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Princess of the Land of Spirits

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Once upon a time, in the Land of Spirits, there lived a princess named Lucy. When Lucy was only a child, her dear mother the queen passed away. This tragedy left her father cold and unable to look upon Lucy, since she resembled her mother like a mirror. Instead, the King of Spirits left Lucy's upbringing to the castle staff. She was given a lady-in-waiting named Aries and a personal chambermaid named Virgo. Also, since Lucy was the king's only child, he placed the captain of the guard, Loke, as Lucy's bodyguard. He stood before her door all night, slept while she had her morning lessons, and watched her the rest of the day. When Captain Loke was not guarding her, the second-in-command, Lieutenant Taurus, watched over the princess.

This story begins in the past, the day Queen Layla was buried. It rained that day, which was rare in the Land of Spirits. After the crowds left, after even the king returned to his carriage, the tiny princess remained by her mother's tombstone, finally sobbing now that there was no one watching her.

No one but the new and very young captain of the guard.

Captain Loke waited silently for as long as he could. He had just been promoted, and his heart was not hardened by battles yet. The love this tiny princess had for her mother touched the captain. He approached Princess Lucy and hugged the child.

"I have no one now," the girl sobbed.

"You will never be alone, princess," Loke swore. "I will serve you for as long as I live. You need only to call me, and I will be there. I will never let you feel lonely."

The following day, Princess Lucy realized that Captain Loke stood guard at her bedchamber door. Every night, as she followed Aries and Virgo into the suite to dress in a nightgown, she gave a smile to her orange-haired guard. Loke's stubborn loyalty to the princess, and his prowess in battling the assassins who came after her in the night, earned him the prestigious title of The Lion.

Years passed. Princess Lucy grew into a gorgeous lady, a mirror image of her departed mother. Because of her similarities, the king rarely called upon her, so it was a shock to the whole castle when, on the princess's seventeenth birthday, the king summoned her to his throne room. Princess Lucy dressed in her best gown, and she was attended by Virgo and Aries. The summons came while Loke slept, but even then, the young pageboy twins Gemi and Mini rushed to his bedchamber and woke him.

"Lion! Lion!" they cried out together. "The king! He called for the princess!"

Loke forced himself awake. He knew that if the king was speaking to Lucy, it meant that.

Despite waking up long before his duty time, Captain Loke had to wait until after supper before Lucy left the king's hall, and no one but a single kitchen maid had been allowed in or out.

He's purposely keeping me away from her, Loke realized.

At last, as the candles were being lit for the evening, the king's doors thrust open, and Princess Lucy stormed out. Loke stood by her bedchamber door like usual, and he watched stoically as she stomped up the hall.

This time, she did not smile at him. Her face was bitter, and her eyes were pink from holding back tears. Captain Loke opened the door for her with a tiny bow, but he watched her closely.

She turned around at the two servants following her. "I don't want to see either of you again. Virgo, I have every right to punish you."

"I will accept it, princess," the maid said with a bow and tiny, masochistic smile.

"And Aries..."

"I'm sorry!" the lady-in-waiting wailed.

Lucy held back harsher words. "You're not at fault, but...I'm angry. Neither of you came to my side."

"It was the king's orders, princess," Virgo explained. "Countering him would be treason for servants like us."

"Whatever, just...go away. I don't want to see you until tomorrow."

"Who will help you get dressed?" Aries asked fretfully.

"Anyone else. I don't care who. Captain, you do it."

Captain Loke's eyes widened. "Wha-...? Me?"

"That's an order," she barked, before stomping away into her room.

Loke looked to Aries and Virgo, yet those two had no advice. The orders of royalty were absolute. They had to be followed, no matter how illogical or, in this case, immodest. Captain Loke gulped hard, then stepped inside that room and closed the door behind him.

Lucy had walked to her bed and stopped, holding one of the tall, gilded bedposts. Loke saw her shoulders shaking with tears she had been holding back all day.

"He's marrying me off," she said between hiccuped sobs. "The Prince of Dragons is also newly of age. Since I turned seventeen today, they wanted to finalize everything as soon as possible. They've been planning this for...who knows how long! Months! Maybe years. Maybe since the day I was born. Everyone knew but me." She glared back to him. "Did you know?"

Captain Loke hesitated before answering. "The king informed me three months ago. I was ordered to speak nothing of it."

"You still could have warned me," she shouted.

Captain Loke stood stiffly. "It was an order from my king."

She turned around and faced him angrily. "If the king ordered me to leave this castle and move to the Land of Dragons, would you let me go?"

"Princess, I have already been informed that, on the wedding day, I am to escort you to the border."

Lucy knew she should have expected that, but it still stunned her for a moment. "You would do that, wouldn't you? You wouldn't even hesitate. Would you take me there, even if it's against my will?"

"If it is the king's orders, then I can't disobey," the captain of the guard replied loyally. "My duty is to this land and to the royal family."

"So if my father ordered me to marry some man I don't love, should I also blindly obey?"

"The king has many reasons for this arrangement..."

"Yes, yes, he spent the entire afternoon listing all the reasons." She glared up at Loke again. "If my father ordered me to lift my skirts for this man and let him take me to bed, must I obey that as well, even if it's not my will?"

Captain Loke sighed. "Princess..."

"Would you lift my skirts instead? Would you hold me to the bed as the Prince of Dragons consummates the marriage? Because I swear I will not..."

"Don't make oaths you can't keep," he shouted, hushing her instantly. Captain Loke looked away as his mind burned at what she was saying. The thought of another man touching her, the flawless jewel of the Land of Spirits, the lady people from all over called The Diamond Princess, infuriated him. "If it ever came to that," he whispered, "my pride as a Spirit would tell me that I must follow the orders of my master the king, but my honor as a man would prevent me from going that far."

Lucy's face softened. She reached up and touched his cheek, hoping to pull his face back toward her, but he remained stiffly turned aside. "Then there is more than duty in your heart, Captain," she whispered with a tiny smile of hope. "Undress me."

Loke swallowed hard as his veins surged with desire he could not allow to consume him. Lucy turned her back to him and began pulling hair pins out of the tight, golden bun. Loke looked at her back, how the dress hung off her shoulders, and the creaminess of her skin. Steeling his nerves, he reached forward and began loosening the ties to her dress. He carefully helped her to step out of the gown, leaving her in just a corset and chemise undergarment. He had to tug at the cords of the corset since Aries and Virgo had pulled it so tightly. As soon as it loosened, Lucy felt a rush of air fill her squeezed lungs. It made her lightheaded, and she stumbled to the side. With the speed of a lion, Loke swooped her up before she fainted.

"That stupid corset was about to kill me," she laughed as her vision blurred.

Loke carried her over to the bed and gently laid her down. He tugged the corset off, leaving behind just the loose chemise for the princess to sleep in. He got the last pins out of her hair and let it fall free over her satin pillows. Then he pulled the blankets over her.

"You know, the prince wasn't even there today," she told Loke as he tucked her in. "They sent one of his brothers, some brute with weird piercings and a foul mouth. The Land of Dragons..." She shivered a little. "I've heard about that place. They say it's a land of fire, metal, strong winds, where lightning strikes, poisons brew, where even light and shadow battle for supremacy. The nobles there are infamous for being destructive. They're always fighting. I don't want to live in a place like that." She looked up at her loyal captain. "If my father orders you to force me to go there, please don't make me."

He knelt by her bed and caressed her hair, just like he used to do when she was a child and had a bad dream. "The orders of the king are absolute...for me and for you. If you are going to be a queen, you must learn that."

"I don't want to be a queen," she pouted.

Loke's face softened at how childish she still was, although seventeen now. "What does my princess want?"

She looked over to him, at the way the candlelight flickered on his glasses and shined in his orange hair. "I want you to keep your promise, the one you made me before Mother's grave, that you would never let me be alone, that you would serve me for the rest of your life. I want to be greedy and keep you, and one day, I want you to call me master instead of my father."

"Lucy," he sighed, wanting to say something more, but his duty and honor forbade it.

"I don't want to marry a Dragon Prince. I want the Lion." Lucy watched how his face shifted from shock at such boldness to anguish. "Do you want me, Loke?"

The captain dropped his head to the edge of her bed, unable to look at her angelic face without losing all decorum. "I cannot answer that," he gnashed softly through gritted teeth.

She sat up a little and stroked her fingers through his ginger hair. "Do you love me?" she asked in a mere breath. After all, who knew what nosy servants might be listening in at the door.

"As my princess..." he began, but Lucy cut him off quickly.

"Not as a member of the royal family. As a woman. Do you love me?"

Slowly, Loke raised his head back up and gazed into her soft brown eyes. She was breathtaking! Despite having been by her side since she was a child, he was not blind to her beauty and maturity. The ache to be more than just her bodyguard tormented him every day.

"To love you would be..." He stopped the fervent words, and Lucy saw the tenderness in his face return to its stony firmness. "...far overstepping my place."

She pulled back angrily and mumbled, "Damn you, Loke."

"I am captain of the guard, a soldier, a commoner, a servant of the royal family. Servants are to be shadows, unseen even by the one we watch so closely." He stood up and towered over her bed. "Besides, falling in love with my king's daughter is treason. Do you really wish me to end up beheaded?"

The stubborn princess looked away and refused to answer.

"Sweet dream, princess," he said formally, then Captain Loke strode out of the bedchamber. When he opened the doors, there were two pink-haired servants waiting for him. Virgo and Aries had been listening in, eager to hear something juicy. He growled slightly, worried about how much they had overheard.

"I'm sorry," Aries squeaked. "We were worried for the princess. We heard everything." She pouted at the closed door. "It's so sad. You both love one another, but you can't do anything, can you?"

"Because I love her, I won't do anything," he answered, taking up his stiff stand before her door with his hands behind his back.

