Chapter Eight

Kingdom of Gates

Friday, December 10, 3515

I was not allowed to go to the Juniper Bazaar, but Cheryl and the friends she had invited were allowed to travel to our country escape while my wedding trousseau was arranged. The night before their arrival, I had a dream, which was more a memory from a past that was mine, but seemed so unreal, at times. It was a dream from years before my Dragon trial, and from before I had known, truly known Jonathan.


Ice Gardens, Northern Land, Kingdom Gates

Tuesday, January 14, 3498

"I am a princess. I am a princess."

I repeated the words almost feverishly as I tried to process my surroundings. One moment I had been on the sled and the next I lay, hundreds of feet below, in the snow. Around me were the shattered remains of the vehicle, the blue and gold glittered even brighter than the snow. Or maybe they just shone through my tears. Why had I taken the stupid dare? Mother would be furious. "We could have given you a dozen sleds! Why would you take the crown prince's?" A lump rose in my throat, partly because I would deserve the censure and partly because I knew she'd do more than yell.

"Oy!" I looked up at the sound, to find a blur of black racing toward me. I screamed, thinking the rider would crash into me. It was certainly not because I was afraid of who it was, I'd tell myself later. I knew I should get up, apologize for his sled, but I was distracted by how angry he looked.

"I am a princess," I repeated to myself. The security of that phrase, my blanket in this unfamiliar world. At home, guards would have raced to my rescue, tripping over themselves to ensure I was unharmed, promising the annihilation of the offending carriage, of its creator even. But we were at a peace conference in the North and I was surrounded by foreigners. One of whom was stomping towards me, with thunderclouds in his flashing blue eyes. Even his hair looked like wild black dragon flames, flickering in the wind.

"I am a princess!" I yelled, almost in desperation as he bore down upon me.

"Are you mad?" He asked, bitingly. "You could have been killed."

"I am a princess!" I said emphatically, before bursting into tears. He was silent for a moment before crouching down in front of me.

"A rather stupid one, though," he said without heat. I glared up at him, through a sheen of wetness. "Are you hurt? Moving everything okay?" He asked, ignoring my glare. He pulled a black handkerchief from his person and wiped my eyes before I could stop him.

"There, no more tears, young one."

I blinked in surprise, and indignation.

"You touched me?" I asked in wonderment.

"I did."

"I'm a princess."

"I'm a prince," he countered.

"No one may touch me, without my consent," I recited primly.

"My apologies," he added a ghost of a bow. "To be fair," he continued, "you did destroy my sled, and risk an international catastrophe."

I felt my face heat up and looked down at my gloved hands.

"I am very sorry for…for destroying your sled. I will ensure it is replaced."

"You will?" He sounded amused.

"Of course!" My parents are-"

"Ah, your parents will do it then?"

"Why, yes!"

"I'd just rather not involve our parents, if you don't mind, they would be upset to know our guests were entering into such mischief. They would wonder why I let you on the sled in the first place."

"But you didn't let me-"

"True, and yet here we are." He was looking at my quizzically, as though figuring something out. I didn't like being studied. "I think we should settle this between ourselves."

"Mwo? Jinjja?" My Hangul came out when I was most surprised.

"Ye." He stood and held out a hand to help me up. He was at least a foot taller than me. I looked up and felt a tendril of nervousness.

"Now, how would your parents deal with this?"

My mother's warning to spank anyone who caused trouble during our trip, crept righteously into my thoughts. I wanted to shut it out, but my guilt would not let me. I kicked at the snow and muttered my mother's brand of discipline into the wind. He made a scoffing sound which made me look up.

"It must be because you're a girl; my father would have me whipped." I frowned, but said nothing to that; I'd heard the king in the north was a harsh ruler, so it must extend to his son.

"How old are you?" He interrupted my thoughts

"8 and 2 months," I said promptly, my nurse's training coming out. He crossed his arms and looked thoughtful

"Well I'm 14 and 6, so your senior. In school I'd probably give you the cane, but I don't suppose you've ever had that experience."

"Wha-what? We aren't in school!" I protested, feeling that a bubble of nerves rising up my belly.

"Lucky you then," he said shortly. "Come on, we should go back up."

He turned away, starting the trek, before throwing over my shoulder, "Mormont dared you, didn't she?"

"I- I can't say, that would be tattling," I responded.

