Chapter 1: I've Grown Accustomed
*Just a friendly disclaimer. I don't own any rights to Sofia the First. Sofia the First and the characters herein is/are the property of Disney and are not my intellectual property. There is no financial gain made from this nor will any be sought. This is for entertainment purposes only.
I'VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED
Sofia knocked three times on the large wooden door and waited for a sign to enter; only to hear a loud crash coming from the other side. She smiled to herself, gently shook her head back and forth, and pushed the door open. Standing in a plume of blue smoke was the Royal Sorcerer, Cedric, coughing and muttering "M-Mm-Merlins m-m-mushrooms!" His jet black Raven, Wormwood, ruffled his feathers at his master from his perch on the chair, kawed a few choice words and flew out the window. Sofia giggled at the sight of her magic teacher all soot covered and flustered. It was a normal occurrence for him to drop things when people knocked on his tower door, he was rather easy to startle. "P-Posiden's p-pumpkins Princess, n-n-now I have to start f-from the beginning." He yelled at her, raising his hands up in the air shaking them at her. He'll never change. She thought to herself.
She just softly giggled at him again, tossing her long auburn locks side to side. She raised her hand up to cover her mouth and said "I'm sorry Mr. Cedric, but I was just so excited to see you! I've been away so long, I missed our lessons... here I'll help you clean up." She walked over to him, grabbed up the corner of her dress and began to wipe his face off. He stood there at attention, in shock for a moment, and then quickly pushed her hands away.
"I-I-I'm fine, now I have to fix your dress as well." He sighed, flicked his wand, uttered a spell and the mess was gone. He straightened out his robes, pointed his wand at the corner of her dress that still in her hand, uttered a different spell, and it was clean. "P-p-put your skirts down girl, before someone gets the wrong impression." Sofia blushed at the thought and let go of her hemline.
"Mr. Cedric, really..." She chided him, running her hands over her lavender colored, silk dress to flatten out any wrinkles. She was a woman now, 17 years old, and was quite curvy compared to her sister Amber, who was tall and lean. Sofia had grown up and filled out to be an ideal woman while traveling the world, on and off, as an ambassador for the Eastern Kingdoms the last few years. Cedric ran his eyes up and down her as she flattened out the wrinkles.
"D-don't Mister Cedric me." He said turning away from her, staring down at his book instead. "If your father had walked in I'd be in a hangman's noose before you could utter a word." He ran his hand up to his neck and shook his head slightly.
"Daddy never comes to your tower though, Mr. Cedric."
"Well on the off chance, I'd rather be safe than sorry Princess. Its my head not yours." She rolled her eyes at him and smiled.
"Moving on," she whispered under her breath "so Mr. C-ee-dric, what were you making? What can I help do since I messed you up?" She asked approaching him with her hands clasped behind her back, trying to spy the potion book.
He snorted at her playfulness and ignored the pet name. "It's a rather difficult potion that will take me the rest of the day finish now." He sighed, placing his hands on either side of the open potion book on his desk. He glanced over at her and saw her frown; he sighed, looked back down at this book, and the corners of his mouth upturned ever so slightly. "I'll need the Prismatiumn butterfly wing dust, lavender, snowberries, unicorn horn shavings and the lotus dust to start with." Sofia smiled, clasped her hands together and ran off towards the storage closet. "Damn that girl." He muttered under his breath, smiling to himself.
Minutes passed and he lost himself in his thoughts.
"So what are we making?" She asked upon reentering the chamber with an armload of ingredients.
"It's a healing draught. A highly advanced one," he glanced over as she laid down the vials and bottles on his desk. She shot him a worried look. "Don't worry its not for anyone here. Your father asked if I could conjure up something for King Magnus."
"The king of Rudistan? Why what's wrong?"
"Well, Princess, you remember the man... you know how he is. He went on boasting about his hunting skills and got into an accident. He's not fairing too well, I'm afraid." Cedric explained sprinkling ingredients into the caldron.
"So Daddy asked you to help him... and I messed up your potion..." She began to frown as she connected the dots.
"Don't fret Princess, It'll be done in half the time now that you're helping." He tried reassuring her before the outbreak of tears. She nodded. Still seeing doubt in her eyes he continued "Here you take over while I gather the rest of the components." He took her hand in his and guided her over to the caldron, swapping spots with her. "Just follow the directions, you know what to do Princess. I'll be right back." She sighed as he walked away. It was her fault they were beginning all over, all the while King Magnus waiting ill. She felt terrible, the poor man was suffering longer due to her disturbing Cedric. She lost herself in her thoughts while she worked. She didn't know how long Cedric was gone, but she had got far enough in the recipe that she needed the next ingredients. Where was he?
"Mr. Cedric? I'm ready for the next components." She said raising her voice so he could hear her from the anti-chamber.
"One moment!" He shouted. "B-b-blast it where is that violet powder..." She shook her head and made her way over to the ingredient closet. She glanced around while he was studying a corner with his hands full.
"However did you manage without me?" She giggled plucking the bottle off the shelf. He turned, looked her over, grunted and stalked out of the room.
"You seem to have forgotten you were away for over a year this time... and I'm still here. I manage j-just fine without your p-presence P-Princess." He shot at her while he added the last of the items to the brew.
"Mr. Cedric..."she began tossing her curls back and forth, peering over his shoulder as he worked. "I was only teasing... anyways it looks like the shelves could use some organizing... now that I'm back..."
"If that's what you want to do, g-go right ahead." He stammered waving his hand back at her.
She leapt up from behind him, gave him a hug around his shoulders, and planted a kiss on his cheek. "I'll start right away then." She beamed, immediately turning and running into the ingredient closet before he could utter a word. His cheeks turned beet red as he blushed from her sudden display of affection. He grumbled to himself, then smiled unknowingly.
He was glad to have her back in his workshop.
Hours past as they worked on the healing draught and the closet; the sun was setting in the distance, casting a pinkish gold light onto the castle. Sofia starred out the tower window watching the sight unfold. "Oh how I missed this view." She sighed resting her head on her hands, propping her elbows up on the windowsill. "You have the best view in the whole kingdom Mr. Cedric."
"I guess I never paid attention..." He said casting her a glance as he poured the purple colored liquid into a vial.
"How could you not notice silly?" She joked, looking at him from the corner of her eye. "You spend nearly every evening here. Its beautiful." He stoppered the vial and put it onto the rack, closed the potion book and began to sit down only to be pulled over to the window by a pair of delicate hands. "Here look," Sofia stated positioning him where she had just been standing. "isn't it just ah-mazing?" She finished resting her head on his shoulder, gazing out the window again.
"I-I...W-well I sup-p-pose it is, P-Princess." He said nervously as he twiddled his fingertips together, looking back and forth between her and the sunset.
"You can't tell me you've really never watched the sunset from here..." She almost whispered looking up to his face.
"I-I g-guess there are other m-more imp-p-portant t-things that always g-get I'm my w-way of it." He managed to get out, gulping down his nervousness, at her closeness.
"Life can't be all about work Mr. C-ee-dric." She tittered. "You have to take moments to enjoy the simplistic things; the beauty of the world we live in..." She turned to face him. "You gotta live a little." She finished taking his hands in hers, giving them a tight squeeze for emphasis. He gazed down at their hands, trying to calm his nerves; he never did understand how she was always so good at invading his personal space so easily.
A loud rapping came from the door. "Cedric I'm sorry to bother you, I'm looking for Princess Sofia." Baileywick announced entering the workshop. Cedric shot backwards away from Sofia so fast he tumbled over.
"Mr. Cedric are you okay?" Sofia asked running over to him, seeing that he was fine, she helped him up and giggled yet again. "You've not changed one bit Mr. C-ee-dric."
"Oh, there you are Princess!" Baileywick exclaimed, clasping his hands in joy. "I've been all over looking for you! Dinner will be served shortly on the veranda. Your mother and father thought it would be nice to have a small celebration of your return." Cedric, being completely ignored by the steward, straightened out his robes, grunted and stalked over to his desk.
"Oh, I'm so sorry I was helping Mr. Cedric with his potion. Thank you Baileywick, I'll be there momentarily."
"Alright Princess, good evening." Baileywick bowed taking his leave.
"That's what I meant earlier!" Cedric hissed at her as soon as the door shut. "You're going to be the death of me, and you've only been back one day!" He finished turning to her shaking her finger at her.
"Mr. Cedric...I don't understand..."
"W-w-what d-do you mean you don't u-understand girl?! Do I h-have to spell it o-out for you?"
"Spell what out? What are you talking about?" She asked with hands on her hips. Cedric rolled his eyes and took a seat in his desk chair. Frustrated he ran his hands through his hair and sighed.
"Sofia...I guess it is hard for you to see..." He sighed looking her over. "Sometimes I envy your naivete." He shook his head, his grey bangs sweeping side to side. "You have to watch personal boundaries now... you're not a c-child anymore... things can be m-misinterpreted." She stood there waiting, a puzzled look on her face. "Oh my, you really are too innocent and naïve, to see." He stood up to face her, ran his hand through his hair once again. "Princess; you're kind and considerate to everyone, you're compassionate and amiable, your heart shows no bounds... but now that you're... w-well you're a woman now... a-and that can create p-pr-problems for people who you consider f-friends... not everyone m-may see it as f-friendly and innocent as you." She was still giving him a quizzical look, seeming lost more than ever. "M-Meaning, although, for example; we've known one another for many years, and you without a second thought see it perfectly fine to h-hug me or …" he nervously loosened his neck tie as he spoke "o-other things t-that invade my p-personal space..." His nerves still getting the better of him he tapped his fingertips together as he continued "a-and although I m-might not m-m-mind, your f-family on the other hand m-might. M-m-meaning p-people might s-see something... s-s-se-sexual instead." He gulped, hoping that he finally got through to her.
Her hands shot up to her cheeks, which were flushed now pink "Mr. Cedric!"
"I-I'm just being ho-honest. Y-you don't see it b-but you p-put me in v-very comp-pr-promising positions sometimes." He sputtered, holding his hands out, palms up, as if in defeat. She frowned at him.
"I...I don't mean to... I can't help it... I just, I'm comfy around you." She shrugged, wringing her hands. "I can always be myself... and you never... seemed to mind." She finished turning away from him, her voice drifting off.
Then he heard it; sniffles.
"Princess... P-please d-don't. I..." he started, he sighed instead and put a hand on her shoulder. "I didn't mean to make you cry Princess." She shook her head, her auburn locks running over his hand.
"I-I'm the one w-who's sorry." She managed between sobs. "I never meant, to put you in that position... It never occurred to me someone might think..." She cried turning to him. He sighed in defeat and pulled her to his chest. She hesitantly stood there not knowing what to do, in light of the implications of the conversation. He wrapped his arms around her and taking his lead she buried her head in his chest, and wrapped her arms around his torso.
"It's okay, I-I was t-to harsh on you. I overreacted. I'm sorry Sofia. I just...well, you understand what people think of me... you're really the only friend I have beside Wormy..." He was absent mindedly stroking her hair as he spoke; her tears slowly subsiding. "You might understand me, but t-they don't... I d-don't want people to have the w-wrong impression of our relationship b-because we are m-more than just m-mentor and apprentice..." He sighed, burying his head into her hair on her shoulder. "Because over all these years you've become more than that to me." He confided, gripping her closer to him. "When you're gone and it's just me and Wormy... I'm so alone. A-a-and although I act contrary, I-I do enjoy it when you're here... you breath life into this cold stone tower. But if anyone ever knew that, they'd snatch you away again, and I'd be left alone again." He continued his voice becoming softer, almost a whisper. "That's why I react how I do... that's why I c-chide you and s-scold you, not to hurt you... but to keep you at arms length..." He took a step back and held her literally at arms length. "You have no idea how I m-miss you when you're away... you saw the closet, my w-workshop..." He shook his head and scoffed. "You're the glue that keeps me put together. And I don't want to ruin that. I'm the Royal Sorcerer, I have a d-duty to the Royal family, I'm not s-supposed to have close r-relationships with them... but I can't help it with you... I just... can't." He finished enervated. She stared at him taking in his words, searching for a reply.
"I've gone and said too much." He sighed pulling away his hands.
She smiled softly up at him, gripping his hand on her shoulder before he could remove it, and quietly replied. "I guess I can't either." It earned her a small smile from Cedric. She wrapped him in a hug before he could step away. "I'm sorry Mr. Cedric, I didn't realize... you felt that way. And I agree with you. I feel the same way... Though, I guess I do I have lots of friends, but you're the only person I feel that I can really be myself around. I don't have to impress you, although I do try to make you proud with my magic..." she smiled at him demurely. "I don't have to feel like things are expected of me... I've missed you a lot while I was away, you're one of my dearest friends and I hope you always will be. I understand that I have to be aware of how I conduct myself around you now, so not to jeopardize our relationship." She said drawing back to look him in the face.
"You mean jeopardize my life." He muttered. At that her smile turned to a frown again.
"I suppose it is more serious for you... Daddy can jump to conclusions rather fast."
"Your father isn't the only one. That sister of yours spreads more rumors than anyone in the entire Kingdom."
"I guess I have to be more careful about what I say to them about you then... and control myself not to hug you as much." she laughed. He smiled.
"Then we have an understanding?" He asked her holding her hands in his. She nodded and shook his hands for emphasis.
"Onelasthug!" She shouted as she sprang on him, causing them both to tumble to the ground. She wrapped her arms around his neck tightly laughing in his ear. Again he smiled while she couldn't see. He ran his hand over her hips and up her back, and wrapped his arms tightly around her.
"Last one." He whispered. He felt the changes in her body, she indeed was a woman now; her breasts were plump and pressed hardly against him, she had curves in all the correct places. How could he not notice? How could she be so oblivious? They laid there longer than they should, wrapped in each others embrace. Cedric finally loosened his grip, letting his hands rest on her hips. "Don't you think you better meet your family for supper? Baileywick will be back here looking for you again. A-and I can tell you if he f-found us like this it would be the h-hangman's n-noose for me, for sure."
"Oh!" She said sitting up, now straddling him, absolutely unaware. "I completely forgot!"
"Best get going then, Dear." He said laying there on the tower floor, his hands now resting on his chest. She nodded, and quickly planted a kiss on his nose.
"See you tomorrow Mr. Cedric!" She yelled as she closed the door behind her.
Cedric lay on the floor, his hands still on his chest, staring off into space. "Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn." Wormy flew into the tower, found his master on the floor and swooped down beside him. He kawed a few times and pecked at his arm. "Oh Wormwood, I've really done it this time... my days are surely numbered."
Chapter 2: The Way You Look Tonight
*Just a friendly disclaimer. I don't own any rights to Sofia the First. Sofia the First and the characters herein is/are the property of Disney and are not my intellectual property. There is no financial gain made from this nor will any be sought. This is for entertainment purposes only.
THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
Sofia picked out the new gown she had made for her homecoming ball; it reflected how she had matured over the years. It was made of a light silk, deep plum in color, and floor length; it gathered in three separate tiers that gave the dress volume; the straps were lilac colored and u shaped so that it dipped far down onto her exposed back, they draped loosely over her shoulders revealing her collarbones and the slightest bit of cleavage; the bodice itself was fitted to her womanly curves but loose enough that she could comfortably dance the night away. She pulled half of her auburn hair back, tied it up loosely and slightly teased it for height she left the rest of her tresses to freely cascade down her back and left her side-swept bangs gracing her face. She gave herself a once-over; glancing over her shoulder into the mirror to make sure everything was in its proper place. She readjusted her tiara one last time and made her way to the ballroom.
She normally wasn't one to care about balls, but this was one dear to her heart. She was going to get to see all her friends and family after being away for so long. To someone like Sofia friends and family meant everything. For once she was glad her sister insisted on throwing a party. She let Amber make all the arrangements, except for her gown. She had learned how to sew over the years and with the aid of a little magic, that she learned from Cedric, she had made her own gown just for the occasion.
"Oh Sofia! Wherever did you get your gown? It's absolutely phenomenal!" Amber inquired as she circled Sofia.
"I made it."
Amber stood there gawking. "Oh my! Sofia your skills have only gotten better over the years! I might have to get you to make me a gown." She beamed touching the skirt delicately.
"Oh Amber..." Sofia smiled and shook her head at her sister; she was the same as ever.
"What? I mean it, this work is exceptional! Trust me Sofia, I mean who else would know an amazing gown when she saw one, but me?" Amber tittered, bringing out her fan for effect. "Enough conversation, lets get into the ballroom! Everyone is waiting!"she finished dragging Sofia along behind her towards the grand ballroom. "Oh everyone is going to be here tonight Sofia, isn't it exciting! I even invited a few new princes we haven't met from the Western kingdoms." She whispered, winking over at Sofia as she sashayed into the room.
Yep, same old Amber. She hasn't changed one bit. Sofia thought to herself as she walked into the ballroom. Sofia looked around the room, taking it all in slowly. She saw her mother and father in one corner talking to King Aaron and King Garrick, and in the middle of the room was the Princes and Princesses; Amber, James, Hildegard, Clio, Jun, Jin, Zandar, Khalid, Maya, Leena, Vivian, Desmond, Hugo and Axel all stood in a circle the girls flirting with the boys. Jade, Ruby, Lucinda, Mateo the Royal wizard from Alavor, and Princess Elena were there as well standing a few feet away from the Royals talking amongst themselves - of course there were a lot more people who filled the ballroom to its capacity, but Sofia made her way to her friends first.
"It's Sofia!" Ruby yelled jumping up and down, accidentally spilling her punch all over Lucinda. "Oops, sorry Lucinda!" The witch sighed and rolled her eyes, promptly pulled out her wand, gave it a flick and was dry again. Everyone turned with Ruby's jubilant yell, and all eyes were on Sofia. She gave a small smile and scanned the room again, and found her father walking over to her.
"Everyone's attention please?" His voice boomed around the room. "As everyone knows; we are here tonight to celebrate Sofia's return home after a long world tour. During her time away she has made many new alliances for our kingdoms and expanded trade and commerce as well. Tonight we not only celebrate the joy we have in her return home, but we commemorate those alliances and honor her great work as an ambassador for our kingdoms." He smiled down at his daughter, making her blush; she wasn't expecting all of this. "So, with that being said, let us raise our glasses to Sofia." He finished raising his champagne flute high into the air above his head. The entire room mimicked his movement, raising their glasses as well.
"To Sofia!" The room boomed with the voices of many nations.
"Now, let us rejoice and dance the night away. Maestro!" Roland exclaimed waving his hand towards the band set up in the back of the ballroom. Music filled the air and everyone grabbed a partner and began dancing. King Roland turned to his daughter "Sofia your Mother and I are very proud of you. Make sure you enjoy yourself tonight. It's all for you, sweetheart." He said pulling her into a hug.
"Thanks Dad." She said looking up at him, pulling away.
"Go see your friends now." He nodded over towards the group of dancing Royals. Sofia smiled, nodded and made her way over to her friends.
Ruby and Jade ran to her and wrapped her in a hug. "We're so glad your home!" "We missed you so much!" Sofia laughed and hugged them back.
"I missed you as well! It's good to be home!"
She made her rounds, telling everyone about the distant lands she visited and how different they were from the Eastern kingdoms. Everyone commented on how beautiful she looked and how amazing her dress was; the Princesses in particular were all green with envy of her gown. She danced with her friends and danced with several of the princes. Prince Hugo was one particularly fond of her new look.
"My dear Sofia you are the most beautiful woman here; Sofia you are amazing; Dearest Sofia you are full of surprises. Sofia you are so talented." It made her feel ill; he was like a lost puppy following her, doting on her and caressing her hand, shoulders or face when he could. She finally had enough of it and slipped away from her friends to the outer perimeter of the ballroom. She let out a sigh of relief. She had managed to evade his detection and slip away unnoticed. She leaned up against the wall and looked around the room.
She had seen everyone she had wanted to see, all except one. Where was her sorcerer? She knew he hated balls as well, but he knew she wanted him there, he was after all one of her dearest friends. She pursed her lips and slipped out onto the balcony, maybe he was outside away from all the chit chat. She let out another sigh; Maybe he left and went back to his tower already... She leaned out over the balcony trying to see if there was any light coming from the tower, but was incapable of seeing from the angle and distance. She decided to slip away from the party for a while and find the sorcerer. Everyone was having such fun, no one would notice she was gone for a bit. She made her way down the balcony steps to the breezeway from the castle garden and Cedric's tower.
She made her way toward his tower, walking along the trees that lined the castle wall. She looked up into the night sky. Oh how I missed Enchancia! Even the sky! It's so beautiful, I could stay out all night stargazing. She lost herself in her thoughts and paused to lean up against a large oak tree to gaze into the night sky.
"There you are, I looked all over for you!"
Ugh... Hugo had found her. She tore her eyes from the beauty above and turned her sight to the direction of his voice. But he was already upon her. "Sofia, what are you doing out here? We still have half the night left to dance away together." He said smiling down at her. He leaned a hand up against the large tree trunk and loomed over her. "Or did you mean to lure me out here so we could be alone?" He almost whispered caressing her face with his other hand.
"Hugo." She exasperated rolling her eyes, pushing his hand off her face.
"Aw, come on Sofia, you can't deny you that you missed me. You've been flirting with me all night too. It's not nice to tease me, all you had to do was tell me." He cooed wrapping his hand around her waist.
"Hugo this isn't funny. Let me go." She stated, trying to push away from him.
"Oh, playing hard to get huh? You changed a lot while you were away Princess. Did you have me in mind when you chose this dress?" He laughed as he leaned in towards her. "I like it." He whispered his lips grazing her neck.
"Hugo! Get off of me!" She seethed, trying to push him off of her. He grabbed both of her wrist in one hand and held them above her.
"Cut it out Sofia, I promise I'll be gentle." His lips were on her now, running over her chest and neck. Tears ran down her face. This wasn't how she envisioned this night, not at all. It certainly wasn't how she had imagined losing her innocence either.
"Please Hugo, I don't want this, please stop." She begged wriggling beneath him, trying to escape his grasp. He ignored her, his free hand roaming over her body. She cried.
"Sometimes I envy your naivete." Cedric's voice echoed in her mind. "You're a woman now..."
He was right... she thought. She was a woman now and people noticed... Had she brought this upon herself? "That's what I meant earlier! You're going to be the death of me, and you've only been back one day!" Cedric's words berated her mind as Hugo's hands continued to roam her curves.
Did I do this to myself? Did I lead Hugo on?
"...create problems for people who you consider friends... not everyone may see it as friendly and innocent as you." Cedric's words wouldn't stop entering her mind. Hugo pulled her hair at the base of her neck, tilting her head back, and kissed her lips.
"Please, stop..." She whimpered between his assaults on her lips, pressing her eyes shut. Still he ignored her and abandoned her lips for her ear.
"I told you, it's okay Sofia. I won't hurt-" Hugo's words were cut off though, she felt his lips back away from her skin. Sofia opened her eyes to see what he was doing, maybe she could make a run for it.
"I believe the Princess asked you to let her go..."
Chapter 3: Someone to Watch Over Me
*Just a friendly disclaimer. I don't own any rights to Sofia the First. Sofia the First and the characters herein is/are the property of Disney and are not my intellectual property. There is no financial gain made from this nor will any be sought. This is for entertainment purposes only.
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
"I believe the Princess asked you to let her go..." It was a familiar voice; a wave of relief washed over her. She looked down to see Cedric's wand prodding into Hugo's neck. "NOW!" Cedric growled pushing his wand into the Prince's neck harder. Hugo slowly let go of Sofia's wrists and unwound himself from her. She let her arms fall to her chest and rubbed her wrists, not able to take her eyes off of Cedric. "Now step away from her, Prince." Hissed the sorcerer.
Hugo did as he was told; Cedric circled the prince to place himself between Sofia and her assaulter, his wand leveled at Hugo's chest. Hugo's eyes turned wide with rage.
"How dare you Sorcerer!" He seethed at Cedric. "Do you know who I am? How dare you point that thing at me!" He shouted taking a step towards the sorcerer.
Sofia grasped the back of Cedric's robes and nuzzled her head into his back. "Oh Cedric!" She cried.
"One step closer and I'll turn you into the worm you really are, Prince." Cedric snarled, flicking his wand for emphasis.
The moment was so intense they didn't notice the crowd of Royals approaching them.
Hugo glared at Cedric. "You wouldn't dare Sorcerer."
"Here, here! What's your sorcerer doing Roland? Drop your wand Sorcerer!" King Garrick yelled as the crowd neared.
"Cedric! What is going on? What are you doing? Lower your wand this instant." Roland demanded.
Sofia glanced up at the sound of her father's voice. Cedric, who normally melted into a nervous puddle at the sight of the king, held his ground.
"I will not." He answered unwaveringly, moving his free arm back as if to protect Sofia.
"What insolence!" Garrick shouted. "Roland do something!"
Roland pursed his lips "Guards!"
"I want this man hanged Father!" Hugo spat.
"Cedric! Lower your-"
"No, your Majesty." Cedric interjected cutting Roland off.
The guards were approaching them. Garrick made his way over towards his son. "Enchancia will pay for this Roland." He growled as he stalked by King Roland and Queen Miranda. "Get the sorcerer men!"
"NO! Stop!" Sofia screamed wrapping her arms around Cedric's waist.
"...So...Sofia?" Miranda muttered. No one had seen her, her dress had blended in with the sorcerers robes in the darkness. Sofia raised her head up from Cedric's back. "Please stop, Cedric didn't do anything wrong!" She cried.
"Sofia, what's going on, get away from him!" Roland demanded.
"He's gone and put her under a spell don't listen to her!" Hugo shouted.
"No! Cedric was protecting me. Dad, please listen!" She started sobbing into Cedric's robes again. Cedric lowered his wand slightly and placed his other hand on her fingers as they wrapped around his waist.
"Don't listen to her!" Hugo yelled again.
"Be quiet you! Look what you've done." Cedric snarled at the Prince, nodding down to Sofia.
"Sofia... Honey, what's going on..." Miranda pleaded. Sofia just shook her head and sobbed.
"That Prince over there forced himself on her, that's what!" Cedric yelled shaking his wand at Hugo.
"How dare y-"
"Be quiet Hugo!" Miranda yelled; all the men stood there shocked at the Queen's outburst. She took a few timid steps towards Cedric. "Cedric, please..."
"It's just as I said. HE was ATTACKING her."
"Oh, please. Roland stop this senseless babble. Get your wizard under control." Garrick retorted.
"Cedric, please lower your wand... for Sofia... She needs me." Queen Miranda implored the wizard, tears welling up in her eyes. Cedric held the Queen's gaze for a moment longer, and sighed.
"Yes, your right your Majesty." He uttered lowering his wand trying to turn to Sofia.
"Seize him!" Garrick yelled.
"Yield! I am your king and you listen to me!" Roland declared stepping in front of the guards.
"Sofia..." Miranda whispered nearing them.
"Mom..." Sofia sobbed. Miranda looked up to Cedric. He tried to ease himself out of Sofia's grasp, but she only held on tighter.
"Princess... It's okay now... you can let go..." He whispered to her. Sofia looked up at him and slowly released him from her grasp.
"Sofia honey what happened?" Miranda asked hugging her daughter. Roland approached and grabbed Cedric by the arm. Sofia had calmed down, she took in a deep breath.
"Sofia is what Cedric said true?" Roland pressed.
"I was... I was getting some fresh air when... when Hugo came up... He pinned me against the tree..." Tears streamed down her face. "I tried to get him to let me go... he touched me, kissed me... If it wasn't for Cedric...I..." She shook her head and wiped the tears from her face. Roland's face grew hard, he let go of Cedric and turned to Hugo.
"Get him out of my Kingdom." He demanded, stalking over to King Garrick. "This will be discussed later... In the meantime, get him out of my sight."
"What, you're going to take the word of a lowly sorcerer over me?" Hugo yelled stepping forward. Garrick placed his arm in front of his son.
"Roland, surely you jest..."
"I'm perfectly serious."
"You can't think my son would - "
"Sofia has never lied to me before! Now remove him from my sight or I'll have my guards do it for you."
Garrick huffed and took Hugo by the arm "Go to the carriage while I fetch your brother."
"But Father -"
"Now!" Garrick yelled at his son. Hugo glared over at Cedric one last time and stalked towards the courtyard. Garrick stalked off in the other direction to find Axel. Roland turned to his family.
"Everyone disperse, back to the party." He ordered, walking the short distance to his wife and daughter.
"I'm okay Mom. Really... I just... I'm okay thanks to Cedric..." Sofia told her mother, looking over to the sorcerer.
"Yes, Cedric, thank you for protecting her." Miranda told him.
"Yes, you have our thanks... I understand why you wouldn't stand down... It shows a great deal how you've changed over the years Cedric. You're a good man." Roland stated patting Cedric on the shoulder. Cedric just nodded never taking his eyes off Sofia.
"I'm okay guys, you should return to the party before everyone wonders what's going on." Sofia told her parents.
"It's okay Dad. I've calmed down, I'm fine." She said smiling at him. "I'm not hurt, no need to ruin everyone else's night... we can talk more about this tomorrow..."
"She's right Rolly... If Sofia says she's okay, I trust her."
He pursed his lips and sighed. "Alright... aren't you coming as well Sofia?"
"...No, I think I'll stay out here with Cedric for a bit, before going to bed." Roland glared a hole into Cedric, still suspicious of him, in light of the nights events.
"Come on Rolly. She's old enough to make her own decisions." The King nodded, dropping his gaze, and escorted his wife back to the ballroom; leaving Sofia and Cedric alone in the moonlight.
I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN
Cedric and Sofia stood there alone in the moonlight; both waiting with bated breath, shrouded in darkness and silence. Cedric's gaze never left the princess. Sofia watched as her parents faded out of sight.
"Oh Cedric!" She launched herself at the sorcerer; wrapping her arms tightly around him and rooting her face into his chest. For a moment he stood there in shock, slowly exhaled, and tenderly wrapped his arms around her. Her fingers dug into his back as she clung to him, but he didn't notice. He held her head to his chest and stroked her hair, running his fingertips through her now messy locks.
"Go on cry. It's okay. I'm not going anywhere." And with his words she nodded and began to cry softly. He took in a deep breath through his nose, taking in the fragrance of her hair; lilac and berries. To him it was the most sensual aroma he had ever smelled. He held her closer as if they could meld together as one. Gradually her sobs turned into sniffles and turned her eyes up to his face.
"I'm so sorry Cedric."
"You're sorry? Whatever for dear? If anyone is sorry it's me." He replied barely above a whisper. She shook her head slightly.
"No, Cedric, you were right. This is all my fault. I know it is. The whole time he..." She shook her head again and kept going. "The whole time I just kept hearing you... what you said the other day... I just heard it over and over..."
"Whatever are you talking about?" He asked quizzically. She leaned her head against his chest and looked down at the grass.
"When Baileywick came in... how what I might think is as normal or innocent others may not... I must have done something to make him think..."
"No, just stop there. This isn't your fault." Cedric said raising her head up to look him in the eye. He cradled her head in his hands. "And as far as our conversation in concerned... well that conversation was in reference to you and me; not anyone else." Tenderly he wiped away her tears with his thumbs. "I know you, Sofia, and there is nothing that you would have done to make him think you were okay with that. He's just another spoiled-rotten, no-good prince..." His words trailed off into a whisper. " I should have turned him into a worm when I had the chance..."
"Oh Cedric!" Sofia giggled.
"What? I should have. He's lucky your mother stepped in; she has good sense, your mother. If I ever see that poor excuse for a human being again though..."
Sofia giggled again and hugged him tightly. "Thank you so much Cedric. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't shown up."
"Don't think such thoughts... I should have been there to protect you in the first place... Tell me Sofia, why where you out here alone with him anyway..." She pulled back to look up at him again.
"I wasn't alone with him, Cedric. He followed me. When I got a moment to myself I took advantage of it and slipped away from everyone; I looked around the ballroom and balcony for you... but I couldn't find you..."
"If I would have just stayed at the party you wouldn't have wondered out here..."
"It's not your fault Cedric; I should have made time for you earlier." Cedric just shook his head and hugged her.
"All that matters is that you're okay." He sighed; giving her a tight squeeze before relinquishing her from his grip. "I tell you what; I could use some help with a potion im brewing, to help get your mind off things - if you like- or I can escort you to your rooms if you'd prefer."
"There's no way I could sleep tonight." She said fiddling her fingers. "I just told Mom and Dad that so they'd leave us alone."
"Ah, I see. Well come along then, Apprentice." He said offering his arm to her.
She smiled and took his offered arm. "Thanks again Cedric... for everything." She said giving his arm a squeeze. The corners of Cedric's mouth turned up ever so slightly, he placed his opposite hand over hers and squeezed back.
"There's no need to ever thank me Sofia." He said as they began the short walk to his tower.
He sighed. "Simply because; it makes and old fool happy, and I do not deserve happiness."
"Cedric, don't be silly, everyone deserves to be happy."
"Not everyone Sofia. You can't forget how I was when you were a child. All the times I tried taking your amulet from you." He said pausing a moment to lift the precious jewel from where it rested; hovering above where her cleavage began. "Someone like me, who intended to do great evil with such power..." He let the amulet slip from his fingertips, back to its resting place, and shook his head. "No, I don't deserve happiness. Especially not from you."
