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A Knight to Remember

Chapter Text

"NO!"

"Winn, please."
"No, Kara, you're insane!" Winn shook his head and stepped back. "No, no, no. You can't do this, it's not worth it."

"Winn, I'll do it either way; but with your help I stand a better chance of triumph." Kara looked at him pleadingly.  "And I would really love to have my best friend's blessing."

 

They were standing in Winn's shop, surrounded by an abundance of weapons and armours. Kara often spent her free time here when Winn wasn't too busy with work. They would talk about their unfortunate affections for unobtainable people, their masters, and their hatred for the Luthors. Well, except for one Luthor - Lady Lena. Ahh, Lady Lena, Lady Lena...

 

"You can't even sign up, you're a woman! They won't let you do it." Winn desperately tried to find a way to talk Kara out of making this huge mistake.

"They won't know! I'll sign up with my cousin's name. And I can wear my helmet the entire time, no one will notice."

Winn went back to polishing the barbute that he made before Kara stormed in and ruined his day. "You can't do that." He looked up to meet her gaze. "You don't have one."

"I know! That's why I need you. Please, Winn. Please, please, please!" She pouted. Kara knew that Winn can't resist the pout.

"Oh, damn you, Kara Zor-El. But what if they find out? You could be beheaded!"
Kara snorted. "Please. Incarcerated at best."

"But what if you lose?"

"Then it won't matter."

"You could get killed!"

"Exactly. Then none of that will matter."

But Kara smiled to herself, thinking of the possibility of what could happen if she won.

 

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"But, father, you can't do this! It's not fair!"

"Lena, we've talked about this already." The king said, rubbing his temples. "We need to find you a good suitor, and this melee is a perfect opportunity for it. All the finest knights will be there. Princes, even. Many want to win a favor with our kingdom, and they know that your hand in marriage is a way to do that."

Lena was on the verge of tears. "Lex doesn't have to marry yet!"

"Lex will rule this kingdom and he will have his queen, when the time comes."

"But father, I don't want to get married!" Lena was crying now, she was desperate.

 

She never wanted any of this. She didn't want the luxurious dresses or the servants or the gold. She just wanted to be free. Her chest was aching every day at the thought that soon enough she'll be given away to a complete stranger, probably twice her age; and she'll have to smile and nod and spend her entire life locked away. Just a pretty face on a coin, with a good name to trade in for favors. She dreaded the thought of having to live like this forever.

Running away wasn't an option. She tried that once when she was 14, but the guards found her and brought her back. They locked her in a tower for a month after that. Not to mention that she barely escaped a band of hooligans.

No, running away, unfortunately, wasn't an option.

 

"I don't know what made you think that this was some sort of parley, but I've had enough of it! The winner will escort you to the feast, and we will decide the rest after that." The king said and left the room.

Lena spent the rest of the day on her bed, crying.

 

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"You know I wanted this since I was a little girl. I'd train with Kal every day, dreaming of winning the tournament some day.And now I finally have a chance to do it, and I have even more reasons than ever before. You knew I wanted to sign up; I don't see what a big deal it is now."

"The big deal is that I never thought you'd actually do it. Women aren't allowed to compete."

"Well, this woman can, and will." She sighed. "I feel like I'm not living up to my full potential. I wasn't put on this Earth just to be a someone's servant for the rest of my life. I want to create my own path, my own destiny. Can't you understand that?"

"Look, Kara, I understand, I really do. But putting yourself in harm's way is not the way to do it. Especially not for some girl."

"She's not just some girl and you know it. Besides, I'm not doing this for Lady Lena, I'm doing it for myself."

"I don't like it."

"I know you don't. But you'll help me anyway?" She gave him her best innocent, pleading look, and waited for his reaction expectantly.

Winn groaned "Ughhhh, okay, yes. I'll make your armour."

"Yes!!" She jumped up and down and clapped her hands in excitement. "And then you can come to the melee and watch me defeat your beau, and win the lady's affection." She giggled and winked at him.

Kara was already at the door and Winn shouted after her "HE'S NOT- he's not my beau!" And then he added shyly to himself "Unfortunately."

 

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"My lady, is everything alright?" The lady's maid slowly opened the door to Lady Lena's chambers and came in to find her lying on the bed.

"I'm fine, leave me be." Said the voice, muffled by a pillow in which Lena buried her face.

"You missed lunch and dinner. Are you sure that I can't get you anything?"

"I said I'm fine!" She shouted.

A short pause followed, and the maid sighed. She was worried. The princess often had her bad days, but this is probably the worst one so far.

"I'm sorry." Lena said as she slowly turned around and got up to sit on the bed.

"It's okay, my lady."

"No, you shouldn't put up with the backlash of something that you didn't cause." Lena sniffled. "Can you find me a handkerchief, please?"

"Here you go. Why don't we clean you up and then get you some Strawberye? It always helps me feel better."

"That would be nice."

 

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"Could you stay here, just for a while, until I've gone to sleep?"

"Of  course, my lady." The maid smiled.

"Thank you, Kara."

Chapter Text

"Keira!" A voice yelled from the other room, before Miss Grant, the head housekeeper, appeared at the door.

 

"Keira, it's already 6 o'clock, why isn't there a fire blazing in the library fireplace? You know very well that Lady Lena loves to go there first thing in the morning." Miss Grant gave her a stern look. "Well? What are you waiting for? Take some wood and light the fire before Lady Lena wakes up."

Lady Lena lights my fire, Kara thought to herself. "Of course, Miss Grant. I apologize. I wasn't aware of the time." Because you were lost in your thoughts of a cute princess, Kara, you useless Sappho. Pull yourself together. She yelled at herself in her mind.

 

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She was carrying two buckets filled with wood as she walked by the kitchen. Oh, my, that smells Good.

 

She entered the library, that was at the other side of the castle, and set the buckets down. Crouching, she grabbed pieces of wood and started putting them in the fireplace. With a piece of old paper and some matches she managed to start a fire.

 

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Living and working here at the court for the past five years, she created a lot of memories. But when you walk the same route every day and everything's the same, you stop noticing things. Kara would walk the main corridor, the hallway leading to Lady Lena's room, the kitchen, hers and Alex's room... and she walked those paths so many times that it became an automatic mechanical action. But, sometimes, she would stop and notice things and it would bring back some memories.

 

She would walk the hallway to court's physician's quarters - the first room of the castle that she saw when they first brought her here - and she would remember the numbness and the confusion that she felt that day. But she would also remember how safe she felt being there, after a while. She would remember playing with Alex every day, and going home after a long day of work to celebrate the first Christmas with her new family.

 

And now, as she walked to Lady Lena's room, she suddenly remembered the day when she first became aware of the feelings that she had for her.

Three years ago - just as Kara turned fifteen - Lady Lena was in the need of a new lady's maid. Lady Danvers suggested Kara, who was now already considered an adult. The princess used to play with her and Alex, so she considered her a trusted friend, and soon enough she got the job.

Kara always had a crush on Lena, but she confused it with awe. After all, she was a princess. Who wouldn't have a crush on her?

So, three months after Kara started her new job, she went to Lady Lena's room to bring her a new book from the library - because Lena loved to read and she had just finished a book that Kara recommended, so she brought her another one. Only to find her kissing Lady Sara Lance.

She almost dropped the book - luckily she hasn't, or she'd be caught and fired - and she ran away to her room. Her chest hurt like a whole army of men sat on it; she couldn't breathe. Alex explained that feeling as "heartbreak". It was new for Kara, and she didn't like it.

 

Thankfully, Lena didn't know about this incident, so Kara got to keep her job. But being around Lady Lena wasn't easy for Kara. Though it was the sweet kind of poison that she was happy to get the taste of every day.

So now she cleans her dresses, makes her bed, helps her study, fixes her hair, and pretends that she's not madly in love with her.

 

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"My lady?" Kara peeped her head in the room, and then discreetly entered. "It's 6:30. Do you wish to get up?"

Lena's response, as every morning, was incoherent mumbling.

"I think that there's freshly baked bread and broth for breakfast, and it smells really good. And the fire is already lit at the library."

 

Kara understood the importance of a good breakfast - and also, she simply loved food - so, Lena eating breakfast was one more thing that she liked about her. King and Queen never had breakfast - "breakfast is for commoners" - and Lena loved that because she would get to spend a quiet morning at the library, enjoying a nice meal by herself.

 

The maid approached the big windows at the left side of the room, and moved the drapes to let some sun in.

 

"Ummm...." some more mumbling followed. "Erhmm.. water."

"Here you go, my lady." Kara offered her a glass.

Lena slowly got up and drank the water, still keeping her eyes closed.

How is she so beautiful in the morning? Kara thought. This should be illegal, banned. No one is allowed to be this gorgeous before they even open their eyes. It's not fair.

A lock of Lena's long, dark hair fell on her face, and Kara had to stop herself from reaching to move it away. Her lips looked so kissable. That's not an inappropriate thought at all. She thought, saracastically.

 

Lena washed her face, and then Kara helped her get dressed. She then spent her morning at the library, as usual, while Kara did other chores that Miss Grant had for her.

 

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"I need my sword polished."

"Uhh, um.. Your..?"

"My sword. It needs polishing." The tall knight said.

Winn just stared at him, and then laughed nervously.

"You provide those services, don't you, smithy?" He said with a smirk.

"Yes." He cleared his throat. "Yes, we do." Pull yourself together, Winslow.

"Okay, then." He said, and then just stood there, smiling.

"Well?" Winn waited. "I'm gonna need you to pull it out."

The knight let out a loud laugh. "What?"

Damn it, Winn. "The sword! Out of the scabbard! I can't polish it until you give it to me - hand it to me."

"Right." He smirked again.

 

Winn hated that smirk. He loved that smirk, but he hated it.

 

"So when can I come to pick it up?"

"Later in the day, it will be done by tonight."

"Good, because I need to practice." He sighed and waited for Winn's reaction. But Winn said nothing. "You know, for the melee?"

Winn just nodded.

Of course Winn knew about the melee, and that his heinous face will be there.

That was a lie, his face was beautiful and Winn was smitten.

"Will you be there to watch?" No smirk this time, just a nervous, expectant smile.

"Errrh.. yes."

"Okay." He beamed. "My name is Sir Mon-El of Daxam. We can celebrate after, when I win." He winked and left the shop.

 

Oh boy.

 

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"Will that be all, my lady?" Kara said after she finished putting Lena's hair in a nice bun.

"That would be all, Kara. Thank you."

Kara was shifting from one foot to another, unsure of what she will say next.

"My lady," she looked Lena in the eye - her beautiful blue-ish green eyes that she often got lost in - "I wish to ask - if it's not insolent from my part, I don't mean to pry, but - are you alright?"

Lena looked taken aback by the question.

"You weren't feeling well yesterday, and I was just wondering if everything's alright, and maybe if there's anything that I could do to help."

After a brief pause, Lena replied. "You're right, it is insolent." She could see the hurt on Kara's face. "But also, thank you. For caring." She smiled.

"And to answer your question, when have I ever been alright?" Lena scoffed and gave Kara a sad smile as she looked away. "But I'm afraid that there's nothing you can do. My father wants to sell me like cattle at a market. Marrying to form an alliance is the only value that I have in his eyes. I managed to avoid it all these years, but I'm already twenty years old and "the time has come"" She mimicked her father's voice.

 

Kara didn't know what to say to that. She couldn't comfort her with words, and she knew that Lady Lena didn't want her pity. She would even be offended by it. Hugging her wasn't an option, either, as much as she wanted to. They played together as kids, but she was still just a maid now, and Lena was royalty.

 

"You may leave now, Kara. I need to rest."

"As you wish, my lady." Kara gave her a sympathetic smile and left the room.

 

----------------------

 

"So, now you see why I absolutely have to do this." Kara said, swinging her legs as she sat on the table in Winn's shop.

"No, actually, I don't. It's dangerous and it'll get you nowhere." He fidgeted with some parts of the armour that he had laid out on the table in front of him. "Except an early grave - if you lose."

"Thank you for your confidence." She mocked.

"You haven't seen her face, Winn! She's lost all hope. But she doesn't want to marry one of the.... the...." Kara struggled to find words. Cursing was not her strongest suit. "The.... the... fopdoodles! They're old and gross and she deserves better."

"So... what? You think she's going to run off with a handmaiden? Because that's ever happened..." He laughed.

"Well, I.... I mean, no. I- I- I know that she won't do that," Kara tried to laugh, but it wasn't genuine. "I know that she would never, but.. maybe if I win I can buy her some time? At least she wouldn't have to spend the feast with a drunk, wrinkled codger breathing down her neck." Kara grimaced at the mere thought of it happening.

 

"Look, Kara," his voice was softer than usual "we both know that she'd be lucky to have you, but even if she wanted to - she can't. She was born with the responsibility for her kingdom."

"I know. I really don't expect anything except to go with her to the feast." Kara was trying to convince herself more than she did Winn.

"I just hope you know what you're doing."

She didn't, but she was going to do it anyway.

 

"When are you going to finish making my armour? Tomorrow is the last day to sign up, I can't show up without my helmet."

"Don't worry, oh brave knight." He mocked. "I've got your back."

"Hey!" Kara pushed his shoulder, but then she giggled.

 

"Speaking of the melee, this is his sword." Winn showed it to Kara.

She gasped. "No! He was here?"

"Yes. And I made a total fool of myself."

Kara laughed. "Dear God, what did you do?"

"Nothing." He replied; the tone of his voice made it obvious that it wasn't nothing.

 

-------

 

"Keira!!" They were abruptly interrupted by a voice from the outside of the shop.

Miss Grant opened the door. "Keira, we don't pay you to spend time with the blacksmith all day. I don't know - or want to know - what you do with the handsome little hobbit in here, but do it on your own time. Your job is to take care of the princess, and she needs your services. Come on, chop-chop!"

 

Kara gave Winn an apologetic look as she got up and turned to the door.

 

"Yes, Kara, go take care of the princess." He snorted and she turned around, giving him her best "you're dead when I come back" look.

Chapter Text

"Concentrate, Kara!" James shouted as he blocked Kara's attack with his shield.

 

He lunged, swinging his sword, hitting her on the arm.

"Again!"

 

She tried to thrust her sword to his chest but he blocked it, pushed her off and went for a crosscut, which Kara managed to block with her sword. He stepped forward, putting his foot behind hers and pushed her down.

 

"HEY!" Kara yelled as she fell on the soft grass field on which they practiced. "That's not fair!"

"Really? Are you going to use that excuse at the tournament, too?" He said sternly. "Get up!"

"You..." Kara stuttered as she picked herself up. "You know?"

"Of course I know, Kara. I know you. You didn't train all these years for nothing. And you talked about the feast every year since you got here. I figured, now that you're eighteen, you would probably sign up."

Kara smiled.

"You're not gonna tell my cousin, are you?" She pleaded.

James laughed. "Is that why you haven't told me? I've got to say that I was" - he mockingly put his hand to his chest - "so deeply hurt."

"I didn't want to put you in the position of having to lie to your best friend." She gave him a sad smile.

"Don't worry, Kal already knows."

"He what?"

"Kal trained you since you were 10 years old. He knows that you were meant for bigger and better things." James said tenderly. "This is your destiny. You have his full support. And mine."

 

Kara stepped forward, aiming for a hug, but James put the blunt replica of a sword, that they practiced with, between them. "Uh-uh." He shook his head. "En garde!" He shouted and put his left foot forward, taking the ox guard.

 

"Why are you being so mean?" Kara said with a mocking, weepy voice.

"Because I would prefer it if you didn't die." The tone of James' voice was serious. "Now, pick up your sword."

 

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"Ow! Do you have to keep knocking me over?" Kara complained as she picked herself up for the fifth time in the past hour."

"Do you have to keep making it so easy?"

"Hey! Rude."

A short pause followed until Kara broke the silence. "What if I lose?" She said. Her voice filled with sadness and fear. "Some of those men are more than twice my size."

 

"Come here." James motioned for her to step closer. "Let me see your stance."

With her left foot forward, she pointed her blade upward and put the shield next to the hilt.

He attacked her and she blocked his sword with hers.

"See, what I'm doing now is feeling the pressure that you create pressing your sword. I feel this bind, this contact, and I know where the pressure goes and I can use that to my advantage."

He quickly moved his sword around hers, placing it on her neck. "If this were a real fight you'd be dead now."

"You're not helping!" She all but screamed at him.

 

"Feel the pressure that your oponent makes with his sword against yours, Kara. Trust your instincts."

 

Placing her right foot forward, Kara took the near guard position.

James went to strike and she blocked it with her shield and hit his right hand that held the sword.

 

"Boom, my hand is gone! There you go!" He smiled. "It doesn't matter how big your opponent is. If you're faster you can beat him easily. In fact, your size can be your advantage; you can move faster and easier than they can."

"Thank you, James."

He winked at her.

"Just remember: create an opening and strike there."

 

"But how do I avoid getting knocked down?"

"Your problem is that when you strike with your arms, you forget about your legs. You need to be aware of everything; move your entire body. Place your feet firmly on the ground."

"These are the basics, I know this."
"Apparently you don't." He said, knocking her over again.

"Hey! What was that for?"
"You didn't even see me place my foot there! You need to be aware of everything. Get up."

 

"Your footing is key for balance." With his foot, he set hers farther apart. "There you go. And try to slide your feet rather then lift them up and stepping."

"Slide?! Kal never told me this." Kara started panicking.

"Hey, it's alright. We still have time to practice." James tried to calm her down.

 

"Let's get you back to the castle."

"No, we have to practice!"

"We can do that tomorrow. I hear that they made pie."

"Ooh, I could use some pie. I didn't eat anything in three hours."

 

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"Did you finish it?" Kara jumped in excitement as she got inside of Winn's shop.

"Almost. I need you to try this helmet."

He handed a metal piece of armour to her.

"This is too big, Winn."

"Just try it, please."

 

She put the helmet on and, yes, it was too large for her.

"I can't believe you thought my head was this enormous!" She yelled as her voice echoed in the metal case. "You could fit two of my heads in this!"

"I'm just trying out some models," - he defended himself - "to see if you would feel better with a barbute or an armet."

"That's a lie. You thought this would fit."

Winn was silent for a few seconds.

"Okay, I did." He finally admitted.

 

"WINN!"

 

-----------

 

 "Kara! There you are." Lena approached her, smiling.

"I was just going to see you, my lady." Kara said. "I picked these for you." She offered a nice bouquet of pink flowers to the princess.

"Oh, that's so sweet. Thank you, Kara, they're lovely."

 

She wondered if Kara knew the meaning of the Lily.

(Kara knew.)

 

"I don't like seeing you upset, so I thought maybe these would cheer you up." Kara looked at Lady Lena, giving her a shy smile.

"You cheer me up."  The princess replied.

 

Kara blushed. "Should we put them in water?"

"Yes, that would be lovely."

She went to take a vase, and Lena followed.

 

"Remember when we were kids and you didn't even like flowers and all those girly things." Kara reminisced. "You would just run with us, servant kids, around the castle until your father would send his guards for you."

"In those rare moments when they could find me." Lena chuckled. "When they would come, we would just hide in the cellar or one of our other hiding places." She looked up at Kara. "You were always by my side, even when it would get you in trouble."

"That's what friends are for."

 

"I miss those times. Playing with you and Alex, and the rest of the kids."

Kara offered her a sad smile. "Me too."

"At first I did it to make my father mad, but I actually came to enjoy your company after the very first day I spent with you. You never expected anything from me, other than to be myself and have fun." She sighed. "The nobles," - the word tasted bitter in her mouth - "they always want you to behave well, shut up and smile, wear pretty dresses and not even breathe if you weren't told to do so."

Suddenly, Kara felt a little better about her life. It wasn't great, but at least her foster parents were always kind and let her have a normal childhood.

She remembers how the king would always yell at Lady Lena, and how she would cry every day.

 

"Hey, speaking of dresses, do you remember that time when you fell in mud?" Kara started laughing, loudly.

"You mean, when you pushed me in mud?"

"It's not like you didn't provoke me."

Lena couldn't stop laughing. It felt good. She doesn't remember the last time she genuinely had a good laugh.

"Yes, I must admit I have. I did it on purpose."

"What? Why?"

"You always looked so charming when you got mad. I just wanted to see that pout again."

 

Kara's laughter slowly turned into confusion.

"I-" She stuttered. "I um, I have to get your dress ready for the evening."

"Of course." Lena gave her a slight nod. "Thank you, Kara."

 

The princess looked back at Kara, who quickly left the room.

 

-----------------

 

"She called me charming!"

"Hold still, please." Winn said, trying to adjust the cuirass of her armour.

"What do you mean "still"? I'm having a crisis here!"

"And I'm trying to adjust the armour that could be essential at keeping you alive."

"Lady Lena is gonna bury me before I even get to that tournament." She complained. "Why does she have to be so beautiful, and why does she have to say words and do things?"

"I'm... not even gonna answer that."

"Why did she have to say that I'm charming?"

"Well, she is right." He replied. "Hold still, Kara, please."

She obeyed this time.

"Good thing your bosom is smaller than Lady Lena's. I could never adjust this cuirass that well on her."

"Hey! Watch your mouth."

"I'm just saying," he put his hands up in defense, "she'd have a harder time making people believe that she's a man."

"I'm not certain if I'm more offended that you looked at her bosom, or that you just called me manly."

"You're not! Not in a dress. But this armour looks good on you. That's all that I was saying, and I'mgoingtoshutupnow."

"You better."

 

"I made it out of adamantium. It's less heavy than other metals, so it will be easier for you to move. I never used it before because it's really hard to find, but only the best for you, my dear."

"Thanks, Winn." She hugged him.

"Eh." He waved it off. "It's nothing."

He blushed and then added "Except that, actually, it's almost impossible for it to be destroyed."

Kara beamed. "At least that's some good news."

"I know. Alex would kill me if something happened to you."

 

They stood there in silence for a few moments.

Kara was the first one to speak. "I miss her."

"Me too. Did she write to you?"

"Yes, actually, I got a letter this morning. She's still with Maggie, helping the refugees in the villages. I hope she comes back soon." Kara said with a sad smile.

"I told her I loved her, just in case that I don't make it."

"Hey!" Winn slapped her arm. "Don't speak like that. You're gonna win this thing, do you hear me?"

She nodded.

"Good. Take your helmet - the right size this time. Now, go. Sign up before you run out of time."

 

"Ah-ah. Not so fast."

They both turned around and saw James coming in the shop.

"I have something for you." He went in the back room and came out moments later with a magnificent sword. The most exquisite sword that Kara has ever seen.

"Winn may be the best blacksmith when it comes to armours, but I'm the one who makes the best swords around here. Or anywhere in the world, really." He said.

"Ever so modest." Kara teased him. "Thank you, James." She stood on her toes and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"It's from the same metal that Winn used for your armour."

 

He then took out a medium-sized shield from under the table.

"Kal sent this for you. It's the shield that he used in his first melee. He said it would bring you good luck."

 

Kara's eyes teared up.

"It has our family's coat of arms on it."

Chapter Text

"Run away with me." Lena said, taking Kara into her arms.

"But, my lady! What about your father? The kingdom?"

"I only want you." Lena pulled Kara closer for a passionate kiss. Her hands roaming Kara's body, looking to undo her dress and-

 

"OW"

Kara was woken up by a cold pillow thrown at her face.

 

"I can't believe this."

"ALEX!" Kara yelled and jumped out of the bed to hug her sister.

"Oh my lady!!" She mocked Kara. "I just got here and I already have to listen to you dreaming about Lena. Again. Ew." Alex grimaced.

"Shut up!"

"You talk in your sleep, Kara." She grimaced again. "Nasty."

"Stop!" Kara laughed. "You ruined my dream, I should be mad at you. And that's 'Lady Lena' for you."

"We played together as kids, Kara. I saw her fall on her ass too many times to call her 'my Lady'." She mimicked Kara mockingly as she pronounced the title.

"Still, she's the princess!"

Alex pretended to think about it for a moment. ".....right."

She smirked. "Anyway, what have you been doing? You didn't mention anything in your letter." She said, leading Kara back to their beds that were placed facing each other.

 

"Oh, you know..." Kara started, insecure of what to say, trying to avoid talking about the melee. "Same old. Miss Grant isn't too happy that I'm spending time with Winn. And King wants to give Lena away to one of the fopdoodles."

"Oh no." Alex gasped softly and moved to sit on Kara's bed next to her sister. She placed a hand on Kara's shoulder. "So, the time is finally here, isn't it?"

"Yes, I suppose." Kara said, looking down at her hands.


"What if they make me go with her? I would have to watch her be miserable with some king or a duke who would mistreat her and cheat on her with his five mistresses. I can't watch that, Alex." Kara was holding back the tears.

"You could always refuse to go?"

"That would be even worse."

 

After moments of thinking, Alex said "Maybe... Maybe if he cheats - she will, too. And who better to cheat with than the girl who is always around her? Silver lining." She said, raising her eyebrows.

Alex just wanted to cheer Kara up.

"That's not funny."

"I'm sorry." Alex said, rubbing Kara's back gently. "I know that you don't want to leave her, but if she does end up in a miserable marriage, being around her wouldn't be good for you. I won't allow that."

She gave Kara a hug.

 

"Hey! You didn't tell me anything about your trip." Kara said, excited to hear about her sister's adventure. "How's Maggie? Is she back, too? Did you help the refugees?"

 

---------------

 

"There you are, my dear sister."

Lena turned around.

"Lex. What brings you here? I thought you were riding to the villages with your knights?"

"Just about." He approached the windows where she was standing. "I wanted to see you first."

"Oh? Did you need something from me?" She smiled lovingly at her brother.

"I'm worried about you. The servants are talking."

"Kara would never say anything."

He chuckled softly. "No, not Kara." The tone of his voice playful, for a reason that Lena didn't understand but didn't bother to ask. "But you know servants, they keep quiet and they observe. They noticed that you weren't feeling well. Sir J'onn heard them and he expressed his concerns; so, I wished for us to talk."

"What is there to talk about, brother? You know what is going to happen. He'll sell me off to the highest bidder."

Lena was starting to get upset, but Lex stayed calm. He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him.

He smiled gently at her and she slowly started to calm down.

"You can always run away with your handmaiden. That would, for sure, make our father mad." He laughed.

 

Lena glanced at the lillies on her bedside table, and remembered Kara's smile as she handed them to her.

 

After a few moments, she gave Lex a light chuckle and playfully pushed his shoulder.

"Don't be ridiculous."

"What? You thought I didn't know?" He smiled at her. "My dear sister, I love you, and I would never doubt you. But I never believed for a second that you and Sara Lance just wore the same shade of lipstick."

 

"You're gonna be late! Go." She put an end to this conversation by ushering him, with a quiet laughter and a tear rolling down her face.

He wiped the tear away with his thumb. "I'm so sorry, sister. But father insisted that I sign up for the tourney, so just tell me who you hate the most and I'll make sure to end them." He smiled and then added "I'm not joking, make me a list."

 

He kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

 

---------------

 

"Your beau is so pleasant." Kara smiled at Winn.

"You talked to him?" His eyes went wide and his jaw dropped.

She chuckled. "Yes, when I went to sign up."

 

***

To avoid being recognized, Kara had to wear her helmet, and with it the whole armour - otherwise it wouldn't make any sense, obviously.

She felt ridiculous wearing the armour when she's only signing up for the touranment but that was her only option.

 

Kara approached and started signing her cousin's name on the paper in front of her. "Kal - House El".

 

She heard laughter from behind her. Nothing she didn't predict, so she ignored it.

But then...

 

"You know you don't have to fight straight away, right?" A voice said. "The melee isn't today."

"What are you afraid of? A papercut?" Another voice added and more laughter followed.

 

Kara wanted to pummel them right then and there, but she just clenched her fist and continued ignoring them. She turned around to walk away, but then the two men approached her.

 

"What does the S stand for? Sore loser?"

 

She recognized one of them. Oliver Queen.

 

Kara tried moving aside to walk around them, but they didn't let her leave.

