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Acting on Spontaneity

Chapter Text

December 6th, 1826

The young prince of Bereiken James Ryan Haywood had just turned 25 years old. His friends being the partiers they always were dragged him to the move private northern castle that his parents owned. Geoff organized the booze and, as much as he asked them not to, Michael and Gavin got the girls.

An indulgent weekend in the mountains with gambling, sex and drinking is what they saw as an apt celebration of his birthday, “James, this the last birthday where you can get wild and no one can judge you for it.” Michael explained. The staff and girls they brought up were sworn to secrecy allowing the young prince and all of his friends, who were also all tied up in the monarchy themselves, to properly let go of their inhibitions. 

During the carriage ride to the castle they had already been drinking slightly, so when they did the shots in the east drawing room of the castle Ryan was already well into tipsy territory.  They were shit talking after a game of poker when the girls from the south made their entrance.

Nweta, the Southern more tropical state within Bereiken was said to produce some of the most beautiful girls on the planet. When he saw her he knew that every bit of that statement was very true. He was surprised they weren’t freezing cold in their outfits. The very sheer dresses they wore left very little to the imagination even if it technically covered all of their bodies.

They floated into the room in a cloud of silk and perfume that seemed like it fogged his mind slightly. When his eyes landed on her he felt like his world was forever changed. Their madame made quick introductions of each girl and it fell on deaf ears as he was completely lost in the young girl who stood in the middle of the line. Those tits, the perfect pout of her lips and curve of her ass was practically calling his name.

Then, his eyes fell on the soulmate tattoo that across her hip and he had never been sober quicker in his life. The skull matched the mark he that had appeared on the same place on his hip when he was 7 years old.

When he first touched her in his private room about ten minutes later he felt a great surge through his body. The confused look on her face told him she felt the same thing. She pulled her arm away and quickly turned around, he could see her heavy breathing from the way her shoulders moved and he watched as she moved the transparent fabric at her hip to look at the tattoo now bursting with color.

She swore and turned back to Ryan with fear written across her eyes. He knew what she was scared of. The Nwetan people weren’t exactly fans with his father nor the Bereiken government. The over taxation of their people was reason enough for revolt, not including how their amount of seats in the house were dropping as each year passed, plus tensions were rising. It was no one’s fault but his father’s and as much as the propaganda was stuffed down his throat he didn’t believe a single word of it. 

“I am not my father.” He said trying to gain a bit of her trust. “Yea well you sure fucking act like it.” She said anger starting to flare a bit. “I could protest and get killed.” He reasoned.

There was a strategic part of him who knew it was best for him to keep his mouth shut. While he was still Prince and the major keys to his country were all being choked with his father’s lies it was a death wish if he spoke out against his father.

“Let me see it.” She said gesturing to his hip where she knew a matching mark was waiting. She watched as he untucked his shirt and pulled his pants down over his hip to reveal the identical now colorful tattoo.

She walked towards him and ran her fingers over his hip out of curiosity. Just again there was that pulse that made her fingers curl away from his hip. “You’re not an idiot-“ he was cut off by a loud scoff. “How do you know that?” she asked sarcastically as she walked away from him to the large windows by the balcony.

“You’re my soulmate the universe wouldn’t curse me with an idiot for a soulmate.” He reasoned making her laugh just a little. “So I know you know that I can’t do anything about our little situation.” Ryan saw a hint of sadness in her eyes. When he got his tattoo he wasn’t looking forward to this moment he knew was coming. No doubt that she hoped for someone different in a soulmate, someone she could actually love.

“I figured as much.” She said turning her head away from him as soon as she noticed the tears coming to her eyes. She took a moment and looked out at the snowy view that the windows had. A deep breath followed, “Look I really need this job and the money.” She admitted turning back to him.

He let out a bit of a laugh at that. Did she really think that he was going to pass up an opportunity to sleep with his soulmate? A thing he never thought he would be able to do because of dumb social matters. “I’m not going to turn you away. Honestly I have never wanted to have sex with a person more.” He said taking a seat on one of the lounge chairs in his room.

There was another laugh from her and he watched as she played with the ties on her dress. “Yea, I’m in the same boat there Prince. Probably has something to do with our blessed connection.” She said tapping the mark on her hip. Her voice had dropped a bit in pitch and he knew that she had turned a switch in her head, but oh damn was it convincing.

She had started walking towards him almost like a predator stalking it’s prey and oh gods the way she was looking at him had him almost half hard already. When the robe dropped he sucked in a deep breath, even if the transparent silk left very little to the imagination the sight of her bare body excited him almost what could be considered too much.

“You are very good at what you do.” he said as she stood over him. “Well, if I wasn’t do you think I’d be at this party in the first place.” She said sitting down on his lap. He placed his hands on her hips and the feeling pulsed through them again.

When her lips pressed against his he couldn’t help but to audibly moan into the kiss. He had been with plenty of girls and no kiss ever felt like this and he knew that nothing would ever feel as good as this did.

Hours later with his head on her stomach he was feeling the most relaxed he’d ever felt in his adult life. She had brought out a side of him he’d thought he’d buried away for no one to see. She was detailing a story about the girls back home while running her hands through her hair and after a few hours of hot sex it was almost putting him to sleep.

“James?” She asked grasping his attention once again, he felt a negative jolt through his body. “Call me Ryan, please.” He asked. He was known as Prince James to everyone who wasn’t a close friend. The people who knew at least some percentage of the person who he really was called him Ryan.

He wanted you to know him and all of him, no matter how little time you had together.

Chapter Text

November 1837; 11 years later.

You put your feelings aside for the betterment of your people. You purposefully tried to forget how amazing those nights with Ryan Haywood were. Of course you were unsuccessful, there was something deep in your body that connected you to the Prince of Bereiken that you despised.

These so called ‘rulers’ wronged the Nwetan people and you weren’t going to let some dumb fucking soulmate mark get in the way of making things right. You got home from your weekend with the Prince and the assignment with the Nwetan rebels was waiting for you. You needed extra cash and you had skills that they needed beyond sexual. So of course you took it.

You took the assignment and rose to the top of the cause mostly by accident. One well done assignment after another brought you to the past leader’s attention. You became close with him, he was almost like the father you never had. You were the young face of the cause and brought plenty of people to actually do something for once in their damn lives. When he was killed by Bereikenian forces everyone’s eyes looked to you and at 24 you were leading a revolution and people seemed to think you were pretty damn good at it. 

As young as you were at the time, barely scraping your twenties, things involving a revolution came naturally to you. You had an odd grasp on controlling things, other people and getting what you wanted. By the time the war gotten to the end you had gotten more than half of the country’s support and that amount was growing. The war was difficult and scarifies needed to be made but eventually you made it through.

A bloody civil war and many causalities lead to a tense stalemate. When their king died they felt lost, you weren’t responsible for that. The king was an old decaying man and it was just his time. These factors along with their dying economy without Nwetan exports meant that they were ready to listen and you were going to be the one talking.

You knew that independence wasn’t going to happen it was a dumb move and the state would fall to pieces, plus the Bereken government needed the Nweta state for the large amount of profits it rolled in. Anyone who was high up on the Nwetan ranks knew that independence would have been a shit show, or anyone with a brain knew that. The thing was that you could threaten it.

They knew you were powerful and had to ability to hurt their forces again. They weren’t going to treat you like something to be played with. You were going for control of the government, a select percentage of seats in each house based upon how much income that Nweta brought to Bereiken and a guarantee that Nweta wouldn’t be wronged again. 

It was odd being in Schedel, the capital, with so much protection, but honestly it made sense. Some of these people really wanted to kill you, it would amusing to watch them try honestly. You and your team were first into the large meeting room and while they talked you found yourself deep in your own thoughts.

Your close cabinet was talking amongst themselves as they prepared themselves with countless papers and more planning. Planning for what might happen, giving plans different names different codes. Sure things like this were good when you were running a revolution, but you had to change gears now. The life in politics was rather predictable nothing like that of life war. A lot of plans wasn’t nessicary, but a few good ones were crucial. That would be a topic for another day, there were other things for you to think about.

You sat at the head of the table finishing up a drink as you focused on your goals. That was always the most important part for you, to focus on what you needed to get. You didn’t see why they kept going over the same things every detail had been gone over, down to what you were wearing even.

You wore a southern dress even in the cold of the beginnings of winter. The warmth of the palace was starting to make things a bit easier on your skin. Even if things didn’t go your way you were here to make a statement and you were willing to go cold for the statement to be made.

The blue fabric with gold embroidered stars and moons fell loosely around your body except where it was belted at your waist. It was also cut into a  dangerously low V, showing just the right amount of your breasts to weed out the weak men.

You were also using every bit of yourself to your advantage. From your old work you knew how to use your body and physical language to read a room and manipulate people. The person you were meeting with, you knew that he would be infatuated with you. You knew that you could have Ryan Haywood wrapped around your little finger faster than he could even realize it. 

Jeremy pulled you out of your thoughts with a soft tap to the shoulder. You were fond of Jeremy, he was an important peg in the wheel of this operation. He was firmly under your thumb given the way he liked to stare at you when he didn’t think you would notice. He provided a close friendship when you needed it and warmed your bed when the desire came about.

“Are you ready?” He asked, you smiled and scoffed at him just a little. “Dooley I have been preparing for this for 11 years. I am beyond ready.” You answered sitting up in your chair just a little and taking a look around the room. You had a fucking good team, a great team if you did say so yourself.

Trevor connected you to the money. He kept you financially secure with all his little charms that he could play on the big money makers within the Nweta community. Those people liked his devilish young good looks and you knew that length those things could bring you so he was another valued member of your team.

Lindsay was your, for lack of a better term, manager. She kept you guys on track because admittedly when you guys got going it was easy for things to go off course. She reminded you of things you needed, what you didn’t, where to place your attention and when to take your focus off of things.

Alfredo was another brain in the operation, even if everyone was a fresh of set eyes, Alfredo’s were there specifically for that purpose. He was clever, smarter that a lot of people thought he was, which was a thing you liked. You saw the value in underestimation. You trusted him quite a lot and took a lot of value in his opinion.

Jeremy was in charge of the firepower, he was the strength behind the operation. He was also one of your old friends, you had spent plenty of drunken nights with Jeremy and honestly you trusted him with your life. You knew that he had your back and would kill pretty much anyone if they hurt you. That was another thing you valued.

Of course there were other bits and pieces of this operation, but these were the most important people in your mind. There people were the key to keeping things afloat. A part of the reason you think things ran very smoothly as well was because you genuinely were friends with them. You all liked to spend time together and were ok with an open discourse with each other.

You finished off the drink in your hand and stood up from the table, as you did the doors opened. There it was, the call to metaphorical arms. Time for the meeting to end all meetings or at least the first of many. Upon hearing the door open you started your walk back to your chair at the opposite end of the table. Your team moved to their seats as the counter team did the same.

Geoff Ramsey, Michael Jones, Gavin Free, Jack Patillo and Ray Navaerez Jr. all were experienced players in the game. You had full profiles on all of them, you knew them inside and out. For fucks sake you knew this entire game inside and out why were you so goddamn nervous. Then, all of a sudden you knew why.

Chapter Text

You put your drink down on the table and as you looked up you made eye contact with those baby blues for the second time in your life. He’d gotten handsome, very handsome. Almost too good looking to be fucking true. He was apart of the club of men that somehow got hotter as they got older. His boyish good looks had developed into a more refined ruggish look.

All of those thoughts you beat down to a pulp in the back of your mind and threw them into the trash. If there was one thing you had gotten very good at it was compartmentalizing your feelings. These feelings especially had to be thrown out no matter how hard your own biology was screaming at you to feel otherwise.

When he saw you you felt the soulmate mark on your hip start to itch, you shot him a quick smile and broke the eye contact. Lindsay got things started with a quick roll call and then a run over of the itinerary for the first meeting out of many.

The Prince, well soon the be king, cleared his throat calling the attention of the room to him. “I’d like to request a private audience with your leader.” You honestly couldn’t help the look that came over your face and of course everyone looked to you for an reply and saw the indignant look you gave Haywood.

Really you couldn’t believe the audacity of this man, but if you said no what would that say about you? “I don’t see why not.” You reasoned putting a fake smile on your lips and rising from your own chair. You could read the confusion on the faces of your team and you tried your best to act normal.  “Excuse us.” Ryan said before opening to door for you and exiting the room.

Ryan lead you into the hallway and into another room close by. “Not going to kill me are you Haywood?” You asked as he closed to door behind him. You didn’t sit on any of the furniture, you elected to stay standing with him to try and gain some control over this interaction. “Ryan, call me Ryan.” He insisted moving past you and deeper into the sitting room.

You rolled your eyes, “Ok well Ryan, you not going to kill me right?”

“No, that’d just be dumb on my part and I thought we went over that neither one of us is stupid.” He said with a smile playing at his lips. You laughed a little at that, “Still remember that weekend?” You questioned. Of course some of those memories still were stuck in your head, but he didn’t need to know that.

“How could I forget it?” He answered, “I have been haunted by you since the minute I met you.” You elected to ignore that and the hot feeling that came upon your cheeks. You couldn’t go letting your body betray you now.

Ryan sat down on the plush couch and took a breath before letting out a sigh. “You know I’m not married.” He said as you kept your standing position watching him carefully. Honestly it was quite the feat that he hadn’t landed a wife yet. He was disgustingly good looking at 25 and he refined himself well with age.

“Yes, and?” You asked, he looked slightly uncomfortable like he was nervous almost. There was something deep inside of you that wanted you to help him, to reach out and sooth whatever was hurting his mind. The feeling tugged you downward and you sat down on the chair across from him and leveled with him.

As if he was reading your thoughts for him to come out and say what he was thinking, well he came out and said it. “My team thinks that it would be a wise move if we got married and you’d be given the true title of Queen, not the Kings Consort.”

You knew that your thoughts were written all over your face again, when taken really off guard you couldn’t help it. Shock, some anger from insult as if he was really suggesting this and overall just confusion. Still there was a part of your heart that called this a victory, that part disgusted you the most.

He started speaking again upon reading your features, “The Queen is the most powerful woman in the county, thats why there hadn’t been one in years. She has unchecked power over the King and the King has power over the houses, albeit it has to be used lightly, but the point still stands.  You could assume a position of unlimited power-“ He stopped when you held up a finger.

These were all things you already knew. There hadn’t been a real queen of Bereiken in a very long time. Only regents, mothers and consorts had existed because only those of royal blood could be queen, if he was offering you the position you knew they were making a special exception just for you. For the last century all first born daughters had mysteriously died very soon after a young prince was born. Any chance of a true queen taking hold of power was quickly diminished.

“Do they know?” You paused at the slightly confused look on his face. “Do they know about the-the um marks?” You clarified. Ryan shook his head, “Nope. No one knows and I’ll take it that you have kept our secret under wraps as well.” He said. “I wanted to ask you in private because, well this is a personal thing I’m asking of you with the marks and all it complicates things.”

You nodded in response and crossed your arms over your chest. “Give me 24 hours for me and my team to think about it.” You replied face becoming stony again, you didn’t need to betray anymore thoughts to him than you already did. “You should know that me agreeing to marry you will come with some demands of our own.” you informed him before standing up and leaving the room. 

A few hours later a private cabinet meeting was held over dinner. There was a tense feeling in the air about what Ryan Haywood would have possibly said to you in private. You told them all that you were going to eat first and then discuss things because you all had a long day in the meeting and needed to eat.