"Don't be ridiculous, Cedric. You've always been good. You just needed someone to care and show you." She refuted, beginning to walk up the tower steps still locked on to his arm. "I do not hold your actions from back then against you, and I never will. Actually more times often than not you protected me and the amulet... and what you did for me tonight... I will never forget Cedric. And I will always express my gratitude to you for everything you do for me and always do my best to make you happy, as well."
He closed his eyes and sighed. "I learned a long time ago not to argue with you..." He smiled. "I get nowhere..." He paused before opening the door to his workshop, turned to her with a serious face and said "Thank you Princess." She blushed and diverted her eyes away from him as he opened the door and entered the workshop.
On Cedric's desk sat a small pot that was poised over a compact burner, the liquid inside bubbled ever so slightly. Cedric made his way over to it and gave it a quick once-over before moving to the larger caldron that was positioned in front of the window. He stoked the fire beneath it with a short poker and magically added another piece of wood to the flames before turning to Sofia. "Fetch me this list of ingredients please-" He said handing her a small piece of parchment, "It all should be in the closet." Sofia nodded and made her way to the ingredients closet. There was about 8-10 separate items on the list. I wonder what he's making, and why he has two different sized solutions going at the same time... she thought to herself as she looked around for the first handful of items. It was a small room and with her large gown it was a tight squeeze. She tried turning around to get a bottle from the opposite shelf and fell inward on herself.
"UGH! Merlins mushrooms!" She yelled flailing about trying to find her way up and out of the abyss of satin and silk her dress made. Bottles fell around her clattering to the floor. She groaned and pulled at her dress... only to make the situation worse by tightening its hold on her body.
"Sofia what in Neptune's name are you doing?" Cedric asked peering around the semi-shut door. She sighed and flopped down into the folds of her gown. Tears welled up in her eyes. "...Sofia?" Cedric asked confuse by her predicament, opening the door and stepping in as much as her gown would allow.
"It's this infernal dress! It's far too ridiculous to be practical. It takes up the entire closet." She groaned, wiping the tears from her eyes "...now I'm stuck, wrapped up in it." She sighed.
"Well now that seems to be a princess issue that I have no inkling how to manage; other than suggest trying to wear more practical dresses." He scoffed. Sofia frowned.
"I made it on my own... I actually, kind of... in a way... made it for you. I used a lot of magic to make it and enchant it. That's partly why I was looking for you earlier... I wanted to show you... but you're right; what was I thinking wearing such a -"
"Stop." He interjected raising his hand. "You … you made this yourself?" She nodded. "Using things I taught you?" She nodded again. "And that's why you wanted to find me... to show me..."
"Yes." She said softly looking away from him, slightly embarrassed now.
"Well then, disregard what I said." She shot him a quizzical look, and he ignored her. "Come now," he said holding his hand out to help her up. "let me have a look at you- your work."he corrected himself. She took his hand and tried pulling herself up, but only managed to pull poor Cedric down into the silk abyss.
"OOF!" They both yelled as Cedric tumbled down on top of her.
"Poisdens pumpkins!" He yelled flailing about trying to get a grip on the shelves to pull himself up. Sofia couldn't help but laugh. His fingers found purchase on the shelves and managed to right himself; he smoothed out his robes and hair. "Okay, let's try this again." He grabbed ahold of a shelf and leaned down toward Sofia his hand outstretched toward her. Sofia seized his hand and clutched onto a shelf to help hoist herself up. With a little more effort she was on her feet and untangled. Cedric led her by the hand into the workshop. He dropped her hand and turned toward her. He stood back, and looked her up and down. It was the first time all night he had really had any time to actually look at her and take in what she wore. His eyes traveled over her body; he relished the moment. She was stunning. His thought tumbled over one another as he took in the sight. He motioned for her to turn. She rotated slowly, pausing to pull her hair forward to expose the intricate back. Having Cedric's eyes roaming over her gave her chills. She felt the skin on her back raise with goosebumps. She let go of her hair to cover her bare back, hoping to conceal the fact he gave her chills. She turned to face him, softly smiling at him.
"I figured out how to enchant it, but I never got the chance to activate it tonight." She pulled her wand from the hidden pocket of her dress and gave it a flick towards herself. Then she gave it a flick in the air; all the candles in the room went out and they were engulfed in darkness. Momentarily her dress began to emit a purplish light. A soft purple glow filled the room; radiating from the princesses' dress. Through the luster she saw a smile slip across Cedric's face. A wave of relief washed over her.
"The glow charm." He stated softly, holding his chin in thought. Sofia nodded and gave a twirl.
"So... What do you think?"
"You want my honest opinion?" He asked, his pointer finger tapping his lips, still holding his chin in a thoughtful way.
"Well... yeah of course. Your opinion matters most to me." She shrugged, beginning to doubt if he approved of her use of magic, or her risque design.
"It does, does it?" He demurred, circling around her. She stood there clasping her hands in front of her, hoping her efforts weren't a flop. "Hmmm." He hesitantly stuck out his hand to run along the silk skirt. Immediately the section of the room behind him went dim, his hand was covering the light from the dress. He nodded, seeming please with the reaction. He finished his circle and stood facing Sofia. "Honest opinion?" He asked, still holding his chin, giving his head a tilt to look at her from a different angle. She nodded and absent mindedly began to wring her hands, waiting for his answer. "I think you look gorgeous." He sighed a large smile washing over his face. "I-I mean I-I think it's marvelous." He quickly recovered. "Fantastic idea applying it to clothes. Not only is it beauteous to behold, but you do realize the applications this can have?" She shot him a curious look. "For example imagine what it is like to work as a miner for example, or a diver exploring the depths; they have to work in utter darkness or by candle- which in a miners position can be dangerous... are you following?"
She nodded. "So people who work in dark conditions can have their clothes enchanted with the glow charm and thus have a safe light source!"
"Exactly." He beamed; crossing his arms pleased with his pupil.
"I never thought of the practical applications this could have... I just wanted to do something to make up for the other day. I couldn't sleep the other night; so I went for a midnight stroll and it reminded me of when we used to go hunt ingredients by moonlight." She smiled at him; clasping her hands up in front of her chest now. "You remember, right? We always had the best adventures!" She sighed remembering a particular night they had spent gathering rare ingredients and running from wolves."That's when it occurred to me what I wanted to do for you. My way of showing how much I appreciate you; as a teacher and dear friend."
Cedric smiled again. "May I say one thing then; as friend to friend – man to woman, not as sorcerer to princess..." He asked hesitantly.
"Of course silly."
"If I can be permitted to say... You look absolutely stunning. Even without the impressive use of magic, Sofia, you... well glow." he chuckled. "You've turned into an exquisite and brilliant young woman. And I couldn't be more proud of you; as your mentor and as your friend." That earned the sorcerer a large hug from the girl.
"Thank you Cedric. It means so much to me. I'm so glad you like it, too. Although," she said stepping back releasing him from her grasp. "I must say it's not practical for helping around the workshop." She frowned. "and as much as I looked forward to wearing to for you, I... Well after tonight's... unpleasant events, I'd rather just have it off. I keep looking down and seeing it and it just makes my skin crawl, thinking of him touching me..." Her voice trailed off looking down at the floor. "I tried not to let him ruin it for me, but I can't help it... All I wanted was for this dress to mean something for us, to be a happy reminder of the past and to look forward to the future, but now I want nothing but to get out of this thing."
A tear rolled down her cheek, glistening from the dim purple light. Cedric's heart felt broken. She had made and went to all the effort to enchant her gown just for him, now this... She worked so hard to impress me and make me happy... and if I would have just stayed at her party this wouldn't have happened, she would be happily dancing the night away and showing off her impressive magical skills to the entire kingdom. Why does she care about me so? Is it just her good nature or could it be, in finally blossoming into a woman, that she could care for me? Or am I only seeing what I want to see? Could she love me as much as I do her? Or am I just playing the fool still? Cedric shoved his thoughts to the back of his mind.
"Stay put." He commanded and quickly left the workshop, descending the stairs behind the curtain, to enter his bedchamber. Sofia wiped away her tears and did as she was told. She waited patiently for him to return, staring into the darkness towards the stairs. He finally came back and carried something in his arms. "Here." He said handing the bundle to her.
"What's this?" She asked looking the bundle over the best she could in the dim light. Cedric flicked his wand and the candles were lit again. He guided her towards the closet.
"I used some old clothes to conjure you a more..." He paused a moment thinking how he wanted to word his statement. "workshop worthy dress. As much as I am enjoying seeing you in that magnificent gown, I need your help to finish this potion. And your comfort is much more important than anything else. Change." He said pushing her into the closet. He turned on heel and deftly made his way over to investigate this potions before she could utter a word. Sofia shrugged and closed the door. She slipped off her heels and placed them in the corner before turning her attention to the mini corset on her lower back. Oh, I forgot how hard this was to get into... maybe I can unlace it on my own... she thought to herself pulling at the ribbon. This went on for a few minutes before she groaned and sat on the floor in defeat. Left alone, her thoughts her mind began to race. Nothing went as planned; I inadvertently put Cedric in danger; I have to deal with Hugo and his father tomorrow. She could still feel his hands running over her body, she could still feel his breath on her neck, and how helpless she felt under him. Again her tears began to flow and she sobbed quietly. She began to claw at the corset, her fingers trying to pry it open.
"Sofia?" She heard Cedric's voice just beyond the door. She rubbed away her tears and tried to regain control. But her breath caught in her chest and she sobbed again. "Sofia, are you decent?"
"Y-yes."she choked out; wiping her eyes of tears. Cedric pulled back the door to find the girl in the floor again.
"Surely the dress I conjured you isn't that atrocious..." He quipped kneeling beside her. That earned him a giggled from Sofia. She looked over at him and smiled at him solemnly.
"It's not that silly." She managed to get out fighting the overwhelming urge to cry. "I just want this off so bad but I can't do it on my own. They laced me in too tight to undo myself." She sighed. "Everytime I look down I see his hands-"
"Merlins mushrooms Sofia." He interjected. He closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. He opened his eyes and looked on her with a kindness in his eyes only a man in love could procure. He murmured a spell and flicked his wand in the air. The entry door locked shut with a loud clink."Turn."
"Well you want out of it don't you? I'll unlace you enough for you to slip out on your own."
"But what if-"
"Sometimes being a sorcerer comes in handy, don't you agree?" He brandished his wand in the air. "I enchanted the door. No one will be able to get in until I dissipate the spell." She nodded and smiled softly at him. "Now let's get you out of this thing shall we?" She turned her back to him and swept her hair over her shoulder out of his way. He drew in a sharp breath, closed his eyes to gather himself and exhaled deeply. Cedric knew his face must have been beet red as he reached down to unlace her, but he shoved the thought away and focused on the task at hand. Sofia sat there patiently while he tried to figure out how to correctly undo the ribbon. He grunted with frustration as he almost knotted it by accident. Sofia twisted her free hand behind her and helped guide his fingers to properly unlace her; their fingertips tantalizingly, dancing over one another. His fingers softly caressed her bare skin as he loosened her corset. For him it was a very intimate moment and he almost lost himself in his own thoughts. He blinked and shook his head, clearing his mind, and tried to focus again on the intricate lacework. "There!" he exclaimed as he completed his work. He let his fingertips run up her back as he stood up. The feeling of her soft skin mingling with his was exhilarating. She held the front of her dress to her breast and stood up as well.
"Thank you Cedric!" She grinned at him. He nodded, and ran his eyes over her one last time before turning and shutting the door behind him. Other than Hugo no other man has 'touched' me... and it repulses me to think of it... but yet I didn't mind Cedric's touch, although it very different... his touch was so gentle and gave me chills instantly. I imagine that's how you're supposed to feel instead... she let the dress fall to the floor and kicked it to the corner. She felt free, she pushed the thoughts of Hugo away and let the feeling of Cedric's gentle grazes overwhelm her. She slipped the dress he had made her on and looked down at herself. It was a cute little tea length dress made from one of his purple robes, had three-quarter length sleeves, and had a cloth halter, underbust corset that laced up the front with a simple ribbon.
She smiled happily. He knew what she liked and what suited her. Something as simple as this makes me so happy. I'm truly happiest when I'm with Cedric. She thought as she slipped her shoes back on. I think at times he knows me better than I know myself. She sighed content. Do I just feel this way because he saved me from Hugo? Or have I always felt this way and just not noticed? Could he maybe, feel the same? She thought as she gathered up her gown, opened the door and re-entered the workshop. She tossed the gown onto a chair in the corner and gave a little twirl in front of him. "This is much better, thank you Cedric." She said a grin on her face and her cheeks blushed.
I'd sacrifice anything, come what might, for the sake of having you near. He mused.
~~If you hadn't noticed, which the younger audience probably didn't, the title of each chapter is a reference to a song. Each chapter is titled with a jazz song that I find to match each chapter. So I recommend to every reader, if you can, look up the song and listen to it while you read or right afterward. Happy reading.
He took in her dainty figure as she gave him a twirl, showing off how well the dress he conjured fit her curves. I must be mad; feeling this way and thinking these thoughts. She's gone and cast a spell on me without a clue. Here I insisted, but days ago, to keep her at arms length... now I've gone and crossed the line, most definitely. And after all she's been through tonight, she doesn't mind being near to me at all.
"Now for those components you needed!" She said racing back to the storeroom.
Just tonight. I'll let her in; comfort and console her when she needs it tonight... and tomorrow we shall go back to how things were. I don't have it in me to turn her away tonight. No one can walk in on us with the door enchanted, and if anyone comes looking for her, I'll just transport her to her room before opening the door. That's not too bad, if it comes to it, quite easy to do without anyone knowing. ...I hope come tomorrow she's willing to keep her distance again... He let out a soft sigh; his heart and mind continuing the internal conflict. It doesn't matter how I feel, or what I do. She's the Princess and I'll only ever be a bumbling sorcerer. Best to just go with the flow tonight and not worry about it until tomorrow. He turned his attention to his potions and pushed his thoughts and feelings away. Enjoy it while you can, because it can never be. A inner voice echoed in his mind while he stirred the potion on his desk. Little did he realize a forlorn look cast across his face as he stared into the boiling liquid. He rested his chin on his hand and slumped over his desk, leaning on his elbow for support. He tried his best to focus on the potion before him, but his mood had shifted.
"Here we go." Sofia said sitting down an armful the bottles and pouches onto his desk. He looked over at her slowly, as if coming out of a daze."Now what?" She said planting her hands on her hips. "What is all of this for? It's not something I've seen you do before... I don't think," she giggled."is it?
"I-uh-that is-no." He managed to get out, his brain failing to keep up with the conversation. He shook his head as if to shake the daze from his mind. "No, it's a powerful sleeping draught and an stamina restorative- for King Magnus. It seems the healing draught worked- until he decided to parade around too soon and took ill again. So this time, he'll sleep until he's completely well, then they can give him the stamina elixir and hell be good as new. I hope so anyway, the man is causing me a lot of sleepless nights of late." Cedric said rubbing his eyes with his thumb and forefinger bringing them together to knead the bridge of his nose
Sofia shook her auburn locks back and forth. "So what do you want me to do?"
"Uh-" he paused trying to think. Sofia tilted her head to the side and smiled softly at him.
"You weren't kidding about sleepless nights, you must be tired if you of all people have to stop and think about a potion." He raised an eyebrow at her. "Why don't you let me finish it while you get some sleep."
"What! Don't be silly Sofia."
"Why is that silly? You obviously need your rest, and there's no way I'll be able to sleep tonight; so it only makes sense for me to finish it while you sleep." She said practically forcing him up from his chair and towards his bedchamber.
"Have you lost your mind woman?" He yelled digging his heels into the stone coming to a halt.
He stepped out of her grasp and straightened his robes. Frustrated he ran a hand through his hair and sighed. Sofia admired him from where she stood. She had never paid attention before but the thought occurred to her that she found him rather handsome, particularly his signature two toned hair.
"As tired as I am, Sofia, I don't think going to bed whilst you're here is the best idea."
"Oh." She nodded coming to the realization of what he meant. "But the spell... You locked the door, right? If no one can barge in then that gives me enough time to wake you up to transport me to my room, that is if someone were to come."
Merlin's Mushrooms, her thought process is the same as mine. I was hoping she wouldn't realize how to take advantage of it...
"Come on Mr. Cedric, just a nap then? Please? You need to rest." She pleaded with him. He rolled his eyes and gave in, he was exhausted but he hated to leave her alone to her own devices after the night she had.
"Alright, then; an hour no more, no less." She nodded and pushed him towards his bedchamber. "Hold on, I've got to get you the recipe Girl." He chided her turning around and heading towards the bookshelf.
"Oh, oops." She laughed "Sorry, Mr. Cedric."
Back to 'Mister' Cedric again. I was rather enjoying just 'Cedric' for once. Ah, well I knew it wouldn't last. I've already resigned myself to the fact it can never be. Tonight was just a fluke. Her affinity, though, was pleasant while it lasted. "Here it is." He tossed the book onto his desk, and jabbed his finger at it as he spoke. "Follow it to a T, do NOT deviate in the slightest."
"Yes, of course Mr. Cedric. Now off to bed with you."
He rolled his eyes. "You sound like Mummy." Sofia laughed heartedly.
"If that was the case it would be 'Now off to bed with you, Ceddykins.'" Sofia teased smirking at him.
Cedric glowered at her. "I know you, don't be getting any ideas -"
"Or what Ceddykins?" She teased again, her hands on her hips defiantly. Cedric stood there in shock, mouth agape. "I think Ms. Winnefred would like my impersonation of her, don't you? I would even venture to say she wouldn't mind letting me borrow her endearing moniker for you, Ceddykins." She said giving him sly smile and a little wink.
"Why you little-" he began as he approached her, wagging his finger at her like a parent to a child.
"Now, now you said you would get some rest, Ceddykins." She interjected playfully. He now towered over her as she was leaned up against the desk. How easily she puts me into compromising positions. He thought as she giggled. But as she pointed out we have a security measure now.
"Laugh while you can Princess, you'll regret this." He threatened, looming over her.
"Oh will I Ceddykins?"
"That's it." He declared. Before he realized what he was doing he grabbed her up by the waist and planted her on the table. Sofia let out a startled gasp. "Time to teach you a lesson." He pulled out his wand and gave it a little wave in the air, and the little pot and burner were moved to the windowsill. Sofia furrowed her brow with confusion. Cedric shoved his wand back into his robes and turned his attention back to the princess. Then he began to tickle her sides.
"Ahh! Cedric, I'm sorry." She choked out between laughs as she tried to shove his hands away. She giggled as he worked his fingers across her body finding her most ticklish spots.
"Oh, really? Why do I not believe you then?" He smirked, continuing his tickle attack. She laughed and fell back onto the table, clutching her sides trying to shield herself from him.
"Cedric!" She laughed as he found a clear spot for his knee to rest on the desk. He lumbered over her ignoring the nagging thoughts his mind produced. She was happy and having fun, compromising situation or not, and tonight that's all he cared about. "Cedric! You win!" She giggled, tears glistening off her eyelashes. She looked so beautiful in that moment, her light skin flushed, her perfect smile, her petite figure wrapped in, what used to be his deep plum robes. He wanted nothing more in life than to take her for his then and there. But he knew it wasn't the right time, if ever a time were to come for that. He sighed and absent mindedly rested his hands on her hips.
"Alright, I think you learned your lesson."
"Oh, is that what you think Ceddykins?" She said through labored breaths. He was shocked. She must have been enjoying her time with him to keep egging him on this bad.
"Why you little minx." And again the tickling commenced. He grabbed her dainty wrists into one hand and raised them above her head so he had clear access to her ticklish zone. She sucked in a sharp breath and fear flashed across her face. Poseidon's pumpkins, this is how that Prince had her pinned against that tree. He thought in then he saw her expression change, she smiled up at him, and that was all he needed. He went ahead and tickled her midsection, making her roll with laughter. It warmed his heart to hear her sweet voice fill his tower. He then reached across her and picked up a feather quill.
"Oh, no, not that!" She squeaked out. He smirked down at her and began to run the feather across her jawline and neck. "Ahaha! Okay, okay!" She yelled squirming beneath him. He gave the feather wider sweeps and let it run across her chest up to her collarbone and neck, delighting in her laughter. His eyes trailed over her body, taking in the exquisite sight of her bosoms rising and falling with her laughter, shivering from the feather attack. "I give! I give!"
He let go of her wrists and stopped tickling her. Looking down on her with tender eyes he thought If only she cared for me as I do her... If only I could freely tell her. Oh the things I'd like to tell her; to do to her sweet body and mind. He took in a deep breath, trying to control himself and pushed his naughty thoughts away. I've lost my mind, what in Merlin's name is wrong with me?
"I've learned my lesson!" She giggled snapping him back to reality.
"Positive?" He questioned, threatening her with the feather again. She nodded her head trying to catch her breath. "Good." He slid his knee off the table, and offered her his hand, helping her sit upright.
"I still think Ms. Winnefred" she said through labored breaths "wouldn't mind me borrowing your pet name... every once in a while." She teased, giving him a sly little wink. He chuckled, shaking his head at her his bangs falling in his face. He peered tenderly, with his soulful brown eyes, through the silver strands at her. The corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly as she reached her hand out to tuck his bangs out of the way. His breath stilled at her closeness, sitting upright her legs were now straddling his hips. His heart beat in his chest as if it would burst right out of his ribcage. He closed his eyes in ecstasy and at the same time, began to internally prepare himself to pry himself away from her. Meanwhile, she smiled at him and wrapped him in an embrace. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and she buried her head in his neck. "Thank you Cedric, I needed that." He felt her breath on his skin, warm and sticky, her lips just barely brushing against his neck as she spoke. It gave him chills. He fought to suppress his urges and hugged her back, his arms wrapping around her waist.
"Thank you, Sofia. No one can make me smile like you can. And I suppose if it pleases you, you can call me Ceddykins-" he pulled away to face her. "-but only sparingly and only just when it's the two of us."
"Don't make me change my mind." He threatened taking his opportunity to slide away from her.
"Alright, Ceddykins." She beamed at him.
He sighed and smiled back at her. She had him wrapped around her finger, and he let her. "Alright, wake me in an hour. I'll leave you to the brewing, my Apprentice." He advised her running his hand up his neck and through his hair.
Those fingers in my hair, that sly come-hither stare that strips my conscience bare; It's witchcraft. And I've got no defense for it, the heat is too intense for it; what good would common sense for it do? 'cause it's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft, and although I know it's strictly taboo; when you arouse the need in me my heart says "Yes, indeed" in me"Proceed with what you're leadin' me to." It's such an ancient pitch, but one I wouldn't switch 'cause there's no nicer witch than you. He thought as he turned walked into his bedchamber, a dreamy expression on his face.
~I don't own the song or lyrics to Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra -but I felt it was perfect for this chapter.
Chapter 6: The Nearness of You
THE NEARNESS OF YOU
Sofia worked on the potions over the next hour, adding ingredients and stirring when the recipe called for it. She had almost forgotten the terror that occurred earlier in the night. Cedric had managed to ease her mind, and she now saw him in a new light. His normal bitterness had melted away, which was a very rare occurrence indeed, and she saw a tenderness in him that she hadn't seen often before. He had let the walls down and let her in; something she thought maybe only his mother could do. He had put himself at risk to aid her, then comfort her, when only days before had set up clear boundaries for them. The majority of her thoughts, for the hour, were reflective of Cedric in this new light.
I guess it's been close to an hour, I better wake him before he gets angry. She quietly made her way down the spiral staircase, into his bedchamber. It was place she had really never seen, so she paused a moment allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She looked around the room; it was very Cedric indeed. She smiled to herself. The room was simplistic, excluding the numerous bookshelves and random piles of books strewn about. She tiptoed over to his bed.
Awww, he was so tired he didn't even take his shoes off. It looks like he just tossed off his robe, laid down and passed out. Poor Cedric. She thought looking him over in the moonlight. He looks so peaceful, I can't wake him up yet, I'll let him sleep until I get the potions are done, I think they only have another hour or so left anyway. She gently reached down and slid his bangs from his face. He does look rather handsome, the way the moonlight reflects off his bangs... she shook her head as if to clear the thoughts from her mind, and stealthily made her exit. She paused a moment at the curtain, to glance back over her shoulder at the sleeping man, and smiled at him. Now back to work.
She worked into the wee hours of the morning to complete the potions and clean up the workshop. She hoped that he would be happy to wake up to her work. She walked over to the window and looked outside, it was still dark but the sunrise wouldn't be too far off. I better wake him up now that I'm done. Again she stole her way into his room and eased beside his bed. He was snoring softly, and it made her smile once more. She admired his form as he slept, and thought of how easily he had lifted her up and onto the desk. His scrawny structure was deceiving, he was strong for his size. Suddenly Sofia felt her face flush and her chest grow tight. Were these sudden feelings ones that people associated with love? Or was it her lack of sleep, as well, that made her mind and body act so strangely. She sat down on the floor beside his bed and laid her head on the edge. Just a few minutes, that's all I need, to collect myself. She thought as her eyelids fluttered and she drifted off to sleep.
Cedric stirred from his slumber and stretched out fully. Oh, how much better he felt already. He turned his head to look out the window and blinked a few times. Daylight? Daylight! Merlins Mushrooms. He thought sitting straight up in bed, ready to bound out of the room and give that girl a piece of his mind.
Huh? What was that? He looked around the room and did a double take. He raised his eyebrow and shook his head. Poseidon's pumpkins, what on earth is she doing in my bedchambers?
Wait, was that my name...she's dreaming about me?
Sofia mumbled Cedric's name more clearly then suddenly clutched the sheet beneath her with a death grip. Her face contorted as if in pain. "No...off...stop...Hu...go." Her breathing became labored. She's having a night terror; reliving the things that no good price did to her. "Ple...ase.." Her body shifted slightly on the edge of the reached out to wake her. "Ced...ric..."He knew it wasn't right, she was hurting, but it pleased him to hear her say his name in her sleep.
He leaned down toward her and gently shook her shoulder. "Sofia... Sofia wake up." Startled she sat up, knocking his hand off her shoulder in the process and her eyes darted around the room. Her breaths came in short, strained gasps. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes. "Sofia, it's okay. Look at me." He said softly, gently turning her head to face him. Her breathing slowed as the realization of where she was came over her. "You were having a nightmare. You're okay, you're safe." He ran his hand through her disheveled hair.
Sofia blinked a few times staring into his warm brown eyes, then launched herself at him, knocking them both back onto the bed. She held him close, wanting to melt into him, wanting the pain and memories from the previous night to disappear. She cried softly into his chest, digging her fingers into his vest. He laid there confused and stiff with shock. Her hair brushed his neck, and wafted the sweet smell of lilac and berries over him.
He relaxed instantly as the aroma overtook his senses, and wrapped his arms around her, patting her back softly. "I-It'll be alright, D-Dear. It'll just t-take some time." He took in a deep breath and cradled her head to his chest. "Meanwhile, I'll do my best to help." He declared stroking her hair. He felt her breathing slow and her arms loosen from around his neck. He stared up at the ceiling, trying to focus on controlling himself. He was sure she could feel his heart pounding and willed himself to calm its beat. She pushed herself up onto her elbows so that her face hovered above him. Slowly they made eye contact, gazing tenderly at one another.
She studied his face, and saw the years had barely aged him at all. Suddenly it occurred to her that didn't care if they were separated in age, or status; she knew she was falling in love with him. Her mother was a peasant and still married the King; why couldn't she marry who she wanted then? She didn't have royal blood to pass on, why should it matter who she chose to spend her life with? Would it be allowed? She felt in her heart that he must feel the same way; she looked back on the years and saw how their friendship had blossom into best of friends. Would he see it the same way though? He was almost twice her age, would he ever see her for more than a child? He was so gentle with her over the last few hours, so tender and caring, surely that signified that he might possibly care for her more than he should. She made up her mind, she would find out. She wouldn't outright ask him, for fear of ruining the relationship they did have, but slowly she would test the waters and see how he truly felt about her.
She leaned down and gently planted a kiss on his forehead, and returned her head to his chest. "Thank you, Cedric. I couldn't ask for anyone better to be by my side." Cedric's heart skipped a beat as her lips grazed his forehead. Again he felt as if it would burst out of his chest. She laid there in his arms content for what seemed like eternity. Both of them fighting the impulse to test the waters then and there.
"I... I'm glad you feel that way Princess." He finally uttered no more than a whisper. She smiled and held him tighter. "And as much as I'd enjoy staying in bed all day, I have a potion to check on since somebody didn't wake me up..."
"Oops." She said lifting herself up to see his face.
"And don't you think your family might be missing you at the moment? It's morning now." He said pointing out the window.
"Merlin's mushrooms!" She said sitting upright, straddling him, looking out at the morning sky. She's picked up my euphemisms. He thought happily, the corners of his mouth turning up. "I only meant to rest my eyes a few minutes..."
"You? What happened to waking me up after an hour? You let me sleep all night. Now I'll have to redo the potions again." He said running his hands over his face in frustration.
"Oh, no you won't. I finished those and had time to clean up." She said sliding off of him, straightening out her dress. She held out her hand and helped him off the bed. "I came in to wake you... but you were sleeping so well... I couldn't bring myself to wake you just then." She said watching him stretch. "So I finished everything on my own, then came in to get you. I guess I sat down and just dozed off..." He raised an eyebrow at her as he straightened out his clothes. He didn't bother putting on his robe and Sofia thought how attractive he looked when he wasn't drowned in his wizard wear.
"Alright, let's check your work before I send you off." he said leading her out of his bedchamber. He pulled back the curtain and stood there in shock. "You weren't kidding when you said you cleaned up..." He said looking around the room with wide eyes.
She stood there blushing. "Well, I wanted to do something nice for you, I know it's not much but..."
"Sofia..." He let out a soft sigh as he turned to her. "You don't have to do anything for me... but nonetheless thank you. It certainly needed a good clean. I suppose without my apprentice to help, things do get pretty cluttered up." She giggled and shook her head. He has no idea how bad it was.
"I bottled the potions and left them on your desk."
He nodded and made his way over to examine them. He held them up to the light, checking their color; he uncorked them both and wafted them under his nose; and he gave them a slight swirl in their vials to inspect their viscosity. "Well, they seem to be alright."
"Just alright?" She said a disappointed look on her face. He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Well, no... they're more than alright. I'd venture to say they're perfect."
"Really?" She beamed.
"As they should be, you are my apprentice after all." He replied with a smirk. It was devilishly handsome she thought. "Alright, enough chit-chat, I best get you back before they wonder where you are. Ready?"
"Umm, no wait, I have to get my gown. You don't want someone coming in and seeing it laying around, do you?" She teased grabbing up the bundle from the chair.
"You wicked, wicked girl." He said scowling at her. She snickered as she passed by him.
"I'm ready." She said planting herself in front of him.
"Remember you might feel slightly sick for a few minutes, try not to move around until you regain your balance."
She nodded. "Right. I'll see you later?" She dared to ask. His eyes softened, he glanced away for a moment. He waved his wand in the air and began to fade from her view.
"Invariably, Princess." echoed as she reappeared in her own bedchamber. She closed her eyes and took a moment like he suggested to regain her equilibrium. She then tossed the gown onto her bed and stood in front of the vanity. She smiled; his words repeating in her ear.
Chapter 7: The Very Thought of You
THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU
Sofia poured the washbasin half full and splashed her face with the refreshing cool water. She sat down at her vanity and began brushing the curls out of her hair. She looked at herself in the mirror; she could see bags under her eyes and the whites of her eyes were faintly red from lack of sleep and her bouts of crying. It reminded her of what the day would have in store for her. She'd much prefer to go back to Cedric's tower than have to explain to her father what happened with Hugo.
There was a rapping on her door accompanied with the familiar voice of Baileywick. "Princess Sofia, breakfast will be served shortly."
She glanced at herself in the mirror and shrugged. Well this is as good as it's going to get today. She opened the door with a forced smile. "Hi, Baileywick, I was just about to make my way there. Would you like to accompany me?"
"Thank you Princess but I have some business to take care of."
"Oh, alright, see you later then." She said waving bye. She made her way to the dining hall, dreading how breakfast was going to go over. It didn't occur to her until now if anyone else knew what happened. Would the twins know? She sighed with frustration. They were years ahead when it came to being intimate. Both, James and Amber, had secretly been promiscuous with other royals the majority of their teenage years. James chased after Clio for a while, then moved on to Maya, then Zooey, now though he was courting Hildegard as crown prince. Amber had been involved with Zandar, then Hugo for a while, last Sofia knew Amber was courting Hugo's older brother Axel. Even Vivian and Desmond had fooled around some, although the two were to be wed in the not-so-distant future. She felt humiliated at the thought of her siblings knowing.
Reluctantly she entered the hall to accompany her family for breakfast.
"Oh, Sofia I was wondering if you would make it to breakfast or not! That was quite a party wasn't it everyone? I thought maybe you would sleep in after last night." Amber prattled on as Sofia took her seat. She felt her cheeks flush and tried to avoid making eye contact with anyone. "I do admit I was rather disappointed when Axel had to leave though, I still don't understand what got his father in such a tizzy that they all had to leave."