"Brother punishes himself too much," Virgo stated.

"We're servants to the royal family," Loke said sternly. "If you wish to serve your mistress, gather what gossip you can and tell me everything there is to know about this Prince of the Land of Dragons. If there is a single flaw in this arrangement, I want to know."

Aries nodded, happy to see he was not giving up without a fight. "Got it!"

Virgo tilted her head to the side. "Then does Brother plan to stop this engagement?"

"I can't," he admitted, "but I can point out any dangers to the princess's wellbeing. One day, she'll have to marry, but it'll be to a man she wants."

"What about Brother?" asked Virgo.

Aries nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry, but the only man Princess Lucy has ever shown interest in is you."

Captain Loke looked over at her door. "I must remain by her side. I cannot...usurp her," he said, putting it as delicately as possible.

With no emotion on her face, Virgo replied, "She could always usurp you. Horsemaster Sagittarius says Princess is quite skill at riding horses. She could ride Bro-..."

Loke slapped a hand over her mouth. "Seriously, Virgo, you don't know when to shut up."

Aries tugged on the chambermaid's uniform. "Let's go, Virgo. We'll ask around, Captain," she promised, then the two left down the hall.

Loke resumed his position in front of the princess's bedchamber door. However, as the night settled in, his mind was plagued with thoughts of Lucy riding. "Damn that Virgo," he whispered between clenched teeth.

End of Chapter 1

Chapter Text

Much to Loke's chagrin, the news Aries and Virgo brought back about the Dragon Prince was all positive. The people loved Prince Natsu. Of all the princes, he was the favorite. He was a fine fighter, which Loke admired about him. Some said his personality was a bit fiery, but he was loyal to friends and gentle to family. He admired his brothers Laxus and Gajeel, and he watched out for his little sister Princess Wendy. He even had three half-brothers whom he respected, Cobra, Sting, and Rogue.

They did report that Prince Natsu hated to ride horses, which was one of Princess Lucy's pastimes, having been taught ridership by Sagittarius. Loke had hoped that this meant Natsu was bad around animals, which might point to a hidden flaw in his personality. When he looked into it, it was all for naught. Prince Natsu had a cat named Happy and was rarely seen without his kitty companion. That made him seem even more likable, which frustrated Loke.

As the weeks passed, Captain Loke related all this news to the princess. Part of him hoped she would slowly develop an interest in the Land of Dragons, purely so she could be happy about her upcoming marriage. Part of him eagerly anticipated some bad news, something to show a vile side to the Dragons that would put an instant halt to the wedding plans. Thus far, nothing.

The princess had to start lessons on how to behave as a queen. Over the years, she had mastered many arts for nobility, and she even knew how to fight, since a princess had to know how to defend herself until her guards showed up. Now she had to learn about wooing the people, gaining public affection, using feminine charms to help solidify treaties, and what to expect when it came to raising children. Playing with her cousin Bisca's small toddler was fun, but she was usually glad to hand Asuka back over to her parents.

One afternoon, just as Captain Loke was changing shifts with Lieutenant Taurus, the princess's tutor Capricorn stepped into the room.

Primly, the tutor announced, "The king has declared that Lady Lucy must learn what to expect on her wedding night."

"What?" shouted Lucy, blushing instantly.

Taurus quickly stepped back in. "I can train her!"

Capricorn glared at the perverted, bullish guard. "The king said the only male in this kingdom he trusts to be with his daughter for such sensitive training is the captain of the guard. Captain Loke, you will assist me in this lesson."

Loke looked over in shock to Lucy, who was already bright pink.

"Exactly what sort of lesson is this?" Lucy asked hesitantly.

Capricorn bluntly answered, "A lesson on how to mate."

Both Lucy and Loke went red.

"Ooh, tag me in, captain! Tag me in!" Taurus begged.

Virgo and Aries shoved Taurus out of the room and stood guard by the door.

" mate?" Loke choked out. "She needs lessons in something like that?"

"If she is to be a good wife, she must know the basics of proper bedroom etiquette."

"Etiquette?" Loke questioned. "In sex?"

Capricorn pushed his dark glasses up his nose. "Captain, she is a princess, not a rutting commoner. Unlike whatever women you may have had, she is nobility, and she must act with decorum even in a matter so intimate as this. Now, obviously, you won't mate with her," Capricorn assured the flustered Lion. "You will only do as I instruct. This is to train the princess in what to expect and how to properly act toward her husband. Role-play, nothing more."

"Can't she read about mating in a book?" Loke cried out, sounding strangled.

"This is a tradition, that the captain of the guard train the princess so she does not shame herself on her wedding night. I assure you, Prince Natsu is receiving training as well, lessons agreed upon by both kings, so that he does not shock Lady Lucy with anything perverted the first night. After that first night, you may discover ways of lovemaking which better appeal to you, but at least for your wedding night, the act of consummating is as much a duty as signing a treaty. It binds you to your oaths as the wife of the prince."

"But she's still..."

"Captain Loke," Princess Lucy interrupted, and the blonde stared at the Lion's aghast face with a mask of noble serenity. "It's the order of the king. His orders are absolute, correct?" she pointed out with a sly smirk.

He tried to calm down. The king trusted no one else but him with this task. He had to prove his loyalty with this.

"Very good," Capricorn said in approval. "Now, Lady Lucy, after the wedding party, you will retire to your bedchamber early. You will be bathed in rose water so you smell pleasant for your husband. Your lady-in-waiting will leave you undressed on a bed prepared for that night. This will include inserting a small bit of oil into your...ahem...female region."

"Oil?" Lucy grimaced. "Why?"

Capricorn paused as he considered the best way to answer that. "It makes the insertion process easier."

Lucy turned bright red, and Loke choked again.

"Once you are prepared, the lady-in-waiting will blow out all but a few candles. This should ease some of your embarrassment. She will then guide your husband into the room. Let us set up the scenario. Obviously, you won't be naked for this."

"Why not?" Lucy asked in a sassy attitude. "Captain Loke has seen me naked many times before."

Capricorn cleared his throat. "That was when you were a child. You are now a woman and engaged to be married. Aries," he called, getting a squeaked I'm sorry from the lady-in-waiting. "Please remove all but the princess's chemise and arrange the bed as you have been taught."

"Yes, Mister Capricorn." Aries hurriedly undressed Princess Lucy. The blankets were turned down, Lucy climbed into the bed, and only the sheet was pulled over her.

"A single sheet for modesty," Capricorn said. "Aries, you may leave. Virgo too."

"Will I be punished?" the maid asked.

"No, just stand outside the door and allow none to enter, especially no men."

The two ladies left, leaving Loke and Capricorn alone with the half-naked Lucy.

"When your husband enters, he will compliment you. You should do the same. A bit of small talk is expected to break the tension. Then, beckon him to your bed."

"Understood," Lucy nodded, and she gazed at Loke. "Well...husband...that was a good wedding service."

"You looked beautiful," he said softly, slowly stepping forward. "The way your hair shined amidst the wedding candles was like fairies of gold."

"You looked dashing yourself, especially the way your pink hair shined amidst your crown, Prince Natsu," she said with a bitter tone.

"Call me not a prince tonight," Loke smiled back wryly. "I am your husband. Show some respect."

"Well...husband...won't you come to bed with me? I've been waiting for this moment, my Dragon."

Loke glared that she was persistent in reminding him that this was mere role-play. "Capricorn, what has our prince been taught to do at this point?"

"Right. The prince will pull back the sheet." Loke walked forward and did as he was instructed. "He will climb into bed beside you, caress your skin, and kiss you. Of course, Captain Loke doesn't have to..."

"It's okay," Lucy cut in. "I trust the captain. He has kissed me goodnight many times as a child. This is no different. Besides, training me is an order from the king. We must follow the king's orders...right, Captain Loke?" she asked poignantly.

He nodded firmly. "As a servant of the royal family and soldier of the Land of Spirits, it is my honor to fulfill the king's order to the utmost of my ability," he affirmed. Then Loke stretched forward and caressed Lucy's skin. "Well, my dear bride. As your husband, I will treat you gently. You need not fear," he said softly, then Loke leaned over and gave Lucy a small kiss. She held still, anticipating more, but that was all he provided.

Capricorn cleared his throat again. "Your husband will then commence flatteries and provocative touching. This is to help calm you and prepare your body."

Loke's hand drifted over her thin chemise. "Of course, this would feel much different if you were naked," he smirked. "But I suppose just to train you, this is enough. Just to teach your body how to react to your husband."

His hand caressed over her bosom, and Lucy gasped, then quickly covered her mouth.

"No, no, my princess," he smiled smugly. "When your husband touches you, you will feel your heart race, your breath quicken, and you might gasp, even shout. Do not cover your mouth," he said with a predatory gleam in his eyes. "Your husband will want to hear those sounds. It will arouse him," he whispered, gazing over her body and grasping her breasts a little harder, "and that's your duty his wife." He did not mean to end that phrase bitterly, yet Loke practically spat it out. "You should tell him how it feels. Do you like it, Lucy?" he asked in a low, husky voice. "Do you like when I do...this?" He suddenly pinched the perk tips poking through her thin gown.

"Ahhnnn! good," she moaned as she pressed her breasts out to his hand. "Touch me more."

"That's better." The Lion leaned over her, feeling the heat rising from her writhing body. He breathed hotly into her ear, then nipped her lobe. "Moan for me, Lucy."

"Captain Loke," Capricorn called out. The captain's hands jolted back off the princess's breasts, and he sat up in shame at getting carried away. Capricorn was giving both of them a suspicious look. "I just recalled something the king requested. Virgo," he called out, and the maid immediately opened the door. "The King of Dragons commanded that we insure the princess has never known a man. Inspect her for a hymen."