"Listen, Hoobae, either you tell me or your parents, that's up to you."

"My name is Augatha Chettanne Osinakachukwu Harkness, and I'm a princess not hoobae to you!" He had called me hoobae, meaning junior girl, which I supposed I was at court, but I still let the words pour out.

He stopped walking and I almost bumped into him. He rounded on me, with that glare from before.

"If you tell me you're a princess one more time, I'll teach you proper respect, right here, right now. You say parents would spank you, but I doubt it. You seem exactly the sort of spoiled brat who would be foolish enough to be goaded by a mere baron's daughter into risking peace negotiations of ten nations because her parents never taught her discipline. And you're quick to say your parents will replace my sled with gold you haven't the slightest clue the value of. I will deal you with myself, and you'll accept it because you deserve it. And I'll call you whatever I please, by the Lion! And don't you dare start crying again!" He gave a huff of disgust, before thrusting the handkerchief into my hands.

I swallowed and wiped my face, feeling hot and cold at the same time. I struggled to keep up with him going up the hill. When I got to the top, my eyes were dry, if somewhat bloodshot. At the top, I was met with a surprising sight. Shinhye, Minho, Priyanka, Vishnu and Chelsea stood by the cabin in a line. All with their eyes shut and arms raised. Adelaide Esmeralda Mormont, on the other hand, was on her knees in the snow, a few feet from the others. She too had her arms raised and eyes shut. Almost as soon as we arrived she started sobbing quite loudly.

"Mormont stop that noise. Get up, and come with me. You others, clear off."

There were sighs of relief from the group, as they shuffled away from the cabin. What sort of prince was this, who punished his guests like so many children? With the exception of Vishnu and Adelaide, the others were as royal as me. Such things would never happen in Airassa, my home. Chelsea hesitated before leaving; he turned a deep shade of red, gave a deep bow, before Shinhye pulled him away, with a head shake. "Can't you see he's upset?" I heard her whisper. Adelaide looked longingly at the others, until just the three of us remained. I was surprised when she walked over and dropped to her knees before me. My surprise was more in the gesture, as I saw a touch of her magic fade. You lost magic when you truly prostrated yourself before another magical being. You had to work to regain that magic, which was a lot of work. That was why bending the knee could prove obeisance; sometimes you could never work hard enough to regain that magic.

"I apologize, Your Highness, it was very wrong of me to have dared you to do something so dangerous. Ple-please accept my apology."

I bit my lip, feeling pressure to accept her apology, but annoyance at how dramatic it was. I also didn't want her magic in me.

"Well, do you?"

"Mwo?" I had gotten distracted.

"Do you accept her apology? She will remain here until you do." I felt my eyes widen again at the prince's words.

"I do," I said quietly, looking down at the girl who was a full year my senior. But she was a "mere baron's daughter."

I felt, rather than heard her sigh, before she kowtowed deeply, her brow touching the snow.

"All right, Mormont, come with me. And hoobae, I want to see you in my study at nine."

I bit my retort back, at that statement which was meant for me. He'd barely turned to give the direction, before continuing up the path back toward the palace.


Kingdom of Gates

Saturday, December 11, 3515

I woke up with a jolt, and then immediately felt the warmth and calmness of Jonathan's arms. He had held me while I slept, after he had taken me. From behind, with some aromatic oil, in a place between my bottom that I was sure was not meant for lovemaking. But when I had asked, he had merely said whatever way he took me was the way it was meant to be. It occurred to me that through all this, were not even wedded. It was the consequence, the situation my mother had once darkly threatened me with, becoming the mistress of a scandalous prince. Thinking back to my early teenage years, several comments, several warnings made more sense now, than they had back then. Even Jonathan's vehicle – what I now knew was a convertible that he had imported illegally from another world – had been a symbol of his disdain for rules. He disliked rules. Unless they were his. And so, he had become so powerful, no one could rule him. I shivered and felt him hold me tighter. He didn't want to get up, and he didn't want me stirring. I had learned, in the last fortnight what at least some of those silent communications meant.

My bladder protested the squeeze and if I had not been so tentative in my exploration of our mind melding, I would have checked to see if he'd meant to do that. How would it have changed the outcome? Perhaps I would not have felt so guilty over the pulse between my legs, if I thought he was attempting to control my bodily functions.

