A Late Return

I hated leaving Cardan alone for long periods of time, but being a spy in the court of shadows occasionally required me to be away from the palace for long periods of time. Thankfully, it didn't happen very often. This mission had been one of the longest ones yet, 6 weeks. Tired, dirty, and bruised, the High Queen of Elfhame made her way through the palace back to the royal chambers. Thankfully, i didn't meet anybody in the halls on my way there. i did not want anyone seeing me like this. Normally, I wouldn't care, but when you're the Queen, you don't necessarily want people seeing you with dirt on your face, sticks in your hair, and tattered clothes hanging off your body. When i reached the doors to my room, the guards let me in without stopping to question who i was. i knew i looked dreadful, but the guards were used to me showing up like this.

As I stepped in through the doors, I stopped and surveyed the bedroom. It was a mess. There were clothes thrown everywhere. They were on the sofa, hanging off wardrobe, in piles on the floor, there was even a shirt stuck to the top of the bed post. I sighed, picking up an empty bottle of wine that had been thrown on the floor once its user had found it empty. "he could at least have the maids come clean this up, or even better, he could try doing it for once," i grumbled, but i wasn't really upset. my rooms had always been a mess when i was the high kings Senechal, but i had good reasons for not letting the maids come in, and i was to lazy to clean it myself. i fixed my eyes on the person laying in the massive four-poster bed, and let a small smile appear on my dirty face. Cardan was laying on his side, his arm placed under his head as if they were a pillow, even though they were on top of an actual pillow. His raven black hair was falling over his eyes, wich still had kohl lining them, and his perfect mouth was slightly open. He didn't have a shirt on, which made my heart flutter, and the covers were pulled up to the center of his stomach, so i didn't know if he had pants on or not, but I didn't really care. After watching his chest rise and fall for a while, i dragged my tired body off to the bathroom, where i drew up a hot bath and began the long process of getting all of the twigs out of my tangled hair.

After I had cleaned off all the dirt and found a new pair of clean clothes, I headed back into the bedroom. As soon as i walked into the room A pair of strong arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me against a solid chest, and a head was placed in the crook of my neck. "Cardan," I thought. i let out a small sigh as I leaned my head back against his shoulder, closing my eyes as I did so.

"I wish you would have woken me when you first got back, you know how much I hate it when you're away," Cardan whispered against my neck, sending a shiver throughout my body.

"I know, but you looked so peaceful when I walked in, and I didn't want to wake you, and besides, I was a mess. You would've had to wait for me to finish taking out all the sticks from my hair." i whispered back, turning her head slightly towards his ear so that he could hear my better.

"I could have helped, it would have gone faster," he murmured, turning me around in is arms while he did so. I wrapped my tired arms around my husband's waist and placed my head on his chest so that I could hear his heartbeat, also, that was as far up as i could reach. Curse Carden for being taller than me. I felt Cardan smile against my neck, noticing my annoyance at the situation of my height, and for some stupid reason, I blushed.

"What are you smiling at?" I wondered sheepishly.

"Nothing, im just glad your finally home. Now I don't have to work anymore."

"Oh yes, work. How could I have done such a horrible thing? Leaving on a mission, forcing you to actually work? That's treacherous!" I exclaimed, my voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Oh sure, mock the king. I could have your head for that you know," grumbled Cardan. i just laugh; I knew he was only joking. The High King of Elfhame would be completely helpless if i were gone. My head was still against Cardan's chest, so when he chuckled, the vibrations of the act ran all the way down my spine, and through my body.

Sighing, I gently whispered "Don't worry, I missed you so much that it sometimes hurt," and then i buried my face in his chest, hiding the blush that had bloomed on my cheeks. Im not very big on showing emotion, or letting someone know how i really feel about them, it was just an uncomfortable topic, so i try to avoid it as much as possible. Cardan leaned back and put one hand under my chin, tilting my blushing face up so that I am looking at him. The expression on his face was serious, but the emotion in his eyes was hard to read because it was a mix of so many things.

"I am one of the Fae, I cannot lie, so believe me when I say that I was barely able to survive without you here. Every day was a struggle because half of myself was missing, I could hardly even focus on anything anybody was saying. I'm sure that annoyed the council quite a lot. Jude, you are the only thing in this cursed word that matters to me, so I felt your absence with every fiber of my being. I love you." and with this he lowers his face so that he is kissing me. It is a sweet, gentle thing, and i relish every moment of it.

"Its cold, come to bed," Cardan whispered against my lips. He was right, I hadn't noticed it before, but the chilly air had raised goosebumps all over my arms.

"Alright," I agreed, starting to pull away, but Cardan doesn't let me go. He just picks me up bridal style and walks over to the bed where he sets me down on the bed and crawls in beside me, silk sheets enveloping us both. I fall asleep with Cardan wrapped around me and a small, happy smile on my lips.