"Come on, we're just joking. Don't mind my friend Maxwell. Who are you, anyway?"

 

She felt her face starting to burn. Her chest was heavy, she could barely breathe. This was starting to upset her because she was stuck. They won't let her move and she didn't want to start a fight and draw attention to herself. Speaking was also not an option; they could recognize a woman's voice.

 

But then, luckily...

 

"Boys! What is happening here?"

Winn's knight, Mon-El, came up from behind them and put his arms around both men - it would seem affectionate if Kara didn't know any better. He just wanted to keep them in place.

"Leave the poor lad alone, will you? If you wish to make a fool out of someone, do it on the field."

He gave them a smile, but the look in his eyes was threatening. "Unless you're not capable of doing that?"

***

 

"Oh, Kara, why did you tell me this?" Winn whined.

"Why not? I'm just telling you that he's nice and I approve."

"But now I just like him even more, uhhhhh." He raised his hand and put the palm on his face in defeat. He wasn't dealing with his feelings very well.

 

"Like whom?" A voice at the door said.

"Alex! You're back!" Winn smiled wide and ran to hug her.

 

He turned to Kara "Why didn't you tell me she was back?"

"I told her I wanted to surprise you." Alex replied. "You look horrible, Winn."

"Aaaaaand suddenly I'm not so happy to see you." He said, mockingly, and gave her another half-hug.

 

"So, whom do you like?"

"Uhh, a very handsome, tall knight from Daxam."

"Daxam? Is that the kingdom next to Krypton?" Alex asked Kara.

"Yes." Kara replied. "They're famous for their feasts and ballroom dances. Rumour says that their court hasn't seen a night without a party for the past 10 years - since this king's reign started."

 

"There you go, Winn." Alex put her hand on his arm. "Just get him drunk and he might even believe you're pretty." She patted his face.

"Let me live, Alex."

 

-------------

 

"Oliver Queen?" Alex was confused.

"Yes, you remember him, right?"

They were still in Winn's shop and Kara was sitting on her favorite desk, swinging her legs, while she and Alex watched Winn work.

"It's the boy who was mean to you when you just got here?" Winn said, not looking up from the armour that he was polishing.

"Oh my God!" Alex gasped. "Remember when Lena threatened to put him in the dungeon if he's ever mean to you again?"

Winn laughed. "She even had the guards on stand-by. She would have done it, I swear."

 

"She threatened to put him in the same cell with Three-spike Ike." Kara was now laughing with them, too.

"That was an unfortunate name." Winn noticed.

"Not as unfortunate as his victims."

 

"The guards say they still hear his evil laughter at night." Kara stared into the distance, creating a dramatic effect.

"He died two years ago, Kara."

"I know. That's what makes it so scary."

 

"How can I contact his ghost? I need to ask him to take care of Lionel."

Kara winced. "Alex, you can't call the King by his first name!"

"He's no king of mine!" Alex yelled.

Winn started laughing uncontrollably.

 

"LONG LIVE KING LEX!"

 

"ALEX, STOP! You'll get yourself beheaded!"

 

-----------------

 

"Working hard or hardly working?"

"What?" Winn looked up and was met with a beautiful smile.

The tall knight was standing in front of him.

 

"Oh, hello."

"Hi." Mon-El said. He kept smiling.

Why is his smile so bright? Winn was screaming on the inside.

 

"What can I do for you, sir?"

"You can start by calling me Mon-El." He offered his hand. "And you are?"

Winn just looked at him with a confused expression.

"Your name? I never got your name."

"Oh. Winslow. Winn!"

"Winn. I like it." Mon-El shook his hand and said. "I'm gonna do that."

"Do? Me? What? I'm- I'm sorry?" Winn was panicking. His palms were sweating.

"Win." He smirked. "The tournament. What else?"

 

He's doing this on purpose. Don't let him get in your head, Schott. Winn yelled at himself.

 

"So, I was thinking. I'm only visiting here - it's my first time - so I realized that I don't know any good places to get a drink here."

He waited for Winn's reaction but Winn said nothing.

"So......" Mon-El raised his eyebrows. "I was thinking maybe you could show me where to get a drink around here? Have some fun?"

 

"I... yes. Of course. Sure."

 

------------------------------

 

 "You wished to see me, my lady?"

Kara was back at the castle and already missing her friends.

 

"I polished your shoes, and your bath is ready when you are-"

The princess tried to cut her off.

"Kara-"

But Kara just continued. "-and Miss M'orzz says the lunch is almost ready and-"

"Kara, stop babbling."

"My lady? I'm sorry. Did you wish to ask for something?" Kara tilted her head in confusion.
"I know your secret, Kara."

Chapter Text

"My.... my secret?" She stuttered; her voice high-pitched.

 

What does she know? That I signed up for the tournament? That I have feelings for her? OH MY GOD, not about my dreams?? Please, God, just don't let it be my pathetic, filthy dreams.

 

"Miss Grant told me about you and the blacksmith." The tone of princess' voice was unusually harsh. Cold. Kara didn't know why.

 

To be fair, neither did Lena.

When Miss Grant told her that Kara is seeing 'the handsome blacksmith', Lena suddenly felt unusually uncomfortable. Her chest felt so heavy and completely empty at the same time. A lump formed in her throat, and she unconsciously started biting the inside of her mouth. Anxiety? No. Jealousy? Perhaps. But why?

 

Lena explained it to herself as jealousy for Kara's freedom to be with the one that she loves, while she's being forced into a marriage that she doesn't want.

Yes. That must be it.

Right?

 

The denial runs deep.

 

"What about Winn?"

"Listen, Kara."

Kara didn't recognize Lady Lena's voice. She sounded angry. Not upset though. Just... angry and aloof.

"I don't care who you shack up with - it's none of my business - but do it on your own time.

"But, my lady-" Kara tried to explain, but the princess cut her off.

"If it affects your performance here at work, it does concern me. So, please, respect your work hours. And consider this your one and only warning."

 

"My lady, may I?" Kara asked for a permission to speak. She wanted to yell, really, but you can't yell at the princess. They may be friends on some level, but Kara is still just a servant and yelling would be interpreted as a display of disrespect for the crown.

 

Lena nodded, giving her permission to speak. Her lips were pursed, and the look in her eyes sent shivers down Kara's spine.

'So cold, so angry.' She thought. 'But also arousing, Lord help me, but look at those eyes. She could kill me with one look and it would be the sweetest death one could possibly ask for.'

 

"I spend a lot of time with Winn, that's true. But I only ever go there when I'm done with all of my work and I made sure that you don't need my services anymore." Kara swallowed like she had a bitter pill stuck in her throat. She didn't like this. Just thinking that Lady Lena could hate her or be unhappy with her in any way.....

"And Winn is just a friend. When I'm not feeling well, I can talk to him and he makes things better just by being there. He's my best friend, actually. I don't want to choose between him and my job, but I can assure you that my friendship in no way interferes with how I do my job."

 

Lena just stared at her; her face softened a little bit, but it still looked strict. And a little hurt? Kara wasn't sure.

 

"But if you're unhappy with my services, do what you must. I will accept the consequences."

 

Kara was fighting so hard not to look away; because looking away would, perhaps, make her seem like she's lying, or make her look inferior. So, as hard as it was, she looked the princess straight in the eye.

 

Lena watched her for a few moments, looking for clues on her face to see if she's telling the truth.

 

"I see." Lena swallowed another lump and took a deep breath. She didn't even notice that she was holding her breath this entire time.

"You may go now, Kara."

 

Kara wanted to ask if everything is okay now, if they cleared it up, if there's anything else that she did wrong that she needed to fix. But she never saw Lady Lena like this, so she thought that it would be the best to just leave before she gives her another reason to get angry. (Even though she knew she did nothing wrong in the first place. But she was slowly starting to doubt it now.)

 

What Kara didn't notice was the smile on Lena's face when she left.

 

They're just friends. Lena thought. She wasn't sure why she felt relieved, but she couldn't stop smiling.

 

--------------------

 

"She just yelled at you?"

 

Kara turned to Alex for help. Not that Alex could have done anything, but she's a good listener and Kara always feels better after talking to her sister.

 

"No, actually. She didn't yell. Her voice was calm and deep." Kara scrunched her nose, thinking. "But it felt like a snowball being thrown in your face."

"Ah yes, I know the feeling - thanks to you actually throwing one in my face every damn year." Alex playfully put a hand on Kara's face and pushed her away.

Kara giggled. "Sorry?"

 

"Deep you say? Did that stir up some..... feelings?" Alex smirked and raised her eyebrows.

"Stop!" Kara giggled.

 

"It kind of did, actually." She added after a moment and laughed. "But really, I don't understand why she was so bothered by it? I always do my job properly. At least I think I do."

"Oh, Kara." Alex sighed. "You beautiful, naïve, sophisticated newborn baby."

"What?"

"She's jealous!"

"No!" Kara gasped. "What? Why would she be jealous of me? Because she can't pick her own husband?"

 

"Oh my god, you're both so clueless."

 

------------

 

"She hasn't called for me all day, not even to get her ready to sleep; I'm slightly worried. What if she gets a new maid and lets me go?"

"The only way she'll let you go is down on her."
"Alex! Don't talk like that!"

"Hey, it's true. Ask Maggie."

"You told Maggie?" Kara all but yelled at her sister.

"I just asked how she thinks, from what she's seen, that Lena feels for you."

"Lady Lena, or princess Lena." Kara corrected her.

"Right. Anyway, she said that Lena needs water, more than the poor refugees we have seen, to calm her thirst."

Kara grimaced. "You two are so vulgar."

"And we also know what we're talking about."

"No, you don't. We're barely even friends. She's a princess and I'm a maid. Let's not forget that."

 

Alex was about to protest but Kara cut her off.

"Uh-uh. Enough about that. We've already established that you're delusional. But what do I do now? I need to do my job but if she hasn't called for me, then she doesn't need me."

Her sister smirked and was about to give her another sarcastic remark but Kara raised her hand to stop her.

 

"Alex. Don't."

 

----------------

 

"Would that be all, my lady?"

"Yes, Miss Grant. Thank you." Lena got up from her dressing table to move to the bed.

 

"May I ask why you didn't call for Kara? Do we need to look for a new maid?" Miss Grant wondered.

"No!" Lena almost yelled. "No, of course not. Kara was just... busy with other chores."

"But I'm the head housekeeper. What chores could she possibly have that I don't know about? And she knows that taking care of you is her priority."

 

Lena just gave her a stern look from where she was sitting under the covers.

 

Miss Grant cleared her throat. "Well, if that's everything, I wish you good night, my lady."

"Good night, Miss Grant."

 

Lena waited for Miss Grant to leave the room, and she turned around to get her book from the night table. She had just finished one last night, and Kara had left a new book for her to read.

 

She picked it up and read the title.

 

"The Price of Salt."

Chapter Text

"Ready?"

"Would it make any difference if I said no?" Kara prepared for the attack she knew was coming.

"Absolutely not."

 

James drew his sword and stepped forward. He delivered the first blow to Kara's shield.

 

"Body. Shield. Body. Shield." He spoke while he was showing Kara his fighting techniques.

 

Kara was stepping backwards and trying to defend herself from his attacks.

 

"Slide with your legs, Kara!" He reminded her.

 

"Body. Shield. Body. Shield. Head."

"Head?!" Kara asked in a high-pitched voice, moments before suffering a blow to her helmet.

 

"Go for a blow to the head or neck whenever you can." James said, putting his sword down and taking off his helmet.

Kara followed and did the same.

 

"Even if they're not wearing a helmet?"

"Especially then."

"But," she asked, furrowing her eyebrows. "What if I don't want to kill him? Isn't it better to just wound his leg or something like that?"

"It is, in an ideal situation."

James sighed as he looked down at a worried Kara who now seemed smaller than ever. "Kara, you know that, at the tournament, you'll probably have to kill if you want to win?"

"Well... not necessarily? I can just force them to surrender?"

 

James had hoped that he wouldn't need to have this conversation with her, but he sees now that it's necessary. He was worried about Kara and what would happen to her if she truly had to kill someone. Kara wasn't the type to do that - she wasn't a murderer. He didn't want her to lose her innocence - more than she already had after the death of her parents. That didn't manage to break her, but the next tragedy she faced - might.

 

"You know, Kara," he said softly. "It's not too late to back down."

"No!" She protested, shaking her head intensely. "I'm not scared."

"Well, that's just foolish. Even the bravest person should be scared of fighting. Especially when there's a lot at stake."

"No. I mean, I am a little afraid, but not enough to make me change my mind, that's for sure."

"Okay, I respect that, I really do. But I beg you to be sure."

"I am." She nodded.

"The melee won't be like our trainings. You defeat me or I defeat you - either way, we end up going home for a slice of pie and a friendly conversation. But those men," he sighed. "Those men will aim to kill. They don't care about what happens to you."

 

He put his hands on her shoulders.
"You need to be sure that you're willing to do whatever it takes to win. I can't have you dying just because you're too kind." He laughed lightly, but his voice was shaking as he spoke.

"I am. I promise." She tried to assure him, but she couldn't even convince herself.

 

"And you're definitely doing this for yourself and not for the princess?"

"Yes. I've been wanting this my whole life."

 

They sat down on the rock next to the lake where they practiced.

 

"Good." He placed his hand on top of hers. "Because there's no telling what will happen if you win. It would be foolish to think that they would let you two be together."

"No, I know. Lady Lena would never. But if I win and make the rest of them seem like fools, maybe she wouldn't have to marry someone she doesn't want to be with."

"That's highly optimistic, Kara. But let's hope so."

 

James looked at the lake because he couldn't look her in the eyes. "I'll just hope that you survive. That's all that I'll be hoping for. There's no knowing what King Lionel will do when he catches a woman at the tournament."
"He would seem weak to not accept my win, though. Right?"

 

James said nothing. He knew very well what the king was capable of. Logic played no part in his reign.

 

"There you are, Keira!"

 

Miss Grant was suddenly standing behind them. They quickly got up on their feet to greet her.


"Miss Grant, is there something wrong? My work doesn't start for another hour."

"Your work starts when I say so! Lady Lena needs your services, we have guests! Chop, chop!"

 

"But..." Kara looked down at her clothes. She couldn't train in a dress, so she was wearing a shirt and pants. "I need to change my clothes first."

 

"No time for that. The princess is waiting."

 

-----------------------

 

"My Lady?"

 

Kara slowly entered Lady Lena's room. She still felt uncomfortable after their last encounter. They didn't even see each other last night; the princess had asked Miss Grant to help her get ready for slumber. Kara wasn't sure what to expect or where they stand at the moment.

 

"I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier, I wasn't aware that I was supposed to."

"That's quite alright, Ka-" The princess stopped speaking mid-sentence.

 

She couldn't breathe for a moment, as she turned around to face Kara. Kara, who was wearing pants. Kara in pants. Kara wearing something other than her uniform. Something so unusual. Pants. Kara. Wearing pants.

KARA. IS WEARING. PANTS.

The maid tried to explain what happened, but Lena didn't hear anything from the turmoil in her head.

 

"Why is she blushing?" Kara thought. "Did I make her feel uncomfortable? Ladies aren't supposed to wear pants. This is inappropriate. Damn you, Miss Grant."

 

"So, you see, I didn't have time to change into my uniform. I am terribly sorry, my lady."

"That's..." She cleared her throat. "That's quite alright, Kara. I don't mind."

 

"You don't? Oh, good." Kara beamed. "So, what is it that I can do for you, my lady?"

 

"We have guests coming over for the reception." The princess turned around, searching for something in her jewelry box. " Of course, the reception is in a few days, but I'll have to greet some of my father's guests much before that." The princess said with revulsion in her voice and a disgusted expression on her face.

 

"The reception?" Kara wondered.

"For the tournament." Lena explained.

 

She turned around to face Kara again. Oh no, she forgot about her clothes. She swallowed hard and bit her lip. "The... um..."

How does one concentrate on speech? This is so distracting.

"I'm supposed to greet the knights before the tournament. Will you be there with me? Please, Kara?"

 

Was Kara always this attractive? It must be the pants. Lena had never seen a woman wear pants before. New things are always interesting? Yes, that must be it. That's all.

 

"I.. um..." Kara's eyes widened in shock. How can she be two people at the same time? But she can't say no to Lady Lena. For one, it would seem suspicious. Two, it's her job at stake. Three, the Lady needs her there, by her side.

 

"Of course, my lady. I'll be there."

Chapter Text

"Winn!!"

"Kara, is everything alright?" He dropped what he was doing to give her his undivided attention.


"No! We.." She was hyperventilating as she tried to explain the problem. "W.. We have a crisis!"

"Okay, okay, calm down." He led her to a chair. "What's wrong?"

"There's a reception!"
"Reception?"

"At the castle! For the knights. Kal El is supposed to be there,"

"Shhh, Kara, stop!!" He tried to cut her off, but it was futile.

"and I, Kara Danvers, am supposed to be there too! At the same time! How can I do that?!"

"Kara!"

"How can I be two people at the same time?"

 

"What are you talking about?" She heard a voice at the back of the room.

 

A figure showed up from behind the wall.


"Alex." Kara's eyes widened.

"I tried to warn you." Winn said.

 

"What is that about Kal El? And you? What's going on?"

 

The both of them just stood there, silent.

 

"Will someone please explain to me what is happening here? Why is my sister having a nervous breakdown??"

 

Kara gulped, took a deep breath and said "I signed up for the tournament."

 

------------------

 

"I can't believe you let this happen! When I left the city, I told you to take care of her!"

"And I did!" Winn tried to defend himself. "She would have done it anyway! I'm just helping her do it properly so that maybe she has a chance of winning!"

 

The two of them were fighting as if Kara weren't standing right there. She felt like a child whose parents got into an argument about something that she caused.

 

"She's an adult, Alex! You need to let her make her own decisions!"

"Even if it means letting her go to her death?!"

"Yes, even then! Have you no faith in her abilities?"

"This isn't about that and you know it!"

 

"Can you please stop arguing about this?" Kara tried talking to them, but her voice was overpowered by their shouting.

 

"And you!" Alex suddenly turned to Kara. "You weren't going to tell me?"

"I..." Kara stuttered. "I was scared."

"You were scared? Wow. That's just wonderful. You're rushing to your death but you don't even bother to let me know about it."

"You would just try to talk me out of it!"

"Damn right I would!"

 

"I can't deal with you two right now." Alex said and walked out of the shop.

 

"She hates me." Kara almost started crying. This was all too overwhelming.

"No she doesn't. She's just hurt." Winn tried to reassure her. "She does, however, hate me. But she'll come around. She's just scared of losing you."

 

A moment of silence and then he added "We all are."

He approached her and gave her a hug. She hugged him back even tighter.

 

"I don't think I'll die, though. If the time comes when I don't think I can handle it - I will surrender."

"No you will not. You never quit."

"I will; I promise. My life is more important than winning."

"At least that is one thing that we can all agree on." He laughed lightly, and finally let go of her.

 

"But what are we going to do about the reception?" Kara said as she wiped the single tear that rolled down her cheek.

"We will think of something. But more importantly, what am I going to do about tonight?"

She tilted her head in confusion. "What's tonight?"

"I'm supposed to go out with Mon-El."

"The tall knight?" Kara's mouth opened wide in excitement. "Are you going out with him or with him?"

"I'm not sure!"

 

It was Winn's time to panic now.

 

"He asked me if I can show him where to get a drink around here."

"Ooooh so you are going with him."

"I don't know? What if he just wants me to show him where he can find himself a woman?"

Kara snorted. "Winn. There are pubs and brothels at every corner. He probably visited half of them already. He just wanted an excuse to see you."

"You think?"

"Yes." She smiled at him. "Go get your man. And I have to get back to the castle; the lunch will be over soon and I need to be there."


She gave him a kiss, ruffled his hair, and turned to leave.

 

"Wish me luck with Lady Lena."

"Good luck!"

 

-----------------------

 

"The princess?"

"In the library." A maid replied.

 

Kara thanked her and continued walking to the end of the hallway where the room is located.

 

She stopped at the door when she heard the music.

 

There she was, in the corner of the room with her back turned to the door, the princess was playing the piano.

Kara stood there, leaning against the door frame, listening to the music.

 

Lena was playing a slow, sad song.  The sorrowful - but beautiful - tune filling out the space around them. It almost made Kara cry, and it just made her love the princess even more. If she could have, she would have approached Lady Lena and wrapped her in her arms.

But she couldn't have, so she stood there until she accidentally sneezed, which caught the princess' attention.

Lena stopped playing and turned around. "Kara, you're here." She was suddenly smiling wide as she looked at the girl in front of her.

 

"Sorry to interrupt."

"That's quite alright, Kara. I was just playing while I waited for you."

"It was beautiful." Kara gave her a smile, and Lena gave her an even brighter one in return.

 

"Let's go to my room. I need your help picking out a dress for tonight." Lena got up and walked towards Kara.

"More people will be coming over and I'm supposed to greet them."

"Of course, my lady."

"I would rather set myself on fire, but God forbid I do anything without my father's approval first." She said sarcastically.

 

Kara was startled by an unexpected touch when the princess took her hand in hers.

 

"Come on."

 

---------

 

"Will you hand me the yellow one, please?" Lena called from behind the panel screen.

 

Kara handed her the dress and waited for the princess to try it out.

 

"No." Lena sighed. "Yellow's not my color."

 

She took the blue dress that was placed over the panel and came out from behind it without putting the dress on. She simply set the dress against her body and looked in the mirror.


"What do you think? Blue one? Or the red one?" Lena motioned toward the red dress in Kara's hands.

 

"Um..." Kara stepped closer and put the red dress against Lady Lena. "I think the blue one for today, and the red one for reception."

 

"Oh, good idea!" The princess smiled excitedly. "I'll leave it for the reception to give them something to talk about."

 

She winked at Kara, and Kara almost fell over. She gulped and smiled at the princess who was now going to change into the dress that they picked.

 

Why is she so beautiful, I want to die.

 

"Can you help me with this corset, please, Kara?" Lena called again from behind the panel screen.

 

After all these years, Kara is still so smitten by Lady Lena.

 

"Snapper is coming today." The princess spat out, visibly upset. "That is by far the rudest man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Aside from my father, of course. And he's almost twice my age."

 

Kara met Snapper once. He is, indeed, as horrible as Lady Lena says - if not worse.

 

Lena struggled for air as the corset was being tightened. "That's enough, Kara. Thank you."

Kara nodded, tied it, and stepped back.

 

"I heard that Kal of El will be there. I'm praying to all the Gods that he wins." Lena confessed.

 

"I'm sorry?"

Did Kara hear well? Kal of El?

"Kal of El. House El from Krypton." The princess explained. "People say that he signed up for the tournament. He has quite a reputation, and I hear that he's very handsome. So at least that's something." She sighed.

"If I have to marry a man at least he'll be closer to my age."

 

Kara froze at the way the princess stressed that word - "a man". Of course she knew that Lady Lena liked women, but they never discussed it before. Not that it matters much - if it were anyone else Kara wouldn't even flinch - but this was the woman that Kara had feelings for. And now she hears it confirmed that the lady, indeed, likes women. Not that she hoped for anything, though.

How does one react in this situation? What to reply? Kara didn't know so she just stood there.

 

"Oh, don't play a fool, Kara." Lena laughed. "If my clueless brother knew, surely you must have. Especially after you saw me with Sara Lance years ago."

 

She knows?? Kara's heart and mind were racing. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and looked away.

 

And Lena was now confiding in her. She did that many times before, but this time it was a much more intimate subject. Kara wasn't sure how to feel about that.

 

And how will she feel when she finds out that Kal isn't coming? Even if "Kal" wins, it won't be him. And Lady Lena will lose all hope of marrying someone nice and young.

Even worse, how will she feel knowing that Kara lied to her this entire time?

 

"I still can't believe my father is making me marry one of those..." Lena struggled to find a word.

"Fopdoodles?" Kara offered.

 

The princess laughed loudly.

 

She nodded and repeated the word.

 

"Fopdoodles."

 

--------------

 

"Fix your uniform, Keira." Miss Grant ordered sternly.

 

Some of the main servants were lined-up outside of the castle, getting ready to greet the arrivals like they did many times before.

 

Kara fixed her uniform as Miss Grant ordered, and stood straight in her place in line.

 

"I just hope I don't have to interact with that fopdoodle Snapper." She said to the servant girl standing next to her.

Siobhan tried to hide her laughter but failed. "You would think that he would be satisfied by terrorizing his manservant, but the last time he was here he kept ordering everyone around."

"Classic Snapper."

 

"Shush, you two!" Miss Grant tried to calm them down as the guests were approaching.

"And you, Keira, don't have to worry. Lady Lena specifically ordered that you serve only her."

 

Kara couldn't help the enormous grin that formed on her face.

 

"Now, shush." Miss Grant said.

She then smirked and added "The fopdoodle is approaching."

 

---------------

 

"Hello? Anybody in here?"

 

"Oh hey, you must be Mon-El." James said and approached the knight to shake his hand.

"That's me. And who might you be?"

"My name is James. I work with Winn." He smiled politely. "He'll be out here in a moment."

 

-------------------------------

 

"So, this is your favorite pub?" Mon-El took a sip from his glass.

"Yes, I suppose. I visit a few but I mostly come here with Kara, James and Lucy. Sometimes Alex and Maggie, too."

"Kara - she's your lady?"

"My.. my what?" Winn's voice was suddenly high-pitched. "My lady? Ew, no. She's my best friend."

 

Mon-El smiled and ordered another round of drinks for them.

 

Winn was wearing his best apparel. He spent at least an hour in front of the mirror, getting ready.

 

"So, what do you do for fun around here?"

"Get drunk?"

They both laughed.

"We play chess sometimes?"

"Uh... getting drunk sounds better." Mon-El thought.

"Sometimes we practice archery or play ball games. But not when we're drunk. Though, Alex did get completely crocked once and challenged Oliver to a duel. It did not end well." He laughed. "Not for Oliver, at least. The rest of us had a great time."

 

A moment of silence occurred. Winn was very nervous and didn't know what to say. He really liked this man, so he didn't want to make a mistake. But his glass almost slipped out of his hands - twice - because his palms were sweating.

 

Calm down, Winslow.

 

"What about you? Any friends at Daxam?"

"Some. I'm good friends with the prince. I served as his personal guard."

"The actual prince?" Winn gasped. "That's so cool. My friend Kara is princess Lena's personal maid."

"Your friends sound swell. I would like to meet them sometime."

"Actually, you might do that sooner than you expected."

 

Winn gulped as he watched Alex and Maggie approaching. It was too late to hide now. He just hoped that Alex doesn't ruin his chances with the tall knight.

 

"Winn! Who is your friend?" Maggie smiled at them. "My name is Maggie, hello."

Mon-El took her hand and kissed it.

"Ooh, a gentleman." Maggie giggled.

"Take notes, Winn." Alex teased him.

 

Winn gave her a death glare but she ignored it.

"I'm Alex. It's nice to make your acquaintance."

 

-----------------

 

"You're very tall." Maggie noticed. "But not as tall as Winn described you."

Winn put a hand on his face.

Mon-El looked at him questioningly and smirked.

 

"Well, I still hope I didn't disappoint."

"Not at all, you're very charming." Maggie touched his hand briefly.

She then put her arm around Alex's waist. "Come on, let's dance."

 

"I still haven't forgiven you." Alex threatened, pointing her finger at Winn as Maggie dragged her away.

 

The two men were left alone once again.

One of the lady servants from the castle - Eve - approached them. She asked Mon-El to dance - to which Winn started fuming from his ears - but the knight politely refused.

 

"You don't dance?" Winn questioned him when she left.

"Of course I do! Did you forget that I'm from Daxam?" He giggled. The alcohol was already affecting him.

Winn fiddled with the glass in his hand. "I just figured, since you said no to Eve... She's a pretty one."

"Do you like her?" The knight furrowed his eyebrows and stared at Winn, waiting for an answer.