Honestly you wanted to take the deal, while also demanding the house seats you came for. You were also getting power beyond the house, power in the own king's bedroom and Nwetan blood in the royal line which would be a significant victory to some of your supporters. Thing was that you needed to run this past your people, you needed to make sure that your urge to take the deal wasn’t because of your mark.

The last plate of food left and all your friends eyes looked to you. You sighed knowing that once you said what was clogging your mind the room was going to explode.

“Prince James wants to me to marry him.” You said and sure enough the room blew up into curses and loud noises of shock. All except Jeremy made noises of protest. Jeremy was silent. His face, head included turned a bright shade of pink and the anger was written clear across his entire face.

You rose your voice a little to gain control over the room again. “I want to take the deal while also requiring a percentage of the seats in the house. I need reasons why I should and shouldn’t.”

This was the way you liked to do things, to write a pro and con list in the air. They knew how this worked and upon the request of reasons the room quieted down. 

There were the usual arguments from the girls about how from a feminist point of view this was a fucking crime. Which there was a solid point there, but from a historical standpoint it was also the opposite. “I’d be the first queen with actual power in over 117 years and a Nwetan Queen at that. With the power I will be given I can change the entire game for women, so I’d argue it’s very feminist. Next?”

Then there was the question of your morals, did they disappear? You laughed at that one and moved on. Ideas were shot down one right after the other before you were all glaring down at the answer. You were going to marry Ryan Haywood.

As silence settled down over the room after the decision was made you thanked them all for staying after dinner and reminded them that things would reconvene in the morning. The dining room was connected to your room was connected to your quarters so you stayed behind while everyone shuffled out to their own rooms.

You were chatting with Lindsay about plans beyond the marriage, how you were going to rebuild the country after the war when you noticed that Jeremy was still lingering. He had stayed silent the entire meeting, obviously you knew why he was still there. He didn’t want you to marry Ryan, but only for selfish reasons. You wished Lindsay a good night and turned to look at him.

“Why are you still here Dooley?” You asked a smile playing at your lips. This was a part of the game you liked to play with him, a small prelude before the bigger game started. He didn’t answer like he always did, normally there was a macho smirk followed by “I’m just making sure our leader gets tucked in safely.”. No this time he was silent, honestly it was kind of hot.

You walked through the adjoining doors into your bedroom and Jeremy followed behind you. The doors closed behind the both of you and you untied the belt around your waist. As you placed it on your vanity you could see the dark look in his eyes in the mirror.

The fabric around your body was loose now without the belt. Jeremy walked up behind you and pulled the dress off of you firmly. His eyes were drinking in your body from your reflection in the mirror and his warm hands on your body excited you. Even if it wasn’t the same pulsing touch that Ryan had, it would have to do because you didn't know if Haywood would ever get to touch you like that again.

Your colorful soulmate mark on your hip mocked you in these moments and you knew that sometimes it mocked him as well. You noticed it in the way that his hands would sometimes deliberately skip over that portion of your body.

The thing you found most compelling about Jeremy was his lack of a soulmate mark. Which might have explained his budding feelings for you. A part of you supposed that in a different time period of your life you could have had feelings for Jeremy, but you tossed those out a long time ago.

You wondered if it meant the was aromantic or asexual, but the evident feelings that he had for you made that obviously not the answer. You kind of felt bad about how you were kind of leading him on with this, but in your defense when you started your sex life with Jeremy you explicitly told him that no emotions were involved. It took a few years but Jeremy broke that rule.

In the time after sex you and Jeremy talked about a lot, hell plenty of your best moves in the game of the war were made after a good fuck. There was something about sex that opened your thoughts in a very different way.

Only once had he asked you about the blooming watercolor that adorned your hip. He noticed the definite cold reaction you had to the topic and never brought it up again. The only other time you discussed the mark is when you explicitly asked him to keep that detail about you to himself.

You were never one for infidelity so you supposed that after you married Ryan that this little fling would have to come to an end. As you laid on Jeremy’s chest during a brief interlude you concluded that you were going to miss this, kind of. Jeremy had gotten to know you very well sexually and emotionally, you didn’t know if breaking things off on the sex side would ruin the other side of things.

His hand ran over your bare hip gently and he stared up at the ceiling in thought. “I don’t want you to marry Haywood.” He admitted. You sat up and looked ahead at the floral print on the walls of your bedroom. “Why?” You asked without looking at him. You already knew the reason, but you needed to hear him say it. You were curious if he would say it because really you didn’t think he had the balls.

Jeremy sat up behind you before he answered. “I just don’t think it’d be a good move. Think about it, they’d be trapping you here in the capital away from Nweta where you should be rebuilding our community. You’d be stuck under Haywood’s thumb and honestly you deserve better than that.”

Gods he was predictable, you almost found it laughable that he thought that Ryan would be controlling you. All the past times you had interacted with Ryan you held the utmost control over him. It was kind of amusing because from what you've seen of his interactions with people he obviously holds the control, but you had Ryan Haywood by the throat.

“Why did you say any of this at the meeting?” you asked turning around slightly to look at him. You saw the thoughts pass across his face, for a second it looked like he was going to tell you how he actually felt. “I-I just didn’t know how to say it.” he said and you got up out of bed.

“Well I’m still going to do it. The pros outstand the distinct lack of cons. I was actually going to assign you to lead the reformation group back in Nweta I think you’d make a good fit.”

You were putting your robe on before sitting down in one of the chairs in corner of the room and getting some ink and paper out. It was time to start to at least draft an address to your people, to explain why you were marrying the enemy.

Giving Jeremy front post back in Nweta was a big deal. It would mean long lasting success for him, a shiny future that he could rise up and grab. When he denied it you were caught off guard.

“I’d actually prefer to stay here with you, ma’am. Keep a watch over Haywood because I don’t trust him. Besides I think Barb would love the job, give it to her.”

Was this man really so head over heels for you that he was willing to fuck up his own life? You turned in your chair to look at him as he pulled his pants back on. You wondered if you had taken this relationship a step too far, if you should have cut things off when you realized Jeremy’s feelings were involved.

You decided to say something else just to see how deep in this he was. “Dooley after I marry Haywood this has to come to an end. A scandal would hurt the throne and it's fragile enough as it is.”

Even if he didn’t want you to see it the pain was in his eyes you could see it. Albeit it was under many layers but you could see it clear as day. “I figured as much, but I still want to stay.”

He walked over to you, bent over and kissed you softly. “Goodnight your majesty.” he said making you smile just a little. “I don’t have the title yet Dooley.” you called after him, he waved you off and left the room.

Chapter Text

Ryan didn’t think that seeing her again would do this to him. He had their weekend in the mountains playing on loop in his mind since he found out that she was leading the revolution about four months ago.

Even if he didn’t advertise that he was a sentimental guy he knew that deep down he was. When he was with her he tried his hardest to remember every detail that he could. He knew then that in the future when he had to marry some foreign princess that he needed those memories. He needed to hang onto the memories of what the beginnings of love could have felt like.

Little did he know that he wouldn’t marry. Noblewomen saw the state of his country and showed a cold shoulder and when he could court a woman there was always a nagging deep in his mind that it wasn’t right. So, against most of his advisors wills, he never married.

Those memories would keep him warm on lonely nights and honestly he was surprised that just a weekend of fucking would fulfill his fantasies this long. Maybe that was the beauty of a soulmate, they were everything you’d ever need.

When his team brought up the possible marriage he couldn’t help the feeling that surged through his chest. He kept it under wraps of course. No matter how close he was to them they couldn’t know that she was his soulmate. It would complicate things far too much.

It took hours for them to come to the conclusion that the marriage would be their best move forward. All the people in the house that would oppose the marriage would be out within the next election because the people who would vote the Nweta way were no longer scared to.

She had almost 3/4 of the population supported her and the revolution so giving her the position would appease them. As little as his father liked to care about the people’s opinion Ryan knew the value of it.

His father trained him to be cold and calculating on the outside, to keep the real him under a tight lock because if no one knew what he was really like no one could hurt him. They knew bits and pieces of him mostly because when he was drunk he couldn’t help what came out of his mouth, but still.

The same part of him that was kept under lock and key felt like he was insulting her for even bringing up the prospect of marriage. Which is why he would ask for a private meeting, he didn’t want to spring this on her in front of a large group.

There was a few things he knew about her. One of them is when she was caught off guard, really off guard, it was written all over her face.

It was odd, when she got into the capital it was almost like he could feel her. The mark started to itch and the ache only got more intense as she got nearer to him. The feeling spoke at lot to how deeply ingrained the soulmate mark was into the human biology.

When the doors to the meeting hall opened and she was there, standing in that deeply cut dress his breath left his body. He would swear to the gods that he could smell that same perfume again and the memories of that weekend 11 years ago came back vividly, in even more detail than he thought possible.

It took a lot of self restraint to not kiss her when he met with her in the nearby sitting room. He figured that those actions would only earn him a slap to the face and no hope of kindling any kind of relationship with her. So obviously he didn’t act on them.

The outside Ryan didn’t like this behavior, he didn’t like the way his body was betraying him all because of her. Yet, for the first time in his life he didn’t want to pretend, she made him crave freedom which was a first for him. It was convenient though, marrying her made sense it helped his country and appeased the need deep inside of him to have a life with her.

Even though it was a great deal, he didn’t think that she’d accept. So when she did, when she sat down at that meeting table in front of at least 30 people and agreed to marry him he almost cracked a smile. Not a grin but an actual fucking smile.

He kept it under wraps of course, no use in betraying the hard image he had worked on.

After she accepted the proposal and then they got down to the worst part about the end of wars, the debate. How much money were they prepared to give each other for damages? What did they promise the people who supported them and had to get out of the deal? What were they willing to give up?

Jack always liked this part, he found some sick in enjoyment in the conversation (which always turned into an argument). Ryan knew this because he volunteered to do most of their talking right up against the best of her team Trevor Collins.

He was very good with words, within an argument he found every loophole in Jack’s words and if there was a scoreboard Trevor would be winning. Ryan wondered where she picked him up from, if he was anything like her and the rest of her team probably places someone wouldn’t usually expect.

There was talent in the regions of Bereiken that his father oh so gracefully looked over, it tore this kingdom apart and now he was sitting down looking it in the eyes. Just to add insult to the injury of his father’s ignorant pride he was also soulmate’s with a part of said talent.

Another section of that aforementioned talent was glaring at him.

From her right Jeremy Dooley was looking at Ryan like he wanted to kill him, but much more subtly because being obvious would be a bad fucking move.

Upon getting each of her teammates names research was done on them. Even if they happened to come out of unknown places there was still plenty of info that could be dug up. Dooley was from a rougher region within the south, got involved in the life of crime from a very young age and was known not to play well with others. He was the one who kept up with the ballistic side of things for you and Ryan wondered why he seemed so protective over you. With his glaring and unspoken promise that he could hurt him, Ryan supposed that any other man would be afraid of him

Ryan was not.

During the meeting he watched Dooley when he could. He watched those little things that people did when they thought no one was watching or would notice. God he was being really fucking obvious, it was really surprising that no one else had noticed and brought it up. The little schoolboy crush that Dooley had on his boss was almost amusing especially since he knew that she had no feelings for him.

After coming to terms with the first article of details in their peace agreement they broke for lunch. It took some maneuvering in order for him to make it to the lady everyone wanted to talk to but eventually he got to her.

Sitting on the window ledge together people left the engaged couple alone and kept enough of a distance that with hushed voices they could talk about anything. That nagging part of Ryan’s mind that was still 25 found her strikingly beautiful with the afternoon sunlight reflecting in her eyes. Her beauty almost made him nervous to approach her, but nonetheless he still did.

“I was thinking about giving you my mothers ring.” He said as he sat down next to her. “Gods, I forgot all the other dumb shit that comes along with a wedding.” She complained wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “The wedding to end all weddings I’ll remind you.” He added, “People from across the globe will be watching us, this wedding is drastically important for the future of Bereiken.”

She shook her head, “Nope, not while I am on lunch.” She ordered and he looked at her curiously. “Look, I am all for work at all hours, but the only time I call it quits is when I am eating. Food is my heaven and I will not let anything ruin it.” She said and she made him smile. Actually fucking smile. Gods this woman was going to ruin him.

He looked around to see if anyone caught a glimpse at his reaction and he turned just in time to see no one else but Dooley giving him the death glare again. He sent a smirk across the room and turned back to her, “Okay, a topic not involving work.”

“The floor is yours.”

Leaning in closer to her and dropping the volume of his voice just enough, “You need to make sure Dooley keeps his little crush on you a better secret.”

She laughed under her breath and glanced at Dooley herself just in time to see the look he’d been giving Ryan all day. “Ya know, you are the first person to ever notice that.” She said putting her food down next to her on the window seat.

“Now that I’m finished, about this ring.” She sighed and looked out at the window again. “I don’t want it.”

Ryan would be lying if he said that he wasn’t hurt just a little by what she said. If there was one person that completely saw him for what he was and accepted him for it. He thought that maybe if she had lived a few years longer then maybe he wouldn’t have ended up the second version of his father, but he would never know the answer to that question.

“Like you said, this marriage is important and I need it to represent a new monarchy to Nwetan people. Giving me your mother's old ring will just mark a perpetuation of old ways and we need to start anew.”

“Straying too far from tradition won’t work either, we need to ride that line of modernity and traditional.” He replied as she leaned her back against the windowsill.

“Let’s focus on the wedding after the treaty is finished.” She suggested, “So I can focus on that by itself.”

Gods only knew how long the treaty would take, Trevor and Jack were playing a hard game. Any time someone else got involved things got even worse, especially if she put her voice in. He had to add ‘fierce talker’ to the list of things he liked about her and to the list titled ‘Weird Things I Didn’t Know Gave Me a Hard On’.

Chapter Text

Jeremy Dooley could not communicate how much Prince James Haywood pissed him off. The fact that Prince James was marrying the woman he had serious feelings for didn’t help that fact. Seeing him sitting there on the window seat with her only pissed him off even more. Since she accepted the marriage there was no chance he could convince her to not marry the bastard so now he just had to deal with it.

He didn’t know when his feelings for their leader started, but he sure as hell knew that they existed. He wanted her, more than he wanted any other woman in his life. The watercolor skull on her hip forever attached her to another person that she did not want to talk about.

The hopeful part of Jeremy was desperate that her soulmate wasn’t of the romantic type, but a close friend. It was obvious that it was someone that she’d lost or else the topic wouldn’t have been so off limits with her. Never before in his life did he feel that his lack of a mark was getting in his way until now.

Still, he kept these emotions to himself in an effort to get as much time with her as possible. From the beginning of their relationship she had made it very clear that no emotions were to be involved. In the back of his mind he wondered if she let emotions effect anything she did in her life.

He warmed her bed a few nights later, took care of her in a way that no one else had in years. He felt an odd sense of pride in the fact that he was having sex with one of the most powerful women in the world. There was also something so strikingly beautiful in the way she looked when she came that sometimes would send him right over the edge too.

Their arrangement made the Schedel winter much easier to cope with. Huddled together in her bed holding her he really wanted to tell her how he felt. He told himself that he would wait for the right time to tell her, but was there really any right time to tell your boss, who you had been sleeping with, that you had feelings for her after she explicitly told you that feelings aren’t involved in that relationship? Incase the answer is unclear, no there wasn’t any good fucking time.

