off?" Simone asks, looking around to see if there is indeed a mother in sight. No one seems to be paying any particular attention to him aside from pure curiosity. "No, my mother has more important matters to attend to." Simone bends over to look the child in the eyes, "Nothing in the world could be more important to your mother than you are, I promise." Simone reassures the boy. "Maybe you can help me. I am searching for the King, do you know in what part of the palace he might be?"
The boy looks at her as if she'd asked a very dumb question, "Of course I know where he is. He is preparing for a council meeting." Simone looks on at the boy hoping for more information, she had no idea what that was supposed to mean. "Where would he be preparing for a meeting?" The boy sighs. "Would you like me to take you to him?" Simone smiles again, "That would be very nice. You are a very helpful young man. What is your name?" The boy bows slightly causing his curls to bob up and down. "I am Alton your highness" "Okay Alton, lead the way"
The boy grabs her by the hand and leads Simone through crowds of people until they are in an area far more secluded to the public. There are guards outside the halls who simply nod at the boy as he brings her through. Alton stops her in front of a pair of very large doors cast in gold. "These are council halls, this is where the meeting will take place. All of the elders of Shandria will come here to meet. One day I will meet here with council"
Simone smiles remembering how driven she was to become a part of government. She'd eventually hoped to be a senator herself. "I'm sure you will Alton. Just work hard and do your very best and you can do it. Just remember that the people who work in their serve the people, not the other way around" Alton nods. "My father says that all the time" "He sounds like a smart man" Alton smiles and nods with the kind of pride that a boy has only for his father. He lets go of her hand just long enough to push the doors open to the council hall.
The moment she is inside he has her hand again and rushes her through to another well hidden hallway. "You sure know your way around this place" Simone notes as he drags her along. "I've been here my whole life" he says dismissively, as if his whole life were a considerable amount of time. "I can tell" The boy stops just in front of a wall where the hall dead ends. "Here it is, he is just inside" Simone smiles and shakes her head. Why had she let herself be lead around by a first grader? He had obviously gotten mixed up.
"Alton, have we gotten lost?" she asks in the kindest voice she can muster. "It looks like we have hit a dead end dear." She rustles her fingers through his curls patronizingly. Alton shakes his head disappointedly. "It is the Kings private office, were you expecting a big sign your highness?" He traces the pattern of the wall paper with his fingers, it is similar to what she'd seen in the hallway leading to the master bedroom. The place on the wall that he'd traced begins to glow a subtle blue. Slowly and quietly the wall pulls itself open, similar to the way elevator doors might. Simone looks back to thank the boy, but he is already gone.
As the doors part Jared stands from his seat behind his desk wearing a serious expression. He immediately bows when he sees that it is Simone. "How did you find your way back here?" he asks before she steps all the way inside. "A very interesting little boy showed me. He was quite a character." Jared releases a tense sigh, "Was the boys name Alton?" "Yes, how did you know?" "Trust me, you have no idea what a character that little boy can be. He, like all the other children who live in the palace walls, should be in his classes."
They both stand motionless for a moment before Jared speaks again. "Something tells me that you are not here to discuss the boy that lead you to me" Simone pauses to gather her nerves before she begins to speak "I need proof" Simone says frankly. "I have been here for weeks, and you continue to insist to me that I am someone I know nothing of. I just spoke with Sarai and she informed me of what happened to the last king and queen" "She did?" "Yes, we had a very in depth conversation Jared. She is convinced that I am the Simone that she raised from childhood, the woman was in tears. If it's true, if it's all true I need you to prove it to me. Prove that I am this all powerful queen that you say I am."
Jared studies the woman standing before him, she is determined to know the truth. He considers the consequences of attempting to give her what she asks. "I will do my best, but you must promise me you will do exactly as I ask and you must keep your emotions in check every moment, do you understand" Simone nods, now weary of what she'd just requested. "Yes I understand." "Good, have a seat." Jared motions towards a chair against the back wall of the office. It is the most demanding he's been since she'd met him.
Jared pulls a chair in front of her and sits facing his wife. "It is important that you clear your mind Your Majesty. Keep your eyes on mine, it well help you stay focused" Simone begins to wonder what in the hell she'd signed herself up for, but she could think of worse company to be in. She looks into his honey brown eyes and is immediately lost in them. She'd discovered that most often his eyes are this color. Occasionally they change into various shades, but most frequently they remain this mesmerizing shade of golden honey brown. His eyes are beautiful and damned sexy with him starring so intensely into hers.
She tries her damndest to focus but her eyes are pulled away from his. Jared's firm thigh brushes against hers as he comes closer to grab a hold of her hands. He scoots close enough for both of her legs to fit snugly between both of his. Their closeness makes her breaths shallow. She'd spent the entire time in the palace avoiding touching this man. He is too gorgeous, too sexy to be in her arms reach and her keep any type of composure.
"Simone, please focus. I need you to clear your mind of everything, inluding me." She shakes of her embarrasment at being caught oggling him and only nods and forces her thoughts off of Jared. "I think it may be best if you close your eyes to keep you focused Simone. Close your eyes and listen to my voice." She is grateful for the distraction.
Simone obeys and listens. "Your powers are derived from the light, drawn from the strongest life force of our planet, our Alpha sun. The sun in fact draws its power from you. Think of the sun focus on its energy." Simone thinks of when she'd first seen the suns from the garden attached to her study. They seemed so much closer than she'd ever seen the sun at home, larger. She'd thought Shandria had to be at some extremely high elevation for the suns to seem so near.
