Livi watched on, transfixed, as Nike set to helping out the injured llama that had wandered into their backyard-by trying to give it some milk.
The princess sat with her knees curled up underneath her, so that the little baby could lie atop her while she did her ministrations, and Livi… found he couldn't help feeling just a little bit jealous. He knew for a fact that he never would have been able to help the mammal with as much grace as Nike had, after all.
Having grown up like a bastard, due to his mother's unpopular status, Livius had hardly been allowed to have a household pet to call his own, and that was why… just the prospect of them alone left the young king feeling the slightest bit tharn towards them, he mused to himself with a sense of irony.
And as it was, Livius truly wished that he could go over to his bride and help her out just as thoroughly as she had him, but it was truly out of the question.
Still… he did do what he could for her-what a husband was ought to do for his wife, by draping one of his favorite coats over the ginger's shivering shoulders, but not before placing a kiss to the freckled skin there; he purposefully tried not to think too much on how the little creature was now crawling up to lean against Nike's bosom, the way that one of their own children might one day, though.
"Hey, Nike," Livi murmured in a sing-song voice, as he leaned against some hideously filthy post-that must have been on his estate for quite sometime, but he was only now somehow noticing it-and tried to keep his composure. "What has you doing your handmaidens'' work today? Labor has never been something that is lost to you, I know, but all of this does seem quite excessive."
Oddly enough, Nike blanched at that, and for why Livi really couldn't say. Perhaps she was just used to their uncouth banter and had therefore been expecting harsher words from him?
Quickly regaining her wits about herself, though, the queen patted the hay covered spot beside her-something of which that made Livi notice that where the llama's injured and bleeding head was was exactly where Nike's moon's blood would be if it were her time of month.
And if that didn't make Livius feel awful about wanting Nike as thoroughly as he did in that moment, he didn't know what would. After all, fore all her knew, her red flower really could have been blooming at the moment, so…
"Oh, Livi," Nike said, waving her husband's previous concerns off, like how sand dissipated in a rainstorm, just by a simple gesture of her hand and a smile on her face.
And as Livi sat by Nike merrily then, he found himself eagerly soaking up the normality and joviality that only one girl's presence could bring to the king of the world. He grinned.
"You worried me for a second there: you had that spoiled look on your face that you sometimes wear when you don't want to seem craven, even though you feel afraid, and I fretted that you would tell me you were going to export all our milk, so that this creature you fear wouldn't have to be around you anymore."
At that, Livi couldn't help but blink at Nike's words sadly. Sometimes… he truly felt as though his love knew him too well. And the truth was that such a thing had crossed his mind, Livi acknowledged internally, as he crossed his arms over his chest and purposefully kept his gaze downcast.
Once upon a time, he would have gone along with that particular whim of his without a moment's hesitation-as it had been his own satisfaction and security that had mattered most to him when he had been young and jaded. But now…
Now Livius had Nike, who loved and believed in him in a way that no one else ever had-not even Sheila. And as Nike looked at Livi with proud, loving, and kind, earnest eyes, he knew he could never do anything to make her unhappy. And if that meant that his house became a breeding ground for livestock, he would keep it that way for the rest of his days because of his adoration for her.
He could steal a kiss from her in revenge, though, Livi reflected, upon how she had voiced his too true and blunt ideas like that.
And so he did kiss Nike then: until they were both breathless and giddy, and the baby llama desperately tried to wriggle free from the two's trapping embrace, which gave Livi pause.
He didn't want the animal hurting itself again if it were to become reckless in such a way. Not in front of Nike who had just worked so hard to help him, anyway. If just the thought of her grandmother injuring herself, and the Empire of Sand's thoughts, were just enough to make her song off, Livi didn't want to imagine how the loss of a cute animal, that had served to make her maternal instincts kick in, might do to her.
Allowing Nike to pull away from him then-to let her new pet go with a reluctant and uneasy laugh, it seemed-Livi had the pleasure of hearing Nike say with a gentle clap of her hands, "Ehehehe. Apparently the little one has deduced that there are others here who can probably help him far better than I can, so that just leaves us to ourselves, I guess."
In any other situation, Livi's lips would have curled up at the thought. He wanted to spend as much time with Nike as humanly possible, but his work rarely allowed such a thing. He should have been cheering and ecstatic at the moment, and yet… he found himself being distracted as a particular thought came over him, like they were so often to.