He looked down at her, she was staring into the fire burning next to them drawing little nonsense patterns on his skin. As always he would look at her and he would remember how stupidly lucky he was to be here with her. To share her bed and share a part of her that she didn’t show anyone else was a privilege. Informing her of his feelings was breaking that trust, then again lying to her was also breaking that trust.

Gods why couldn’t things be simple for once in his fucking life?

“I know that you don’t like Haywood and I’m not asking you to, but I need you to at least stop staring at him like you want to kill him.” She said as she turned her head to look at him. In a split second decision he feigned ignorance, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

She pushed herself up onto her elbows revealing those perfect tits, which were quickly overshadowed by the serious look in her eyes that she gave him. “Don’t play with me Dooley.” She said crawling closer to be level with him. There was a sense of playfulness in her tone that he couldn’t ignore, along with the catlike stance she held he couldn’t help but to smile. Realizing what she must have looked like she hit him lightly, “I’m being serious.” she reminded him.

“I can’t help who I have a bad feeling about and who I don’t.” He reasoned, she still kept herself hovering over him.

“Look, I’m not happy with the situation either and I honestly want nothing to do with him but if you’re going to be my right hand man here you need to be cooperative.” she reminded him. “I need you to be here for me, Dooley.” She begged with the softest look in her eyes and just like that he caved in.

“Okay, fine. I will stop whatever hypothetical glaring you think I’m doing.” she hit him again with a laugh making him laugh as well, “Thank you, Jeremy.”

When she said his name he felt his heart jump in his chest. On impulse he pulled her towards him and kissed her hard. She seemed to melt into his arms and into the kiss, letting out a small moan.

He rolled them over causing her to laugh into their kiss. “Say my name again.” He said as he kissed her neck and pushed her legs open even further making her gasp and dig her fingernails into his broad shoulders. “Oh fuck, Dooley.” She said earning a slap to the inside of her thigh. She was quick to correct herself, “Jeremy!”

The sound of her calling out his actual name, not the distancing last name she always called him turned him on more than he thought it should. It was almost like she actually was not just indulging herself in the pleasure that he gave her, but enjoying being with him. Which a part of him knew that the was just making that up in his mind, but he let himself enjoy the thought for the next 7 minutes.

After a quick clean up and even more kisses they settled in for the night. She asked him to stay because she was so bitterly cold and he was a living furnace in her mind. She turned onto her side and he wrapped around her comfortably, the last time they were like this was right before the actual heat of the war started.

Things were simpler then, he didn’t have to worry about some other man. He could hold her and have some blind hope that he would marry her in the distant future. He played around with the fantasy in his mind, letting his thoughts revert back to the way they had been.

He let himself enjoy the fantasy of her being his because he was already wholeheartedly hers.

Chapter Text

It took an entire month for the treaty to come out as a well ironed out document. On the day everyone ran out of arguments and were finished with compromises you all let out a sigh of relief. Sure everyone wasn’t completely happy, but that wasn’t the point of making a peace agreement.

The day of the official signing would also be the day you would announce your engagement to Ryan.

About a week ago you both had gotten together with a jewelry maker to start custom making your ring. The morning of the signing it was waiting for you on the small table of your sitting area. The small box was almost taunting you as you got ready, after your attendants left for the morning you finally approached the box.

After you left the weekend with Ryan 11 years ago you didn’t think that you’d be getting married, much less did you think you’d be placing an actual meteorite on your finger. He insisted on the size saying that no wife of his would have less than 20 karats.

You figured you should put it on now, the press were going to have the answers by the end of the conference. Just as you were sliding the ring onto your finger there was a knock at the door. You called for them to come in and then Ryan stepped through the doorway doors closing behind him quickly.

“I wanted to know what you thought of the ring.” He said pointing to the box in your hands. “I, uh, actually just put it on.” You replied showing your hand to him.

He smiled and walked towards you into the room, he took your hand and looked a the large diamond in detail. “I got a glance at it last night, but it does look a lot better on you than in a box.” He said making you roll your eyes and take your hand away from him in an effort to stop that intoxicating feeling from clouding your thoughts.

“I just cannot believe that this is happening.” You admitted walking back to your vanity where your left your cup of morning coffee. “Neither can I.” He said sitting down on the couch behind him. “Oh, help yourself to some coffee, gods know we need it.” You offered before taking a sip of your own. He extended his thanks and got to preparing himself a cup.

Ryan didn’t know this, but you had been actively avoiding him (to the best of your ability). As predestined as your feelings for him may have been that didn’t mean you wanted them. You hated that he had the ability to make heat rush to your cheeks and that electric feeling that came when he touched you.

“So at some point we’ll have to discuss the elephant in the room.” He said adding your name onto the end for even more emphasis. You turned towards him and leaned on the vanity, you kept your face neutral not wanting to give him ideas. “What about it?” You asked.

Deep down you felt bad that you were trying to play him like this. That he was trying to be real and make the best of a particularly shitty situation and you weren’t being very cooperative at all.

“I know you don’t want anything to do with me and that you’re only being polite and marrying me not because of our marks, but because of the fact it's smart political move. The thing is that we need to at least be able to function as a unit, you avoiding any time with me won’t work.” The look on your face was betraying you, you looked away and walked past him towards the window.

Ryan Haywood had surprised you, really caught you off guard. No one had ever thrown you for a loop in recent years, this entire soulmate thing was really starting to get in the way. Being real with Ryan would make things easier and there was a nagging feeling in your gut that said to do so. You had been harboring on your team for the past month about making the mental transition from wartime to peacetime, why shouldn’t you be doing that yourself?

Through the window you could see the snow covered the garden outside, you really missed the warmth of home and the feeling of the sun on your skin. Summers in Nweta were harsh but it was all made up for in the mild winters without all the inconvenience of snow. Here easy winters wasn’t a luxury afforded to you, really you just missed the south in general. There was a simplicity of things in Nweta that didn’t exist here, especially in the costal town you were born and raised in. You used to spend hours on the beach with your mother and when you got older even shared a drink with her there. She died in an attack on your town two years ago and before you could even stop the tears they were running down your cheeks.

You let out a measly “I’m sorry.” and wiped your cheeks quickly, before you could even protest Ryan was by your side. You could see the concerned look in his eyes in the reflection of the glass and for some godsforesaken reason you couldn’t stop the tears from coming.

“What is the thought of actually being honest with me that bad?” He asked making you laugh a little. “No actually, I just accidentally started thinking about my mother.” You replied. You knew he must have known what happened to her, the attack on your home town was no fucking accident. Plus if you had extensive info pulled on his team you knew he had done the same.

He lowered you to the window seat and when he hugged you that electric feeling wasn’t exhilarating like you remembered it to be, but the most comforting feeling you’d ever experienced. For the first time in years, you let go. You let him comfort you and let that wonderful feeling wash over you. “I have been meaning to apologize for that.” He whispered as you found yourself perfectly tucked into his arms.

“I just have no idea how to, I can’t image the pain you went through.” He added. “When my mother died I felt so lost and you somehow managed to still lead a revolution after losing your mother. I don’t think many people could have done that.”

Ryan didn’t see it but you rolled your eyes, “I knew that she’d want me to keep going no matter if she died or not.” You answered removing yourself from his arms and wiping your cheeks. “It’s weird, I think I felt it the moment when you found out.” He said earning a slightly confused look from you.

“I felt this deep pain in my chest and then the next day I read the news about the raid in the paper.” He clarified taking your hands in his own affectionately.

You were tired of talking about your mothers death, “I’m sorry about all this, the crying and shit.” You offered looking down slightly only to feel him tilt your chin up, forcing you to make eye contact with him.

“Don’t ever apologize for your feelings. Our communication is key to this relationship of ours, no matter how fake it may be. I know you may not want to hear this and I’m sorry if I’m overstepping here, but I care about you. I don’t ever want you to feel judged for you how you feel.” He said and before you could even think about the consequences of your actions your lips were pressed to his.

As much as people liked to flatter you with compliments on your hard working nature and your beauty, no one had ever expressed the care for you like he just did. Or, no one expressed those feelings and genuinely meant it. You also felt this tugging in your chest, a nagging that was screaming for you to be as close to him as possible.

The kiss was easily the most hesitant of your life, but as soon as your lips landed on his it felt like stars were exploding in your body, as cliche as that might sound. He pulled you closer to him and the deep moan that he produced seemed to vibrate through his body and yours.

He pulled away and looked at you with those heart piercing blue eyes and you wondered if he felt the same pounding in his chest. “Holy shit.” He said, voice barely above a whisper. “That felt…that was easily the best kiss I’ve ever had.” You replied hands moving to touch your lips, wondering if the buzz that seemed to linger there was just you going crazy.

The short dressing gown you were wearing split open just on the right place to reveal the edges of the watercolors of your mark. You followed his eyes down to where he was staring at it and thought ‘fuck it’. If you were acting on spontaneity for once in your life what was a few more moments of it?

You opened the robe just enough that he could see the full mark on your hip and thigh. If you weren’t mistaken you could have swore that his breath hitched just a bit.

“Can I touch you?” He asked eyes jumping back to your own, “For fucks sake, Ryan yes.” You said a little too loud and he laughed just a little before moving his hands forward and untying your robe letting it fall open. His hand moved slowly for the itching mark on your body and when he finally touched the bright mark on your leg you couldn’t help the gasp that left your body.

Suddenly you were on top of him and he was yanking the robe off of you completely. Maybe it was because this time you weren’t guarding your own mind, but you swore that this felt so much better than the last time did. You were just starting to tear his shirt off of him when the door burst open and none other than Jeremy Dooley was stood there.

The two of you broke apart quickly and when you made eye contact with Jeremy he immediately left the room as quickly as he came.

Chapter Text

Quickly after Jeremy left you got up from the window seat and put your robe back on. Realty had come crashing back down upon you with the look of pain in Jeremy Dooley’s eyes.

“Ryan, this was a mistake.” You said back turned to him, you wouldn’t be able to deal with another pair of hurt eyes. “Um, you should go. I’ll see you at the signing.”

The door closed behind him and the sounded seemed to echo in your mind. You had fucked up, gods you had fucked up royally. Glancing at the clock you had to be in the meeting room in 20 minutes and you supposed that’s why Jeremy came barging into your room.

You got changed quickly and checked your makeup in the mirror. Your lipstick was a little smudged and your foundation was messed up around your eyes from you crying. Fixing that took your mind off of the mess you’d made, but as soon as you were walking down the hallway to the signing room the stress reentered your body.

Lindsay was the first one to catch you in the hall, “Hey are you okay?” She asked concerned bright in her eyes. No one had ever seen you so frazzled since you were in the heat of the war and you knew that you must have looked so batshit crazy. When she asked you if everything was okay you made eye contact with Jeremy. The anger was radiating off of him and you it reminded you that no one could know about the situation.

“Yea, Lindsay I’m fine.” You said pulling your metaphorical mask on quickly. Just as you started to fix you dress Lindsay then noticed the rock on your finger. “Sweet fucking Gods this is the ring.” She said loudly taking your hand and upon hearing that the rest of the team made their way over to you.

“You’re wearing a mini ice skating rink, boss.” Alfredo said taking a look at your ring. “Well, it’s a perk of marrying royalty.” You joked just as no one else but Ryan Haywood appeared by your side.

He looked completely unphased, like the fiasco twenty minutes ago had never happened. Gods he was good at the game you were playing. His hand found it’s place on the back of your waist causing you to turn an look up at him. “Can I speak to you?” He asked before you nodded and walked away with him.

Lindsay, Trevor and the others didn’t bat an eye, private meetings with Ryan were a regular things and with the way things were going they would grow in number, but you could feel Jeremy’s eyes boring into your back. Suddenly anxiety washed over you and you couldn’t make yourself look up at Ryan. “I wanted to apologize for what happened.” He said, “I shouldn’t have-we shouldn’t have done that.”

You wondered if he was being honest, if he really thought that your actions were a mistake or was he just taking cues from you? The same part of you that was asking this question was the same part that had the burning feeling that those touches and kisses felt so goddamn right. Fighting the anxiety you looked Ryan dead in the eyes. You were swimming through those goddamn oceans trying to desperately find the truth, could he see the truth in your eyes as well?

Nothing, you were coming up with fucking nothing and honestly in that moment you wanted to punch him square in the fucking face. You didn’t because obviously acting on instinct is what got you in this fucking mess to begin with. You needed him to tell you something, something beyond the words he said because rarely did someone say exactly what they meant.

“I think it’d be better if we just forgot about what happened back there,” You said whilst knowing full well that neither one of you would. “and try to keep those things from happening again. It’s better if we stay unattached in that manner, emotions get in the way from clear political decisions.”

He smiled, nodded, apologized again and thanked you for being understanding, then he walked away back to where Geoff and Jack were talking. You barely had a second to breathe before Jeremy was in front of you.

Great one difficult conversation after another.

The good thing about this conversation was that you could be slightly rude, albeit you couldn’t hurt his feelings but you could properly express your frustration to him. Before you could even open his mouth you spoke, “Dooley I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

“Neither do I,” he replied anger clearly in his eyes, “but we will have to talk about this eventually.” He reminded you as Lindsay called your name. They were starting to make their way into the signing room, which meant that this conversation couldn’t last much longer. You sighed and turned back to Jeremy, “Ok my room after dinner.”

The signing went quickly, it was a lot of pictures while posing with Ryan diplomatically as well as everyone else that needed a photo with you. For the most part it was all a blur, your mind was on how you were going to patch things up with Jeremy and Ryan. Even the big moment where you announced your engagement to Ryan seemed so underwhelming in comparison to the storm in your mind.

As hard as you tried to focus on other things the thoughts kept coming back to your mind. Eventually the nagging thoughts started to fucking annoy you more than anything else. You hated how good those moments with Ryan felt. You also fucking despised that you let your mind get away from you like that. So the entire time you were in the press conference you only angrier and angrier at yourself.

By the time it ended you practically ran away from the people that wanted to congratulate you and ask you all kinds of questions. When was the wedding? Whose idea was it? Were you happy that you were going to become Queen?

No, no you weren’t fucking happy, but you didn’t tell them that. You instead politely declined to answer and excused yourself to your own bedroom. You hadn’t had real time to process, you had just been flung into the deep end and you had stayed sane for the past 11 years because you forced yourself to take time and process things.

As much as your bedroom had become a comfortable space for you after the events of this morning you didn’t need to be at that window sill. Even if it was the middle of January and it was snowing outside the afternoon sun made things slightly easier to bare. 

After a quick stop to your room to grab a coat you retreated to a hidden corner of the gardens. You were cold, but it was better to be freezing your ass off in the garden than run the risk of people interrupting the few minutes you wanted to yourself.

Things were always simpler when you were in the garden even at the small one in the HQ in Nweta. There in the never ending warmth of the south something was always blooming and the garden was a beautiful respite. In the Schedel winter everything that was still grasping on to life was frozen in time almost. The few flowers that remained were covered in a thin layer of ice and a lot of the garden was covered in a peaceful layer of snow, a layer of snow that wouldn’t stay peaceful for long.

You had a deep feeling in your stomach that something was coming, what you weren’t quite sure. Maybe that this conversation with Jeremy after dinner wasn’t going to end well. Possibly that the wounded relationship you had with Ryan was only going to get worse from here. The only thing you were certain of is that your life wasn’t going to have the same peaceful nature of the castle garden in the dead of winter.