"What? Me? No. But I'm here almost every day, and most men don't refuse a dance with her."

"She is pretty. But I already have better company." Mon-El winked at him.

 

Winn downed his drink quickly. He didn't want to get drunk, but he was too jittery.

Mon-El did the same.

 

"Do you dance?" He turned to face Winn.

Winn almost choked on his drink. "I- um- I- not really."

 

Mon-El took his hand and pulled him off the chair.

 

"Come on."

Chapter Text

"Ow!"

"I told you not to move."

 

Kara was curling Lady Lena's hair, using the technique that Siobhan had shown her. She learnt it from her cousin who works for a family of nobles in London.

 

"You are the only person - aside from my father - who ever dares to tell me what to do." Lena looked at Kara in the mirror, and gave her a light laugh.

 

"I'm sorry, but I always do it for your own good."

 

Kara finished brushing another strand of Lady Lena's hair, took a small piece of cloth and started wrapping the hair around it.

 

"If only you could have heard Snapper at the dinner last night. He was so rude to Sir Lance. Of course, Quentin bore it with grace and didn't regard any of Snapper's remarks."

 

Kara thought how charming it was when Lady Lena rambles every time she gets upset. Of course, she never enjoyed seeing the princess in distress - the maid was always there to listen attentively. There weren't many people in this world that she cared for more than she did for Lady Lena.

 

However, she felt a pang of jealousy. Sir Lance being here means that Lady Sara was probably here, too.

Which the princess confirmed as she continued speaking.

 

"And poor Sara had just lost her betrothed only a few months ago. Sir Snart wasn't very rich, but Sara loved him, and Quentin understood and appreciated that. They had his blessing to be wed." She sighed, thinking of her own father who was utterly opposite.

"Father of the year, if you ask me."

 

"I'm so sorry to hear that, my lady. This must be a very hard time for them."

 

Kara was surely jealous of Lady Sara, but she was the kind of person who could never gloat about another's misfortune. She was genuinely sorry to hear this.

 

"And can you believe that my father placed Sara at the other side of the table? I couldn't even speak to her. She needs a friend right now. And he assigned her one of the rooms at the other side of the castle just to keep us apart."

 

The blonde thought how nothing bad that the skamelar* who calls himself the King does will ever surprise her. However, she dared not say it out loud.

 

"I have a feeling that someone had told him about us."

 

Kara had a horrible sensation that the princess suspected her. Her chest was suddenly heavy with dread.

 

"My lady, I swear-"

"Oh, relax, Kara. If I thought it was you, you wouldn't be here brushing my hair right now."

 

The maid let out a deep sigh of relief.

"You've been loyal to me for many years, Kara. I look on you as a friend."

"I regard you in the same way, my lady."

 

They both smiled widely.

 

"It was most likely one of the other servants who noticed. If I had to guess I would say that snitch Leslie. Even as kids, she always told my father's guards where we were when we were hiding from them."

 

Kara replied that she agrees.

She didn't like putting blame on people without proof, but if she were completely honest - it was probably Leslie.

 

"Do you think he's resentful because of it?" Kara wondered.

"I don't know. I don't think he even acknowledges it as anything of importance. He will have me wed to someone like Snapper," the Lady said and grimaced with disgust; "so none of it - my wishes and feelings - will matter. I suppose he just doesn't want me to have distractions at the moment."

 

Kara winced at the thought of Lady Sara being Lady Lena's distraction. She curses the day she saw them kissing. If she had not - maybe she wouldn't be feeling any of this right now. She wouldn't be jealous, she wouldn't be in love, she wouldn't be hurt. Her only thought would be the tournament.

But why would life ever make anything easy on her?

 

She averted her gaze from the princess and focused on the task at hand.

But knowing that Lady Lena needs to talk to someone about this, she humored her and continued the conversation.

 

"But what about your mother? Can she persuade him to let go of that idea?"

 

The princess started laughing loudly, until she accidentally moved her head too far and too fast, uttering a yelp as she felt the pain of her hair being pulled.

 

"Ouch. My mother makes even laughing hurt." She chuckled.

"No, she wouldn't do anything. She thinks he is in the right. I tried talking to her once, years ago, but she doesn't care. Her parents sold her to Lionel the same way that he's giving me away now. So, naturally, if she had to go through it then everyone else should, too. She thinks it's 'the right thing to do. For you, for your father, and for the kingdom.'" The princess imitated her mother, mockingly.

 

"That is horrible, I am so sorry." was the best thing that Kara could offer.

"I can't imagine what that's like. I lost my parents when I was very young, but I remember that love was the most important thing in our family."

 

"You never talk about your parents."

"It is a sore subject for me. I miss them a lot."

 

The tears were already forming in the corners of Kara's eyes. But she tried to hold them back, even though the lump in her throat was making it hard for her to swallow, let alone continue talking.

For a moment she stopped working to close her eyes, taking a deep breath in.

 

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to upset you." The princess turned around and put her hand on Kara's.

 

"It's... it's alright. I think of them all the time." Kara smiled sadly. "I remember things like waking up in the middle of the night and finding my parents dancing. My father would sing and twirl my mother around the room. She would laugh and give him a kiss."

 

A this point, Kara was already crying. The feelings were stronger than she was.

Lena offered her a small smile and squeezed her hand to let her know that it's okay. That she's alright.

 

"And every Sunday she would prepare his favourite meal; and he would come home from work with a bouquet of lilies for her, and a chocolate for me. He worked so hard, day and night, to provide everything for us. But he was never too tired to dance with her."

 

Lena smiled and wiped the single tear from her face.

"I can't imagine anyone loving me that much."

 

I could. Kara thought.

 

I do.

Chapter Text

"My father is a man of his word, Kara. That is what he keeps saying. So everyone knows that the one who wins the melee will probably have my hand in marriage in less than a month." Lena sighed. "That is, for sure, going to be fun," she said sarcastically.

 

The princess and her maid were walking through a garden near the castle. They were surrounded by an abundance of flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes.

 

***

 

"I need some fresh air," the princess said. "Will you join me?"

 

And when did Kara ever say no to spending time with her loved one.

 

***

 

Kara didn't know what to say to make her feel better.

She absentmindedly reached for Lady Lena's hand.

 

It was an automatic movement, an instinct. Whenever Alex is sad - or Winn or her mom - she would hug them or take their hand; it's a natural thing to do when you want to comfort someone that you care about. And she cared about Lady Lena.

 

The princess immediately looked down at their joined hands. Kara's hand was warm but it still managed to make her whole body shiver at the touch.

 

Moments later, Kara realized what she had done and her cheeks flushed; she was more red in her face than the tulips on the left side of the path that they were walking.

Realizing that it was an inappropriate thing to do, she let go of the Lady's hand and averted her gaze to look anywhere but the princess.

 

And Lena already missed the feeling of Kara's hand in hers. She wanted nothing more than to hold it again. The princess didn't know how or why could Kara make her feel safe whenever she was around, but she knew that her maid - her friend - brought her comfort, and that was all that she needed to know at this moment.

 

"Oh look!" Kara all but cheered. "Lilies!"

 

She skipped down the path, picked one pink lily and offered it to Lady Lena with a smile.

It was Lena's time to blush now. She thanked Kara, gave her a shy smile and took the flower.

 

"Thank you, Kara, for..."

The princess wanted to let the blonde know how much she appreciates her, but she wasn't sure how to convey her feelings, how to put it into words.

"For spending time with me, for being discreet about my meltdowns," she chuckled; "and most importantly, for cheering me up."

She put a hand on Kara's shoulder for just a moment as she spoke. "Truly, thank you. I know that it's your job to be by my side, and I can't imagine that you could possibly enjoy this... this wreck that I am - and that my life is - but you truly are a kind person and the most supportive friend a girl could ever hope for."

 

The princess fiddled with the flower in her hands, and Kara adjusted her glasses. Neither of them knew that they made the other one so nervous.

 

"This is more than just a job for me, my lady."

 

Her chest felt heavy, having to keep quiet while remembering how kind Lena is, how smart she is; each day she can't help but notice all the little things that make her love Lena even more. The expressions that she makes as she reads a book; how perfectly punctual she is with all of her daily routines, the love that she has for her brother; even the sadness in her eyes despite which she still has the warmest smile; the tiny mole on her neck; the shape of her lips; the sound of her voice; how excited she gets when she learns something new from the books; the fact that she drinks her tea with no sugar or milk; the way that she lifts her left eyebrow in confusion; the tune of the songs that she plays on the piano when she thinks that no one is listening.

 

But no, she couldn't say any of that. She had to be careful and stop herself from speaking what was in her heart. Saying how she felt wasn't an option, but she couldn't have the Lady thinking that the only way she would get anyone's compassion is if she pays for it.

At the risk of sounding aloof - but better than showing the true depth of her emotions - Kara simply said "I assure you that I sincerely enjoy your company. You are more than just a currency in political trade."

 

"You flatter me, Kara."

 

She now dared to look at the princess, who was already gazing at her attentively.

"I am very sorry for what you're going through." Kara offered her a sympathetic smile.

 

"But for what it's worth, I'll be with you every step of the way."

 

-----------------------

 

"She was so nice. I told you she wasn't like her family, I keep telling you."

 

"Mmhm." was all that Alex said in return. She wasn't particularly amused by this conversation.

 

She loved her sister with her whole heart; but they've had this conversation so many times that Alex has lost count.

 

"And she's so beautiful! Have you seen her eyes? I'm not sure if they're green or blue. Or both. I think both. Have you noticed how they sparkle when she smiles?"

 

"Kara, none of us can get close enough to Lena nowadays to even see her eyes. At this point I'm not sure she even has them. She's just locked inside the castle, alone - or with you. Or in the garden - with you. Sometimes on her throne - far from us commoners." Alex said sarcastically, not averting her gaze from the plants that she was now watering in her mother's chambers. "But let's not forget Sara Lance, though. I'm sure she's seen her eyes up close."

 

"Alex, that's mean." Kara was visibly hurt.

 

Alex turned to face her. "Sorry, it was supposed to be funny."

 

"Did you - sometime during your little love fest with Lady Lena - remember to bring me those seeds from the garden?"

"Oh, yes. Sorry." Kara ignored Alex's sarcasm and produced the seeds from the pocket of her black-and-white uniform.

"Great." Alex kissed her cheek. "Thank you."

 

Kara smiled at her sister.

Doing things for her family, making them happy, made Kara happier than anyone.

 

Alex put the seeds in a small bag and continued watering the plants. Some of them were herbs for medical purposes; others just looked lovely.

 

Kara continued her talk about the princess.

"Have I ever told you how beautiful she is?"

This time she was just pestering her sister on purpose.

 

Alex rolled her eyes. "Yes, I've been hearing about it since you got here."

 

"What!? " Kara gasped. "You're exaggerating. I didn't even fancy her until I was fifteen."

Her sister laughed. "That's what you think. But one of the first things you have ever said to me - when you just got here - was "Woah, that's the princess? She's so beautiful!"

"No! I did not!"

"You sure did!"

 

Kara now remembered that she did, but she would never give Alex the satisfaction of admitting it.

 

"Well, she is. Especially when she reads and you can see that she's really thinking about the book and trying to unde-"

She got cut off by a slight splash of cold water on her face. It was Alex who spritzed her.

"Alex, what-"

"You looked thirsty."

 

Kara's jaw dropped.

 

"You take delight in teasing me, don't you."

 

"I truly do, I must say. It's my favorite thing."

 

------------------

 

"Hey, James, are yo- OOOOH MY GOD"

 

Kara quickly turned around and covered her eyes.

 

As she walked in, it wasn't James who she's seen. It was Winn.

He was sitting on a table, hair disheveled and a tall, shirtless knight standing between his legs as they were kissing. Or so she hoped; she didn't want to think about what was going on here.

 

"Sorry, sorry, sorry!! James told me to meet him here, I'm so sorry, I didn't know anyone was....... busy.. here."

 

"That's alright." The knight approached her. He already put his shirt back on.

Thank god.

"I don't think we've met. Not officially, anyway. My name is Mon-El of Daxam. You must be Lady Kara."

 

He offered his hand but she wasn't sure where that hand has been, so she just smiled instead. Awkwardly.

 

"Kara. Just Kara is alright."

She still couldn't look him in the eye. Only twenty seconds ago he was touching her best friend.

 

"Well, Kara, it was lovely meeting you. I'll leave you now to talk."

He then turned to look at Winn who was dying of embarrassment in the back of the room. "And I will see you later."

He winked at him and left, closing the door behind him.

 

A few moments of awkward silence followed.

 

Winn got up from the table and walked over to where Kara was standing. She was looking at her feet.

 

"Winn I'm-"

"It's alright. Let's just never mention it again, please."

"Fine with me!" She quickly agreed. "Just don't ever do it on my table."

"Your table?"

"Yes." Kara motioned to the table at the front of the shop; the one on which she always sits when she watches Winn work.

 

"So I gather the date went well?"

He couldn't help but smile now. The awkwardness gone as he discussed his crush with his best friend. "Yeeees, we drank and danced and kissed and- Well, let's just say it was a very pleasant evening. One that not even your sister could ruin."

"Alex?"

"Yes, we saw her and Maggie."

Kara hissed. "Ooh, not who you want to introduce to your beau on the first date."

"I know, right?"

"They teased you, didn't they?"

"You think?" He scoffed. "But I survived."

She patted him on the shoulder.

 

"So, you're looking for James?"

"Yes, we're supposed to train now."

"I think he's with Lucy. He said he'll be back later, though. Maybe he just got held up." Winn raised his eyebrows suggestively.

"Ugh, Winn, you nasty. You're spending too much time with Alex."

 

"While we wait, though," she said; "let me update you on the news."

 

---------------

 

"Again, Kara?"

"I'm sorry!" She shouted through a whisper. "I'm hungry, okay? Just go back to sleep."

 

Alex groaned and turned around to face the wall again. But before Kara could get out of their room she mumbled "Bring me some pie."

 

Kara shook her head and closed the door. It was the middle of the night. She quietly roamed the hallways on her way to the kitchen - the path that she knew very well.

 

She wondered if Lady Lena was awake, too. Kara knows that sometimes, when she can't sleep, the princess stays up reading a book. The maid never dared to enter the room, but she sees the light shining from under the door.

 

She's not supposed to be in that part of the castle during the night, but one time she forgot her keys on the table in the hallway outside of Lady's chambers. She went to get them back and that was the first time that she noticed the light.

The next day she shyly asked the princess about it, to which Lena replied that reading helps her calm down when her thoughts won't let her sleep.

 

So now, once in a while - when she knows that the princess had a rough day - Kara goes to check up on her. No light means the princess is okay. Light means that she'll have to take better care of her the next day, add a few more jokes in their conversations, or tell Miss M'orzz to prepare her favorite dessert.

 

When Alex found out and said how "disturbing" that was, Kara stopped going. But as she walked through the castle, something told her to take the right turn instead of left.

 

Just this once. She thought. Just now and I won't do it again.

 

There was no light this time.

 

She's okay.

 

Kara turned around to leave and find some food, when she heard a scream coming from princess' room.

 

Lady Lena!

 

"No, father, please!" The princess kept screaming and crying.

 

Without any hesitation, Kara opened the door. She half-expected to have to fight the king himself, but instead she found Lady Lena all alone in her room, tossing and turning in her bed, haunted by a nightmare.

 

"Please, I beg you, don't make me do this!"

 

Kara put the candle down and closed the door.

 

The princess was covered in tears and sweat. As she threw her arms around in panic, she knocked down the glass of water off the bedside table, waking herself up by breaking it.

 

She jumped and started breathing heavily. She started at Kara who was now standing at the bottom of her bed.

Kara noticed that the princess was in shock, she just stared blankly; the look in her eyes empty of any understanding but filled with panic.

 

"It's alright, my lady, you're safe." Kara spoke with a soft, quiet voice.

She moved to sit on the bed beside her. The princess' eyes didn't follow; she still stared straight and fought to catch a breath.

 

"It was just a nightmare." Kara tried to reassure her.

 

"Kara?" Lena's eyes finally met hers. "He was.. I ... I had.."

The nightmare now grew into a full panic attack. Lena was wheezing, she couldn't breathe. Her entire body was shaking, her eyes wide and lost.

 

Kara moved a strand of Lena's hair from her face, and remembering her own panic attack from years ago - when she lost her parents - she did the only thing she knew; she imitated what Alex did to help her.

 

Moving to sit behind the princess, Kara hugged her and placed her head on her shoulder.

 

"Shh it's okay, you're alright. It was just a nightmare." She whispered.

Saying this, Kara realized how fake it sounds. It's not a nightmare - it's Lena's reality. But now she was more determined than ever to fix it, or at least do her best.

 

Lena put her hand up to grab Kara's arm that enveloped her.

 

"It's okay, it's okay." Kara kept repeating.

She then started humming a lullaby; the one that her mother used to sing to her to banish the nightmares. It was effectual - the princess started breathing slower again, and her heart rate went down.

 

A few more minutes passed, but for Lena it seemed like just a moment and an eternity at the same time.

 

Noticing that the panic attack had passed, Kara offered Lena to go and find her another glass of water. She started moving her arm away but Lena held it tighter.

 

"Don't go!"

 

It was quick and weak, but Kara didn't miss the urgency in her voice. So she stayed.

 

"I'm here, don't worry. Do you want me to read to you, until you fall asleep?"

 

The princess nodded.

She allowed Kara to let go of her, and moved to lie down.

 

Kara threw a piece of cloth, that she managed to reach, over the water and broken glass on the floor, and reached for the book on the nightstand.

 

She looked at the princess who was already half-asleep, weary; she was so beautiful and Kara couldn't help but smile - albeit sadly - to herself.

Her heart was aching seeing Lena like this. If she could, she would trade places with her, just to ease her pain. It was in this moment that she knew that she would die for Lady Lena, if that is what it would take to make her happy again.

 

She took a deep breath and started reading.

 

"Do people always fall in love with things they can't have?'

'Always,' Carol said..."

Chapter Text

"Kara..." The princess whispered.

She was unsure of what to do.

 

The first time she woke up this morning it was quite early - it was still dark, the sun hadn’t come up yet.

Kara's arm was wrapped around her waist, her head rested against Lena's collarbone. There was no need for getting up yet, so Lena let her sleep. With Kara by her side, she felt safer than she had in years; in only a few minutes, she drifted back to sleep.

 

When she woke up again, still by her side - Kara felt warm against her body; only, now, she was next to Lena and lying on her back.

The princess slowly removed the covers off herself and was about to get up when she noticed that her right arm was trapped under the sleeping blonde.

 

Feeling grateful - and a little guilty - for what happened last night, she decided to let her sleep just a little longer. She looked so peaceful that Lena didn't have the heart to disturb her.

 

Minutes passed and Lena was bored out of her mind. She looked over at Kara; long, blond hair spread over Lena's pillow. It was very unusual to see her like this. As a maid, Kara always wore her black-and-white uniform, and her hair was always in a bun - those were the rules. But now, her hair was loose and she wore a light blue night gown. Lena couldn't help but notice that blue looked good on Kara; and if her eyes were open, their color would match it for sure.

 

It was different - she was different. Lena felt a pang of guilt. Kara was constantly present in her life; and while Lena regarded her as a friend, she now understood that she didn’t know her at all. Not the real her. She knew Kara the maid, but she knew not who Kara was as a person - her likes, her desires, her fears, her life. They mostly talked about Lena's interests and current events. Kara probably knew everything about the princess, who knew almost nothing about her; except that she's kind, and has beautiful eyes and a nice laugh, and good taste in books. But Lena swore to herself to be a better friend in the future.

 

At the bottom of the bed laid Kara's robe, abandoned. She must have tossed it at some point while she was reading the book last night, Lena thought. She glanced at Kara once again. Every look felt too intimate, knowing that Kara wasn't aware of it, but Lena couldn't look away.

Her face was soft, peaceful, kind, even as she slept. The princess glanced at her lips that were red and full and beautiful. She felt a magnetic pull and a thought was forming in her mind - a thought that she quickly tossed away like so many times before, as if it had never happened.

 

Lena sighed and looked up at the ceiling again, but something kept haunting her to look back at the sleeping figure next to her. Kara was making adorable, sleepy noises, which made Lena giggle quietly. Her gaze traveled from Kara's face downward, to her neck and collarbones, and back to the blue night gown.

This time - noticing that the gown was more revealing than she first thought - Lena's face went red and her eyes quickly found the ceiling again. She didn't mean to invade Kara's privacy like that, it was wrong. Even though her maid always dressed her and prepared her bath, at least Lena was always aware of it - and Kara was asleep now.

Her brain erased every thought, and her eyes never left the ceiling for the following half an hour.

 

But now it was really time to get up. Lena wasn't sure what time it was but the sun was shining which meant that Kara was supposed to start working any time now, and the princess needed to get up as well.

 

"Kara?" She whispered again. But the maid was sound asleep. She repeated her name, louder this time.

 

"Wh.. Alex?"

"It's.. it's Lena."

 

Kara didn't even open her eyes.

 

"Was I-" she sighed deeply, "Was I dreaming again? I'm sorry, Alex."

"Kara, it's Lena. I am sorry to wake you but it's morning. And.. you're lying on my arm."

 

Kara suddenly remembered the previous night and her eyes shot wide open.

She was met by Lady Lena's soft smile, but that just made her panic even more. Her face was only inches away from the Lady's.

 

"Good morning." The princess softly said.

 

"I am so sorry, my lady! I must have fallen asleep." She quickly moved away and covered herself with the blanket. It didn't feel right to expose herself like this in front of the princess. It was impolite and disrespectful.

 

"It's alright, Kara. Calm down." Lena tried to reassure her; she smiled again.

This time Kara returned it; her own smile being nervous but warm.

 

"I'm genuinely sorry, I was so tired and the reading probably put me to sleep, I am terribly sorry."

She was prattling.

 

"Kara, stop. I said it was alright." The princess had to raise her voice to stop Kara from talking. "Thank you for helping me last night. I really don't know what would have happened if you weren't there."

 

The blonde slowly relaxed by now. "Of course, my lady. I heard you scream and I got scared. I'm just glad that I could have helped." She smiled again. "And that you're alright now."

 

"I am. Thanks to you. And I'm sorry I had to wake you, but I assumed you had to work?"

 

"Oh my God!" Kara gasped and started scanning the walls to see if there's a clock somewhere. "What time is it?"

 

They heard footsteps in the hallway, loud heels clacking against the floor.

 

"Princess I'm-"

Miss Grant walked into the room, stopping when she saw the two of them sitting next to each other under the covers.

 

"Oh I'm sorry, Princess. I couldn't find Kara so I..." She raised an eyebrow. "But... there she is." She pointed at Kara with her hand.

 

The two of them were silent.


"Well," Miss Grant smirked, "she is here, so I guess you won't be needing my help."

She turned to leave but Kara shouted after her.

 

"Miss Grant, wait! Will you, please, come in and shut the door?"

 

Miss Grant did as she was told.

 

"I didn’t.. The Princess, she-"

 

Lena quickly cut her off. She wasn't sure what Kara was going to say, but she couldn't risk Miss Grant knowing what actually happened.


"I couldn't sleep."

She gave Kara a meaningful look, and Kara knew to let her speak.

"So I asked Kara to read to me. We must have fallen asleep. I am sorry I kept her from work, but she's all yours now."

 

Remembering that she had no clothes with her, Kara smiled uncomfortably and took the only thing she could cover herself with - her robe - and wrapped it tightly around her body. She got up and went for the door, when both Miss Grant and Lady Lena yelled for her to stop.

 

"Where are you going?"

"Dressed like that?"

"You cannot be serious!"

"What would people say?"

"Coming out of the Lady's chambers indecent like that?"

"Unimaginable!"

"Get back in here!"

 

They kept talking one after another and Kara had never felt more scared in her life. She didn't make that mistake on purpose, she just wanted to get on with her work.

"I am sorry, alright? But I don't have any clothes here."

 

Miss Grant rolled her eyes and sighed.

"Oh, Keira. Just sit here, I will bring you your uniform. And fix that hair of yours."

 

Lena didn't see anything wrong with Kara's hair, it was beautiful. But in a moment she understood that Miss Grant probably talked about putting it in a bun.

 

The princess moved to get out of the bed when Kara shouted "Stop!"

It was Lena's time to get nervous now. "What is it?"

"The glass."

"What glass?"

"The one you broke last night. It's under that cloth." Kara pointed at it. "You could have cut your feet."

"Oh..." Lena looked at it with a confused expression on her face. "I don't even remember breaking a glass."

 

--------

 

"Do I look decent now?"

 

Lena turned around to see Kara dressed in her clean uniform - provided by Miss Grant - and with her hair up, just as always.

She already missed the wavy locks.

 

Lena giggled. "You look swell. But black isn't your color, if I can be frank. Blue looks better on you."

 

Kara blushed. "Thank you, I think? I find comfort in the fact that I didn't pick this uniform." She laughed. "I usually wear bright colors."

"I never see you outside of work anymore." Lena confessed, in a sad voice, what had been on her mind for the past hour.

Kara was unsure of what to say to that. "I... I didn't think you wanted to."

 

------------------------------------

 

"Would that be all, my lady?"

 

After she cleaned herself up, Kara prepared a bath for the princess - for which Lena was more than grateful after the night that she had - helped her get dressed, and styled her hair.

 

"That would be all. Thank you, Kara."

Kara nodded.

 

"Will you, please, tell Siobhan that I'm looking for Sara? If she can let her know to come to my room."

 

Sara Lance. Lady Lena's 'distraction' - according to King Lionel. Kara thought. Alone with Lady Lena in her room. This is fine. It's all good.

 

"Yes, my lady. Right away."

 

---------------------

 

"What do you care what she says about her? She's just a handmaiden, Lena." Lady Veronica laughed.

 

Kara was approaching Lady Lena's room, stopping as she heard her friends talking.

 

"Beautiful eyes, though." The voice of Sara Lance said.

"Beautiful eyes, but what is that worth when you're just a churl*."

 

"Watch yourself, Maxima." Lady Lena's voice was calm but she wasn't playing any games. "That churl reads more books in a week than you did in your lifetime, while also maintaining a full-time job - in which she is excellent, mind you."

 

"Calm down, Lena." A half-drunk Lady Laurel said. "Or we can cancel the tournament and you can just marry your handmaiden."

 

Oh no. They were talking about me?

Kara felt more uncomfortable hearing this than she did in Lady Lena's bed this morning - and that’s saying something.

 

"I don't appreciate being mocked this way." The princess didn't try to hide her anger anymore. "Kara is a great person, and I won't stand Maxima over here trying to minimize her importance just because Kara doesn't have a status like her. Being a Lady is more than a title you were born with, it's being kind and gracious. And by that definition, it's Kara who should bear the title, not you."

 

Kara couldn't see, but she assumed that Lady Lena was talking to Maxima now.

She felt pride knowing that the princess defended her honor this way. Even though she probably wasn't doing it for Kara - Kara thought. Lady Lena probably just didn't like anyone insulting her servants in her own home.

 

She was standing there for too long, and someone was bound to open the door sooner or later to find her listening. So she took a deep breath and knocked.

 

"Come in."

"Ladies? The dinner is almost ready; they told me to let you know."

 

"Thank you, Kara. You may go now."

 

----------------------

 

"You heard what they were saying, didn't you?"

 

Kara looked up from the clothes that she was organizing. "My lady?"

 

"You're... I'm sorry if your feelings got hurt. Maxima is not a good person, her opinion isn't valid."

Kara just let out a soft "Oh."

She wasn't sure if she should let the princess know that she did, in fact, hear a big part of the conversation. But there was no point in pretending; she had enough secrets as it was, and wouldn’t be adding more.

 

"It's fine."

"It's not."


For some reason, Lady Lena seemed to care about this more than Kara did.

 

"I assure you, my lady, whatever she had to say I've faced worse." Kara kept organizing the dresses, looking anywhere but at Lady Lena, her voice aloof. "But I know my value. I may not have a high social status, but my friends love me for who I am, while she would be left with no one had she lost her title."

