Chapter 35 – At Last
Chapter 35 – At Last
Noah ran his hands through his hair as he stared across the horizon and watched the sun rise.
‘Three years.’ He told himself.
It had felt longer than it had actually been.
The Alminian Advisors had been adamant on their disproval of Noah. They had bluntly refused to dismiss the blood treaty that had been set up between Alminia and Terrafeuw, even when the rulers from both Kingdoms were resolute that new treaty could be formed. Still, they couldn’t be swayed. They were immoveable in their decision. If Prince Phillip and Princess Alexandria remained unmarried they would have to be wed on her nineteenth birthday.
Alexandria tried to explain that she couldn’t marry Phillip when she was engaged to someone else, but the Advisors had rejected the engagement.
Many arguments were made on their behalf, but as long as Noah’s parentage remained a secret, it seemed the Advisors would refuse to even consider allowing a man that had once been a servant, to be their King.
For several months nothing changed, and Noah could feel Alexandria’s resolve dimming.
But then, on June 18th, two months before the crowned Princess’s nineteenth birthday a letter from Terrafeuw arrived. It stated that the Crowned Prince of Terrafeuw, Phillip Gregory Marcus Lyonal had become engaged.
The letter baffled the entire council of Advisors, especially since the name of his fiancé had not been included. It simply stated that he had become engaged, that the wedding would be held the summer of the following year, and that Princess Alexandria was officially released from the blood treaty.
Several weeks later an official announcement from the Terrafein Council arrived confirming Prince Phillip’s engagement to a woman named Constance Amelia Mayweather, the daughter of a former Terrafein Advisor.
On that day the Alminian Advisors showed the first hint of their acceptance towards Noah. He had been ordered to partake in certain lessons that they deemed necessary in the preparation of obtaining their tolerance.
But the lessons hadn’t been their only stipulation.
They allowed him to stay in the palace, but he was not allowed to talk to, seek out, meet with, or even glance at the future Queen of Alminia. It was perhaps the hardest thing that he had to agree to.
But he did agree to it.
The reasoning behind that specific requirement was rather obvious, especially when a week after Noah agreed; the Advisors had decided to that more Noblemen needed to be invited to Princess Alexandria’s Birthday Ball. A Ball that Noah had not been allowed to officially attend.
Perhaps in hindsight their decision had been the right one.
A certain pair of Twin Lords had been invited to the celebration as well, only this time their forms of persuasion and torment hadn’t been directed to a pretend Nobleman, but an actual one, a councilman’s nephew.
Noah smiled at the rising sun and was glad to know that the twins would finally reap what they had sowed, in the most literal meaning of the phrase. They were sent to four years of hard labor in the great Alminian Mine.
After their departure, Lord and Lady Montego’s despicable behavior slowly began to change for the better. Their servants would never call them kind or polite, but they did become adequate masters.
“Three years.” He said aloud as he dragged his fingertips across his scalp and started to change out of his nightclothes.
So much had happened.
It hadn’t taken Alexandria long to realized that the Alminian Advisors were trying to keep them apart. Unfortunately for their plan to work, they had to get her to agree to stay away from him, which she didn’t.
Noah had agreed to never talk to her, meet with her, seek her out, or glance in her general direction. He broke all but one of those rules. He never had to seek her out because she always found him.
Their time spend together was consistently brief, as they struggled to find time between the numerous lessons that he had been assigned to.
Noah wasn’t a savage, but his language and etiquette tutors apparently believed otherwise. They were not impressed that he already knew how to read as well as write. That type of knowledge was common in their circles. Their scolding made him constantly wonder about the dinner he had shared at the ‘C’ table during the Masked Ball so long ago. How had those members of Society not noticed that he wasn’t one of them?
The thought kept him entertained when the lessons became repetitively boring.
Although the Servant Discipline Law had kept him from retaliating against his masters, Noah was surprised to find that he evidently excelled in his combat classes.
Other mandatory lessons included strategy, history, and dance.
At first, the concept of strategizing was the most difficult notion that Noah failed to understand, but as the lessons continued he learned that he simply had follow his intuition.
Noah loved reading, but history irritated him. He understood why it was considered important, but he struggled with remembering the names and the decrees and the order of every different ruler since before the Thirteen Kingdoms were formed.
His favorite lesson was dance, but mainly because of his partner. For a full two hours every other day, Noah got to hold Alexandria in his arms. They weren’t allowed to speak to each other during the class, but he could tell from the look on her face, rather than the shouting of the tutor, when he missed a step.