Then again when was your life ever peaceful? You had chosen a life of perpetual chaos so why were you so fucking surprised that things weren’t simple?

Chapter Text

She was sitting with her back to her bedroom door when Jeremy entered the room. The anger he felt hours earlier upon walking in to James Haywood making out with a very naked woman that he cared deeply about was still sitting on his chest. So when he entered her room for the second time that day he couldn’t help the harsh statement he made.

“I thought that you didn’t want anything to do with James Haywood.” He asked tone coming off significantly more defensive than he meant it so there was no going back now. She sat further up in her chair as a response. There was a half finished scotch next to her and the bottle was missing a decent amount of the brown liquid. He knew that she was not light weight and was only on the edge between buzzed and tipsy. Which meant that this conversation of theirs was going to be even more of a challenge than he thought.

When she was buzzed she spoke her mind, her mental filter was more than a little lax. Those facts coupled with the knowledge that she was a fierce talker meant that the scales were already weighted against him. “Are you going to answer me or not?” He asked walking further into the room.

“You do not get to talk to me like that Dooley.” she said still not looking at him still as she got up. The lack of contact that he so desperately craved from her only egged on his blooming anger. “The fuck I don’t.” He said in a spur of the moment decision and suddenly the contact he thought he wanted before hand was staring across the room from him all at once.

The way she looked at him was almost scary, the anger that was reflected back at him in eyes that once offered him comfort threw him off his game for a hot second. Then, he saw it change. He watched the calculation work in that gorgeous brain of her’s and he had no godsdamned idea which angle she was going for.

“Ok Dooley, what makes you think you have the right then, huh?” She asked crossing her arms over her chest defensively and leaning against the bed post.

“I know you.” He said sincerely and she didn’t give him the response he wanted. His sincerity was reciprocated with only an even more icy look in her eyes. “I know you better than you know yourself.” He added and she rolled her eyes and scoffed at him.

“You don’t. You think you know me and you have this idea in your mind that you can talk to me like I’m below you just because I’ve allowed you to have sex with me.” She said reading him so easily that he almost forgot that she also knew him so well.

When she said that he didn’t know her a part of him wanted to argue back with her, that he did know her inside and out. Then his eyes fell on her hip again and he thought that maybe he didn’t really know her. She had a incredible ability to fake emotions and manipulate people to her advantage and he’d watched her do it plenty of times with a great amount of ease. Had she been playing him this entire time?

She pulled him from the momentary thought, “We both know this is because you have some kind of problem with James, the real question is why? What is your fucking problem with him?” She asked not pulling any punches. When he’d watched her play with other peoples minds there was always a build up before she started talking about what she really wanted to discuss. Tonight she was cutting to the chase, she was digging deep inside of him and pulling out the things he knew he didn’t want to talk to her about.

Talking about why he wanted to hurt James Haywood required a discussion about his feelings, which only made him seem like the biggest asshole on the planet. Then all of a sudden it dawned on him that she already knew. He didn’t know why he thought that he could possibly pull the metaphorical wool over her eyes.

“You already know the answer to that.” He conceded before looking at her again hoping to get another look besides anger in her eyes.

“I do,” she admitted, “but I want to hear you say it.” She moved back to the opposite chair just to face him, but all at once he decided that he was fucking tired of being the nicest guy to her. It hadn’t gotten him anywhere but being the second choice she had and stuck in unrequited love.

“How long have you known?”

“Since it started probably, it’s kind of obvious when a man stops fucking you and starts making love to you.” She said so nonchalantly that it edged his anger on more. “So you knew the entire time and didn’t do anything about it?” He asked and she shrugged in response.

“What was I supposed to do Jeremy?” She asked, “Run off into the sunset with you? Don’t tell me you are so fucking dumb to think that was a possibility?”

“No obviously I didn’t think that because you’re already attached to someone else.” He said gesturing clearly to her hip. He watched the hesitance in her face and body and how she only got angrier after that.

“My soulmate mark is not what this is about Dooley.” She argued and he saw that he’d hit a sore spot. The falter in her mask encouraged him to press on even further. “It has been the one thing keeping you from me.” He reasoned watching her closely. It was his turn to play this game of her’s, to watch the person across from you and calculate the next move. The obvious discomfort meant that he was getting into the uncharted territory, a place he was desperate to get into.

“If you actually think that then you really are more of an idiot than I thought.” She said starting to pick up the pieces of her broken mask. At the sight of her cutting off the emotion that she was giving him he advanced on. “Of course this is what it’s about. What the fuck else could be holding you back from me?” He asked

“It doesn’t matter what happened to them or why they abandoned you, but-“

“Drop it Dooley.” She commanded, but he didn’t drop it he walked even closer to her.

Before he could even get a handle on his emotions he was yelling and closing the gap of space between them, “I won’t fucking drop it because we both know it’s what matters. It’s whats keeping you from loving me-“

She was talked over him saying something about how that’s not why she doesn’t love him back, but he persisted onwards. “I love you, baby. I love you and I know that this is what is driving you away from me.

“Have you ever thought for half a fucking second that I just don’t love you and it has nothing to do with the mark?!” She shouted back and when he looked at her deep in the eyes he saw real emotion from her for the first time. “Me not loving you has 100 fucking percent to do with my own business!”

He grabbed her by the arms trying to grasp even more of her attention, “Don’t put your fucking hands on me Dooley.” She said jerking out of his hold suddenly. He’d forgotten how fucking strong she was, that even if she just gave the orders now there was a time when she fought with her own two hands.

“If you thought that this little conversation of ours was ever going to convince me to have feelings for you, you are so fucking wrong.” She said that same bite back in her voice in full force.

What he said next he’d regret for the rest of his life, “You’re willing to throw away the only person on that planet that will actually love you?” he asked and before he could even start to take the words back, profusely apologized and say that he didn’t meant it all all he got a forceful punch to the face that knocked him back a couple of feet. Then another followed and if he thought he’d seen true terrifying anger in her eyes before it was nothing compared to the look in her eyes in that moment.

As he fell to the ground he felt himself get picked up by the collar of his shirt. He saw that same pair of rage filled eyes before hearing a harsh “Get. Out.”

In the morning he got his orders to leave Schedel.

Chapter Text

Months had passed after taking care of Jeremy Dooley in the cleanest manner you thought possible you poured your mental effort into planning the best wedding you could, while also trying to avoid Ryan Haywood for the second stretch of time. It was quite a feat to plan a wedding that blended two different cultures together, while also making everyone else around them happy. A boat and jumping into a body of water was needed for a Nwetan ceremony, while the Royal wedding required a priest and tying hands together and normally took place in a church not the open ocean.

Of course it was significantly more difficult to avoid Ryan this time around because you were organizing your marriage to him so sometimes he was a necessary evil. This was one of those moments where Ryan’s presence and opinion wasn’t needed and in fact could have been seen as horrible luck. It was the last fitting for your wedding dress.

It took months of planning and sketching but here it was in it’s finished state. You had gone for the slightly slimmer dress for the ceremony because you were not going to try and swim in a traditional ballgown that just wasn’t going to happen. It was still a stark white fabric with small golden details about your shoulders and hips because you couldn’t help yourself to have some pop of color.

Lindsay was seated behind you along with a few other people that were involved in the wedding planning committee. There were a few other people from the Royalty that were there as well just to make sure things weren’t getting too out of hand. Meg Turney had become a very useful informant when it came to what would be expected of a Royal wedding and had helped firsthand with designing the dress.

You took a moment to look at yourself in the mirror. It was odd seeing yourself in a wedding dress, for the longest time you didn’t think that you’d ever be getting married. Originally because you thought that no one would want to marry a woman like you and then because you didn’t think that you’d survive that long. That was why Jeremy’s words hurt so fucking much that night because a part of you believed them. Yet, here you fucking were getting married.

Turning around now to get the full review from your panel of people you were slightly surprised to see misty eyes. This was really not a moment you were expecting. “Lindsay, are you crying?” You asked worry filling your voice, but still a little bit of laugh present.

Meg and the others looked to Lindsay, Meg was the first one to let out a small ‘Aww’ in which almost all the others joined in. You had gotten close to Lindsay and she could have easily been considered one of your best girl friends. Since Jeremy was sent back to Nweta your relationship had grown tenfold, there were late wine nights spent together and plenty of just general girls things. Another bullet point could be added to the list of things you didn’t think you’d get to experience in your life.

After a bit of roasting and jokes, because that’s how you did things, you were back to business, “Ok but seriously anything else about this dress. It’s now or never guys.”

The room went silent and there were a few shakes of the head and you let out a little shout of success. “Now, reception dress.” You said before walking away with the designers to step into the much larger second dress. Although this one didn’t have the signature frills of a more northern dress it still had a more sleek amount of volume. Where the other dress didn’t dip down into your cleavage this one definitely did.

There was another round of yes’s and less crying this time and before you knew it you were out of the fitting an entire hour early. You also got to score a small break in which was a real rarity with your full schedule of wedding planning and watching over the progress in Nweta. Not to mention that soon you would have to start overseeing actually ruling the country. 

You were looking over the next stage of plans for rebuilding the south before you had a meeting with Ryan and the Priest who would be marrying you. The wedding was a two weeks away and now you were both just fine tuning the details, with a wedding this big there was a lot of details. So whenever you were looking over plans that weren’t marriage related it was a welcomed distraction. You also found an odd amount of satisfaction when it came to plans dealing with Nweta, you had finally gained a way to help your people directly and it felt good to be able to do something positive for them. Even if it meant rebuilding places that you might have destroyed.

The time passed by quickly and you liked to be early to meetings so you handed the signed documents off to Lindsay and walked with her to the meeting. “Ok we are still getting the seating plans finalized.” She said earning a groan from you, dealing with different diplomatic opinions of who like who was never your cup of tea. “I swear I never thought that who would sit where would be this big of a fucking deal.” You complained as you read over the notes she handed you.

“Oh speaking of ‘big fucking deals’,” Lindsay said, “Mica said that you need to work on that colorful vocabulary of yours. How I’m not sure but these old members of the royal family won’t be a fan of your sailors mouth.” You rolled your eyes again. “I feel like starting a swear jar would be fucking pointless, just try reminding me?” You asked.

Lindsay nodded and you looked back down at the seating chart in your hands. “I feel like this is a job for Gavin and Trevor, they seem to know the most about the social circles. Can we squeeze in a meeting with them as well as Ryan and I Wednesday morning?” You asked. She gave you another nod, “We can get the final seating plan worked out and signed off on. Then it’s one less thing to fucking do.” You said. 

“Language.” Lindsay said with a smile on her face which you returned. You came to a stop at the door to the sitting room. “Thank you Linds.” You said, “See you at dinner tonight?” she nodded. “Are you going to bring Michael?” You teased poking at her playfully.

The blush that came across her cheeks told you everything you needed to know about her feelings for Michael Jones, her newly found soulmate. You actually kind of enjoyed Michael’s company and his sarcastic nature, so he was welcomed to your more private dinners with Lindsay and a few others.

“Yes he’ll be there.” Lindsay answered with a smile, there were a few others jokes and a brief goodbye before you entered the room. 

Ryan was in the green sitting room early and since you were also 10 minutes early that meant you had 10 minutes of alone time with your fiancé. Ever since the incident with Jeremy Ryan had been nothing but respectfully distant. It made things a lot easier to lead and make decisions when you weren’t constantly caught up in some blinding sexual tension. Maybe if you weren’t so caught up in trying to keep the country from falling to pieces you would have even called him a friend.

You were showing him the half done seating chart and discussing how stupid it was, including the plethora of people that would be attending. “When I was little I told my mom all I wanted in a wedding was a pretty dress and good food. Look at me now with two fucking dresses.” You said making him laugh as you took a sip of the midday coffee you made yourself.

“Two dresses what is that going to cost me?” He asked sarcastically making you roll your eyes, “Nothing but a drop in the bucket of wealth that my people bring into your monarchy.” You said with a stickily sweet smile. It was a favorite pastime of yours to remind him of his father’s mistakes mostly because he knew he couldn’t argue with you on that subject.

Just as you were starting to laugh at the dumb face he was pulling the priest, Jeremiah, walked into the room. Almost like two children who were caught in the midst of damaging the house you two moved to look like you were acting normal. You had met the priest before, he was a older man in his 60s and had dealt with a lot of weddings within the monarchy, but none of this nature. While he was still a higher priest he still had a lighter playful nature about him which made dealing with the wedding much easier.

There was also something about him that made you trust him. Maybe it was the nondisclosure agreement you made him sign when he said he wanted to have all these private meetings. You had been meeting with Jeremiah weekly since you’d decided on him as the priest about two months ago. So you supposed that the trust went beyond a signed document.

You knew Ryan felt the same, from the brief moments you had alone with him you two had discussed how lucky you were to find a priest who didn’t make you want to gauge your eyes out. Jeremiah had the kind of personality that made you want to tell him anything, which you supposed was a good quality in a priest.

Jeremiah also had an understanding of what the wedding was actually about, not love but a political alliance. He didn’t want to waste your time with all the emotional shit that came with a wedding, but he wanted to make it more about two people coming together to make the world a better place. Those were his words not your own. Although you found an appreciation in the way he was conducting things you were never really into the entire big guys in the sky thing, but you kept your mouth shut.

“Well it’s good to know you two at least actually like each other.” He said with a smile making the both of you laugh. Oh he had no fucking idea.

You offered him a seat and some tea or coffee of which he took the latter. “Ok now the real reason I’m here.” He said putting his tea down on the table and settled into his chair. “I know that this marriage isn’t about undying love and affection for each other, but there does need to be at least a relationship of trust and respect of each other. I also know that this trust and respect is going to come into question at some point down the line so I want you to write letters to each other. Now these don’t have to be long, but they need to at least remind each other why you’re in this.”

Ryan looked at you and you knew he was thinking the same thing you were, ‘Are we really supposed to write each other letters?’ Your thoughts included significantly more profanity (and in the back of your mind you could hear Lindsay going “Language”). Ryan was the one that informed the priest that writing the letters wouldn’t be any bit of a problem. You supposed fuck it why not? It would prove to be a test of mental strength because writing a letter always proved to be a struggle, you were much better verbally.

“And onto point number two of our meeting.” Jeremiah said as you took a sip of your coffee, “Sex.” As ridiculous as it must have looked you couldn’t help the little bit of coffee that came out of your mouth upon hearing that a priest wants to talk to you about your sex life. Ryan even if he was already a light shade of pink he couldn’t help but to laugh at you and after wiping your mouth you could see that Jeremiah was also laughing,

“I’m sorry guys I just never thought that I’d be talking with a priest about my hypothetical sex life.” You said at least trying to defend yourself. “Well it’s important.” Jeremiah reasoned, “You two are the only ones that can properly bring about the next heir to the Bereiken throne and sex is going to have to be a thing you have to do.” 

At only being met by silence Jeremiah kept talking, “I have dealt with a lot of marriages of this kind-“

“Oh you have no idea.” Ryan said under his breath as he moved to take a drink, honestly you had no idea how Jeremiah even heard him but when Jeremiah asked him what he meant you couldn’t help but to put your head in your hands. You looked to Ryan hoping that your glare would turn him into a pile of dust. “Maybe we just should tell him?” He suggested and your hope to destroy him increased tenfold.