"What?" Lucy cried out.

"It's an order from the king. Your value is in the fact that you're a virgin."

Lucy half sat up in outrage. " value? What am I: goods to be bartered and traded?"

"Is this a problem, my lady?" Capricorn asked suspiciously.

She backed off and looked away in shame. "No," she whispered. "No, I'm still" She swallowed hard and shirked away from Loke. "Does Virgo really have to look at me down there?"

"Either her or the doctor. The king felt having one of your attendants inspect was more proper. No male but a doctor and your husband should see that area."

"Oh," she muttered.

Capricorn turned away for decency, and he pulled Loke with him to face the wall while Virgo did her inspection.

"Captain," the tutor whispered privately, "as you know, our departed Queen charged me with the education of Lady Lucy. I am her personal tutor, not a servant of this castle. I am loyal to Lady Lucy, not to the royal family. You, however, are a soldier of this land. Your loyalties are to the king."

"I serve the royal family with pride," Loke affirmed sternly.

"Exactly," Capricorn whispered soft enough so Lucy could not hear. "You serve the family, not the individual. You answer to the crown, not to the princess. You fight for this land, not for her heart. I know you're not a fool, Captain. You must know what Lady Lucy feels about you." Capricorn leaned in closer. "You have two choices: either break your loyalties and take Lady Lucy far away from this place; or do your duty, serve your king, and you'll break her heart."

He whispered back with gnashed teeth, "Which would you suggest I do?"

"I am loyal to Lady Lucy. I don't want to see her hurt. If she marries this prince, he will definitely spoil her, but I'm not sure if he can truly love her. She will be miserable in the midst of luxury, though she might learn new happiness with the arrival of children. On the other hand, if she abandons her duties as a daughter of the king, she will lose everything. She may end up happy in the midst of poverty, but she may regret it later in life when she can't raise her children in the same splendors she enjoyed."

"Damned either way," Loke realized with deep regret. "Is there no alternative?"

Capricorn sighed sadly. "Perhaps you'll think of one. For now, my duty is to make Lady Lucy happy. Forgive me if I use you in that pursuit."

Loke was about to ask what he meant, but just then, Virgo came back. Lucy had the sheet pulled all the way to her chin in shame.

"She is a virgin," Virgo declared.

"Report that to the king," Capricorn told her. "Also, send Aries for more lessons in how to prepare the marriage bed. It didn't look inviting enough."

"Yes, sir," Virgo bowed, and she left, taking Aries who had also been staying fretfully by the door.

Capricorn waited for a moment, then he checked the hallway to make sure it was empty. "Well, now that this duty is out of the way, let us return to our lesson."

"That was humiliating!" Lucy cried out. "She...she touched me...down there. Just having her look at me that closely was embarrassing."

"Lady Lucy," Capricorn sighed. "Your husband will also look at you down there. He may do even more than look. He may kiss you down there, or lick you. He will definitely touch you, too. You must not stop him or pull away. A bit of coyness is expected, but you cannot turn him down just because you feel embarrassed. You are a princess. You must show no shame. That's the whole purpose of this lesson, to ease you into the idea of sexuality."

Loke sauntered back to the bed. "Capricorn's right. Covering yourself like this is shameful."

He yanked the sheet away to see that her thin gown was still bunched up near her thighs. Seeing those milky white legs made Loke gulp hard. He sat beside her and caressed her arms to calm her.

"Realize, Lady Lucy," Capricorn schooled, "your future husband is a man of curiosity. The King of Dragons has affirmed that Prince Natsu has never known a woman. That's...surprisingly rare for a prince," he admitted, wondering how this beloved noble never had a love affair before. "He will want to see all of you, touch you, explore you, and kiss you all over. These are all actions normal to the bedroom, and you should encourage his touches."

"Encourage them?" Her eyes were locked onto Loke, feeling hot under the way his hands glided over her skin. "Husband," she said again, trying to move past the humiliation. "Touch me more."

Loke looked hesitantly back to Capricorn, who nodded in approval. With a gulp, he ran his hand up her thigh. He felt the shivering in her skin from his firm fingers, and Loke's mind found focus in seeking out her skin. He caressed her face, dragged his nails over her neck, and ran his fingers over her collar. Lucy's breath caught, she trembled slightly, then she hummed in a heated moan. That sound shot straight through the Lion's veins. He pulled her gown to be between her legs, then yanked her knees apart.

Lucy gasped at such roughness. "Loke!"

"Captain," Capricorn warned.

"I can't see your womanhood this way," Loke explained in a seductive tone. Then his hand rubbed against the cotton fabric that barely shielded her, shocking her with his bold touch. "And my fingers can't touch your skin. Your maidenhood is safe. After all, the king trusts me to teach you this and somehow still restrain myself. You must know what to expect, and that includes things that might be embarrassing. Isn't that right, Capricorn?" His eyes were sternly on Lucy as he waited for approval.

The tutor smiled to himself. "Indeed. Carry on, Captain."

He rubbed circles around her, making her squirm. "I must prove my loyalty to the king. I must train this naïve princess in the ways of being a good wife and how to please her husband."

"Please him?" she smirked between heated panting. "I don't know how to please a man. I've never done something like that. Shouldn't I learn that, too?" She looked past Loke to where Capricorn stood in a corner, trying to be stern about this erotic scene. "Shouldn't my lessons include how to treat my husband, how to touch him in a way so I don't hurt him? Or am I to be purely submissive?"

The tutor cleared his throat. "I...I suppose...some lessons in male anatomy are required."

Princess Lucy smiled in triumph and turned her eyes to Loke. "My husband won't come to bed dressed in a uniform. I must learn about the way a man looks so I don't panic and shame myself on my wedding night." She glanced down to the stiffness in his trousers. "How does such a thing fit inside?"

Capricorn butted in, "That's something that cannot be done."

"Agreed," Loke nodded, and he climbed off of her.

"Even if you can't do that, you can show me so I know what to expect," Lucy ordered. "The king trusts you, after all. You will follow our orders. Now strip, Captain!"

Loke looked down at her with anguish and desire. He glanced to the gown bunched between her legs and saw a wet spot where he had been rubbing. This was the worst teasing ever. He wanted her more and more, yet with Capricorn looking on, he feared his desires. Still...

"An order from a member of the royal family must be obeyed," he said, and Loke began to unbutton his uniform. "The princess must know what to expect of her husband. She may blush coyly, but she should not act afraid."

He pulled his shirt off. Then he stood, yanked on his belt, and dropped his pants, never taking his predatory eyes off of her.

Lucy gazed upon the erect manhood with shock and fear. If she had been alone with him, she might have acted differently. If he had showed it to her with bashfulness, she might have dominated him, like she was used to doing. However, like this, with Loke boldly exposing himself and Capricorn looking on, she felt nothing but dread and shame.

"Capricorn," Loke said in amusement, "I'm a bit shy about men seeing me like this."

"Of course. I will step out, Captain," he offered.

"Wait..." Lucy began, but her tutor eagerly left the two of them alone.

"That old goat really is using me," Loke muttered, unsure whether to be thankful or furious. "Well, Princess, are you just going to gawk at it?"

Lucy jolted a little, then worriedly looked back to his erection. "I...I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

Loke smiled down at her. Such an innocent girl! "Of course not. That's what I must teach you, after all. Here, give me your hand."

Lucy reached her hand up to him. Loke took it and brought it to his body. He wrapped her fingers around his shaft and watched her wonderment as she held him.

"It's hot," she whispered in awe.

"Stroke it." With his fingers around hers, he moved her hand. His eyes fluttered closed at the feel of her tiny fingers caressing him. "Not too tightly. Loosen your grip. that," he whispered. His breathing came slow and even at the feel of her caresses rubbing him up and down. Her hands felt like silk as she stroked the inflamed skin.

"There's something leaking," she said in uncertainty.

"That's normal. It means you're doing it right. It means..." He swallowed hard to regain control. "It means you'd make your husband...feel good." He shivered a little as she stroked over his head and then back down the shaft. "Very good!"

She gazed up at him and saw how his eyes narrowed like a lion on the hunt. "What more should I do?"

He smiled heatedly. "You might lick it, even suck on it. You don't have to, though."

"I should learn what to do and practice, right?" she reasoned, and Lucy leaned in closer. She stuck her tongue out and gently tested it out, licking off the pearl of moisture that had gathered on the top. "The taste is bitter," she commented.

"Princess, perhaps you shouldn't..."

"I want to," she interrupted.

Then, firmer, she licked him again. Loke felt his knees weaken. He gazed down in amazement as she licked his length. Then, to his surprise, she took it into her mouth.

"Stars!" he gasped.

It took all of his self-control not to grab the back of her head and slam into that warm throat. She bobbed her head on him, but suddenly she plunged too far down. She gagged and pulled back, wiping her mouth.

"That's enough," he said, sitting on the bed beside her. "Any more and I'll shame us both."

"Not enough," she coughed. "What should I expect? While I do that to my husband, what will he do to me?"

Loke face drew up in longing. "Lucy..."

"Won't he touch me back? Or am I expected to do all the work and get no pleasure in return? Surely, a wife gets pleasure, too."

His teeth gritted as he looked over her body. "I can't do that."

"Just what you did before." She took his hand and guided it between her legs. "Even if it's through the gown, I want to feel you touch me. felt good."

Loke felt moisture seep through the chemise almost instantly. She was drenched! He could already smell the sweet aroma wafting up from her. Unable to resist, he rubbed her, feeling what little he could through the cloth, and this time without anyone looking over his shoulder who might see the longing in his face.

"Lucy," he whispered, watching how her body reacted to his touches. He rubbed her breasts as well, feeling them through the fabric.

"Loke," she keened as he kept rubbing right against her.