Sofia was overcome with relief; Amber didn't know then, thank goodness. She glanced up at her mother and father. She could tell they were uncomfortable with Amber's choice of conversation.
"But there were a lot of cute new Princes to meet, wasn't there Sofia. You disappeared so early, I figured you must have found one of them very interesting and swept him off to keep him to yourself." Amber tittered.
"Oh, Amber." Sofia forced a laugh. "it was a very nice party, and I have you to thank for it." She forced herself to say, which wasn't really a lie, it was a very extravagant ball. "I just retired to my room early; too many people and too much dancing gave me a headache. I've not really been to such parties while I was gone. It'll take me a while to get used to things again."
"How are you feeling now Dear?" Miranda asked with worried eyes.
"I'm a lot better, but I'm still rather tired. I think I might just skip breakfast, if everyone doesn't mind, and go lay back down for a bit."
"Go right ahead, Sofia." Roland told her, he had barely touched his breakfast himself.
"Thanks Dad, if anyone needs me I'll be in my room." She stated making eye contact with her father, so he understood that she was ready to talk and get things over with. She stood up and curtsied slightly "Excuse me."
"Sofia, what on earth are you wearing?" Amber interjected, an appalled look on her face.
"Umm, why what's wrong with it?" Sofia looked down at herself, she still had on the purple dress Cedric had made for her. She felt warm and fuzzy all over, thinking that it was made from his robes. Come to think of it, it vaguely smelled of him; like musty books, various herbs, and smoke.
"What's wrong with it? Oh Sofia, after that gorgeous gown you wore last night I thought finally you had developed a taste for fashion. Seems I was wrong though." The girl pouted.
"I happen to really like this dress, Amber." Sofia declared with a bit of attitude towards her sister. Amber scoffed and rolled her eyes.
"It looks fine, Sofia, it must be from your travels, right?" Miranda intervened.
"Uh... yeah." Sofia nodded. "I'll see you all later." She made a quick exit, not caring to look back at Amber.
Sofia found herself standing outside her bedroom before she knew it. Her thoughts had been preoccupied by Amber's words and her own reaction. She supposed that she must have true feelings for Cedric if something as simple as that upset her so much. She sighed as she entered her bedchambers and knew she had to distract herself from her thoughts of Cedric for the time-being. She sat down at her desk, pulled out a pad of monogramed paper, slid the inkwell closer and began to pen her account of the altercation. She took her time; trying to keep her tears from falling on the paper. She paused when recounting Cedric's arrival; vividly remembering the feeling of looking up to see Cedric there, his wand at Hugo's neck, his voice firm and steady. It gave her fuel to finish her work. If Cedric, of all people, could be that brave then she could pen down the account and draw up the truce papers as well.
She filled two pages with her account then pushed them to the side. She took in a deep breath and began to draw up an agreement with Hugo and King Garrick. She knew that either country couldn't afford to lose the partnership of the other. So she mustered up the skills she had learned during her time as ambassador to draft an agreement that the incident would be forgotten, if Hugo apologized and kept his distance from her for a short time. By the time that she had finished she heard a knock upon her door. Just in time.
She folded the agreement in half and sealed it magically with the Enchancian crest and then sealed her narrative with her own emblem. She opened the door to find her mother waiting for her.
"Your Father thought I should check on you before we had our meeting. How are you doing Sweetie?"
"I'm fine, for now, it helped to write everything down." She said flashing the documents to her mother.
"So you wrote down your side of things? And what's the other one?"
"I drew up a sort of treaty… in case King Garrick gets out of hand, I'm prepared."
Miranda smiled at her daughter. "I'm very proud of how you are handling the situation and yourself, Sofia. You're doing much better than I would be, that's for sure… You've grown a lot while away, and are putting what you learned to use as well. I know it must be hard for you to put your personal feelings aside to keep our allies strong, Dear. Your Father will be very proud of you…We're both so sorry you have to go through this though, Sweetie." She said hugging her daughter.
"I'll be fine, I have a great support system." Sofia beamed at her mother, doing her best to stay positive. "And I know that either countries can't afford to lose the other over something like this… Don't get me wrong, I want Hugo to see what he did was wrong, but I also know that the country is more important than an apology or punishment."
"Well said, Sweetheart."
"Is everyone else ready then? He'll be there won't he?" Sofia asked hesitantly. Miranda nodded a forlorn look cast upon her face. "Let's go then; I'm ready to get this part over with."
Sofia took in a deep breath as she entered the conference room. She channeled Cedric's strength from the night before, to make her way to her seat next to her father. She glanced around the room and saw Cedric standing off to the side of her father. She blushed slightly when they made eye contact, she could see the concern in his eyes and it gave her the comfort and support she needed; she felt a newfound connection with the Sorcerer. She laid her paperwork down before her and decided that if she were to survive this with her dignity she had to face Hugo. She sat up straight and made eye contact with the young man. He shrank back into his chair when his eyes met her icy blue gaze. Sofia was pleased with the reaction. Good, he realizes I'm not afraid of him and will not lie down for his nonsense. She broke her gaze with the Prince to eye his father, who sat opposite of Roland at the far end of the table, beside his son. Miranda took her seat across from Sofia and gave her daughter a supportive smile.
"We all know why we're here. We'll give each party a chance to tell their side if they wish. But I think we all know what really happened and can agree that Sofia is level minded enough to decide what should be done. Sofia, I've giving you the reins on this, proceed however you deem fit." Roland declared placing a supportive hand over hers. Garrick and Hugo crossed their arms and scoffed.
"Thank you Dad." She took in a deep breath and began. "I've written up my account of what occurred last night, although Hugo and I both know what really happened..." She said turning her eyes to the prince. "And if you're willing to apologize, it stays between the two of us... My other request is that you give me some space for the time being. We've been friends since childhood, and I don't want to loose that... I want what's best for both our countries, and I don't want anything rash to happen over something so... trivial really... If you agree to my terms this document entails just that, both of you sign it and we all will move on from this." She stated, sliding the paper towards the two men at the end of the table.
Garrick held Sofia's gaze a moment longer before turning to his son. Hugo looked from his father, to the paper, to Sofia, to Roland (or was it Cedric?) before returning his sight back to his father. He was seeming to contemplate her proposal. "Fine." He said leaning back in his chair.
"You're sure you don't want to defend yourself son?"
Hugo glanced over at Sofia once again, then Roland (or Cedric; Sofia couldn't tell) his eyes narrowing momentarily. "Yeah, whatever she wants. Give me a pen and we're out of here." He shrugged. Roland nodded and gave Sofia's hand a triumphant grip. A quill and inkpot appeared on the table in front of Hugo and Garrick. Sofia knew it was Cedric's doing, although he never moved, his arms crossed hiding his wand from sight. Both king and prince shot a dirty look in Cedric's direction; although again Sofia couldn't tell if it was at her father or her sorcerer.
NIGHT AND DAY
Sofia looked around the table one last time, her eyes meeting Cedric's soulful gaze. She felt the blood rush to her face and quickly turned her attention to her mother. Miranda gave Sofia a gentle nod dismissing the princess and the sorcerer from any further proceedings. Sofia nodded and curtsied; bidding the prince and his father goodbye, while Cedric quietly slipped away. Sofia shut the doors behind her, all the while feeling Hugo's eyes bore into her. She ignored the feeling, letting out a sigh of relief as she leaned back into the giant doors. She closed her eyes and realized how tired she really was.
"Good job Princess. You're quite the dignitary now."
Startled Sofia's eyes flew open, her hand absent-mindedly clutching her amulet. "Good grief Cedric, are you trying to give me a heart attack?" She watched as his eyes trailed down to see her fingers wrapped tightly around the amulet of Avalor. She saw the hurt in his face that her action caused; his eyes diverted to the floor between them, he clenched his teeth, and he gripped his wand tighter. "Cedric..." She sighed removing her hand from the jewel attempting to close the gap between them. Cedric put out his hand to stop her and stepped back from her slightly.
"You still don't trust me..." He said barely audible, bringing his eyes to meet hers, the pain she inflicted very evident in his eyes.
"Cedric... It's not like that. You know it." His eyes drifted to the jewel, then away again. "Cedric, it has nothing to do with you... I just... it's a habit. I don't even realize I do it half the time." She sighed, his eyes still avoided her. "After years of protecting the amulet's secrets from just about every being who crossed my path, it's just instinctual now to protect it when I'm startled." She slipped her hand around his cheek and turned his face to hers. "Cedric, I trust you more than anyone else I know." She clasped his hand in her free one and placed it over the amulet. "If this iswhat you really wanted, you would have taken it a long time ago..." She let go of his hand, allowing itto hover above her breasts, his fingertips resting on the sparkling jewel. "You love me too much to take it, anyway." His eyes narrowed, his brow furrowed and met her gaze. Come again? He thought. Did she just say what I thought she said? His lips parted to speak. Gently she placed her finger over his lips to still him. "I have no reason to ever doubt you." She finished peering up into his eyes.
Cedric felt his breath get caught in his throat, he was sure his cheeks were flushed. He exhaled softly, lowered his hand and nodded. Sofia smiled at him, sliding her hand from his cheek down to his chest. "I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions, Princess." He apologized wrapping his hand around hers.
"It's fine Cedric. Now, if you don't mind, I'd very much like a cup of chamomile tea while relaxing in your comfy chair. " She stated smoothing out the wrinkles in his vest. "Please, Ceddy?" She winked up at him. Cedric rolled his eyes and chuckled, offering her his arm. Sofia laced her arm with his and laid her head against his shoulder as they walked. "Thank you for always being there for me Cedric. If you hadn't been in there... I don't know if I could have done it, honestly."
Cedric tilted his head and rested it against hers. The moment was bittersweet; he adored her admiration for him, even though it stemmed from a painful event for her. He felt his heart breaking again. "What good would I be if I wasn't there for my favorite apprentice?"
She looked up at him, gave a giggle and said "I'm your only apprentice Cedric."
"Minor formality..." He brushed off, waving his hand in the air, letting his voice trail off before adding "Favorite Princess then?" He raised an eyebrow at her.
She gave him a smirk and sarcastically replied "I suppose that's better, considering you do know quite a few..." He patted her hand on his arm and laughed. They made their way through the stone halls, not a word passing between them, only the sound of their steps echoing off the stone. He noticed, as they walked to his tower, that she still wore the dress he had conjured for her the previous night. The corners of his mouth upturned ever so slightly.
It pleased him that she hadn't opted to change into one of her princess dresses. The frills and ruffles never really suited her. He thought looking her over from the corner of his eye as they neared his tower. Far too much natural beauty to be hidden in ridiculous ball gowns. Although, that dress last night... that was something else. Something about Sofia using magic to make that dress set a fire in his belly. His chest constricted as he remembered how the lavender glow emitted from her to fill the room, making her pale skin glisten in the darkness.
Absentmindedly he cleared his throat, mentally pushing down the arousal coming over him, prompting a curious look from Sofia. He pretended not to notice, preoccupying himself with finding the towers key in the deep folds of his robe. They ascended the stone stairs together, just as they had the previous night, Cedric internally beating himself up over his newfound feelings for the princess. Sofia dropped her hand from his arm and stepped to the side, allowing him to open the large wooden door to his workshop. He put the key in the lock and turned it; hearing the familiar "Clink" of welcoming he stood to the side and allowed Sofia to enter. He admired her form as she sauntered across the workshop.
"Would you like some tea as well?" She asked opening the door to the towers turret; which she had transformed, some years ago, into a study.
He quietly shut the door behind him, hung his robe on the coat rack, and paused for a moment before answering. "As long as you're not experimenting with it this time."
"What you don't like my teas?" She asked as she removed the porcelain teapot from the mantle.
"Well..." He said shrugging as he followed her into the study, lighting the fire with a flick of his wand.
"Hmm... Well, during my travels, I found some new teas and ingredients to try." She replied magically filling the pot with hot water. "I take it you don't want to be my guinea pig anymore?"
"Meaning?" She asked as she looked through the various teas and herbs in the shelving beside the fireplace.
"Depends on the face you make when you try it first." He teased, falling back into his red velvet armchair. Sofia shook her head and stuck her tongue out at him as she added the chamomile blend to the pot. "But, yes I'd like a cup please, Princess." He added stretching out in his chair. Even though he got a few hours of sleep last night he was still exhausted. He hoped to himself that Sofia didn't plan on staying long, so he could take a catnap. Sofia left the tea to brew and sat down on the floor beside him, her head and arms resting on the chair arm.
"I thought I said I wanted the chair this time..." She pouted up at him.
He sighed, just becoming comfortable. "There's more than one piece of furniture in here, why don't you sit on the chaise?"
"It's not the same." She said shaking her locks to and fro.
"Whatever do you mean it's not the same?" He yawned, closing his eyes trying to relax more. "It's the same set of furniture. It's just as comfy."
"Nope, not the same." She quipped. He opened one eye and raised an eyebrow at her. "I have my reasons for preferring the chair." She took a deep breath in through her nose. "It smells of musty old books, various herbs, and smoke." She ran her fingers along the velvet. "It reminds me of you."
He felt his cheeks flush and his chest constrict again. He closed his eyes and placed his hands behind his head. Trying to downplay his emotions Cedric sarcastically replied "So I smell old and of failure? Thank you for that Princess."
"Uh! Why would you say that?"
"Musty – old, smoke – failed potions. Easy enough connection."
"Cedric..." She sighed, standing up and looming over him, before turning to the tea on the mantle. "I really missed that smell while I was away..." She said while pouring the tea. Cedric opened his eyes and watched her as she spoke, feeling a tad guilty about turning her affectionate words into something unkind. "I'd get a whiff of some old manuscripts and instantly think of us sitting here studying or of you pouring through a potion book in the workshop... I went out to visit the villagers in a lot of towns and I'd smell the bonfires and remember you dutifully adding more wood to the coals under one of your potions... Or the fresh, crispness of harvest greens that smell like the potions closet...Isn't it funny how simple aromas can trigger such vivid memories?" She finished handing him his cup of tea and sitting down opposite him on the chaise. She pulled her knees up to her chest and pulled her dress down to cover her legs. She sipped on her tea, looking out the window, her thoughts elsewhere.
Cedric's face was still flushed from her sentimental and intimate words. She enjoys my scent? I smell like dirty old books and smoke... and she likes it? Is that what she's saying? It took Cedric a moment to find the words he wanted but instead he settled for something simple. "I missed you too Sofia." She smiled over at him with a serene look on her face. It prompted him to confess what he was thinking. "When the lilac and berries bloomed last spring, I thought of you. I must confess I even dried some in the workshop, so the scent would linger, and forever smell like you were here with me."
"Really?" She said peering over her tea cup at him. He gave her a nod before taking a drink of his tea to calm his nerves. He watched as she grinned behind her cup, then turn her head to the window again. He lost track of how long they sat there enveloped in silence, Sofia staring out the window the whole time.
"Next time I have to go away, it won't be for so long, could you... would you go with me?" She asked not taking her eyes away from the window.
"Princess..." He started, sitting his tea cup on the arm of his chair.
"I mean, it could be beneficial for the kingdom for you to see the magic of other regions, right?"
"I...well, yes it could... but your father... Sofia he'd never allow it."
She sighed, still not looking his way. "It's not fair."
"Life isn't fair, Princess." He replied taking the last sip of his tea.
"I've traveled the world and acted far beyond my years, so Dad says; if so, why can't I make my own decisions about who I want by my side..."
By her side, again with that phrase... Cedric sighed, rising from his chair he sat his cup and saucer down on the mantle. "People would talk you know, more than they already do." He shoved his hands into his pants pockets and looked out the window with her. "The royal sorcerer, who is almost twice your age I might add, accompanying Enchancia's youngest princess in her world travels... A man whom, people already think, she is far too close to as it is...Not to mention a man who recently..." He paused looking for the right word. "threatened... a young royal in front of a large crowd of dignitaries. This is the man you want to accompany you on your excursion? I think your Father would be irate at the mere thought of it." He finished turning to face her.
Crestfallen she gazed up at him, sitting her teacup on the end table.
"You would though, if you were allowed." She more or less stated.
"You already know the answer to that."
"Yes, Princess... If circumstances were different." He replied softly.
She turned her head away from him and wiped away the tears that had welled up on her lashes. Cedric stood there awkwardly not knowing what to do or say. He decided to sit beside her and wrap his arm around her. She turned and buried her head in his chest wrapping him in a hug. "My place is in the shadows Dear, you though, belong in the light; but that doesn't mean I won't be there for you. After all, you can't have light without casting a few shadows..." He said stroking her hair, running his fingers through her soft curls. "As surely as the sun will set, the moon will rise. You can't have one without the other... Right?" She nuzzled into his chest more, nodding her head in agreement. He fails to realize how romantic that sounds, or perhaps he does know... either way it feels so right to be in his arms. Minutes passed before Sofia pulled away enough to look up to his face. There was so much welling up inside her that she wanted to tell him, but she couldn't find the right words.
"Do you mind if I stay here and read for a while?" She asked lamely.
"I-uh, well I suppose if you want to. I do have some work to see to, though."
"I won't get in your way. I just want some time to myself in a comfy chair." she winked at him causing him to laugh softly.
"Alright then, I'll check in on you when I'm done, my Apprentice." He said rising and making his way towards the workshop. Sofia nodded and slid into his chair. She tucked her feet underneath her and magically summoned a book from the shelf. She didn't really want to read, she was exhausted, but she didn't want to leave Cedric's tower either. She sighed, sinking deeper into the chair, and before she could even open the book she had drifted off to sleep.
~Also I now have a tumblr, it is dedicated to Cedfia and fanfiction writing. I've posted the pictures I've drawn of my pairing for this story there, if you want to see https://berriestart-lilacsweet.tumblr.com/ and one for my witcher drabbles https://berriestart--lilacsweet.tumblr.com/
Chapter 9: My One and Only Love
MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE
Hours passed while Cedric brewed a few potions. Caught up in his thoughts, he hadn't realized the time; it was almost noon now, Sofia's family would be expecting her for lunch. He stretched and thought to himself I guess I can get a little nap out while she has lunch. She's been awful quiet, while I was working, I half expected her to come out wanting to help. He magically put away his cauldrons and entered the study. I wonder what she's reading that has her so intrigued... He stopped mid thought upon finding the princess sound asleep in his chair. A smile spread across his face. "At least one of us is getting caught up on sleep." He mumbled to himself, quietly walking over to her. He slid the unopened book from her hands and put it back on the shelf, then made his way down to his bedchambers.
He grabbed the heirloom quilt off of his bed and threw it over his shoulder as he ascended the stairs. Re-entering the study he gave his wand a flick and the fire was roaring again; he then proceeded to drape the quilt over the sleeping princess. She sighed contentedly and nuzzled into the quilt never waking from her slumber. Cedric smiled again then hesitantly leaned down and placed a kiss atop her head. I guess she was right; she smells of smoke and herbs as well...
He made his way back out to the workshop and looked around for something to occupy himself with. He had already given the potions for King Magnus to Baileywick before the meeting that morning, which meant his schedule was cleared and caught up with for once. He sat down at his desk and sighed. His gaze drifted to the closed window; it was a dreary day for early summer, but in light of the previous nights events, fitting he thought. He thoughts strayed as he stared out the window; remembering how elegant she had looked in her gown, recollecting how Sofia felt while she'd laid atop him that morning in his bed. His heart fluttered at the thought. He was shaken from his daydreams by a loud tapping against the window pane. Awoken from his trance, he saw Wormwood perched there waiting to be let into the tower.
Cedric smiled, glad his friend had safely returned from his trip to Hexley Hall. Cedric opened the window and offered his arm to the bird. Wormwood took his perch on Cedric's forearm and ruffled his feathers, flinging water droplets across the room.
"Of course it decided to drizzle on me halfway here." The raven muttered preening his feathers.
"I see that." Cedric replied dryly, wiping water from his face with his free hand. "At least that is all it did, though."
"Yes, very true, although if I had known it was going to rain I would have waited another day before returning."
"Well, in all honesty, I'm glad you didn't." Cedric said sitting back in his chair; allowing wormwood to hop off onto the, for the time being, tidy desktop. The raven eyed his master through his feathers, momentarily pausing his cleaning. "There's been... a bit of a... situation... occur while you were gone." Cedric said slowly trying to find the best words.
"What did you do now?" The familiar asked sarcastically, returning to his preening.
"Well, it has to do with the Princess." He sighed, resting his elbow on the desk.
"Stop beating around the bush and out with it already." Wormwood cawed in agitation.
"Shush, Wormy, you'll wake her!" Cedric said, waving his hands at the bird, glancing back over his shoulder making sure the Princess hadn't been awoken. "She fell asleep in the study..."
"Why would you let her sleep here? Send her to her own rooms and out of ours!" Wormwood said, ruffling his feathers at his master.
"Are you going to be quiet and let me tell you what happened, or do I have to shut that loud beak of yours for you?" Cedric threatened, jabbing his wand in Wormwoods direction.
"Testy today, aren't we?" He teased flying up to his perch. "Fine, now what did I miss?"
Cedric peeked over his shoulder once more, making sure Sofia wasn't there, then flung his wand down onto the desktop. "Oh, Wormy, you're not going to believe what happened. Where do I begin?" He ran his hand through his hair and sighed.
"Short and to the point please? I'm in no mood to listen to you prattle on today." Cedric shot the bird a glare, causing Wormwood to roll his eyes and mutter "Go on."
"Short and to the point, is it? Fine. That damned prince, Hugo, forced himself on the princess last night and I just happened to come across them and stop him." Wormwood's beak dropped in shock. "Not before the rest of the Royals happened upon us though, and wouldn't you know that's the moment I happened to grow a spine?" Cedric almost laughed. "Standing in front of a dozen royals and guards, with my wand drawn and aimed at that sniveling little prince, I stood my ground; for the first time in my life, Wormy, I didn't back down." He sighed a tranquil look on his face. "With Sofia there clutching me so tight, her nails practically ripping holes into my robes, I protected her and in return she protected me against those royals. That damn boy and his father wanted me beheaded then and there! And even through her tears and pain... she and her mother defended my actions."
Wormwood tousled his feathers. "I always knew that one was a bad apple. And after all the nice things Sofia has done for him! What happened to the boy, Cedric? Please tell me they let you hex him."
Cedric chuckled. "Alas, I'm afraid not my friend. His father swept him and his brother up and out of the kingdom before I could pry myself out of Sofia's grasp." He held a finger up and shook it. "There's more to that though, there's a lot that happened actually." He sighed.
"Well, go on." The raven pressed, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Well... It took Queen Miranda and myself a moment after that, to get Sofia to let go of me. Her mother consoled the girl while she did the best she could, considering the state she was in, to explain what happened. After she had calmed down, she, rather diplomatically, dismissed her parents and told them they would deal with everything in the morning. She didn't want to ruin everyone's evening... Sofia through and through." He almost whispered, shaking his head. Wormwood fidgeted on his perch wanting to know more, waiting to hear Hugo's fate.
"We were alone at that point, and she lost all her composure. She threw herself into my arms and I held her while she cried." He sighed, recollecting how Sofia had flung herself against him after her parents had parted their company. "She needed me and I could tell... So we came back to the tower to finish those potions for Magnus." He exhaled and glanced over his shoulder before continuing. "And I...Wormy, I..."
"You what? You what?"
"Well," he swallowed "I... I started to see her in a new light after that point... It's complicated... The reason she was outside and was attacked by that... that vile man, was because she was looking for me... She made this gorgeous gown and enchanted it with a glow charm... she did it for Me Wormwood... and oh, you should have seen her Wormy! Never had I felt so proud... a-along with other, n-new feelings as well..."
"You have feelings for her? Well that's not anything new Cedric, I knew that."
"You... what? How could you... I didn't... I mean... I didn't realize it... until last night." Cedric choked out, his mind racing to connect the dots.
"Oh, everyone can see it except for you two. I've been waiting years for you to tell me you finally realize that you love the girl."
Cedric sat there, mouth agape, completely astonished at his friends words. He threw himself back into his chair blinking, trying to wrap his brain around the fact that he was oblivious that he had feelings for her before now.
"We can chat about that bit later, tell me what happened next?" The bird pressed, picking at Cedric's sleeve with his beak. Cedric pushed him away and took in a deep breath.
"Well... she tried to help me with the potions and... well... She wanted the damn dress off because it reminded her of him groping her, and it got in the way of her helping me as well ... So... So I... I helped her out of it." He said his cheeks flushing at the memory of her soft skin as he unlaced her.
"You undressed the Princess?" Wormwood blurted out rather loudly.
"Hush you stupid bird!" Cedric barked checking over his shoulder again. "And no I didn't undress her, I... I just helped her to unlaced it, is all... and I conjured her a new dress out of one of my old robes. Nothing inappropriate happened... then..."
"Well, you see... I was so tired Wormy, she insisted I get some rest, and she didn't want to go to sleep after what just happened to her... so I agreed to let her brew some potions while I took a power nap... but she got all sassy with me... and-and before I knew it I had her up on the tab-"
"What did you do Cedric?" The bird asked cutting him off mid word.
"Well, certainly not what you're thinking, you dirty animal." The raven ruffled his feathers again not taking his eyes off his master. "I just tickled her is all. She needed a laugh, and she seemed to enjoy it... She egged me on! Called me 'Ceddykins' Wormwood, 'Ceddykins'! She's even dropped the prefix and is calling me by my name! And-and she wanted me to be cheeky back, Wormy. And I obliged because she needed the distraction." Cedric said justifying his actions to his friend.
"Well, as long as the line wasn't crossed then... It wasn't was it?" The raven pressed on.
"I would like to think that you know me better than that."
"Well, yes I do, but I also know how impulsive the Princess can be."
"True, but no Wormwood I did not deflower her. The feeling and want was there though, I shan't deny that."
"Was that all that happened?"
"I left her to brew the potions for an hour while I caught a nap. I awoke to the sunshine spilling across the bed- and lo and behold there was Sofia; kneeling beside the bed, sleeping with her arms and head on the edge. Of course I was mad at first, it would have been my head for sure if someone found us like that... Anyways, she was having a nightmare and crying out in her sleep. So I woke her and the next thing I knew, she tackled me, crying and hugging me so tight I could barely breathe. I comforted her for a moment and honestly, I enjoyed lying there in bed with her..." He stared off into space for a moment, fondly recalling the mornings events. "I thought for a moment she was going to kiss me Wormy, but she tenderly pressed her lips on my forehead instead and thanked me for the umpteenth time. I told her we should teleport her to her room before anyone noticed she was gone and – of course she didn't notice – but she straddled me there in bed before telling me the potions were completed. It took every fiber of my being not to act on my feelings Wormwood, but I succeeded. I sent her to her rooms, then shortly later we had our meeting with that dreadful prince and his buffoon of a father. Sofia took the helm and she surprised us all. She handled the entire thing with political ease and did, in reality, what was best for both kingdoms. She let the dirtbag off the hook; as long as he apologized and gave her room for a while."
"Of course she would give him a second chance..." Wormwood said rolling his eyes and tapping his forehead with the tips of his feathers, like fingers.
"Yes, only Sofia could be so kind after being assaulted." Cedric replied rubbing the bridge of his nose and temples with both hands. "Although, I really do think, she did it as a political move. Seems like she really did learn a lot about politics while she was away."
"Apparently so, she always was a keen girl. I assume she followed you back here after said meeting?"
"Yes, we had some tea and another chat. She asked me to go away with her the next time she leaves..." Cedric let his words trail off, looking down at his hands in his lap.
"What a preposterous notion."
"I would, though, Wormy, if I only could."
"Yes, I know, you'd follow her to the end of the world."
Cedric only nodded, disheartened from where the conversation had led. His thoughts were disturbed by a loud rapping at his workshop door. He moaned and rose to answer it.
"What is it now?" He demanded before seeing who was there. Before him stood the Queen, a distracted look on her face. "Oh, y-your majesty, I-I..."
"Is Sofia here Cedric? I have something for her..." Her words trailed off, and her gaze fell to an envelope in her hands.
"Y-yes she is..." Miranda stepped into the workshop and glanced around looking for her daughter. "S-she followed me b-back after the meeting... She fell asleep in my study, your majesty. I couldn't bring myself to wake her..."
"Oh, I see... I don't want to wake her either, can you give this to her when she wakes up Cedric?" She asked handing him the letter. "I'm assuming it's a written apology from Hugo, I did want to be there when she opened it... but I'm sure she'll be fine with you here, instead."
Cedric took the enveloped and nodded. "Of course your Majesty."
"Thank you Cedric, for everything... You're what she needs right now, and I trust you... She needs to deal with this in her own way, and I'm glad you're a good enough man to be there for her." She said smiling at the sorcerer before leaving the tower.
"Of course, Milady." Cedric muttered, running the Queen's words over and over through his mind, confused by her monologue. Did... she just... approve of me? He thought, turning around to look into the study at his sleeping princess.
Chapter 10: Everybody Love Somebody
EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY
Cedric looked down at the envelope in his hands and shook his head. He had the notion to rip it to shreds then and there. I can't believe the pure audacity of that prince to even think about Sofia, let alone contact her. He thought running his fingers over the envelope's red seal. This is just another tactic for him to hurt her, that bastard. Cedric felt the anger rise up within him; never in his life had he hated someone so much. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, doing his best to calm himself.
"Are you really going to give that to the Princess?" Wormwood asked flying over and landing on Cedric's shoulder.
"I have to Wormwood." He sighed running a his hand through his hair in frustration. "As much as I'd like to destroy it and it's author, I cannot. Furthermore, Sofia would never forgive me for keeping it from her. It's her decision to open it or not. I cannot protect her from everything, as much as I would like, she has to be allowed to find her own resolve."
"Damn your newfound morals. The old Cedric would have set it ablaze already." The raven pouted flying back to his perch.
"Yes, well, you're right the old me would have without a second thought, but I'm not the same man I used to be Wormwood. The princess has changed a lot of things around here, myself included." He sighed, tossing the letter down on his desk as he collapsed into his chair. He leaned on his elbow and held his chin in thought for a few minutes. After a while in deep thought he stood up and stated "I suppose I ought to wake her up now... Get this over with."
"Have fun with that. I'm going to go find some lunch." Wormwood scoffed, flying off before Cedric could utter a word.
"Blasted raven! What a good friend you turned out to be, you gossipmonger!" He yelled out the window, shaking his fist at the raven as he flew away. "Damn bird." He muttered pulling himself back into the tower, straightening his shirt and vest. He peeked over his shoulder realizing he had just yelled loud enough to wake the princess. He didn't see or hear her stirring, so he gathered the letter off of his desk and quietly made his way into the study. He looked down on the sleeping girl and smiled unknowingly.
He tossed the envelope onto the end-table and kneeled down in front of the chair. Hesitantly he reached up and gently ran his fingers through her hair, tucking a stray strand behind her ear. How I wish I didn't have to hide these feelings from her... How I'd love to touch her this way while she was awake... to have her want my caresses, even. He thought to himself as he traced his fingertips over her earlobe down to the hollow of her neck, barely touching her skin.
Sofia watched through her lush lashes as Cedric caressed her gently; the man entranced and unaware that she was actually awake. His eyes found the amulet of avalor resting in its rightful place, but his fingers didn't make contact with the gem, instead they slowly traced up her clavicle to her shoulder. She heard a soft sigh as Cedric let his hand fall away from her as he began to rise to his feet.
Wanting to take advantage of the moment Sofia fluttered her eyes open, made sure to make eye contact with the man, and mumbled his name sleepily. He smiled softly and sunk back down to his knees so that he was level with her again. She stretched her limbs, drawing her feet out from under her and out past Cedric, only now noticing the quilt covering her. She ran her fingers over the soft cotton patches and smiled at him. "Your family quilt..." She mumbled studying the intricate patches on cover, her fingertips pausing on a beautiful block that looked like a sketch. It was black ink on a white background; featuring a picturesque scene from the perspective of someone looking skyward into gothic tree branches with a lone raven flying through the center. "This one... It's yours isn't it?" She asked looking up at him tenderly. He smiled back and nodded his head, his fingers grazing over hers as he ran them over the patch.
"However did you know?" He asked sarcastically meeting her gaze with soulful eyes.
"It's beautiful Cedric." She mumbled looking back down to the quilt, tracing the tree branches with her fingertips. "Did you draw it?"
He confirmed her thought with a simple "I did." She felt his eyes still on her and blushed slightly. She gently laced their fingers together over the patch.
"I didn't know you could draw like that. You truly are Cedric the Sensational!"
"You're the only one to have ever thought that Princess." He said diverting his attention to their interlaced fingers.
"Nonsense, you're the most ah-mazing sorcerer I know! This just proves my point even further. Makes me wonder what other talents you've kept hidden from me." She said giving him a coy wink. He gave her a soft smile in return.
"It's always been a hobby of mine since I was a lad." He explained, pulling his fingers from her grasp and resting them tip to tip with hers. "But in recent years I just haven't have the time to sketch anything. I should show you some of my field journals from school if you like this. There's a fair amount of botanical and wildlife sketches in those."