“I’m sorry what?!” You said through gritted teeth and if there weren’t a priest in the room you would have used much more colorful language. He made some weird exaggerated shrug and Jeremiah just sat there watching you, “Well if there’s going to be anyone we are going to tell it’d be him.” Ryan reasoned, after you let out a groan you realized that he had a point.

You looked at him again trying to read him and you realized he was being completely serious. “Ugh, fine.” You said throwing you hands up in the air. He then looked to you again after the words obviously weren’t coming to him. “Oh I’m not telling him you are.” You said crossing your arms and Jeremiah was sill patiently waiting.

“Let just show him.” Ryan suggested only earning a tense “Fine.” from you as you stood up. Time to do another things you never thought you would do again, strip for a priest. Ok you weren’t really stripping but Jeremiah was getting a full view of your bare leg up to your hip as you pulled your dress up to show him the watercolor skull on your hip. At the same time Ryan was revealing the identical mark to Jeremiah who turned white as a sheet.

“You were right,” he said, “I had no idea.”

You and Ryan couldn’t help the laughter that followed the statement and you sat back down next to him. “So I’ll take it the sex thing won’t be a problem.” Jeremiah said and you both shook your heads. “We have both decided that getting romantically involved woudn’t be the best decision because we both already have so much to worry about. Adding a relationship of that nature would only complicate things.” You said as Ryan nodded, agreeing with you.

Jeremiah while still feeling somewhat shocked voiced that it actually made some sort of sense. You couldn't help but to laugh at that. This entire disaster made sense? Very little things in your life added up neatly and you remembered the rare times that they did. This was not one of those times. While you were busy laughing you didn't even realize that Ryan was also laughing at Jeremiah's odd statement as well, it was nice to know you weren't the only one to think that was crazy. 

Still, letting one person in on your biggest secret felt great. You could finally talk to someone about this wasn't emotionally involved and contractually obligated to keep his mouth shut or he would be tried for treason. 

Chapter Text

Since Jeremiah had nothing left to discuss with the both of you he left with a quick goodbye and said he’d see the both of you next week.

Just as the door closed behind him Ryan spoke up, “Ya know we are going to have to have sex again, the old man has a point. I mean this in a serious way this isn’t just me trying to get in your pants.” He said trying to defend himself from the inevitable sarcastic response you were bound to give him.

“Even if you’ve been friendly to me I know there a part of you that will always hate me for the things my father has done which I’m willing to take blame for since I sat there and watched him do it.” His hand moved to your knee forcing you to look up into his eyes. “And I’m not asking you to love me, but I do want to at least have some kind of real relationship with my wife.”

Looking into his eyes you realized that this was the real emotion that you wanted from him on the day of the signing and you had no idea if it was the soulmate mark or not, but you let the real emotion show on your face as well. “Let’s call a truce.” You said putting your hand over his letting the familiar feeling of sparks course through your body. “Erase as much as we can from our past and just start over.” You suggested.

“Thats the thing, I don’t want to erase the past I want to take it and learn from it. I want to be able to know you past and all.” He said and you couldn’t help but to smile and laugh just a little. “Gods why can’t things just be easier?” You asked as he cracked a bit of a smile too. “Maybe they just have a sick sense of humor?” He asked and you sighed and looked down at your hands folded over his. These feelings of yours were so odd, why did he of all people make you feel so comfortable? Jeremy had fucked you into oblivion for a few years there and you still never felt this kind of connection with him. Sure any budding feelings you had for Jeremy you squashed like a mosquito, but you had been doing the same thing with Ryan and the feelings were still digging at you.

“So, since we are calling a truce and openly communicating, back to the topic of sex.” He said causing you to pull a completely deadpan look as he simply smiled. “My older advisors are hounding me about producing an heir and we haven’t even been married yet, that’s the only reason I am bringing it up.”

If you were being honest not having regular sex was more annoying than you thought it was. Jeremy had learned how to get you off well and from what you remembered about Ryan he was a fine tuned machine himself. You were definitely not faking it that weekend.

Still even thinking about sex made memories of Jeremy start in your mind, which was only accompanied by what he said to you months ago. You knew that the conflicted feelings were playing across your face clear as day, but you were at a loss as to how to bring them up to Ryan. He deserved to know, gods you wanted him to know, but there was something devilishly difficult about telling your future husband about a past fuck buddy. In the midst of your thoughts Ryan asked, “What happened with Dooley?”

You looked at him with a tinge of shock on your face, but you figured he was your soulmate he must have just known the right questions to ask. Logically it made sense, Jeremy was the last person he knew you’d been intimate with and suddenly you ordered him back to Nweta, something had to be up. Honesty, you reminded yourself, you were being honest with him.

“The day he walked in on…us he came to my room to talk about it that night. He basically told me that he loved me, which was something I had known for a long time. When I said I didn’t love him he got angry and started to try and interrogate me about my soulmate mark, which you know is fucking top secret information. I refused to tell him about it and he told me that I was making a stupid mistake pushing away the only person who could love me.”

It was Ryan’s turn to act shocked and it quickly turned into a very calm anger. Some would have called it scary, honestly if you weren’t talking about your budding self doubt you would have thought it was very hot. “I don’t think I would have cared as much as I did if I didn’t think he was partially tell the truth?” You said framing as some kind of question almost.

“What did you say to him?” Ryan asked like he knew full well that you normally wouldn’t have let Jeremy off without somewhat hurting his feelings. You smiled a little, “Nothing actually I just punched the shit out him, twice. I don’t know if you know this but I’ve got a fucking mean right hook.” You said with an even larger cocky smile on your lips.

The satisfaction that dance in his eyes and on his face could have been called comical. “Is he coming to the wedding?” You nodded, of course he was coming to the wedding. There was no way you couldn’t invite the asshole without raising all kinds of red flags and you had enough fucking flags of all degrees flying so you didn’t need any more.

“So yea, that’s kind of why the entire sex thing is really hard for me to talk about and I know it’s fucking dumb and I should be a strong woman and get over it but I can’t.” You said throwing you hands in the air dramatically. “Well it makes sense,” Ryan reasoned, “You let this man into a very intimate position of your life only for him to hurt you, it’s a human reaction to have.”

He took your hands again, just for more emphasis this time. “I am going to be your husband and because you deserve it, I intend to fulfill that role in every way possible. Which means you don’t have to be strong all the time, I can take some of that weight for you.”

Fuck there it was again, that pulling feeling in your chest that got you into the mess you were discussing in the first place. “Do you feel that-that pull?” You asked suddenly, “Yes I do.” He replied, “I feel it every time you open up to me, like my body is yanking me towards you while your guard is down.” He added making you laugh. “Like your own fucking biology knows I’m a closed off bitch and needs to take the chances when it can.” 

He laughed at that and you found yourself talking and joking with Ryan for the left over time you had from Jeremiah’s quick meeting. You two even spent lunch together albeit while working on some planning for the wedding, but honestly you enjoyed it. By the time your next appointment rolled around you didn’t want to leave, in the simplicity of the green sitting room for the first time you felt at home with Ryan. If things weren’t as convolutedly complicated as they were you would have called your time together a date.You enjoyed your time with him so much that you even organized to have lunch with Ryan four times a week as an agreement with the truce.

The next two weeks of your life were filled with these little moments with Ryan over lunch and sometimes even dinner. You had grown so close to Ryan within such a short time period to the point where the night before you were leaving for the wedding the letter Jeremiah was making you write to Ryan wasn’t actually too difficult after all.

Before you could even catch yourself you were falling in love with Ryan Haywood.

Chapter Text

The train ride to the lakeside town of Norwich where Lake Heath was located was barely 3 hours, which was spent signing papers in your train car with Lindsay. Your wedding was in two days, you had to get there early and separate from Ryan because there were plenty of ceremonies you had to take part in before the actual wedding happened. There wasn’t going to be any time for you to get much work done so you were trying to get as much done as possible on the train ride.

Ever since Jeremy had gone back to the south you had gotten a much better handle on the activity going on in your home. Things were going smoothly and the people were already getting better and better as each day passed. You considered yourself lucky that he was actually working and not doing anything to spite you since you did punch the shit out of him, twice.

Things had worked themselves out nicely over the past few weeks, Jeremy barely came into your mind aside from when you were reading his reports, which were strictly professional. The newfound closeness with Ryan really helped with forgetting the pain Jeremy had caused you, or at least moving on from it.

“Are you ready?” Lindsay asked folding the newspaper she was reading as you signed the last document in front of you. You knew what she was talking about, marrying the enemy. You smiled, if only she knew how complicated this was, “Oddly enough yes, after all this is over it is one less thing for me to worry about.” You said putting your pen down and leaning back in your chair.

“Yea the only thing to worry yourself with is running the country.” She joked letting out a huff of air, “Linds you make that comment, but remember whatever I worry about you also worry about.” You reminded her with a smirk. “Yea that’s why I’m bringing it up.” She remarked just as a knock came to the door to the train car. It was the royal jeweler, it was a last minute fitting for the crown you would be given after your marriage to Ryan. Since you were jumping into a river this crown was going to be put on a few hours later in a ceremony at the beginning of the reception.

You greeted the jeweler with a kiss to the cheek, the way you did things in Nweta. Hana was a older Nwetan woman who had been training under the past royal jeweler before the old king found out her ethnicity. You were adamant about getting her to make your crown and she was more than happy to do it.

The delicate silver curves of the crown and the shining light that the diamonds created in the sunlight of the train car was breathtaking. “Hana, you have done something magical.” You said almost gasping as you looked at yourself in the mirror with the crown secured on your head. The thousands of small rainbows made by the reflected light made you feel like an actual star, maybe you actually kind of got the appeal behind these things.

In the mirror you could see the large smile that Hana wore, as you turned to her you could see the tears in her eyes. “No ma’am you have done something magical. I didn’t think that there would be a day with a Nweta woman on the throne and yet here you are. It is an honor to make your first crown.” She said and you couldn’t help but to hug her no matter how unprofessional it may have been.

“The first of many crowns.” You reminded her with a large smile and a few tears of your own pricking at the corners of your eyes. People like Hana were the entire reason that you lead the revolution and agreed to marry Ryan in the first place. It was important for northerns and southerns alike to see a Nwetan woman on the throne, it illustrated a new era within the Bereiken history books.

You were off the train and ushered inside of the more rural townhouse you were staying in. For your safety the home was kept secret and hidden nicely in the off skirts of the town, but with the incoming royal wedding the place was heavily crowded with people even where you were located. The hum of life outside your walls was something you hadn’t had to deal with in a long time, oddly enough you found it comforting. The comforts of the palace had spoiled you with their spacious rooms and large windows, but you got used to the small space rather quickly.

In the morning you were due to start your cleansing ceremony as your family arrived in town. The thought of your incoming aunts and uncles made you nervous and miss your mother more than you already did. The entire wedding situation was really digging at a sore spot. You knew that you never actually coped with your mother’s death since it was in the middle of the war, so a lot of old emotions were appearing.

She should have been the one washing you tomorrow, as much as you loved your aunt Aria it wasn’t going to be the same. Your mother was there in her own way though, the old cloth you were using to bind your hands with Ryan’s was the same your mother used at her wedding. All the women in your family used this cloth and it was one of the few items you could get your hands on that you demanded you used.

There was a bath house in Norwich because it was a more southern town even if it was in the middle of the country. Even if the place was small it would do, not a lot of people would or could participate in the actual cleansing ceremony. Mostly it was your female family members along with Lindsay, Mica and Meg, Barb even managed to make it to Norwich in time for the cleansing.

The black tea made the water a deep brown color and the white flowy dress you wore soaked up the liquid almost immediately. When you were younger you had watched plenty of brides go through this process and it always seemed magical. The way that the water was continuously poured over her as the close family prayed around her made it look like she was glowing through your eyes. You wondered if your nieces felt the same.

After an hour and a half of being splashed with gallons tea by plenty of people (you’d swear that Lindsay threw her portion with extra force just to fuck with you) you settled into bed quietly that night. You were getting married tomorrow morning. The marina of boats would be filled with people that would sail to the middle of the lake to watch you two get married. There would be a weekend of happiness throughout the kingdom and the bells in the cathedral in Schedel would ring. You also felt oddly content, maybe even happy.  

Ryan Haywood was your soulmate and would become your husband. Over the past few weeks you had become scarily close with him over such a short period of time. It’s funny how fast these things could happen when you let your guard down around him. He was such a secretly sweet person and also had a glint of child like mischievousness that made him even more amusing.

In the time you spent trying to come up with reasons to hate him you didn’t notice how good of a leader he was. He cared deeply for the unification of the country and tried as hard as he could to rewrite the wrongs that his father brought upon Nweta. He kept by his last promise to you though, he didn’t try and erase the past he made sure to look the horror dead and the eye and grow from it. You supposed the first thing he promised you still rang true, he was not his father.

Chapter Text

There was a small knick at your window and at first you ignored it. Then it kept happening and you eventually got up to walk to your window. You were angrily wrapping yourself in your robe cursing who ever thought this was a good idea. Honestly you were ready to kill, but when you saw him and the goofy smile on his face you couldn’t help yourself but to smile.

“What the fuck are you doing Haywood?” You asked smile growing larger as you saw the smile on his own face. “I’ve come to romance you!” He said making you laugh again, you hoped that he would find the humor of this after he realized that your room was on the first floor.

“You’ve been hanging out with Geoff and Michael haven’t you?” You asked as he sorta drunkenly leaned against your window. “Maybe I have?” He asked quirking an eyebrow dramatically making you giggle a little. You turned around to make sure your door was closed before offering for him to climb in.

Surprisingly he made it in rather gracefully as you worried yourself about getting him some water. Handing him the water and making him drink for his own good, he thanked you. “Yea I’m slightly drunk and I told them no but then they offered me some really good whiskey and I couldn’t help myself.” He rambled as you poured yourself a small night cap.

“So I’ll take it you had a nice time?” You asked as he leaned his head back on the couch, “Yea, yea I did. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in this whole ruling thing that I forget that I like those people as friends.” you laughed again and sat down next to him taking a sip of your own drink.

“I wish you were there.” He added moving his head to the side to look at you. You knew that Ryan didn’t drink often so he was a certified light weight, but it was kind of adorable to watch him slightly tipsy as he tried to communicate to you. “I think it would have been kind of weird for your fiancée to be at your bachelor party.” You said as he rolled his eyes.

“We both know we’re more friends than we are romantic partners so your presence would have been much appreciated.” He said taking another drink of water. You had been slightly conflicted about that lately, you knew your perspective of Ryan was changing despite your efforts against it.

Tipsy Ryan didn’t need to know that though, you had a plan to tell sober Ryan you just didn’t know when. “Still, I don’t think I would have enjoyed myself, I have seen enough night girls to last me a life time.” you reasoned.

“It’s kind of funny there weren’t any girls. Honestly I don’t think any could live up to you.” He sighed as he looked up to the ceiling. “You, pretty lady, have changed my life.” He admitted making your cheeks heat up and a small grin appear on your lips.

Playfully, you shrugged, “What can I say I was good at my job.” he laughed at that, “What was actually really bad?” You asked slightly concerned but also still joking with him.

“No actually you were fucking amazing. I still jerk off to those memories and it’s been 12 years.” He said quickly before immediately realizing what he just said to you. “Oh my gods I’m so sorry.” He said putting his head into his hands as you melted into giggles of your own.