"Can you see the suns, can you feel them?" Simone attempts to say yes, but the intensity of what she feels is overwhelming. "That is it, you are tapping into your strength now Simone. I have to let go of your hands now" She can feel him release her and move away, but doesn't open her eyes to see him. "Think of something that you'd like to have, anything." Jared's voice is low and soothing. "Think of something that there is no way that I could have here, something that I would not know about so you have no doubts that you did this for yourself. Once you see what you want, bring it here. Summon whatever it is that you see to you. Make it materialize, try something small."
Simone concentrates hard and breathes slowly and deeply until she feels a cool sensation fill her hand. She lets her mind key into the sensation and in turn it becomes more real and solid in her hand. "Simone, Simone open your eyes, you've done it!" Jared's excited tone yanks her from her concentration. Simone smiles, in her hand is a cold draft beer. "I asked you to start small my queen, you do not follow instructions well" His eyes are wide with amusement, he'd been surrounded by cold bottles of draft beer. She'd backed the king into a corner. "Now I imagine I'll have to teach you to get rid of all of this" Jared laughs. "Oh no, I don't think so. I get the feeling I'm going to need these" Simone blows on the cap and it fades from existence and takes a swig. "Yeah, I'm definitely going to need these"
Simone watches quietly as servants clear the beers she'd created out of thin air out of the room and into refrigeration. She'd taken down two herself to ease their labor. "You are much stronger than I had believed" Jared says as the last worker carts the last beers out of the room. "I don't even know what I just did or how I did it." "True, but the fact is you did do it. Your powers are still there, they are simply lying dormant inside of you" Jared rebuts as he settles back behind his desk, fussing over papers that look to be important. Simone can always tell what documents are of great import. She'd had plenty of experience in the mayor's office to know what needs to be handled as soon as possible and what could be put off.
"I can help you prepare for your meeting if you'd like. I'm very good at council meetings" Jared raises his eyes to meet hers for a moment. Simone tries not to notice the way his thick locks fall over his shoulders like a lion's mane as he stalks her with his eyes. "What do you recall of council meetings?" Jared asks, his voice laced with suspocion. "Nothing from Shandria. Where I come from I worked for the mayor. That is something like being king, but over a smaller territory, just a city." Jared nods causing his locks to sway. "The mayor officiated meetings for the city council and as his assistant I prepared what would be discussed, in what order and prepared what he would have to say."
" It Sounds as if you were doing this mayors job for him" Simone can't help but laugh at how offensively Jared takes the concept. "I did. That was my job. I had to cover for him at all times, even if that meant ruling local government silently from behind my desk while he got all the credit." Jared scowls, "That is dishonest" "That is politics".
Jared considers the woman sitting across from his desk a moment. She'd worn a crème gown down to his office. The floral printed bodice hugged her form so well it seemed to mesh with her caramel skin. The skirt loosened just past her full hips and stopped just at her ankles. It had been so long since she'd dressed in such soft colors or worn gowns that complemented her figure so well.
"The council will be expecting you. I have not taken an active role in these meetings for some time." Simone leans forward onto his desk, inadvertently revealing more of her full bust line for Jared to try and ignore. "That makes no sense Your Highness. You are the king, why wouldn't you take part in a council meeting? Is it not your jurisdiction, you work in a higher capacity?" She is genuinely curios. Simone figures that if she had to stay there, at very least she can learn the political system.
Politics had always been her passion. Jared sighs seeming weighed by having to respond to that question. "Simone, you rule here. You are the most powerful being in all of Shandria. You have the power to create and destroy existence as we all know it. There is no power that is outside of your reach that I know of. Your people obey you. I am your husband, and I am king, but you are ruler."
Simone can tell that this particular confession was as hard for him as carrying a ton of bricks would be for her. "Wow, total power? That sounds like a recipe for tyranny." She comments to herself. Jared sits back in his seat, amazed at her reaction to total power.
"You once ruled differently. Matters were discussed in council and deliberated. The people had a say before major decisions were made. Each councilman would take matters to their sector and come to meetings prepared to speak on behalf of their people. We would hear them out, deliberate within the group and come to decisions as a unit. You have always had total power, but you have not always wielded it. Only in recent years have you taken complete authority over the Shandrian government. You subjugated our people to servitude: men, women and children. They all live in fear of the crown now. They all fear what would happen should they cross you or attempt to rebel, especially when you ordered restrictions against those who have powers from using them." Jared pauses waiting to gauge Simone's reaction. She can tell by the way his breathing had become quicker and harder that he had wanted to say that for a long time. His brown eyes shimmer slightly red for a moment. Simone wants to question it but decides that now is obviously not the time.
"Is that true?" she asks in complete awe. Simone had imagined herself as more of a Condoleezza Rice type of ruler than a Cruella Deville. "I wish that it weren't. From what I gather of your frame of reference of time, I would estimate that more than fifteen years ago you woke up and were a completely different person. My wife was gone. The ruler that Shandria once knew and willingly followed disappeared and was replaced by a cold, callas dictator. That is when you dismissed all of our house staff and put Sarai in total control of our affairs. You felt you couldn't trust anyone, not even your husband. Despite my efforts to protect the people, you have been very cruel"
Simone takes a moment to digest Jared's words. "So then they all hate me?" Jared doesn't know how to respond to her innocent ignorance. "I imagine you might be hard pressed to find a loyalist my queen." There is a long silence between them. Jared noted the sadness in Simone's eyes, but also sees something more. There is the slightest glare of anger and determination, as if the wheels of her mind are turning furiously. "May I attend" Simone says quietly. "I have been in many council meetings, but none like what you are speaking of. May I attend your meeting?" "Of course my queen".