"Really, would you call another man's name on your wedding night? That would shame you for life. Use his name, Princess."

"N-...Nats-...husband," she said instead. "You're touching too much. It's making me hot."

"Never tell your husband it's too much," Loke schooled. "You must open yourself to him, accept his advances, take him in wholly as your other half. He will kiss you, fondle you," he said as he caressed her breasts through the fabric of the chemise, "and make you feel like you're burning up inside. He will...will mount you. He'll pierce into you." Suddenly, he pinched her nipples as they poked through the thin chemise.

Her back arched at the slightly rough touches. "Loke!" she gasped.

"I'm serious, Lucy. You really mustn't get into the habit of saying my name," he warned sternly. "Call me something else."

She opened her eyes and gazed up at him. "Husband," she smiled.

Loke's heart ached tormentingly. "You're a cruel woman."

"You're the cruel one, reminding me of that man. I don't want to think about him at a time like this. I only want to think of you, Loke. Now, kiss me. I have to learn how to do that as well, don't I?"

Loke leaned over her, flattening her body down onto the bed, and his lips pressed firmly against hers. She hummed, and her mouth opened to let him explore. Her back arched, pressing her breasts more into his hand. He grasped at them, then his head went down, and he took one clothed nipple into his mouth.

"Ah, Loke!" she cried out.

"Say husband," he warned.

"Beloved," she called him instead.

Loke's body melted a little at hearing her say that. "There's something else he may try. Probably not on your first night, but you should be forewarned."

"Then teach me, Captain," she smirked. "You're experienced, right? A man like you must have had many women in the past. So teach me everything you know."

"Sadly, I can't do that much," he smirked as he scooted down on the massive bed and settled between her thighs. "But this...I should be able to train you on this at least, though I doubt it'll feel as good through clothing."

He looked at the spot on her chemise where he had been touching. Her dampness discolored the fabric, and he saw some thick fluid already seeping through the threads. His face leaned in, and he licked that area.

Lucy gave a gasp, but she suddenly went silent. All she wanted was to focus on the amazing gentleness of how his tongue played on her. She hummed, moaned at times, whispered soft pleads of "more" and "right there." Then her hips began to thrust on their own. Her face tensed. She felt something changing within her, like a spring coiling, ready to snap at any moment.

As he sensed her drawing closer to her climax, Loke pulled himself up. Touching her like this was taboo, yet it was still an order: to train her in the ways of lovemaking. However, actually bringing her to that great climax...was that too far? Or should he teach her what to expect with that, as well? After all, if a woman who has never experienced a true orgasm suddenly has one, it can be a shocking, even terrifying, experience.

While he debated what he should do, Lucy reached down and grasped his manhood again. "I touch you like this, right?"

Loke lost his breath as she stroked him vigorously. "Yes...stars, yes, like that."

As she pumped him, his fingers sought a little deeper into her. Although he was still blocked by the thin gown, he could feel the hollow where, one day, her husband would have the pleasure of piercing into her. For now, all he could do was touch her there, tease a little deeper in, thrusting the fingers blocked by cloth until the chemise was practically inside her.

"Oh...what...what's happening?" she gasped. "No...Loke...too much. It's too much. I...I can't...can't breathe. Too much. I can't...I'm gonna black out."

Loke pulled back and gazed heatedly down at her. "I'm sorry, princess, but I'm going to steal one pleasure away from your husband."


Before she could wonder what he meant, Loke's fingers rubbed more frantically.

"Ahhn! Loke!"

"Don't hold back, Lucy."

"Noo," she cringed. She began to put her hands up to her mouth.

Loke grabbed both wrists and pinned them to the pillow. "I told you, don't covered your face."

"But I'm gonna scream."

"Then scream. It's what you're supposed to do."

"But...but I can't..."

"Forget etiquette, Lucy, and come for me already!"

She gasped at his shout, but the strain in his face made her body clench. "I'm...scared. I'm gonna lose control."

"Me too," he hissed. "So don't let me lose control on my own. We both lose it together. That's what being a husband and wife is about."

Still, he saw her biting her lip, and he sensed that she was trying to hold back. After all, this was normal behavior for a woman who was new to love. Strangely enough, learning to let go, learning to trust your own body, and convincing yourself that you really will not die from the blissful agony, was not something that came naturally. True female orgasm was something hard to reach, and harder to give into freely.

"Lucy," he said softly, caressing her sweaty face. "Even if you lose control, I'll be right here. I'll protect you. So don't hold yourself back." He leaned over and whispered into her ear. "I want to see you turn into an animal. I want to hear you shriek. I want to feel the sexual monster within you break free. Let me feel it, Lucy. Give in. Let me devour that beast for you."

His other hand pinched and teased her breast relentlessly, while his lips covered the gasping cries from her mouth. Lucy flailed on the bed, and she began to time his maddening thrusts to her own hand, stroking him faster and faster. Loke's stomach began to coil tighter and tighter. He shuddered as he felt his own inner monster about to break loose.

"Lucy," he warned.

"Don't stop!" she wailed.

Loke knew he was lost, but such an order...she did not even need to be his princess for him to obey her. He tried to hold himself back, yet when he saw her body snapped upward in a stiff arch, heard her wailing cry of painful bliss, and felt the tightening around his partially-inserted fingers, he lost control. He roared out, jolts of pleasure shot through him like supernovas exploding in the heavens, and his seed messed the white undergarment gown.

With the release came overwhelming bliss. Loke held still, panting weakly, listening to Lucy's weary breaths, and feeling the lingering jolts still shaking her body. He looked down and saw the exhaustion on her sweaty, flushed face. It was so erotic! Loke suddenly grasped her, holding her close to him, feeling hot with both passion and shame.

I shouldn't have done that! I should have stopped her! Dear stars, what have I done?

"Loke," she panted in surprise. "What...what just happened? I've touched myself before,'s never happened before, not like that. Everything inside me..."

His breaths came heavily, and he slowly rose onto one hand to gaze down wearily. "Touching yourself? You're a naughty princess." She looked so sensual, flushed and panting like this, that he could hardly help but steal another starving kiss from her. "'s called an orgasm."

"Oh...I...I've read about that," she mumbled bashfully. "It's never felt quite like that, though."

"It's not easy for a woman to reach it. Your job as a wife is to train your husband to get you to that point without him coming first."

She looked down at the fluid now on her hands and clothes. "Is that what happens to men when they reach it?"

He looked down regretfully at the sticky mess. "Yes, I'm sorry about that. Your husband will ejaculate like that, but inside of you. That is consummation of the marriage, when his seed marks you...but inside, not outside like this."

"I want to feel it," she whispered with lowered lids.

"You will," he said sternly, "on your wedding night." He began to pull away with a bitter expression.

Her hand reached out to him. "Loke, stay the night with me," she said tiredly.

He sat up and caressed her golden hair. "I can't. The temptation would be too great."

"Then take me," she offered, rubbing her hand over his naked chest. "Virgo did her examination. If anything happens now, who would know?"

"I would," he frowned. "I can't mar my flawless diamond princess before her wedding night."

She looked stubborn, but she saw the anguish in his face. Then Lucy took two fingers, scooped some of the sticky seed up, and placed the fingers into her mouth. The taste was bitterly salty, but she sucked it off and swallowed it down.

Loke's mouth dropped as he saw her do that. "Princess!" he cried out in horror.

"Your seed has marked me inside now," she smirked. "You're not my husband, but I don't want anyone except you, Loke. I love you with all my heart, and I want to consummate this love...our love."

Hearing her say that was pure pleasure, yet fear struck through him.

A consummation of love? With his king's daughter?

He looked away, but there was a portrait of the late queen on the wall. He looked in another direction, but a coat-of-arms hung in the corner. Everywhere he looked, there were reminders that she was nobility, and he was nothing but a soldier. Panic began to overtake him. He felt as if soldiers might burst through the door at any minute to haul him away for sullying the princess. Yet his heart wanted to do far worse.

He wanted her!

His hand began to reach out to the bottom hem of her chemise, wanting to lift it, to yank the whole garment off, to see her naked body, claim it, obey her every desire...

His hand drew back and clenched. "I...I can't!" he yelled.

He pulled away, fleeing from those inviting eyes. He walked across the room, yanked up his discarded clothes, and tugged his uniform back on. He realized that, once again, he was hiding his desires behind this barrier of duty and loyalty.


"I need to assure Capricorn that what he heard was not what he thought he heard. I can't leave you in shame."

"So will you leave me like this?" she shouted, holding out the dripping mess on her gown. "Learn to take some responsibility, Captain."

He walked over to a dresser, dug out another chemise, and threw it at her. "You're a big girl. Dress yourself."

"Loke!" she shouted in anger and sexual frustration. Although her body felt weary from passion, part of her realized there was more to love, and she instinctively felt unfulfilled. "Maybe I'll take you with me after marrying, do my damn duty, but keep you with me instead as a paramour. Queens do that all the time."

Loke shook his head. "I won't take another man's wife."

"What if I wasn't a princess?" she asked. "What if I was just some commoner, and I wasn't marrying? What would you do?"

"Pointless questions."

"Loke," she called out as he neared the door. "Do you love me?"

He paused, and his brow strained tightly. "You've asked me that before. I can't answer."

"Why? Do you not know?"

He looked back at her, and his eyes looked close to tears. "I can never lie to you, Princess, but if I told you the truth, I would be committing treason against the royal family."

"Just by telling me that you love me?"

He thought of the irony. "Simply by having that emotion toward my king's daughter makes me guilty."

"Then you do love me! You just can't admit it."

"I can't say it, and I can never show it to you."

"Then what do you consider this?" she demanded, pointing to the moist stain.

His face remained stern. "An order from my king, who trusted me to teach you about lovemaking without breaking you. I've kept true to my duty and taught you the ways of men."