Although he struggled with the lessons and the tutors, Noah had the hardest time with the servants.
The main problem was that he now had them.
After his injuries from the great hurricane had healed, Noah was assigned two manservants. Their names were Mathew and Leone, and they were more dedicated to their position than he was comfortable with. They hardly let him do anything by himself, no matter how much he protested.
Queen Valerie became his greatest asset when it came to accepting his new station. She publicly advised that he should simply let them do their job, but privately she would instruct him on the easiest ways to sidestep around them. She admitted that over time it would become easier to accept their assistance.
Noah knew that she spoke from experience, but he still had a hard time allowing with Mathew and Leone to do things that he was perfectly able to do, especially when they refused to let him take his own bath.
A soft knock sounded at his door. Noah finished buckling his shoes, and look up as Mathew entered the room.
“Good morning, Mathew.” He greeted.
“I see you’ve dressed yourself again, Sir.”
Noah smiled at the man’s slight agitation and replied, “That is correct.”
“Will you be eating breakfast in the dining room today, or at your breakfast nook?”
“The dining room.” He answered simply.
Mathew nodded in his direction, but he thankfully didn’t bow at him.
It had been six months since news of King Heralf’s passing was announced. He had apparently been ill for quiet some time, but the severity had been kept quiet. King Erivet, the eldest of Heralf’s four surviving sons, now ruled over Rramnon. One week after Erivet’s coronation, Philip, and his wife arrived in Alminia.
News of a second Terrafein Prince spread through the Thirteen Kingdoms like a wildfire. Many people happily accepted the rumors of a secret engagement between Noah and Alexandria, although his legitimacy had been immediately called into question.
Gossip and rumors where quickly put to rest, when King Freddrick publicly claimed Noah Flint Jenkins as his son. Shortly afterwards the Alminian Advisors openly agreed to the union between the Crowned Princess Alexandria Maxine Georgiana Bell of Alminia and Prince Noah Flint Jenkins Lyonal of Terrafeuw.
Noah still struggled with his extended name, as well as his title, but he realized that he could accept them if it meant that Noah Jenkins could marry Lady Annabell Tompson.
“Three years.” He repeated as he left the room so that Mathew could remake the bed.
His mind raced back to the day Alexandria interrupted his combat training to announce that the Advisors had finally granted their approval.
It was hot for the beginning of October. He had been taken his jacket off, but had still managed to be completely covered in sweat within minutes of the lesson.
“They said yes.” He heard her holler from behind him. His instructor nodded a release and Noah turned around just in time to be knocked to the ground by the stubbornly impatient woman he loved.
“Who said yes?” He asked as he struggled to his feet.
She lifted a hand. He chuckled at her silent request, but clasped her hand tightly and pulled her to her feet. “The councilors have given their approval.” She explained easily after she brushed the dirt off of her skirt.
Noah had instantly understood what she was saying, and he wrapped his arms around her. She didn’t seem to care that he was drenched in sweat or that someone might be watching them.
“Are you certain?” He asked in a whisper that only she could hear.
“I’m quiet certain.” Alexandria said confidently. She teased him by placing a playful kiss on his cheek. “November first.” She said happily.
He released her from his arms and sent her a look of confusion.
“It’s our wedding date.” She explained.
His eyes widened at her announcement. Twenty-five days wasn’t very long to plan a wedding, but he honestly didn’t care when it was happening, just that it was happening.
“You’re up early.” A voice called out as Noah entered the dinning room.
He smiled at his brother. “So are you.” He replied.
Phillip shrugged. “I’ve had trouble sleeping since Constance’s pregnancy was confirmed.” He said wearily as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you nervous?”
Noah didn’t hide the smile that appeared on his face. “I was about three years ago, but I think I’m just ready for it to be official.”
“I can understand that.” Philip replied as he pushed around some of his fruit with his fork.
Noah eyed Philip carefully. “When are you going to tell me?” He asked abruptly.
“I don’t know what you are referring to.” He denied as he stabbed a grape and placed it in his mouth.
“We’ve kept in touch for three years now, and I still don’t know how you met the woman that is my now my sister.” Noah reminded flatly.
“It’s not an interesting story to tell.” Phillip shrugged.
Noah stared intently at his brother until he finally looked up from his breakfast.
“I’m listening.” He stated when Phillip remained quiet.
“Her name is Constance Amelia Mayweather.” He informed, “She’s the daughter of the Duke of Colton, one of father’s former advisers.”
“You’re simply reciting your engagement announcement.” Noah chided.