 

A moment of silence and then Kara looked up, and her gaze found Lady Lena.

"I am sorry. That was out of line. I shouldn't have said that about a Lady."

 

"Yes, that was very brazen. Insolent, even." Lena said, sternly, with a touch of amusement in her voice. "But it's also very true."

 

She took a deep breath and swallowed hard at the thought that that is how Kara sees her, too.

"Is... Is that how you think of me, as well?"

 

"What? No, my lady, never."

"You wouldn't be wrong, I suppose. Sara is my friend, but if I weren't a princess, who knows if she would still bother to write or visit."

"No, that's not true." Kara shook her head. "You're not like the rest of them."

Lena laughed. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have put you in this position. It's alright. And you have every right to be angry for what she said - I certainly am. And any feeling of animosity you have for us is quite justified."

 

"If I may? I don't feel anything but pity for lady Maxima. A bit of disgust as well, maybe. But you? I couldn't possibly."

"Kara, you don't have to-"

"You would still have me. If you didn't have the title, you would still have me as your friend. I thought I made that perfectly clear by now, but I don't mind saying it again and again until you understand."

 

They smiled at each other, and then the princess walked over to Kara and gave her a hug.

 

"Thank you," she softly said.

 

After a few moments, she moved away and Kara already missed the feeling of holding her in her arms.

 

"I already told Miss Grant that you serve no one but me. So if Maxima or Snapper or anyone asks something from you - feel free to say no. You won't get in trouble. They don't deserve anything from you."

 

"That's.... I'm very grateful, my lady."

 

Lady Lena gave her a subtle nod.

"Ready for the reception?" She smiled at Kara.

 

"I'll be right behind you."

 

"It's your opportunity to wear light colours." Lena winked at her as she was leaving the room.

 

"Choose blue, it matches your eyes."

Chapter Text

"Please, tell me you lads thought of something."

 

"Uhh..."

"Well..."

Winn scratched the back of his head, and James looked down at his feet. They had nothing.

 

"I thought about switching a few times during the night but-"
"But you can't wear your helmet."

"Exactly. And-"

 

The boys kept finishing her sentences.

 

"And having someone else go instead-"

"Wouldn't work because-

"Someone might know Kal from other tournaments."

"Right."

 

"Yes, we thought of all that and came up with nothing."

 

"What about-"

"No."

"You don't even know what I was going to say!"

"You wanted to spread the rumour that Kal is at the reception but to not have anyone actually see him."

 

Kara was shocked at how well James knows her.

 

"It's perfect though."

"It's not, because all knights have to greet the royal family."

"What? Oh, zooterkins!"

 

They stood there in silence for a few more moments until James yelled "Yes!"

He jumped in place and punched the air.

 

"I think I know what to do."

 

***

 

"She's not here yet?"

"I didn't see her."

"She sure loves to make an entrance," Alex teased.

"Well she is the princess."

 

Alex dramatically put a hand on her forehead. "My princess! Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!"

"ALEX STOP!"

Kara giggled and took some food off the table. At least there's something good about this reception.

 

"My fair lady, your beauty has scorched a hole into my heart-"

"Alex!" Kara yelled over the food in her mouth. "Enough."

 

Kara was wearing a light blue dress - per Lady Lena's suggestion. Her blond hair was wavy and loose, with a few strands moved from her face and pinned back.

 

The whole room slowly turned around, one person after another, as Lady Lena appeared at the top of the stairs.

 

She was wearing the red dress with a corset that she and Kara had previously chosen, and a pair of white leather gloves. Her hair was up and decorated with subtle, flowery adornments.

 

As Lena walked down the stairs, Alex motioned for Kara to turn around.

Upon seeing her, Kara started choking on a piece of chicken that she was eating.

 

"Are you alright?" Alex patted her on the back. Kara was coughing.

 

"I'm...ok....ay." She tried to reassure her sister between the coughs.

 

Alex handed her a goblet of water. "Here, for your thirst."

 

The blonde didn't appreciate her sister's sarcastic comment, but she was grateful for the water because it helped with the cough.

 

"She's coming over here, act indifferent!" Kara whispered to her sister.

The brunette side-eyed her, with a smirk. It's not me who needs reminding to be indifferent, Kara.

 

Seeing her in this dress, Kara retroactively apologized - in her mind - to Winn for yelling at him for noticing Lady Lena's bosom. They sure leave quite an impression.

 

"Ladies." The princess approached them, smiling widely. "You look stunning."

 

Kara was about to thank her, when she was interrupted by her sister.

 

"Why, thank you, Lena. But I must let you know that my heart already belongs to another. I can't imagine your pain, but, please, keep your tears at bay."

She jokingly put her hand on Lena's shoulder; the princess laughed and rolled her eyes at Alex.

Kara, on the other hand, was completely red in the face and possibly having a stroke as she watched this interaction.

 

"Speaking of," Alex continued; "I see Maggie. See you later."

She turned to Kara and kissed her cheek. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

 

"Is there anything you wouldn't do, though?" Kara teased, but Alex was already too far to hear.

 

"I apologize for my sister. She-"

The princess just waved her off. "Nothing to be sorry for. I adore Alex, she's quite entertaining."

 

Did she miss the part where Alex called her only by her first name?

 

"You look wonderful."

"Thank you, Kara." She smiled widely and nodded. "But it is you who did all this. I am merely a puppet."

"But it's you who makes all this complete and beautiful. I could have dressed Snapper, too, but I don't imagine that he would look half as good in that dress."

 

They both laughed. Lena at the joke, and Kara simply because making the princess laugh made her happy.

"Well, Kara, don't speak like that. You never know, he might look lovely in it."

"True, how dare I doubt it."

"I never knew you were such a cynic."

"At such a young age, too. It's quite a shame."

 

"The gloves are a nice touch, though."

"Yes. Not only do they complete the look, but they have a very useful role in tonight's event - keeping my hands as clean as possible, when those fopdoodles drool on them."

"Ow, good luck with that."

"Luck?" The princess scoffed. "No, not luck. I'm gonna need a drink. Or ten."

 

-------------------

 

"Do you see him anywhere?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. But I have never seen him before."

 

Ladies Lena and Sara were looking at the crowd, trying to find Kal-El. Kara felt guilty as she stood by them, knowing that he wasn’t going to be there, but saying nothing.

 

"I haven't met him, either, but I know most of the other knights so anyone new would probably be him. He shouldn't be much older than us. And apparently very handsome and a very skilled swordsman."

"Yes, I'm sure you're very interested in his sword."
"Sara!" The princess tried to seem offended but she couldn't help but laugh along with her.

Even Kara had to bite her lip to stop herself from laughing out loud.

"Better his sword than Malcolm's."
"Ugh, Merlyn. He used to try wooing Laurel. And by wooing I mean he got drunk and pushy until she punched him in the face."

 

"Go, Laurel."

 

Sara and Lena turned around when they heard a snort and a comment coming from their right side.

 

Kara froze. She did that. She said that out loud. Oh no.

 

But Lena just shook her head and laughed, and turned her attention back to Sara.

 

"What about that one?"

"Oh, he's young and new. Hello." Sara smirked.

 

"That..." Kara was unsure if she should speak but they already turned to look at her. "That's actually Sir Mon-El of Daxam."

"How do you know him?" A hint of jealousy in Lena's voice, but Kara failed to notice it.

"Oh he's... a friend of a friend."

 

Lady Lucy joined their conversation.

"Who are we talking about?"

"We are looking for Kal-El."

"Well, you are out of luck in that case. He will not be attending the reception. Jimmy received a letter from him this morning."

"James knows Kal-El?"

"Yes, they are old friends. They served together in London until Jimmy moved back here."

 

Lady Lucy was James' betrothed. Her father doesn't approve of their relationship, to which Lucy simply said she doesn't give a damn. Which made Kara like her even more.

She was one of the few good Ladies. She would go to the pub with James and his friend group, and treat them as equals - as her friends.

Lucy noticed Kara and waved at her; Kara smiled and waved back.

 

"So, where is he?"

"The letter simply said that he had an unexpected emergency, and he apologizes for having to miss the reception, but he will be here for the tournament."

 

Thank you, James.

 

"I think we need more wine."

 

-----------------

 

"Ladies."

Sir Mon-El approached them with a smile, and kissed everyone's hand - including Kara's - which made her feel special. He was truly kind, and Kara was happy that her best friend had a good man like this by his side.

"It's an honor to meet you, Princess. And a pleasure to see you again, Kara."

 

He talked to them for a few minutes, being considerate enough not to take too much of the Princess' time. Then he told Kara that he would see her at the pub with Winn, and left.

 

Maxima, thankfully, was too busy batting her eyes at every man in the room to spend time with the rest of the Ladies. Unfortunately, Lady Veronica Sinclair had time for everything.

 

"Look at them." She scoffed and took another sip of wine. "Brave men,” she mocked. "So desperate."

"Well, the melee can get quite bloody," Lady Sara returned; "so I would say that they are brave. Even if I dislike the majority of them, personally."

"Brave? They're just bored. Old and bored and hope to snatch a young princess and those few coins that King Lionel offered."

 

Princess Lena cringed at hearing that.

 

"Servant girl," she spoke to Kara; "be a dear and bring me more wine."

"You have your own servant, Veronica." Lady Lena jumped in.

"I don't mind-"

"Kara." Lena said simply, in a loud, strict voice, letting Kara know that she should stay in her place.

 

"Oh, so possessive."

Sara rolled her eyes. "You're drunk, Veronica."

 

"I don't know about your invitations, but mine said celebration, so I'm gonna go dance."

Sara looked at Lena who nodded. She took her hand and led her to the middle of the room where couples - and a few drunk singles - were dancing.

 

Kara was jealous, she couldn't deny that. But she also liked Lady Sara. She was kind, she called her by her name, treated her with respect, asked for her opinion, discussed books with her... Kara wouldn't dare to call her a friend because she is aware of her own place in the society, but she did like her as one.

 

Lady Veronica stared at her.

"You're not gonna bring me more wine, are you?"

 

Kara quickly shook her head.

 

"Uh, fine."

 

-------------------------------

 

"Thank you, Kara, for not leaving my side the whole night."

"Of course, my lady. But I must say it was hard at times."

"Was it?"

"Yes. At one point I really wanted more chicken but the table was at the other side of the room."

 

The princess laughed sincerely.

 

It wasn't meant to be a joke. Kara thought.

 

After all the dances and talking, the royal family got together and the knights approached them one by one, greeting them, kissing the ladies' hands, promising to do their best at the tournament.

 

The princess had drunk a lot, but, surprisingly, she still seemed quite sober.

 

"Will you read to me again?"

"Of course."

 

-------------

 

"What are you doing still awake?"

 

It was the middle of the night when Kara returned to her room.

 

"You sleep with Lady Lena again?"
"Ha! Not funny."

"You're telling me. You go to the kitchen and disappear. I thought you got kidnapped."

"Is that why you're waiting for me still awake?"

"No."

 

Kara noticed a concerned look on Alex's face.

 

"We might have another problem."

Chapter Text

"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Lex himself told me."

"You spoke to Prince Lex?"

"Yes, at the reception," Alex replied. "He is practically my best mate."

Her eyes widened at the realization of what she had just said. "Don't tell Winn."

 

Kara shook her head. That is a subject for another time.

"Are you sure he said that, though?"

"Yes, exactly in those words."

"Zooterkins."

 

"Where do you find those ridiculous curse words?"

"Shut up. We need to find Winn."

"It's the middle of the night."

Kara grimaced and hissed. "Right. Tomorrow then."

 

It is going to be a long night.

 

-----------------

 

Kara entered the library and found Lady Lena sprawled on the window seat with a book placed against her knees. She was so deeply in her thoughts that she failed to notice Kara standing there.

 

"My lady, is there anything I can get for you? A cup of tea, perhaps?"

 

Lena looked up and beamed at her.
"Kara! No. In fact, I was just about to finish this chapter and go look for you, see if you wanted to go for a walk. The weather is lovely today."

 

Kara shifted on her feet.

 

"Unless you have some other business to attend to, or you don't feel up for it." She raised an eyebrow, waiting for Kara's answer.

 

I need to find Winn, it's urgent?? Does that count?

 

"No, I'm all yours."

Lena smiled and Kara blushed. "I mean, I am at your service. And looking forward to your company."

 

---------------------

 

"Do you still have nightmares?"

Kara knew it wasn't any of her business, but she was worried.

 

"I do. But no more panic attacks. Lucky me."

 

Can a person smile sarcastically? Because that is what the princess just did, Kara thought.

 

They were sitting by the fountain in the garden. The sun was warm but the breeze was chilly; the weather really was perfect.

It also reminded Kara of the feeling that she perpetually had around Lady Lena - warm but chilly. Lady Lena herself, and Kara's feelings for her were warm, but the barriers between them and the impossibility of Them were chilly. Still kind of perfect, though.

Having something within your grasp but not being able to hold it - just makes you want it even more. It is the sweetest form of torture, and Kara couldn't help but relish in it.

 

She fiddled with a dandelion in her hands.

 

Lena turned to look at her.

"What about you, though? What do you do in your free time - aside from reading books? Thank you, by the way, for the recommendations." She smiled at her.

"Oh, I... I'm mostly with my sister and our friends."

"The smith?"

Kara laughed. "Yes, Winn. And you know Lady Lucy and James." Lena nodded. "And Alex and Maggie."

"I don't think I have ever met Maggie. I have seen her around, but we were never properly introduced."

"Maggie is wonderful; she recently came back from the villages where she and Alex were helping the refugees."

 

Lena felt a sting of jealousy but quickly let it go.

 

"Oh, and Winn - he makes the best armours in the kingdom and beyond."

 

Lena smiled as she continued listening to Kara talking about her friends. It was refreshing to talk to someone who truly cares about others, for no other benefit but their sincere friendship.

 

They spent a good amount of time in the garden, sitting by the fountain and walking around, sneaking glances at each other when the other one wasn't looking.

 

The wind suddenly blew the princess' hat off of her head, and Kara went after it.

"I'll get it!"

 

She retrieved the hat, cleaned it a little bit, and got it back to the princess with a smile. "Here you go, my lady. Safe and sound."

 

"Thank you, Kara. You are a true knight in a shining armour."

 

"What? A knight? Me? Ha, please. It was nothing, my lady."

Lady Lena found it strange how much Kara was laughing at this. It wasn't that funny.

"Me a knight, ha, Princess, please. It's just.. just a hat. It was.. it was nothing." She finally stopped talking and averted her gaze from Lena.

 

-----------

 

"Hey, smith, you wouldn't happen to know where a lonely knight could scabbard his sword, would you?"

 

Winn shook his head and scoffed. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be practicing for tomorrow?"

"I have practiced my whole life. Now I need a distraction."

He walked over to Winn and gave him a kiss. Winn put a hand on Mon-El's back, pulling him closer to himself.

 

"Oh, they do say a knight is always as hard as his armor."

"They're not wrong." Mon-El raised his eyebrows and laughed.

 

Winn groaned. "Ugh, but I'm really busy now. I need to finish this by tonight."

Mon-El pulled back and put his hands up. "Alright, alright. I'll go."

"But tell me, smith, wouldenth thou like to see my longsword in action?"

"Damn you, Mon-El of Daxam."

Mon-El laughed. "Really though, are you coming to the tournament tomorrow?" He was hopeful.

 

Winn felt guilty. His best friend and his beau will be competing in the same tournament and only one can win. He hoped that, at least, they wouldn't have to compete directly against each other.

 

"Wouldn't miss it for the world." He pulled Mon-El in for a hug.

 

The knight gave him another brief kiss and said "I'll let you work now. But we need to get some drinks tonight."

"Yes, we'll be meeting the posse at the tavern at nine."

"Good. I can't wait."

 

Mon-El smiled again, and then he let go of Winn's hand and left the shop.

 

---------------

 

"Winn, we've got a problem."

 

Kara finally managed to get away from work and find him, and she brought Alex with her.

Both Winn and James were at the shop.

 

"Another one?" Winn all but yelled. "Can we get one moment of peace; one moment in which things will run smoothly? Just one?"

"No." Alex simply replied, and Winn whined in return.

 

"What is it now?"

"The Prince told Alex that we can't wear the cuirass at the tournament."

"What?!"

"Yes," Alex said; "No kind of breastplate is allowed. Just the hauberk."

"Chainmail?"

"I can still wear the helmet and cover my shoulders and legs - but no breastplate."

 

Winn put hands on his face. "Why?" He whined again.

"I suppose the king prefers things bloodier." Kara said, mockingly; "But then again, people have marched into battle wearing just the chainmail, right?"

"Yes, but cuirass is better."

 

"Kara," James jumped in; "I didn't want to mention this unless it was necessary but, in his last letter, Kal said that if you ever change your mind he'd be glad to come and take your place at the melee."

"No!" Kara shook her head. "I'm not backing out. Winn, the mail is still practically unbreakable, right?"

"Uhh..... yes and no."

"Yes or no?" Alex glared at him.

"It's strong, but a good hit can break the rings."

 

Alex turned to Kara. "You're not competing."

"Alex-"

"End of discussion, Kara. I'm not letting you do this."

"I will still have my shield, Alex, and even if they break the mail at places - it won't kill me."

 

They argued for some time until Alex finally gave in.

"Fine. But if anything happens it's Winn's fault."

"MINE??" Winn said in a high-pitched voice.

"Yes! You better make her a damn good chain mail.. shirt... thing, or you're a dead man."

 

---------------

 

"Lex!" Alex shouted after the Prince. "Wait!"

 

He turned around and smiled at her. "Alex, my namesake, how can I be of assistance?" He mockingly took a bow.

"First of all, try not to die tomorrow."

He laughed. "I will do my best. Is that all?"

"No, I need a favor. Can you get me the schedule of battles, and not ask what I need it for?"

"Uh... I suppose it can do no harm?"

 

She got on her toes and gave him a hug. "Thank you. And really, be safe. You are the only hope this kingdom has."

"I won't tell my father you said that."

"Tell him. I'll fight him."

 

He laughed so loud that half of the castle probably heard him. "I'm sure you would, Alex. I'm sure you would."

 

---------------------

 

It was eleven o'clock, and they were all at "The Nasty Chair", already half-drunk. It was kind of a 'good-luck party' for Kara and Mon-El, for those who knew of Kara's secret.

They were drinking and laughing.

 

"I can't believe you did that!"

"I know! Let me live!"

 

"Hey, speaking of stupid, did you hear who Maxima went home with after the reception?" Lucy laughed.

"Ooh, do tell!" Maggie leaned in to hear the newest gossip.

 

-------------

 

Maggie was sitting in Alex's lap, Mon-El was cuddled up next to Winn who was playing with his hair. And on Kara's left side there were James and Lucy.

She felt lonely. I wish Lady Lena were here, she thought.

 

And, like summoned, Lady Lena appeared at the door of the tavern only a few moments later.

 

Kara spit out her drink.

"What is it?" Someone asked, and everyone at the table turned around to see what Kara was staring at.

 

Lena stood at the door and searched for something around the room. She felt and looked so out of place, but she was thankful that almost everyone was too drunk to notice that the Princess walked in.

 

She suddenly smiled and slowly walked over to their table.

Everyone started asking what she was doing at the tavern and Kara was worried if anything had happened that she needed her assistance for.

Mon-El quickly shot up from his seat - to Winn's disappointment - and offered it to Lena.

 

"I'm sorry to come uninvited, but you mentioned that you would be here; It's a good opportunity to see you wearing more colors," she said hesitantly and Kara smiled - suddenly even more self-conscious; "and I needed a drink and some company. I hope it's alright."

Everyone approved in unison and welcomed her to the group.

She was introduced to Maggie and Winn, whom she didn't previously know.

 

"Why is everyone so quiet?" Lena laughed nervously. "I can leave if I make you uncomfortable."

Everyone protested. "We just forgot where we left off."

 

"You need a drink." Mon-El said.

"I really do."

 

"Can we get another round over here?"

 

-------------

 

"Always so dramatic."

"Alex!" Kara's eyes widened and she raised her voice, while everyone else laughed. "How can you say that to the Princess?"

"She's not my princess - Maggie is." Alex said and kissed Maggie's cheek.

 

Kara turned to Lena. "My lady, I'm-"

"Please, Kara. It's fine." Lena laughed along with everyone else. "I know how to take a joke. You need to relax; have another drink."

She filled Kara's goblet with more wine.

 

"See, Kara, it's her turn to serve you for once."
Kara's reaction to Alex's remarks was downing the whole goblet in one sip in hopes of blacking out.

Lady Lena was sitting very close to her now, and they were all very drunk. Some more than others.

 

"Who knew the Princess could handle her liquor so well." Alex was impressed.

"I did," Lucy replied. "Remember when we snuck into the wine cellar?"

"Oh, God!" Lena started laughing. "What were we, seventeen?"

"Something like that."

"It just takes practice. With a father like mine, you would drink a lot, too."

Everyone nodded in agreement.

 

"Long live King Lex!!"

"ALEX!" Everyone yelled in unison.

"What? Like you didn't think it."

"It's one thing to think it, and another to shout it so publicly," Lena said. "I'm with you, but if you want to keep your head on your shoulders, you should be more careful."

But Alex was too drunk to care.

 

---------------------------------

 

"A toast."

Everyone turned to look at Mon-El. "To what?"

"To.... to getting drunk!"

"TO GETTING DRUNK!" Everyone shouted and raised their goblets.

 

-------------------

 

"Will you sit next to me at the sword fighting duel thing, Kara?" The princess asked, drunkenly. "Please."

 

Alex and James looked at each other. Winn was already passed out on the table.

 

"You're my only fren'." She put her hand on Kara's.

"Hey!" Lucy protested.

A slightly-less-drunk Kara almost said yes before she remembered that she's participating in the melee.

"I, uh... Tha's a bit," she hiccuped; "too violent for me."

 

Lena looked down at her goblet. "Owwwww, it's empty." She almost started crying.

"Lucyyyyy!" Lena half-hugged Lucy who was sitting on other side. "You're pretty."

"And you've never been more drunk," Lucy - who actually didn't drink that much - replied.

"Hopfffffully," Lena pointed a finger at Lucy; "alcohol kills me so I don't have to get married." She then started laughing hysterically.

 

"Okay, time to go home." Kara suggested.

 

Mon-El tried to wake Winn up but there was no use, so he had to carry him out instead.

Maggie and Alex decided to stay 'for just one more song.' (There was no music.) And Lucy decided to wait for Alex and Maggie, so the three of them could walk James home and go back to the castle together.

Kara had to carry - a very drunk - Lady Lena back to the castle on her own.

 

--------------

 

"You're very kind, Kara." The Princess slurred her words. "Truly."

Kara just rolled her eyes and tried to ignore the fact that Lady Lena's face was only inches away from her own.

"And your eyes sparkle."

"They sure do."

"And you're smart." The Princess kept slurring the words. "How come you're not married yet?"

The question took Kara by surprise. "I.. uh.."

"Savin' yo'self for someone special? I get it."

"Something like that."

 

Kara was strong and had no problems holding Lena up, but Lena was dragging her feet on the ground and kept hitting every rock and step on their way.

 

"Not many deserve a girl like you."

Kara sighed. "Jus' help me out here and use your feet, please. I can't drag you all the way up to your chambers; there are too many steps."

 

------------------

 

"Home sweet torture chamber." Lena started laughing hysterically.

 

Kara put her to sit on the bed and got her a glass of water.

 

"Oh, Kara. You're so lucky, you can run away......." she waved around with her hands vigorously; "wherever."

Kara felt slightly dizzy from the alcohol and the climbing, so she sat down next to Lena.

"I don't want to."

"Why?"

Because of you. "Because... my family is here. And my job." And you.

 

Lena was staring at Kara and leaning in closer and closer.

"You..." She pointed a finger at Kara; "are happy here."

"I am."

 

"I'm sad."

 

In the moment of silence that followed, Lena put her hand on Kara's face.

"Your eyes are very prrrety. Sparkly."

 

Kara knew better than to lean against the touch, but she did it anyway, and she closed her eyes.

The princess looked at Kara's lips and wondered what the maid's reaction would be if she were to kiss her.

 

I might as well, she thought. We're drunk; it doesn't count.

 

She gently pressed her lips against Kara's, and Kara immediately kissed her back.

 

It is as if she has waited for this, Lena thought. Maybe she's lonely, like me.

 

She moved her hand to the back of Kara's neck and held her in place, closer to herself, as she took Kara's bottom lip between her own.

 

A quiet moan escaped Kara's mouth, and Lena took it as an invitation to deepen the kiss.

Kara's hand found Lena's waist. She allowed herself to enjoy this for just a few moments.

Lady Lena's lips were softer than Kara could have ever imagined - and she imagined it a lot - and they tasted sweet and savory at the same time, with a hint of red wine.

 

When Lena moved to lay them down on the bed, Kara reluctantly willed herself back to reality and broke the kiss.

They were both breathing heavily. Lena looked at Kara, eyes wide and confused by her sudden decision to pull away.


"We're drunk."

"Indeed, we are." Lena laughed.

Kara still struggled for air. "It is a big day tomorrow. I should let you sleep."

 

"Uhhh, fine."

The Princess threw herself on the bed and laid on her stomach, burying her head in the pillow.

 

Kara stood up.

"Don't you... want to change your clothes first?"

"No, just put out the candle."

 

Kara did as she was told and left the room, leaving the Princess alone 'till the next morning.

Chapter Text

Kara was careful when she was waking the Princess up that morning. They were both hungover; whispering and not pulling back the drapes were the best options.

 

Lena got up, scarcely, and Kara helped her get ready for the day - their usual morning routine. They silently agreed not to mention the previous night. They tried to make themselves believe that the kiss meant nothing to the other girl; and Lena even tried to convince herself that it meant nothing to her either. I was drunk and lonely and she was there.

 

"Should I wear black to showcase the official death of my freedom, or should I save that for the feast?" Lady Lena tried to make a joke but it fell short. Kara wasn't even listening; she was too preoccupied by her fear of the tournament. Lena assumed that she felt uncomfortable after what happened the night before. Maybe she shouldn't have kissed her.

 

--------

 

"Will this be all, my lady?"

"Yes, Kara. You may go."

 

But as Kara turned around to leave, the Princess asked "Are you sure you won't be attending the tournament?"

 

Oh, I will definitely be attending the tournament, Kara thought. If she wasn't so consumed by her fear and guilt, she would have found it funny that the Princess asked that.

 

"Yes, I'm sure."

 

Kara stopped at the door and hesitantly looked back at Lady Lena.

"Good luck. I will be here for you after it's done."

 

I hope, she thought to herself.

 

----------------

 

"Are you nervous?"

"Nervous? Me? No." Mon-El scoffed. "Scared out of my mind, actually."

"It's going to be alright," Winn tried to reassure him; "and we will get drunk tonight. And tomorrow night. And the night after that."

"That sounds so good." The knight smiled at him and gave him a kiss.

 

"Why are you doing this, though?"

"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you don't want to marry the Princess, do you?" Winn felt uncomfortable asking this, but he had to know. Even if the truth hurts.

 

"Marry the-" Mon-El laughed. "No. Never. I doubt either of us would enjoy that marriage."

Will sighed in relief. "It can't be the money, because your kingdom is one of the richest. What is it then?"

"Honor, of course," Mon-El replied. "This is my first tournament; I want to bring honor to my family and my kingdom. And myself. And you." He smiled.

"You don't need to prove yourself to me. I would rather have you alive than have you fight in that ridiculous melee."

"I doubt that you would think that if I lost." The knight looked away, but Winn gently brought his face back and their eyes met again.

"Hey, hey, hey. Listen to me. Nothing is more important to me than you being alive. I don't doubt that you could bring honor to your kingdom by winning, but if you have to surrender, I would prefer that to losing you."

Mon-El was silent.

 

"Nod or something. I need to know that you understand that."

Mon-El sighed. "Okay. But you will be there? To watch?"