"Damn you, Loke," she whispered, gritting her teeth in bitterness and anger. He opened the door and stepped out. She screamed at him. "Damn you!"

Loke shut the bedchamber door. Sure enough, Capricorn was guarding the hallway, keeping away any servants.

"I take it the lesson went badly," the old tutor frowned.

Loke grumbled, "She is a spoiled brat who wants more than she can have."

"Nobles often are that way," Capricorn nodded. "But you didn't..."

"Give her half an hour," he cut in as Loke saw two soldiers walking by down the hall. "You may continue your lessons then, and Capricorn..." His voice lowered as he kept an eye out for other servants. "She's unbroken, but don't ever use me like that again or we will both be hanged."

The tutor backed off. "Understood, Captain."

The tutor left down the hall, and Loke collapsed against the bedchamber door. He was still overwhelmed by what just happened, but a feeling of deep shame pooled in the spot where his lust had flowed out. He leaned his head back, barely controlling his instincts to rush back into that room and take Lucy wholly.

Then he heard her voice on the other side of the door. "Captain?"

He glanced left and right, making sure no one was in the area. "Yes, Princess?" he whispered back.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled almost too quietly to hear through the closed door. "It's're the only man I trust, the only man I have ever loved. I don't want to lose you."

He smiled at the sincerity in her words. "I don't want to lose you, either." He gritted his teeth in a feeling of intense shame. He looked through the hall again to make sure it was safe to speak. "Maybe, when you leave this palace, perhaps the king will let me go with you."

"That'd be nice," she muttered, "'re right. I'd be another man's wife. It wouldn't be fair to you, nor to Prince Natsu. I need to grow up, don't I? Stop being so selfish. Stop wanting what...what I can't have."

His hand rested on the door, wishing he could open it and enter, just to hold her. "Lucy," he sighed.

"I'm sorry for being so cruel to you, Captain. I'll try to act better. I need to act like a queen, not a spoiled princess. I promise, I'll be better. I won't tempt you again."

He closed his eyes, hating the barrier that kept the two of them apart. Just like this door, her duty to remain the flawless Diamond Princess and his duty of guarding her chastity would always separate them from what their hearts truly desired.

Order me, Princess. Order me to come back in. Order me to hold you! Command me...

"I'll be in the bath," Lucy told him. "Send Aries and Virgo in when they return. I need them to do some...some laundry."

Loke swallowed hard as he thought of the mess he had left behind and how wet the gown got from the Princess's own moisture. "I'll let them know."

"Thank you. Loke..." Her voiced trailed off, and despite the door in the way, he heard her sigh deeply. Then, so softly he easily could have misheard her, she whispered. "I will always love you, my Lion." Then he heard her footsteps receding.

Loke shut his eyes as his heart burned. "And I shall always love you, Lucy." A tear slipped down, and he rubbed it away quickly. He straightened his back, pushed some disheveled hair out of the way, and loyally remained at his post.

End of Chapter 2

Chapter Text

It was a week of awkwardness. Princess Lucy and Captain Loke barely looked at one another. If anyone gossiped about the fact that the captain of the guard had been ordered to train the princess in bedroom manners, none took the juiciest rumors seriously. The captain was just as decorous as ever, the princess just as proper. He kept his distance, and she hardly looked at him.

Then, at the end of that week, a near disaster struck.

Lucy was already asleep, with Captain Loke outside the bedchamber door standing guard, when a shadow moved in through her opened window. The intruder skulked over to her bed, then stood and gazed down at the sleeping princess.

"Too easy," he chuckled.

A hand swooped down, and a cloth was placed over Lucy's mouth and nose. She jolted up in shock, but a sourly sweet smell made her head feel instantly light.

"Back to sleep with you, princess. Although," he hummed, seeing how her gown slipped off her shoulders and partially exposed one breast, "I suppose I could have a little fun with you before handing you over to my employer." His fingers curled as he prepared to grope her. "I've never touched the breasts of a noblewoman."

"And you never shall!"

The intruder felt a whoosh, then sudden pain. He looked down to see his groping hand cut off at the wrist. In the light of the stars, Captain Loke's sword gleamed in bold brilliance. Instead of running the man through with his sword, he drew his hand back and punched him hard. The man tumbled backward, and Loke stalked after him.

"No one touches the Princess of the Land of Spirits without my permission," Loke growled, and his eyes narrowed in fierce jealousy.

As Lucy watched in a drugged stupor, she swore it was like seeing a lion hunting by night. The intruder awkwardly pulled out a dagger with his remaining hand. Loke was not even concerned by the weapon. His leg swung out and hit the man's metal gauntlet so hard, a golden flash sparked out. The dagger flew to the side and embedded into the wall. Then, with a sneer of contempt, Loke gave the intruder another hard punch to the gut, which sent him tumbling backward, out the opened window, and plummeting down the tower to land with a sickly crunch in the courtyard below.

Loke ran forward and looked down. Blood quickly seeped out around the body. Already, an alarm was being called, bells rang through the starry night, and soldiers raced forward to the princess's tower.

"Seize that intruder," Loke commanded, pointing emphatically down at the body. "If he's somehow still alive, interrogate him. If he's already dead, place his head on a pike and toss his body to the dogs."

A red and white haired soldier shouted up, "Captain, the princess?"

"Alive, Lieutenant Scorpio. Find whoever was supposed to be on guard down there and have him tossed into the dungeon for a week. Also, have the doctor sent to the princess's room. I believe the intruder used some form of drug on her."

While soldiers dealt with the intruder, Loke pulled back in and hurried to the princess's bed. Now that it was over, fear finally began to creep in. It was too dark to see, so he lit a candle and checked on her.

"Lucy?" he asked with worry.

She grabbed hold of his uniform jacket, buried her face into his chest, and sobbed in belated terror. Loke was stunned for only a moment, then he hugged her into his arms and smoothed down her hair.

"It's safe. He's gone." He realized the intruder's severed hand was still on her blanket, staining it with blood. He carefully lifted it by a finger and dropped it to the floor.

"Loke," she sobbed. "Lie to me."

"Lie?" he asked in confusion. "Are you hallucinating, Princess?"

"Just lie to me." Lucy turned her teary face up to him. "Do you love me?"

Loke's mouth dropped at the audacity that she would ask such a rebellious question at a time like this. Then he saw the purpose behind her request, and a smile lifted his lips. Lie to her? If it was an order from royalty... "No, Princess. I don't love you."

"Do you want me to get married?"

His heart burned at the question. "Of course I do. I look forward to it. I can't wait to see you in the arms of that prince. I hope he's satisfied with you, and I hope you're a tender and loving wife to him."

She looked happier with each lie. "Last week, with Capricorn..."

"Princess," he warned.

"Was that purely out of duty? Nothing more? It meant nothing at all, right?"

He sighed lightly at her trickery. "That's right. It meant nothing. I did it purely because I was ordered to. I would never do that again."

" don't love me...right?"

He hugged her against his chest. "Exactly. I don't love you. I never have. I never will. I protect you as is my duty as captain of the guard. Nothing more."

She laughed moistly and pulled back to look up at him. "You've told me that line so many times over the years. You big liar." Then her dizziness returned, and she fainted in his arms.

"Princess?" he asked in fear. "Lucy!"

The doors crashed open. The old palace doctor ran in along with half a dozen assistants, Virgo, Aries, and a squad of soldiers.

"Harumph! Blood?" old Crux asked as he looked at the crimson sheets.

"Ah, not hers," Loke assured them. "She wasn't injured."

"Harumph! Please step aside," Crux said as the old man began to inspect Lucy.

Loke backed away as the doctor checked her heart and felt her forehead. Then Crux found the cloth the man had used to drug her. He sniffed it briefly, then held it out with a sour face before ordering his assistants to concoct a cure. Virgo left the care of the princess to Aries and stepped back to join Loke.

"She'll be fine, Brother. The king wishes to speak with you."

"I understand," he nodded. After a disaster like this, of course the king would want a report in person.

He marched through the halls of the castle that was now on high alert. Servants scurried, and all the candles were lit. Loke came to the king's chamber, straightened his uniform, and gave a firm knock.

"Enter," came a dignified reply.

Loke pushed open the massive doors and immediately dropped to one knee. "My king and master."

"Captain, how is my daughter?" asked the monarch.

"Uninjured, master. The intruder drugged her, but Doctor Crux is already curing her."

"He got so far as to reach her bed?"

"He was as silent as a shadow, but he made the mistake of speaking. I've said many times before, if I'm not allowed to guard inside her room, I may not hear a stealthy intruder."

"Something which decorum will not allow, Captain Loke."

He dropped his head a little lower. "I understand, master," he replied, already expecting such an answer.

"I will have one of her female attendants stay with her at night from now until the wedding. As this alliance with the Land of Dragons nears, I fear more attempts may be made by people wishing to sully my daughter's virtue."

"None shall touch her, master," he swore loyally.

"Does this include you, Captain?" asked the king with a stern glare. "I've heard the rumors whispered around the palace."

Loke swallowed hard. "If you mean about that lesson, I was following your orders, master. I didn't..."

"A lesson where you asked Capricorn to leave, and then the maids found suspicious stains on my daughter's undergarments."

Loke was speechless for a moment as his throat went dry with horror and shame. "I...I never even touched her skin, master, I swear. Maybe her face and neck, but...but it was all part of the lesson."

"I wonder," the king said with anger barely suppressed behind a regal visage. "You are the best fighter in the Land of Spirits, Captain Loke. My wife picked you as captain of the guard despite your youth. She felt you would be best to guard Lucy, and you've done so well for seven years. I cannot remove you from your post without rousing suspicions, but I can use your station for other means." The king held out a letter sealed with the royal insignia. "This letter is the last confirmation for the alliance with the Dragon King. It includes a sworn statement by Virgo that the princess is a virgin. I trust that status has not changed."

