He knew the things that were said about him in the court, when people thought he was not listening. The Polluxian court had been spared the ravages of war, had not known the pain and death and suffering that Doom had rained down on Arus.
Sven thought it was perhaps the most shallow – and yet most dangerous – place that he had ever been.
He stayed for her, and if he was honest, for himself. She was like spring to his winter, the promise of warmth and light and life after the frost. He couldn’t imagine his life without her, and he couldn’t imagine leaving her to deal with the court herself.
The men of the court tended to give him a respectful distance – enough of them had seen him practice hand-to-hand or target shooting to know that he was dedicated to practicing his craft.
The women of the court had tried another approach, and for a few weeks, he had suffered through a variety of them “accidentally” turning up somewhere he would be. He had to applaud a few for their ingenuity, even as he had started to dread entering his quarters.
Finally, he escaped from the crowd and retreated to his quarters. Bandor had placed him near the family wing in a move intended to honor the Alliance pilot, but it had added to the whispers.
She was waiting for him, still dressed in her court costume, her hair loose around her shoulders.
“Sven.” Her voice was cool, sweet – music to his ears.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he said softly. He said it every time, and while they knew he meant it, it was never enough to make either one stop.
“I don’t care,” she replied as she wound her arms around his neck. “I needed you.”
Not as much as I need you, Sven thought as he surrendered and drew her down on the bed.