"Yes, every minute of it."

The tall knight smiled.

 

They spent the morning together before Mon-El left to prepare for his first fight.

 

--------------------

 

"I have never heard of Sir Barry before."

"Barry Allen. I know of him," James said. "Apparently, he's really fast."

 

The group of friends was at the garden in front of the castle, looking at the tournament schedule that Alex got from the Prince.

 

"I bet Kara is faster," Alex said. "You can beat him, sis."

 

"Mon-El is fighting Mick Rory?" Winn grimaced. "Mick is huge. Thank God they're not wrestling."

 

"Remember when we were 13," Kara said; "and he threatened to set Oliver on fire?"

Alex snorted. "I wish he had."

 

"What about tomorrow's schedule?"

"That depends on who wins today."

"Oh, right."

"I just thought that you would feel less anxious if you knew whom you were going to fight. Less things to think about."

 

------------------

 

Kara was ready and waiting to be called to fight. There were going to be two duels before hers.

She was wearing trousers, a chain mail, and any part of the armour that was allowed. She looked down at her legs and arms - which were only half-covered - and she could practically feel the pain at the thought of the possibility of being hurt in those places.

It wasn't good that she was left alone with her thoughts, but her friends needed to be out there.

 

What seemed like forever later, they came back.

 

Kara nervously ran to them as soon as they walked in. "What happened, who won, how was it?"

 

Both Winn and Alex stood in silence, avoiding to look her in the eye.

 

"WELL?"

 

Alex finally spoke. "Oliver won."

 

"But something is wrong, I can tell. Will you speak up already?"

"He...." Winn grimaced in disgust. "He cut off Malcolm Merlyn's hand."

 

Kara's eyes widened in schock; her heart was racing faster and faster.

 

"It was really bloody." Alex had the same expression on her face as Winn. "And, of course, Lionel cheered. That bastard."

 

"I have to go, Mon-El is fighting next."

"Good luck." The sisters sincerily wished for Mon-El to win.

 

Seeing how nervous Kara was, Alex stayed with her.

 

-------------

 

"He's as strong as a bear."

"But he's slow and you're fast." Winn tried to reassure his knight. "And go for his left knee, he hurt it badly when he was a child; I'm sure it didn't heal properly."

 

"I'll be watching, and if you feel scared just look at me, I'll be standing there."

"Actually," he quickly corrected himself; "you should probably watch your opponent instead, but know that I'm there for you."

 

Mon-El put his helmet on and not long after his name was called.

 

-----------

 

Winn was nervously shifting in his seat while waiting for his beau to come out to the field. When he did, the crowd cheered.

 

It's gonna be okay, it's gonna be okay, it's gonna be okay. Winn tried to calm himself down, not even realizing that he was saying it out loud under his breath.

 

---------

 

"How was it? Did he win?"

"HE SURE DID!!" Winn cheered. "You should have seen him fight! He was so fast and Mick didn't even stand a chance! He was so aggressive but Mon-El was smarter and he would trip him and Mick would fall and the crowd laughed. And I was right about his left knee!"

 

Alex and Kara didn't know what Winn meant about the left knee, but he was talking so fast they couldn't even ask.

 

The sisters congratulated Winn for Mon-El's victory, and then they stood in silence, aware of the fact that Kara is fighting next.

 

---------------

 

Kara was standing outside, helmet in place, and waiting for her name - her cousin's name - to be called. It will be any minute now.

She tried to remind herself of why she is doing this. It was her dream. She wanted the honor of winning; she wanted to be more than just a handmaiden; she wanted to try and help Lady Lena; she wanted to show that women can fight, too; she wanted a better life and she was going to get it.

 

Alex was with her up until the last minute, but she had to go and find a place in the crowd.

 

"Kal of El."

 

Lady Lena's voice.

 

Kara turned around to see the Princess approaching her and smiling at her. She was wearing a dark purple dress.

 

She is so beautiful, Kara thought.

She had seen Lady Lena this morning when she helped her put on the very same dress, but Kara will never not be blown away by the Princess' beauty.

 

Lena was smiling but Kara could tell that she was dismayed. Aside from her own fate possibly depending on this, it also couldn't have been easy for her to witness all of this violence.

 

"I haven't seen you at the reception."

 

Lady Lena offered her hand and Kara gently took it in her own and kissed it.

 

Kara's heart was racing faster. She can't say anything. One word and the Princess would know it's her.

Instead of replying, she slowly nodded and hoped that it was enough.

 

Lady Lena was now staring at her, looking at her straight in the eye, intriguingly. She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow.

 

Oh no. Is this it; am I done before I even got a chance?

 

Thankfully, the Princess simply shook her head, wished her good luck, and left.

 

-------------

 

Sir Barry Allen.

He was standing across from Kara, in a red armour. His shield had a lightning bolt on it.

 

Kara looked down at her own shield which had her family's coat of arms on it. Remembering her family helped her calm down, if only for a moment.

 

The crowd cheered for both of them as they came out to the field. Kara's eyes immediatelly searched for Alex and their friends, and panicked when she couldn't see them. She turned around and there they were - smiling and waving at her, but evidently scared out of their minds.

 

Lady Lena was at the other side, sitting next to Ladies Sara and Lucy, close to the King and Queen. The Prince was probably getting ready for his own fight, since it was right after this one.

 

Kara's chest felt heavy, her palms were sweating, and her heart was racing. She didn't even register the sound that signalled the start of the duel, until she noticed the crowd getting up on their feet, and Sir Barry started approaching her.

 

------------------

 

He really was fast. They were both tall and slim, and he was almost identical to Kara in speed.

For five minutes they would almost dance around each other and try to make a move, but the other one would always block it just in time. It almost seemed neverending and pointless to Kara.

 

The fight was much harder than she ever could have imagined. Her thoughts were buzzing with James' and Kal's voices.

 

Slide not step. Body, shield, body, shield. Crosscut. Undercut. Head blow. Moulinet.

 

Her mind was racing almost as fast as her heart. Thinking of her own moves while also being aware of Barry's was the most difficult task.

She did notice that she was, somehow, much stronger than him.

 

Their swords clashed into each other.

 

Feel the bind. Use it to feel where he's going next.

 

Barry was pushing his sword to the left, which Kara used to move her sword around and behind his right arm, and in one swift move she succeeded to cut it right under the pauldron. He hissed in pain and stepped away.

Finally, some progress.

 

Kara could have easily went forward and stabbed his throat, but she swore not to kill unless she absolutely has to. She hoped that he would drop his sword if she hurt his arm, but he didn't.

 

He stepped forward again and tried to hit Kara on the face from her right side.

 

I know this one!

 

Kara remembered that James showed her this combo. He would distract her and strike on her right, and when she shifts her defenses there, he would switch and hit her from behind and switch again to hit her chest. She wasn't going to let that happen.

 

As she blocked his first hit with her sword, he stepped forward to hit the back of her head, and she blocked it with her shield. When he made his move to hit her on the chest, she quickly stepped back and moved her shield just enough to stop the attack and stay unharmed.

 

---------------

 

She wasn't sure how this happened but she was lying on the ground with Barry's sword pointed at her throat.

He was standing above her.

 

"Surrender."

Kara was silent.

"I don't want to kill you. Surrender and you walk away alive."

 

She could smell the iron from the blood that was running down her nose. She could hear the people calling for him to finish her off. She didn't dare to move and look for familiar faces.

 

Kara remembered the promise that she made - that she would surrender if she has no more options. But a voice in her mind told her "not yet."

 

And the voice was right.

Barry made a mistake. He stepped forward, making himself vulnerable.

 

"This is your last chance to surrender."

 

Thank you, Barry.

 

She quickly moved and kicked him in the leg - which she had previously injured in the fight - and with another swift move she tripped him and he fell on the ground, dropping his sword as he tried to soften his landing.

 

She won't be making the same mistake he did, leaving her moveable. Unlike her, he fell on his face and she used it to sit on his back, limiting his movements.

Kara was much lighter than him, so to avoid him shaking her off his back, she locked his head in her arms.

 

Making her voice as harsh and as deep as she could, she yelled. "Surrender!"

 

"Never!"

 

Kara could see his girlfriend already crying at the stands. She couldn't hear what the girl was saying, but it seemed like she was begging her to let him go.

 

He tried to lift his leg to kick her in the back.

 

"One more movement and I'll snap your neck. Surrender now!"

"You won't do it."

 

He might have been right. Kara wasn't sure if she actually could do it, even if she wanted to. Barry seemed like a nice lad, and he was willing to spare her life before. She didn't want to kill him. But she also knew that she might have to, and that scared her to death. If her hands weren't wrapped so tightly around him, they surely would be shaking.

 

"Whatever your motives are, I assure you that mine are greater; and if I have to, I will do anything to win. Now, enough talking! Move and I snap your neck. Surrender!"

 

Kara was holding back the tears. Not from sadness, but from..... shock, perhaps. She was hoping that he would have enough common sense and a will to live, and that he would surrender.

 

A moment of complete silence followed before Barry spoke.

"Alright, alright."

"Louder! Say that you surrender!"

 

"I SURRENDER."

 

A sound signalled the end of the fight. The crowd cheered.

Kara's ears were throbbing from the sudden rush of her blood. Her heart was racing so fast she thought it would break through her chest.

 

Her eyes found Lady Lena whose jaw was clenched, and eyes wide in shock.

Alex, Winn and James were cheering.

 

The small replica of a lightning bolt shield was tossed away from the score board, and House of El shield replica was moved up for the second round.

 

-------------------------

 

"How did you learn all this?" Mon-El asked.

Winn hummed a light laugh. "I used to get hurt a lot as a child. I would watch as my mother took care of the scratches and wounds."

 

They were at Winn's house after the melee. Mon-El refused to go to the nurse, because he wanted to see Winn immediatelly and he didn't have anything but a few small scratches and bruises.

The blacksmith assured him that those, too, can get infected and make a mess, and he insisted to clean them.

 

There was no need for the knight to take off almost all of his clothes - since most of the cuts were on his arms and calves - but he did it anyway. And Winn wasn't going to complain.

Mon-El in his underwear and Winn in his sleeveless shirt and shorts; it almost seemed like they had a life together, and both of them wished to stay like that forever. Safe and sound in Winn's home - in their home.

 

 "You got into a lot of fights?"

"Not really. Mostly I would just fall on my face while playing with friends." Winn laughed. "And I would get beat up sometimes, until Alex showed me how to fight back. I only got into one more fight after that."

 

"Okay. You're all done and free to go."

"Oh, I'm not going anywhere."

 

Mon-El pulled Winn to lie down on the bed and kissed him deeply.

 

"I think I was promised a reward for my win?"

 

------------------------

 

"OW!"

"Hold still!"

 

"You know, if you had just listened to me, you wouldn't be suffering through this right now."

"It's just two cuts, Alex."

"Two cuts and an almost broken nose." Alex said as she touched Kara's nose, for no other reason than to annoy her.

"Ow! Stop it." Kara pushed her sister's hand away. "It isn't that bad. As long as it doesn't get touched. And I can cover the redness with make-up, it's fine."

"It's not fine! I told you not to do this." Alex was now holding back her tears. She was shouting at her sister. "I thought you were going to die!"

 

"And I thought I was going to kill a man! This isn't easy for me, Alex. We talked about this already."

Kara got up from her seat.

 

"Wait, I didn't clean your arm yet."

"I'll do it myself."

 

Kara slammed the door behind her and already felt guilty for yelling at her sister.

But she didn't need her sister's preaching, she needed comfort.

 

--------------------------

 

"Kara, there you are. I have been looking for you."

"My lady. How was the melee?"

"Absolutely horrible. Will you help me get out of this dress?"

 

Kara did as asked.

 

"There was so much blood and violence. You were right not to go. I have seen my fair share of tournaments, but my father thought it wasn't interesting enough - hence the change of rules for the armours. A few knights didn't even want to compete under these rules, and who can blame them."

 

Kara just nodded. She didn't have the strength to talk.

 

"Are you alright, Kara?"

Lady Lena noticed that something wasn't right, but she wasn't sure what it was.

 

"Yes, Princess." She tried to smile but it was insincere.

"I told you not to call me that."

"I apologize, my lady. I'm just distracted, that is all. I had a fight with my sister."

 

"Oh. Well, don't think too much of it. Siblings often fight but we will always be there for each other. Lex and I fight all the time, but at the end of the day he would lay his life for me, and I for him."

 

This was unexpected for both of them. It was supposed to be Kara comforting Lady Lena after the melee, not the other way around. But it helped Lena to focus on someone else's problems and repress her own thoughts.

 

The Princess put her hand on Kara's shoulder and smiled at her. "Alex loves you very much. And she knows you feel the same way."

"Thank you, my lady. I really hope so."

 

--------------

 

Kara waited until it was really late, hoping that Alex would already be asleep when she goes to their room. But when she walked in, Alex was sitting on the bed waiting for her.

 

The blonde stood at the door, looking at her sister in silence. Neither of them said a word.

 

Alex got up and put her arms around Kara. She hugged her as tightly as she could, and Kara started sobbing with her head on Alex's shoulder.


"It's okay. It's alright. Shh. You're okay."

Chapter Text

Kara wasn't too thrilled to discover that she was fighting Oliver Queen in her second duel. In his first fight, he had cut off Malcolm Merlyn's hand. A shiver went through Kara's spine at the thought of having to face her childhood bully once again; and this time he would have a sword and be more dangerous than ever.

 

"This is your chance to kill him."

"That's not funny, Alex."

 

 It wasn't really a joke, Alex thought. But she knew better than to say it out loud.

 

"I'm quite fond of my hands," Kara said, looking down at them.

 

"It will be fine." Alex tried to comfort her by putting a hand around her shoulder in a half-hug. "I'm sure you can beat him. Just don't be as stupid as Malcolm. If you feel like you must - surrender the fight."

 

Kara's duels were scheduled two days apart. She spent the whole day in agony of waiting for tomorrow.

 

--------------------------

 

She took off her glasses and placed them on the table. Only a few more minutes until she goes out in the field.

 

Kara put her helmet and adjusted it; she checked the rest of her gear and sighed.

 

"Here we go."

 

She took another look at her family's crest on a scratched - but freshly polished - shield that she got from Kal.

 

The names were called; it was time. Could she really do this? There was only one way to find out.

 

------------------

 

As she walked out into the field, Kara's eyes first searched for Alex, and then for Lady Lena who looked tired and uneasy.

 

People were too loud and the sun was too bright. Any and every distraction that could have been there - was.

 

Oliver Queen was dressed in all green. He smiled widely at her - probably thinking that he had already won - and drew his sword, which was somewhat unusual - the blade was more narrow near the point than it customarily is.

 

Kara drew her own sword and prepared to attack.

 

---------------------------------

 

Five minutes into the fight and they were both bleeding.

 

Oliver was foolish enough to try and cut her leg from a distance, and earned himself a blow to the helmet. It didn't hurt him, but the resound distracted him long enough for Kara to cut his arm.

 

Her footwork betrayed her and he tripped her, then hit her a few times and even gave her a cut on her left leg. Luckily, it wasn't too deep.

 

Both of their chain mails were broken in some places from the strong blows.

 

Some more cuts and bruises later, they were still battling.

 

Use his shield against him, James' voice echoed in her mind.

 

Kara swiftly stepped forward and pushed his shield with her own straight into his armpit, completely blocking his sword so he couldn’t move. She made a deep cut to his leg before he pushed her off.

If he hadn’t been wearing the mail, she could have injured his torso, but this way the leg was all she could have done.

Another knight might have cut his throat, but Kara didn't want to.

 

He was now limping and angrier than ever.

 

------------

 

Kara was on her knees with Oliver striking from her back. She put her sword up and over her shoulder, and successfully blocked the attack.

 

When she got up on her feet and turned around, the sun was shining in her eyes and she couldn't see, and she was met with his blade cutting through her chainmail and into her abdomen.

 

This is why it was so narrow. It went straight through the rings.

 

The pain was sharp and it sent shivers through her entire body. Her eyes looked for Lady Lena.

 

If I have to die, her face should be the last one I see.

 

Kara was disoriented. Instead of the Princess, her eyes met with Alex's. Her sister was crying.

 

I have to fight.

 

She stumbled on her feet and tried to catch her breath.

 

I can do this, it isn't that bad.

 

The blood was dripping from Oliver's sword as he prepared to jab it through her throat.

 

Kara pretended to fall down - thought it did feel good to lie on the ground for a moment - and he thought he won.

She had to remind herself not to give in to the feeling. Get up. Fight.

 

The crowd cheered, and Kara could hear Alex scream in the distance.

 

As Oliver put both of his hands up - celebrating his victory - Kara picked up her sword, got up and pierced through his bicep, getting nauseous at the feeling of her sword cutting so deeply through the flesh.

He yelled and dropped his weapon on the ground, and she picked it up immediately.

 

Her vision was becoming slightly blurry but she kept herself upright. Oliver was looking for a way to punch her with his left arm but couldn't get close enough without getting cut. She attacked him with both swords but he blocked every blow with his shield that he picked up from the ground.

 

I can't do this for much longer.

 

They were both barely walking from all the injuries. His right arm was useless, his left leg limping.

Kara felt no pain due to adrenaline, but she was losing blood and slowly losing her consciousness.

 

If I faint, they will take my helmet off.

 

Kara threw one of the swords far away so he couldn't reach it, and with that hand she picked up her shield. She tricked him by attacking his left side, and when he moved his shield there, she gave him an undercut with her shield, causing him to fall down.

 

She waited and waited but he wasn't getting up.

 

The crowd cheered as the horn signaled the end of the duel.

 

Her breathing was shallow.

 

I won. I'm alright. I won.

 

Kara started walking away from the field. The last thing she remembered was everything happening in slow motion, her vision going black, and the sound of her body hitting the ground.

Chapter Text

"This is all your fault!"

"How is it my fault?"

"You said the chainmail was enough!"
"I said that it should be and it often is. It can sometimes be penetrated by narrow things, like an arrow."

"Well, I guess Oliver Queen is a skilled archer, then!"

 

"Can you two stop arguing?" James said, as he carried an unconscious Kara in his arms. "We need to take her to Mrs. Danvers."

"No! Mother cannot know about this! She would kill me."

"Someone has to patch her up."

"I will do it. I have been assisting mother for five years now."

"Assisting being the key word. We need to take her to Eliza."

 

-------------------

 

Kara woke up and gasped for air. She tried to lift herself up but strong hands held her down.

 

"Easy, easy. You're okay, but you need to hold still for now."

"Where.."

 

She noticed that she was lying on the bed in the back room of physician's chambers. Her friends were by her side, holding her hands and smiling at her.

 

"Do you remember what happened?"

"You suffered some injuries... but hey, it's alright, Eliza patched you up."

 

Everything was slightly hazy in Kara's mind. She remembers getting stabbed, but after that...

 

"I... I remember that the fight seemed endless and I almost gave up, I.... Oh my God, did I kill Oliver? I remember that he fell and I wanted to check on him but I knew that I had to leave because I was not feeling well and- Did I kill him??"

"Kara, Kara, stop." Alex tried to calm her down. "Oliver is alive."

 

"You messed him up badly," Winn laughed; "but he survived."

"He was unconscious for hours, though." James added.

 

Kara sighed in relief. She didn't like Oliver but if he had died by her hand, she would not be able to forgive herself.

 

She gasped at the sudden realization. "When did I lose consciousness? Does everyone know? Did they see?"

"No, we took care of it," James said. "Everyone was too eager to see if Oliver is dead that no one noticed you passing out right outside of the field. I picked you up and we brought you here."

 

Kara thanked him. She tried to sit up and she winced and hissed at the pain of her wound.

 

"We told you to lie still!" Alex shouted at her younger sister. "Nothing important was hurt, but you lost a lot of blood, you need to be still and let us take care of you."

"No, I need to go! If Lady Lena notices that I'm not there-"

"The Princess is taken care of. I told her you have the flu."

Kara rolled her eyes. "The flu?"

"Yes. It will buy you a day of bed rest."

 

-----------------------

 

The day went by agonizingly slowly. They moved Kara to her room and gave her books. It has been years since she had a day with no work, and the books didn't help much in distracting her from the pain.

 

By the end of the day, the pain lessened, thanks to Eliza's medications and Alex making sure that Kara actually stays in bed. But the boredom was still there. Her sister and their friends had to work, so Kara was left alone, aside from them slipping in and out just to check if she needs anything.

 

She was craving pie. It was already over an hour since she ate anything, and her foster mother strictly forbid any actual food. A pie would be so good right now, though.

 

There was a knock on the door but Kara was too sleepy to hear it. As they slowly opened, the creaking sound woke her up.

 

"Oh, Alex, thank God. I'm-"

 

"Kara, it's- It's Lena."

 

Kara lifted her head up as the brunette approached her bed. This was the first time that Kara thought she looked tall.

 

Kara's eyes widened in shock at seeing her standing there, as she had not expected her. "Princess!"

The woman gave her a significant look.

"I apologize. Lady Lena."

"That's better." She smiled.

 

"I am so sorry I missed work." Kara tried getting up but the sharp pain sent shivers down her spine.

"No! Don't get up. It's alright. I just.. Alex said you weren't feeling well, so I brought you these."

 

The Lady offered Kara a bouquet of flowers - which she held behind her back until then - and Kara smiled and thanked her.

 

"And I also asked Miss M'orzz to make you chicken broth." The Princess handed her a bowl of soup and a spoon.

 

"Thank Lord! I am starving!" Kara made grabbing motion with her hands towards the bowl and Lady Lena let out a loud laugh.

 

Kara slowly, carefully lifted herself up and motioned for the Princess to sit on the bed beside her, and Lena did.

 

"Easy there, Kara. The broth will not run away."

"I'm sorry. But Eliza won't let me eat any solid food and the soup doesn't keep me satiated for long. Wish you had brought me some pie, though."

The Princess laughed. "Wish I could have. Too bad you're not feeling well. On this day, of all."

"This day?" Kara spoke in between the gulps.

 

"The anniversary of your arrival to the kingdom, of course."

 

Kara stopped eating as she contemplated this.

 

"I... I completely forgot. You remember?"

"Of course I do."

 

The Princess smiled and Kara did, too, but she averted her gaze for a moment, before looking back at Lady Lena. The last time they sat together on a bed was the night of the kiss.

 

"Well, I should be going now," the Princess said and Kara was already unhappy. Talking to Lady Lena distracted her from the pain. "You need to get some rest."

 

She tried standing up but Kara's hand stopped her.

"No. Stay. I'm going crazy being alone in here."

 

The Lady gave her a sympathetic look.

 

"Unless you have things to do? With the tournament and the kingdom or something."

"No." Lady Lena chuckled. "I was, actually, also going out of my mind. It's too quiet up there without you." She smiled. "Miss Grant is no fun."

 

Kara laughed. "Then you have to stay. I insist."

 

-------------------------

 

The pain was getting stronger again, and when Kara looked under the blanket she noticed the blood soaking through the bandages.

 

"My lady, can you..." she cleared her throat; "can you pass me the medicine? It's on the night stand over there."

 

"This smells like that thing for the pain and not for the flu?" Lena winced at the smell of strong herbs.

"Yes I... I have a headache. Comes with the flu."

 

Lena nodded and handed her the medicine and a glass of water.

 

"I'm surprised Winn isn't here. You two are practically inseparable."

Was she insinuating..?

"He came by, but he had to go back to work. And I already explained, we're just friends." Kara laughed lightly.

"Oh I know. I mean, I assumed after the other night that he has a... a thing with the Prince of Daxam."

"Yeah, Mon-El."

 

It took a few moments for Kara to understand what Lena had said. "Wait... did you just say the Prince of Daxam?"

"Yes?"

"Oh boy."

 

------------------

 

Not long after, Alex arrived and sent Lady Lena out of the room to check Kara's wound and change the bandages, with the excuse that "Kara needs to rest now."

 

Later, Winn came by to see her. He said that Mon-El had lost his fight to Prince Lex.

"I'm actually kind of glad, because I'm not sure how the King would react if someone had defeated his son."

 

He wouldn't kill a Prince of Daxam, that's for sure.

But Kara thought it was not her place to say anything.

 

"Let's just hope," she replied, "that someone will defeat him tomorrow so I don't have to do it in the finale."

 

"What??" Alex shouted. "You're not fighting again, Kara!"

"What do you mean I'm not? I have one more duel until the end; I'm not giving up now."

"You can barely sit up!"

"Only because you won't let me. I have one more day of rest and if I feel like I can fight - I will. Everyone else is injured, too."

 

Alex clenched her jaw and said nothing. There was no point in perpetually arguing about this. Kara will still do what she wants, and Alex had already almost lost her once. If anything happens, she did not want an argument to be their last conversation.

 

"There is one more thing." She handed a parchment to Kara. "This arrived for you today."

 

A brief silence followed as Kara started reading it.

 

Alex all but whispered, "It's from Krypton."

Chapter Text

They stood in silence as Kara read the contents of the parchment.

 

"Are you... alright?" Her sister asked.

"I'm uh..." Kara stared blankly at the note, then looked up at Alex. "When did you say this arrived?"

"Earlier today."

Kara nodded.

 

"You see, you don't have to compete now, Kara, it's-"

"Alex! Enough. This doesn't change anything."

"But-"

"Can you-" Kara started in a raised voice, but then took a deep breath and continued in her regular tone; "Can you all just... just give me some time, I feel tired. I... I need to rest."

 

------------------------

 

The next day, Kara got up early and dressed herself. She was feeling much better already so she decided to visit Winn before work and see how the repairs on her armour were progressing.

 

On her way back, she saw a familiar face.

 

"Mon-El, hello."

"Kara!" He smiled at her. "Coming back from Winn's house?"

She nodded and hummed confirmation.

"I'm going there myself now. With the two of us always being around him, it's a miracle he gets any work done at all."

Kara chuckled.

 

"Mon-El, I'm really sorry to hear about... the tournament."

"Eh, don't worry about it. It was an honor to fight Prince Lex. And I find comfort in the fact that I hadn't lost in the first round." He attempted to joke, but Kara knew that it couldn't have been easy for him.

 

He gently took her hand and kissed it. "I'm still staying for the feast so I will see you around."

 

As he was walking away she spoke again. "You should tell him."

The knight turned around and looked at her, tilting his head in confusion.

"Lena told me." She explained. "You should tell Winn. His father... he lied about who he was. I mean no disrespect to you, but I care about Winn. Don't let him go through that again."

 

----------------------------

 

She was having trouble working. Her wound, luckily, wasn't too deep since the sword could only go so far through the ring of the mail before getting stuck, but it still hurt tremendously when she tried to bend over or lift something heavy.

 

Picking up things off the floor was not an easy task. Instead of bending, she had to crouch and lower herself completely to get something, but she spent most of the morning working alone so no one could have noticed. Some of the dust on lower shelves, however, will have to wait a few days to get cleaned.

 

Kara was grateful that, at least, she had no visible marks on her face.

 

----------------

 

"Are you alright, Kara? You still seem pale. Do you need another day of rest?"

"I'm alright, my lady."

"If you say so."

 

"Have you heard anything about Kal-El, perchance?"

Kara froze for a moment before shaking her head quickly and returning to folding the Lady's clothes.

 

"That's odd. He isn't staying at the castle, and Lucy said that he is not with James either. In fact, no one has seen or heard from him since his duel yesterday, and he seemed to have gotten injured quite badly."

 

"I haven't heard anything, my lady."

 

Kara picked up the clothes to put them away, but she turned around too quickly and collided with the bedpost.

She gritted her teeth and quietly hissed at the sudden rush of pain through her abdomen. She hoped that the Princess didn't notice, and she proceeded with her work.

 

Lady Lena dropped her white glove on the floor.

"Can you pick this up for me, Kara?"

 

Kara stared at the Princess. She gulped and stepped forward to where the Lady's glove was. She tried bending over to pick it up, but she was hurting and her stitches tightened. Kara clenched her jaw and tried again but there was no purpose to that; she could not risk having her stitches ripped. She took a deep breath.