“No one else?” You asked and now somewhat taking pride in his latest confession to you he shook his head no. “Maybe it’s because of the whole soulmate thing but you on top of me hands pulling my hair is stuck in my brain.” You couldn’t help the memory that appeared in your head. You knew exactly what moment he was talking about and honestly it had been stuck in your mind.

You laughed full heartedly at his face as the memory clearly was playing across his mind. “Seriously,” you asked again, “No one?” He shrugged and sighed again, “I mean I’ve slept with other people if that’s what you’re asking, but no, no other woman has compared to you.”

You couldn’t help the satisfaction that came with his confession and it must have bipped on Ryan’s radar (which was getting sharper and sharper as each day passed) because he did this weird thing where he shifted closer to you and pretended like you didn’t notice. The fit of giggles soon followed as Ryan tried to close the shrinking gap of space between the two of you.

“Ryan Haywood you’re so lucky you’re precious.” You giggled as he quirked another eyebrow, “You think I’m precious?” He asked and it was your turn to roll your eyes. “I wouldn’t have let you actually fuck me six ways to Sunday if I didn’t.” You commented making a light pink glow cross his cheeks. “I thought it was your job?” he asked.

You shrugged slightly in response, “I could have convinced you to just let me hang out that weekend,” you slipped into a little lithe voice for the next part, “Oh I want to get to know my soulmate if this is the last moments we’ll spend together.” He laughed at your little impression and the little face he pulled made you laugh too.

“But no, I thought you were very hot, I was 18 and I decided that if this was going to be the last time I’m meeting my soulmate I was going to fuck him.” You explained taking another drink from your glass. “I’m happy that you’re here now.” He confessed resting his head on the couch again giving you the most adoring look in his eyes. You weren’t ready to tell him the truth yet and just gave him a sweet smile in return.

You didn’t know when he started touching you and the sweet humming of his touch was like honey to your ears. It relaxed your body and mind and you just let his hands rest on your bare thigh and hand. The whiskey must have been slightly strong because you could already start to feel the warmth of the liquor in your body. Maybe that was why you were slightly more than okay with this. The drink seemed to lube up the things you were already feeling when you were sober.

“I’m happy that I didn’t lose you.” Ryan added a glint of sadness gracing his eyes. Reflexively you went for his hands with a slight squeeze and the little bit of space there was left was closed. “Nope, I’m stuck right here.” You replied smile still on your lips.

“Right where I want you.” He said smile getting a little husky as he suddenly wrapped an arm possessively around your waist, he pulled you close and angled himself over you and to your own surprise you were okay with this. There was something about the boldness that he had that made you comfortable with the surprising closeness that he had to you. The laugh that bubbled up Ryan returned as he started to actually think about your compromising position.

He looked down at you with a faint grin, “Last time we were like this…” he trailed off as he got slightly distracted by the plane of skin that the sudden movement revealed in your robe. You looked at him expectantly, you decided to watch his thoughts go through his brain. The wheels were turning in his mind and you wanted to know where he was going next.

The growing hardness that you could faintly feel on your thigh should have hinted you in. “Gods I want you so bad.” He sighed letting his head drop and rest on your sternum. Another small laugh came from you as you moved your hands to his head to angle his head back up to look at his face.

Ryan must have read you clearly because he moved slightly and kissed you gently. There wasn’t the same hesitance that there was the last time he kissed you. He seemed to have more assurance this time and you felt the same. His hands moved about your waist and down to your ass where he took a full squeeze of your ass.

He kissed you and touched you like a man starved and you couldn’t help the toe curling warmth that came from your core. At seeing the positive response from you he moved to untie the robe and when he opened the robe he finally got a chance to take a good look at you. Only wearing a simple pair of underwear you were slightly naked under the robe. He looked like he was seeing the gods before his eyes and you swore that this damn robe was thus far batting at 100.

When he looked at you and saw the smile that you wore he must have been reinvigorated and kissed you with even more fire than before. You got to work getting Ryan just as naked as you were and quickly made waste of the thin shirt he was wearing. “You’re so beautiful, gods you’re gorgeous.” He mumbled as you took his shirt off of him and he pulled your robe off completely.

Your hands quickly got tangled in his longer hair and the moan that came from his lips when you pulled on his hair was intoxicating. Just as his hands were getting into your panties he came to a hesitance stop. “Wait…wait.” He said pulling away from you, the confusion was clear across your eyes and he smiled back at you.

“This isn’t how I want to do this.” Ryan explained and before you could even verbally protest he kissed you again. “I want to do this right, after we’re married. When I’m not slightly drunk.” He reasoned as a smile and laugh that came out as you shook your head.

You moved and picked your robe back up and observed the image of Ryan Haywood slightly boozed up shirtless and with one of the hardest boners you’d ever seen. He looked at you with one of the most conflicted look in his eyes. “Don’t get me wrong I want you. I want you so fucking bad, but I have an entire plan just you wait.” He promised moving to stand and take your hand.

He bent down slightly and wrapped his arms around your waist again. The next kiss he gave you was enough to shut you up for the next phrase to come out of his mouth. “Tomorrow night I am going to romance you even more than I have just now and then, I’m going to fuck your socks right off. It’ll take an entire army to get me off of you.” He said with another hunky smirk playing on his lips and another giggle came out. He wasn’t wrong he really had gotten you naked while he was slightly drunk so you wondered what he could mange while sober.

Ryan then let you go and walked back to the window shirt still hanging open. You followed just to make sure that he didn’t hurt himself on the way out, “I’ll see you tomorrow then, Ryan.” you said as he safely made it to the other side and turned to face you for a final goodbye.

He smiled at you with a dangerous grin and turned around to check the coast was clear before kissing you. “When I see you tomorrow I’ll be marrying you.” He murmured somewhat getting lost in his thoughts again and letting a hand linger on your cheek. “Yea we’ll be King and Queen of this joint.” You added with a smirk that you couldn’t stop yourself from making.

The next kiss he gave you was quick and he distanced himself this time with another smile. “Tomorrow.” He said with a nod. You agreed, “Tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

The weather in Norwich was perfect on the day of the wedding. When he got onto the boat the knowledge that his future wife was somewhere below deck made his heart race. He wondered if you felt just as nervous as he did or if you somehow managed to keep that cool demeanor you always seemed to have.

Having woken up about four hours ago just to start getting ready for the wedding and the multiple cups of coffee you had were not helping the anxiousness coursing through her body. Lindsay was one of the only reasons you hadn’t literally abandoned ship.

He woke up around two hours before the wedding, the memories of the night before were fresh in his mind He was going to be jumping into the water after all and the sunny weather called for something he wouldn’t be dying of heat in. Then again you’d be in a full length gown so what right did he have to complain?

Your boat would be the first to disembark to the middle of the large lake and all their other guests would follow. The marina was filled with people, some he knew and plenty of people he had no clue who they were. They all carried binoculars and some even had opera glasses everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the royal marriage. There was another blessing placed on the boat and you two were quickly sailing with hundreds of people in tow.

The music started and everyone seemed to tense at knowing what was going to happen next. When you made your entrance into the sunlight he felt his entire body tense and he hoped no one could tell how taken back he was with how you looked. The light on your skin made it look like you were actually glowing and when it caught your eyes he was completely entranced. There were yellow and white flowers in your hair that matched the ones you carried.

There was something about seeing the man that you were going to marry that knocked the air out of your lungs. It didn’t help that he was also one of the most attractive men on the fucking planet. The gray color on him was a nice choice that was most likely Gavin’s it made those blue eyes of his so much more vibrant. For a moment it felt like you were stuck where you were with the way he was looking at you, but you pushed forward there wasn’t any time to play the damsel.

Even if he was king of the country he knew very well that this wedding wasn’t about him at all. The attention was all on you and he as always was impressed in how well composed you seemed to constantly be. Plenty of women in the royal court would be scrutinizing your look and honestly he didn’t know anything negative that could be said. Ryan had always found you gorgeous and he saw you every single damned day.

He should have known you’d read him like a book and when you smirked up at him with a knowing glint in your eyes he couldn’t help but to smile back. He couldn’t believe he was actually marrying you, the woman he knew that deep down he would love. Even if he wasn’t completely sure of it now he knew that he loved you.

They stepped together to the helm of the boat were Jeremiah was stood, you took his hand and the electric feeling went through his body again. Even through all the contact he had with you for the past few weeks that feeling still struck him every time.

You took your place next to him and handed your flowers off to Lindsay as Jeremiah got to talking. He wondered what you were thinking about in those moments as Jeremiah went on and on in some flowery religious language about the honor and beauty of marriage. You looked like you were completely focused on Jeremiah, but he knew you. There as no way there wasn’t some type of chatter going on you in brain.

Your hands were to be tied with a cloth that looked like it was from lifetimes ago. It was the same cloth that married your mother and your grandmother and hundreds of women before you. Even if your mother’s marriage didn’t work out it was supposed to bless the both of you with the love that all these couples may or may not have felt on their wedding day.

When Jeremiah brought out the marriage cloth Ryan noticed the way your eyes immediately were glued to it. The thoughts of your mother and your lack of a father clouded your head, there was so much history and heartbreak in that simple piece of fabric and you wondered if you would be stuck in that pattern. Ryan took your hands with a slight squeeze like he was able to read the storm going on in your mind. Then the memories of last night appeared in your mind. The way Ryan looked at you and the emotion in his eyes made it clear that he cared. You felt, with some off hand certainty, that you weren’t going to be stuck in the cycle.

You took each other’s hands and your touch felt electric to him as it always did, like the universe was trying to tell him that this was it. That this woman before him was the right choice and everything in his life was leading up to that moment.

Jeremiah said your names, “I bid you look into each other's eyes. Will you honor and respect one another, and seek to never break that honor?” Your eyes met and the look of determination that you wore was covered with the small smile that you sent to him just before you both said “We will.” The first chord of the cloth was draped over your hands.

“Will you share in each other’s pain and seek to ease it?” Jeremiah cracked a smile looking at the two of you, the only soul in the audience that knew what was really going on here. He must have understood the meaning behind the looks you were giving each other, the man wasn’t completely dense. “We will.” the second chord was draped over your hands and it seemed like as every second passed the nerves in his body grew larger and larger.

“Will you share the burdens of each other so that your spirits may grow in this union?” Another ‘We Will” and the third chord was placed over your hands. “Will you share in each other’s laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?”

Your voice was as strong as it always was as they finished the last ‘We Will”. Ryan wanted nothing more than to make you happy and he hoped that in this marriage he had to ability to do just that. “As your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust. Above you are the stars and below you is the earth. Like the stars your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.” Jeremiah finished as he untied your hands.

When you slipped his wedding band onto his finger he could feel how you were just slightly shaking. There it was, the moment he saw what was really happening behind those eyes. After the ring was firmly on his finger he couldn’t help but to give you to most comforting and understanding look he possibly could. He took your hands again and hoped you knew what he was trying to tell you.

Jeremiah then announced them as the King and Queen and he pulled you into a kiss. Even if it didn’t have the same magical feeling as your last one did, this kiss meant so much more. Now you were Queen and as horrible as it sounded it meant that you couldn’t really leave him. He had found this out about himself recently, he desperately needed you in his life as of that moment you were stuck together soulmate mark or not.

The crowd around them erupted into screams and applause as you kissed. Soon after you two separated you took his hand and lead him into the ocean. The cool water was beyond refreshing and when thy came up for air the thousands of pink rose petals that they had given your guests were being thrown in the air.

You swam together to the smaller private boat that you would sail together. You were the much more experienced sailor having grown up sailing boats, but for the sake of appearances you let him take control of sailing to boat. After all he had been practicing for the past few months on sailing just for these moments.

You still helped him though because you hated just sitting around while there was work to be done. Eventually you both made your way back to shore through the aisle the other boats made for you.

“I am so fucking cold.” You mumbled through the dazzling smile that you gave the people that were waving at you. He couldn’t help but to laugh, “Are my nipples showing right now because it sure feels like it?” he asked making you laugh quite loudly.

* * * *

Jeremy Dooley from his place on a nearby boat could see the woman he loved laughing along with a man he hated. As their boat sailed past his own he could recognize the watercolored skull at his hip that shined through the transparent fabric of King James’ shirt. Jeremey Dooley could have vomited.

Chapter Text

The reception was some kind of champagne filled blur. There were countless people who wanted your attention and if it weren’t for the constant glass of champagne in your hand you didn’t know if you would have made it through. Even if you had just married the man you didn’t actually see too much of Ryan throughout the night. You could catch glimpses of him across the spacious ballroom, but you rarely spoke to him.

There was the unspoken promise he made you the night before still in the air. When he was with you his hand always danced dangerously low on your back. If your dress wasn’t so large in the skirt you knew exactly where his hands would have been. It made diplomatic discussions very difficult.

In the spare moment you got with him alone he reminded you of the promise. With the crown newly affixed to your head you walked down the hallway to the ladies room. Your eyes met his bright blue ones from across the hall and you quickly scoped out the area to see if anyone was there.

There were no guards, wedding guests or members of the congress to see anything and before you could even voice the idea he had you pressed up against the wall. His lips were on yours hungrily and the feeling of the suddenly contact made your heart race. His hands were tight around your waist as he pulled you off the wall and closer to him. You were lifted into the air a few inches and the giggle that slipped out of your mouth was met with a smile from him.

“I’ll take it that your drunken promise from last night still hold true?” You asked taking a moment to really look at him, cheeks a bright pink and lips just the right amount of swollen from a rough kiss. He lazily laughed again, “I wasn’t that drunk,” he said trying to defend himself as you tracked his eyes as they dropped to your cleavage. You playfully pulled his chin up forcing him to look you in the eyes. “And yes it does, just as soon as we can escape.” He added before kissing you again.

Ryan when he was being bold made your hair stand on end in the most pleasant of ways. After the chaste kiss he quickly made his way back to the reception leaving you somewhat breathless and alone. You weren’t used to being the one left speechless, but with Ryan you were okay with it.

Just as you were about to make your way back out to the party you ran smack into none other than Jeremy Dooley. You almost hit the ground and he caught you by the arms in enough time. The sudden and unexpected content with Jeremy sent your mind for a loop.

He looked just as surprised to see you and after thanking him for saving you from falling on your ass you put a clear distance between the both of you. Even if you did miss Jeremy’s friendship and nonsexual company you didn’t feel quite comfortable letting him close to you.

There were a tense few seconds where neither one of you spoke, but felt trapped in the social interaction. You noticed that he wouldn’t look at you, those brown eyes which were once so comforting now moved everywhere but your face. You were first to break the silence saying that you couldn’t be away from the party for too long or the guards would start looking.

He bid you goodbye and you quickly left the hallway. Something was off about Jeremy. Now, you knew that there was plenty of shit that could have caused Jeremy to act so cold to you, but this felt different. For the first time in a long time, Jeremy Dooley consumed your thoughts. You walked back out into the light of the party and felt some relief, but you couldn’t erase the dirty look he gave you when he looked at you.

Then, just as quickly as Jeremy fogged your brain the way Ryan looked at you seemed to clear everything away. You made your way back to his side and slipped casually into the conversation at had, you slipped comfortably into the role of his wife and the queen herself.

One of the new revelations you had made about your life was the comfort that could have been found in close proximity to Ryan. Giving into the biological pull he had on you was extremely satisfying and just being in the same conversation as him made your body hum. You wondered if anyone else around you could see the effect he had on you, if they knew that Ryan Haywood was slowly changing you.