"Really?" She asked slipping their fingers together again. " I'd love to see them!" She said giving his hand a firm squeeze. "But I've never seen any of your journals around here before. And I've looked at every book in the tower at some point."
"That's because Mummy kept them for me." He replied sliding his fingers from her grip and holding her hand in his instead. He ran his thumb in small circles over her ring finger, lost in thought.
"Wonderful! Now we have an excuse to go to Mystic Meadows!" She exclaimed, clasping her hands in front of her chest with joy. "It's been too long since I've seen your parents, I can't wait to tell them all the places I've been and all that I learned while I was away!"
Cedric rolled his eyes. "I believe you enjoy spending time with my parents more than I do."
"I just love your family Cedric! They're not at all as bad as you make them out to be."
"That's because you didn't grow up with them." He said dryly.
"Well, I'd very much like to see them. Can we go this weekend?"
"You won't let me hear the end of it if we don't..."
"You know me too well." she said giving him another wink and giggle.
"That I do Princesses." His sighed, rising to his feet, his heart filling with sorrow. He did know her too well; he knew her more intimately than anyone. And she knew him on a deeper level than anyone could imagine. She was his best (if not only) friend, next to Wormwood. Which was rather sad, considering his age and rank. His father thought he should know anyone and everyone because of his career. The ageing sorcerer had also dropped hints that his only son should have a talented sorceress for a wife by now, along with multiple children. Cedric had always shoved such thoughts to the back of his mind, insisting that he had too much work to do to have a family. But now, with such deep feelings for Sofia developing within him, he saw that he did indeed want a just that. He wanted her for his wife; to spend every day with her, to spend hours pouring over new spellbooks together, to hold her close in the middle of the night because she was assuredly his, to even be her guinea pig for her tea concoctions, to give her children because she would most certainly be a wonderful mother – he wanted it all.
Suddenly his life made no sense. Everything he had in life and had strived to attain didn't matter if he couldn't have her. But yet he knew deep down he could really never have her, even if she wanted him, it could never be. Roland would have my head on a platter if he ever found out that I harbor such feelings for Sofia. It doesn't matter how I feel or even how she feels; It just cannot be. I'm going to have to learn to shove such feelings aside.
"Cedric... are you okay?" Sofia's voice shook him from his thoughts and grounded him back into the abysmal reality at hand.
"What? Oh, yes, Princess, I'm fine. Just lost in thought. Ummm, here," he said picking up the letter from the table and handing it to her. "Your mother dropped this off for you. She wanted to be there when you opened it... but you were sleeping so we decided it was best to let you get some rest."
"What is it?"
"I suppose it's a written apology from that loathsome prince." He practically seethed. "That's why your mother wanted to be here when you read it. She said my presence would be adequate though. I will tell you however, I had the notice to set it ablaze after she left..." He said over his shoulder as he stood at the mantle, watching the fire dance. Sofia's lips turned up in a smile momentarily, he thought she was going to snicker at him, before it morphed into a frown.
"Maybe you should have." She replied barely above a whisper. It was very unlike Sofia to be so negative. Cedric couldn't blame her though, even someone as pure of heart as Sofia had to have their moments as well. Cedric sighed and bit his lip. He hated seeing her this way. Her rose colored glasses were broken and with it her very essence fractured. She was teetering on the edge; her innocent naivete on one side and the reality on the other.
"No matter what it contains, I'll be here for you Princess. Whatever you need of me." He told her placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She reached up and gave his hand a squeeze.
"Thank you, Cedric. I might as well get this over with." She exhaled, still hesitant to see what the envelope contained. Cedric gave her shoulder a quick squeeze again prompting her to break the seal and pull out the letter within. Cedric stalked over to the mantle again giving her privacy to read the note on her own. It was unmistakably written in Hugo's small, sloppy scrawl.
I don't know where to begin with this. There is nothing I can say to excuse my actions against you. I'm horrified and repulsed by my behavior last night and this morning. The Hugo you know wouldn't have acted in such a way. I took advantage of you and I'm sorry. I know it doesn't excuse things but Axel says he attributes my actions to the fact I was intoxicated. I must have had too much to drink and lost myself. I am truly sorry Sofia. I would never wish to harm you or anyone in any way.
I understand that you don't want to see me for a while, but I hope that by your birthday next month you'll have forgiven me and allow me to make it up to you. I've sworn off drinking anything alcoholic in the meantime. I promise I won't let you down if you only let me have the chance.
Please forgive me.
Sofia read the note over twice before rolling her eyes and crumbling the paper in her hand.
"I knew I should have destroyed it when I had the chance." Cedric muttered watching her from the corner of his eye.
"I should have let you Cedric. He's turned into such a liar! I can't believe I was ever nice to him." She groaned.
"It's in your nature to be kind to everyone Princess, even when they don't deserve it. No one could blame you for being angry with that abhorrent being, though. "
"I know... I just can't believe he has the nerve to say such things!" She said shaking the paper in her hand. Cedric raised an eyebrow at her, curious what the boy had said to anger the altruistic princess so.
"Here you read it, I can't bring myself to look at it again." She said shoving the paper at him.
"Are you sure you want me to read this?" He said hesitantly, his fingers finding their grip on the paper she thrust at his chest.
"Yes, Cedric. Tell me what you think." She replied gazing up into his eyes, waiting for his advice.
"I'd really rather not Sofia. It might prompt me to do something to him that I'll regret later." He said laying the paper down on the mantle.
She groaned and shoved her head against his chest. "He apologized and then tried using that he was intoxicated as an excuse, but I know he wasn't; I didn't smell a drop of alcohol on him! Then he had the gall to ask if he could come to my birthday ball and make it up to me! How could he propose such an idea? Does he really think I'm dumb enough to believe him?" Cedric patted her head and stoked her hair.
"He is vain and arrogant, thus he fails to realize you are not like the other princesses. You Sofia," he said taking her chin in his fingers, turning her head up to face him. "are more mature than most adults I know. You, Princess Sofia, are the most astute, kind, intelligent, talented woman I've ever met."
Sofia looked up into his eyes thinking to herself how raw and passionate his words sounded. Her gaze drifted down to his mouth. Her eyes studied his lips, her heart beat faster and the distance between then began to close. She felt her stomach in her throat, her head felt faint, her breath stilled. They were inches apart; he was leaning down to her as much as she was drifting up to him.
There was a loud rapping at the workshop door. Immediately Cedric pulled away and rushed toward the door, leaving Sofia stunned and disappointed. "What is it now?" he yelled as he yanked open the door.
"No need to raise your voice Cedric." The steward said matter of factly. "The king wants you to help out at the Dunwitty garden this week. The crop needs magically enhanced to sustain the village. Can you do that Cedric?"
Cedric groaned "What sort of question is that? Of course I can. It'll take a few days to brew the potion needed though. Meaning" he ranted on wagging his finger at the steward. "I need peace and quiet; which MEANS I'm not be disturbed until I'm done." And with his anger spent he promptly slammed the door in poor Baileywick's face, and stalked over to his desk. He pulled out his wand, gave it a flick and a book levitated down into his hand. He slumped into his chair and began flicking through its pages, looking for the magical plants potion he needed. His mind focused in on the book before him, trying his best to forget that Sofia was still there. I can't believe I almost kissed her! What was I thinking? Baileywick couldn't have come at a better time for once.
Suddenly he felt weight on his back and shoulders. "I think the potion you're looking for is in volume two." Sofia said leaning her breast against his back and draping her arms over his shoulders. He blinked a few times to make sure he wasn't daydreaming. She picked up his wand, gave it a flick and the book floated down to them. She laid the wand back down on the desk and opened the book to the correct page. "There, that's the one isn't it?" she asked still leaning against him.
Cedric cleared the lump from his throat "Yes, I do believe that's the one Princess."
"So, this will take you a few days to do?" she asked her chin resting on his shoulder.
"Two, three days max. Why do you ask?" he questioned her watching her from the corner of his eye.
"Oh I was thinking about paying Vivian a visit. You're going to be busy and, although I know I can talk to you about anything... there are just some things I need to talk about to another female. You understand right? You know how much I appreciate everything you do and have done for me Cedric. I just need some girl time is all."
"Of course, of course. Vivian... she's the one who played the mandolin at your birthday a few years ago right?"
"She's not like the other Princesses either. Yes, she would be the best one to ask for advice. Have fun Dear." He said patting her hand on his chest.
Sofia smiled and hugged Cedric from behind. "Thank you Cedric. So when I get back we can still go to Mystic Meadows right?"
"Yes, if you get back in time we'll go."
Before Cedric realized what happened Sofia leaned down and placed a tender kiss on his cheek. "You're the best Cedric! See you when I get back." She yelled back over her shoulder as she excited the workshop. Cedric's fingers grazed over his cheek where she had kissed him. Why does she toy with me so? Can't she see how she vexes me? She wanted me to kiss her before Baileywick arrived, she was leaning in toward me. Will she tell that girl what has transpired between us?
He ran his hand through his hair and groaned. "I need a drink."
THIS CHAPTER IS RATED M FOR SEXUAL CONTENT!
THIS CHAPTER IS RATED M FOR SEXUAL CONTENT!
~THIS CHAPTER IS RATED M for sexual content~
FOOLS RUSH IN
Cedric pulled aside the books that hid his small, but ample, liquor bar in his study. He wasn't one to drink often, but after the events leading up to his near slip up with the princess he figured a drink or two was well needed. She's going to Zumaria for a few days so I don't have to worry about if she comes in and finds me somewhat intoxicated... I think I should take advantage of this moment and indulge myself. I need something to make me relax. He thought to himself hovering his hand above the glass bottles one by one searching for the right spirit to ease his tension. Ah, yes, this will do splendidly. He thought picking up the crystal decanter half full of a peridot colored liquid. He grabbed a reservoir glass from the bar, along with the special slotted spoon that accompanied it and concealed the bar, once again, with its hollow book facade. He plucked two sugar cubes from the bowl on the tea shelf and made his way back into the workshop.
He pushed the magical gardening book to the side and laid out the items in his arms. Methodically, like he was adding an ingredient into to potion, he poured the green spirit into the glass filling it to the top of the reservoir. Cedric then sat the glass under the spout of his chemistry set's retort flask. With a flick of his wand the flask was filled with ice water, and with another flick a small blue flame lit underneath it. Typically this set was used for distilling liquids for his potions using a hot flame, but for the drink he wanted he used a blue ice flame instead. He proceeded, while the water began to bubble, to place the ornate spoon over the rim of the glass and the sugar cubes on the spoon's elaborate grille directly beneath the spigot of the flask.
He slumped down into his chair while the ice water began to slowly flow out, drop by drop, over the sugar, diluting the drink, causing it to cloud as the sugar and water reacted with the spirit. The ritual of preparing his favorite drink was half the reason why he enjoyed it so much. A fitting drink for a sorcerer whose second favorite color is green and who has a familiar named Wormwood. He chuckled to himself as he watched the spirit cloud more. He cleared his mind, watching the drink dilute slowly, already more relaxed. That looks about right; a good three to one ratio. He thought extinguishing the flame sliding the glass over towards him. He flipped the spoon, dropping in the remaining sugar, then giving the mixture a quick stir releasing the slightly nutty, spicy, and flowery flavor and aroma developed by the reaction.
He leaned back in his chair and savored the fragrance of his drink before taking a sip. His senses were overcome with various notes of spice from the anise and nutmeg, and a bitter herbaceous flavor from the fennel and wormwood. Oh this is grand! I forgot just how much I do enjoy a glass of Absinthe every so often.
Sofia sat down at her desk and quickly penned a letter to Vivian. She knew her parents would have devised a good reason why she had abruptly disappeared from her own party but she felt like she needed to tell Vivian face to face what had actually occurred. She divulged to Vivian she had a pressing matter and needed her opinion before moving forward with the situation. By the time she was done it was well into the afternoon if she was lucky she would get a reply by nightfall, if not the morning. Either way she knew her friend would never turn her down in her time of need. She gave the letter to Baileywick who promptly had it sent off to the neighboring princess. Sofia busied herself by packing her suitcase with a couple different outfits and her lavatory essentials, as well as a few souvenirs from her travels that she had picked up just for Vivian; an intricate mandolin from Corona and sheet music in their local folk style.
Supper came and went before Sofia received a reply from her friend. The shy princess instructed that she would be sending a coach to fetch Sofia at noon the following day. Sofia sighed, she was happy that her friend had welcomed her speedily, but she wished that she would have been able to see her friend sooner. There was so much inside of her waiting to spill out, the thought of having to wait through the night frustrated her more than she cared to admit. Annoyed with herself and the situation, Sofia resigned herself to a quiet evening with a book to pass the time. She curled up in her bed with an ancient looking text; its spine was badly cracked and its pages felt like they would crumble beneath her fingertips. She found herself rereading the same passage over and over again, not able to take in its words no matter how hard she concentrated. She groaned and flopped back into the fluffy pillows, tossing the book to her dresser in defeat. It landed with a thud and perceptible cloud of dust. Maybe I should just try going to sleep already. She rolled onto her side and closed her eyes trying to clear her mind but her thoughts were plagued with memories from the night before. Soon her dreams drifted into horrors as the memories morphed into something much more heinous. Sofia awoke, her brow furrowed with sweat, her heart beating like the hoofbeats of a flying derby horse. She blinked the sleep from her eyes and swiftly slid out of bed. She grabbed the robe off the chest at the foot of her bed and drew it around her as she settled down into the window seat.
Her fingers absent mindedly played with the gold colored tassels on Clover's sleeping pillow as her thoughts drifted back to a time when her furry friend had stayed up all night with her shortly after coming to the Castle. Sofia had been a confused and hurt little girl then, becoming royalty had been much harder than she had anticipated but Clover was there to comfort her through the night, reassuring her that all would be well in time. In years past she could have talked to Clover about anything that bothered her day or night, but Clover was long gone. Her bunny friend had lived a long life, but finally drifted away in his sleep one night while curled up on his favorite pillow. Sofia had awoke the next morning to Clover's cold lifeless body, in shock the girl fled to Cedric for comfort. The sorcerer helped the girl bury her friend in her secret garden (beneath Clovers magical radish plants) that morning and spent the rest of the day consoling her. Her tears and sobs echoed throughout the tower giving him chills, making him dread the day that Wormwood would pass, but he let her stay allowing her tears to soak his robes.
A soft sigh escaped her lips as the memory flooded her senses; Cedric's familiar scent, the taste of salt, itchy eyes and burning lungs, the blurry outline of radishes, and the echo of her own sobs. Sofia blinked away the tears from her lashes and turned her eyes toward Cedric's tower at the distant memory and was surprised to find light emitting from the windows.
Cedric lounged in his chair, his senses both sharpened and dulled by the absinthe. He propped a notebook up on his knee and brushed the lead tip of his pencil over the paper in long and short strokes creating an almost melodious song as he did so. He rubbed his fingers against the paper at times, smudging his work, leaving his fingertips stained black from the lead. Hours went by as Cedric immersed himself in the notebook, the clock slowly ticking like a metronome, eventually leading him to sleep with pencil in hand.
Sofia found herself at Cedric's tower door before she realized it. She sighed to herself knowing it was well past any appropriate visiting hours. Well I'm here now... she thought mustering up her willpower to knock on the sturdy door. She waited for Cedric's familiar 'What is it now?' Oozing with mock irritation, but it never came. She knocked again, a bit louder this time, calling out his name while she pressed her ear to the door. A moment passed; she didn't detect any movement from the other side. She bit her lip and contemplated going back to her room. But being the curious and adventurous girl she had always been she decided to enter the workshop and check on the sorcerer. She concluded that if there was candle light then Cedric must be up still, if not she had better go in and extinguish the candles for safety's sake.
Sofia took the spare key from the stone gargoyle forever standing guard at the workshops entrance and slowly opened the door. "Cedric?" She called as she passed over the threshold.
Cedric faintly heard his name being called by an angelic voice; his thoughts wandered. He imagined the numerous things the owner of such a sensual voice could do to him. He heard the voice again and images of his princess apprentice flooded his mind. Groggily he opened his eyes and groaned. What the deuce is she doing here? He thought rubbing his eyes to clear the sleep from them. He heard her shuffling about in the workshop as she called his name again. He tossed the notebook in his lap onto the end table and made his way to the study's entryway. He saw her peek down the stairs to his bedchambers and call again. Casually he leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms.
"Cedric? Are you awake? I saw the light an-" she started turning around to find Cedric unceremoniously watching her from the study. Her eyes ran up and down the sorcerer, taking in the sight before her; his figure lean but surprisingly muscular, his skin alabaster in the faint light, his hair tousled and tangled, and clad in nothing but plum colored underwear (that resembled breeches but stopped just above his knees). Devoid of his normal robes, shirt, vest and trousers (Sofia had noticed in recent years, like many of the men in the surrounding kingdoms, Cedric had begun sporting trousers instead of his token breeches) Sofia noted that the man was indeed quite handsome.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing up this late?" He said pinching the bridge of his nose. "I thought you were going to visit that Princess..." His words hung in the air as he saw the girl's eyes run over him, blush and turn her head away from him. He looked down and realized he was standing there nonchalantly, half naked. Part of him realized the impropriety of the situation but another part of him shrugged it off. He was too comfortable as he was and she had already seen him, so what would the point be in changing? After all it is the middle of the night. We are likely the only ones awake. "Well?" He asked crossing his ankles, redistributing his weight, throwing all care to the wind.
"I...Umm..." She started glancing back at him then quickly away again. "I couldn't sleep... I saw a light and thought you were still up."
"I see." He said running his hand through his hair as he yawned. "Well, seeing that you're already here and that I'm now awake... Come in and make us a pot of tea Princess." He mumbled raising his arms above his head in a stretch as he stepped to the side to allow the girl entry.
"Ummm, nothing, nevermind." She said shaking her head, walking past him to grab the tea pot from the mantle. Cedric shrugged and flopped back down into his chair, his legs splayed before him towards the fire. He watched her as she brewed their tea and rubbed his temples, his hangover already forming into a migraine; he hoped the tea would help. She kept her back to him as she brewed their tea, neither of them exchanging a single word as she did so. The few minutes it took the tea to brew felt like an eternity to Cedric who studied the girl as she poured two medium sized teacups full of a chamomile and honey tea. She handed him his cup and settled down before him on the floor, slightly off to the side him and the fire.
"Thank you Dear. I have to ask your forgiveness for my current state. I wasn't expecting you until the weekend." Audibly he cleared his throat. "I might have had a bit to drink this evening..."
"Oh, that explains things." She giggled from behind her teacup.
"You're not upset with me?" He asked arching his eyebrow at her.
"No, of course not Silly. Why would I be?" She laughed setting her tea to the side. "I could actually go for something a tad stronger than tea at the moment myself." She sighed, giving him a coy look.
"Really now?" He said holding his chin thoughtfully. "Your are, as always, full of surprises Princess."
"I have to keep you on your toes somehow." She winked playfully, earning her a chuckle from the man.
"Well, I suppose you are old enough now to make your own decisions... and you will be eighteen next month after all."
"So... would you please make me a drink then, Cedric?"
He gave her a crooked half smile and scoffed.
"Come on, just one Cedric... I'm afraid I'm a rather a lightweight when it comes to any sort of alcohol, anyway. One is all I could handle, if that." She laughed.
"Well with you being used to all the bubbles they serve at all your royal shindigs I would say so." He laughed, rising from his chair, slowly making his way over to the hidden liquor bar. "Neptunes nettles, what am I doing?" He muttered shaking his head slightly, not realizing he spoke aloud. Sofia stifled a giggle. "Well, what would you like Princess?" He asked waving his hand over his stash of liquor.
"I don't know, what do you like?"
"Me?" He laughed. "My choice is quiet uncommon with the elite... but I can see you enjoying it and appreciating it as much as I do... Grab a few cubes of sugar and one of these glasses and follow me." He said grabbing up the crystal decanter now only one fourth full of green spirit.
"What's in it?" She asked watching him prepare the 'ritual'. He set everything in motion before giving her an answer as he slumped back into his desk chair.
"It's called Absinthe."
"Absinthe? I've never hear of that before..."
"I told you, it's not something people drink in royal circles." He chuckled. "It's more of a... I don't know, artist drink." Sofia nodded as if she understood, but in reality had little to no idea what Cedric was alluding to. "It's made with anise, sweet fennel, quite a few other herbs and spices, and wormwood." He smiled.
"Ah, that's why you like it." She laughed.
"Partly." He smirked. "The ritual of preparing it is almost therapeutic in a way. It has to be prepared just right or it's no good. It's a lot like teas; herby, sweet, bitter even. I think you'll rather enjoy it, actually."
"I suppose we will find out shortly." She stated leaning over to watch the liquid change color.
It was the first time since her arrival that Cedric had actually noticed what she was wearing. She too, was in nothing but her night clothes; consisting of a long robe and nightgown. The robe was white silk with a coral and light peach colored floral print across the torso. The sash she used to tie it closed had become loose causing the robe hang open revealing her peach colored nightgown beneath it. Cedric could see her body's outline beneath the light, almost sheer, fabric. His eyes fell to the rigid peaks that were most certainly her nipples and continued to roam over her exposed body. Her breast were mostly bare, the gown cutting extremely low for Sofia's normal wear, giving him just enough view for his imagination to wander.
He blushed at the thoughts running through his head and looked away from the girl; internally scolding himself for having looked upon her in such a way and allowing himself such fantasies. He realized then just how drunk he really was; he might be able to carry on a conversation with the princesses but his sense of decorum was blurred for the moment. His heart skipped at beat realizing if she got as close as she did earlier he wouldn't be able to stop himself in time from doing something regrettable. Again his thoughts roamed uninhibited, imagining what it would feel like to kiss the girl; to press his lips against her soft ones, to flick his tongue over her plump bottom lip, to feel her lips part and invite him in, to pull her bottom lip between his own in a gentle love nip.
Cedric realized allowing her into the tower in his current state was a bad choice, one he was now stuck with.
"Is it ready?" Sofia asked glancing back at him.
"Uh, I, um..." He said blinking the thoughts from his mind before leaning forward and around the princess at their concoction. "Uh, yes. That should be good for you." He said giving his hand a twirl magically shutting off the valve and flame. He flipped the spoon, dropping the sugar in and gave it a quick stir. He placed one hand against the desktop on one side of Sofia and the other held the drink up in the light for her to see the sugar dissolve. Again he realized how close he was to her and how he unwittingly had put himself into a compromising situation with the young Princess. He shoved the drink into her hands and stumbled into the study to pour himself another cup of tea. Sofia followed him and took her spot on the floor yet again, favoring it over the furniture. She pretended to look out the window and smell her drink as Cedric took his seat, but watched him from the corner of her eye, unable to help herself from admiring the man's body. He took a long draw from his tea and Sofia decided to give her drink a try.
Cedric watched as she hesitantly brought the drink to her lips and took a small sip. The corners of her eyes squinted slightly from the bitter taste of the wormwood, then the corners of her mouth upturned.
"Wow, this is wonderful." She said taking a slightly bigger drink. Cedric snorted and downed half of his tea, willing it to clear his fuzzy mind. "You were right, as usual." She winked coquettishly at him. Cedric's heart pounded in his chest, surely he was only imaging such things, surely the Princess wasn't flirting with him. He took a deep breath and sipped his tea more, staring into the fire not wanting to make eye contact with his apprentice. Cedric didn't know how much time had passed as they sat in silence, but from the corner of his eye he saw that Sofia was already close to finishing her drink. Good once she's done I can ask her to leave before I act on these feelings. He watched as Sofia downed the rest of her drink and sat the glass aside before yawning and laying her head against his bare leg. He felt his hands shake from his nervousness, hurriedly he sat his teacup down on the table, knocking the notebook off into the floor by accident.
Startled Sofia jumped turning her head to the object that thudded to the ground beside her. She tilted her head as she looked at it closely, its pages now splayed open from the impact showed a very detailed sketch. Before Cedric could react Sofia had scooped up the notebook to inspect its contents.
"It's... me." She said looking the sketch over, turning it this way and that, making sure to not miss a single detail. Cedric groaned audibly, hiding his face in his hand before running it through his messy hair.
"Yes, it is. I was hoping you wouldn't see that." He sighed. Sofia arched her brow at him before going back to admiring the sketch. He rubbed the back of his neck. "That was supposed to be your birthday present."
"Really?" She asked. Cedric only nodded, a sad smile on his face. "It's beautiful Cedric, is this what you were working on tonight?" Again he nodded this time it was accompanied by a yawn. Sofia smiled up at him before gently setting the notebook on the chaise. She slid between his legs and wrapped her arms around his torso in a hug. "You are truly ah-mazing Cedric!" Cedric swollowed hard before deciding to return her hug. He wrapped his arms around her slender body, pulling her closer to him. Moments passed as they stayed in one another's embrace contentedly. "It's the best present anyone's ever given me, I will always cherish it." She said nuzzling into his chest letting a yawn escape her lips. She felt Cedric's heart flutter as her breath caressed his skin. She tightened her embrace and smiled before pulling back enough to turn up and face him. "Thank you Cedric." She whispered as her lips brushed his skin, bestowing a tender kiss on his cheek. Cedric felt a knot in his throat, his chest constricted as he temporarily forgot to breath, a fire burned in his stomach. Sofia slid back down his frame, holding onto him and nuzzling into the hollow of his neck, yawning again. Cedric finally remembered to breath and a yawn emerged from his lips as well. "Sounds like were both ready for a good nights rest." She whispered seductively into his neck her fingers finding purchase in the hair at the base of his neck.
She parted their bodies as she stood, and pulled him to his feet. Sofia wrapped her hand around his and pulled him behind her. Cedric followed, his mind and body in a stupor, unable to snap out of his daze. She led him down into his bedchambers, magically extinguishing the candles as they went along. Cedric's head hurt too much to think and allowed the girl to do as she bid. She crossed the room to his bed, still holding his hand, their fingers now entwined. She turned down the sheets, noting the familiar quilt from that afternoon was back in its proper place. She turned to face him as she undid the knot of her robe, allowing it to fall to the floor in a puddle at her feet. She took his hand and slid into the bed pulling him along behind her. His body did as she wanted with no word of protest. She pushed him back onto the bed and gave her wand a twirl extinguishing the last candle, leaving them in the dark nothing but the moonlight spilling through the window on them. She settled down into the bed beside Cedric, nuzzling into the hollow of his neck again. Hesitantly he wrapped his arm around her and drew her body closer to his. He held his breath not knowing what the princess would do next. Sofia tenderly wrapped her arm around Cedric's chest, trickled soft kisses over his neck and whispered "Goodnight, Cedric." The sorcerer let out a heavy sigh, slid his fingers between hers, gave her hand a small squeeze before kissing her forehead tenderly.
Chapter 12: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
THIS CHAPTER IS RATED M FOR SEXUAL CONTENT
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
~THIS CHAPTER IS RATED M for sexual content~
IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING
The sun's warm morning beams poured down through the thick glass window of Cedric's tower, spilling its bright rays across his face. Slowly he opened his eyes, blinking a few times taking a moment for his vision to come into focus. He stared up at the stone ceiling, trying to clear the fog from his mind. He ran a hand though his hair and groaned aloud as he felt a pounding in his head.
Something stirred in the bed beside him. Startled, Cedric attempted to sit up and had the intention to fling the covers off to find whatever creepy-crawly had snuck into his bed, but was suddenly forced back down. The strong aroma of berries and lilac wafted around him. He blinked, his breath stilled; slowly he tilted his head down. His field of vision was filled with an auburn wave. Sofia?!
"Nuh, what's wrong?"
Oh, Posiden's Pumpkins, it is her! Here, in my bed! What happened last night? Did I... Did we? Oh, Merlin's Mushrooms! Cedric thought to himself his hands massaging his temples as his head pounded harder.
"What's wrong, Cedric?" Sofia asked, pushing herself up on her elbow, her other hand resting on his bare chest. Cedric's breath caught in his throat, he felt his chest tighten at her touch. "Are you okay, what's wrong?" Sofia asked again, pushing one of his hands away from his temple as she caressed his face. Hesitantly Cedric opened his eyes. She was indeed there, her bright blue eyes wide with worry, her creamy complexion glistening in the morning sun. A sigh escaped Cedric's lips. She is beauty personified.
"You have a headache, don’t you?" Sofia inquired, blatantly disregarding the fact they were in bed together, and completely invading his personal space; her soft warm body pressed against his, her legs entwined with his own. Cedric swallowed hard, and nodded his head slightly so not to aggravate the throbbing even further. Sofia smiled down at him and cradled his cheek in her hand. "I'll go make you some tea." She stated softly, untangling their legs and beginning to swing a leg over him.
Before he realized what his body was doing, Cedric's hands rushed up to stop her from climbing over him. He had meant to push her away from him, he wanted his personal space back so he could think clearly, but all he managed to do was shove her into his lap unceremoniously.
"Uh! Triton's turnips!" He yelled as she landed on his manhood, his fingers digging into her hips from the pain.
"Oh! Sorry!" She uttered trying to lift herself up off of Cedric, but only succeeding in rubbing against the bulge in his pants as Cedric contorted in pain. "Oh..." She muttered, realizing what was pressed against her inner thigh. Cedric managed to gently push the princess off of his lap before flopping back down on the bed. Slowly, still in pain, he drew a knee up between the two of them, using it as a buffer. "Cedric... I didn’t realize... I'm sorry..." She mumbled, her cheeks fully flushed beet red.
"It's alright... Just an accident-" he inhaled sharply, pushing the pain away. "My fault." He wheezed.
"Oh, I really hurt you... I'm so sorry Cedric. I didn't realize you were... umm...well, aroused."
"What?!" Cedric almost shouted, sending him into a coughing fit. "You-*cough*think that-*cough* I was..." Cedric cleared his throat, and coughed one last time. He groaned and covered his face with his hand. "I see that fancy education of yours left out a few fairly important things about life."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Oh, Merlin's Mushrooms... You shouldn't even be here, let alone have me be the one explaining this..." Cedric exhaled roughly before turning to face the princess. Her face was ridden with confusion and what seemed to be pain from his words; Cedric immediately regretted his actions. "Sofia... It's... well there's no subtle way to say this... it's not to say that I was aroused- " he began, running his hand though his hair nervously. "Not that you don’t make me- that is to say- umm... Neptune's nettles...I'll explain this scientifically-" he said rubbing his hand over his face, pinching the bridge of his nose. Cedric took a deep breath before beginning his explanation, doing his best not to make eye contact with the half-naked woman in his bed. "While we are in deep sleep all our blood vessels open up more, allowing more blood to flow to... to certain areas of the body... It’s a natural reaction to a good night's sleep... for a man to have... well..." He allowed himself to glance over at the princess. Her gown had shifted in their sleep; one strap hung loosely over her shoulder, showing off the curve of her breast. Again, he noticed where the thin fabric puckered slightly in two distinct spots over her breasts, giving away the fact that her nipples were rigid. He swallowed hard again, looking away as he felt blood rush to his cheeks, as well as another region of his body. "That is- not to say that waking up next to a lovely woman wouldn't cause the same reaction- I mean, that is to say it very well could in the right situation... with the right people..." His words trailed off, his head pounded, her scent was over powering, he couldn't think clearly.
"I see." She said softly, lying back down beside him. Cedric's eyes followed her movement, unable to shake off the trance her scent and nearness produced over him. He saw a smile cross her lips, her cheeks were tinted with a rosy blush, her creamy colored skin seemed to glow in the sunlight. He felt her legs brush against his, pushing down his knee, removing the buffer between them. She nuzzled her head into his chest, just above his quickly beating heart, entwined her legs with his, and ran her fingertips over his bare chest, draping her arm across him. "Well, let's get a little more rest if you're okay then. It's barely dawn and we were up late." Her warm breath on his skin gave him goosebumps.
"Ssh. You'll feel better if you sleep a little more, it'll help with your headache." She stated, her lips rubbing against his skin, sending chills down his body. Cedric nodded, too tired and in too much pain from the migraine forming in his head to care anymore. She's right, I need rest. This hangover is killer. Now I remember why I don't drink often.
"Cedric?" She answered playfully.
"Won't they be looking for you?"
"No, I told Baileywick I wouldn't be at breakfast. Vivian and I are having a big picnic after I arrive. Now stop worrying and go to sleep."
Cedric nodded and did as his princess commanded.
~A/N: I know this chapter is a lot shorter than the last one, but it felt right to end this segment here. I could have put in a page break and added the next part to it. But I've made you all wait long enough, so I felt a little bit is better than nothing at this point. I apologize, the next chapter will be significantly longer.
MY FUNNY VALENTINE
Groggily, Cedric rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The sunlight was no longer shining directly into the tower. It has to be close to noon. He noted through half closed eyes; the light made his head ache, but his migraine was receding, it was at a manageable level now. Noon... that’s when Sofia has to leave... Poseidon's pumpkins, what if someone finds her here! Cedric's heart skipped a beat at the mortifying thought of Baileywick discovering them in bed together. His breath stilled at the idea of the king finding out that his youngest daughter had spent the night drunk and half naked in the royal sorcerer's bed. Involuntarily his hand snaked its way up to his throat. He licked his lips, his tongue felt like sandpaper; an audible gulp escaped his dry throat.