 

"I'm sorry, my lady. I..." She looked away. "I can't."

 

"I see."

 

A moment of silence followed, it laid heavy on them. Kara swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and looked back at Lady Lena who was just staring at her, her lips pressed tightly.

 

"I knew I recognized those eyes."

 

*The image of Kara from few nights before flashed in Lena's mind; drunk with ruffled hair; her blue eyes sparkling even more than usual.*

 

"Kal suffered an injury to his abdomen. But, of course, you couldn't possibly know that since you weren't there. Right, Kara?"

Kara stood silent.

"Lift your shirt up for me, please. Or tell me that I'm wrong."

 

Lena was praying that she was wrong. She was hoping, more than anything, that there was another explanation - anything else but what she was assuming.

 

*She remembered the feeling of Kara holding her, helping her through the panic attack.*

 

The maid just stood there, so Lena stepped forward and lifted the shirt of her uniform slightly. She gasped when she revealed bruised skin and bandages.

 

*The memory of a twelve year old Kara flashed before her eyes. They were playing in the royal garden and, despite all the boys' protests, the blonde girl insisted that she should be the knight who will defend the Princess from the dragon.*

 

Kara was on the verge of tears. Not only was her secret discovered before she could finish the tournament, but she had lied to Lady Lena's face and hurt her feelings. Facing the look of betrayal in the Princess' eyes in that moment hurt more than being impaled on that blade.

 

"What is this?"

"It's a hole in my body... Made by a sword."

 

Lena didn't find the joke amusing.

She released Kara's shirt and it dropped down, ruffled in the place where Lena's hand was holding it.

She stepped away.

 

"Why are you doing this? Is it the gold? I will pay you whatever you need." Lena sounded almost desperate.

"What? No. I don't... No. I don't need the gold."

"What is it then? Is someone making you do this?"

"No!" Kara sounded offended. "My reasons are my own. And I am sorry I lied to you, but it was the only way."

 

"This is foolish, Kara. You're putting yourself in harm's way!"

"You wouldn't be saying that if I were a man!"

"IF YOU WERE A MAN I WOULDN'T BE-"

 

The Princess stopped shouting without finishing the sentence.

 

The image of their kiss flashed in her mind. The image of Kara laughing at her own jokes. Kara giving her flowers. The memory of herself planning to run away but seeing the prettiest blonde girl arriving at the gates of the kingdom. Kara's eyes. The feeling of having Kara sleeping next to her. The crinkle on Kara's forehead when she's upset. The curve of Kara's smile. Kara's beautiful lips. Kara in her nightgown. Their kiss again. That one dream about Kara that she had repressed years ago. Kara's lips pressed against hers.

 

It was all too much. Everything that she was holding back for years was now hitting her at once. Along with the discovery of Kara participating in the tournament and the fear of her getting killed. Everything was too much and it was getting too hard to breathe. Her vision was getting blurry; she felt a wave of cold sweat; her heart was racing.

 

Another panic attack.

 

I did this, Kara thought. The guilt was tearing her up. She quickly reached for Lady Lena but the Princess stopped her.

 

"Don't."

"But, let me help-"
"Just go, Kara. Leave."

 

Kara was hesitant.

 

"I'll be alright, just let me be."

 

Kara gave her a nod and left the room.

 

-------------------------

 

"Shouldn't you be working? Why are you here? Is everything alright? Are your stiches okay?"

"I'm alright, Alex," Kara replied; weariness was obvious in her voice. "Physically, at least."

 

Alex looked at her questioningly.

 

"She knows. Lady Lena. She knows."

"About...?"

"Yes."

"I told you you can't hide it from her," Alex hit her sister lightly on the back of her head; "dumbass."

"Hey," Kara protested. "I have been hit enough this week, thank you."

 

"Is she going to tell?"

"I don't know. She just told me to leave her alone."

"Well, if she tells on you, her date to the feast will be Snapper."

"What?"

"He won today. It's you against him in the final duel."

 

-------------------------------

 

"Can you believe that he just lied like that? Like it was nothing."

"May I just say that I am always on your side, always - no matter what - but, in his defense, he didn't really lie, per se, he just kept it from you." Kara couldn't help but grimace at her own words. She knew that Mon-El didn't have bad intentions but Winn had the right to feel hurt - especially given his history.

 

"I have heard that excuse before."

"He did tell you eventually. On his own."

"Took him long enough."

Kara put her hand on Winn's and gently rubbed soothing circles with her thumb. She then motioned for the barkeeper to bring him another drink.

 

"He seems like a really nice man, though. Did he tell you why he kept it from you?"

Winn pouted. "He said that everyone used him for his title," he replied; "and that he wanted to know if I truly liked him for who he is before he told me."

"It seems reasonable."

Winn took a sip of his beer. Kara was drinking tea; she couldn't mix alcohol with her medicine, unfortunately.

 

"It's just that... I'm so tired of excuses and lies. It is as if it never ends; like a vicious circle in which I am forever stuck."

Kara understood why he felt this way. But she also understood Mon-El's motives.

"Speaking from experience - no one likes to hide who they are. But sometimes you have to; and sometimes you do it to protect people - not to hurt them. Give yourself some time, but don't write him off just yet."

 

------------------------

 

"My lady? I'm sorry to interrupt but I have been instructed to tell you that the meal will be served in five minutes."

 

Lady Lena didn't stop playing the piano; she simply replied "Thank you, Kara."

 

Kara lingered at the door for a few more moments.

 

"Are you feeling better? Do you need anything?"

"I'm just hoping I won't be needing a new lady's maid," the Princess said casually, not even turning around to look at Kara. "You're fighting Snapper tomorrow."

"I know."

 

Lena stopped playing and turned to face Kara.

"Are you ready?"

"I hope so."

 

The brunette approached her. "My brother injured his left leg pretty badly today. He will be lucky if he can even stand on it tomorrow."

 

That was all she said before she left for the dining hall.

 

----------------------------

 

The Lady and her maid tiptoed around each other for the rest of the afternoon. But Kara felt relieved that - at least it seemed so - Lady Lena will not tell anyone about her secret.

 

It was five thirty, and Kara was sent to call the Princess to supper.

 

Lena's back was turned to Kara from where she was sitting at her desk, writing something under the light of a candle. "Thank you, Kara, but tell them that I'm not hungry."

 

Kara was about to leave but then she turned back around.

"My lady, if I may? I don't think you should anger the King."

 

Lena put down her quill and slowly walked over to where Kara was standing, never breaking eye contact. She was being confident and authoritative, and she smirked as she replied "Maybe I should go and tell him that my handmaiden has stolen a man's identity to participate in the tournament."

She was standing dangerously close, and Kara had trouble breathing.

"I... I didn't steal it. I borrowed it."

 

The Princess raised an eyebrow and laughed lightly. "You borrowed it?"

"Yes." Kara replied resolutely.

"Are you talking back to me, Kara?"

"I thought we were having a conversation," Kara said. Her voice anything but apologetic. "I wasn't aware that I wasn't allowed to speak."

Lena always found amusement in Kara's insolence.

 

But she ignored it and continued their previous discussion.

"How did you borrow it? You must have needed some documents to sign up."

"Kal is my cousin. I signed up with his permission. You know, it's really not fair for women to not be able to compete..."

Kara kept talking on and on, but Lena wasn't listening anymore.

 

This was the first time that she allowed herself to look at Kara and really see her, and let herself think and feel everything that came to her mind. This time she was in control of her feelings, not the other way around. She wasn't going to repress anything.

Lena looked at Kara's face, lighted by the faint natural light from the window on one side, and candles on the other.

 

She's so beautiful.

 

As she talked, Lena's eyes flickered down to her lips.

 

Okay, maybe she wasn't completely in control of her feelings. She certainly wasn't in control of them when she felt the magnetic pull compelling her, and her lips suddenly met Kara's, cutting her off mid-sentence.

 

She momentarily came to realize what she had done - without Kara's consent - and she was about to pull away when she felt Kara kissing her back.

 

Kara's mind was racing. The night of their first kiss was so faint in her memory due to the amount of alcohol that was flowing through her bloodstream at the time; the kiss almost felt unreal, as artificial as her dreams.

But this - this was different. They were both sober, and Lady Lena was kissing her because she wanted to. And Kara was almost starving for it; she was already deepening the kiss.

 

Lady Lena's lips were as soft as she remembered them to be, and Kara shivered as she felt Lena's tongue brushing against her own; and the smell of her was driving Kara insane.

With every kiss, Kara demanded more.

 

Her breaths were becoming shallower; her lungs felt like they were on fire; the air in them felt hot and heavy.

 

Lena held her pressed against the door, her body completely against the maid's, and yet, it still wasn't close enough for either of them.

Kara bit down on the Princess' lower lip and felt Lena smile into the kiss.

 

The throbbing of her wound - which Lena's body was pressed against - was as irrelevant as the world itself. All that mattered was the touch of Lena's hand on her waist, her other hand at the back of Kara's neck holding her firmly in place as the Princess kissed her, Lena's breath mixing with her own. Lena was everything, and the rest of the world could crumble to pieces for all that Kara cared.

 

Her hands found Lena's soft hair. She often felt the need to touch it and play with it, to run her fingers through it and make it as messy as she could.

Lena's hair was always perfectly in place - it was Kara's job to make sure of that. But she always wanted to dishevel it, touch it, pull on it.

 

As the kissing progressed, she stopped being hesitant and took the opportunity to tangle her fingers into those beautiful, dark locks. Her other hand caressing Lena's arm, her waist, her back.

 

The shorter woman abruptly broke the kiss and Kara took a deep breath, feeling her lungs expand fully, and exhaled loudly. They were both panting and struggling for breath as they fixated on each other. Their eyes dark, their pupils completely dilated.

 

The Princess then lowered her head down and Kara tilted hers back to expose her neck, giving Lena a complete access to it.

 

Kara's breath hitched and she let out a deep moan as Lena kissed and nibbled the exposed skin, pushing Kara harder against the door, her hands finding their way somewhat under the rim of Kara's shirt, touching the bare skin on her back just above her waist.

She smirked in satisfaction as she heard the noises that were coming from Kara - I did that, she thought - and Kara's knees were starting to weaken.

 

Lena stood upright again and kissed Kara's lips once more, both of them smiling into the kiss.

 

Her lips lingered close to kara’s before finally parting but their eyes were still closed shut, and they still had trouble breathing properly.

Kara leaned her forehead against the shorter woman's.

 

"I uh..." she couldn't help but giggle; "this was.. um... wow."

The Princess laughed. "Indeed it was."

 

"KEIRA!"

Their brief happiness was interrupted by the sound of Miss Grant's voice coming from the hallway, and Kara suddenly jumped and separated herself from Lena. The blood rushed to her face, making her blush even more than she already was. Her heart was pounding at the mere thought of how close they were to getting caught.

 

"I'M COMING, Miss Grant, I'm... just a moment!"

 

She quickly adjusted her hair and her uniform, and was about to leave the room when the Lady's hand stopped her.

It confused Kara and, as she looked at her, the Princess motioned to her lips and whispered "lipstick". Lena laughed, and Kara went over to the mirror and noticed the Lady's red lipstick smudged all around her own lips.

 

Kara quickly cleaned herself up and said to the Princess "Go to supper. Don't give him any more reasons to be a... a wantwit."

 

Did she just insult the King? Alex would have been proud.

 

Lena smiled and pulled her in for another quick kiss.

"Hey," Kara protested; "the lipstick."

"I needed encouragement."

 

Kara took her hand and kissed her cheek. "You will do great, I believe in you. You can do this."

Chapter Text

"Alex! She kissed me again!!"

Kara hectically stormed into the chambers, all but shouting, before noticing that Alex was with a patient.

 

She paused at the door and stood there, restlessly shifting from one foot to another.

 

"You're all set, Lady J'onzz," Alex said. "Take one teaspoon of this, every eight hours."

 

Lady J'onzz thanked her, and greeted Kara with a polite nod and a smile.

 

"Give the girls my regards, and tell J'onn that I will see him on Tuesday. He better show up or I will drag him down here myself if I have to."

 

The Lady laughed and thanked her again. She left the room and the sisters were finally alone.

 

"Okay, tell me now. Who kissed you?"

"Lady Lena!" Kara yelled, half-whispering.

 

"Lena kissed you?" Alex gasped and bumped Kara's shoulder in joy.

"Wait. You said 'again'. Am I missing something?"

 

Kara took a moment to recollect her thoughts.

"Well..." she continued; "you remember when she was with us at the pub?"

"Vaguely. I remember her getting there and then we ordered more drinks. The rest of the night is just a..." She gestured frantically, trying to find a word.

"A blob?" Kara offered.

Alex furrowed her brow. "I was going to say a blur, but sure."

 

"But I am certain that I would remember if I saw you two kissing! What the hell, Kara?"

"Oh shush, let me live," Kara prompted sternly.

 

"After I took her back to her chambers, she kissed me. And now she kissed me again! Sober!"

"Just so we're clear, she initiated the kiss?"

"Yes?"
"Ugh, I owe Maggie five coins," Alex sighed. "I have too much faith in you."

 

"You BET on me?" Kara snapped at her sister.

"I know, I'm a fool. I should have bet on her but I thought the Princess had more self-control."

"Not the point!" Kara smacked her sister's arm.

"Right. Sorry. I never bet against you, though." Alex tried to reassure her with a smile. Kara noticed that it's the same smile Alex always has when she feels guilty.

"It gets so boring here; Maggie and I love to bet on things to stay entertained. Tell me if you want to join - five coins on how long it will take Winn to forgive Mon-El. Maggie said a week but I say no more than two days. I'm counting on his thirst."

 

Kara rolled her eyes and pleaded. "Can we, please, get back to the issue at hand here?"

"Of course!" Alex's eyes widened. "What on Earth happened and why wasn't I informed of this before? Why did she kiss you? How did she kiss you?" Alex eagerly inquired. "Was it awkward like old couples pretending to like each other in front of their friends at a Christmas party, OR" - she raised her eyebrows suggestively - "something steamy and lewd?"

"Alex!" Kara first made a disgusted face at Alex's inappropriate descriptions, but then she giggled and nudged her sister's shoulder. "Definitely steamy."

"She does look like a great kisser." Alex nodded. "Don't tell Maggie I said that."

 

-----------------------

 

While they discussed Kara's love life, Alex gently cleaned her wound and changed the bandages.

 

"Does it hurt?"

"Yes," Kara replied, and her sister acquired a concerned expression on her face. Alex promised not to mention it again, but she didn't agree with Kara's decision to continue with the melee.

"But," Kara added, "much less now, and I am certain it will be fine by the morning. It wasn't a deep cut."

"You have at least ten 'not-deep' cuts on you."

 

Kara gave her a stern look, warning her, and Alex stopped the discussion.

She handed her more of the medication in a small, brown bottle.

 

"One sip every five hours," she reminded her. "No more, no less."

"I know, I know."

"And drink a lot of water. It's good for your body to heal faster if it's properly hydrated. And also for-"

Kara rolled her eyes and cut her off. "For my thirst, yes, I know."

 

-------------------------

 

"How was the supper?"

"I'm not sure what I loved more," Lady Lena said while taking of her earrings and placing them in the jewelry box on the table; "drunk Snapper, my father who was so far up his bottom that I am starting to think he would wed Snapper himself if he could, or my mother with her feigned smile who just nodded politely at everything her husband had said." She sighed and turned to face her maid.

 

Kara was smiling shyly at her. She longed for Lady Lena's touch; she wanted to approach her, kiss her, embrace her, comfort her. But she wasn't sure where the boundary was. What if the kiss was just a thing of the moment? Or if Lady Lena changed her mind.

 

Lena gave her a perplexed look. "Is everything alright, Kara?"

Kara nodded. "Everything is marvelous. I told you you would survive the supper."

"I still think," Lena stated as she walked over to Kara, "that I deserve a kiss after going through this torture," she said mockingly and laughed. "Don't you think so?"

 

Kara felt an instant rush of relief. Kissing was something she and Lady Lena were doing now, alright. It was a concept she would gladly be a part of.

 

She smiled broadly and nodded in agreement, giving Lena - who was already standing incredibly close - the permission to kiss her. Kara heard Lena inhale sharply as she eagerly put her arms around Kara's waist and pulled her in.

 

Lena held her tightly, their bodies pressed against each other. They were kissing slowly but deeply, and Kara felt her own heart palpitating faster with each second that passed. Lena's hands rubbed her back, and her lips found Kara's neck; her breath warm against Kara's skin.

 

After some time, the blonde abruptly broke off the kiss, leaving the Princess in confusion.

 

It was all too much at once, and Kara was certain that if she didn't stop herself at that moment - she never would.

 

When she finally caught breath, Kara muttered. "It's... it's time to get you ready for slumber."

 

-------------------------

 

"Good night, my lady. I will see you in the morning."

 

Kara smiled at Lena and as she tried to step back, the woman gently took her by the hand. "Stay," she almost whispered.

 

Lena was unsure of this, but she knew that there may not be another chance, and she needed Kara by her side. Tonight more than any other night. She was afraid for Kara's fate, and her own. She was terrified that this might be her last chance to hold her. Lena regretted every moment of her life that she spent not telling Kara how much she meant to her, every moment that she spent denying her true feelings.

 

The maid looked down at their hands, then back at Lady Lena's tender face again.

"Stay with me tonight." Lena motioned to her bed.

"I don't..." Kara slowly shook her head; "I don't think we should." She turned her face to glance at the door, almost expecting for someone to walk in and find them together.

 

"You don't have to, if you don't want to," Lena reassured her resolutely. "I wouldn't..." she giggled nervously as she continued; "we would just sleep, I promise."

 

Lena could see on Kara's face that she was weighing pros and cons in her mind.

 

"What about..." Kara hesitated; "the people, your reputation. I-"

"To hell with reputation. But if it would make you feel better, we can lock the door this time," she laughed. "And you have your uniform."

 

"I..." Lena sighed. "I feel safer next to you."

It was hard for her to complete that sentence - to admit aloud that she needed Kara - but it was the truth. She didn't feel safe. She has been scared and lonely for as long as she could remember. It was only Kara's presence that could lessen those emotions to their bare minimum.

 

"If it's Miss Grant that you are worried about - don't be. But if you don't want to, then I understand completely." She smiled lovingly at the taller girl whose hand was anxiously fidgeting with Lena's fingers.

"I do want to, of course I do," Kara smiled widely and stepped closer to Lena; "But I do not feel that I should, that it's my place."

Lena tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. "Kara, would you feel better if it was an order?" She said jokingly.

"I would."

"Then it's an order. You have to stay."

"Oh zounds," Kara sighed mockingly; "I suppose I have no choice now." She laughed and placed a kiss on Lena's soft lips.

Chapter Text

Lena patiently observed from the bed as Kara carefully folded her uniform and neatly placed it on the chair by the window. She was wearing one of Lena's night gowns. Her hair was loose; it was the most marvelous shade of blonde that Lena had ever seen - she thought - wavy from being tied in a tight bun all day.

 

"Do you always take this long to get ready for sleep?"

"It is a process; I have my routine," Kara answered, taking her glasses off and placing them on the night stand.

 

Lena teased her, saying that the sun would rise before she even got to bed.

"Alright, alright. I'm here." She smiled at Lena, laying down next to her.

 

She sighed in relief at the feeling of finally resting her head on the cold pillow. But as Lady Lena reached to take her hand, Kara instantly jolted up.

 

The Princess was startled by Kara's sudden rush to the door.

 

"Kara, wha-"

"I forgot to lock them! Can you imagine if Miss Grant walked in? This is what happens when you rush me."

"Yes, it is all my fault," Lena mocked her. "Lie down already, will you?" She tapped on the bed next to her.

 

Kara came back and slipped in under the sheets next to the Princess. When she finally settled, Lady Lena placed her warm hand on Kara's and squeezed it lightly.

"Are you all good now?"

Kara nodded and intertwined their fingers. Lena placed a gentle kiss on Kara's cheek, making Kara blush and giggle. Lena then kissed her nose, her forehead, her chin, and finally, her lips.

 

Lena tried her hardest not to think about what tomorrow would bring. She ignored the haunting thoughts of the uncertainty of her fate and Kara's. She chose to focus on how joyful and overwhelmed she was in that moment - as happy as she could have been, considering the circumstances they were in - just being next to the girl that had her so mesmerized. Lena tried intensely to repress the dread of what might separate them in the near future, focusing only on how safe she felt with her hand in blonde's, and Kara's warm breath on her face.

 

She was playing with Kara's hair, and they were gazing at each other for minutes, smiling, until Lena broke the silence.

"Your hair is so soft and beautiful," she said. "I wish I would get to see it loose more often."

 

Kara smiled but said nothing.

 

Lena's hand trailed gently up and down Kara's arm.

 

"Are you alright, darling? Something is on your mind, I can tell."

"A lot is on my mind," Kara confessed.

"Is it the melee?"

"No," Kara replied. "Well, yes. But no."

 

Lena waited for an explanation.

"I told you that my family died in a fire."

Lena's expression fell; she nodded.

"Only Kal and I survived. Or so we thought. But yesterday," she sighed deeply; "I got a letter from Krypton. My aunt Astra is alive."

"That's," Lena smiled widely; "that's great news, Kara. You must be thrilled." But she noticed nothing but worry on Kara's face. "Or not?" She questioned.

"I.. no, I am. It's.... I don't know."

 

Lena brushed Kara's hair off of her face and stroked it affectionately, as a way to try and soothe her.

 

"I am simply afraid that it isn't true. And if it is, it brings up a lot of questions. On top of everything with," she closed her eyes tightly in frustration; "all of this, it's a lot to process."

 

"I understand," Lena smiled reassuringly.

This was all that Kara needed. Someone who would listen but not pressure her to say more than she wanted to.

 

-------------------------------------

 

The warmth of Lady Lena's body against her own was everything that Kara ever wished for. And yet, her thoughts wouldn't let her rest.

 

Kara was lying on her back with her arm around Lady Lena, whose head was peacefully resting on Kara's clavicle, in the crook of her neck; her arm was embracing Kara's waist.

 

As soon as the Princess fell asleep, Kara was left alone with her thoughts - a million unresolved questions that mercilessly invaded her mind, the worries about decisions and responsibilities and feelings; the truths and the lies; the life and death.

 

It was the letter from Krypton that haunted her. How much of it was true; why did no one contact her before, why didn't they look for her; was Astra really alive; will she have to leave Lady Lena and go to Krypton?

 

And being with Lena here, now, was the first time that she was truly afraid of losing the battle. She finally got to kiss her, to hold her, and tomorrow it could all be gone - one way or another. She could die, she could lose to Snapper, or she could win and face the King's wrath. But withdrawing was not an option at this point.

 

Then there was Alex's voice echoing in her mind - the disbelief, the distrust, the confusion - Why you? Why now? Kara couldn't answer those questions for her.

Lady Lena never showed interest in Kara - not in that way, she thought. Although, Alex and Maggie did say they noticed something, but maybe it was only curiosity or loneliness that drew Lena to her, nothing more. And it still didn't answer the question - why now?

Did she merely want to have fun before she gets shipped off and permanently stuck in a bad, loveless marriage? Was it to spite her father? Or, perchance, learning that Kara was unlawfully presenting herself as a knight in a tournament brought excitement for the Princess; maybe wearing that armour made Lena think that she was somehow worth her attention now - but she wasn't before - not when she was just the maid. And the worst of all assumptions - what if Lena just wanted to use Kara's feelings to encourage her to kill Snapper.

Kara refused to believe that last one - it was Alex who said it. The blonde, however, did not think that the Princess would be willing to engage in such manipulation.

 

An abundance of thoughts and worries vigorously overlapped in Kara's mind, and she absentmindedly sighed deeply.

 

"You can't sleep?" Lena's raspy, sleepy voice interrupted her thoughts.

Kara hummed a negative response.

 

Lena moved even closer to her and sleepily placed a few light kisses on her neck.

 

It was late, but people often roamed the hallways. They were whispering.

 

"What are you thinking about?"

"You."

"Me?"

 

"Yes."

 

Kara was still staring at the ceiling, contemplating whether she should reveal her worries to the sleepy woman by her side or not.

 

"Is everything alright? Did I do something? Did I snore?" She tried joking.

 

Seeing that Kara was truly in a bad mood, Lena propped herself up, wanting to meet Kara's eyes. She soothingly rubbed her belly.

 

"Whatever it is, you can tell me, Kara."

 

Kara sighed. Her eyes met the other woman's. "Why me?"

"Why... you?" Lena gave her a perplexed look.

"Why am I here? In your bed. With you."

 

"I..." Lena stammered; "I'm not sure what you want me to say. We are sleeping? Do you not wish to be here? I don't understand your question, Kara, I'm sorry."

 

Kara wasn't upset, she was simply confused. Her blue eyes looked at Lena as warmly as always.

 

"All those years and you never once said anything. And out of the blue - you are kissing me and inviting me to your bed. Why is that?"

 

Lena climbed off of Kara and moved to lie on her side. Kara followed - grateful that it was the uninjured side of her body that she was leaning on - and turned to face her.

 

"I have been a fool," Lena chuckled lightly. "That is the only explanation I have for you."

 

Her left hand reached up to caress Kara's cheek; her finger slowly trailed down to the blonde's lips.

 

"I have denied my emotions for far too long and for many reasons - none of which matter now - but I assure you that they were always there."

 

"And finding out that you have been putting your life on the line, it brought it all back to the surface. I couldn't imagine living without you; I realized how much you meant to me. And the images of you...." Lena sighed and swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat; "of you lying down with Barry's sword against your neck, of you being impaled on the blade, and you... bleeding. I didn't know it was you. I just sat there, watching you get beaten and cut, I..."

 

"Hey, it's alright, I'm all good," Kara smiled reassuringly and rubbed her arm gently.

"I can't get it out of my head, Kara," Lena struggled not to cry. "I could have lost you."

 

The Princess was grateful that the gown covered most of Kara's body. She couldn't bear to see the cuts and the bruises.

 

"And tomorrow you're going out there again."

"You're only scared that I will hurt your beau, Snapper. Is that what it is?"

"Oh, you're so clever," Lena laughed. She felt slightly better and no longer at risk of crying.

 

She sighed and took Kara's hand, bringing it to her lips.

 

"You're the Princess," Kara said; "and you are an incredible woman; so beautiful and smart. And I'm just a maid."

"You're a very good maid," Lena confessed and they both laughed; "but you, my darling, are a magnificent person as well, the best one I know. And I couldn’t bear losing you."

 

Kara blushed and looked away for a few moments.

 

"I won't die if that is what you're worried about. You know that Snapper gives everyone a chance to surrender. But it won't come to that; I can win. And hopefully that will buy you some time."

 

"You already bought me time," Lena disclosed. "Last year. I wanted to... I was planning to..."

"Last May." Kara remembered.

Lena was glad that she didn't let her finish the sentence.

 

"Yes. You said you had something for me," Lena recounted; "and you came back moments later with cherry cake."

"I stole it," Kara laughed. "It was for the next day's dessert."

Lena laughed, too. "And you told me that ridiculous joke about cows."

"I brought my own," Kara quoted the punch line and giggled. "It's my favorite."

 

"And you refused to leave my side the entire night, you read to me until I fell asleep."

Lena gazed lovingly at her, holding her tightly.

"It didn't magically cure me, of course, but it got me through the night."

 

"And you didn't give me one moment alone the entire week. It was almost as if you knew."

"I did," Kara confessed. "Alex fought her own demons not long before that. I recognized the look in your eyes; I knew that something wasn't right."

 

"You saved me way before you put on that armour. And there is your answer, Kara of El."

"Zor-El," Kara corrected her. "Kara Zor-El."

Lena raised an eyebrow "Ooh, that is a very attractive name, Kara Zor-El."

The blonde chuckled as the Lady kissed her.

 

"That is your answer to 'why me'."