Although I now knew I could peek into Jonathan's mind, I had so far been unable to do it without his knowing. He had thankfully not considered the invasion rude or disrespectful, but each time I tried, he would look at me, and smile that wicked smile that told me he knew what I was doing, and it amused him. Sometimes he would let me listen to his thoughts, but usually only during moments when he wished to make me do something which he did not wish others to know he was commanding me to do. He had done it many times at breakfast back in his father's castle, when he had told me without words to continue eating, when I announced that I was done. Or when he told me to refuse to engage in a game of spades at a table run by Vishnu, a longtime friend who was now Jonathan's father's advisor. I had already accepted that invitation, when I heard his unmistakable voice in my head.

Put the cards down. Stand up and excuse yourself. Go to my study and wait in the corner.

My only complaint, which I voiced as loudly as I dared through my thoughts was the implication that he meant to punish me. I didn't enjoy card games – I was very bad at them – so I had not been dying to join such a game. But why did I need to stand in a corner.

If you question me again, I will make it very difficult for you to sit comfortably during that state dinner tomorrow.

I'd sighed, exaggeratedly, pleaded a headache and gotten up to do his bidding. If my mother – astute woman that she was – noticed my behavior she made only the comment that she hoped this was what I wanted. What I wanted? She had let her teenaged daughter fall in love and be courted by a sadistic, controlling – albeit incredibly handsome and sexy – prince. And then I felt guilt for that thought, because she had always tried to steer me away from Jonathan. She had always, without saying it explicitly, tried to tell me that Jon was not safe. Well perhaps she should have been more explicit. I chanced a glance at Jonathan and his smile told me I had as good as played out this mental exercise on a stage before him. I huffed, and left the room. At the time I remembered considering just going to my rooms and ignoring his command. It was not something I would do these days; I had learned a lot about this older – mind-defyingly sexier Jonathan – in the last month, and the most important was that disobedience was not worth his punishment.

I squirmed once more in his arms, testing the waters, to see if he would let me get out of bed first. Jon took Saturdays as a day of rest, a day when no work would be done, except that which occurred due to emergencies. And today we would be inviting a modiste to style me. Thinking back to my time as Martin's daughter, going to malls, and department stores to buy things off the rack, this seemed so utterly decadent and spoiled. It was the way things were of course, and that world had not been real. Of course, it was not real. I squirmed again, because I really did need to relieve myself and because I was now sure that Jon was not deliberately keeping me in bed as some game in control.

My earnest movements this time earned me my freedom and I scrambled out of bed for the bath chamber. It was the oddest thing to come from modern toilets to Airassa and Gates were there were chamber pots, albeit bewitched ones which were warm to sit on, sent a shocking if cleansing spray at your nether regions when you were done, and caused your deposits to vanish before you stood. Where did all the waste go, I had wondered, but I had refrained from asking anyone such a question, sure it was something distressing and unfortunate as the pollution of the ecosystem had been, back in Martin and James' world.

After relieving myself, I wondered around Jonathan's bedroom study, or office, as I assumed it actually was. He had too many studies, where he conducted the work of a soon to be king and managed properties and people beyond imagining. I traced a finger over his desk, thinking back to being placed over it for a terrible whipping with the riding crop…followed by a delicious interlude of passion. I paused, feeling my face heat up and my sex pulse in a way that almost brought me to my knees. I heard a groan from the bedroom and clapped a hand over my mouth, wondering just how loudly I'd been relieving my sex with Jonathan. Was it appropriate? Of course not. It was the reason that, in front of my parents, in front of his, he had taken me to an exclusive estate, where he could do with me as he wished beyond the eyes of society. All before our marriage.

I touched a folder and was about to move my hand from unconsciously disturbing Jonathan's work. But then I saw the cursive marker of a file. I blinked to refocus what I was seeing. It made no sense to see the words here, and I told myself it was yet another perversity of the Dragon god, who had abused my emotions in order to possess me. It was the only explanation for seeing those words. Redcoat.


"Is it a painful process? Joining a Lion god and a Dragon god?" I saw a wince cross his features for barely a moment before his expression became blank.

"It is not enjoyable, no. If you have been doing any reading, you would know that the Lion and Dragon are rivals. As much as the world will benefit from our union, there is no doubt they will punish us for it." I had no reaction to offer over the criticism over my lack of reading about our forthcoming joining. He knew I was not studying and if he wanted me to, he would have made sure I was.