"It has not, master," Loke said stiffly.

"This letter must be delivered into the Dragon King's hands. When it has his seal of approval, you will escort Prince Natsu to the Land of Spirits. The wedding will be held here, and once it is consummated, you will escort both the prince and the princess to the border. After you return from that duty—your final duty to her—we will discuss the future of your career within this castle. Obey my commands flawlessly and you may keep your post. Disrespect the Dragons, and I shall have you executed. Am I clear?"

His eyes stayed on the ground, verbally beaten into submission. "Yes, master."

"Good. You'll ride out immediately."

Loke looked up sharply now. "But the princess..."

"Will probably sleep for a solid day," the king cut in. "Are you already questioning my orders, Captain Loke?"

He drew back and dropped his head. "Of course not, my king and master. Your orders are absolute, as is my loyalty."

Loke took the letter and left the king's presence. He tarried only long enough to secure a new guard to watch over Lucy and to ask Virgo how she was doing. Lucy was cured but sleeping heavily from the drug. Loke told Virgo briefly about the king's command so she could tell Lucy. Then he marched out to the stables and saddled his fastest horse, Regulus. He glanced briefly up to the tower, where the candles in the princess's room gave the window a bright golden glow. With a sigh and a look of longing, he climbed onto Regulus' saddle and took the reins.

"O Regulus, give me your strength. Ride hard, old friend. Let's not leave her alone for too long."

The horse whinnied and began a firm gallop. Loke pretended that it was the sting of the cold night wind that made his eyes tear up and streak over his face. He deftly wiped the salty tears and kept focused on the dark road ahead. Without looking back, he rode hard into the night, headed to the Land of Dragons.

End of Chapter 3

Chapter Text

It had been raining that day. Maybe all that week. It felt like the world had been gray for ages. She was so young, yet her world had fallen from bright colors to monochrome. The memories of that time, so many years ago, were vague now, just flashes, scenes, and feelings. She did not remember much, except the rain and the sadness.

And black. A sea of black bodies, threatening to swallow her fragile, gray, gloomy world.

Yet amidst that grief and blackness, an orange sun came out, bright and welcoming, walking toward her, kneeling beside her, hugging her into his world of color and away from the grayness. Loke's hair had been short back then, a new soldier, barely out of training, someone she had seen around but never talked to.

Her mother had introduced him only a week earlier, while lying in bed...the beginning of the grayness.

"My dearest Lucy, this man is named Loke. He's going to look after you from now on. Captain Loke, please watch over her. Be her knight. Oh, come here, Lucy. No need to be shy. He's a good man, a true gentleman. I hope you come to trust love him. He's the sort of man I wish you could...could... Oh, dear me, I can't say it after all."

Lucy never found out what her mother was trying to say, because Queen Layla died a few days later.

Then, in the midst of the deepest grief she had ever known, an orange sun shined through the rain, piercing green eyes reassured her, and she knew that although her mother was gone, she had left behind this knight to comfort her tiny daughter.

On that day, this glorious orange sun spoke to her and promised her: "You will never be alone, princess. I will serve you for as long as I live. You need only to call me, and I will be there. I will never let you feel lonely."

He kept his word. He did more than stand guard. He hugged her as she cried over the next few months, woke her from nightmares, and calmed her with his gentle voice. While the rest of the castle staff refrained from speaking to her out of uncertainty, and her own father did not even want to look upon her, this knight talked to her for hours, listening to anything she had to say, no matter how childish or irrational her fears. He listened, and he shielded her from the blackness.

With her orange sun around, color returned to her world, a sterile life that had taken her mother and stripped all emotions from her father. He read stories to her when she was bored, put on puppet shows for her to make her laugh, helped her change into her clothes—until Aries and Virgo were hired to do such duties—and Loke played with her when she had no one else around. He gave her toys on holidays and birthdays. Although his pay was probably not much, and she could have had any toy in the kingdom, the ones Loke gave her were special, because they were not given out of duty, but out of kindness.

It was that kindness that made her want to be closer to him. She was unsure when things changed. Suddenly, when he kissed her forehead and tucked her in for the night, it made her hot inside. Her dreams were about him. She got bashful when he walked with her through the gardens. When he complimented that she was growing into a fine young woman, her cheeks went hot. She thought of how to please him when picking out new gowns.

Once, when she heard that Loke was not on duty because he had gone to a festival with a lady, she felt jealous for the first time in her life. The next day, when he returned, Lucy demanded that he never leave her alone again.

That was probably when he realized she was in love. He had looked so stunned at that time, then deeply regretful. She was still young back then, maybe fourteen...too young, especially for an older man like him. However, he hugged her, thanked her for being concerned, but told her in the kindest words possible that a man sometimes needed feminine comfort.

She would never forget her words that day.

"Let me be your comfort!"

Then she tiptoed up, kissed him on the mouth, and ran away in humiliation.

Her first real kiss! It was not so much stolen as tossed at his feet in a moment of jealousy.

That caused a chasm of awkwardness between them that lasted throughout the next few years. He was more cautious. He stopped tucking her into bed. He rarely entered her room just to see if she needed someone to play with. If she called for him, he always came, but he left it as her ordering him, not him taking the initiative. She realized later, he might have gotten scolded even back then for being too friendly with the princess. She missed those days when he was always beside her, when he could hug her and she could fall asleep in his lap listening to him reading fairy tales.

Still, he was always there, always a comfort. That sun never set. She only had to call out his name, and the orange hair arrived, along with a smile that could warm her in winter, and eyes that chilled her in summer.

It was on her sixteenth birthday that she formally confessed.

", just Loke. I...I want you to take me out."

"Of course, princess. Where shall we go? I can arrange an entourage and..."

"No, not like that. I want it to be just us."

"If that's my princess's orders..."

"No! I don't mean orders. I mean...I...I like you. I want to court you."

He had stared at her with something like a mix between fear, sadness, and unbounded happiness, all mixed and tormenting his face. Suddenly, his eyes dropped. "You honor me too much, my princess. I have to decline."

Being denied something she wanted was an act Lucy did not face too often, and the spoiled princess reacted badly. "Do you have a lady?" she spat out scathingly.

"Yes, there is someone I'm courting at the moment."

Just then Lieutenant Taurus walked by. "More like three someones he's juggling at the same time."

"Taurus!" Loke had paled in utter terror at being overheard. "You'll forget this conversation or I'll beat all memories out of your bullish head."

"Hey, I know you'd get beheaded if you touched her. Even if you went for it, I wouldn't say anything."

"B-beheaded?" Lucy was confused by that. "What does he mean, Loke?"

He explained firmly. "You're the princess, only daughter and sole heir of this kingdom. You must marry royalty, and likely the king will pick someone for you soon. Whoever he picks will be the next King of the Land of Spirits, so likely it will be a younger son of a noble family. That's how these things work. You simply can't court a lowly man like me. It's forbidden, on punishment of torture and death, for any commoner to touch you intimately."

Again, his eyes dropped, and something flinched through his face. He looked lost in a memory. It struck her: he must have already gotten a warning...a very harsh warning!

"Loke..." she sighed, wanting to reach up and hold him, like he had held her through the dark times, but now caution stayed her hand.

"Forgive me, princess, although you honor me far above what I deserve, I must decline. Taurus, you're on duty now." Then Loke hurried off, running away from her.

Lucy still remembered the tear that had slipped down his eye just before leaving the room. That was when she realized that her emotions were not one-sided. He felt something as well, but he was doing everything possible, even courting numerous ladies at once, just to suppress those forbidden urges.

One more memory came to her. They were the last words Loke spoke to her before she fell into a drugged stupor. She had told him to lie, because it was the only way to hear his true feelings.

"I don't love you. I never have. I never will." I love you. I always have. I always will.

These memories played through Lucy's mind as she slept fitfully for an entire week, fevered from the attempted-kidnapper's poison. With each dream, her heart grew firmer. There was only one man she had ever been interested in, and only one man she wanted to wake up beside every morning. He was the only man who had ever showed her love, yet he could never tell her honestly.

She wanted her sun to always shine.

She wanted her Lion to always stand guard beside her.

When Princess Lucy finally recovered from the abductor's drug, it was already a week after the incident. Although awake now, Doctor Crux insisted that she stay in bed just to be safe. Aries and Virgo took turns staying with her throughout the night. Extra guards were outside her window, and no one managed to break in, although there were rumors about other attempts thwarted by the outer guards.

When finally the doctor could no longer convince the princess to remain in bed, he allowed her up only for a walk around the gardens, nothing more. With excitement, Lucy brushed out her hair while Virgo and Aries tied her corset and helped her into a gown that was far too elegant for a mere stroll. However, Lucy had not seen Captain Loke for two weeks. When she asked with worry if he had gotten into trouble for allowing an intruder to get close enough to touch her, Virgo assured her that he was not punished. However, neither Aries nor Virgo told her what actually happened to him.

So when Lucy stepped out of her bedchamber, she was shocked that, instead of the orange-haired captain, it was Lieutenant Scorpio who guarded her door.

"Why are you here?" she cried out, not caring it she sounded unreasonably angry. "Where's Loke?"

"The captain left to deliver a letter to the King of the Land of Dragons," replied Scorpio.

Lucy felt the happiness rush out of her, leaving her feeling cold inside. "He left? He didn't say anything!"

"We are very sorry. You were unconscious when the king sent him."

"When did this happen?" she demanded.

"The night you were attacked, princess. Within the same hour, I believe. He had hardly enough time to assign me to guard you."