 

-----------------------------------------

 

The morning came sooner than they wished, and neither of them wanted to get up.

 

They didn't get much sleep the previous night and Lena was frightened that it could affect Kara's performance at the duel, but Kara assured her that she wasn't feeling tired.

 

The Princess and Kara spent the early hours kissing and giggling happily, talking about anything and everything, and kissing some more.

 

"To think that we could have been doing this for years," Lena complained while playing with Kara's hair; "waking up would have been so much more enjoyable."

"I wake up two hours before you though, I have work."

"I wouldn't have minded waking up earlier."

 

Lena lifted herself up from where she was lying, to kiss the woman that was sitting on top of her.

 

Her right hand was on Kara's back, pulling her closer; the left one immediately found Kara's hair - she couldn't get enough of those curls that she never gets to see during the day - and she lightly pulled it to move Kara's head back, her lips finding Kara's neck.

 

Kara shivered and took a deep breath. As Lena bit down on the exposed skin, Kara's hands gripped Lena tightly, almost ripping the fabric of her clothes.

 

"My..." she struggled for breath; "my lady, it's... time to get dressed."

Lena whined. "No."

She moved her head up again to kiss Kara's lips. Kara moaned quietly.

"Y-yes. Stop doing that," the blonde pretended to protest, but she kept kissing Lena back.

 

"We need to get up." She pushed Lena away and the Princess fell back on the bed.

 

"We should just stay here," Lena said; "for all eternity."

"No, we can't. We don't have any bellytimber," Kara joked.

 

"I'm serious, my lady, we need to get ready for the melee."

 

Lena smirked, preparing to ask the maid a question.

"Kara," she licked her lips; "while I am your lady, perchance you should consider calling me Lena from now on."

"What?" Kara's eyes widened. "I cannot do that," she shook her head; "it's inappropriate. You're the Princess." She whispered that last part, almost as if it were a secret.

"I am also the woman whose breast you're holding as we speak."

 

Kara looked down and her heart started pounding as she quickly withdrew her hand.

 

"I didn't say move it," Lena commented as she took Kara's hand in hers and brought it back in its initial place; "I was just making my point."

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you aren't too tired to fight? You've had almost no sleep."

"For the last time, I am fine. A little hungry, but alright."

"Is this really a good time to think about food?"

"It always is."

 

Kara's thoughts wandered off to pies and pork chops and broth and cheese and biscuits and...

 

Lena laughed as she skillfully adjusted the last piece of Kara's armour, and she got on her feet to look the taller girl in the eye.

She sighed deeply. "I worry, and you can't blame me."

"You are making me more nervous," Kara said anxiously and took Lena's hands in hers. "It's going to be alright." She smiled at the Princess, but it did nothing to reassure either of them.

 

"I've been meaning to tell you," Lady Lena slowly leaned in and whispered in Kara's ear; "you look really good in trousers."

The sound of Lena's deep voice whispering sent shivers down Kara's spine and a sharp tickling sensation through her stomach. She shuddered at the touch and gasped as the Princess placed a kiss on the spot just below her ear, slowly; but her lips were gone as quickly and unexpectedly as they appeared there.

 

"My brave knight in shining armour," Lena said; her eyes were full of pride, and possibly tears but Kara wasn't sure.

Kara looked down at what she was wearing. "Your knight in a patched up chain mail,," she laughed.

"It only makes you better and braver."

Lena got on her toes to kiss Kara's forehead, and then gently rested her own against it.

 

------------------------

 

"Take this."

Kara tilted her head in confusion. "Your handkerchief?"

 

"Haven't you ever heard of the expression 'to carry your heart on your sleeve'?" Lena replied with a question as she started tying it gracefully around the knight's arm with shaky hands.

"N-no?"

"Sometimes," she explained; "when there's a tournament, the lady would choose a knight to fight for her honor. She would give him - or her," Lena smiled; "something of hers to wear on their sleeve. Hence the expression."

Kara watched attentively as Lena's delicate hands finished tying a tight knot.

"This way, no matter what happens out there or what my father says, or anything at all," the Princess took Kara's face in her hands; "no matter what, Kara, when you walk out there today - wearing this - everyone will know that I chose you."

 

Kara's eyes teared up as Lena embraced her tightly. They stood like that for what seemed to be forever.

 

"My lady, if I-"

Lena moved away from Kara and gave her a stern look. "What did I tell you about calling me that?"

"Sorry, Lady Lena."

Lena sighed in frustration. "Lena, Kara. Just Lena."

"That would feel like I'm being disrespectful."

"Then I'll make sure to appropriately punish you for it later," Lena said jokingly and winked at Kara.

 

I hate it when she does that, Kara thought. But she did not hate it in the slightest.

 

Kara's jaw dropped when the image formed in her mind, but she quickly shook her head and continued her thought. "If I lose today, or if your father-"

"No," Lena shook her head; "I don't even want to hear it."

"But I must tell you-"

"No, Kara, you will tell me everything at the feast tonight."

 

Kara wanted to protest; she wanted to say that she probably wouldn’t even have the chance to tell her anything possibly ever again, but she didn't want their last talk before the finale to be a fight. Always end on a good note, she thought.

 

I'm glad that I got to spend the greatest part of my life with you, Kara would say.

And we will spend many more years together, Lena would reply.

 

Kara pulled her in for a passionate kiss, which unfortunately ended abruptly as Alex walked into the tent.

 

"Ooh, lovebirds! Keep your armours and gowns on, please."

 

Kara and Lena chuckled awkwardly; Lena put a palm on her face.

 

"Princess," Alex spoke to her; "give me a moment with my sister, will you?" She smiled sympathetically at Lena and put a hand on her shoulder.

 

----------------------

 

"I absolutely hate you, you know that?"

"I love you, too, Alex," Kara replied and hugged her sister with her strong arms.

 

"I can't believe you are making me go through this. Just don't get impaled again, you fopdoodle."

Kara gasped, mockingly. "I can't believe what you just called me!"

"You heard me!"

 

"You're buying me a drink when you win all that gold." Alex demanded.

"Deal."

"What's that?" She asked curiously, tracing her fingers over the embroidered initials on the handkerchief. L.L.

"It's Lady Lena's."

"Oh," Alex furrowed her brow. "Oh. It's... oh wow. Lionel's going to get a heart attack, I love this. Was this her idea?"

"Of course!" Kara replied; "I would never ask for it." Kara was sort of offended at the mere thought.

"I feel the strange need to hug her right now," Alex confessed. "You have my blessing, Kara; marry her."

"Run and tell King Lionel that."

"Don't think I wouldn't!"

 

"And, before I go, James and Winn wished you good luck."

 

-------------------

 

Meanwhile, Lena was hastily getting to her seat next to Lady Sara. As soon as she sat down, Snapper approached them - a huge grin on his face - and he made her a promise.

 

"Today, I will be fighting for your honor, my Princess." Lena was already cringing at everything that came out of the man's mouth. "I vow to win your affections and your hand in today's tournament."

 

The only one fighting for her honor and truly caring for her was Kara, and she knew that. All that Snapper cared about was the gold, the status, and marrying someone young.

 

She simply smiled and said "may the best person win."

 

Lady Sara barely managed to hold her laugh long enough for him to leave.

 

----------------------------------

 

Kara put her helmet on. She could already hear the crowd getting restless; the names would be called at any moment.

 

Snapper's squire presented him, and the audience went wild.

Then she heard James' voice. He presented his friend - Kal El. The brave knight of Krypton who has won many tournaments..... People never suspected that underneath the armour there was nothing but a scared little girl. At least, that's how she felt. All those years of training never prepared her for how to control her fear.

 

Her legs were shaking as she walked out to the field; it was getting harder and harder to breathe. The armour felt significantly heavier than it had five minutes ago.

 

Lady Lena was smiling at her worriedly from her seat.

The small replicas of her and Snapper's shields were hung on the wooden board. The final duel.

 

Snapper's armour was silver; his shield was unusually small.

He was paying attention, Kara thought. He wouldn't give her the opportunity to use it against him like she did with Oliver. She wondered what else he had seen watching her fight.

 

"You think you can beat me, little boy?" His eyes fixated on her as he bitterly hissed the words through his helmet.

 

They heard the sound that signaled the start of the duel, and Kara smoothly and swiftly drew her sword.

 

-----------------

 

Snapper was strong. He already hit her so many times and made dents in her armour. Luckily, Winn made it well so the dents were probably all the damage that he could have done - on the armour, though.The uncovered parts of her body were still at great risk.

 

Kara fought back fiercely. Lena was right, his left leg was heavily injured, he could barely lean on it. She got a chance to hit him multiple times and he was getting more and more angry. Which was - Kara hoped - making him lose focus.

 

His shield was too small; she may have not been able to push it into his armpit, but it was harder for him to defend himself. Ultimately, not a good choice for him.

 

But he already almost knocked her down, twice. He knew that her footwork was her weakness.

 

Kara used his injury to constantly make him shift his weight to his left side. She was using crosscuts, which he had a hard time blocking with his small shield that he clearly wasn't used to using, and shifting quickly from one side to another was proving to be difficult for him in his current condition. The blow to his helmet made him curse loudly and he closed his eyes for a moment, just long enough for Kara to squat down and kick his injured leg and make standing almost impossible for him in that moment. But he immediately fought back and she almost got hit, but she put her shield up and stopped the powerful strike of the blade.

 

One advantage over men that she had in these duels were dance classes. She was thanking her parents and aunt Astra - who taught her - in her mind as she twirled and jumped and moved much faster and easier than any of her adversaries could.

Snapper was rather confused by this.

 

----------------------

 

The greave on her right shin got loose. It was hard for Kara to move until she put it back in its place or took it off. But he wouldn't give her the opportunity to do either.

 

Her improper armour was a big distraction, along with the sun that was constantly shining in her eyes, and Snapper finally managed to knock her down. She flew far, and her sword went even farther away from her.

 

Lying on the ground, she felt her abdomen hurt. Her wound burned and she was praying that the stitches didn't break. She felt blood in her mouth - her lip was cut. And her helmet had a big dent in it.

 

Before she knew what was happening, Snapper was already standing above her, ready to inflict his final blow.

 

She swiftly moved on the ground, tripping Snapper and making him fall backwards. It appeared that he wasn't paying a too close attention after all, since he made the same mistake as Barry.

Kara took this one moment that she had to spare, while he regained his balance, to run to the other side of the field and take the loose greave off.

 

Only moments later, he was ready to continue the fight. But she had no sword or shield to fight with. Both were on Snapper's side.

Chapter Text

"Is this who you chose, Princess?" Snapper spat out the words. "A scared little boy who kicks and runs away?"

"Yes," Lena replied decisively.

 

"Kal-El!" She shouted to the knight and Kara turned around to look at her. Snapper took this opportunity to hurl toward her, ready to strike his unarmed opponent.

 

Half of the people took delight in hoping to see Snapper finish her off, and the other half encouraged 'Kal of Krypton' to continue fighting.

 

Lena stood up from her seat and reached for the sword from the guard that was posted by the stands. She pulled it out of the scabbard and dexterously tossed it to Kara who caught it just in time to defend herself.

 

She looked over to her father who was fuming with rage ever since 'Kal-El' walked out on the field wearing that handkerchief on his arm. What Lena did with the sword made everything even worse, but she couldn't worry about that now.

 

Snapper tried attacking Kara's leg that was now missing its protection, and Kara hit him on the head. He failed at defending himself because he wasn't used to using this shield. He replaced his original shield with the smaller one because he wanted to avoid one move that he saw her use, but he ended up making everything so much harder on himself.

 

You can't master a weapon in one day, and that includes the defense.

 

Of course she was faster, because her strike was in line with her shoulder, and he tried reaching too low.

 

"A little advice for you," Kara teased him; her voice as deep as she could have made it; "As you lower your arm you lose reach. If your arm was attached to your arse you would have won."

 

People were laughing and he got so angry that his anger blinded him. Snapper wasn't even thinking of his moves, he was furiously hitting left and right like a child.

 

Kara twirled, vigorously hit Snapper in the back with her sword, and with a quick combination of moves she made a turn to stand behind him.

She jumped, kicking herself off the ground with one leg, giving the other one increased force as she strongly kicked Snapper in the back. The high kick was strong enough to make him fall forward and forcefully hit the wooden barrier with his chin. The blow almost made him unconscious.

 

Kara kicked his sword and shield away and hit him a few more times in those places where he already had wounds. She hated hurting an unarmed man, kicking him while he was down, but she wasn't going to risk losing now at the very end of the fight.

 

He cried out and she demanded of him to surrender.

 

-----------------------------

 

The small wooden replica of Kara's shield with her family's coat of arms on it was hung on the highest place of the score board, officially making her the winner of the melee, while Snapper's squire took him away to physician's chambers to get his wounds treated.

 

Kara couldn't feel any pain. All she could feel was the rush of adrenaline, and her own heart pounding so fast it threatened to jump out of her chest.

 

Lena and Sara were smiling, happy and visibly relieved; her friends were ecstatically hugging each other, celebrating her victory.

 

The crowd chanted "Kal-El, Kal-El, Kal-El!"

The servants were bringing out the prizes for the winner - a golden feather as a symbol of her victory, and a wooden chest with carved roses on it, filled with golden coins.

 

Kara realized that she was still holding her sword which felt heavier by the second, so she put it back in the scabbard with shaky hands, and she waited.

 

A swarm of thoughts in her mind changed from positive to negative in a vicious circle.

Kara knew that she had to remove her helmet now. She also knew that the King was cruel to anyone who would disobey him or his rules. He was too proud. She could be incarcerated by the end of this very hour.

 

But she also remembered what Lena had said about him being a man of his word. Maybe he would keep it even if it was a woman who won? The entire kingdom was watching him, and the respectable people form other kingdoms as well. The question that she kept coming back to was - what was more important to him, and them? If he was honest and kept his word no matter what, or if he was cruel and obeyed and not let anyone defy him? There was only one way to find out.

 

His words awakened her from her thoughts. "Take off your helmet, boy," he said. "You're done fighting. Let us see the one who defeated the bravest men of this kingdom and beyond."

 

Both of them looked at Lena. The King was visibly angry that she dared to defy him so publicly. Lena refused to look at him, though she felt his eyes on her. Instead, she looked at Kara and gave her an encouraging nod.

 

Kara slowly brought her hands up and gripped the helmet. She took a deep breath and tried taking it off. The helmet was so dented from the fall that she struggled to remove it, but she managed to do it - untying her hair in the process.

 

As Kara's long, blonde locks fell around her face, the chanting of "Kal-El" quickly died out as everyone gasped in unison and whispered among each other. The guards immediately held their weapons on stand-by, waiting for the King's orders, and Kara took a step back in fear.

 

"Isn't that your handmaiden?" Sara asked her friend with a smile, looking very impressed.

"It appears so," Lena replied, trying to feign surprise, but Sara saw right through it.

She simply smirked and decided not to call her friend out at this moment.

 

"What is this?" King Lionel shouted and jumped out of his seat. "An impostor! Who are you? What have you done to Kal?"

 

"I am the last daughter of House El," Kara shouted just as loudly, half to make herself sound less scared than she truly was, half because she was standing in the field, too far from them.

 

Does he not recognize me?

 

"My name is Kara Zor-El."

 

It only took a few moments of silence before everyone in attendance, one by one, started chanting "Kara! Kara!"

 

She was slowly starting to feel her abdomen hurt again. The armour felt too heavy, but she kept herself upright by reminding herself that this would all be over in a few minutes.

 

"Women aren't allowed to compete. It's a rule."

"It shouldn't be. In some kingdoms it's not."

"In MY kingdom it is!" He shouted.

 

"Which is why I had to use my cousin's name." Kara tried to sound sure but not insolent. She wasn't certain if she succeeded though.

"I just wanted a chance," she said.

 

"That's not how we do things in this kingdom. You should have gone somewhere else."

"Is it a problem that they were all defeated by a woman?" Kara said before she could stop herself, as she pointed at the knights who were still standing there and watching.

"I fought fairly," she said.

 

The King was fuming. "You are NOT a knight!" he yelled.

"Only because I'm a woman," Kara replied calmly but sternly. "I am from the same house as my cousin and - as you could see - I can fight just as well as any of them."

 

"What is it that you want, girl?" he demanded to know, with bitterness in his voice. "Take the gold and never come back to this kingdom."

 

"I don't want your gold," Kara explained; "I want the other things that you promised."

She put the emphasis on the word 'promised', to make it harder for him to refuse in front of everyone.

 

"And what is that? You think you can make demands here?"

"It isn't a demand," she replied. "It's a request to obtain what I earned. For one, the honor for my house, House El. The recognition of my victory," Kara said, pointing at the feather with a nod. "And permission to accompany the Princess to the feast."

 

King Lionel looked at Lena and then back at Kara.

 

"If the Lady agrees, of course," she added. "Ultimately, it's her decision, isn't it?"

Kara was now provoking him and she knew it. But she was angry that he felt entitled to control and ruin Lena's life.

 

"What is it that you expect to gain from this?" he asked amusedly.

"Just her cordial company for the evening, and a scrumptious meal at the feast. That is what you promised, isn't it?"

 

With everyone's eyes watching him, the King was mad that she put him in this position. A little girl!

He sighed deeply. "If my daughter agrees, I won't object," he said; "But tomorrow morning I want you out of this kingdom."

 

----------------

 

Kara returned to the castle with the intent to go straight to the physician's chambers so Eliza could examine her. The pain in her abdomen scared her.

 

But as she walked through the gates of the castle, she was greeted by her friends and family who were thrilled and ready to celebrate her victory.

 

"I cannot believe you refused the gold!" Alex said and smacked her sister's arm playfully. "Idiot."

 

As soon as they all congratulated her, Kara asked them to take her to see Eliza. She couldn't breathe in her armour and needed to take it off immediately.

 

------------------------

 

Her mother checked her abdomen and assured her that there were no internal injuries. The pain was from the repeated trauma - a fact that she used to tell Kara once again how she should have listened and stayed out of the melee.

Eliza then left to see Snapper whose injuries were far more complicated, and left Kara in Alex's capable hands.

 

Kara's older sister sutured the cuts that, thankfully, weren't too deep, and cleaned all of her wounds as the blonde complained that "what you're doing hurts more than the blade" and pointed out that she only liked alcohol in her drinks and not her open wounds.

 

--------------------------------------

 

"Ow!"

"Hold still, darling."

 

Lena gently blew cold air onto Kara's hurt lip, giving her temporary relief before it started throbbing in pain again.

Kara was sitting on the table in physician's chambers where Alex had left her not long ago, and Lena was standing between her legs, carefully cleaning her lip cut with a soft cloth. The maid held her by the waist.

 

"I think we're done," Kara said.

"No," the Princess laughed; "we're not done. I need to clean this properly or it will get infected."

 

"Clean it all you want, but I told you that Alex had already done that."

"Good," Lena replied; "it can never be too clean if we want it to heal properly."

 

"How did you cut your lip anyway?" Lena wondered. "You had the helmet on."

"I think I bit it as I fell down," Kara pouted.

"Oh, poor darling."

 

Lena carefully placed a kiss on the unharmed corner of Kara's mouth.

 

"Lie down."
"Eliza already checked my stomach; I'm fine, just bruised," Kara replied, but laid down anyway because she was tired. "And you're not a doctor."

Lena ignored the last part.

"No internal bleeding?"

"I suppose we'll find out by the end of the day," Kara joked.

"Kara!" Lena reprimanded her; "That isn't funny."

The blonde laughed and put her arms up to play with Lena's long, wavy hair that fell almost to her waist. "Truly. Only cuts and bruises. I'll live."

 

"Unless I get infected from these dirty clothes," she added. "I need to change."

"Ohh," Lena whined. "But you look so good in trousers," she chuckled.

"Clean trousers, perhaps."

 

------------------

 

They were in Lady Lena's chambers, and as she was helping Kara take the dirty clothes off, Lena was about to throw the handkerchief away with the rest of it but Kara yelled to stop her.

 

"Kara?" Lena inquired.

"Not the handkerchief! That's mine now!"

"But it's torn and dirty, and smeared with blood."

"I'm keeping it," Kara said resolutely.

 

"I can give you another one?" Lena suggested.

Kara said nothing, she just gave her a look.

"Alright, but let me wash it at least."

Kara agreed and Lena put the clothes away.

 

When they finished, Lena helped Kara lie down, trying to make her as comfortable as possible, avoiding to lean her on any major wounds.

She lied next to her so they could rest before the feast.

 

----------------

 

"I can't believe my father didn't punish you," Lena said with confusion and worry in her voice. "I'm glad, of course, but it's odd."

"Relax, please," Kara pleaded in a sleepy voice; "He banished me from the kingdom, I think that's enough." She yawned and scooted closer to the brunette.

"It doesn't feel over," Lena said, wrapping Kara in her arms as the blonde slowly drifted to sleep.

Chapter Text

"What a fine gown you wear, my lady. Perchance could I talk you out of it?"

 

Kara and Lena met in front of the great hall of the castle to go together to the feast. Like a true knight, Kara made sure to arrive earlier so the Princess wouldn't have to wait for her.

 

"Look at her," Lena said teasingly; "she wins one tournament and suddenly she's brazen."

"I thought I was going to die," Kara explained; "about 50 times this week, so, I have realized that, truly, I have nothing to lose."

 

She approached Lena and eagerly put an arm around her waist.

"Hi."

"Hi," the Princess giggled.

"You are absolutely stunning."

 

Lena was wearing a white dress with short sleeves, and her raven hair was in a bun, decorated with small, white, flower ornaments. One strand of her hair was left loose on the side of her face.

 

Kara's wavy hair was down because she noticed that that was how Lena liked it the most. She chose a green dress with long sleeves that covered most of her cuts and bruises. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could cover the tiredness and the pain that showed on her face when it got hard for her to hide it.

 

"So do you," Lena replied and kissed her quickly, but tenderly. She took Kara's arm as she noticed that it was hard for her to stand. "Come on, Princess, let's get you a seat."

 

Kara's head swiftly turned in her direction.

 

"What did you just call me?"

 

------------------------------------------------------------

 

As soon as they walked through the door, people started applauding and raising their glasses in Kara's direciton. They were making room for them to come through the already half-drunk crowd.

 

"We should sit at the high table," Lena said, but Kara immediately protested. "Are you out of your mind?"

The question made Lena confused. "Why?"

"First of all, that is where your parents - King and Queen - are sitting. I don't think he recognized me as your maid and I would like to keep it that way."

"Is that why you're not wearing your glasses?"

"Yes. I don't think he ever saw 'Kara the maid' with her hair down and without her glasses. My glasses."

"You can't avoid him forever."

"I can try," Kara said and pulled Lena toward the other side of the grand hall.

 

"Secondly, I came here for the food so I would much rather be near the buffet."
"You came here for the food?" Lena raised her left eyebrow as she asked the question; that was one of Kara's favorite quirks of hers.

 

Kara admired all the plates and cutlery made of gold and sliver, the finest that the kingdom had, that they only used for special occasions like these.

"Can I make a confession?" she said as she grabbed a plate and started filling it with food. "I uh..." she stammered; "the reason I started training for the tournament was....... well, it was the feast - the buffet."

"What?"

"I was about twelve when my cousin won his first tournament. He told me about the feast that was made to honor his victory. The next day I asked him to start training me for the tournament. Everyone assumed that I wanted to be a hero, a brave knight just like my cousin; but the truth is...," she paused, averting her gaze from Lena; "the truth is that I just wanted to see the all-you-can-eat buffet."

 

Lena burst out laughing; she laughed so hard she bent over and held her stomach, her cheeks started burning.


"Stop!" Kara demanded; "I was a child! I told you this in confidence, I can't believe you're laughing at me."

 

Lena laughed even harder at this, and now Kara joined her with small giggles. She shook her head and continued adding more food on her plate.

 

"You're not goin' to eat anything?" Kara asked, already stuffing her mouth with food.

"I think you got enough food for both of us."

It was Kara's turn to raise her eyebrow this time. "Um. This plate is mine; get your own."

 

It didn't take long for someone to finally approach them. It was Sir Barry Allen.

 

"Kara Zor-El," he called her name and Kara turned around.

Barry was accompanied by his fiancée, Iris.

 

Kara quickly swallowed her bite and wiped her mouth with a napkin. "Hello," she greeted them with a polite smile, hoping that he wasn't holding a grudge against her for defeating him.

 

He took her hand and kissed it. He then did the same with Lena.

"Ladies, you both look lovely tonight."

 

"I won't take much of your time. I wanted to personally congratulate you on your win. You fought bravely, you defied their rule against women in duels - which I personally think is a stupid rule written by a fopdoodle,"

he cut himself off when he realized that the Princess herself was standing there "which.... was... your father, I now realize. I apologize, my Princess, I didn't know what I was saying."

 

He looked mortified, but Lena waved it off and laughed lightly, "Please, Sir Barry, I completely agree with you. Though, if you tell anyone I said that, I will deny it," she joked and Barry nodded.

 

"Anyway, congratulations on your victory. It was well deserved. I hope I'll get a chance at a rematch some day."

"Not in this kingdom," Kara snorted.

"Maybe in Krypton then," he said.

"Maybe."

 

--------------------

 

"I cannot believe you are fornicating with a lady knight!" Lady Sara shouted in a whisper after she pulled Lena to the side.

 

"I'm....... doing no such thing!" the Princess exclaimed.

"Oh, please. I'm not your mother, Lena," Sara mocked her. "Good for you. But I can't believe you didn't tell me."

 

"She's a charming little thing. And she's a great fighter." Lady Sara then moved closer to Lena and whispered "Is she just as good in bed?" She smirked.

"Sara!" Lena shouted. "Behave!"

 

"Alright, alright. You will tell me the dirty details later."
Lena rolled her eyes and laughed lightly. "You truly have no boundaries, do you?"

"What's the fun in that?"

 

"Hello." Kara approached them with a big grin on her face. "What are you two talking about?"

"Oh, nothing," Lena blushed. "Things... and people." She side-eyed Sara, warning her to be polite and not say anything.

Sara reached and grabbed a piece of stuffed peacock off of Kara's plate. Lena watched it all with wide eyes.

 

"You... What?"

"What?" Kara inquired.

"You let Sara take food. From your plate," Lena stated in a high-pitched, surprised voice. "You never let anyone take your food."

"She was nice to me," Kara said and smiled at Sara, who smiled back. "Even before all of this, when I was just a maid."

 

Lena shook her head in disbelief and finished her glass of wine.

 

--------------------------

 

"Winn, Mon-El! You're back together?"

 

The lads approached them, holding hands. They put down their plates and sat at the table.

 

"Yes!" Alex cheered, throwing her fist in the air.

 

"Alex," said Winn and beamed; "I didn't know you cared so much about our relationship."

"I don't." She then turned to Maggie and teased her. "I believe you owe me five coins, dear."

Maggie smiled and shook her head. "You're so weak, Schott."

 

"Hey! There's nothing wrong with forgiveness," he defended himself.

 

"Hey, Kara," Mon-El spoke to her and she returned a muffled "hm?" since her mouth was full of chicken.

"I was wondering, where did you learn that move with the shield? Was it from your cousin?"

 

Kara put a finger up, signaling for him to wait until she finally swallowed her food. "I learned it from James, actually."

"James is a knight?"

 

"You bet I am," he said from behind them. He approached the table with a drink for Lucy who was there waiting, and put his arm around his fiancée as he sat down next to her.

 

Mon-El apologized to him. "I always thought you were just a.. professionally handsome.. sword making person."

 

"James won many tournaments," Kara assured him; "and he's a great teacher." She smiled at James who winked at her in return.

"Kal is a great swordsman, but, when it comes to teaching - there's no better than James."

 

---------------------------------

 

"Sister."

 

They all turned around and saw Lex approaching.

 

"I see the entire posse is here." He nodded at them.

 

"Lex!" Alex shouted his name and got up to give him a hug. "I haven't seen you in two days, where have you been?"

"I've been busy," he replied. "Kara, congratulations on your win."