"Nike… I think maybe the llama wants to hear an empowering song from you," the king said as he cocked his head to the side to better regard his wife-hoping to also resemble a cute puppy with his motion, so that his wife might find incentive to want to lesson to his crazy idea more.
"Eh?" Nike balked, as she looked at Livi incredulously, to which he laughed. He was just about to clarify what he meant to her, too, when suddenly the guards that they'd evaded for so long finally found the royal pair, and Nike was whisked away from Livius faster than he could have even anticipated—a thoughtful expression continuing to grace her features until at last she was inside the building, and Livi could no longer see her anymore, much to his chagrin.
It wouldn't be until a little while later, when Nike was looking at herself in the mirror and reluctantly going over the lessons she'd had that day in her mind, when the meaning of Livi's earlier words made itself known to Nike.
She couldn't figure out what he'd meant by an "empowering" song on her part, exactly. And rather, she knew for a fact that Livi should have been against that sort of thing, since he'd apparently promised Nike's grandmother exactly that and he wasn't a tyrant anymore.
Though, to tell the truth, Nike had thought that maybe Livius had wanted her to find a way to heal the llama through her singing somehow, but she couldn't figure out why he'd ever think such a thing was possible: the conditions under which she could change the atmosphere to condition it better for rain had to be met in a certain way, after all. She certainly wasn't a mage, and she couldn't just go and cure things if that was what Livi was suggesting. So what- what had he been getting at, then?
"It was good of you to see His Majesty today, m'lady. Though I'm sorry we eventually had to tear you away from each other, I'm sure that it was good for the king all the same. He's always… how should I say: down in the dumps when you're not around? So I have no doubt that spending time with you today must have felt like a blessing from on high for the young king."
Looking at her new maidservant, Minako, behind her in the mirror at that, Nike found herself wondering if maybe… Finding a way to strengthen their bond and resolve was what Livius had been looking for all day. It would certainly explain why he'd chosen to be around an alpaca for her benefit and hers alone, Nike thought.
But… it was truly disheartening to think that Livi would settle for something as brief and unorthodox as that meeting.
Shaking her head in fury at the mere thought of that—as it most certainly had not been enough for Nike—she quickly darted away from where her ladies were putting the last adjustments on her dress, and she went to locate Neil.
She would demand that he clear her and Livius' schedule for the night, and bid him help her create a date for her husband that would relax him, as well as hopefully show him that if he wanted to, he could trade with her Kingdom and have new technologies to better fit his Empire and also protect her, if he so desired.
Livi didn't seem to be too thrilled by Nike's idea in the end, but rather-as they sat together on their date-Neil singing on the weird microphone all the while-Livi glowered daggers at the small device and then at Nike herself.
And as the queen set to eating all the many different fruits before her in a hurry, she tried not to think about what Livius' problem could have been. All the same, though, the answer seemed to come to her of its own volition.
"Oh, Livius, is it that you are perhaps jealous of the lost technology that the Principality of Rain has found, whereas the Sun Kingdom remains more archaic?" Nike asked good-naturedly, as she tucked a strand of orange hair behind her ear and glanced at her husband.
Apparently that had been the wrong thing to say. For grabbing onto a strand of her hair, like he once had in threatening to burn her kingdom to the ground, Livius said rather impishly, "Why would you say such a thing, Nike? What? Do you plan to run back to your country for that kind of luxury I can't provide?" The king's eyes were as hard and unrelenting as sapphires, as he looked at her.
And Nike, though she patted him on the cheek in slight retribution, returned her attention to the group of performers before her. When her gaze returned to Neil, and the strange object he continued to carry, she heard Livi scoff and wiggle in his seat.
"You're so ridiculous," Nike countered at last, as she placed a hand over her husband's own and looked anywhere but at him, as she continued on unperturbed. "I'm not going to leave you for Neil and that microphone thing, or whatever it is that you're thinking. And this isn't like my home: where these kinds of things and festivities mean I'm going to be taken away from you. Really, after everything we've been through together, you should at least know that much."
And where anyone else who called Livi "ridiculous" might have received the death penalty in the past, when Nike spoke like that to her beloved, the exact opposite ended up happening instead.
As his eyes warmed up, and he smiled at Nike the slightest bit, the king beckoned for Nike to follow him back to their chambers, and ordered that hot cocoa should be brought to them at once.
