11. Gardenia

"Your majesty?"

King Airyglyph XIII looked up from the pile of documents that littered his desk. He had so much work to do and now he had to deal with whatever interruption this was going to be. "What is it?"

The young page that stood in the doorway of his office bowed deeply. "Lord Albel request an audience with you."

The king looked genuinely surprised. "You don't say? Usually if he wants something he simply storms in here and says it."

The page wrung his hands nervously. "What should I tell him your majesty?"

The king rose from his desk. "I will see him. I would very much like to know what is so important that he feels the need to be so formal."

He entered the audience chamber and took his place on the throne. A moment later the same page boy from earlier led Albel in. "Albel, this is quite a unexpected surprise, you usually do not request to speak with me."

Albel bowed before the king. "Given the nature of my request I thought it was best to be formal."

The king was slightly taken aback. He had never heard Albel speak like this. It was odd hearing his usually straightforward captain speak with such reverence in his voice. Whatever Albel wanted, it was sure to be no ordinary request. "I can't even begin to guess what this is about, but I must say I am curious to know what has brought about this change in you."

Albel shifted on his feet uncomfortably. "I would like to request that Sophia Esteed be allowed to take up residence in the castle."

Despite his noble stature the king laughed out loud. "Ah a woman, I should have known. Their such amazing creatures, changing your life one moment, driving you insane the next."

"She has done no such thing, she simply wishes permanent quarters here."

"Then why is she not here herself? I know the girl can speak, she doesn't need you to do it for her. Unless there is more to this request?" The king watched with amusement as Albel struggled to hold back whatever snide remark was just dying to pass he lips. This was quite fun.

Given a moment to compose himself Albel answered. "I'm here making the request for her because I would also like to ask she be made a citizen of the kingdom."

The king paused to contemplate the request. Under normal circumstances citizenship was not easily granted. You were either born a citizen or married one. However Sophia had helped destroy the creator. She had been among those who saved the world, as was Albel. She deserved more that just citizenship; she deserved to be made a noble.

The request was well within his ability to grant, and if it were anyone but Albel making it he would have quickly done so. However Albel had caused him his fair share of headaches and it was nice to be able to have a little fun at his expense. "Why would she want to stay here? Doesn't she have a home to go back too?"

"Well yes but…"

"Then why stay here? Her race is highly developed, surely there is nothing so important here that she would give up her old life to stay on our underdeveloped planet. Besides, look at what she's already done to my Black Brigade captain. She's turning you soft! I can't have her jeopardizing the defenses of my kingdom."

"I've become no such thing as soft you pompous ass! That girl has done more for this country than you can ever hope to accomplish. You should be jumping at the chance to make her a member of this barren wasteland you call a kingdom. She'd be nothing but an asset to you."

He knew Albel would react to threatening his character. Not to mention taking a few shots at the girl he obviously held affection for. He could bicker back and forth with Albel all day but that probably wasn't a good idea. Fun was fun but he had more important things to do. "You're right."

"Your damn right I am..huh? What did you just…"

The king raised his hand to silence Albel. "I said you're right you fool! No wonder you're so violent on the battle filed, you let any little thing get under your skin." The kind stood and began descending the steps leading to his thrown. "The girl can have any room here she would like. She can come and go as she pleases."

Albel stood quietly and watched as the king walked towards the exit to the audience hall. "As far as you're concerned, if you ever speak to me like that again I'll be sure you end up back in the dungeon." The king pushed the door opened and began to leave when he paused and turned back. "Oh one more thing."

Albel was still facing towards the thrown. He didn't turn to face the king, just casually glanced over his shoulder. "As far as citizenship goes there is no need for me to go out of my way granting it. I'm certain you will take care of that sooner or later." With that the king entered the main hall and went back to his study leaving Albel alone.

Albel stood there for a few moments collecting his thoughts. After a while he shook his head lightly and spoke to himself. "Well that went better than I'd hoped."

Latter that night Albel met up with Sophia at the castle entrance. "Hey so what did the king say? You didn't make him angry did you?"

Albel just grunted and started walking away from her. "Of course I did."

Sophia followed close behind. "Oh I knew I should have gone with you."

