The Dragon's Arranged Mate(7)

By: Serena Rose


Eventually, after what seemed like the hundredth toast of the evening, one of the men of Angus’s clan stood on a table and shouted over the din in order to be heard. Eventually the revelers in the hall fell silent.

“Today we celebrated the union       of our two countries, Ireland and bonny Scotland,” he slurred in a thick Scottish brogue. “But the union       isn’t complete until the bedding has been done!”

A roar rose from the crowd, along with the sounds of stomping feet and fists being pounded on tables. I looked at Anabelle, whose skin was now so red with embarrassment it matched the color of her hair.

One of my guards stood at my right side, one at my left. Anabelle was flanked as well. Our chairs were pulled away from the table, and we were pulled to our feet. The guards took us to the chambers we were to now share, and a band of men followed behind, cheering and jeering in turn.

When we reached our bedchamber, Anabelle fled inside to escape the laughter behind her. I turned and raised a hand toward the men as a way of saying farewell, and they wished me safe and pleasurable passage into the world of marriage.

**********

Finally, we were alone; just the two of us, as I had so longed for the past weeks. There were no chaperones…well, save for those bedded directly outside the door to our chamber. The entire practice of the wedding night bedding ritual was merriment for those not involved, and as I now realized, an embarrassment for the parties directly involved. But I understood its importance, especially in a union       such as our own. There had to be proof of the marriage’s consummation, or else its legitimacy could be questioned.

I saw Anabelle glance at the marriage bed and blush deeply. My heart went out to her; if I felt embarrassed and nervous, for all the fire I felt pulsing through my veins, I could only imagine how she felt. I had my previous experience to fall back on. This wasn’t new to me; she was new to me, but not the act itself.

She looked around the chamber, then. It was high-ceilinged, just as every room of the castle needed to be. It was also made of stone, as the rest of the castle needed to be. There was no use in a wooden castle when dragons resided within. Stone was safest.

At the far end, opposite the wooden door (the only aspect of the castle made of wood aside from the furnishings) was a series of tall, wide, arched doorways which led to the balcony outside the chambers. There were no doors, the doors having been destroyed many years prior. Instead, a series of heavy tapestries were lowered against them when the weather grew too cold and raw for the fire blazing in the massive hearth along the wall to the left of the door leading from the hall.

Before the blazing fire sat two settees and a plush, comfortable chair. I had spent many an hour sitting before the fire in my own chambers, and knew that I’d likely do the same in my marital chambers as well. I hoped that Anabelle found things to her liking; I was sure she had been raised in a much more comfortable, warm and inviting palace. One in which a fire-breathing dragon would not be a likely threat.

“Would you like something to drink?” I asked, motioning to the tray full of wine by the fire. There was a second tray beside it, on which was spread fruit, cheese and bread. I supposed we were expected to need sustenance throughout the course of our endeavors together on this fateful night. Perhaps we would.

Anabelle shook her head slightly, then squared her shoulders as if making up her mind to get a job done. She crossed the room to stand before me, the many skirts of her gown rustling as she moved.

“I’ll likely need help getting this off,” she whispered. “It took three women to get me into it.”

I laughed, softly. “We don’t have to hurry…” I replied, then reached out to gently touch her hair. In the flickering light of the fire, it glowed redder than the logs which burned there.

“I want to please you,” she murmured. “I’ve seen your eyes on me, especially tonight as we sat at the feast. Besides, it’s not only men who feel such heat and passion for another; women are capable as well. I’ve dreamed of this moment since we met…since before we met, in honesty.”

“You have?” I was surprised by her frankness. It was refreshing.

“I’ve heard for years how handsome you are; ever since I was a girl. I’ve always known that I was meant to be yours, and you my King and husband. I heard of your fair hair and blue eyes, and how the first of the dragon burned within you. I’d dream at night, alone in my chambers, of what it would be like for us to be together. I dreamed of how it would feel when you took me in your arms, and how I’d melt into you. I wondered if your fire would burn me,” she admitted, and laughed softly. “Children think strange things, don’t they?”

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