"But...but the Land of Dragons takes two weeks by horse," she muttered sadly. "He's probably there already." A shiver made her feel weak again. Loke was likely already in that frightening land, facing the scary sons of the Dragon King. "Why...why did he go? For what purpose?"

Scorpio smiled gently. "He'll be bringing your future husband, so it's a time to rejoice. When Captain Loke returns with Prince Natsu, the whole kingdom will celebrate your marriage."

That made Lucy even more furious. "This was Father's doing, wasn't it?" She turned sharply at Aries and Virgo. "Why didn't you two say anything about it to me?"

Aries squeaked, "I'm sorry!"

Virgo was calmer as she banally explained, "Brother told me where he was going, but the king ordered us not to tell you, and his orders are absolute. Will I be punished?"

Rather than shout and make a scene, Lucy stomped down the hallway. She walked as swiftly as she could while still being dignified. She tipped her head when guards and servants bowed out of her way, and she marched out of the castle into the spacious gardens. There was one section, a walled-off garden that was only opened for the head-gardener Cancer and the royal family. It had been her mother's special place to sit and look at the stars.

Lucy went to the walled garden and waited for Cancer to put down his trimming sheers so he could open it for her. She entered alone, insisting that Aries and Virgo wait at the entry gate. She sat on a swing hanging from a willow tree and rocked herself slowly. Tears dripped from her eyes. She hugged herself, thinking of Loke's touches, those lies he told her, and how it was the only way to get him to confess his feelings.

"If you don't want me to marry, why...why, Loke?" she sobbed. "Why would you go to bring that prince here? Is there truly no way to escape the iron fist of my father?" She covered her face and wept into her hands. "Loke...please don't make me marry him. Take me away. Always be with me, and never let me be lonely, like you promised."

Weeks passed, and people said the stars no longer shined as brightly at night since Captain Loke left the Land of Spirits.

The princess's melancholy became obvious to the whole castle. There were whispers in the servants' quarters. By then, it was no secret that the princess did not want to marry, and the servants pitied her. However, as much as they all wished they could do something to stop this inevitable sadness, they feared the king. All of them felt oppressed under his hard eyes. All they could do was look at how the princess grew thinner and paler.

Libra the cook said she was barely eating and losing weight fast. Cancer the head-gardener said she was not coming out for walks anymore. Sagittarius the horsemaster said she had not been out riding even once. No one knew what to do to cheer her up. Some said that instead of this marriage being something to celebrate, perhaps it was a reason to mourn. They would be losing their diamond princess for a time. It had been part of the agreement between the two nations. The wedding would be in the Land of Spirits, yet she then had to live in the Land of Dragons and could not return until the birth of her first child, so the Dragons could ensure that the next in line for the throne was one of their own and not a bastard son.

At last, Princess Lucy realized it was almost time for Loke to return. She was eager to see him, but she dreaded that he was bringing her betrothed prince. She sat at her window staring off to the castle banners, looking for a sign of the captain's return. Often, she glanced down to the gardens to see Lieutenant Scorpio walking along the river with his girlfriend Aquarius.

She imagined herself and Loke ambling through the nightly shadows, gazing at stars, holding onto one another, kissing discreetly, anticipating what may come when they returned to somewhere private, where love can be fully expressed.

Lucy longed for a simple romance like that. Was it really so taboo for a princess to want to marry out of love, not duty? Would it really threaten the whole kingdom if she courted a commoner like Loke? Why was such a thing punishable by torture and death? It wasn't fair!

"I wish I was a normal girl," she lamented. "I don't want to be a princess. I just want..."

Her words faded away. If she spoke them and someone overheard, Loke could be beheaded for treason. She didn't want that!

"What do I want?" she wondered.

She thought it ironic that, all her life, she was given every material thing she could ask for, yet when it came to love, her father never provided such affection, and he threatened the one person who showed unconditional love to her.

Thus was the life of a princess...and she hated it!

End of Chapter 4

Chapter Text

On the night of the new moon, when only the stars lit the heavens, Lucy had just begun to brush out her hair for the evening when there was a rap on the door.

"I'm not in the mood for visitors, Scorpio," she called over.

Despite her warning, the bedchamber door creaked opened. "What about a visit from your knight?"

Lucy dropped her hairbrush and looked over in awe. Orange hair, catlike eyes, and although the captain of the guard was still in his riding clothes covered in dust, the Lion had lost none of his majestic charms.

"Loke!" She bolted up and ran straight into his arms, burying her face into his chest and inhaling the scent that belonged to no one but him. A second later, she realized how foolish that was. She let go and backed away with a shiver of paranoia. " he with you?"

"I come alone, and I sent Lieutenant Scorpio away." Loke's hand rested on her cheek, and his eyes tightened with worry. "The rumors are true. You've lost weight."

She looked aside, feeling foolish for making him worry about her. "Food doesn't taste as good when it's not you delivering it to me."

"Fickle princess!" He grabbed her and held her close, running his hands over her nightgown and up into her golden hair. "I missed you, too," he whispered.

After a heartfelt embrace, Lucy pulled back and looked up into his face with tears of joy in her eyes. At last, he was back! Suddenly, her smile became a scowl, and she slapped him with a resounding crack. His glasses were knocked off his face, and a red print marked his cheek.

"How dare you leave my side without my permission!"

He rubbed out the stinging mark. "The king's orders are..."

"I don't care! Never leave my side again, Loke."

He gazed down at her and smiled. "Okay, I won't."

She eyed him suspiciously. "Are you now in the habit of lying to me?"

"No," he said gently. "I will never lie unless you order me to. It's just that I've come to a conclusion about orders and the monarchy. I will follow any order you give me." He leaned down and whispered into her ear. "Anything at all."

Lucy looked up with huge eyes. Any order? She wondered just how far she could take this decision. "All right, then kiss me."

He smirked at her defiant face. "With pleasure."

He attacked her mouth voraciously. Lucy was stunned by such boldness, but she had missed this feeling. She hummed against his lips, and instantly his arms wrapped around her. Her hands clutched at him, ran up into his hair, and pulled his face closer so she could deepen the kiss. His tongue pressed between her lips, and she opened herself up to him. Their tongues swirled, a moan shivered out, and suddenly Loke pulled up, breathing hard. Lucy felt lightheaded and had to catch her breath.

"Stars, I've missed you, Loke!"

His face tensed with passion. "And I've missed you!" He dived down for another kiss. "I had to leave because of the king's orders," he explained between frantic kisses to her cheeks and neck. "I realized while I was away, I rarely follow your orders. Why should I, a mere soldier, obey my king yet disobey my princess? Who am I to pick one over the other?" He stopped nibbling her skin and rose to peer down at her. "Something Capricorn said made me think. His allegiance is to you, not the royal family. Where is my allegiance?" he whispered in anguish. "How can I pick one noble over another? So long as I am not directly disobeying my king's command, shouldn't I obey you as well?"

"What did the king demand?" she asked, curious and worried.

"His precise command was that the letter of alliance should be placed into the Dragon King's hands, and when it held his seal of approval, I must bring Prince Natsu here, oversee the wedding, and after all is consummated, escort you two to the Land of Dragons."

She drew back with a panicked look. "The prince..."

"He never said I had to be the one to place that letter into the Dragon King's hands," Loke smirked slyly. "Nor did he ever specifically command that I could not touch you. It's a generalized rule, but not a direct command that passed out of the king's mouth." He had a mischievous gleam in his green eyes, but slowly it faded with the harshness of reality. "To be honest, I'll be hanged or beheaded for this..."

"No!" she gasped.

"...but I no longer care." He took her face into his hands. "For once in my life, I want to dedicate myself fully to you. For tonight, and for as long as you command'll be my master."

She looked confused and worried. "But the letter?"

His soft laugh held all the playfulness of a kitten. "I went all the way to the Land of Dragons. The king did order that much. However, when I got there, I deemed that a sweet blind beggar woman should deliver the letter. I even paid her a silver. Now, if that beggar decides to burn the paper to keep herself warm at night, the Spirit King can take that up with her."

Lucy's eyes began to water as she laughed. "You didn't bring the prince."

He caressed her face. "My order was to bring the prince after the Dragon King's seal was on that paper. I'm sure, if he ever finds that document, he'll let the Land of Spirits know that we should go pick up his bratty boy."

"Oh Loke!" she cried out, hugging him tightly. "But...but Father will punish you."

"True," he admitted. "I decided that, as captain of the guard, I should pick my punishment. I choose exile. Before dawn, I'll be far away from here."

"You're leaving? Then take me with you!" she cried out.

He smiled and caressed her cheek. "Is that an order, princess?"

"Yes," she said firmly. "But first..." She ran a hand through his hair. He still had dust from the road on his uniform, but his face looked even more dashing like this. "Love me," she moaned. "Make me yours...please."

Loke's eyelids lowered at the seductiveness of her face. "As you wish, princess."

He lifted Lucy off her feet and rushed her to the bed. He dropped her to the mattress and climbed right on top of her.

"Whoa, Loke," she gasped at such eagerness, yet she did not dare push him away.

His hands slid up her gown, pulling it to her waist. Then he pulled her into a sitting position and yanked the gown over her head, exposing her naked body. Lucy bashfully covered her breasts, but Loke tugged the hands away.

"What did I tell you about shamefully covering yourself?"

"That was about my husband," she replied drolly, eagerly undoing the buttons on his uniform.

He yanked the shirt off and began to pull on his belt. "Didn't you say before, you consummated your love to me?"

She blushed as she recalled that day, placing his seed in her mouth.

"Perhaps I should consummate my love to you as well," he whispered heatedly as he tugged his pants off.

"Without a wedding?" she teased.

"We are in the Land of Spirits. Let the spirits witness our oaths." He leaned over her again and rubbed his nose against her. "Let's get married, right here, right now. I promise to honor you, respect you, obey your every wish, and to love you, as I have always loved you, for the rest of my days. That's all I need to say, right?"