Cedric flung the covers off and sat upright in the bed. "Sofia! We have to get -" his words faltered upon seeing that the space beside him was empty. "Sofia?" He called out looking around the room for the princess. Her robe is gone... Slowly he got to his feet and fetched his own robe before making his way upstairs. "Sofia, are you up there?" He listened intently for an answer; for any sign that she was in the tower at all. Have I gone crazy... she was here...wasn't she? He thought looking around the workshop from the top of the stairs. "Hmmm... maybe she's in the study?" He mumbled aloud to himself as he poked his head into the turret room. Cedric shook his head and walked over to the liquor cabinet. Everything is in its proper place... He turned his eyes towards the floor by his chair and the fireplace. I could have swore she left her glass there... He picked the leather-bound sketchbook up off of the endtable and flipped it open to the most recent drawing.
There from within its pages was Sofia's soft gaze staring back at him. How odd, I remember drawing... but I swear... I know... She was here...Surely the absinthe wasn't that strong... Cedric thought, as he gently ran his fingertips over the drawing, as if he was touching the real thing instead. "Surely I didn't dream her..."
It was mid-day and the sunlight sparkled across the ponds clear blue water. The garden was full of life; the enchanted roses trilled a beautiful high soprano while the calla-lilies sang a euphonious alto, the snap dragons crooned a harmonious tenor line while the delphiniums hummed a solid bass, the bluebells dinged and chimed while the bleeding hearts thumped out a bewitching rhythm.
"Oh, Sofia it's so good to see you! I missed you terribly while you were gone!" Princess Vivian cried enveloping Sofia with a tight hug.
"I missed you too Vivian! I'm so glad that you were able to have me over on such short notice."
"Oh, don't mention it Sofia. I'll always make time for you." The shy princess assured her best friend with a soft smile.
"Here, this is for you. It's from Corona." Sofia said holding out the intricate mandolin before her, watching intently as her friend's eyes lit up at the sight of the instrument.
"Oh, Sofia, you didn't... It's beautiful!" Vivian exclaimed, her eyes wandering over the smooth rosewood and ivory pickguard.
"I couldn't resist when I saw it. Here." She said urging Vivian to take it. "Give it a try." Vivian nodded and gave the stings a quick strum. She slightly adjusted a few of its pegs to properly tune the instrument and began to pluck out a fast-paced jig. The flowers around them began to accompany the princess; the lilly of the valley produced a melodious violin, and the lupines resonated a smooth cello. The girls smiled at one another as the enchanted garden prompted Vivian to keep playing. Sofia nodded her head and clapped her hands to the beat of the jig. After a few moments Vivian ended her song and the flowers changed their tune once again.
"Oh, its lovely Sofia! I can't thank you enough!"
"Don't mention it. You sound wonderful! You've gotten better while I was away!"
"I've had more time to practice since we graduated." She muttered laying the mandolin down gently on the tablecloth at their feet. "But enough about me, you have pressing matters we must discuss, right?" She asked kneeling to take a few sandwiches from a large picnic basket.
"Oh, Vivian, I hardly know where to begin! So much has happened in the past few days." Sofia said settling down on the large tablecloth Vivian had spread out for them to have their picnic on.
"Well, we have all day, so just take your time. I'm here to listen to whatever you want to tell me." Vivian assured her friend as she removed a large bowl of mixed berries from the basket, as well as a medium bowl of pasta salad.
"Thank you, Vivian. It really does mean a lot to me."
"What a friend's for, right?" She smiled handing Sofia a charcuterie board with multiple local cheeses, a few different loaves of bread, and a couple small rolls of crackers. "Here, I made your favorite." She said sliding over a sandwich wrapped in butchers paper. "Peanut-butter, apple, and brie with a schmear of fig jam on slightly toasted brioche."
"Oh, Vivian I haven't had one of these since I went away! Thank you!" Sofia exclaimed, eagerly unwrapping the sandwich, while Vivian poured her a glass of iced tea.
"You're welcome. I missed our weekly picnics while you were away. I wanted this one to be just the same as before." Vivian said scooping a large spoonful of pasta salad into her bowl.
"This is nice. I was so busy while I was away, I almost forgot how to relax like this." She replied, taking a bite from her sandwich savoring its sweet and piquant flavors. "This is delicious Vivian!"
"Good, I was afraid it wouldn't turn out right." She laughed, before taking a bite of her pasta. "So, what happened the night of your ball? You just disappeared."
Sofia breathed deeply, and slowly exhaled; calming her nerves the best she could. "Well, I suppose I'll be straight forward; this has to do with Hugo... and Cedric."
"Oh dear, the both of them?" The shy princess asked, her hand moving to cover her gaping mouth.
"Yes... You see the other night at the ball... Hugo, ummm..."
"He was kind of all over you... What did he do?" The other princess inquired taking a sip of her ice tea.
"I went outside and he followed me... He pinned me up against a tree..."
Vivian inhaled sharply, covering her open mouth with her hand again. "He didn't...?" She inquired, leaving the thought unsaid.
"Oh, Sofia! I'm so sorry! He didn't hurt you did he?"
"No; he kissed me... touched me... but before he could do anything worse Cedric stopped him." Sofia said, setting her sandwich down deciding to eat a few berries instead while she told her story.
"Oh, thank goodness!"
"He was so brave Vivian, I've never seen Cedric like that before. He was so furious but his only thought was to protect me. He stood up to everyone for my sake."
"Cedric, really? Doesn't he just normally turn to jelly at the sight of your dad, let alone confrontation?"
Sofia laughed "Yes, normally he is quite nervous and quiet around most people. Which really surprised me and made me happy that he acted how he did... It was dark and they couldn’t see me behind him, they could only see him pointing his wand at Hugo. Hugo lied to everyone's faces... He tried telling them Cedric had me under a spell... King Garrick tried to have the guards capture Cedric. Finally, my mom got everything under control... I told them what happened and Dad demanded that Hugo and his family leave at once. And... at that point I didn't want to talk about it to my parents, so I convinced them I was fine and was going to go on to bed." Sofia told her friend, as she pieced on a cracker with a smear of camembert and berry spread.
"I have a feeling that you didn’t go to bed though..."
"I didn't... Cedric offered to let me help him with his potions." Sofia replied taking a long draught of her tea.
"I also have the feeling something finally happened between the two of you." Vivian giggled.
"Finally?" Sofia asked the still giggling princess.
"Oh, Sofia everyone knows how close the two of you are. I've been waiting years for you to tell me that you finally kissed him or something."
"Really?" Sofia blushed, looking away from her friend to collect herself.
"Yeah, the boys from Royal Prep actually gave up trying to court you because they saw how close you and Cedric are." Vivian admitted.
"I had no idea..."
"I don't mean to pry... but what happened when you got up to Mr. Magic's tower?" She pressed, taking a bite of her tea sandwich; which consisted of prosciutto, goat cheese, basil, and arugula on a thin white bread.
"Oh, we worked on his potions, then I showed him how I had made and enchanted the dress I was wearing."
"You made that gown?" Vivian asked, almost choking on her sandwich.
"Yeah, with the use of some magic Cedric taught me and things mom had taught me while we lived in the village."
"I always forget your mom was a cobbler before... but Sofia, you're amazing, that dress was beautiful. What did he say?"
"Well, he was really impressed with how I had enchanted it to glow." She said a large grin spreading across her face.
"He might have let it slip that he thought I looked 'gorgeous'." She mumbled, a bright red blush filling her cheeks.
"I knew it!" Vivian exclaimed smiling at her friend. Sofia blushed deeper, and busied herself with taking a few nibbles of her sandwich.
"Well, there's more... a lot more actually." Vivian raised a curious eyebrow at Sofia. "Well, at that point, what Hugo had done was still fresh in my mind... I couldn't shake feeling of him touching me; I wanted a bath and to change honestly. Cedric got an old robe of his and transfigured it into a dress for me, so I could change... only, well I was laced so tightly into my corset that I couldn't get it off on my own..."
"No! Sofia, he didn't..." Vivian asked almost dropping her sandwich into her lap in shock.
"He just unlaced me is all... He was very polite and sweet the whole time I was there. I changed, in private," She emphasized. "and helped with his potion. I wasn't sleepy so I told him to get some rest while I finished working. Of course, he said how inappropriate that would be... but he was so tired, he had been working on those potions for King Magnus all week... I convinced him to go lay down... He joked and said I sounded like his mother." Sofia laughed, remembering how Cedric had smiled at her. "So... I might have teased him back, Ms. Winifred calls him Ceddy or Ceddykins."
"You didn't!" Vivian giggled with Sofia.
"I did." She smiled. "And quite a bit, then he might have tickled me to get me to stop..."
"Sofia that's sooo cute. He really seems like a sweet guy deep down." Vivan admitted finishing off her tea.
"He is, and before now... I had only a few thoughts of him in that kind of light. But now... Everything feels different. I accidently fell asleep in the tower, he woke me up because I was having a nightmare about Hugo... he just held me and let me cry. He was so tender and caring. The morning after the ball we had to have a meeting with Hugo and his father to decide what should be done, and surprisingly enough he agreed to my conditions. He's supposed to give me space for a while and had to apologize to me." Sofia laughed before continuing. "Cedric wanted to turn him into a worm, he was so furious I think he would have if I had let him." Sofia laughed again; this time she was joined by her friend.
"That would fit him just fine. I can't believe he forced himself on you like that, I mean I can its Hugo... but to think he would get away with it... or that you would just let him! The gall!" Vivian seethed.
"I don't know what I would have done if Cedric hadn't been there."
"Your knight in shining armor." Vivian winked at her.
"Yeah, I guess, I'm just not for certain how he feels about me though. And you won't believe what I did last night..." Vivian arched an eyebrow yet again. Sofia finished her sandwich and her glass of tea before continuing, leaving Vivian in suspense. "I couldn't sleep and saw a light in his tower, so I went up there... but I couldn't find him... next thing I knew he was standing in the study doorway... in nothing but his underwear..." Vivian's hand flew to her mouth to cover her audible gasp.
"No! What did you do?" She asked her cheeks flushing at the idea of her friend with the older man in such a delicate manner.
"He was so nonchalant about it..." She shrugged. "And... he is quite handsome without his baggy robe..." She blushed. "He asked me to make us some tea, and then apologized to me because he was drunk." Sofia laughed. "I told him that his actions made sense then, and that I wouldn't have minded a drink myself. So he made me a drink and we talked for a bit. I saw his sketchpad... it had a drawing of me in it, he's so talented, it looked just like me! Then he got pouty, said that it was my birthday present and hadn't meant for me to see it until then. He was so sweet. I was a little intoxicated by then... and we were both sleepy..."
"So, I kinda pulled him into his bed with me... and might have kissed his neck a few times before I fell asleep..."
"That’s something I would expect to hear from Amber but not you!" She teased. "You didn't... I mean you all didn't... you know...Did you?"
"Vivian!" Sofia exclaimed blushing at the thought. "Of course not! Although, this morning... Well, I've never been one to pay attention boys or read those romance novels like Hildegard and Amber... He had to explain some things to me..."
"What do you mean?" Vivian asked, plucking a few berries from the bowl and slowly bringing them to her mouth.
"Well, I thought he was... aroused..."
Vivian had to cover her mouth yet again; the princesses was so shocked from her friend's statement that she almost spat out her berries in surprise. "Oh! Morning wood?! Really, even I know about that Sof." Vivian laughed, finally regaining he senses.
"Anyways..." Sofia went on ignoring Vivian's fit of giggles. "He didn't freak out or anything about waking up together." She smiled, recalling how kind and genteel Cedric had been that morning. "He had a bit of a hangover however, so we went back to sleep. I had to leave before he woke up though, I felt bad for leaving him without saying goodbye, but he looked so peaceful..." She stated, remembering how handsome he had looked as he slept.
"Oh, you have it bad girl."
"You're in love with him Sofia." Vivian giggled.
Sofia sighed. "But...but what if he doesn't feel the same way about me, Vivian?"
"Well, I can't imagine he wouldn't have some feelings for you after all these years. And I mean you just said you shared his bed last night, and got up close and personal with him half naked." She winked wickedly at her friend. "That must mean he's comfortable with you and has some kind of feelings for you."
Sofia groaned and laid back onto the tablecloth. "But it's not like Dad would ever approve; they grew up together too. In reality Cedric is more than twice my age. And not a royal at that... We could never be together even if we wanted to..."
"I don't think anyone would be surprised that you want to marry for love, Sofia. That’s just who you are. And James is the crown prince, in fact he's the only one who has to carry on the royal line... and technically you don’t have the royal blood, so it shouldn't matter who you marry really, especially if that’s what you want. I don't think your mom would mind, I mean she married into royalty, right?"
"True. I just don't know if it would be that simple. And first I have to make sure he returns my feelings... I don't want to lose our friendship, though." Sofia sighed, rubbing her face with both hands in frustration.
"Then maybe test him a little more?" The shy princess suggested.
"How though?" Sofia asked turning to her friend.
"Just keep spending time with him and you'll figure it out. Don't worry about it."
"That’s easier said than done." She grunted, covering her eyes with the back of her arm, in a dramatic 'Cedric like' way.
"I know, but this is something you have to figure out and do on your own. But I'm almost certain it'll work out in the end. I told you everyone has thought for years that you two were secretly in love."
"How could I have been so blind Vivian?"
"They say that love is blind. But that's good; you're friends first and foremost, isn't that what we all really want and need from our partner?" Vivian replied, smiling tenderly down at her best friend.
"True. I just have to work up the nerve now without the liquid courage." She said sitting up, drawing her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around her knees.
"Just be yourself Sofia. If he really loves you, that’s what he wants. And you two won't be able to stay apart long, now, not after last night, anyway." She winked. "You'll keep me posted on your progress, right?"
Sofia rolled her eyes and the two girls fell into a fit of laughter, just like old times.
~A/N: I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for sticking with me; I know I might not always update often but I'm determined to see this story out. Also, I wanted to thank everyone for their reviews! It really means alot to me when I see the notification that I have a new review! Even if its just a few words of encouragement, its enough to keep me going! It means the world to me to hear everyone's feedback, so please let me know how I'm doing. Again, thanks guys, you're all the best!
Chapter 14: When I Fall In Love
I apologize if there are any editing mistakes in this chapter, I had issues with formatting when I transferred over to AO3 for some odd reason.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
WHEN I FALL IN LOVE
Cedric wiped his dirt covered hands off of his brown trousers and sighed. This isn't exactly how I planned on spending my morning. He thought to himself, dusting off his knees as he stood up. I still don't understand how I got roped into this. Cedric looked around the lot and shook his head. The Dunwiddie community garden was pathetic to say the least; the tomatoes were shriveled, the lettuce was puny and bug laden, the beans were dry and frail. It needs a miracle not a sorcerer.
"Hey, Mr. Sorcerer, am I doing this right?"
Cedric groaned and rolled his eyes. Why did I agree to help? Why didn't I just drop off the basket and go?
"His name is Cedric, Jade; you think you'd know that after hearing Sofia go on and on about him so often." Ruby corrected her friend, while sprinkling a bluish powder over the wilting herbs. Cedric blushed slightly at the thought of Sofia talking to the village girls about him.
"Mister Cedric, then..." Jade amended herself sarcastically. "Is this right?" Asking again, waving her hand over the dry and shriveling cornstalks, lettuce, and tomatoes in front of her.Â
"Y-yes. Just a s-sprinkle o-over the plants." He muttered, still flustered from Ruby's comment about him. He couldn't imagine what Sofia would have to say about him, especially to some simple village girls. He was, however, curious what she had said in regards to him; they had been master and apprentice for years, and she did spend most days cooped up in the tower with him. Whatever the girl had told her friends up to this point could only deal with their professional relationship.
Up until the other day nothing inappropriate had passed between the two; other than the occasional hug initiated by the princess and one particular night, years ago, when the girl was but fifteen. But it seemed from the girl's tone and conversation that Sofia had conveyed a fondness for him beyond professional adulation.
"What do we do with that stuff again?" Jade asked, nodding over towards the basket Cedric had brought and left under a large oak tree. The basket was filled with multiple glass bottles, each full of a transparent turquoise liquid, sealed and corked with magic so not to leak.
"How many times need I repeat myself?" He groaned, wiping sweat from his brow with his exposed forearm. The heat was almost unbearable. Cedric understood why the garden was doing so poorly, with the extremely hot summer the kingdom was experiencing he was surprised that anything survived at all. "Mix one quart per five gallons of water; water per your norm, every day, until what I've brought is gone."
"Will it be enough?" Jade questioned, rolling the sleeves of her periwinkle dress up more.
"By my calculations, used with the magically enhanced fertilizer and magical organic pesticide, it should be." He replied, pulling a metal flask from his trouser pocket. He took a long draught, savoring the cooling effect the water had over his body. He emptied the enchanted flask, waved his hand over it replenishing its contents before returning it to his pocket. "For the life of me, I still can't figure out how you girls roped me into helping you. Shouldn't some farm hand be doing this work, instead of the royal sorcerer?"
"Everyone else is busy." Jade shrugged, continuing to spread the pesticide over the plants.
"And someone had to show us how this stuff works, normally Sofia is the one to help out." Ruby added. Cedric then realized why Sofia was always absent after they had completed an order for the village. He felt like an utter fool; he had been completely ignorant through the years that Sofia was picking up his slack. And all the while she had never mentioned it, she had never complained, never a hint of her actions to him. Silently she had helped him perform the duties which he had ignored; duties he had deemed unworthy of his time.
Cedric felt a wave of guilt wash over him. His arrogance had created more work for the princess; more duties for a girl already laden with school work, political studies, duties as storyteller, obligations as protector of the Mystic Isles and the Ever-realm, as well as the abundance of work he had given her as his apprentice.
He had known for years of the girl's secrets; he had been her soul confidant, excluding her aunt, the Duchess Matilda. She had tried to keep them from him; it wasn't until she was badly injured preforming her duties as Storyteller that he had found out. He remembered the day clearly; it was the day he realized how deeply he cared for the girl.
It had been well into the night; the summer chorus of crickets and frogs filled the castle grounds with their persistent noise (for what had already been hours) when her horse, Minimus, had flown her to the sorcerer's tower window. The creature whinnied so loudly that it startled him awake from his deep slumber in his large study chair. He stalked to the window, book in hand ready to toss it at whatever insane creature was outside his tower. The horse neighed again as Cedric had leaned out the window, arm poised back ready to release his rage upon the creature that had awoke him.
"Cedric stop! It's the Princess!" Wormwood squawked, flying between the sorcerer and his prey.
"What on Earth-" Minimus neighed again, turning his body revealing the injured princess on his back.
"He said she's injured. You're the only one he could think of that she would trust to help." The raven went on, perching on his master's shoulder. "Heaven knows why he would think such a thing." He scoffed under his wing.
"Bring her closer!" Cedric yelled, ignoring his companion. Minimus backed up as close as he could to the tower, his wings beating softly as he tried not to upturn his princess. "Sofia! Sofia, can you hear me?" Cedric yelled again, reaching out to her. The girl didn't move. Cedric clenched his teeth together. What in Merlin's name has she gotten herself into now. He thought looking the sleeping girl over.
He leaned out over the cold stone slab and with all his strength he pulled the princess off of her steed and into his arms. "Sofia... Sofia wake up!" He urged brushing her tangled locks from her face. "What's wrong with her? What happened?" He yelled out the window at the flying horse. Minimus brayed, looking from Cedric to Wormwood. "What did he say Wormy?"
"She was chased by a pack of wolves and before he could get to her she slipped and fell into a ravine."
"Wolves!? What in Merlin's name was she doing? Nevermind!" He shouted, rushing to lay her on the chaise in the study. He looked her up and down; she was wearing a dark purple peasant dress that was mostly torn to shreds and knee-high boots that were now nothing more than scrap leather. She was bleeding from multiple locations; a deep laceration on her head, both arms were badly scraped and bruised, her hands were raw, her knees and shins were covered in bruises and cuts. "Forgive me Little One." He whispered sliding off her boots, revealing what looked like a broken leg. Cedric shook his head, pained at the sight before him. His apprentice was on the verge of death; she needed him now more than ever. He pushed his thoughts away and set to work; he tore open her dress leaving her clad in nothing but her undergarments and pressed the tip of his wand to the gaping wound on her head.
A soft sliver of light emitted from the tip of his wand and slowly the gash on her head began to close. He moved on, working from her worst lesions to the more minor ones, one by one, repairing her body. He worked for hours, lending every ounce of energy he had into his healing magic. Lastly, he kneeled over her mending her broken leg, rubbing up and down her smooth skin until he felt the bone mend together again. Spent, Cedric slid to the floor, his body and mind barely able to function. He leaned his back up against the chaise and closed his eyes. Just a moment. I need just a moment to- his thoughts were interrupted by a soft moan above him. "Sofia!" He yelled suddenly finding enough strength to turn and kneel beside the girl.
She was stirring awake, moaning as she tried to move her limbs. "Be still, your body still needs time to heal properly... I've done what I can." He whispered, caressing her face, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Ced..ric..." She groaned, fluttering open her icy blue eyes.
"Yes, Dearest, I'm here." He stated, taking her hand in his. "You're safe now."
"I hurt... so bad." She whispered, gazing up into his eyes, her own filling with tears.
"I know, Little One. I'm sorry there's not more I can do for you at this time." He replied wiping away her tears with his thumb as he cradled her cheek with the palm of his hand.
"How did I get here?"
"Your horse brought you to me... Sofia what on Earth were you doing? You could have died... You almost..." He shook his head trying to clear the thought of her lifeless body from his mind. He didn't realize it at the time but his eyes watered, brimming with tears.
"It's a long story." She mumbled looking away from the passionate man before her.
"Don't you dare try and keep a secret from me, not after all I've been through tonight..." He scolded her; his hands balling into fist beside her, his eyes hardening, his brow furrowing at her.
"Mister Cedric, I can't."
His eyes narrowed, his tears dried up; she hated the look she was receiving from her dear friend. She felt her breath still, her eyes brimmed with tears again. She couldn't keep him locked out. She couldn't push him away after he, most assuredly, had spent most of the night tending to her wounds. She knew healing magic came at a cost; the level of healing was only equal to the energy of the wielder. She realized now that Cedric must have consumed almost all his energy to heal her. The tears rolled down her cheeks as he turned his back to her, silently sinking down to the floor again.
Sofia forced herself upright. She realized now that she was completely undressed beside her tattered undergarments. She looked around the room and saw her clothes, torn and slashed in a pile before the fireplace. He had undressed her in order to get to her injuries, she knew that, part of her relished at the idea of Cedric seeing her so bare. But this had never been how she had imagined the scenario.
She pushed away her modesty and slid down beside the sorcerer. His eyes narrowed and his mouth opened to surely reprimand her for moving so much while still maimed. She slid her arms around his waist and held him tightly, her tears flowing freely now. "I'm sorry. I realize the trouble you went to in order to help me, I'm so sorry Mister Cedric!"
"Shush now. You need to rest, Little One." He mumbled, running his hand over her hair as she cried softly.
"No, I need to tell you, you deserve to know." She cried, sitting upright again, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. His eyes moved over her creamy skin; he had managed to heal her wounds, but feared she would have permanent scars from some of the deeper lacerations. It was then he fully realized she was half naked in front of him. She was no longer a child, she had begun to fill out a womanlier figure; her breasts were now plump and needed more support than a simple shift could supply. She wore a lightweight brassiere that she had fashioned, just for wear under her adventure outfits. It laced in the front, like a corset, keeping her breasts securely in place. Her hips had begun to widen slightly, giving her a voluptuous hourglass shape to her body. Her hip bones were slightly pronounced due to her lean and athletic build. Her stomach was toned; flat and flawless milky-white flesh stretched across firm muscle. He felt blood rush to his cheeks and broke his gaze her unclothed body.
He leaned forward and with what little energy he had left, pulled his baggy, peasant-style shirt off over his head and handed it to the pristine princess. "Cover yourself." He mumbled, keeping his eyes focused on the far side of the room.
"Oh, um, thank you, Mister Cedric." She muttered, slipping the large billowy blouse on over her head. Sofia slid her arms into the puffy sleeves, and pulled the shirt down as far as it would go, covering her to mid-thigh. She could feel Cedric's left-over body heat radiating across her skin, warming her body through. She smiled slightly, pressing the warm fabric against her chest as her fingers wrapped around the precious amulet resting below her clavicle.
"You know the Amulet grants me powers, well it also led me to a placed called the Secret Library. The library is enormous and filled with unfinished books, and it's the job of the Storykeeper to finish them." She stated, studying him while his gaze was still diverted. She noted that his chest and stomach were surprisingly toned with firm muscles beneath smooth ivory skin. He isn't skin and bone after all. She thought. Silently she admitted to herself that he proved quite pleasing to the eye. It was at that point that her eyes drifted downward and fixated on the trail of hair that began between his abs and trickled downward beneath his waistband. She felt herself blush at the way she was viewing her master.
"And let me guess, you're the Storykeeper." He sighed rolling his head to look at her fully. "And this damn library sent you off to be nearly killed."
Sofia winced at his words. "It was an accident; sometimes the stories are easy to finish, other times they're more difficult." She shrugged, clasping her hands, settling them into her semi-exposed lap.
Cedric nodded his head as if he understood, but in reality he was too furious that she had knowingly put herself in danger to really care why. "Is that all you're keeping from me?" He sneered at her, giving her a glare. Sofia swallowed hard and looked away momentarily. "There's more isn't there." He more or less stated as he groaned, looking up at the ceiling. "Sofia how can I protect you... help you... if you're not completely honest with me..." He sighed, watching her from the corner of his eye.
Sofia sighed and bit her lower lip, an act he found tantalizing but ignored all the same. "You're right... I haven't been honest with you... Please don't get mad at me Mister Cedric..." He clenched his teeth, fighting the overwhelming urge to yell at the girl.
"You're lucky I don't have enough energy left to berate you like I want to at the moment."
She smiled at him softly before continuing. "I've been to the Mystic Isles..." Cedric snapped his head towards her, raising an eyebrow at her.
"I had a story that needed a good ending... and it took place on the Isle of Crystals..."
Cedric's mouth was agape; open and closing as he tried to find his words. "B-b-but h-how? O-only a handful of p-people have ever m-made it to the Isles..."
"That's a story for another time... point is, after that the Isle dwellers appointed me the Protector of the Ever-realm, which is what they call our world."
Cedric blinked a few times, then closed his eyes pinching the bridge of his nose. "I think I might have spent too much energy healing you...I must be delusional."
Sofia laughed softly, then clutched her sides from the pain that spread through her ribcage. Cedric's eyes flew open when she moaned, and eased her back against the chaise to mirror him. He grabbed a light cotton blanket off of the chaise and draped it over them both. She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed. "I know it's a lot to take in, but I'm telling you the truth Mister Cedric. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, I was just trying to protect everyone..."
"Alright, enough talk for now. I can't focus anymore..." He muttered closing his eyes resting his head on hers. Sofia smiled and pulled the blanket up to her shoulder as she snuggled up to her Master. His shirt bunched up around her waist as she adjusted herself to his form. She felt his arm snake around behind her and pull her closer; her breath stilled as the touch of his warm flesh sent chills down her spine, the feeling of skin-to-skin contact with Cedric was electrifying. "Just promise you'll be more careful... I couldn't bare to lose you."
"I promise." She whispered into his chest.
"Good, finding another apprentice as good as you would be a terrible pain..." He murmured into her hair. She giggled, then winced at the pain again. He chuckled lightly and held her tightly to his side. Sofia sighed and draped her arm across his stomach.
"Let's get some rest."
"Yes, lets." He mumbled already falling asleep, wrapped in the princess's embrace.
"Well we're done now." Ruby stated, snapping Cedric from his memories. She dumped her bag of magical pesticide power upside down, allowing the remaining dust to fall out. "Where is Sof, anyway? Is she okay? She just kinda disappeared at her ball and we haven't heard from her since... it's kinda odd for her." Ruby stated, brushing dirt and blue power from her candy-apple red dress.
"W-what makes you think I would know?" He scoffed, picking up his robe and vest from under the tree keeping his back to the girls. Ruby and jade snorted.
"Maybe they're both still in denial." Jade murmured to Ruby, loud enough for Cedric to hear. He gritted his teeth. Does everyone really thing Sofia and I have been having a secret affair all these years?
"Jade!" Ruby reprimanded her friend, in a hushed tone. "Well, you two were always close before; she was your apprentice after all. You two didn't pick up where you left off?"
"I don't see how that's any of your business." Cedric snapped, glaring at the girls from over his shoulder, rolling down the sleeves of his moss-green shirt.
"Touchy." Jade muttered, crossing her arms.
"We just want to know if Sofia's okay. Can you at least tell her we're still here for her; that we're concerned."
"Or is that asking too much your Royal Sorcery-ness?" Jade interjected, arms still crossed. Cedric sighed and turned to face Sofia's friends.
"I suppose I deserved that." He muttered, running his hand thought his hair. "Yes, I'll tell her. And yes, she's fine; so to speak. I'm sure when she gets the first opportunity she'll fill you in."
"I knew it; you do know what's going on." Ruby pressed, her hands on her hips defiantly.
"It's not my place to say anything. She'll fill you in when she's ready. Don't press her though, Girls; not this time."
"You make it sound like something dreadful happened..." Ruby replied shaking her head.
"Or they had a lover's quarrel and she's avoiding him." Jade quipped, with a snort.
"Now, I remember why I try to avoid the fairer sex... Are you all so inquisitive and pushy?" Cedric groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. "She's fine. Listen, I have to come back to town in a few days away, I'll bring her with me. Will that suffice?"
"I suppose." Ruby agreed hesitantly, crossing her arms across her chest.
"Fine." Cedric stated curtly, rolling his eyes at the infuriating girls. He let his eyes linger on the sky for a moment as a flying coach glided overhead, he noted that it was traveling in the direction of the castle. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other things to tend to."
"Sure you do; thanks for your help Mr. Sorcerer." Jade muttered strolling away, grabbing a bucket and heading towards the well. Cedric ground his teeth together and stalked away. Sofia and I are most certainly having a discussion about her 'friends' when she gets back. He told himself, shoving his burgundy vest on, and giving it a rough tug to straighten it. Along with a few other things as well.
Cedric's flashback was not in my outline; it kinda just happened and I went with it. The next chapter is what I had originally intended to be with this segment, but with the addition it was too long. I'll tweek the next chapter some and hopefully post it in a week or so. The ball really gets rolling in the next chapter! I'm very excited for what is to come between the princess and her sorcerer, so please keep on reading and giving me feedback guys! Thanks. :)
PUT YOUR DREAMS AWAY
Sofia took deep breath in through her parched mouth, the moist air from the stone tower replenished her saliva enough to ease the sting of air moving over her tongue, and expelled it through her nose in a therapeutic manner. She gave the workshop door her signature swift triad knock and waited with bated breath for the sorcerer to give her access to his dwelling; needing to see him, needing to release her emotions and thoughts to the man before she lost her nerve.Â Â
"Ah, Princess, I thought that was your flying coach."
Sofia jumped slightly, surprised by Cedric's sudden appearance. Cedric gave her a soft smile as he slid past her to unlock the tower door. She could see perspiration on his brow and smell the musty hint of dirt on his clothes. She gave him a quick onceover as he shoved open the heavy wood door and motioned for her to enter before him. His vest hung open loosely over his token moss-green shirt, which was unbuttoned partially, revealing the pale skin of his chest beneath it.
"What on Earth have you been up to?" She muttered, brushing her hand across his bare chest, to his sleeve, knocking loose a large cloud of dust. His heart skipped at beat at the princess's soft caress, but he ignored it. They had things they needed to discuss, things such as that; the innate easiness they both had fallen into when in each other's presence lately. Cedric rolled his eyes and groaned. Despite his thoughts, his hand softly settled on her lower back and pressed her forward into the room.
"I was at the village." He grumbled as he shut the door gently behind them.
"Doing what?" Sofia laughed as she watched her teacher hang his robe up on the coat rack beside the entry door. "I've never seen you this dirty before; not even when we went to gather materials." She snickered. Cedric groaned again as he crossed the room, heading towards the stairs that led to his bedchambers, rolling his sleeves up to his elbows.
"Those two friends of yours roped me into helping them with the village garden."
"You mean Ruby and Jade?"
"The same." He replied sliding off his vest as he made his way down the stone stairs, flinging it to a nearby chair once he passed the threshold of his chambers. He gave his hand a flick towards the washbasin, filling it with cool water while he peeled his dirt covered gloves off, tossing them to the side as well. Slowly, Sofia poked her head around the doorframe. She stood their silently watching Cedric as he splashed his face with cool water, washing away the sweat and dirt. She quietly observed him in his rugged state, as he diligently washed his hands, cleaning dirt from under his nails and from between his fingers.
"You know, I think you look even more handsome when you're all rugged looking, from being out in nature." Sofia mused aloud. Startled, Cedric stood stiff, his breath caught in his throat. His hands paused above the water, droplets falling from his fingertips and forearms back into the basin. He stared at the girl leaning against his doorframe, blinking a few times, trying to figure out if she was really there or if his mind was playing tricks on him again.