"They will punish us? Are you sure?"

"Augie no, of course I'm not sure, but I would like us to have moments of unadulterated pleasure before our love is speared before the world at the whim of two capricious gods."

"You should be more respectful of your patron god," I muttered, looking down at my hands.

We were in the parlor, waiting for my friends – Jon's friends too, I supposed – and the modiste. Shinhye, Cheryl, Minho, Chelsea and Priyanka would be joining us this afternoon, for more of this unadulterated fun.

"Shut up."

I pursed my lips at such a rude and unhelpful answer. I had not meant to make Jonathan antsy, but I could tell that this reminder of what we were soon to face was making him irritable.

He had not asked me for any details about my trial, and I had refrained from asking him any probing questions, but I was sure now that the experience had been as unfortunate as mine had been. Except, while he had arrived to rescue me – by apparently killing everyone and bringing me back – I imagined he had had to endure his call by the Lion god without assistance.

"Why do you get to use such disrespectful words, but I don't?" I asked, instead. A distraction. I could tell that he knew I knew that this topic was uncomfortable, and I could tell that he appreciated my deviation.

"You know why," he replied with a teasing curve of his lips. He lounged in a chaise, his eyes half shut, his legs thrown carelessly over the edge with his boots still on.

"When are they arriving?" I asked after a while, looking out through the large windows.

"I thought I told you to shut up."

I bit my tongue and stole a peek at him. He still lay sprawled over the chaise, and his eyes were now shut. I couldn't help admiring the image he presented, his dark hair curled artlessly over his brow, the edge of his jaw not in the least softened by sleep. His torso filled the forest green day jacket he wore over his brilliantly white shirt, opened at the neck to reveal a tanned muscular chest I had come to know very well over the last few weeks. His cravat was loose around his neck and I couldn't help recalling the time he had bound my hands in one of his cravats while he assaulted my body.

"Come here."

I jumped and he opened his eyes. They blazed with lust and something else, dark and definitely dangerous. The pulse between my legs almost bent me double. I swallowed and shook my head unthinkingly.

"Come here, Augatha. Don't worry, I'm not going to beat you." He had a devilishly wicked smile that made him look like a pirate and I was unfortunately incapable of resisting that smile. I stood and took deliberate if slow steps to his chaise. He sat up and patted this thigh. I was about to sit sideways over his knee, but he turned me around so my legs straddled both of his and had the consequence of drawing my legs wide apart. I tried to close them – for modesty sake, but he stopped my motions with a hand.

"Raise your skirts to your waist and hold them there," he instructed in that same sultry tone that was certainly making me wet. "Do not let them drop." I squirmed in his lap, but halted my movements under a tightening of his arm around my middle. I was too close to think of disobedience; he could too easily tip me over his knees and turn this into a session for punishment.

I hesitantly pulled up the many ruffles of my skirts, including my lacy shift which seemed to have offered very little protection and was itself a bit…just a bit wet. I could feel my breathing quicken, as the warmth of his hands drew my bare thighs further apart. I tried to squeeze my legs just a little bit closed but was stopped by a sharp flick of his fingers against my inner thigh. A moan escaped me and I almost dropped my skirts but quickly got myself in control.

Or at least I thought I had some control until his fingers sought and found that crux between my legs and touched that treacherous nubbin that felt three times whatever it was supposed to be. I gasped and my hands felt weak, even as his fingers toyed with that nub, stroking it, pinching it and alternating with sliding first one and now three fingers into my sex. He was driving me wild already, but then his free hand had somehow dived into my bodice and drew that material down, only to pinch and twist at both free nipples that had hardened without my consent. I writhed across his thighs, as he strummed me like a familiar instrument.

"I want you to come for me," he murmured behind my neck, as he bent his head and gently nipped that area, as if to emphasize the command. Although he had made me come at his will before, I suddenly felt shy in the middle of the day with the windows open and servants – or our friends – too likely to walk into the room.

"What if someone comes," I complained even while silently growing thrilled at the concept of being discovered in the middle of such indulgence into our sexual appetites.

"Then you'd better come quickly, or they might arrive while you are just in the throes of it. What a naughty princess they would think you then." I groaned and squirmed once more as the movement of his fingers quickened.


"Please what?"


And it was in the moment of that unsettled plea that my shuddering orgasm overtook me.