Kara smiled and nodded.

"Your cousin defeated me once, in London. The talent must run in the family," he said politely.

 

"Lena, may I talk to you for a moment?"

He pulled his sister away from the crowd, to the back of the room.

 

"Father is going mad. Why don't you join us at the high table? It's been hours since the feast started."

"Why? So that he could bully me and Kara and ruin our night? So he could make me sit next to Snapper while Kara sits at the very end of the table?"

"You made a huge mistake defying him. Now you need to play nice. Sit with us for the rest of the evening."

 

"I will not. This might be my last night with Kara and I tend to make the best of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need more wine." She turned to leave but he grabbed her wrist. Gently, just enough to make her stop.

"You know what he's capable of. I just want what's best for you, sister."

"I know, and I love you for that, but I've made my decision."

 

"Kara, darling, shall we dance?" Lena said as she returned to the table.

"I.. uh..." Kara contemplated the idea, reminded of how much it hurt to move. "We can sway slowly?" she suggested.

Lena offered her a hand and Kara carefully got up from the bench.

 

-------------------------------

 

"What was it that you wanted to tell me before your final duel?"

 

Lena held Kara in her arms as they swayed much slower than the rhythm of the music that was playing.

 

"What do you mean?"

"You wanted to tell me something but I refused and said that, whatever it is, you would tell me at the feast."

 

"Oh, that. That was very rude of you, by the way. What if I had died?"

"I knew you wouldn't."

"I could have."

"Stop being so dramatic, Kara. What was it?"

 

"I uh... I was going to say that I'm glad I got to spend the greatest part of my life with you," Kara replied, not breaking eye contact.

 

Lena smiled tenderly. "The best is yet to come. We have years ahead of us."

 

---------------------------

 

The King interrupted the festivity to make a speech. The same one he made every year - about the kingdom, the tournament and the winner. Everyone raised their glasses to make a toast to Kara before returning to food, drinks and dancing.

 

Kara was grateful that she didn't have to make a speech.

 

--------------------

 

"Lenaaaaaaa! You're so wonderful. And gorgeous." Kara slurred her words.

 

The Princess looked at her suspiciously. "I was gone for only twenty minutes. How much did she drink?" she asked their friends.

"Not much," Winn assured her.

"Is she allowed to drink if she's taking medicine?" Maggie asked.

 

Alex's eyes widened. "How much of the pain medicine did you take, Kara?" she questioned her.

Kara giggled uncontrollably. "Some. And  then some more."

 

Lena quickly sat next to her. "Are you alright?"

 

Her sister walked over to where she was sitting and took Kara's face in her hands. She moved her head toward the light to check her pupils. "Jesus Christ, Kara," she sighed.

 

"Is she alright?" Lena asked worriedly.

"She's... quite intoxicated," Alex laughed lightly, now that she knew that her sister wasn't in any danger; "but she should be fine soon enough. I told her not to take more than I prescribed."

 

"But I wanted to dance!" Kara pouted. "My belly hurt and I wanted to dance."

"Oh, darling." Lena wrapped her in a hug - gently, to avoid adding pressure on any of her cuts.

 

"You're pretty," Kara giggled again and Lena smiled and rolled her eyes at the blonde.

 

"Is there any water at this banquet?" Alex asked. "She should drink a lot of water."

 

----------------------------------------

 

"Shall we go? It's late already and the speech is done."

Kara nodded and they got up.

 

"See you tomorrow, Giggles," Alex teased her sister.

 

"Hey," she said, putting her arm around Maggie's shoulders. "Kara will be sleeping in Lena's room again, and I'll be alone in ours. I bet you five golden coins that you can guess what I'm thinking."

 

-----------------------------

 

"What are you going to do tomorrow?" Lena asked as they walked through the hallways of the castle. Kara was leaning on her, half-asleep.

"About?"

"You were kind of banished from the kingdom. So, about that."

"I was hoping to continue being your maid? Maybe your father won't know or won't care?"

 

"You're not just my maid anymore, so that's out of the question either way. I was thinking, maybe you should go visit your cousin for a while, and come back next year."

"And leave you alone here? With him?" Kara shook her head. "I won't do that."

"I don't think we have a choice," Lena said and looked at Kara with a sad smile.

 

"Stop right there!" A loud voice scared the both of them and they slightly jumped in place.

 

They were ambushed as they got to Lady Lena's chambers. Three guards with spears stood in front of the door.

 

From around the corner, King Lionel suddenly appeared.

 

"What is this?" Lena asked in shock.

 

"You really thought you could fool me, didn't you?"

"Father, I-"

"I will not be disobeyed! My own daughter turning against me! Despicable!"

"I assure you, I didn't-"

"Enough! Your words bear no meaning anymore."

 

"Guards, arrest her," he gave a strict order and the three men took Kara, leading her down the hallway.

 

Lena begged her father to let her go, but he wouldn't hear a word.

 

"I'll be alright!" Kara shouted over her shoulder, trying to reassure the Princess. They didn't even let them say goodbye.

 

King Lionel looked at his crying daughter and said with no emotion in his voice "I hope this will be a lesson for you that no one can defy me and go unpunished."

Chapter Text

The first one to visit Kara was Sir J'onn; he brought her water and all the food that he could sneak in without looking too suspicious. Being the head of the Knights came with certain privileges. For one, none of the guards dared to question him. However, there wasn't much that he could do to help her now, but he assumed that she'd be glad to see a friendly face, and he was right.

 

Kara felt relieved to finally be able to speak to someone and ask about Lena. J'onn assured her that the Princess was unharmed. She knew that Lena couldn't have been completely safe, but she trusted J'onn that, for the time being, Lena wasn't harmed.

 

A day later, her sister managed to persuade the guards to let her see Kara with the excuse that she was her physician and needed to change Kara's bandages. As long as they were quiet, they were able to talk without being overheard by anyone.

 

***

 

"I miss Lena," Kara sobbed. "Please tell me that she's okay."

Her sister averted her gaze and stayed quiet.


"Can you sneak her in so I could see her?" Kara pleaded.

She was desperate just to see Lena for a moment. To see, with her own eyes, that the Princess was alright. To tell her not to worry about her.

 

"She..." Alex hesitated; "Lionel locked her up."

 

"He WHAT?" The blonde immediatelly started panicking.

Her sister dropped the bandage that she was holding and took both of Kara's hands in hers in a desperate attempt to calm her down before any of the guards could notice and approach them.

 

"Shhh calm down. She isn't sleeping on hay like you. After all, Lena is his daughter. Siobhan assured me that no harm has been done to her. She's upset - which is understandable - but I swear to you, Kara, that she's safe."

 

Kara sighed deeply, suddenly unable to think coherently for a moment while trying to process what her sister had said.

 

"Siobhan?" she asked after some time.

 

Not looking up from the wound on Kara's calf that she was cleaning, Alex replied "Yes, she's Lena's new handmaiden."

When she finally looked at her sister, the brunette wasn't sure what she saw on Kara's face. There was hurt, for sure, but also something else that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

 

"That's good," Kara said, even quieter than they talked this whole time. "Siobhan is my friend. She will take care of her."

 

Relief. It was relief that she saw.

 

***

 

-----------------------------

 

"You cannot have a Princess locked up in your dungeon!" Alex shouted in the middle of the castle's hallway.

 

"Please keep your voice down unless you want to join her," Prince Lex said quietly - but firmly - as he tried to calm her down.

"You know that I'm doing everything that's in my power-"

"Are you?" Alex cut him off. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself down before he continued. "I am doing everything in my power to help both of them, but I am not the King and he is stubborn."

 

"You are his son. There must be something that you can do."

"I am nothing but a knight here, I have no more rights than you do, I have no more authority than anyone else," he said with grief in his voice. "So, unless you have anything that I can use - anything that could help her case legally - there's nothing else that we can do for now."

 

"What about that letter?" Alex was losing her composure again, her eyes welled with tears and her voice was breaking when she spoke. "You know what it says, you saw it!"

Lex looked at her compassionately. He spoke calmly. "It is of no legal weight. It's not a proof. I'm sorry."

 

He took a step forward and wrapped her in a hug.

 

"We'll get them back," he whispered. "I know we will."

 

-----------------------

 

"Kara Zor-El."

 

The familiar voice sent shivers down Kara's spine and she suddenly felt cold, so cold.

 

She gulped.

 

Lionel.

 

Her first visitor in days. Definitely not the person that she expected to see.

 

He was gloating.

 

"I wanted to see if you were comfortable, sleeping on hay," he gave her a fake smile. So bitter. So cold.

 

She looked in his direction from where she was lying. He was standing in front of her cell with two guards by his side.

 

"I am, actually." Kara replied with a smile.

 

Two can play this game.

 

"It's like a vacation for me, to be quite frank with you. I eat, I sleep, I even have room to exercise. It's cozy in here. With some luck, you'll find out firsthand soon enough."

She shot him her best 'I could throw you into space' smile and looked back at the ceiling, putting her hands behind her head.

 

She could practically hear him gritting his teeth.

 

"I hope those wounds don't get infected. It would be a shame if you died before you could see Lena in a wedding dress."

 

Kara could have sworn that her heart stopped in that moment.

She sat up.

 

"What is it? No one told you?" He laughed uproariously and she watched him, feeling like the breath got caught in her lungs; they felt so heavy.

 

"I was hoping at least one of your friends would tell you. Did you really think that I didn't know that you had visitors?" He shook his head. "I know everything, darling."

He was so condescending and Kara wanted to punch the arrogance out of him but she couldn't move.

 

"You see," the King put his index finger on his lips, as if he were contemplating something; "you were publicly banished from the kingdom. Everyone thinks that you left after the feast. You could die and no one would notice."

 

"My friends would," Kara finally got the strength to speak again. She hoped that her voice wasn't visibly shaking.

 

"Ah, yes, your friends. The filthy smiths. Their word means nothing against mine. After all, I am King."

 

"Why not just kill me and be done with it?"

"But what would be the fun in that?" he asked.

 

"The only reason I'm keeping you alive is to have you hear those wedding bells when my daughter and her husband, Lord Carr, say their vows. It will be the happiest day this kingdom had ever seen. Only two days from today."

 

Kara quickly jumped and hurled toward the bars, but he stepped back and out of her reach.

She gripped the bars so tightly that it made her knuckles completely white.

 

"You can't sell her off like cattle!" she shouted angrily.

 

He looked her in the eye and laughed. He kept laughing to her face, louder and louder. She couldn't reach him with her hands so she spit in his face, hitting him straight in the eye.

 

That will shut him up, she thought and laughed.

 

"How DARE you disrespect your King!" He was furious.

"You are no King of mine!" she yelled.

The guards were ready to attack but he waved them off.

 

"Let her be. She will get her due."

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Two days later, like the King said, Kara heard wedding bells.

 

She sat in her cell and cried until she had no more tears. She threw the hay around and punched the walls until her knuckles bled and the guards had to stop her and tie her up so she wouldn't hurt herself.

 

The image of Lena going away with Snapper, leaving for good to never be seen by Kara again, broke her heart more than ever before. It was truly over now. She had lost her. And Lena was all alone and vulnerable.

 

---------------------

 

Kara had lost all hope. She hadn't eaten anything in four days. The physical pain somehow seemed to ease the emotional agony.

But numbness, more than anything, was what she felt. She lost all sense of time; it could have been hours or years that passed since she heard those bells. Nothing; she felt absolutely nothing at this point. And no one was coming to save her, the same way that she couldn't save Lena. She doesn't remember the last time that she saw Alex. Dying of starvation seemed like her best option. She was so tired.

 

----------------------------

 

***

 

"My dearest little one,

 

I hope this letter finds you well.

 

Words cannot describe how overjoyed and blessed I felt upon finding out that you were alive.

 

We all assumed that you and your cousin have died with my poor sister and the rest of our family. Imagine my confusion when Kal of El appeared at a tournament two weeks ago. A grown young man, alive and well.

 

I shed tears listening to him speak about the wonderful young lady that you grew up to be.

Oh how I wish to see you with my own two eyes!

 

After surviving the fire, I was found by a lovely couple who worked for King Non. They took me in and got me a job at the castle.

Not even a year later, I married the King. Thus making me Queen; and making you, little one, the Princess of Krypton.

 

I know that this will be as overwhelming for you as it was for me. Take all the time you need. But, please, write to me as soon as you can, or come to visit Krypton. You will be welcomed with open arms.

 

Love,

your aunt Astra

 

***

Chapter Text

"Kara," Lena gasped. "Kara!" she shouted as she ran to the cell, her eyes focused on the blonde that was half-sitting half-lying in the corner.

 

She grabbed the bars, pulling them in a futile attempt to open the door. "Darling, what happened to you?" the Princess asked; her voice was edged with panic. She reached for her loved one but Kara didn't move; she stared at the blank space in front of her.

 

Lena turned her attention to the guards. "What have you done to her?" she demanded an answer but they stood still. She shouted and she was on the verge of tears; "Open the door immediately!"

They did nothing.

Lena was getting angry. "Open them now!"

 

Lex, who was standing behind her, nodded in approval, and one of the guards approached the cell and started unlocking it. As soon as he finished, he took a quick step back. The tall man tried hiding it, but he was afraid of the Princess.

 

Lena ran to Kara who was still sitting in the corner, silently. She took Kara's face in her hands, but was met with nothing but a blank stare.

The brunette started examining her frantically from head to toe with her eyes and hands. "Are you alright?" she cried out in fear; "you're so pale." She looked down and took Kara's hands in hers.

"What happened?" She asked Kara calmly.

Upon seeing the marks on her wrists, she looked at the guards who were visibly agitated by her obvious wrath that was directed at them since she walked in. "Did you restrain her?" she insisted on an answer. "What is wrong with you?"

 

"It was for-" one of the men started muttering but Lena didn't let him finish. She kept scolding them in rage.

 

"Sister, darling, let the man speak," Lex said.

Lena took a deep breath and did what her brother asked her to, never leaving Kara's side.

 

"My princess," the other man explained; "it was for her own good. She was punching the walls and she hurt herself."

 

Lena turned Kara's hands and looked at her bruised knuckles. "Oh, darling, what did you do?"

She slowly raised the hand and brought it to her lips, kissing it gently.

 

Kara's eyes finally met hers. There was a glimpse of recognition before she finally spoke. It was silent and raspy. "It's you. You're here."

Lena laughed through tears and nodded. "I'm here," she said.

She hugged the blonde who was still in shock, but hugged her back just as tightly.

"You're here," she whispered again against Lena's neck as a warm tear rolled down her cheek.

 

--------------------------------

 

"He told me that Snapper took you away," Kara said quietly as she sat in a warm bath, playing with her shaky hands and looking at the bruises.

The Princess sat at the edge of the wooden bathtub and with careful, slow moves, she cleaned Kara's back with a sponge.

 

"I even heard the wedding bells, just like he said I would," Kara added.

Lena sighed. "It was Veronica and some poor schmuck who doesn't begin to know what he got himself into."

 

Kara nodded. She was still looking down at her own hands, still visibly shaken up and trying to sync the new, true information with everything that she believed to be the truth for the entirety of her imprisonment. She could feel her entire body shaking on the inside, and her lungs felt tight.

 

Lena lifted Kara's chin up to make her face her, and said playfully "Did you really think that I would leave you and become Lady Fopdoodle?"

She laughed lightly and Kara replied with a soft smile, before her expression fell again. "I knew that you didn't have a choice," she said with sadness in her voice; "just like I stood no chance to save you."

 

"You got me out of prison, and now you're giving me a bath, and that's my job. I'm supposed to be taking care of you."

"I didn't know we were keeping score," Lena joked. "You did more than enough, love; this is the least I can do now. No man can carry the world on his shoulders. We take care of each other."

 

She got up and Kara's eyes followed her questioningly.

"I'm going to get you a towel," the Princess replied and smiled at her lady. "I'll be right back."

Kara nodded.

 

--------------------

 

"Lena! LENA!"

 

The brunette ran into her chambers and saw Kara getting out of the tub.

 

"Kara? Is everything alright?"

"I'm... You... you went... you said..." The blonde was stammering and visibly shaking.

 

Kara couldn't breathe again. She hadn't stopped shaking the entire time since she got out of the dungeon. Her mind was racing and she couldn't make one coherent sentence, but her speech was as fast as her thoughts.

"You said..." she struggled to catch her breath; "you said you were coming right back and then you weren't here and I... you weren't here and I thought what if he took you what if he... I couldn't... I..."

 

Lena wrapped her in the towel and in a hug.

"I was talking to Lex, I really didn't think I was gone for long, I'm sorry."

Lena knew that she wasn't gone for more than five minutes, but she assumed that Kara's perception of time was probably altered by the trauma.

 

Kara was holding her tightly. "It just flashed in front of my eyes, all the things that I thought... that he... I couldn't imagine what happened to you, I couldn't even think of what he was capable of... I just... it all came back and you were gone and I couldn't think of.. I... I thought they took you, which makes no sense, I know now, but I....."

 

"Kara, breathe," Lena was stroking her hair gently. "Breathe." She took a deep breath and Kara emulated her breathing pattern.

 

"Lex will protect us," Lena reassured her; "they can't hurt us now."

 

-----------------------------------

 

"Princess! You look lovely." Lena leaned in and kissed Kara's cheek.

 

The blonde giggled. "When did you know?" she asked.

"As soon as you mentioned your aunt's name. Astra from Krypton - it wasn't hard to make the connection, considering her history of surviving a fire. And they have no kids, which makes you the only heir to the throne - Princess Kara Zor-El," she smiled.

"And you didn't confront me about it?"

"It wasn't my right," Lena replied. "I knew that you would have told me when you wanted me to know."

 

"But you couldn't help but tease me about it at the feast," Kara laughed and shook her head. "I wondered why you called me that, but now it makes sense."

"Well," Lena said mockingly, "I am human. I couldn't have missed that opportunity, could I?"

 

They sat down on the couch. They were wearing the most beautiful dresses in all the kingdom.

 

"Where is James? He should have been back by now."

"He shouldn't have been gone in the first place," Lena rolled her eyes; "but he insisted to be the one who will personally go and talk to your aunt, the very night they took you."

"That sounds like James," Kara smiled. "He wouldn't trust just anyone with such an important task. Especially not your father's guard."

 

"I wondered why he didn't visit me," Kara said. "It's been days now. Will he be back by coronation? He can't miss it."

"I hope so," the brunette sighed. "I'm sorry that we can't put it off any longer. But it's been weeks since my father's death."

Kara nodded.

 

She nervously looked at the big clock on the wall. "We still have four hours. James will be here. I'm sure of it."

 

-------------------------------------

 

"Long live King Lex! Long live King Lex!" The entire kingdom chanted after the golden crown was placed on former-prince's head.

 

"Yeah, now you're all saying it. I've been saying it for years!" Alex shouted.

"Don't be so petty," Kara laughed.

"Okay, but I have literally been saying this for years and you were all telling me to shut my mouth. And now suddenly everyone is all about King Lex, so I just want it to be noted that I was the first one to support the one and only King Alexander Joseph Luthor, while they all kissed Lionel's ass."

"I'll make sure they write that down in history books."

"They better."

 

"Lex!" Alex tried running to him but two guards stopped her by making an X with their spears.

"Let her pass," he laughed and braced himself for the attack as she ran up to him and jumped. He picked her up and hugged her. "I told you we'll get them back," he said.

 

"That crown looks heavy."

"Don't touch my crown."

Chapter Text

Kara kneeled, a sword to her chest.

 

"Arise, Lady Kara, Knight of Metropolis."

 

"Who is she?" an old woman in the crowd asked.

"Haven't you heard? She was the one who won the tournament!" her daughter replied.

"I thought that Kal-El won."

"She was Kal-El!"

"But she's a woman!"

"I know. Isn't it incredible?" the younger woman smiled as she watched the history being made right in front of her eyes.

 

After Lex had become King of Metropolis, the first thing that he did was to reward Kara with Knighthood.

 

"You do us a great honour, Lady Kara. The knighthood is the very foundation of Metropolis."

"The honour is all mine, Your Majesty."

 

"Mommy, mommy!" a little girl tugged at her mother's skirt. "I want to be just like her when I grow up!"

Her mother nodded in approval.

"But... I don't understand. She's a woman," the little girl's grandmother was still confused.

 

----------------------------------------

 

(Six months later)

 

"How is Kara?"

"She's good. Wonderful, actually," Alex replied. "I can't wait to see her," she said with a smile.

 

"No more panic attacks?" Maggie was curious; she was worried about her fiancée's sister.

"No," Alex said; "it took her months but she's all good now. A change of scenery and the woman of her dreams by her side tend to scare the ghosts away," she said happily.

 

"I still don't understand why she reacted that way."

 "She thought that the woman whom she loved was sent away with a horrible man, never to be seen again," Alex explained. "If it were you," she said and pulled Maggie closer to herself; "I would have gone mad, too. But that's behind her now; she's happy, and I can't wait to put my arms around her again. We have never been separated for this long before."

 

------------------------------------------

 

"Not to speak ill of the dead," said Alex as she sprawled across the couch in an unladylike manner, putting her head on her sister's lap; "but your father was a yaldson and deserved everything that he got."

Kara rolled her eyes. "Sit properly, I beg of you. And don't say those things."

Alex did not obey, and she continued to lay there.

"I apologize for being honest, but look how good everything is, globally, since his death."

 

"Don't scold her, Kara; your sister's words are true," Lex spoke. "He was my father and I loved him as such, but as a King he did no good."

 

King Lionel drove himself mad and got a heart attack because, for once in his life, someone dared to defy him.

Lena sat there silently, her eyes finding nothing but the colorful carpet under her feet. She dared not to speak, for she had felt guilty for her father's demise. She knew that it wasn't truly her fault and she was only fighting for her life and happiness, but it was ultimately her insolence that was the last straw added to his hardship. Guilt knows no reason.

 

Upon noticing his sister's quiet disposition, King Lex changed the subject of the conversation to something that he considered would make everyone feel joyful.

"What your aunt did, Kara, was marvelous. I quite literally cheered upon hearing the news."

 

Both Kara and Lena smiled widely.

"Astra is incredible!" Kara agreed excitedly. "She and uncle Non were the first ones in twenty-seven years to have beaten Snapper's army! The feast was incredible that night."

 

Princess Lena giggled at the mention of the feast. She found her girlfriend's love for food very charming, and she often teased Kara that she would leave Lena for a chef someday. Kara wouldn't hear any of that nonsense, but just as teasingly she advised Lena to learn how to bake pies.

 

"He had a bigger army, but Krypton had better weaponry. The battle was short and the victory was ours. I regret the lives lost but our army was formed of volunteers who believed in our cause and I like to believe that we have not failed them," Kara spoke and everyone silently listened to every word. She had a way of keeping everyone's attention any time she addressed the room. "As for Snapper's army, they were men as cruel as their leader, and with their sacrifice we saved an entire kingdom of innocent people who have suffered long enough."

 

--------------------------

 

Upon being asked about his support of his sister's relationship with Princess Kara of Krypton, King Lex simply replied that he wants nothing more of life but for his sister to be happy. And if being with Kara made her so, he had no objections whatsoever.

Furthermore, marrying Kara would join their two kingdoms, bringing profit and a powerful army to Metropolis. Should anyone object, Lex would personally unleash hell on them and their land. With that, he concluded his speech and gave his sister a kiss to the forehead, bringing her in for a tight hug.

 

Noticing how desperately Lena tried hiding it, everyone pretended not to see that her eyes teared up. It was such a sweet moment that even Alex couldn't have made fun of them.

 

The next half an hour they talked about how Kara was organizing the first tournament in Krypton that will be open to everyone who wanted to participate. This will be her legacy, one of many more to come.

 

"I hope you've built a fountain near the field where the tournament will be held," Alex said. Everyone looked at her in confusion. "For Lena's thirst when all the ladies start wearing trousers," she explained and was met with a pillow to her face from where Lena was sitting.

She shouted in protest.

 

Everyone laughed and Eliza, who was standing at the door, was immensely content at the sound of happiness filling the room.

 

She interrupted their conversation. "The dinner is ready," she announced with a smile. "Come, let's eat. James and Lucy are already at the table."

 

--------------------------

 

"Oh wow. OH WOW!" Kara couldn't hide her thrill as she stared at Lucy's belly. "I knew that you were pregnant but oh wow, your belly is enormous! May I touch it? Please?" she asked excitedly.

 

Lucy laughed. "You're ought to be huge when you're carrying twins. And yes you may, Kara. Of course."

 

Kara sat next to Lucy and stared at her belly in awe. Lena watched it happen as she wondered how wonderful it would be if they could have a child of their own. She put that thought away before she made herself wistful about something that she may never have.

 

"It's good to see you, Lena," James smiled at her. Lena replied that she's just as happy to see him.

"We better watch out or your lady is going to steal my wife," he joked and the Princess laughed.

 

Having been separated for so long, everyone talked more than they ate; even Kara. The happy sound of chatter filled the dining room. J'onn was there with his wife and daughters, Eliza and Jeremiah as well. More of their friends and family were expected to come the next day.

Lillian Luthor, however, respectfully declined their invitation as she was staying with her sister and had no intention of traveling back to Metropolis.

It was for the best, Lena thought, even though she missed her mother. Nay, she missed the idea of one.

 

Despite what lacked in her life, Lena couldn't have been happier; surrounded by people who loved her, finally being safe and happy.

 

The only one missing at the table was Winn, and Kara couldn't help but notice his absence. He was her best friend.

He, however, was in the Kingdom of Daxam, planning his future with Mon-El. They shall visit Krypton next summer, as he explained in the last letter that he had sent.

 

------------------------------------------

 

"Are you alright, Kara? You seem nervous."

 

They were back in Krypton, in their room. Kara was nervously adjusting her golden feather that she kept on the dresser, as she was gathering the courage to start the most important conversation of her life.

 

"Talk to me, darling," Lena walked over to her lady and put her arms around Kara's waist.

 

Kara smiled at her. "I'm good, I... I'm great, actually. Happier than ever."

"Yet somehow I'm getting a different impression at the moment."

"I've been meaning to talk to you about something," Kara said and Lena patiently waited for her to continue talking.

 

"We've been through so much together, and knowing you changed my whole world, everything I ever thought I knew."

Kara paused as she put a strand of Lena's hair back behind her ear. She took that moment to gather her thoughts and remind herself to be brave.

 

The blonde smiled lovingly at the shorter woman.

 

"Being so close to death made me realize that I only have one life, Lena. And I wish nothing more than to spend every moment of it with you."

She paused. "If you want."

 

Lena laughed happily and a tear rolled down her cheek. Kara wiped it with her thumb.

 

"Is that a yes?" she giggled.

 

Lena nodded. "Yes. A million times yes."

She got on her toes and kissed the love of her life more passionately than ever.

 

They could have this. They could be happy with each other. They've found home in each other's arms.

 

---------------------------------

 

(5 years later)

 

"Lori!" Lena shouted. "Lori, sweetheart, where are you?"

 

"Oh, there you are," she said as she walked into her bedroom, approaching the little girl that was standing by the dresser.

 

Lori was trying to reach for the golden feather but it was too high.

 

"Come on, darling, we're late for dinner."

"No," Lori said. "I want the shiny thing."

 

Lena laughed lightly and took the feather down. "Be careful," she said as she handed it to Lori; "it's heavy."

 

Princess Kara walked through the door and sat on the floor next to her daughter.

 

"Did you know that this spot where you're standing now is where I asked for your mother's hand in marriage?" she said and Lori gasped. Kara winked at her wife.

"It''s true!" Kara laughed. "Right here."

 

"Was that when you gave her this feather?" Lori asked.

"No," Kara replied; "I got this feather when I won my first tournament," she explained.

 

"Was that the best night of your life?" the child asked and her eyes widened in excitement.

 

"The best night of our lives was when we got you," Lena said and placed a kiss on the little girl's forehead.

 

"That other night, though," she said as she remembered the events that followed the tournament; "was truly a night to remember."