She giggled softly. "I promise to love and honor you, treat you with respect, and never sully your pride, for the rest of my days."

"Then a ring to symbolize our oaths." Loke pulled a gold ring off his pinkie finger and slid it onto her ring finger. "A little big, but it'll work for now. Thus, as the captain of the king's royal guard, I pronounce us husband and wife. Let us seal our oath with a kiss." He leaned over and crashed his lips into hers.

Although done half in jest, Lucy felt her heart racing. With all her soul, she wanted this to really be a marriage. Maybe it was. He was a captain of the guard, after all. He had the authority to perform marriages.

"Is this for real?" she asked in a dizzy daze as Loke licked his way down to her breasts.

He raised up and gazed into her hooded eyes. "Do you want it to be?"

She reached up and caressed his face. "Yes."

"Then call me that name."

She laughed softly, yet with all her heart Lucy said, "Husband."

A tingle went through Loke's body. Legal or not, he felt that they were wedded in spirit now, and that was all that mattered in this land. "My princess and my wife." Saying that brought a tear to his eye.

Lucy shook her head. "Not princess anymore. When the king learns of what we're about to do, I might be disowned as his heir. Still," she smiled, holding his face with both hands, "I would rather live as a commoner with you by my side, than as a queen and lonely." She leaned up and kissed him. "Never leave me, Loke."

"I will always be with you," he swore.

"Serve me for as long as you live."

He nodded solemnly, remembering the oath he gave her as a child, crying by her mother's grave. "You need only to call me, and I will be there. I will never let you feel lonely."

Then she looked deeply into his eyes. She felt his breathing getting quicker, and the stiffness between his legs warned her of what was about to happen. "Say you love me. But don't say it just because I ordered it. Say how you really feel."

His hands slid over her naked skin. His face looked lost in utter happiness. "I love you with all my spirit, Lucy. I can't ever lose you. I want to make you mine...for all eternity."

"Then show me," she breathed, spreading her legs for him.

He leaned over her, kissing her deeply. She loved the way his body felt heavy on top of her. He radiated strength, loyalty, and kindness.

"I'll be gentle," he promised, pressing up against her. "Just trust me."

"I do," she affirmed. As she felt him, she gasped, her head threw back, and she was instantly lost in the sea of pleasure.

As Loke slowly made love to her, he began to realize something. Lucy was called The Diamond Princess because of her flawless beauty, yet it is only when a diamond is broken, chipped away, and skillfully shaped that it shines with its true luster. As he broke into her, as he marked that porcelain skin with bites and sucks, as he watched her sweat and cry out in blissful agony, he finally saw her shine with true, unobscured beauty. He was a craftsman's chisel, pounding relentlessly again and again, breaking away the rough innocence, so the dazzling lady inside could finally glow.

The pace quickened, and they both succumbed to their love. As she cried out Loke's name, Lucy felt the shackles of her social station fall away. At last, she could be who she truly was. She could set aside the title of princess and simply be Lucy.

He had not only given her love. Loke gave her freedom!

When it was over, Lucy slept in exhaustion. Loke gazed down at her. The candle had burned out, so only the stars lit her face. He saw that her blood had stained the sheets. The castle would know what happened here that night. He would probably be hunted through all the kingdoms.

That was fine. So long as Lucy wanted him, so long as she loved him, he would continuously fight for her. He would face exile, because he would not be alone. His perfected diamond would shine with him.

He moved some hair out of Lucy's face, which made her stir and wake up. Her eyes shined in the glimmer of stars outside, and Loke leaned over to kiss her.

"Dawn will be here soon," he warned. "Are you able to walk?"

Lucy sat up slowly. Despite weariness, tingling in her thighs, and a pain between her legs, she got up. Loke assisted her to dress, and she packed some belongings that were precious to her, mostly mementos of her mother. She also brought all of her jewelry, knowing they would need money for food and shelter at wherever they ended up traveling.

"Dress warmly," he advised. "We're heading somewhere cold."

"The Land of Ice?" she asked, grabbing her thickest cloak.

"Queen Ultear has promised asylum for both of us. I'm an old friend of her brother, Prince Gray. Once, I helped him during a challenging trial, so he owes me a favor. I already wrote to him, and Gray promised he, his brother Duke Lyon, and his sister the queen will protect us from the Land of Dragons and the Land of Spirits. Honestly," Loke chuckled and he picked up Lucy's heavy bag and slung it over his shoulder, "Gray has an old rivalry against Prince Natsu. When I told him I was stealing away Natsu's bride, he was thrilled to do anything that might humiliate the Dragon Prince."

Loke crept to the door and opened it slowly. He saw Capricorn standing guard. The tutor looked back at him and nodded firmly.

"None have come by, Captain," he assured. "Virgo and Aries are doing a fine job of keeping the servants out of this area."

Lucy blushed as she realized her tutor must have heard everything that happened between them that night. "You're all helping...why?"

Capricorn gave her a tender smile. "My duty is to you, princess, and not to the royal family. I sneaked Loke in here, and now we will sneak you both out."

Then Aries and Virgo came forward. They helped to carry some of Lucy's bags, and they gave her a traveling cloak with a deep hood that hid her face. Then they hurried through the halls.

Suddenly, the Gemini twins rushed into the hallway. "Back, back!" the two small children warned.

The group drew back as one of the king's chancellors walked by with a midnight snack. Once he was gone, Gemi and Mini hurried out again, checking passages and distracting guards with their antics so the others could sneak by.

Finally, they reached the main entrance. To their surprise, they were met head on by Lieutenants Scorpio and Taurus. Loke reached for his sword, ready to fight his old friends and underlings, but both had smiles.

Scorpio explained, "We heard you had returned, and we knew you'd try something foolish, Lion. We are going to help."

Taurus nodded eagerly. "We'll get you two out of the grounds. Anything to protect Princess Lucy's nice body."

Loke thanked them with a sigh of relief. It was good to have friends he could count on. Their sizable group hurried forward, keeping against walls, with Taurus or Scorpio scouting ahead, then waving them to hurry. Loke wrapped his arm around Lucy as she shivered from the cold night air and the thrill of running away from the castle.

They at last made it to the river that lazily flowed through part of the palace grounds. Lucy saw Aquarius with one of her boats, and Momma Pisces was at the helm, with her darker child at the stern.

"We'll get you out of here," Aquarius promised. "Only because Scorpio asked me to help."

Lucy looked around. Other members of the staff had gathered to wish her safe travel. She cried as she saw that, despite her father's heavy fist, so many of her friends were eager to ensure her happiness.

"Thank you, all of you," she sniffled.

"Just don't get caught, ebi," Cancer warned.

Aries bashfully said, "We'll distract the king somehow...I'm sorry."

"If anything is discovered, I will take full punishment," Virgo decided.

"Have fun, have babies!" Gemi and Mini cheered.

"Moooove it along, you two," Taurus laughed.

Lucy gave them all hugs, although Aquarius shoved her away. Then she climbed onto the rocking boat.

"Pisces," Capricorn called out to the boat-wright. "Take them ten leagues downstream. Sagittarius is there with a couple of horses. That should get them out of the Land of Spirits."

The child nodded. "Understood, Momma."

Capricorn glared. "I'm not your mother!"

"Fufu!" Mother Pisces chuckled. "Let's go, son."

"Yes, Momma."

The boat sailed away, slipping into the darkness and the river fog, gliding silently out of the castle, passed the nearby village, and out into open lands where only morning birds sang and frogs chirruped. Loke hugged Lucy around from the back, sheltering her from the moist chill, and gave her a soft kiss on the head. He realized this was only the start of their new adventure together, and it would not be easy for them. Still, with Lucy as his master, he would fight any enemy.

The sun began to rise, turning the fog into lacy gold. They arrived at a fording, where Sagittarius was standing with two steeds. Loke assisted Lucy up into her saddle, then mounted his own horse Regulus.

Sagittarius saluted stiffly. "Be safe, Captain, Princess...moshi-moshi."

"Thank you. Bye-bye, Pisces," Lucy cheered, waving goodbye. "Thanks, both of you."

"You're welcome, Momma," the child replied.

"I'm not your mother!"

When Lucy looked up at Loke, grinning with eager excitement at finally breaking free from the shackles of her duties, he knew that they would always be happy, so long as they had one another. He would protect his love, and always treat her with pride.

On that day, the two escaped the Land of Spirits, and after a long ride over many harsh roads, they at last came to the Land of Ice. There, the gentle Queen Ultear took in Lucy and Loke, hiding them from her father and any retaliation from the Dragons. However, they heard that Prince Natsu asked his father not to blame either the Spirits nor Princess Lucy. Peace was settled in other ways between the two nations, and Lucy lived without fear.

She and Loke brought beauty and joy to the Land of Ice. Lucy became the confidante of Prince Gray's fiancé Juvia, and Loke enjoyed hunting parties with the Ice Prince. They lived together in happiness, maybe not with all the splendors Lucy had known as a princess, but certainly the Ice Nobles did not let them live in poverty.

A year later, rumors reached the King of Spirits that Lucy had given birth to a son. At the news of an heir, the king at last forgave his daughter and offered to let her come back home, with Loke as her new prince. She, Loke, and their son returned to tearful reunions with her dear Spirit friends. Lucy reconciled with her father, and Loke got training on how to act as a prince. He had a natural gift at charming others, although he still preferred to sneak out and have a dueling scuffle with Taurus or Scorpio.

In time, Lucy became the Diamond Queen of Spirits, and Loke was crowned as her beloved king. They ruled during an era of peace, and the people in the Land of Spirits swore that while Queen Lucy reigned, the stars shined even brighter in the night sky.

And they lived happily ever after.

The End