"S-S-Sofia... Wh-what are you d-doing...here?" He stuttered.
"I...I thought it was okay after the other night." She muttered, avoiding his gaze, confused by his reaction.
"You..." She said looking up at his with hurt eyes. "You donâ€™t remember..." she said barely above a whisper.
"Remember... what exactly?" He asked hesitantly. To the contrary, he thought he knew what she was eluding to, but couldn't be certain his recollection was reality. He needed her to tell him the truth of that night. He needed her to confirm what had been stuck on replay in his head the past few days.
"I didn't think you were that intoxicated..." She mumbled, nervously twiddling her fingers, looking away from him again.
"Umm..." He cleared his throat, drying off his arms and hands with a nearby towel. Sofia peeked at him though her bangs, shyly. "Things might be a little hazy..." He half lied, avoiding eye contact with the girl.
Sofia sighed and looked away. "Never mind." She mumbled, turning to head up the stairs.
"You saw my sketch...?" He asked tentatively, reaching out for her from across the room, before she had the chance to run away.
"...Yes." She smiled over her shoulder pausing at the threshold, her delicate hand tightening around the door frame as if trying to ground herself to the unfolding reality.
"So... It wasn't all a dream, you were here..."
"Yeah, what all do you remember?" She asked, turning to face him, resting her shoulder against the doorframe again.
"I'm hesitant to say..." He swallowed hard. "Maybe part of it was alcohol induced..."
"What makes you think you were dreaming?" She pressed, closing the space between them with a few delicate steps. Her sky-blue eyes peered up at him, the corners of her mouth upturned ever so slightly. She was very close. He could feel her breath against his semi-bare chest; the sensation sent chills down his spine.
"E-everything was in its p-proper place... Like you had n-never been here..." He mumbled looking away from the girl before him. His nerves where now getting the better of him; his heart beat faster as she pretended to wipe dirt off his shirt.
"Oh, I did clean up before I left that morning."
"That morning?" He asked raising his eyebrows at her; his heart skipped a beat as the thought that she really had been in his bed entered his mind.
"...Yes... You don't remember?" She frowned again, pausing her dusting of him to cast him a forlorn look.
"No, I remember..." He sighed. The tension eased from his shoulders at the realization she hadn't been an absinthe induced fantasy after all. Sofia relaxed as well, smiling up at the sorcerer, her hand coming to rest squarely on his chest. He wrapped his hand around hers and tenderly removed it from his chest as he took a step back. "And here I thought it was an absinthe induced dream all week." He chortled, rolling his eyes.
"It wasn't a dream." She giggled.
"Well, this complicates matters further." He muttered to himself, removing his hand from hers to roll down his sleeves.
"What's on your hands?" She asked reaching forward, taking his hands in hers, ignoring his statement for the time being.
"Shit. You weren't supposed to see these." He blurted out, trying to pull his hands from her grasp. She held on tight, running her thumbs over his palms.
"I didn't know you had any tattoos." She mumbled in awe at the sight before her. She slowly ran her thumbs over his skin, examining each palm, noting that each had a different design. His left hand had a pagan symbol of the trinity in dark black ink, encompassed by a perfect circle. On his right palm, in various shades of red and orange, was a phoenix rising from flames shaped like a lotus, it too confined by a circle of matching color.
"Yes, well no one but Wormy knew... until now." He groaned, biting his lip waiting for her reaction.
"That's why you always have your gloves on...You had them on the other night too... I didn't think anything about it." She went on, tracing the lines with her fingertips.
"Yes, well they have to remain hidden. You can't tell a soul." He urged, sliding one hand over hers, covering it, grasping her small fingers in his.
"Why?" She asked, turning her bright blue eyes up to his soulful brown ones.
"They're... they're from my past." He muttered looking away from her. I can't tell her. Damnit, I shouldn't have let my guard down.
"What do you mean?" She asked, taking his cheek in the palm of her hand and turning him face to her. Their eyes locked on one another's again; her eyes wide with concern, already prepared to be forgiving and understanding of his answer. He could lose himself in those passionate eyes. He gazed back at her, his own eyes swimming with a mix of emotions he hadn't felt in years. It was hard for him to think clearly when she looked at him in such a way. His heart pounded in his chest, a fire burned deep in his belly, his breath became uneven, he felt the words on the tip of his tongue; he would tell her all she wanted if he could just keep gazing into her fervent eyes.
Images flashed through his head; his lips moved as he told her a story no one else knew, he watched as her eyes dimmed at his words and Sofia turned from him. Cedric sighed, and shook his head to clear away the thoughts. He closed his eyes to break the hold she had over him. "Please don't ask me, Sofia." He whispered pulling his hands away, taking a step backward out of her reach. He plucked up a new pair of gloves from beside the basin and slid them on, covering his intricate tattoos.
"Alright... You can tell me when you're ready then, but Cedric... you know you can tell me anything." She stated, clasping her hands together at her waist.
Cedric nodded in agreement. "I know that, Sofia... It's just that... This isn't a bridge I'm prepared to cross quite yet."
"I... I understand, I'm sorry I was being nosy." She said wringing her hands in guilt.
"It's fine, Dearest. Please don't be upset about it. I don't want you pouting all day or Mummy will be the one being nosy." He said patting the top of her head gently; he let his fingers entwine in her locks, running his fingers through her hair.
"Yes, I thought we were going to visit my parents today..." He replied, absentmindedly tucking a strand of auburn hair behind her ear.
"Oh! Yes, I had forgotten! But it's already well past noon..."
"Yes, well, considering we're running late and that we are well past any proprietary... Since you've already seen me..." He cleared his throat before continuing. "Undressed before... Do you mind if I go ahead and change?" He asked as he began to unbutton the rest of his shirt.
Sofia's heart skipped at beat at the sight before her. She blushed, the corners of her mouth upturning into a small smile, and turned her head away slightly. "Go right ahead." She mumbled nervously, returning her gaze to him as he pulled off his shirt and exchanged it for fresh peasant-style one. "Have I ever mentioned before, that you look rather handsome when you're not swallowed up by your robes?" she stated as he slipped off his shoes.
Cedric blushed and cleared his throat nervously. He paused momentarily, deciding to turn his back to her before letting his pants drop into a pile to the floor. His shirt was long enough to mostly hide his posterior, but he felt her eyes boring into him nonetheless. He kicked his trousers to the side, willing his heart to slow the pounding in his chest. The sorcerer promptly slipped on a new pair of trousers, tucked his shirt-tails in, and slid back into his shoes. He picked out a plum colored vest from his small wooden wardrobe and slid it on, leaving it unbuttoned for the time being as he walked toward Sofia; ready to usher her out of his bedchamber and grab a clean robe hanging by the door.
His plans were thwarted though, as Sofia took a confidant step toward him and with dexterous fingers buttoned up his vest; her dainty fingertips taking their time as she leisurely slipped the tarnished buttons through their crevices. Cedric stood there unable to move or say a word. Silently watching, he allowed her to finish her task. The princess smiled at him, and smoothed out his vest and shirt before turning and heading up the stairs. Cedric exhaled slowly, shaking his head slightly as he internally berated himself for allowing such behavior to continue, and followed the princess. He paused at the threshold, his hand reaching toward his spare robe; hesitantly he pulled his hand away and followed Sofia up the stairs, leaving his robe hanging on its hook.
I know that Cedric having tattoos seems overdone to some people, it wasn’t in my outline. Like I said before, this story seems to be writing itself and I’m just following where it leads me. I like how this one turned out. The Phoenix tattoo is actually my own design. I forbid the use/reference to my design as it has a deep meaning for me and my husband. I designed this tattoo after my husband and I lost a set of twins a few years ago and I felt the meaning behind it would go well with Cedric’s character. I have one on each wrist as a memorial for our little ones
Chapter 16: What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life
Sofia and Cedric arrive at Mystic Meadows and tensions arise.
~A/N: I apologize for the long delay in updates. Life happens and writing gets put on the backburner. On top of which, I just had a hard time getting motivated to write this chapter with everything going on in my life at the moment. This chapter is now being split up into two or maybe three parts. My original outline had 20 chapters but now it's looking more like 25ish chapters give or take, which is okay for me because it allows me to expand on a few aspects I hadn't planned on. This isn't the best work I've done or can do but I'm content with this after three write-ups. Lol. Hope you enjoy guys! Please keep reviewing! It really helps with the motivation aspect!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
Cedric held out an open palm to Sofia as she stepped down from the carriage. It was a simple action that now, after the days earlier events, felt almost wrong to him. She now knew about the secret he had kept hidden for so long. Even with his palms being covered it felt wrong to let Sofia have contact there. It was unavoidable, he knew, but he felt as if he was contaminating her pure soul. He grimaced at the thought of fully divulging his secret to her. He had run the scenario through his head over and over again during the carriage ride, and all the scenarios ended with her despising him.
Their trip to mystic meadows had been spent mostly in silence; both passengers having words to speak but lacked the courage to utter them. Cedric spent the ride brooding and Sofia not knowing what to say to the man before her. Cedric had decided though, despite the circumstances, that he wanted Sofia to have an enjoyable day. He would push his worries to the back of his mind and preserve for her sake.
Cedric offered his arm to the princess as they began down the long dirt path around the lake; with a faint smile and a polite nod, Sofia accepted the Sorcerer's arm.
"Shall we pick some herbs while we're here?" Cedric asked as they meandered along the lush lake meadows.
"I thought your stores were mostly full?"
"Yes, well... one can never have too many ingredients... Especially those herbs with medicinal properties, considering those have shorter shelf lives." He replied, pausing to wave a hand over the lush fields filled with forget-me-nots and marigolds.
"True, but aren't we running late as it is?" She pressed, gently tossing her loose, wavy curls to the side.
"Well... A little... but... I just thought since it’s a lovely day that you might enjoy spending it outside as long as possible." He shrugged, coming to a stop just before the wooden foot bridge before them.
"Aww, how considerate of you... Now, what's the real reason?" She pressed, backing him into the railing with nowhere to go.
Cedric sighed. "I need more time to prepare myself."
"Mummy." He grunted, turning away from her, leaning on the rail.
"Ms. Winnifred?" Whatever for? She always loves it when we visit." Sofia asked, leaning beside him. They watched as the leaves tumbled over the rocky shallows of the stream and made their way under the little bridge. The crystal-clear water trickling along the gravelly soil that formed its boundaries, pushing tiny pebbles along its path, eroding away the larger stones.
"Yes, she does enjoy it when we visit, but Mummy tends to be very nosy... and with everything that’s happened recently..."
"Oh... I understand..." Sofia muttered, deflating at the idea of Cedric's parents discovering how helpless she was at Hugo's hands; it wasn't the image of her that they were familiar with and embarrassed the Princess. "I'm sorry Cedric... We shouldn't have come. I shouldn't have come..." She muttered, diverting her eyes away from him and the stream, gazing off into the distance.
"Don't be silly." He said turning towards her, taking her shoulders in in his hands and forcing her to face him. "I know what you're thinking and that’s not what I meant. That was not your fault, and you have nothing to be ashamed of."
Sofia shifted her eyes away from the fervent man before her. She knew his words were meant to help, but she still felt shame within for the events that had occurred.
"News tends to travel fast amongst royals and sorcerers... if they don't already know, they will soon. But that’s not what I'm worried about." Sofia looked up into Cedric's eyes, curious what he meant. His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed, they seemed to bore into her soul, conveying emotions she had never felt before. Then the thought of the elderly couple discovering that she had spent the night in their only son's bed, half naked at that, made her blush. "Sofia, we need to talk about things... But I honestly just want you to have an enjoyable day, today. It's just, I'm afraid that Mummy will pick up on our uneasiness... I don't want you to feel like your backed into a corner..." he rambled, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "I wasn't prepared to... I-I didn’t think that...that... I thought it was all a dream... I was in denial. I didn't expect..." He muttered, caressing her cheek with his thumb.
Sofia took in a deep breath savoring the man's touch before taking his hand in her own. She gave him a soft smile before turning and pulling him into the meadow behind her. "You worry too much." She laughed as she knelt down to gather the herbs at her feet. Slowly Cedric knelt beside her and began to pick the wildflowers before him. He used his wand to magically cut their stems, before placing them gently to the side, glancing every so often over at Sofia.
"You're not worried or concerned?" He asked her almost timidly.
"Well, of course I'm worried to some extent. But I'm more concerned about the talk we'll have later. " she stated not taking her eyes off the plants before her as she worked gathering them into the lap of her dress.
"R-really?" He questioned, raising an eyebrow at the princess. Sofia nodded softly, her curls bouncing ever so slightly with her movement. He gave his wand a twirl and muttered a short spell, producing a worn leather satchel into his hand. He gathered his herbs and tucked them into the bag before rising to his feet. "Well, then... Let's get this over with." Cedric declared with newfound courage, holding his hand out to the princess.
"You're sure?" she asked, slipping the herbs into the outheld satchel.
Cedric sucked in a deep breath and clenched his teeth. "Don't ask me or I'll lose my nerve."
"Okay... race you there then!" She yelled, pulling him behind her for a few paces before letting go to gather her skirts, in order to pick up speed.
"What? Sofia..." He grumbled, but she was already out of ear shot. Cedric grunted and began sprinting behind her in his best effort to catch up with the princess. "Sofia, slow down I'm too old for this nonsense!" He yelled, watching as she seemed to float across the lush grass and wildflowers that covered the rolling knolls like a thick blanket.
"You'll never beat me at that pace, Ceddy!" She teased over her shoulder mid-stride. She spotted the hint of a smile on Cedric's face before turning forward again to gain more momentum; only to fall forward harshly, crashing into the dirt sending up a large cloud of dust.
"Sofia! Princess!" Cedric yelled as he darted forward to her aid. She laid there on her side, clutching her left ankle in her hands.
"I think its broken..." She told him with a calm demeanor. Cedric gently moved Sofia's hands aside to assess the damage. Although the injury had just occurred the swelling around the joint was already severe. Her ankle was turning a deep purple by the second.
"To say the least..." Cedric muttered. "This is something better suited for Mummy to fix..."
"But you've healed me be-"
"Yes, I know I can but we'd be here all night if I did. Mummy is the healer of the family, not me." He cut her off.
"There's no way I could possibly walk though."
"I'll ease the pain for now, but I'll leave the healing for Mummy." He cut her off again, already moving his wand along her ankle, brow furrowed in concentration. Sofia sighed as she felt the pain dissipate. When Cedric was finished with his efforts, he knelt down before the princess, his back facing her.
"Get on." He stated, facing away from her still.
"Pardon?" She questioned apprehensively, confused by his actions.
Cedric glanced over his shoulder and made eye contact with the princess, silently asking her to trust his actions. Without a word he grabbed her wrists and pulled her up onto his back, he shifted forward and tucked his arms under her knees, cradling her against his back. When he had risen to his full height he adjusted Sofia slightly, shifting her on his back to find a comfortable spot for them both. Sofia felt the warmth of his body radiating through his clothes and pressed closer to his form until there was no space between their bodies.
"Thank you." Sofia murmured into his neck as she nuzzled closer. She felt a rumble deep within Cedric's chest, prompting her heart to flutter. She wrapped her arms tighter around his neck and playfully nuzzled his ear with her nose.
Sofia frowned. "I'm sorry." She muttered, tucking her head back, her lips caressing his neck.
Cedric sucked in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "Today's really going well for us both isn't' it..." He more or less stated, as he began the short trek before them. "At least Mummy will be distracted now. N-not that you getting injured is g-good, that is to s-say... umm, perhaps a blessing in disguise?" He sighed. "I'd take a broken limb any day over talking to my father or having Mummy pry." He scoffed. Sofia giggled at the man's dry humor.
"They're not that insufferable."
"You're not the one whom they've been relentlessly pressuring to wed and bed someone." He paused a moment to adjust his grip on her, his hand accidentally slipping up under her skirts, allowing his hand to cup the smooth flesh of her thigh. He nervously glanced back at Sofia, embarrassed to be touching her in such a manner. The princess didn't seem to mind though, almost inviting it, wrapping her form around him. He cleared his throat before continuing. "Father has been quite insistent recently that I find a talented sorceress to wed and produce an abundance of offspring." he groaned, shaking his head at the thought.
"Oh... I take it they want more grandchildren then since Calista is grown up now?"
"Mummy, yes. Father on the other hand just wants another male heir who, I'm sure, he will deem more worthy and more talented than myself... You know after all these years, I'm still a failure to him." He sighed heavily. "This last year hasn’t been the most pleasant between the two of us, Sofia."
"I'm sorry to hear that." She frowned with a small sigh, resting her chin on his shoulder. "I guess a lot did change while I was away..."
"...Some things... yes."
"I-If he wants you to... get married... will he... approved of me accompanying you when you visit?" She asked hesitantly. Cedric paused at her question, now only a few hundred yards away from the cottage. She felt his grip on her tighten as he glanced over his shoulder looking her in the eye to the best of his ability.
"I highly doubt father sees you... in the same light as I." he said softly. "It would never occur to him that you... that you could have any bearing on the situation... But Mummy on the other hand... She's been keen on you for a while I dare say." He finished flashing her a debonair smile. "It doesn’t matter what he thinks anyway. You're my oldest and dearest friend, next to Wormy." he said with a wink. "You're always welcome at Mystic Meadows Princess. And... I don't foresee any new women coming into the picture now anyway. Father will just have to learn to accept my decisions. It's my life after all, right?"
Sofia returned his smile and wrapped her arms around him tightly in a hug. "You always know what to say to make me feel better."
"I always imagined I was more of an 'open mouth insert foot' kind of fellow, myself." He chortled as he began walking again towards the cottage. As they neared the wood and stone dwelling, they saw Cedric's mother reading a book in her favorite rocking chair on the porch.
"Oh, Ceddy!" She yelled, throwing her book to the side jumping up from her chair. "Goodie! Ceddykins is here!" Sofia stifled a giggled into Cedric's back as she recalled her use of the moniker earlier in the week. "Princess Sofia? What in heavens name are you doing up there, Dear?"
"Oh, it's so good to see you both. Goodwyn come out here at once!"
"Your son is here with a surprise visitor!" She continued.
"Mother!" Cedric shouted, startling the older woman. "That’s better... he grumbled. "She's broken her ankle on the way here. I need you to take a look, please?" He asked as Sofia craned her head over to smile sheepishly at the woman.
"OH! Of course, of course, bring her in right away Ceddy. Make sure she's comfy." The aging sorceress said as she ushered her son into the living room. Cedric gingerly slipped Sofia from his frame and onto the plush sofa; his fingertips sliding along her legs, sending chills up Sofia's spine, igniting a fire in her belly. Hesitantly he looked up at Sofia for permission before taking her ankle in his hands and propping it up on the coffee table before them.
"Dear me, however did you manage this? Oh, Sofia it's good to see you again! Ceddy never comes around as often when you're away." Winnifred gushed, taking a seat on the coffee table looking over her injury.
"I'm a busy man, Mummy." Cedric replied dryly.
"And that magically changes when our dear Sofia is around?" She eyed him as she drew out her wand from her skirts and pressed it to Sofia's swollen ankle. Sofia felt the blood rush to her cheeks and watched as Cedric blushed as well before diverting his eyes away from his mother.
"What's this here? What'd you do now boy? Allow the princess to be injured on your watch!" Goodwyn blasted as he entered the room. "When I was Royal Sorcerer-"
"Yes father, when you were the Royal Sorcerer no accidents ever occurred, everything was perfect. We know." Cedric said drolly, cutting off his father's words, lounging back in his seat beside Sofia.
"It was an accident Mr. Goodwyn. It was my fault, Cedric couldn't have done anything to prevent it." Sofia interjected, noticing how Winnifred perked up at Cedric's name. "He stopped my pain and brought me here immediately so Ms. Winnifred could heal me, considering that she is the healer of the family. Cedric made an executive decision and I trust his judgment." She finished, watching as Winnifred raised an eyebrow to Cedric upon the change of nomenclature again. Sofia felt him shift in his seat, unease settling in at his mother's uncanny intuition.
"Sofia, Dear, I would love to hear all about your travels while you're here." Winnifred quickly interjected before the conversation erupted more.
"I thought you would." Sofia smiled. "I've learned so many things while I was away. And I made sure to visit every royal sorcerer and learn how magic is used differently in certain regions."
"Sounds like you gained an education on magic that should have been covered here, by our Royal Sorcerer." Goodwyn huffed.
"They actually expanded on what Cedric had already taught me. They showed me quite a few in-depth rituals and spells that are only possible in those regions. If it wasn't for Cedric's lessons they couldn't have shown me. Actually, they all were highly impressed that I had such a vast education." she paused a moment before nodding to Cedric. "In fact, they all asked me to introduce them to Cedric when they visit Enchancia." She stated, giving Cedric a quick smile.
"I told you that you should be proud of our son, Goodie!" Winnifred declared.
"I brought you back souvenirs." Sofia asserted, pulling her wand from her skirts with one hand and with the other she pulled out two tiny books. The two books fit snugly into her palm; one bright red and the other a deep plum. "Higitus Figitus Migitusmum Prestidigtonium." She said waving her wand over her hand. In a plume of magic, the books returned to their normal size. She handed the purple one to Goodwyn and the red to Winnifred. "For Master Goodwyn, a one of a kind - History of Royal Sorcerers; with personal handwritten accounts from each of the Masters I visited." She grinned up at the elderly man, who for once was speechless. "And for Ms. Winnifred, a recipe book I made from my travels, each one tried and tested to perfection."
"Oh, Sofia Dear, you shouldn't have! You're so precious!" Winnifred gushed, winking at the Princess and then Cedric. "Isn't she perfect Goodie!" She declared, giving him a large smile. The grey sorcerer nodded flipping through the pages of his new book, eyes wide in awe.
"How long do you think it'll take you to heal her, Mummy?" Cedric asked, leaning forward in his seat towards the elderly woman.
"Another few hours at least, Dear."
Cedric let out an audible moan and stalked across the room to the mantle. "The king will have my head if I don't have you back in time. I do hope Wormwood is in the tower..." He thought aloud, picking up a medium sized crystal orb from the mantle. He muttered a few words and waved his hand over the crystal. It's clear form morphed into a swirling smoky mass before clearing up and showing an image of Wormwood. "Wormy, am I coming in clearly?"
"You bungler, how do you always manage to interrupt my naps? You had better hope this is important; you -"
"Oh, shut your beak, feather-brain. I need your help. The princess is slightly injured and it's going to take while to mend her. I need you to take the crystal ball to his Majesty so I can parley with him."
"Is that all I am to you, a messenger?"
"Please, Wormy? For the Princess..."
"I'll be sure to bring you some peanut brittle when we return, that is, if you cooperate Wormwood." Sofia chimed in from across the room.
"Did you hear that, you selfish creature? Even when she's injured she's still kind to you." Cedric chided his familiar as he walked across the room to take a seat beside the princess again.
"All right, all right. Give me a moment, this isn't the easiest thing to carry you know."
"Thank you, Wormwood." Sofia smiled down into the crystal. A few moments passed by as they watched Wormwood take flight and fly though the palace in search of the Royal family. After about five minutes the spotted the Majesties on the balcony taking tea. Wormwood swooped in low and dropped the crystal onto the table across from Roland before landing on the back of Miranda's chair. They heard a stifled scream, which Sofia instantly recognized as Amber.
"It's only Wormwood, Amber." James sighed in an annoyed tone.
"Cedric has an urgent message for you, your Majesty. " Wormwood interjected before anyone else could speak. "Just hold the crystal in front your face and they should be able to see and hear you clearly, and vice versa."
Roland nodded and took the crystal ball into his hand. He could see Cedric and Sofia sitting beside one another. He clenched his teeth together. He didn't like how close the sorcerer was with his youngest daughter, he allowed it to continue all these years only because of how trustworthy and honest Sofia was. Still, he disliked how much time they spent together, even more-so after Cedric's reaction to Hugo's advances on Sofia. Granted Cedric had reacted how Roland truly wanted to act, he was glad Cedric had been there to protect her. Although, it made him realize how deeply the man truly cared for his daughter, and that both infuriated and scared him.
"Dad? Can you hear and see us?"
"Yes, what's going on Sofia? Wormwood said Cedric had an urgent message for me?" He said glancing over towards the bird that was now accepting a handful of fruit from Miranda.
"Oh, It's nothing urgent, really. It's just, well I fell and broke my ankle. Ms. Winnifred is healing me as we speak, but she says it'll be a while before its mended. Cedric just didn't want you to worry because it'll be late when we return, now."
"Oh, there's no reason to go out so late, Dear! Your Majesty, Sofia is perfectly welcome to stay the night here. She needs the rest anyways. It takes a lot of energy from the patient to heal injuries using magic." Winnifred interjected, leaning towards the crystal to speak to the king.
"Mummy-" Cedric hissed.
"Well, of course I'd prefer for her to return tonight... but I suppose that’s up to Sofia. As long as she isn't imposing on you and Master Goodwyn that is." Roland replied. Internally he scolded himself, not liking the idea of Sofia spending the night in the direct vicinity as Cedric. He couldn't confine Sofia like a bird in a gilded cage. She was strong and independent, and he trusted her judgment with politics, so he had to trust her with her relationship with Cedric as well. Sofia had never shown any interest in men her age let alone an older man, he had a list of suitors that were invited to her birthday ball but he wouldn't force her into marriage like most Princesses were. After all, his own sister had given up the crown for a life of adventure and only recently gotten married herself. He felt a pang of guilt as he caught himself hoping that Sofia would choose to live a life like Tilly rather than fall prey to Cedric. He decided then and there he was going to have to confront the sorcerer when they returned.
"Oh, not an imposition at all, your Majesty. We just love it when the Princess pays us a visit. We would be glad to have her for the night." Winnifred beamed. "She can stay in Cordie's old room, its where Calista's says when she visits."
"Thank you, Ms. Winnifred." Sofia smiled.
"And you're sure that you're alright Sofia?" Miranda asked.
"I'm fine Mom. Cedric cast a spell to dissipate the pain while Ms. Winnifred heals me. I couldn't be in better hands honestly."
"Okay, Dear. We love you, take care of yourself, Sweetie. And Cedric?" Miranda continued.
"Y-yes, your Majesty?" Cedric choked out.
"Thank you, for taking care of Sofia for us."
"O-of c-course, your Majesty. I shall return her promptly tomorrow morning."
"No rush, enjoy the time with your family, Cedric. I know you don't get to see them often." The queen stated with a radiant smile.
"Thank you, your Majesty." Cedric nodded and waved his hand over the crystal severing the connection. He gripped the crystal in his hand and stalked over to the mantle. Sofia could visibly tell he was upset but his parents seemed to either not notice or ignore the fact all-together.
"So, Princess, tell me what are your plans now?" Goodwyn asked taking a seat in the large wingback chair by the fireplace. "Your birthday is approaching soon, correct?" Sofia nodded, demurely. "I'm sure that you will have all the eligible bachelors attending your debutant ball. May I be permitted to ask if you have a suitor picked out? I'm sure that you will have all the eligible bachelors of the realm will be in attendance. You'd make a wonderful Queen someday, if I may say." Sofia watched as Cedric clenched his teeth and gripped the mantle hard enough to turn his knuckles white.
"Thank you, Master Goodwyn. But I'm not quite sure where my life will lead me quite yet. I do believe in putting one's country first, but there comes a time when one must put one's self first. I believe everyone should be happy." she declared turning her eyes away from Goodwyn and towards his son. Cedric stood with his back to them, staring into the fireplace, doing his best to tune out the conversation at hand. "And if I do marry, I'd like it to be for love." She turned her eyes to Winnifred then back to Goodwyn to finish her statement. "I can't really say when my time will be, so in the meantime, I think I will continue on as ambassador if Father asks me to."
"A very diplomatic answer, Princess. I see why your father chose you for the spot now." Goodwyn chuckled. "You're very young still Princess, you might find your dreams and ambitions change after this party. With as many men already lined up ready to ask for your hand, surely, you'll find one appealing enough. I'm sure your parents would like to have grandchildren someday. You can't forget their wants and needs, like some children do..." He almost growled, glaring at Cedric who still had his back to them. Sofia watched as Cedric stiffened at his father's words. It hurt her to see him treated so. It pained her heart more though, that his father was the tormentor.
"I'm sure my mother and father do want grandchildren. But they would never expect me to marry into a loveless marriage just for producing offspring." She replied diplomatically as possible. "My parents had a second chance on love, and Dad broke tradition to be with my mom. If anything, it's shown me that love is worth waiting for and that love knows no bounds." she finished looking back over to Cedric, hoping that he was listening and understanding her words.
"Again, I see why you make a good politician, Princess. If only it was so simple. Love is a fickle thing, Dear, especially when you're young. At least, you have plenty suitors to choose from though. Unlike some people who can't even get a date," he said glaring at Cedric again. "I'm sure you'll have many options, my Dear. " he finished opening his book again, thus ending the conversation.
"Perhaps. But that doesn't mean I have to choose from them." Sofia pressed on. "When the right man asks me, I'll say yes. Until then, though, I plan on living my life the way I have been." Cedric glanced over his shoulder to steal a glimpse of the passionate woman defending her ideals. Sofia saw a glimmer of tears in his eyes, before he looked away and left the room without a word.
Chapter 17: Unforgettable
Cedric and Sofia have a much needed talk by the lake at Mystic Meadows.
Slight Sexual content
Cedric meandered through the meadows and along the lake side, the moon lighting his way; it's beams shimmering across the flowers like the crest of an ocean wave. The night was peaceful; filled with the song of crickets, frogs and the occasional owl for accompaniment. The meadow left Cedric to his thoughts as he wandered along the lakes edge. He shuffled his feet along, kicking up dirt as he went, his hands shoved deep into his trouser pockets, his shoulders hunched to fit his mood. I'm such a coward to abandon Sofia in there with Father being such a pompous ass. I really should excuse the both of us and head straight to the castle. He thought, glancing across the field towards his parent's cottage.
Psh, if only Mummy would let us. The woman really knows how to sink her claws in. No, she'd never let us leave at this hour. He conceded, giving his head a gently shake to and fro. I suppose we're stuck here, now. One night is all. I can manage that. They'll go to bed shortly and we will leave as soon as possible in the morning, ensuring that we will have little to no interactions with them. He nodded to himself, watching a cloud of fireflies flittering across the lake. Mummy's already picked up on plenty as it is. Last thing I need is for her to draw attention to our indiscretions right now. Roland would have me at the gallows or behind bars this time for certain. There's nothing Sofia could say to save me this time... It's not like I could waltz up to him and proclaim, 'Hey, I know we grew up together and I'm old enough to be her father, but I want to marry your youngest daughter.'
"Mushrooms, that makes me sound like a fucking pedophile." He muttered aloud, kicking a stone into the placid lake water with a splash. "I don't deserve her, she still so young, she could have anything or anyone she wanted out of life... Maybe Father is right..." He murmured to himself, staring out at the moons reflection on the water's still surface. Cedric sighed heavily, going back to his inner monologue trying to find the right solution to the problem at hand. He pulled a hand from his pockets and unbuttoned the topmost buttons of his shirt, feeling like it was smothering him, leaving it hang open to his breastbone in the cool night air. He returned his hand to his pocket and began pacing along the shore again.
"There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you."
Cedric turned to find Sofia making her way across the meadow towards him, her pale figure seeming to glow in the dim moonlight. Her light-blue cotton dress billowed in the light breeze, creating an illusion of cascading, sparkling waves. He felt his breath catch in his throat. She didn't have to do anything; her mere presence had a staggering effect on him.
"S-Sofia...I-I-" he choked out, lost for words at her presence.
"I thought I was never going to find you." She stated, jogging up to his side. He stood there by the lake, his hands still shoved deeply into his pockets, his shirt wafting in the light breeze. She found the image rather pleasing to the eye and took a moment to assess his figure in the dim light. Again, she was struck by how handsome he really was; his pale skin almost iridescent in the moonlight, his silvery bangs shimmering like the water's surface, his tall frame outlined against the water behind him, and from this angle, with his weight shifted to one side, she noted the firm curve of the seat of his pants.
"I-I'm sorry. I... I needed..."
"Time alone?" She finished for him, gazing up into his dark brown eyes. He nodded and broke the eye contact she longed for, casting his eyes out at the lakes surface. "I understand..." She muttered, biting her lower lip nervously. "I'm sorry, Cedric. I know you didn't even want to come here today... and now where stuck here for the night. I-" she said wringing her hands at her waist.
"I envy how easily you can diffuse any situation thrown at you." he interjected, shaking his head lightly, ignoring her words. "The way you handled my Father..." He scoffed, shaking his head with more emphasis, and smiling gently at her. "Well, I could never hold a candle to that. I apologize for abandoning you in there..." He trailed off looking away from her again and out over the meadow. "I- I'm just a coward, Sofia."
"You shouldn't say such things. The Cedric I know is a wonderfully brave man. You've protected not only me, but the kingdom numerous times. Just because it's hard to stand up to your father doesn't make you a coward. It's hard for anyone to speak up against a family member. Especially someone as... overbearing as your father." She stated, taking hold of his arm caressing it in a comforting manner as she spoke. "Anyways, they've gone to bed and what's done is done. Time to move forward."
