Today she had married the love of her life. Her other half. This should be a day full of love, laughter and happiness but as the night wore on, her feelings were starting to get the best of her. She was both nervous and apprehensive about the coming night and she could only hope that Arthur couldn’t tell what was on her mind. She needed to do her wifely duties tonight and with luck, they’d produce an heir to help solidify his place on the throne.
But despite her resolve, she couldn’t help but get lost in her emotions. She knew her nervousness came from the fact that highborn and royalty were forbidden from giving themselves to anyone other than their husband or wife and very soon, she’d be expected to give herself to her husband. She was also apprehensive. She knew he’d never hurt her but since they’d become engaged, she’d started to listen to the tales told by the female staff around the palace about their first times and the stories she’d heard made her think that the whole thing would be extremely painful and not at all enjoyable. There was also a bit of fear mixed in there. Arthur was a big, muscular man and she’d read about size proportions when curiosity had gotten the best of her (something she’d always regret doing) and now she was afraid of the mechanics of sex as well.
There was also a part of her that knew Arthur was different from those men. He loved and cherished her like she had never seen before. He was all hard muscle and stern demeanor on the outside but inside, he was warm hearted, gentle and compassionate. She knew he’d take care of her without smothering her as Orm had tried to do, it was one of the reasons why she had helped him overthrow Orm.
Feeling eyes on her, Mera looked up to see Atlanna watching her and as their eyes made contact, her mother in law glided over to her and took a seat by her side. “I know you’re nervous but remember this is a marriage born out of love. Let Arthur take the lead and together, you can do no wrong. There are no expectations for tonight except your own” Without waiting for an answer, Atlanna gave her a warm, maternal hug and as she leaves, Mera feels a warmth that she knows could only be from her husband.
They continued to socialize with their guests until Arthur and Atlanna decided to call an end to the night. Together, the newlyweds made their way to Arthur’s quarters which would now be theirs. It was strange to think that she was now the Queen of the entire Kingdom of Atlantis and she suddenly got a glimpse into what Arthur had felt all those months ago when he had taken his place as King. They were stopped and congratulated several times, delaying their arrival in their quarters which wasn’t helping with her nerves.
Finally, they were alone in their chambers and her anxiety was at an all time high. She expected that he would want to strip her down and get on with it so she was surprised when he handed her a glass of wine before heading into the bathroom. She heard him turn on the taps to the bath before emerging carrying their robes, which left her confused.
They had still not spoken and the silence was starting to make her jittery and unable to stand the silence any longer, she blurted out, “Don’t you want to get on with it?” Arthur stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her, “Is that what you think I want?” Confused, anxious and nervous, Mera threw her hands up in the air, taking care to not spill her wine “I don’t know. I don’t know what you want. I don’t know what I want and I have no idea what you want from me”
Mera was embarrassed to discover tears were flowing freely down her face. Arthur came to her and having taken her glass from her (when had she emptied it?), he gently took her face in his hands. “You’re my wife, not my property. I want you to feel safe and comfortable. I have no idea what you’ve been told about what’s going to happen tonight but I guarantee your expectations and my reality are completely different” Arthur pulled her into his arms, cradling her to his chest and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I love you Mera. Nothing is going to happen tonight unless you want it to. Now, I would like to have a quiet soak in the bath with my wife, if she will allow it”
At her quiet agreement, Arthur held out his hand and she slipped hers and into his and he led her into their bathroom where the water was still filling the tub. With gentle fingers and whispered encouragement, Arthur undressed his bride before she returned the gesture. Running her hands down his torso, Mera could feel the hard muscles she had first admired so long ago shudder and clench as she continued to caress his skin. It made her feel powerful to know that she could make him react that way just from a simple touch. He pulled back out of her reach before moving to check the bathwater, giving her a good view of his back and when he turned back around to her, he smiled when he saw her watching him. He pulled her back into his arms, dropping gentle kisses on her lips before picking her up in his arms, bridal style he called it, and lowered them both into the tub, settling in behind her.
As he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, Mera sighed. This was just what she needed. Mera knew that she had been foolish to think Arthur would treat her any differently than he had done and as they soaked in the almost-too-hot water, she knew that whatever happened tonight, it would be her decision.