And as the two of them began dancing down the hallways, and headed back to their room, the servants ended up doing just that.
And as it happened, the two's hot chocolate ended up going unnoticed for quite a while, as they both laughingly sang, leaped, and jumped into each other's arms all around the castle; it was the type of date that Nike had meant to have with Livi from the beginning, she realized, as the two of them began watching the stars outside on the balcony.
Though Nike was almost positive that her stocking covered feet was ridiculous looking, for all the little strands of carpet that had surely gotten stuck there from all the cotillion type escapades she'd just gone through, she found that she was in fact more than glad for the extra bit of warmth such a thing provided, as she stood and watched shooting stars with Livi and even canoodled with him the slightest bit.
And as he departed from their most recent kiss-with a look of love and longing in his eyes that made Nike look him over with wide eyes-he told her, "I'm sorry for behaving the way I did before. But even with as much as I try to ignore the impulses, I can't help being clingy with you, Nike. I promised your family that I would protect you, and yet here I am: plagued by technologies-and even llamas-that I can't even begin to understand. And if I can't even safeguard my precious wife from the likes of these, then who can?"
"Was that what it was, Livi?" Nike whispered, as she began rocking back and forth with a laugh-her eyes and heart filling up with mirth for the silly man-child that she loved so much. "I thought that you doubted myself or my oaths, and had become somewhat possessive again-something that infuriates and tires me just as it makes my heart sing and beat for you: as it was that broken childish spirit I saw in you that brought me to love you in the first place."
Livi bobbed his head up and down in understanding at that, as he smirked and brought Nike's hand to his lips so that he could kiss it gently, it seemed. His eyes peeked out from beneath his lashes to speak to Nike of their many shared nighttime secrets and caresses-something that served to make Nike blush scarlet, even though they'd yet to consummate their relationship.
"Anyway," Nike hurried along with her words now, feeling quite flustered as her skin began to be covered with gooseflesh in her nervousness. "Though I admire your intentions and your attempts at being a romantic, I beg you to remember that I can and will take care of myself, and that… Any hardships we face, Livi, we can face them together." And here Nike started to feel entranced and even more in love by her memories, as she clearly remembered the time that Livi had saved her from the priests that had meant to kill her. "I mean, I am your rock as you are mine."
"You must… forgive me for not always being good enough for someone such as you," Livi quipped suddenly and mysteriously, as his eyes began to hold the type of sadness befitting of one his age and his station, though it harmed Nike to see it, because she so wished of Livi to have the light and splendid childhood with her now that he'd been robbed of as a child. "I try to be the sun for you, like my namesake dictates, but I often forget myself in my temper.
"Nike, if I ever hurt you—even through my words—I don't want you to take it. And as such I'd ask that you remove me from the throne, however need be, and rule in my stead. For one who can't discern the beauty of you surely couldn't see the gorgeousness of his own land."
"Livius," Nike interrupted, agitated—though when she saw the despair in Livi's eyes, she knew how gently she needed to tread, lest she break his spirit down even moreso than it had been in the past.
"Oh, my silly king. You forget that I'm supposed to bring you everything as you do for me," the strawberry blonde said kindly as she smiled at her prince and stood on her tiptoes, so that he could see the truth in her eyes even with his new height. "And as you are my sun in every sense of the word, it's only fitting that a black hole would burn through your eyes during the first of your life. But isn't that even more the reason that I should be with you, and sing to help you readjust your vision, Livi?"
In that moment, Livi's eyes alighted at Nike's words, and even seemed to hold all the emotions currently going on within Nike herself. Perhaps he, too, was now remembering the first real touch of their lips, where she had something very similar to what she'd just spoken. And if all of that wasn't enough reason to make Nike want to call the rain, she didn't know what was.
So crooning a light, fun, and meaningful tune that was meant for Livius alone, Nike took her husband's hand in her own, and they both looked into the dawn, where sprinkles and a rainbow appeared in the still dark sky: bringing with them the memories of the time that Livi had first seen a rainbow—the time in which Nike had saved him in the first of many ways—and when a rainbow took precedence as the top of their engagement ring: signifying the first time they'd become one, and their hearts continued to be that way now.
And as Nike's heart sped up faster at Livi's close proximity and the love she felt for him in her heart, the rainbow, too, seemed to pulse in time with them both: speaking of the empowerment that Livi had spoken of before, and what they were together and could be forever still.