Phillip released a frustrated sigh, and Noah was reminded of the conversation they shared the night after he had been rescued from King Heralf. Phillip still had trouble trusting people.
“I don’t know what to say.” He admitted as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“When did you realize that you loved her?” Noah asked hoping to calm Phillip down.
His face reddened slightly as he mumbled, “When she kissed me.”
Noah raised his eyebrows in surprise, but Phillip wasn’t finished.
“I had gone to see her. I don’t remember the reason. We fought, and things escalated. The next thing I know her lips were connected to mine. I lost all train of thought in that moment about anything that didn’t pertain to her. Before I could do, or even think, anything it was over. The next day I was aboard the Kettu on my way to rescue a brother I didn’t even know existed.”
He paused to take a drink from his glass.
“I thought that she had bewitched me.” Philip confessed. “I kept having hallucinations of her. I knew that she was still back in Terrafeuw, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind. It was a problem.”
“It happens.” Noah responded.
“What happened,” Phillip argued, “is a complicated mess.”
Noah couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him. “Perhaps one day you’ll tell me the whole story.”
Phillip shook his head stubbornly and returned his attention to his breakfast. “Turn your thoughts away from my past, and on your future. You’ll be married in a few hours.”
~~~ Change Character Focus
“If you don’t calm down, they won’t be able to get your beautiful dress on.” Alexandria cautioned, as ten-year-old Kimmie rushed about the room too filled with excitement to sit still. Her warning caught Kimmie’s attention, and the young girl was able to sit still long enough for her mother to quite literally slide her into her dress.
Tilly had resigned as her escort last winter when she married Richard Byrns. It was a small ceremony. She and Richard now managed the bookstore while her grandfather, Otis, enjoyed retirement.
Alexandria heard a small gasp from the women in the room as Jela finished fastening her dress. She turned around to look in the mirror, and could help, but release a gasp herself.
“Willie, it’s perfect.” She praised using the nickname the seamstress allowed her close friends to call her.
The woman beamed a smile in her direction, and nodded her thanks.
Her wedding gown was a light, almost white, blue. It was an appropriate color given the time of year, but most importantly it was the same color as Noah’s eyes. Alexandria couldn’t understand how Willaminia had been able to finish it in such a short amount of time. It was light enough for her to move easily, but sturdy enough to protect her against the November chill.
“You look so pretty.” Kimmie said in awe as she twirled around the room. “You’re the prettiest bride I’ve ever seen.
That was when reality struck her. It was finally happening.
Alexandria quickly tore her eyes off of her reflection and turned towards the dancing Kimmie. “You look very beautiful as well.” She praised as the red head beamed up at her in her silver dress.
A few moments later a knock sounded at the door and Bess rushed to answer it.
She released a sigh as her eyes found her mother’s. Queen Valerie smiled at her.
“How do I look?” She asked as butterflies slowly invaded her stomach.
“You look radiant darling.” She praised.
“Is it time?” Kimmie asked, as she rushed towards the Queen, filled with anticipation.
Queen Valerie didn’t look at Kimmie when she answered. Instead she looked Alexandria directly in the eyes and asked, “Are you ready?”
Alexandria took a deep breath and glanced beck once more at her reflection. She held the breath for a moment, and let time stand still as she recalled everything that had happened since she first met Noah in Madam Pumberly’s Fabric and Textiles over three years ago.
She remembered how, even then, his very presence had the power to make her whole world stop.
She turned back. Jela, Bess, Willaminia, Kimmie, her mother, all of their eyes waited patiently for her response.
Finally, Alexandria released her breath and answered, “I’m ready.”
~~~ Later, Change Character Focus
Noah sighed as he relaxed against his pillow.
His wife wrapped an arm around him as another yawn escaped her. “You should sleep.” He scolded.
“Not yet.” She stated stubbornly. “I’m not tired.”
He released a ragged sigh as her fingers traced one of his many scars. She smiled wickedly and moved to trace a scar that was slightly lower.
Noah groaned and quickly moved to still her hands before she did any more damage.
He rolled his eyes at her. “You’re not tired?” He asked skeptically.
Alexandria shook her head as if she was trying to banish all thoughts of sleep. “I am fully awake dear husband.” She insisted, but another yawn betrayed her.
He chuckled at her, and pulled her closer for a kiss.
“Three years.” He reminded when their lips parted.
She rolled wearily onto his chest and released yet another yawn. Just before sleep could claim her, Noah heard her softly reply, “It was worth it.”