"Forward? How? That’s all I've been thinking about the whole time I've been out here Sofia." He scoffed again, shrugging and knocking her hand off his arm.
She frowned at his action and sighed gently. "Do you remember when you substituted for my class at royal prep the first time?" She asked, twiddling with her fingers as she moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with the sorcerer. She gazed out over the lake, a soft smile on her countenance as she recalled the time in question. Cedric raised a curious eyebrow at the girl by his side. "You taught all of us to believe in ourselves and keep trying until we got the results we sought after. It's something I've always applied to every aspect of my life." Sofia continued as she closed the space between them, taking a position facing him, smoothing out the wrinkles in his shirt. "To never give up or give in if something seems daunting or impossible, just to try and try again with a different perspective until I get the results I want. That lesson was something I can apply even now." She stated, looking up to face him. "I'm not giving up just because the road ahead may seem difficult. Life should be an adventure, if it was always black and white, or the path clear, where would we find joy?"
"You got that from the 'sorcerer's secret'?" He chuckled, raising his eyebrow again. "You give me too much credit, as always. I'm not someone who inspires or makes life an adventure." He scoffed, shaking his head, looking away from her again.
"I think that’s something left for others to decide." She declared, raising her hand to his cheek. "Now are you going to stop putting yourself down and listen to what I have to say? I've been waiting to say this to you since that first afternoon I arrived at Vivian's."
Cedric's heart skipped a beat, it became hard to swallow as he looked down at the beautiful girl before him. "I-I..." He stuttered, eyes downcast. "Sof-"
"Shush" she interjected, placing her dainty finger over his lips to silence him. "Just let me get this off my chest, please?" Cedric closed his eyes at her touch. Her soft skin pressed against his lips sent wild fantasies through his mind. He sighed pushing his thoughts away, and slowly nodded. Sofia smiled softly up at him before beginning her speech. "Do you remember the day you found out I was the storykeeper?"
"...Yes..." He nodded, curious what it had to do with anything at the moment.
"Well, for me, I think that was the first time that I really saw how much you cared about me. Well, I saw it in a different light." she began, slipping his hands from his pockets and clasping them between her own. "I was fifteen then and over the years I've tried denying the feelings I've had for you. I was afraid I would ruin our friendship, and that was something I was determined to never lose. You mean so much to me..." She said barely above a whisper, holding his hands tighter. "And when I accepted the role as ambassador, I thought it would do me good to distance myself from you before I made a fool of myself and lost your friendship forever." She said tossing her curls from side to side gently. "I wrote you so many letters while I was away... a whole trunk full actually..." She shrugged, turning her eyes to the dirt and forget-me-nots at their feet letting his hands drop from hers.
"A whole trunk full? Really?" He asked, running his hand through his hair, a small grin spreading over his countenance. "I never received anything..."
Sofia nodded turning her eyes up to his. "I was so afraid that you wouldn't return my feelings... so I never sent them..." She trailed off, her eyes darting away from his, quickly fixating on his chest instead.
"I see." He nodded with a frown. "Well, I never gave you any reason to think otherwise be-"
"Please, let me finish Cedric. There's so much more I need to say..." She implored, her hands finding purchase on his chest. He blinked a few times at her touch, his breath stilled as her fingertips grazed his bare skin, igniting a fire within his groin. His eyes closed and rolled backward at the feelings cascading over him. He was not used to her initiating such contact, let alone having her cut him off, in fact, normally it was the other way around. He swallowed hard and exhaled slowly. When he had regained his composure he nodded for her to continue.
"When I returned home I was petrified to see you again... My feelings for you hadn't changed... I actually turned down quite a few proposals over the last year because I couldn't imagine moving away and leaving you... It was hard enough to travel abroad for a year..." She said, her voice almost trembling. She swallowed hard and continued her monologue. "I kept myself as busy as possible but I always found my thoughts returning to you somehow; wondering what you would think about this kingdom or that, how you would enjoy meeting some of the Masters I met, hearing their tales... Like when we met Merlin for the first time." She paused a moment to giggle at the recollection. "No matter what I did... No matter how busy I was... there was always a hint of you in everything I did. I missed you terribly..." She whispered, pressing her forehead against his bare chest, clasping his shirt tightly between her fingers.
Cedric stood there silently taking in the passionate woman before him. She had never been so open with him before, and he certainly had never been so forthright with her. He held her close; his left hand resting on the small of her back, his right hand caressing her cheek before entwining his fingers in her hair and pressing her head to his chest. He pressed his lips to the top of her head and allowed her aroma of berries and lilac to fog his senses.
"I was so happy that day I returned and found you in the tower... It was like old times, nothing had changed." She confided in him, turning her eyes up to his. "...Then... When... When..." She bit her lip and looked down again, hiding her face from him. "You protected me..." She whispered. "You were there for me when all I needed was a friend, you held me when I cried, you comforted me the way no one else could. You made me laugh when I needed it the most. You filled me with courage when I couldn’t find it myself. And... I realized how meaningless life would be if I couldn't spend it with you." She lamented, wrapping her arms around him in a tight embrace, burrowing her head into his shoulder. He could feel her nails digging into his back, but ignored it allowing her to finish saying what she had kept bottled up for so long. " So, when I saw Vivian the other day she..." Sofia sniffled, pulling back from his frame again to look him directly in the face. "She made me realize that I would never be able to live with myself if I didn't tell you how I truly felt." She said shaking her head lightly back and forth tossing her curls as she did so. Cedric let his free hand come to rest on her hip, keeping her from backing further away from him.
"Let's face it, I've never really been like the other princesses," she scoffed, wiping tears from her eyes. "I'm not royal by birth, I don't have to pass on the bloodline like James and Amber... I can do what I want, and be with.... whom I choose to be with..." She stated, her hands resting on his chest again, slipping beneath the fabric this time. It sent chills down Cedric's spine, covering his body in bumps like gooseflesh. His breath caught in his chest again. His groin ached for her. "Aunt Tilly gave up the crown for a life full of adventure, to be herself and find love on her own terms... Now she's found Sir Bartelby and they're living a happy life full of adventure together... And there's no reason why we can't as well..." Sofia choked out, her voice almost ragged from her lengthy and passionate speech. Her nails began to dig into his chest as she stared up at him. New tears formed in the corners of her bright blue eyes as she looked up at him with longing.
Cedric smiled softly down at the princess, wiping her tears away with the thumb of his right hand as the left pulled her form to his. He caressed her cheek, pushing an auburn lock from her face as he did so. He weaved his fingers into the hair at the base of her neck and tipped his head down to press his lips against hers. He felt her breath still as he kissed her softly in the moonlight. He kept it a simple chaste kiss to test the waters, not knowing if Sofia had any experiences being intimate, in any sense of the word. When he began to pull away he felt her fingers twist into the loose material of his shirt and her free arm snake up his chest and find purchase in the hair at the base of his neck. She pulled him back to her and pressed her body against his, wanting to meld their bodies together. He kissed her again, his tongue roaming over her bottom lip as his hand slipped lower on her back, pressing her hips to his. Her lips parted with a soft moan begging him to deepen their kiss.
As he moved to entwine their bodies further Cedric was stuck with a hard blow to his side, sending him tumbling backward into the dirt and wildflowers. Startled Sofia took a few timid steps backward, confused at the situation. Cedric lay amongst the flowers, immobilized, gasping for air; what little breath he had left after their passionate kiss was pushed from his lungs from the force of his impact.
"Goodwyn! Stop this instant! Don't you dare hurt Ceddykins!" Winnifred yelled from across the meadow, chasing after her husband as he stormed his way towards Sofia and Cedric. Cedric, who was still sprawled on top of the flowers, coughed harshly as he tried forcing air into his lungs. Sofia rushed to his side ignoring the shouting that was becoming louder as Cedric's parents quickly approched.
"Cedric! Are you okay?" She cried, pulling him into her lap. Cedric shook his head, still coughing violently, and pushed Sofia behind him as he forced himself to sit up.
"Go back to the house Winnifred!" Goodwyn shouted over his shoulder to his wife as he advanced towards his son, his wand brandished before him. Cedric choked out a dry cough again as he pushed himself up into a standing position, his arm poised out to protect Sofia as she poked her head out from behind him.
"What the hell do you think you're doing!?" Cedric barked out. "You could have hit her! Have you finally gone and lost your fucking mind?" Cedric fumed, his chest heaving in and out, his shirt now ripped and torn in multiple locations.
"Me?! I'm not the one with my hands all over the princess! What the hell are you thinking Cedric?! She's not but a child! A royal! Do you want to hang for treason?!" Goodwyn bellowed back at his son, his wand squared at Cedric's chest.
"I'm not a child!" Sofia yelled, stepping out from behind Cedric, glaring at the older man. "I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions," she continued, pushing Cedric's arm aside, stepping between the two men. "And I would hope that everyone would respect that. And as for mine and Cedric's relationship, that is no-ones business but our own. Furthermore," she stated, wagging her finger at the man before her. "I might be a royal but I am not royal by birth; whom I choose to spend my life with is entirely my decision and no one will dictate how I live my life but me!" She declared, stamping her foot into the ground for emphasis.
"Your father would not approve of this, Princess." He hissed at Sofia before turning and almost growling at his son. "And neither do I, Cedric! You shall put an end to... this" he seethed, motioning toward his son and princess. "At once!" Cedric stood there enraged and in shock; his hands balled into fists by his sides, his teeth clenched. Sofia, furious at the elderly man before her, pulled her wand from her skirts, uttered a spell and in a cloud of purple smoke disappeared.
Cedric blinked a few times startled by Sofia's actions, then gathered himself to his full height and marched over to his father. Towering over Goodwyn he jabbed his finger into his father's chest. "My personal life is none of your concern." He growled through bared teeth. "I might not have lived up to your expectations Father, but she appreciates me and accepts who I am; the good and the bad." He bellowed, his eyes glistening in the moonlight, tears in the corners of his eyes. "First and foremost," he choked out. "Sofia is my best friend and if she chooses me over all those princes, well, I must be doing something right then." Cedric scoffed, pulling away from his father. Goodwyn stood rooted to his spot, his mouth agape that his son finally had grown a backbone. "Now, if you'll excuse me I have to track down my apprentice." He finished, straightening out his shirt and vest, stalking off to look for Sofia.
"Cedric this isn't over, get back here!" Goodwyn roared, snapping out of his daze taking a few steps towards his son.
"We are most certainly done, Father." Cedric seethed over his shoulder before disappearing in a cloud of green smoke.
Chapter 18: You Make Me Feel So Young
NEWEST INSTALLMENT. Cedric and Sofia have another heartfelt conversation at Mystic Meadows and address what their next actions will be. A surprise visitor appears when Sofia needs her most. RATED M FOR A MILD LEMON SCENE.
Apologies for the long wait.
AN: Thanks to Holly McDade figuring out we can change our usernames finally! I changed my old username on Fanfiction.net (Elspeth3Tirel) to match my username on tumbler and Ao3. Sorry if there’s any confusion whenever I finally get to regularly updating my story again.
I have three chapters written out longhand in a notebook. Don’t think I’m abandoning my story cuz I’m not. I think about it all the time. It’s just getting the time to sit and type it out. My daughter just turned two on New Years day and anytime I go to the computer she thinks it’s time for mommy and her to watch cartoons or youtube. Lol.
And I must admit I’ve been sidetracked with the re-release of LA Noire, and now Monster Hunter… and we visited family for a while during the holidays, and we got a puppy lol lots of things that have sidetrack me.
I’ll manage to get an update up at some point. I’m sorry for the long wait though, guys, its not my intention to drag this story out for another year. Thanks for sticking with me though, it means a lot! :)
For now here's what I got, hope you enjoy! You guys are the best! Lots of love! xoxoxo
YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG
Sofia's feet dangled over the water's placid surface; her worn leather flats swaying back and forth to the rhythmic sound of the trickling waters. The water's surface glowed from the light of the moon, its surface shimmering as the currents ebbed and flowed. Her bright-blue eyes gazed down at the sparkling water, her mind as scattered as the stars in the night sky above. She leaned forward, peering over the edge of the old rickety bridge, and sighed at the sight before her.
A foreign face looked up at her; a face she no longer knew. It scrutinized her with its bloodshot eyes. She had said and done things tonight that she previously thought she was uncappable of. She felt like a different person. Her fingers brushed her lips remembering how soft his felt against hers, how gentle he had been. A sigh escaped her lips as she recalled the things she had said to Cedric's father. With the back of her hand she brushed away the drying tears left on her cheek. Her unblemished, milky white skin glimmered in the moonlight set against the cascading waves of auburn that framed it. Sofia ran her fingers through her hair watching her reflection mimic her. She twirled a strand around her calloused fingers, watching the water thoughtfully, recollecting how Cedric had done so earlier.
She felt ashamed for her actions; arguing with Goodwyn, even yelling at the elderly man, before teleporting across the meadow to a more secluded spot to collect herself. I suppose this is how Cedric felt earlier when he apologized for leavening me alone with his parents. I shouldn't have acted so towards Mr. Goodwyn... but then again, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I finally did it... I told him... more or less... she thought casting her eyes up into the dark night sky. And he... he returns my feelings. It's not a dream, it's really real... but what do we do from here? Cedric's right, it’s easier said than done.
Sofia was engulfed in a bright pinkish-purple glow as the amulet around her neck began to glow. She blinked a few times before covering the gem at her throat with her hand. She took in her surroundings, making sure that the jewel hadn't transported her away from Mystic Meadows, and her eyes came to spy a familiar figure only feet away.
"Aunt Tilly!" Sofia exclaimed jumping to her feet, darting over to her eccentric aunt.
"Why, Sofia my Dear, it's nice of you to call me on such a beautiful night."
"I don't understand though, why did the amulet..." Sofia began softly before trailing off as she connected the dots.
"I've been waiting for this day for a while now, my Dear." Tilly said pulling Sofia into a tight embrace.
"So you know... You know why the amulet summoned you?"
"Oh, my Sweet, of course I do. Anyone who has experienced love knows how you and Cedric feel about one another. It was just a matter of when you two would realize it."
"But why you, Aunt Tilly? Why did the amulet send you to me?" Sofia asked pulling back to make eye contact with her aunt.
"I think you already know the answer to that, Dear." She said tapping her finger over Sofia's heart. "You know in here."
Sofia nodded as a tear slipped down her cheek. "But... But Dad would never understand... He would never approve."
"Oh, Rollie will come around Sofia. It might be hard for him at first but when he sees how truly happy you both are... Well, he'll remember what he felt when he met your mother and understand." She declared as she wiped away Sofia's tear with a light handkerchief. "Sometimes the best way to serve your country is to put yourself first." A soft sigh escaped Tilly's lips. "I always knew you would follow in my footsteps, Sofia. You were destined for great things, and still are. And I think you realize, as much as I do, that will only be possible with your best friend by your side. Cedric might have a checkered past, but everyone makes mistakes. And everyone can see how much he's changed because of you, Dear; how you really gave him a new lease on life." Tilly continued, placing a comforting hand on Sofia's shoulder.
"Very few people are lucky enough to find their soulmates in this world. You two complete one another in ways no one else could understand, am I right?" She smiled tenderly down at her favorite niece. "You've helped him to become a great man, and he's shown you the ways of the world. Your friendship was tested early on and yet both you were able to reconcile. Your relationship has been filled with good and bad, forgiveness and understanding, learning and growing, acceptance from others and of one's self. You need one another. If ever anyone truly belonged together it would be you two."
"I really do love him Aunt Tilly." Sofia sniffled out. " And he loves me."
"The solution to your problem seems quite simple then."
"Could it truly be so easy? To just tell everyone how we feel and leave it at that?" Sofia sighed. "What if father insists Cedric resign? I couldn't bear it if he lost his job because of me." she shook her head side to side, a frown crossing her countaince.
"Rollie would be a fool to do that. Cedric is a valuable asset as a powerful sorcerer. And not to mention the dishonor it would cast upon Cedric's family. Your mother and I would be able to reason with him though, if it became so serious. I'm sure though, Cedric would be happy to give up his post to his niece if it meant he could be with you, I'm fairly certain you're the only reasons he has stuck around this long. You know it might not be so bad, you could still be ambassador and Cedric would be free to travel with you and learn more about our allies magic systems. It could be very beneficial for Enchancia."
"I had that same thought when I first returned and saw him... Maybe... it could be an option. First though, we both have to get the nerve to tell Dad how we feel." Sofia said wringing her hands.
"Sofia Dear, you're the bravest woman I know. If you could face all the dangers in your adventures with the Library and the amulet, then you can definitely do this. And I'll have your back, Dear. No matter what happens."
"Thank you, Aunt Tilly." Sofia smiled wrapping her aunt in a tight embrace.
"Best of luck Dear!" Tilly said as she began to sparkle and fade from view as the amulet sent her back home. A purple cloud hung in the air after Tilly had disappeared. Sofia gazed into the magic mist, trying to dig up the courage she needed to go back and face Cedric's father and later, her own father.
"Cedric!" Sofia exclaimed, looking though the dissipating purple fog for the unexpected voice. Cedric was hunched over, his hands on his knees, panting heavily sweat glistening on his brow and chest.
"I thought" he said taking in a deep breath, glancing over at her. "I'd never find you." He finished finally catching his breath standing upright.
"I'm sorry I disappeared." She mumbled, looking away from him and slipping down to sit on the old wooden bridge.
"Don't apologize." He sighed, settling down beside her on the bridge. "I ended up teleporting as well." He chuckled. "I actually wasn't aware you still could. I was worried for a minute."
"I'm sorry Cedric, I just didn't know what else to do, I've never been so mad at anyone my entire life." She said, clenching her hands into fists at her sides. "Not even Hugo..." She continued, releasing her hands limply into her lap. "I just hate seeing your father put you down, let alone berate both of us like children."
"Yes, well he's good at it isn't he?" Cedric chuckled, pulling her to his side. "Don't let him get to you Dearest. Like you said, you can make your own decisions. I think you've proven that. I mean making decisions for multiple countries as ambassador pales in comparison to making personal decisions, right?" Cedric said with a sarcastic tone. Sofia giggled and snuggled closer to Cedric's warm body.
"You're not hurt are you?" She asked, running her hands over his chest.
"No, I'm quite alright Dearest." He replied, wrapping her hand in his own.
"I'm sorry things happened this way, I didn't realize they would spy on us... I just couldn't control myself anymore..." She told him with a shrug. "I've been trying so long to deny my feelings."
"I know, Little One, I have as well... but I realize now, no matter what we did, we were going to drift together sometime, somehow." he said with a soft smile, stroking her hair.
"What are we going to do Cedric?" Sofia sighed, slipping her arms around him tightly, burying her head into his chest.
"Well, for starters, I wouldn't mind kissing you properly; without getting interrupted this time, that is." Cedric smiled, pulling her chin up to face him.
"What happened to propriety?"
"To Hell with it." He sighed, pulling her into his lap. "For the moment, anyway." He chuckled lightly, into her hair. Sofia smiled caressing Cedric's cheek before brushing his silver bangs from his eyes. "Say it Sofia."
"Say what?" She asked, confused by his statement.
"Tell me what you want..."
"Kiss me, pl-" Her words were cut off as his lips captured hers in a tender kiss. Sofia didn't hold back this time, she accepted his kiss hungrily needing more, wrapping her arms around his neck. Fervently he pulled her further into his lap. His hands roamed her body, his fingertips caressing every curve, his palms cupping her buttock then her breasts in turn. He ran his tongue over her bottom lip, feeling its plump tissue swelling already from his assault on her. He heard her moan lightly into his kiss; it only aroused him more.
He drew her lower lip between his own and sucked on it gently, feeling Sofia's breath still in her chest from surprise. He rolled his tongue across her lip again before releasing it loosely between his teeth pulling at it slightly. He felt Sofia dig her nails into his back and pull at the hair at the base of his neck. Cedric moaned softly as he broke their kiss for air, leaving a trail of kisses down her neck eliciting another soft moan from the princess. Sofia craned her head backward giving him more access to her neck and chest. He paused momentarily to plant a few love nips down the hollow of her neck, causing her heart to flutter and her breast to press firmly against his chest.
He felt himself growing harder as she dug her fingers into his hair once again, this time prompting guttural moan from Cedric. His lips roamed across the top of her dress while his hands massaged her breasts, his thumbs pressing into the fabric over her nipples rubbing in hard circles. Sofia moaned again, louder this time, and squirmed against him as her body was racked with new exhilarating sensations. He felt himself press his hips up against Sofia, he knew he shouldn't but his body acted on its own. Sofia uttered a soft "Oh." realizing what was pressing between her legs. She brought Cedric's lips to hers and kissed him deeply as she grinded against him, earning her another throaty moan from the man.
In an effort to explore all of her body he left the comfort of her lips. His tongue followed her jawline up to her ear where he nuzzled in closely. He gave the lobe a soft love nip before tracing the curve of her ear with his tongue, letting a husky moan escape his lips as he did so. Sofia shuddered as a chill went down her spine, making her body extremely sensitive to his ministrations.
Cedric smirked at her reaction before capturing her lips with his again, this time probing past her swollen lips with his tongue. She surprised him by seizing the tip of his tongue, giving it a timid suckle before releasing it to graze her tongue over his lower lip as she pulled it between her teeth. He felt his stomach flip and the longing in his groin grow more. Cedric felt himself pulling her hips down and his own grinding up against her more, pressing his manhood against her wet panties. Her hands hurriedly tore open the rest of his shirt, needing to feel his bare flesh against hers. Cedric gently pushed her hands away and broke their kiss, almost panting, "Not here. Not like this." he uttered between breaths, holding her face in his hands.
"Why not?" she pouted, out of breath herself.
"I want your first time to be special... and proper." he laughed, lovingly brushing strands of hair out of her face.
"I thought that was thrown to the wind."
"I lost myself in the moment... I shouldn't have... Just another month, Love; after your birthday. I want to do things right. Your father might kill me," he shrugged "but I'll ask his blessing nonetheless."
"You mean... you want to..." She stuttered, gazing into his eyes, her hands resting on his bare chest.
"Marry you? Of course I do, I'm not that much of a rogue." He chuckled, running his thumb over her lips as he cradled her cheek in his hand. "That's typically what people do when they're in love, isn't it?" He finished capturing her lips in one last kiss. Sofia whimpered softly when he withdrew his lips from hers. She wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the night enveloped in his arms, with his tantalizing kisses and wandering hands.
"I love you, Cedric." She whispered as she rested her forehead against his, and gazed up into his eyes. "I think I always have."
A soft smile spread across his face as he wrapped his arms around her in a loving embrace. He held her there in his arms for a moment, taking in the unfolding reality, before releasing her. "And I love you, Dearest." He whispered, resting forehead to forehead with her. They sat there entwined in each other arms for what felt like hours before Sofia pulled back dawning a serious face.
"So, what... What do we do about tonight? I know your father was angry, but we have to stand our ground."
"Well, I know you're right, you're always right." He chortled. "But first things first, to do things correctly."
"Huh? What must we do first?" She asked as Cedric rose and strode into the tall grass of the meadow. He knelt down, the tall blades of grass and wildflower stems almost engulfing him as he did so, and picked a single stem of three forget-me-nots. With nimble fingers he twisted the stem and wove the ends together to form a small circle. Cedric waved his fingers over the flowers and uttered a spell, preserving them for eternity with magic. He rose silently to his feet, a faint smile playing across his lips, and made his way across the field to face Sofia. "We must keep with propriety, right?" He said flashing her a smile in the moonlight. Cedric slipped his free hand around the slender fingers of Sofia's left hand and with the corners of his mouth upturned he knelt down before the princess.
"Before... my life was dark and meaningless, nothing could penetrate the darkness that I kept myself cloaked with... That is, until one day this small, persistent girl came into my life." He smiled up at the princess, as he recalled the first time he met her. "Slowly over the years she showed me what life could be... And bit-by-bit her light crept into my darkness until I was engulfed by it... I never was a man who believed in fate..." He scoffed, casting his eyes downward for a moment before returning them to gaze up at her. Her bright blue eyes almost glowed in the dim moonlight, tears welled up in their corners, glistening in the light. "But now that I look back upon it all, I see that without out in my life, I wouldn't be the man I am today. And so, I think now, that it must have been fate that brought you to me when I needed a friend most, and fate that kept you beside me all these years, and fate which brought you back to me now..." He paused only a moment, a debonair smile spreading across his countenance. "I suppose then, it's fate that I should ask you to be mine; to be my life companion, Sofia. And to mark this relationship, I offer to you this ring made of forget-me-nots..." He said unfolding the ring from the palm of his hand. "Because I will never be able to forget you and all that you have done for me. Sofia, will you marry me?" He asked holding the ring up with his fingertips for her to see properly.
Sofia smiled softly down at the man, tears spilling down her face as she nodded yes. He slipped the ring over her finger and rose to face her. He cradled her cheeks in his hands and wiped away her tears with callused thumbs. "I thought you'd never ask." She laughed, leaning forward to capture his lips with a tender kiss. Reluctantly Cedric pulled away from her embrace and held her at arms length.
"As much as it delights me to see you wear this," he said brushing his fingers over the petals of the forge-me-not ring. "I think it might be best to keep this hidden until I can get your father's approval. Perhaps here," he continued, his fingers moving to hover over her chest as a long delicate chain appeared around her neck. “next to your heart will do.” He more or less stated as the ring appeared on the end of the chain.
"Thank you, Cedric." Sofia whispered wrapping her hand around his as it hovered over her breasts.
"Just keep it hidden under your dress if you can, last thing we need is for my father to see it and connect things.” He grimaced. “Or worse my mother.” He groaned as he ran his hand through his hair smoothing it out the best he could. He turned his attention to his shirt and vest; tucking in his shirt-tails and straightening out the folds and wrinkles settling into his vest.
"So you do plan on going back tonight?" Sofia asked as she followed suit straightening out her dress and tidying up her hair.
"Unfortunately, yes. Someday we'll spend the night together under the stars,” he said caressing the side of her face. “but tonight we must go back to the cottage. As unpleasant as it may be, you're right, we must confront my father." He sighed. "You're ready for this? And all that will follow?" He asked hesitantly.
“With you by my side I feel like I could do anything.” She smiled confidently up at him, taking the arm he offered her, pulling herself closely to his form. He wrapped his free hand around her own delicate one that rested on his forearm, and gave it a slight squeeze.
“I feel the same way, Dearest.” He replied as they began the trek back to the family cottage, together; arm in arm.
Chapter 19: Loverman
Sofia and Cedric confront Goodwyn and Winifred about the future they want together.
Life has been hectic. I hate this chapter at this point because it's taken so long n seems boring to me. But it was needed. So here it is, what I got. It's not edited so please ignore the grammar mistakes. I just don't feel like messing with this one anymore.
Next chapters are the best, in my opinion. They will be perfect before I publish them, although Idk when that will be. :( thanks for hanging in there with me along this journey guys. Your kudos and reviews mean the world to me.
Cedric didn’t bother to knock before entering his parents domicile. He promptly turned the handle and yelled for his father.
“Father, I’m ready to have a civil conversation if you are.” He made his way through the cottage, Sofia following a few feet behind him eventually finding his parents seated at the kitchen table. Goldwyn gripped his coffee mug tight, his knuckles turning white, and glared at his son.
“Ceddykins!” Winnifred cried.
“Cedric... there’s nothing – “
“For once in your life shut up and listen to others around you!” Cedric growled. Goldwyn rushed to his feet spilling the reminder of his coffee over the table.
“I will not be talked down to in my own home. Let alone by my own... son!” he seethed.
“Then you’ll sit back down and calmly listen to your princess.” Sofia stated stepping in front of Cedric. Goldwyn stood in shock staring at the girl before him. “Now please.” She demanded. Goldwyn did as she bade him, slipping back down into his chair as Winnifred cleaned up the coffee with a flick of her wand. “That’s better.” she stated taking a set across from him, motioning for Cedric to sit beside her.
“Not what I was expecting...” Cedric muttered. “Seems being a princess can work in our favor after all.” He chuckled, taking the hand she offered him as he slid into the seat beside her. Sofia gave him a soft smile.
“Like your father pointed out earlier, I learned a lot about being a diplomat while away.”
“Perhaps too well.” Goldwyn muttered.
“I don’t like using my title but in this case it seems the only option.” She said casting her eyes to her future father-in-law. “I know you don’t understand or approve, but please try and listen to us, so that perhaps you can... We don’t mean or want to be disrespectful.”
“It’s a little late for that.” Goldwyn scoffed.
“Father please...” Cedric sighed. The elderly man shifted in his seat and pursed his lips.
“I’m going to tell you what I told Cedric tonight… When I was away, he was all I could think about. Everything I did or tried to do reminded me of him. I pushed my feelings aside, I figured he could never return my feelings and losing his friendship my announcing my feelings... that was the worst outcome possible. But when I got home, we picked up where we left off. Best of friends and that was all I needed. Just having him in my life was good enough.”
“If that was the case we wouldn’t be here.”
“Goody let Sofia finish.” Winnifred hushed her grumpy husband.
“You’re right. Something... occurred since that first day back.”
“I swear Cedric if you –“
“-deflowered her I I’ll disown you!”
“FatherI” Cedric bellowed rising from his seat towering over his father. “Do you really think so little of me? You don’t know me at all if you think that I – that I would...”
“Cedric... please...” Sofia motioning for him to take his seat again. “Cedric has been nothing but a gentleman to me. I’d appreciate it if you could refrain from accusing him of such vulgarity.” She paused a moment allowing everyone to settle down once again. “As much as I’d like to keep this between the parties involved it seems you have to know. Cedric prevented someone from, as you put it, deflowering me against my will at the ball.”
“Oh Sofia sweetie...”
“I’m alright, thanks to Cedric.” She said quietly giving him a shy smile. “He risked his life and status to protect me. If Cedric hadn’t had intervened... well I’d probably be married and shipped off to a neighboring country before the end of the next month... I realized that night how much Cedric cared for me. I didn't know to what extent but it was enough to give me hope. We bonded more throughout the week, in simple ways we never had before; learned new things about one another. But it wasn't until today, well tonight that we really realized how we truly felt." She said tightening her grasp on Cedric's hand, smiling softly at him.
"I don't know how to explain this to you father..." Cedric shrugged. "But when were together, I feel complete. I feel happy. I don’t get nervous with her by my side, I feel like a better man because of her." Cedric finished a smile flashing across his face.
"Oh, Goody you know that’s how we were when we were younger. Honestly, I don’t know what I'd do without you. Do you remember the last time we were apart from one another, Dear?" Winnifred sighed.
"Our relationship is quite different than this. For Merlin's sake, he's old enough to be her father! Her father is like a son to us!" Goodwyn shouted, pounding his large fist down onto the table in frustration. "We watched them grow up together." He said gritting his teeth. "Surely you don't thing the King will approve, Cedric." He almost growled at his son.
"Of course, not Father." Cedric said dryly as he crossed his arms. "But I plan to plead my case to him, nonetheless." He continued. "I hope he will understand seeing all he did to marry Sofia's mother. Perhaps he will understand when I say how much she means to me and how much I really do love her."
"Oh Ceddykins, I'm so-"
"I know our age difference might seem like an issue, but there are plenty of people who marry someone older or quite younger than themselves." Sofia stated diplomatically, ignoring Goodwyn's outburst. "It doesn't matter to us. We love one another and were not going to cast it aside to please others. Regardless of if we have my father's blessing or yours, for that matter, we will get married. You can either support us and be a part of your future grandchildren's lives... or not. It's up to you at this point."
"You're giving me an ultimatum?"
"It appears so Father." Cedric chuckled a crooked smile on his face. He was proud of Sofia and how diplomatically she was handling the situation. It gave him the courage he needed himself.
The elderly wizard gritted his teeth together. "I do not approve in the least... but if you are set on getting wed, I won't stand I your way. Your Mother would never forgive me if I cost her anymore grandchildren... Cedric, if you are truly serious about this please promise us you'll wait until you're married to-"
"Honestly Father, I'm not an idiot. I refuse to ruin Sofia's life by getting her pregnant beforehand. As much as I want children, and I'm sure she does too," he said looking over at her giving her hand a quick squeeze. "I'd like to have some time for just the two of us. Maybe travel some before starting a family."
"Cedric has been nothing but a gentleman to me."
"Father, I love her more than life itself. Just as you and Mummy can't imagine life without one another, I can't imagine life without Sofia. I want nothing but her happiness."
"Like I said," Goodwyn replied dryly. "I don’t approve. I don’t understand her decision to choose you, you of all people, " he scoffed as he waved a hand at his son. "when she could have any prince or king she wanted."
"I can be myself around Cedric. I can express my love of magic with him, unlike most royals who frown upon such things. I won't be married off for politics. I'm going to follow in Aunt Tilly's footsteps and be myself... and marry whom I choose. And I choose Cedric." Sofia interjected.
"I'm so happy!" Winnifred exclaimed as tears glistened in the corners of her eyes.
"Oh, Mummy, please don’t cry."
"I'm sorry Ceddykins. I'm just so happy. I've been expecting this for some time now. I'm so excited for you two." She said rounding the table to wrap them both in a tight embrace. Goodwyn rolled his eyes.