Albel led the way to the stairs and began ascending them. "You have so little faith in me. And after all the trouble I went through to get you a room here in the castle."

"So he said yes? I can really stay?"

He continued up the stairs a smirk forming on his face. "Of course, I told you I'd take care of everything and I did." They reached the top of the staircase and he continued to lead her down the halls. "I even managed to find you a decent room."

The corridor they stopped down was a familiar one. She looked at the room before them, obviously it was the one he had chosen for her. "Is this my room?"

He stood before her and crossed his arms. "Pickings were slim I did the best I could do."

She smiled up at him swaying lightly from side to side. "Oh and it's so convenient that the only suitable room you could find was right down the hall from yours."

He glared down at her doing his best to look angry. "Well there is a small windowless room on the other side of the castle if you want to keep your distance from me."

Sophia had learned long ago that Albel was not the type to admit anything easily. He would probably let her move to the other side of the castle before he admitted he chose this room to have her closer to him. Of course just because there was no possibility he would say something like that didn't discourage her from trying to get him to. She knew how to get a rise out of him. "Oh you'd like that wouldn't you? That way you could bring all the girls you want to your room and I would never know because I'm all the way on the other side of the castle."

Albel closed his eyes and let out a deep ragged sigh. He'd had just about enough for one day. "First that idiot king and now you. Dose everyone enjoy arguing with me just for the sport of it?"

"Of course we do! It's just so easy to get you all flustered."

Albel reached out his hand and grasped the doorknob. "Do you want to see your new room or not?"

She giggled and smiled up at him. "Yes please!"

He opened the door and let her enter first. He must have come here before her because the lamps were already lit. This wasn't just the best he could do, it was probably the best room in the castle. It was large to say the least, about twice the sized of her bedroom at home. On the far wall were two large windows. It was too dark now to see what kind of a view she had. The fireplace was to her left, it remained unused because it was summer in Airyglyph and the weather was just warm enough at night not to need it. To her right was a large four post bed.

She looked around the room admiring it for a bit. "It's perfect. If this is what you get me when picking are slim I'd love to see what you would have done if you got your choice."

"So this is to your liking then? You're not going to move to the other end of the castle?"

She smiled and wrapped her arms around his waist. "No but if I'm going to stay here we need to go back to the inn and pack my things."

"We? Haven't I done enough for you today already? What's in it for me?"

She leaned up and kissed him. She moaned softly as he returned the kiss, deepening it. He ran his fingers through her hair and then down her back causing her to shiver as he pulled away. She leaned forward, resting her head on his chest. She held him tighter and relaxed a bit when she felt him return her embrace.

After a few moments she pulled away to look at him. "That's what's in it for you. Just think I'll be right down the hall from you. So you can come here and hug me and kiss me when ever you want."

He pulled away from her and held open the door. "I guess that's worth a trip into town."

Sophia playfully slapped him on the arm and the two left for town.

She woke up the next morning, the curtains were parted just a bit and a stream of sunlight was shining down on her face. She stretched and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and winced a bit as her feet came into contact with the cold stone floor. She blinked away the last remnants of sleep. She was still a bit tired but there was no point in sleeping in, she had a lot of work to do today. She walked over to the window and pushed the heavy curtain aside and was amazed at the wonderful view.

Her room overlooked a gorgeous garden she hadn't even know existed. From her window she could over look the whole thing. She used the crank on the side of the windowsill to open the large pain of glass. She leaned out over the edge just enough to take in the smell of the flowers. She looked down as saw that there was a large gardenia bush growing right under her window. It was so tall she was able to reach out and pick one of the flowers off the bush.

She smiled and breathed in the sweet scent of the flower. She tucked the gardenia behind her ear and left to get dressed and meet Albel for breakfast.

A/N

When you know the character your writing for is not overly romantic it's hard to write a theme based on a flower. I did want to have floweres laid on her pillow or placed around the room but then I thought Albel would never do something like that. However picking out a room with a view he knew she would love is something I could see him doing.

As for the part with the king I tried to make him sound formal but not too formal. In the game he's a rather young king and doesn't seem like one for formality's. And of course everyone likes tormenting Albel.