The party came to an end as the band packed up and nobles made their way back to their rooms for the night. Ryan and you were lucky, your room was in the same building as the ballroom your reception was held in. You were first to retreat from the party leaving Ryan the finish up bidding people goodbye. With the help of your dresser, Meera, your wedding dress was taken off and tucked away safely with the utmost care. The thought that you were wearing history was off putting and you elected to ignore the thought that possibly one day people would be staring at that dress wondering what your life was like. You wished you could write them a note that just read “fucking confusing”.

Changed into the lighter night shift you waited comfortably for Ryan to return from the party. You turned on a slower jazz record that you always liked to play after a large party and set yourself to relax just a little. As you always were you were working when the doors to your room opened and your husband walked in. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw you, like he was taking a moment to memorize just the way you looked before he made his move. If it were possible his light blue eyes seemed to fill with a sort of animalistic darkness as he approached you from the other side of the room. When his mouth overtook yours you wished you could bottle the explosive feeling that overwhelmed you at the sudden contact.

When you two separated you were slightly breathless and couldn’t help the smile that overtook your lips. “I thought you were going to romance me, Ryan?” You asked as his hands hands came to a comfortable rest on your hips. “I couldn’t help myself.” He said looking down at you in the thin nightgown that was almost translucent in the flickering candlelight. “I already wanted to jump your bones when I saw you in both your dresses today. Then you’re waiting up for me in this little dress, if it can be called that?” He joked making your smile grow larger.

He bent down a little and lifted you into the air by the backs of your thighs. “You are the most gorgeous woman on the planet and I cannot believe I’ve got you to myself.” He said with the most honest look in his eyes. You had been called beautiful a lot over the course of the past few years. People saw endless compliments as an in to your operation, you didn’t really believe any of their words. There was something about the way Ryan looked at you when he called you beautiful, when he basically called you the biggest temptation in his life that made you believe him. You could add that to the reasons why you liked this man.

Your cheeks heated a bit at his compliments and you leaned down just a bit to kiss him gently. There was a softness to his lips in contract to the rough scruff he had on his face. His grip on you tightened as the kiss grew in intensity and you found yourself trying to memorize these little moments between the two of you. Moments where you could fall into the belief that things were scary complicated.

Ryan placed you gently on the bed and he took a second to take you in again as he got rid of his suit jacket, you must have looked positively disheveled. The action had the straps of your nightgown falling off your shoulders and was scantily riding up your tights. He also looked quite taken back as well, his cheeks were a light pink color, lips swollen and eyes blown so wide you wondered if there was any blue left in them. His dress shirt was also wrinkled and his pants looked like they were getting uncomfortably tight, and you weren’t anywhere near done yet with him.

He toed his shoes off and got onto the bed with you, there was a gentleness to his movements now that contrasted the other times you were intimate together like this. It was as if before he was trying to get as much of you as he could in the short amount of time you had together. Now he had time, he had the rest of your lives and when he cupped your cheeks and kissed you again you knew he had every intention of taking his time with you that night. You weren’t used to this slow sensual sex, even with Jeremy things were fast paced and hard, which was the way you liked things, admittedly. Yet, here with Ryan Haywood you found the joy in taking things slow.

You were getting lost in the feeling of his lips on yours and how he had yet to even touch another part of your body, but kept his hands cupping your face. You could have spent hours kissing him like this, relishing in the warm feeling of kissing your soulmate. You were first to make the move on taking clothes off, blindly your fingers found the buttons of his shirt and got to work getting the garment off of him. Even if he was 37 Ryan Haywood did know how to keep himself in shape. He didn’t have the same light form has he did when he was 25, but the heavier build he sported now made your mouth water.

His hands moved slowly to start to take the nightgown off of you, as the fabric dropped he stopped kissing you just to drink in the vast plane of naked skin he could see in the candlelight. You finished the job of taking the nightgown off completely, the smile and giggle were let out accidentally and he quirked a questioning eyebrow at you. “You just keep looking at me with this…this look in your eyes I can’t quite explain.” You explained moving back closer to him just a little to not completely break the contact with him that your body had a newfound craving for. “It’s cute.” You added kissing him quickly.

“Cute?” He questioned playfully, “I don’t remember the last time someone referred to me as cute. I don’t know if I want to be called cute right now, when I’m trying to get you all hot and bothered.” He added not losing the smirk he sported before. “Oh no, you’re just cute in the face, the rest of you…well the rest of you Ryan Haywood is pure sex appeal.” You replied kissing him deeply again. His hands finally found themselves home with the round cheeks of your ass and he moaned into the kiss with a smile.

You made the move to get his pants off and made quick work of them so he joined you in the realm of complete nakedness. His hard cock was heavy in your hands as you stroked him gently earning more moans and a sexy bite of his lip. “Gods I forgot how good you were at this.” He said with a gasp as you rolled your eyes. “You haven’t even seen anything yet Haywood.” You joked pushing him down into a sitting position with you still hovering over him. There was a twinkle of excitement in his eyes as he pulled you down onto his lap for another deep kiss.

You pulled yourself off of him quickly and got back to your previous job, you settled quickly onto your knees and between his legs from where he sat on the bed. When his cock was on your lips you heard the signature little gasp of his and you could feel your mouth start to water. There was something about the image of Ryan Haywood looking particularly engrossed with what was about to happen to him that you couldn’t help but to take a moment and look. His hands found home in your hair as your mouth went fully around his cock you could feel him start to grip on your hair. Just as he was starting to get lost in the blow job you were giving him he pulled you right back up to his level to kiss you hard on the lips.

Ryan was quick to take control again with a quick maneuver to get him on top of you. His kept your hips steady in his hands as he kissed his way down your body. He took ample time on your breasts making sure to run you wild with teasing nips at the sensitive skin there before he settled between your thighs. When he kissed your clit you swore loudly and all the air in your lungs disappeared. The loud moans that bubbled up from your throat were surprising and you hoped Ryan knew how good at this he was. He licked and sucked at your clit like a true champion and when he moved and plunged two fingers deep inside of you your hands pulled hard on his hair. He let out another loud moan at the sudden hair pulling and the vibrations that the moan sent through your body were exquisite.

He left you a numb mess before he finally came up for air with an accomplished, smug grin on his lips. Your wetness left his beard shiny and you limply pulled him back down to you so you could kiss him again. You kissed his neck with a newfound ferocity that made him hiss and squeeze your thigh forcefully, there he was that dominant Ryan Haywood you knew. You gave his hair another forceful pull and whispered into his ear, “Fuck me Ryan Haywood.” and he kissed you so hard you thought he might have bruised your lips.

When he pushed himself inside of you you let out a loud gasp as he filled you up with one clean thrust. That same explosive feeling from weeks ago coursed through your veins and the choked gasp he produced told you he felt the same. As he fucked you he held your hips and legs tightly like he was trying to keep you in place incase you were going to run away. You weren’t going anywhere, your brain was too clouded by the exquisite feeling of Ryan Haywood’s cock inside of you.

Chapter Text

When Ryan Haywood finally got to touch her naked body without the fear of her running away playing in the back of his mind, he damn near creamed his pants right there. Then when he had to glory of making her cum with he most beautiful look on her face he knew for a fact that this woman was made for him. When she explicitly asked him to fuck her he lost all control that told him to tease her and keep her guessing. He kept her close as he fucked her, kept his hands on her, kept her chest to his as if she might have dissipated into thin air if he let any distance come between them.

Things didn’t feel like this the last time, maybe because years ago they were both trying to keep some part of themselves distant from the other. Now that they were married there was no running, she could avoid him sure but they would eventually have to interact with each other. Sure sex could complicate things, putting their emotions into the whole mess of their lives could ruin them, but at the moment he was so wrapped up in the exquisite look on her face and the way her chest heaved as she gasped for air that he couldn’t spend time thinking about how this could have been wrong. If feeling this good was wrong, then Ryan Haywood didn’t want to be right.

He didn’t know what time it was when they finally took a break, mostly because she said if they kept going for much longer she wasn’t going to be able to walk for a week. The joke told itself with the eyebrow wiggle he gave her from across the bed. She immediately stuffed one of the pillows into his face as he laughed.

“Stop getting air I’m trying to smother you!” She said pushing down a little harder on the pillow. She eventually picked up the pillow to look at him and for the millionth time in his life he was taken back by how beautiful she was. Even in a post sex haze where her hair was playfully ruined there was something that he still found so fucking appealing about her.

She must have gotten the hint rather quickly because she soon leaned down and kissed him gently. His hands found a true home on her hips as he steadied her on top of him and Ryan didn’t know where this sudden gentleness could have came from. Honestly he was having the a somewhat difficult time figuring out what his wife wanted outside of these moments in the bedroom. Just moments ago she was begging him to fuck her harder 

Ryan quickly rolled them over so that he had proper advantage over her. She welcomed him to find home between her legs and kissed him like there was no tomorrow. He pulled back slightly just to look at her. The warmth on her cheeks that he couldn’t quite see but he could almost feel, the halo of pillows around her and the glow of the fire in her eyes that not only called him to her in the most sexual manner, but also in the most comforting way.

He knew this woman was crafted for him, just as much as he was made for her. The way that every ounce of her being both physically and mentally, just excited him he knew that this was a rare find crafted by the gods. Now that she was here in his arms he knew he couldn’t just let go.

8 months later

Things had proceeded in some kind of martial bliss, if you could describe their life in that way. Even with the stress of putting a broken country back together they found real rest in the respite of their bedroom at the end of the day and in the brief moments of the morning.

After weeks of thoroughly exhausting their sexual energy, if it were even possible, they settled into the finer points of a real organic relationship. Longing kisses before they left in the morning, as if they were taking one for the road. Helping each other undress and unwind after a long day being King and Queen, he found odd enjoyment in unzipping her sleek dresses and helping her achieve the greatest relaxation at the end of the day for a woman, taking her bra off.

To all of their friends and close allies, they proceeded like nothing had changed. They kept things professional until they were behind closed doors and had managed to keep this budding relationship of theirs very secret. Honestly, this was how they liked things. The rush from the commitment of the secret when they decided to fuck in one of the sitting rooms, handmaids only a doorway away. The secrecy also let them form the relationship at their own pace, deciding when they thought pet names could come into the mix (the addition of ‘Baby Girl’ into Ryan Haywood’s vernacular was one of her favorite revelations) or when they could hold hands in their walks in the garden at 2 am on sleepless nights.

Right now he had her exactly where he wanted her. They were both two whiskeys in on a Saturday night with a simple Sunday before them, cuddling while listening to one of their favorite comedy records. In the cold November air they huddled together with only the fire as a secondary attempt for warmth. His head was resting on her chest as she nursed her second drink for the night, he sat up a little and kissed her cheek.

He didn’t know if it was the whiskey that lead him down this train of thought, but he was still going down it at full speed. “Sometimes, I think about how I’d be living if we didn’t run into each other again.” He admitted earning a questioning eyebrow from her to explain more of what he meant. “I mean, what would have happened if we stayed away from each other like we originally planned we would? I almost always imagine myself miserable with my wife and having to run the kingdom and I’m honestly so happy that that’s not the life I have.”

She let out a bit of a hum of a response before settling down to think about it herself. What would have her life been like if she had stayed in the south, married a man who her mother wanted her to and settled down to be the good little woman society had wanted her to be? Things seemed to gray in that off shoot of her life, she was never one for monotony, which probably explained a lot about her, so she knew that life would have never made her happy. There was a lot of things about the life she was living that she didn’t like at the moment, like the severe lack of freedom compared to what she had before. When she was younger, and albeit crazier, the client and late night rendezvous were always a welcomed activity. Now that she was queen, there was too much of a risk for her to be galavanting at odd hours of the morning.

Yet, Ryan was there. Ryan was all that she needed, he provided all the adventure she needed as she settled down in her royal life style. They had sneaked out of the castle many a time, capes always covering their faces as they went to late night festivals in the street, to small late night coffee shops where they always left hefty tips and even a couple of dance parties where they pretended like they were different people, meeting in different circumstances.

For the first time, she realized that she loved him. Really honestly, truly loved him. She laughed a little to herself and smiled just slightly. “I’ve thought about it, and I don’t want to be anywhere else but here, Ryan.” She said before moving to kiss him sweetly. The smile that spread across his cheeks was one that pulled her even further into him, assisted by a deep pull by her waist from Ryan.

Gods she couldn’t let go of him, she pulled him even closer, if it were even possible, to her by the fabric of his shirt.

When he pulled back from the kiss and saw the tears that wet her cheeks he couldn’t help the look of confusion that crossed his face. Nonetheless, he wiped them away as she offered him a weak smile and a supporting hand to the back of his head. “I’m not going anywhere, baby girl.” He whispered kissing her gently again. They fell asleep quickly after, wrapped together in the warmth of a budding love that glistened in the moonlight.

They woke the next morning in a fuzzy haze from the whiskey still bundled together as the morning light dripped in through the window.

“How many meetings today?” She asked groggily shifting so she could see the clock, it was barely 8 in the morning. Even if it was a Sunday there was still things to be done, but they dialed back on the time spent in meetings as a half assed attempt to relax a little.

“I only have two.” He replied a little cracked smile at his lips. She let out a small groan and sat up in bed to look out at the window, the snow was starting to pick up in their little private garden that was off of their room. Even if she had almost been in the colder climate of the capital for a year now, she still wasn’t quite used to the snow.

She was the first one to build the bravery and get out of bed, saying she had a 9:30 meeting she wanted to start the slow process of getting ready for. With her husband still in bed, she walked about the room with Lindsay who came in shortly after she woke up and got her briefing for the day.

Lindsay was one of the only people that got a glimpse at the second life they were living. She came in in the mornings and talked business to his wife as he lounged in their bed, she never commented on how obscenely obvious they were being.

They left quickly after she was ready, with her staying behind and giving him a deep kiss goodbye. His first meeting wasn’t for another two hours so he had plenty of time to relax. About an hour passed before none other than Geoff Ramsey came knocking at his door.

Ryan couldn’t help but to notice the worried look that Geoff had written clean across his face and was quick to ask about it.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Ryan commented as Geoff shut the doors behind him. “I might as well have.” He replied before turning back around. “You’ll never guess who’s back in town.”

Ryan raised a questioning eyebrow, “None other than Zaara Andrade.”

Ryan Haywood could have shit his pants right then and there.


Chapter Text

You weren’t particularly fond of this new addition to your social group. Of course you weren’t going to make this distaste public knowledge, but that didn’t stop your mind from wandering every time she opened her mouth. Zaara had been in the capital for a few days at this point and as she sat across the table from you she was telling a hyperbolic story about a summer many years ago.

Ever since you had assumed the position of Queen you were no longer afforded the more private dinners you once had. Your social life had been absorbed into business, meaning that some people that you befriended they were only spoken to because you were obligated to. Zaara’s family was an ancient one with piles of money that made them an asset to the throne. No one enjoyed any of the family's company particularly, but everyone was aware of her social standing, therefore giving her a place in court and at your dinner table.

Her family fled to the far north during the war and only just a few days ago did they decide it was safe enough for them to return. Those days since they arrived had been trying ones because you were never very good at holding your tongue when it came to insufferable people like them. There had been many close moments where you wanted to toss both her father Aaron and their money right back to wherever they were squatting during the war.

