Petra perched in the tree and squinted out into the horizon. Mother Sun was sinking into her lover Earth’s embrace, and so Night was beginning his reign.
The princess relaxed in the warm night breeze. It was a particularly hot day, and the night was only a little less so. Her time in Fódlan had accustomed her to more extreme climates, but she would always feel most at home in humid heat.
A strand of sweaty hair attached itself to her cheek, and absentmindedly she tucked it back behind her ear. Her abundance of hair had been piled atop her head to allow her neck to breath. If she was any braver, she would cut her entire mane of hair if only to feel freer in the Brigidian heat.
Sighing, Petra slumped against the trunk of the tree. Today had been trying. A foreign dignitary was arriving today, and it had turned her grandfather’s castle into a tornado of activity, with herself at its epicenter.
And it wasn’t just any foreign dignitary.
The words of the gatekeeper’s announcement still rang in her ears. “Prince Claude von Riegan is here to pay respects to the King of Brigid on behalf of Almyra.”
And there he was, bending at the waist in a magnificent bow as his eyes lifted to meet her startled gaze, a small smile spreading across his face, clothed in gold and white and devilish sunlight.
He really came.
Petra felt a smile tugging insistently at her lips. She had nearly told him, the last time they spoke. “I have already found my perfect husband.”
“I doubt any man would reject a proposal from a catch like you.” He had said that day, his eyes twinkling with mirth and some other emotion, something deeper and… fonder.
Oh, skies, he had known, didn’t he? And then…she had left for Brigid. Should they have said something?
“Ah, so this is where you’ve been hiding.”
The princess nearly tumbles out of the tree. Claude’s standing at the foot of the trunk, gazing up at her with a question furrowed between his brow.
She reigns in her scattered wits with steely determination, as those in Fódlan would say. “And so you’ve found me.” Petra calls down. Her words drips with her smile.
Claude eyes the large tree with some wariness. “Would her Highness like to join me here on the ground, or will I have to attempt an impromptu climb without proper equipment?”
Petra places a finger on her chin in mock thought. “Whatever will we be doing? We are at an impossible…er, an impasse.”
Claude leans against the tree. “You could jump.” He suggests, a twinkle sparkling in his voice. “I could catch you.”
“I am quite heavy. It’s also very long up.” Petra warns him. Inwardly, she’s more than entertaining the thought. Tonight, Claude had shed his stifling uniform and had opted for a loose tunic that showed off his form to a very appreciative princess. There wouldn’t be much separating the two of them if he did indeed catch her…
A low chuckle breaks her train of thought. She glances down to see Claude grinning up at her, shaking his head fondly. “You know, Petra, if you keep looking at me like that I just might blush.” He holds out his arms, nodding invitingly at her.
Petra throws her self-control to the winds and leaps.
She lands at an awkward angle in his arms; he catches her with an “Oof!” and they tumble backwards. The grass’s prickly fronds tickle their bodies as they roll, laughing, about and about on the ground.
“I warned you!” Petra gasps, her body shaking with laughter.
Claude’s answering laugh is breathless, his dark tousled hair ruffled and unkempt.
“I’m not exactly one for heeding warnings, you know that.” His voice brushes past her ear like a fond caress and she shivers appreciatively.
“I know that.” She replies quietly. “We might have to be correcting that.”
“However so?” His answer is all but purred. His arms are still around her body, cradling her as if she’s the greatest treasure on the continent.
Petra lets her limbs melt into his, her arms falling around his neck. To her delight, she could feel his body’s response to her; his quickened heartbeat, the delighted shudder that flutters through him, and...lower…
“Perhaps you are needing to be taught lessons that even Garreg Mach couldn’t teach.” She suggests, just a little coy.
Claude meets her gaze. She catches her breath at the sudden burst of affection that had bloomed inside his eyes. It’s golden like morning clouds, it’s warm like honey, and more heated than an alchemist’s flame. It all but set her aflame.
“Ah, Petra…” His hand reaches up to brush a stray blade of grass out of her hair. “I had dreamed of the day I would find you again.”
“I’m glad I didn’t have to be tying you up and kidnapping you home.” Petra teases. “You came willingly.”
“I am your captive.” Claude says, and for that moment, he’s deadly serious. She’s taken aback, but the fire builds in her stomach when his hand tightens around her waist and he reaches for her.
The kiss speaks. It’s a desperate conversation. It says things like I miss you and I want you and I need more. It’s an eloquent language, one that has no barriers between him and her. He groans. She sighs. They’re making sunlight, and it warms them from the inside out, dripping from their bodies into deeper, darker places.
They break for air; his eyes are glossed over and he has a dazed expression on his face. It makes her laugh and bump her forehead into his. “I have silenced you.”
“Stolen the very breath from my mouth.” His voice is a bit high pitched. Petra observes the way he swallows and realizes with a thrill that he is both flustered and delighted. She has this effect on him.
“You like the thieving sort?” She grins, her hands wandering. “I believe I have stolen more than your breathing.”
“A regular burglar you are.” Claude gasps, as Petra smiles innocently up at him. “Perhaps we should take this elsewhere? Insi…ah…!” His words end in a strangled groan as Petra mischievously rocks her hips against his.
“I am no patience. Impatient.” She nestles her chin into his chest. “You and I have been apart for too long. I want to change that.”
“You really are something special.” Claude marvels. His fingers, his beautiful, deft fingers, are working her blouse down her shoulders.
Petra beams at him. “As are you, my beloved.”