Frankly put, you found her father to be the worst kind of coward, one with generous helpings of pride. Zaara on the other hand had heaping amounts of confidence and was a prideful woman on top of that. If things weren’t at the standard she saw fit she would throw a tantrum that even toddlers couldn’t pull off. The fit she threw when she didn’t think the rooms she was given were good enough gave Lindsay a head ache like no other.

Zaara’s endless advances at Ryan weren’t helping your opinion of her either. You had never considered yourself a jealous woman, logically you knew you didn’t have anything to worry about. You and Ryan were bound together by both marriage and the matching marks you both sported on your bodies. Still, that didn’t stop you from seeing red when she would touch him or bat those lashes at him. You knew every trick in the book when it came to attracting both men and women, so you saw what she was doing right from the moment she started.

As she went on and on about the summer you took comfort in the feeling of Ryan’s hand on your leg under the table. You couldn’t wait until dessert was finished so you could go to bed with your husband and not have to listen to Zaara’s voice for a few hours. You could see Michael rolling his eyes every now and then, as well as how Gavin had taken to playing with his food instead of paying attention to the lengthy tale Zaara was telling. After looking around the long table and seeing that everyone had finished you decided it was a good enough time to call dinner to a close.

You took advantage of the breath Zaara was taking to excuse yourself, saying that you were dead tired and needed to sleep. See the opportunity before them Ryan and most other people at the table also took their leave.

“Holy fuck she was never going to stop talking.” Michael said as the doors to the dining hall closed behind the group that decided to leave. “She’s still going by the sound of it.” Ryan said from your left, you were so distracted that evening that you didn’t even take a moment to notice just how good Ryan looked that night. He started to sport a short beard and in the dim light of the hallway he looked like he was almost glowing. It was moments like these that you wish your real relationship wasn’t a secret. You wanted to hold his hand as you walked down the hall and to tell him just how fucking sexy he looked right then and there so it didn’t seem like an after thought when you would tell him later.

“As annoying as she is, the money she has means we have to deal with her.” You reminded everyone, including yourself. You heard a distinct groan from Geoff, “Doesn’t stop her from being an annoying bitch.”

“You come up with a diplomatic way to shut her up and I’m all ears.” You replied coming to a stop as you approached the turn to your chambers. There were goodnights all around and promises to see each other for another day of business in the morning.

Now that you were alone with Ryan for the short walk to your bedroom, you took his hand in yours causing him to look down at you and smile. You wished that he wouldn’t look so slightly surprised every time you outwardly showed him affection, but you couldn’t really blame him. For so long you were closed off and standoffish to him, that it would take a moment for him to get used to you reaching for him.

“You look so handsome tonight.”

“I don’t look good every night?” He asked jokingly, you rolled your eyes and took your hand from his. You could hear his signature little giggle as you opened the door to your bedroom and you couldn’t help but to smile just a little at the laughter. “You already know the answer to that.” You replied starting the process of getting ready for bed, which always kicked off with sorting through the letters and looking at the parcels that were left for you while dinner was happening.

A top of the small pile of letters addressed to both you and Ryan, was a small box. It had your name on it and was wrapped in the same colors as the southern flag, so you took to opening that one first. You were greeted with small chocolates and a note saying that whoever it was from wished that you enjoyed them. Given the new arrivals in the capital and that they were from a region of the country known for their chocolate, you assumed it was from the Andrades. “Looks like something good has come out of the Andrades that isn’t their money.” You commented offering Ryan the chocolates as you took a bite of one yourself. He scrunched up his nose and shook his head, “I’m actually rather full from dinner, but thank you.” You shrugged it off and popped a second chocolate in your mouth.

You both waded through the letters rather quickly, and by the time all was said and done you had finished most of the chocolates. Gods you hated how delicious they were. They were the perfect kind of chocolate that didn’t make you tired of eating them, but you held yourself back from the last few, telling yourself that you'd leave them for later. After finishing your last letter you started getting ready for bed.

He unzipped you like he always did and even kissed your shoulder for good measure. He stayed there too, wrapping his arms around your waist and resting his head on your shoulder now. “We’ll you have to find something to do with those Andrades.” You said placing your hands over his and leaning your head just enough to touch his. You could see through the mirror in front of you that his eyes were closed, but he still had that lazy smile on his face.

“They’re wearing my already thin patience more and more as every day passes.” You added and he hummed in agreement, “If that woman lays another finger on you I might explode.”

Ryan laughed and let go of you, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Zaara.” You quirked an eyebrow at that as you stepped out of the gown you were wearing and laid it across the chair of your vanity for the maids to put away in the morning. “What about her?” You asked turning around to face Ryan as he stripped.

He had his back to you when he said that he’d slept with her, when he turned around he was probably expecting a shocked look on your face but he was only give a pair of pursed lips and stony eyes. He sat down on the edge of the bed after a few seconds of silence, waiting for a response from you.

This did change things, not between you and Ryan of course. Just because he happened to fuck Zaara years ago, before you became a permeant fixture in his life as you were now, it didn’t make anything between the both of you any less real or significant. What this did change however, was how you saw her advances to your husband. They weren’t just hopeful wishes for some action to happen between them, but moves to try and stir up something from very long ago.

Instead of replying you walked over to Ryan and lowered yourself onto his lap. You held his cheeks in your palm and kissed him lightly, “Why are you telling me this?” You asked, he shrugged. “Complete transparency I supposed, plus it does complicate the process of getting rid of her. She’ll fight tooth and nail to try and stay close to me, it’s the kind of woman she is.” His hands found home on your hips, where his index finger drew little lines into your skin.

“Can’t really blame her for that.” You commented, “It’s not like I wouldn’t do the same.” he moved up and kissed you harder this time, his hands moved to a close on your waist and pulled you tight against him. “She was a pitiful substitute for you.” Ryan said as he tilted back slightly to look at you, naked aside from the panties that you still wore.

“When we were fucking she spent most of her time with her face in the pillows as I thought of you.” He admitted making you roll your eyes and laugh. “I wouldn’t care to hear any more of your escapades with the loud mouth we left at dinner.” You said running a hand over his toned chest.

“What would you care for?” He asked suggestively, raising an eyebrow for emphasis as if the hard on you could feel between you legs wasn’t enough of a hint.

You smiled, “You already know the answer to that.”

After few mind-blowing rounds with Ryan you both quickly fell asleep. He was wrapped around you like he was fond of, with an arm over your waist and your body flush against his. You didn’t wake up to the knock on the door from the maids like you commonly did, but a large cramp in your stomach.

The pain was enough for you to become lucid rather quickly. At first you wanted to stay wrapped up in Ryan and just wait for the pain to pass. You quickly threw that idea out of the window as your body was informing you that you were going to vomit.

You threw the sheets off of you and quickly detailed yourself from Ryan. It was moments like these that you cursed having a bed so fucking large because you couldn’t even make it to the bathroom before you were throwing up over the side of the bed. Ryan, clearly awakened by your fast movements and the sound of your heaving, was rapidly at your side.

“Baby-“ he was cut off by the sound of what you both assumed was your dinner hitting the floor. He got out of his side of the bed and turned the lamp light on before returning to you, “What’s happening?” He asked tone filled with concern as you finally stopped and were heavily breathing. “I don’t know.” You answered as he reached out his hand to touch your forehead. You didn’t need to hear him say it but you were burning up, which was clearly evident as you were dripping sweat as well.

“I don’t think it’s the food being spoiled, this doesn’t feel like that, but holy fuck it does fucking hurt.” You added hand moving to your stomach as it clenched in pain again. You turned back to Ryan whose eyes widened with fear when he looked at you. You were confused at first, but when you wiped your mouth with the back of your hand the residue wasn’t vomit. It was the deep color of blood which you had seen enough of to recognize when you saw it.

You were never one to faint at blood, you had been in plenty of altercations and fought in a war so you had seen enough blood to last you a life time and not once had it cause you to faint. The blood was not as fault, but still darkness consumed your vision rather quickly and your body hit the pillows.

Chapter Text

Ryan was a brand of pissed that his friends had barely seen in his life. He wasn’t the blow up and murder kind of angry, he was silent and almost pensive aside from the few words of explanation he gave them when they entered his bedroom. They had a lot of questions, beyond the obvious ones of what exactly happened to the Queen. The tense eye contact his five friends shared as they watched Ryan stare at his unconscious wife communicated all their concerns and confusion.

“Do we know what she was poisoned with yet?” Jack asked breaking the heavy silence, Ryan shook his head. “But, I’m assuming they came from those chocolates, it’s the one thing she alone ate.” He nodded his head over to the still open box that was on the table. Ray made his way over to the box and picked it up, taking a moment to himself to inspect the box and the small sweets inside. “A few have been taken for testing to see if anyone can tell just what kind of poison it is.” Ryan added.

“What do you want us to do?” Michael questioned, all business at this point. In his mind all he could see was Lindsay in that bed and he was piecing together of more of the King and Queens relationship than any of the others. He recognized what kind of grief that was written across Ryan’s face, it was reserved for someone he dearly loved.

“I need show you all to help me find out not only who did this, but what they did it with. We’re going to try to keep what’s happening quiet for as long as we can, but people are going to catch on eventually and the press is going to have a field day. While everyone is in the dark it gives us an opportunity to gather information rather undetected. Given the chocolates are from their region we have every reason to believe the Andrades are behind this, the real question is which one.”

There was more conversation after that, bouncing around theories and ideas on how to get the information they needed. Most important aside from the persons identity was what they poisoned her with, that was the key to curing what was happening with her body. Soon enough everyone left to go gather information, aside from Michael who lingered behind. He wanted a moment to speak to Ryan alone.

“You love her don’t you?” He asked a few seconds after the door shut behind Gavin, at hearing Michael’s words Ryan’s seemly stony face broke and there were tears flowing down his face. “Yes, yes I do. I haven’t even told her yet and I might lose her before I get a chance to.” Ryan choked out through the tears. Michael was aware that Ryan was in fact a huge softie, as threatening as he happened to seemed most people he was quite the opposite in reality.

“She’s my soulmate.” Ryan added and Michael’s eyes widened dramatically, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?” He gaped and Ryan shook his head. “Matching skull marks and everything.”

In a completely out of character moment for Michael he walked forward and gave Ryan one of the fiercest hugs he could possibly manage. As Ryan embraced his friend and cried the feelings of guilt over powered him, she was going through this alone and there was nothing he could do to help. He was sitting here sobbing into his friends shoulder instead of hunting information like he should have been because he couldn’t leave her side. Not yet at first, he needed a few more moments with her even if it meant that it was her laying unresponsive before him.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to survive with out her.” Ryan said before Michael let him go and gave him a hard look that he felt right in his soul. “We are going to fix this Ryan, she’s going to be fine and back to you before you know it.”

Michael spent a few more moments with Ryan before leaving the room.

When you regained consciousness you could feel just how weak you were. It was just as bad as you thought then, given the fact that you weren’t feeling any better. Your stomach was still waging war on itself and your head felt awfully light.

At the moment you moved, even just the small amount that you could manage Ryan was by your side. “You’re awake!” He said shock filling his voice and features. You had a feeling coursing through your bones that you weren’t going to be conscious for very long and you had things you needed to know. For a few moments you just took in the feeling of his hand in yours because a part of you knew that this might be the last time you feel it. 

“I’ve been poisoned haven’t I?” You asked not even giving Ryan a moment to relish in his happiness of seeing you again. “Yes, yes you have. The doctors given you things to stabilize you, but if we don’t figure out just what the poison is then…” he trailed off after that. He didn’t want to say it, but it meant that you would die. Whatever this was in your system would ultimately kill you if you didn’t find out what it was and how to cure it. The plan came to mind quickly and you weren’t happy about it, but it seemed to be the only option.

“Well, we both know who it is, Ryan.” You said, “And the only person that she is going to tell what is happening to me, is you.”

He must have known where you were going with this given the look of dread that spread across his face. “I know you won’t like it, but it’s the best way. You’re going to give her what she wants, or appear to at least because if you actually do I will haunt you from the afterlife.” You said humor lacing your tone just enough for him to let out a small laugh. It made you smile, through eyes you didn’t even realize were watery.

“I won’t.” He promised, meaning actually marrying Zaara, “I know you won’t but I just had to get that out there, but you’re going to play this little bitch like a fiddle and save me because I know you can. The universe didn’t curse me with an idiot for a soulmate.” You said.

Ryan smiled at that and you weakly reached up and cupped his face in your hand. If there was any time to tell him this next part it was now, “I love you Ryan Haywood.”

Tears fell from his eyes after that and he placed a hand over yours on his face, “I love you too, gods baby I love you so much.”

You were freely crying now and reached out the best you could for Ryan to fully embrace you. “I’m going to pass out again and I know it, could you just hold me for a little while?” You sniffed and Ryan moved around you to properly cradle you in his arms. If this was going to be the last moments of your life that you would remember, this is how you wanted them. Fully surrounded by the man you loved.

Jeremy got the summons from the capital that he was ordered to return, the reason was left unsaid in the letter. In his mind he knew that it meant that something was seriously wrong, even if it was said he could feel it. He knew that when he was sent away by her it meant that she wouldn’t request his presence ever again unless there was no other option. He had been around her long enough to know that when someone one thrown out of her camp, or castle in this case, no one else would send for him either because that meant pissing her off. Her pissed off was night a sight many people wanted to see.

It didn’t matter if he didn’t want to see either one of them ever again, an order was an order. So he packed up and made his way to the capital, letter of summons still in his pocket because he felt as if it there was more than he was being told. He didn’t know why he kept looking at it, searching for some trace of her to be left in the note.

As much as he spent the past few months of his life trying to erase the sight of Haywood’s identical skull on his hip it was seared into his memory. He would admit to himself that it made sense, even if she never made it known verbally he knew she had a soft spot for Haywood. At the same time he couldn’t convince himself that this was all apart of some crazy plan from the beginning, that they married each other all because they were soulmates. He knew many people would speculate this if they ever found out their royal couple were actually soulmates.

He watched her try and stay away from Haywood in the beginning, he saw the fierce love she had for her country and she would have never had the blood of thousands of men on her hands all for her to be with her soulmate. She tried to handle the end of their relationship in the best way, to end things before she got married and keep some distance between them. When he looked back on when he walked in on her kissing Haywood and worked past the sea of red he saw upon walking in he remembered her differently. He saw the fear in her eyes and the guilt that laid behind them.

Jeremy had officially lost her, but there was escaping her reach. Since he was stationed in the South she was more present that he had ever hoped for her to be. She was heralded as a hero there, her first royal portrait hung in hall of his office and people loved to ask him every detail he knew about her.

He was a day from the city when he read the headline of a newspaper in the street, the queen was ill. Not just any kind of sick because it was on the front page of every major newspaper that was around him. If he was being summoned to the castle then, that meant this was worse than even the public knew. She could be in her final days and that hit Jeremy like a ton of bricks.

Even if he tried to bury those feelings he had for her deep inside of himself, it didn’t mean he didn’t care. At the end of the day, romantically involved or not, he was still her friend or at least thought himself so. She couldn’t have hated him completely, she didn’t cart him off back to Nweta without a job, in fact she gave him the best one she could offer.

When he finally made it to the castle he was quickly ushered inside. He was hoping to see her first, to ask her the burning questions everyone had. Instead he was escorted to an office and met with the dark gaze of King James Haywood, who wasn’t happy to see him at all.