"If the king throws you in the dungeon don't expect me to retrieve you." He said with contempt.
"I wouldn't expect you to Father." Cedric replied dryly.
"Oh, Goody, stop being a spoilsport. We couldn't ask for a better daughter-in-law."
"Well, yes, she is quite talented with magic after all."
"I'd like to finish my studies and become a sorceress, actually. And then travel with Cedric as Ambassador, so we can learn as much as we can about magic from all the other regions."
"I hope your father takes this better than I foresee..." Goodwyn sighed.
"I think we have enough people on our side to help sway him." Sofia replied.
"Really now?" Goodwyn scoffed raising a curious eyebrow.
"For starters there's Ms. Winnifred-"
"Oh, call me Mummy, Sweatheart."
"-my mom, Princess Vivian, and my aunt Tilly."
"Your aunt knows?" Cedric inquired, turning to face Sofia.
"Ummm, yeah, it’s a long story... I'll tell you later."
"Alright..." He said his eyes boring into her, knowing there was more to the story than she let on. "Well, it's been a long night. I think we all should get some rest." He said pushing his chair back from the table and stretching.
"Yes, yes quite right, we'll all have breakfast together before you all leave!" Winnifred exclaimed.
"No, it's okay Cedic. I'd really enjoy it actually. I like cooking with your mom." Sofia spoke up with a smile.
"If that’s what you want, Dearest."
"Very much so." She smiled, cedric nodded as he pulled out her chair for her.
"I'll show you to Calista's room Dear; I'm sure she has a gown that'll fit you, you're both about the same size now." Winnifred said making her way towards the doorway. Sofia nodded and turned to Cedric. She wrapped her arms around his torso and wrapped him in a warm embrace.
"Goodnight, Dearest." He said holding her tightly to his form, much to Goodwyn's chagrin. He panted a kiss atop her head before letting her go.
"Night." She muttered, glancing over at her, still brooding, future father-in-law. She gave him a small nod before turning and following Winnifred out of the kitchen.
"I really wish you would try and be supportive... At least be happy for us... for me." He shrugged as he pushed his chair up to the table, diverting his eyes from his father. "Isn't this what you wanted?" He pressed finally turning his eyes up to the man before him. "For me to finally settle down and give you grandchildren? I couldn't possible chose anyone better than Sofia for the role of a wife and devoted mother... Please, Father, if not for my sake then for her..." He sighed shoving his hands into his pockets with a shrug. He shook his head at the stern, unwavering face of his father. "I don't know why I even bother with you..." He sighed as he turned on heal and took two large strides out of the room, leaving Goodwyn in brooding silence. He shuffled his feet silently as he made his way to his childhood room. He opened the door and took in a deep breath. It had been ages since he had stayed the night at his parents' house.
Cedric looked around the room: it was lined with books and wands, just as he had left it all those years ago. He yawned as he shuffled to the bookshelf and pulled out a handwritten notebook that was bound in leather and fitted with a metal clasp. He flicked the lock open and thumbed through the pages of this hand-written scrawl and elaborate and detailed illustrations.
A faint smile crossed his face as he recollected his days at Hexley Hall. He closed the book and grabbed a few more and tossed them onto the truck at the foot of the bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed and slipped his shoes off, followed by his vest, which he tossed on top of the books, so not to forget them come morning. A faint knock came on the door.
"Yes?" His mother face peered in around the door.
"Just thought you might want to know that I slipped your father a sleeping draught in his coffee .. He'll be asleep most of the day." She winked.
"Mummy-" He scolded her with a crooked smile.
"Calista's room has the big bed, just so you know." She stated as she gave her son a hug. "Sofia could use an extra quilt; would you be a dear, Ceddy, and take one to her?" She winked as she exited the room. "I find myself too exhausted to do it now. Goodnight Ceddykins."
"Night Mummy." She smiled softly at the woman as she shut the door behind her. "That woman." He muttered to himself with a chuckle. 'Well, I've shared a bed with Sofia before. We can do it again. We don’t have to cross the line. I think I'll enjoy just sleeping with her in my arms.' He thought to himself as he grabbed one of the leather-bound journals into his arms along with the quilt. He made his way silently upstairs to Cordelia's old room, he wondered what it looked like since his niece had taken it over. He raised his hand to the door and hesitated a moment before knocking quietly. "Sofia?"
"Cedric?" She questioned as she opened the door.
"May I come in?" He asked holding up the quilt and one of the notebooks. Sofia nodded and stood aside to allow him to pass.
"You won't believe what Mummy did."
"Do I want to know?"
"This, yes." He tossed the quilt onto the reading chair along with the leather-bound journal. "She drugged my father so we don’t' have to deal with him the rest of our time here."
"Apparently she slipped him a sleeping drought in that coffee he had." He chuckled. "He'll be alright, he’ll just sleep solid and wake up after we leave." He said as he approached her from across the room.
"Well... That’s good then."
"Yes, although... wouldn't you know she had an ulterior motive." He said nodding towards the quilt. "She purposefully left the quilt off your bed so I would have to come in here."
"Seems like she had something on her mind. I suppose we should thank her tomorrow."
"Quite right." He said pulling her form to his.
"If I didn't know any better I'd say she wants us to sleep together." She said coyly peering up at him.
"I might just have to agree with you on that." He said leaning down to kiss her. She rose up on her toes to meet his lips and pressed herself against him firmly. After an intense passion filled moment he pulled back from her. "You know where I stand on the subject, but that doesn't mean we can't spend the night together again. If that’s okay-" Sofia cut him off with another kiss.
"Of course, it's okay, silly. Have to take advantage of the time we have alone, when we can."
"Then perhaps we should take advantage of the lock spell back at the castle." He said pulling her towards the bed. He noted she worse a sleeveless white cotton dressing gown, which must have belonged to Calista, or perhaps his mother conjured it. He pulled Sofia into his lap as he sat on the edge of the bed. She pulled up the hem of her dress so she could straddle his lap, resting her knees on either side of his hips. Her hands rested squarely on his chest before slowly pulling the tie of his billowy shirt. She watched him apprehensively as she moved to pull the blouse off his frame.
Cedric allowed her to remove his shirt, welcoming her warm touch with silent eagerness. He sat quietly as her fingertips explored his torso in the dim, but ample, candle light. Her fingertips traced the curves of his body, running over the firm but smooth flesh that stretched over his abs. The light flickered as she explored his body, waking her from the trance like state.
She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly. He snaked his hands around her waist and pulled her down onto him as he laid back on the bed. They kissed one another tenderly and passionately, for what seemed like hours. They broke for air and stared into one another's eyes. Cedric rolled Sofia underneath him and propped himself up on his elbows.
"I never thought this could be real... That you would ever return my feelings... Much less agree to marry me, want to marry me..." He whispered as he caressed her face.
"Neither did I." she giggled. "That is, think you would ever see me more than an apprentice, or princess... or a child." She said solemnly. "Much less for you to propose to me." She smiled, returning his gesture by playing with his bangs and cheek.
"If I would have realized sooner, how we both felt, this last year would have been different. Quite different."
"I feel though, as if it all had to happen this way. We've both grown so much from it and changed over the last year, for the better. I feel more confident in who I am and it solidified my feelings for you... Now I'll be of proper age as well. We won't have to hide anything from anyone. We can get married and do as we please... Well for the most part." She laughed.
"I still rather like the idea of us traveling together; for a little while at least. Before we decide to start a family." A smile crossed his lips. "You'll be a wonderful mother Sofia."
"And you'll be a great father. I just know it." She smiled back. "it makes me very happy that you want to have children. Part of me was afraid you might not want to."
"I suppose I can understand your thinking behind that." He sighed. "Honestly, I'm quite afraid I'll end up like Father. That’s the last thing I would ever want." He groaned looking away from her.
"I have the feeling you'll be quite the opposite of your Father. You're already proving that."
'You really want me? To have a family with me, Sofia?" He asked glancing back over at her.
"Is it really that hard for everyone to believe?" She laughed rolling him off of her to gather the quilt for the bed.
"I'm not the image of virility like most asking for you hand." He sighed moving to help her spread the quilt over the bed.
"Is that what's bothering you? That I'll be disappointed by the sex? "
"Yes and no." He shrugged.
'Meaning?" She pressed folding her arms over her chest.
"What if I'm too old to have children or be a good father?"
"Cedric, don't be silly." She said turning down the covers. "I thought Sorcerers aged more slowly than everyone else anyway. I mean does anyone really know how old Merlin is?"
"He's never told anyone as far as I know. I think the man is immortal."
"Missing the point..."
"Ah, yes... Well, we do age differently. I suppose if you became a full-fledged sorceress like you want, we could live a few hundred years easily."
"And you're worried that you're too old now... Seriously Cedric, the last thing I'm worried about is if you are too old to have kids. Men can father children up into their seventies or eighties."
"I suppose you're right. Then again you always are." He laughed, pulling her to his chest.
"And regardless, I'll be happy if we have kids or not."
"However did I get so lucky as to earn your love?"
"I think we're simply meant to be. Soul mates. Luck had nothing to do with it." She said kissing the tip of his nose. "Now stop worrying and get in bed with me." She said winking as she sat down on the edge of the bed and plucked the tie that laced up the fly of his pants. She fell back against the pillows; her point being made. The corners of Cedric's lips turned up into a crooked smile as he dropped his pants and his hand moved to magically extinguish the candles.
He pulled down the covers and crawled into bed with her. Sofia turned onto her side and welcomed him to her. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. She nuzzled her head into his chest and sighed, contently.
"I didn't realize how tired I was until now."
"It is fairly late. We should try and get some rest."
"I love you, Cedric." She said kissing him tenderly.
"And I love you as well, Dearest." He replied between kisses. He brushed hair out of her face before giving her one final kiss on her forehead.
"Goodnight, Ceddy." She muttered with a smirk. A smile crossed Cedric's face as Sofia rolled away from him, allowing them to spoon comfortably as they slept. He held her close and trickled kisses down her neck.
"Sleep well, Love." He whispered, but Sofia was already fast asleep.
Chapter 20: MY WAY
Cedric does something nice for Sofia and attempts to confront her father. A dark past that binds the king and sorcerer is unveiled.
CHAPTER 20: MY WAY
The wind whistled as Cedric opened the shutter of the study to allow Wormwood in. The night air was crisp, sending chills down Cedric spine.
“Safe flight?” Cedric asked as Wormwood hopped down Cedric’s arm to the window sill.
The raven nodded. “Yes, cold but alright.”
Cedric shivered, closed the window and returned to the mantle. He sighed and took his pipe from its case and filled it with a pinch of tobacco from a leather pouch. He took a match from his pocket and puffed three times to get the pipe going. He held the bent pear style pipe in his right hand and held the mantle with his left. The fingers of his left hand drummed out a beat as he puffed the pipe. He puffed few quick times in frustration before placing both hands on the mantel. He leaned against the fireplace staring down into the flames. He puffed the pipe again letting the flavors rollovers tongue. Hints of vanilla and whiskey lingered from the sweet smoke. He groaned and took the pipe from his mouth.
"I'm never going to get this right." He mumbled laying the pipe back on the mantel. He turned and grabbed his violin from the chair, tucking it under his chin he turned back to the fire place and drew the bow over the strings slowly. He began to play a soft waltz, adding his own flair to it, creating an upbeat melody. He played with passion, closing his eyes and moving with the song he created. When he played a sour note he began again until he was able to complete the melody in his head through the instrument.
"You're not done with that yet?" The raven asked. Cedric glared at his familiar.
"It has to be perfect Wormwood, not one sour or dissonant note."
"Of course the only time you seem to care about perfection is when it's for the princess."
Cedric glared at Wormwood again before tucking the violin under his chin once more. "It's a special occasion, Wormwood. She deserves nothing less than perfection. He stated as he played his tune, this time completing the song in its entirety. He smiled to himself as he turned to the mantel to scribble the final notes down on his score.
"It's very pretty, Cedric. I think she'll love it." The Raven said flying over to perch on his master's shoulder.
"You're giving me a compliment? Who are you when you've done with Wormwood?"
"Yes, I know, I don't do it often… but you really have outdone yourself this time."
"Thank you, old friend. That means a lot."
"Don't get used to it." He replied taking flight again, this time to the back of the wingback chair. Cedric smirked at his companion.
"I'm off to bed now. Good night Wormy." Cedric said stretching before the fire, then turning to scratch Wormwoods head.
"Goodnight." He said ruffling his feathers and enjoying the affection his mastered showed him. "I'll see you in the morning." He said taking wing to his perch in the higher level of the tower.
"I wonder who will take the news better: Roland or Wormy?" He scoffed, as he shuffled down into his chambers.
Cedric drummed his fingers against the tree root that cradled him. His pencil scratched over the parchment in quick fluid movements, pausing every so often as his fingertips tapped out a new rhythm. The garden was quiet, albeit the melodious sound of birdsong and the rustling of leaves. He hummed to himself as he etched more notes into the manuscript before him.
A slight smile escaped his lips as he laid down his pencil and looked over his completed work. Content with his final outcome, he rose to his feet and slowly made his way to the castle. Effortlessly he snaked his way through the halls to the unoccupied ball room. The bright rays of afternoon sun spilled down on to the instruments that filled the stage.
He tossed the score onto the seat at the piano and gave his hand a wave over the pages, muttering a spell under his breath. The pages hovered in the air as the piano lid opened, and the remaining instruments floated to attention. Cedric snapped his fingers and the violin appeared in his hand with a plume of green colored smoke. He inhaled deeply before he tucked the violin under his chin, and gave the score a tap with the bow.
The piano began to tap out a solemn melody on the middle and lower ranges, the middle range carrying the melody and the lower range driving the rhythm. Cedric pulled the bowstring across the violin playing a five note counter melody with piano accompaniment, but beautifully melding into a cohesive melody. Cedric closed his eyes as he played on, more instruments joining in as the song progressed. He lost himself in the beauty of it all, continuing to play the strong violin lead as another began a harmonious accompaniment.
He stood with his back to the door while he played so he could feel the warmth of the sun on his face. He was oblivious to the fact that Baileywick and Roland had entered the room and promptly made their way over to observe the Sorcerer as he played his song. Cedric drew the bow over the strings one last time and the final solemn note of the waltz, only to be snapped out of his day dream by small applause.
"Y-y-your Majesty..." Cedric muttered as he turned to find the king and Baileywick standing behind him.
"I wasn't aware that you could play." Roland said.
"Me either, your Majesty." Baileywick added.
Cedric cleared his throat nervously. "Well... Erm... I learned an early age. I-It's s-something that I've always enjoyed. I-I wasn't aware t-that anyone was listening."
"We were so shocked, by both the sight of you playing and the beauty of the song itself. I don't think I've ever heard it." Roland replied.
Cedric cleared his throat again. "T-That's because I… I wrote it, Sire. A-Actually, I was w-working out any last kinks before… before finding you… you see… I... it's for S - Princess Sofia's birthday. I was hoping, that p-perhaps it could be a gift to her at the ball… I know Baileywick plays as well, I thought, hoped, that he would accompany me while you and Sofia shared it as the first dance… a collective gift from the three of us."
"You… you wrote that? Really?" Roland asked in shock.
"Yes… I… it what I… It's how… Well if Sofia was a song –"
"This would be her." Roland finished nodding his head.
"I'm at a loss for words Cedric. It's beautiful, you play wonderfully. I think Sofia would love it. Baileywick?"
"I agree, your Majesty. I would be honored to accompany Cedric."
Cedric snapped his fingers in the violin disappeared in a puff a magical smoke.
"Good then. It's settled. Inform the band Baileywick." Roland declared.
"Right away, Sire. Cedric," he said hand outstretched toward the Sorcerer. "May I? Cedric gathered up the pages of the score and handed to his masterpiece to the steward.
"Your majesty?" Cedric asked hesitantly.
"I w-was wondering… W-well I've been wanting to have a p-private audience with you… Could we, please sire?"
"Well... It must be important for you to ask. And I have been waiting talk to you as well. Come join me on the balcony."
Cedric nodded and followed Roland onto the veranda.
The two men made their way across the veranda to lean against the railing, looking out over the castle grounds. They could see the rest of the royal family taking tea below on the edge of the gardens. The sight of Sofia gave Cedric the fire he needed to confront her father.
"It's nice to have everyone home again. I - I know you must have missed Sofia as well." Roland stated easing into the conversation he had been putting off and dreading for years.
"Yes, I have. Once you get used to having an assistant it's hard to go without." Cedric smiled and chuckled. "You should have seen her when she returned and saw the state of my tower." He laughed again. "She went right to work cleaning and organizing my things. Like she never been away."
Roland nodded at Cedric "She did wonderful job is ambassador. As much as I enjoy having her home, I'm afraid I might have to keep sending her away frequently to keep good terms with everyone."
"I assumed as much. She is a valuable asset as ambassador. As suits her." Cedric said dryly as he watched Sofia picking flowers.
"That it does. But enough about Sofia, what about you? What are your plans for the future?"
"Me? Well… I suppose that's what I wanted to talk to you about."
Roland raised an eyebrow at Cedric.
"You're not going to like what I have to say." Cedric stated turning to face his king. Roland nodded and sighed.
"Is this a king to subject talk or man to man?"
"Man to man, I suppose." Cedric shrugged, hands in his pockets.
"Alright… the floor is yours Cedric." Roland said leaning back against the rail facing Cedric crossing his feet at the ankles.
"Okay then. You'll hear me out?"
Roland nodded again. Cedric cleared his throat before beginning his speech.
"I-I think you know what this is about, something I've been hesitant to act on. But… I can't keep pushing it aside. I… Well, I had this all planned out in my head, now it all is scrambled." He turned to gaze down at Sofia again. "I know that I haven't been the best man during my life. I've done many things I regret now, but if it hadn't been that way then I wouldn't be who I am now. My life was filled with darkness and it took a very special person to pull me out. And over the years… that person helped me to become someone I want to be. Someone my family can be proud of. Hopefully someone my king can be proud of as well." Cedric stated looking back to Roland. "And I know you're not going to want to hear this, but I promised I would make amends and do things properly."
"Do what properly?" Roland asked.
"Ask for Sofia's hand." He sighed, turning halfway to gaze down Sofia again. Sofia smiled up at Cedric and her father giving a small wave. He smiled slightly before turning back to Roland only to be met by Roland's fist. Cedric staggered over onto the rock railing of the balcony, his hand running over the side of his face where Roland's knuckles had made contact.
"Cedric!" Sofia yelled dropping her flowers to gather her skirts and rushed towards the stairs of the balcony.
"Sofia!" Miranda called after her daughter. Miranda cast her eyes up to the balcony where her husband stood, fist drawn back to strike Cedric again. Miranda pushed back from the table and rushed after Sofia, Amber and James following suit. Meanwhile Cedric stood his ground facing Roland again.
"Well, you don't disappoint. You can still throw a punch..." he stated wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. "Just like when we were kids."
"How dare you!" Roland growled, lunging forward to clutch Cedric's shirt between his hands, pushing Cedric into the rock again. "How dare you ask me that!" Roland seethed.
"I told you that you wouldn't like it." Roland slammed his fist back into Cedric's face, splattering blood across the stones. Cedric grimaced and spat out blood, glaring at Roland from the corner of his eye. An audible gasp came from Sofia she rounded the top of the stairs. Cedric's eyes slowly tore themselves away from the king and to the shocked faces of the royal family. Cedric felt blood dripping from his lips, he spit again, before prying Rollins hands off of him as he pushed the man away. Cedric stood up to his full height and straightened his shirt.
"Cedric -" Sofia cried rushing to his side. "What's wrong with you?" Sofia pressed, turning to her father.
"Sofia, get away from him." Roland demanded.
"What on Earth is going on?" Miranda asked. Sofia ignored her father's demands and took her handkerchief from her skirts and began wiping blood from the corner Cedric's mouth. He wrapped his hand around Sofia's.
"I'm alright." He told her, softly.
"What happened?" She asked a concerned look on her face.
"He didn't like where conversation went." He said dryly.
"You're damn right I didn't." Roland retorted attempting to take a step toward Cedric, but only to find Miranda's tight grip on his arm.
"Rollie?" Miranda pressed. Roland clamped his teeth down and glared at the man before him.
"I asked him for Sofia's hand. And his response was to give me his… and the form of a fist." Cedric stated, rubbing his jaw.
"Remember the talk we had Rollie?" Miranda asked. Roland rolled his eyes, and ground his teeth.
"No buts. You didn't even give him time to explain or ask Sofia what she wants."
"It doesn't matter because I do not approve."
"That was quite obvious." Cedric muttered, earning a glare from the king.
"Daddy…" Amber interjected stepping closer. "You married mom because you love her. You broke tradition and changed laws in order to do so. Sofia and I are very different, but we learned from you to marry for love."
"Yeah Dad, I mean, I never expected Sofia to marry for politics. And we all had our own suspicions." James added.
"It seems everyone knew how I felt before we did." Cedric said dryly wrapping Sofia in his arms.
"Apparently so." Sofia replied, as the twins shrugged in reply.
"Miranda, surely you don't approve of this!" Roland asked.
"I trust Sofia to make her own decisions."
"She's too young to make those kind of decisions!"
"Pardon, but I think if she can make decisions as ambassador then she can decide for herself whether to accept or decline my offer." Cedric stated, his grip on Sofia tightening.
"You stay out of it." Roland threatened jabbing a finger at the sorcerer.
"He has a point." Amber said.
"A very good point." James muttered.
"I don't understand, you're all okay with this? I grew up with him. He's a year younger than me, for fucks sake!" He yelled shaking his hands in the air. "You're too young!" He yelled at Sofia.
“You mean I'm too old for her. Don't you think I've gone over it all already? I've had the same thoughts, and fears. But for whatever reason… No." Cedric shook his head, waving a hand in the air. "You know what? I don't have to explain anything to you. I love her. She loves me. End of story." Cedric said taking said taking a step towards Roland, crossing his arms.
Roland pushed off Miranda and swung a fist at Cedric. Cedric was prepared this time; he grabbed Roland's wrist, sidestepped, twisted Roland's arm behind him, and proceeded to pin him against railing. The royal family gasped in shock.
"Seems like you've lost your touch, not in the habit of fighting much anymore I see. " He growled into Roland's ear, giving Roland's arm a sharp jerk before releasing him with a shove. He paused a moment to make eye contact with the king as he righted himself. "Pity. I think a good tussle would do us some good." He finished crossing his arms.
"Cedric!" Sofia scolded him placing a hand on his arm.
"What, it's how we used to settle things." He shrugged.
"He's right." Roland said rolling up his sleeves.
"You guys aren't serious are you?" James asked.
"I think it would do us some good." Roland said unbuttoning his vest.
"Cedric!" Sofia pleaded.
"Trust me, please?" He asked handing her his vest and rolling up his sleeves.
"You're both being ridiculous." Miranda said dryly, taking Roland's vest and ushering the twins and Sofia back towards the wall.
"So let's say I win, you actually hear me out. About mine and Sofia's future. I lose… well I think if I lose that that would be punishment enough. Agreed?"
"I prefer I win you leave Sofia alone, but I have a feeling that wouldn't faze you. So… I'll just pummel you until it's out of my system."
"We'll see. I'm not a stupid kid and more, Roland.
"So is this about us? Or the fact your pervy ass wants to marry my daughter?"
Cedric clenched his teeth at the low hit. "If you'd listened, you'd know your daughter wants to marry me. Out of all the people she knows, she chose me. And that's what really upsets you." Cedric shook his head, and scoffed. “You know today started out good, Hell, even great when we began this conversation. For a moment, it felt like you understood, like we were just two old friends."
"That ended long ago."
"Yes, well, that was you're doing, not mine." Cedric shook his head, his teeth clenched. "I did all that I could –"
"Don't you dare bring that up." Roland seethed lunging forward to take a jab at Cedric. Cedric easily sidestep the blow and brought the side of his hand down on Roland's neck, causing the man to stagger.
"So that's what this is really about isn't it? Why you'll never forgive me or trust me."
"Yes! Damnit Cedric. Damn you! Roland said taking another swing at Cedric, this time making contact with his stomach. Cedric coughed and hit Roland with an uppercut, knocking the king onto his back.
"I did everything within my power then! I did what you asked without a second thought! It's not my fault." He began to pace back-and-forth. "You've been punishing me all these years for what happened, that's fine; but don't take your anger and pain out on Sofia, as well!" He yelled turning towards the king.
Roland moved to his knees before lunging at Cedric, tackling him to the ground.
"Shut up and fight, damnit!" Roland yelled as he hit Cedric in the face over and over with his right fist. Cedric rolled the man to the right, switching spots with the king to where he was the one on top. Cedric punched Roland hard in the jaw, sending blood flying across the cobblestones.
"For fucks sake Roland, this is ridiculous!" Cedric painted as he pummeled his fist into the king's face over and over. Roland grabbed Cedric by his shirt and with all his strength threw the man off of him. Cedric stumbled backward as Roland took his footing. "How much longer are we going to go on like this?" Cedric painted, palms up. "I did everything I could to save her, and when it wasn't enough you asked me to do more! Do you have any idea what that did to me?" He said turning to lean on the railing gazing down at the palms of his gloved hands. "Fuck, Roland I didn't do it for her, I did it for you!" He panted, turning his gaze to Roland. "I didn't just lose her that day I lost you as well!" Cedric bellowed as rain began to fall. His bangs clung to his face, his voice faltered, Sofia couldn't tell if it was the rain or tears streaming down his face.
"What are they talking about?" James whispered.
"A - are they talking about… Mom?" Amber uttered.
Sofia's eyes gazed over at Cedric, it was then she understood. She knew why her father hated the man she loved. She knew why Cedric had dark past. What had occurred had broken them both and they never recovered. Sofia rushed out into the pouring rain between the two physically and emotionally spent men. "Enough! That's enough." She yelled. She turned Cedric and wrapped him in a hug. "I understand." She whispered before turning to her father. She wrapped her arms around the king and said “I know now. I know what Cedric did, and that you blame him; that's why you don't want me to marry him. You used to be best friends… and when she died, your friendship did as well…"
"I connected the dots." She frowned. "Dad, if I'm right about this…" she sighed glancing back toward Cedric as the rain fell harder. "You have no idea what it did to him… what that kind of magic does to someone's soul… and he did it because he loved you. It took a strong man to do what he did for you. And in the end you couldn't get past your grief and anger and you've been taking it out on him… all these years." Tears rolled down Roland's face.
"No one was supposed to know… did he tell you?"
"No, I figured it out. Just now. You know, I've always been good at piecing things together." She smiled softly. "Dad, you have to talk to them. They deserve to know. You owe Cedric that much. Please trust me. Go get cleaned up and tell them, I'll go with Cedric and hear his side… and tomorrow wall have a good talk, and well needed talk."
"Sofia… I'm sorry."
"It's okay, dad. It'll be okay." She said hugging him before walking him to her mother. "Let him get cleaned up and dry. He has something to tell you all." She told Miranda before turning back to Cedric. He stood there in the rain, completely drenched; blood ran from his mouth and nose down his neck and chest staining his white shirt crimson. His chest was still heaving.
"S - Sofia…"
She gave him a soft smile before taking his hand and leading him towards his tower.
Chapter 21: Rain Down On Me
Following Cedric's fight with Roland, Sofia and Cedric have a one on one talk about his past in the tower.
AN: Sorry it's been so long since I updated. It's been a rocky last few months. My grandfather, who practially rasied me, finally passed away after battling a rare form of bone and blood cancer for amost 4 years. Its been hard to find inspiration. I'm back on track though, I know he be proud of what I've accomplished with my writing, so thats enough to keep me going. I got a desk finally so, now I have a writing station with my computer and notebooks, and the other side is my art station with my sketchpads, and supplies. So maybe I can get a bit more done more often now. (I havent had my computer set up for months due to lack of space for it.) I'm really happy with how this one turned out and am looking forward to the next chapter as well, its partically typed already as well, just needs a tune up.
Chapter title is one of my fav Phil Collins songs. I felt it was fitting.
So as always thanks for sticking with me. Love you all. Thanks for your support and your reviews give me life! Thanks so much, best fan base ever!
CHAPTER 21: Rain Down On Me/p>
Cedric followed Sofia silently, in a daze. They walked across the cobblestones past the lush gardens; the rain creating small puddles of water along the pathway that splashed upward and outward as they hurried along towards his tower. He felt momentarily empty inside; the events that had just occurred had yet to truly process in his mind. He wanted something to grasp onto; something to ground himself to the moment. He gazed down at the hand clasping his; the small porcelain-like hand wrapped so tenderly around his own. His eyes trailed up her slender arm and rested on her hourglass frame. She grounded him. She filled his soul to the brim. She was all he needed for life to have meaning.
Sofia led him up the stone staircase, the tapping of their shoes echoed off the walls as they winded their way up to his chambers; it made Cedric feel claustrophobic. He felt like the world was closing in on him. The sounds of their feet seemed multiplied a hundredfold, the thunderous booms from the raging storm sounded like gunfire. Deep within his heart he feared that Roland had sent the guards after him, that if he only turned around he would be face to face with them.
Cedric's thoughts continued to plagued him as Sofia escorted him down into his chambers. He was despondent; totally disconnected from the world around him. Slowly, as not to startle him, Sofia began to undress him from his wet clothes. She started with his ruined shirt, unfastening the buttons one by one with the tiny tips of her fingers, before letting it fall to the floor as she slipped it off his muscular frame. Cedric gazed into the fire, a hard look on his face. It pained her to see him in such a state. She bit her lip as her heart felt like breaking for him.
She took in a deep breath before moving her hands to the buttons on his trousers. She expected to have him reprimand her for her actions, but he still said nothing; allowing her to unbutton the fall (fly) of his pants completely. Her heart beat faster, her cheeks flushed, the sight of him had a profound effect on her. Her fingers grazed over the bulge in his briefs as she let the pants fall into a puddle at his feet. It was enough to snap Cedric from his stupor. He blinked a few times before making eye contact with Sofia. His breath stilled in his chest, as he realized he was almost fully nude in front of the princess. He cleared his throat.
"T-turn." He stated, motioning for her to turn her back to him. She did as she was told, clasping her hands in front of her as she turned. He kicked his pants to the side and dropped his briefs as he wrapped a towel around his hips. He turned his attention to Sofia. She was drenched as well; her hair plastered to her back and her dress dripping water into a puddle at her feet. He waved his hand and at the fire, bringing it roaring to life again.
"Your turn, Dear." He sighed coming up behind her and beginning to unlace her dress. Her heart skipped a beat at how close he was; his warm breath sent chills down her spine. She allowed Cedric to unlace her and let the mass of wet fabric drop to the floor. She stood with her back to him, in nothing but a sheer slip and lacey underwear. Cedric swallowed hard and forced himself to look away. Sofia watched from over her shoulder as he summoned a spare robe from across the room. She eased the slip from her shoulders one after the other and let the material fall from her body. Cedric held the robe open behind her allowing her to slide into it without revealing her front to him. She tied it loosely around her waist, the material clung to her semi-wet body, but she didn't mind because it smelled of Cedric.
Silently he snaked his arms around her waist and held her tightly to him; her back pressed against his bare chest. He buried his face into the crook of her neck. "When you said you understood..." He breathed against her skin. His words trailed off as Sofia silently slipped his gloves form his hands. She ran her fingers tips, tenderly, over the tattoos on his palms. She felt his body shudder against her as he took in a ragged breath.
"I put it together while you and Dad were..." Her words trailed off as she recalled Cedric and her father throwing punches at one another.
"I'm so sorry Sofia." He whispered, tears rolling freely down his cheeks. She turned to him and wiped his tears away softly with her thumbs, before kissing him gently. He let her kiss him for a moment before kissing her back fervently, pressing himself against her. Her hands roamed over his skin; over his shoulders then his back, pulling him closer to her.
Cedric wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her more passionately. His hands slip down to cup her buttocks, giving them a light squeeze before slipping down her thighs and hoisting her up onto his hips. Sofia let out a startled cry, as Cedric wrapped her legs around his hips and moved his lips down her neck with tender kisses. Sofia moaned lightly as Cedric's hands roamed her body. He scraped his teeth over her neck before biting down softly. She squirmed against him, prompting a groan of pleasure from the man. He moved with ease as he carried her across the room and eased her down onto his bed.
Cedric lowered himself down on top of Sofia, she could feel him growing harder as he pressed down on her. He kissed her forehead, her cheek, and her neck. A soft moan escaped her lips as he ran his hand up her leg, his thumb pressing into her inner thigh as he did so. He pulled back to look at her. He studied her face for a moment before his eyes drifted down her body; the robe was surprisingly still tied but hung semi-open allowing him to see the curve of her breast, the light pink of her areola peeking out under the satin trim.
Cedric swallowed hard tearing his eyes away from her pristine body and pushing himself up to sit on the edge of the bed. He rewrapped his towel before running his hands over his face and through his hair. Sofia slowly sat up and readjusted the robe.
The sorcerer groaned and hung his head between his hands. Sofia leaned against his back and wrapped her arms around his slender waist.
"I'm here to listen, if you're ready." She said, kissing his shoulder.
"Where would I even start?" He muttered.
"Okay... How about you let me talk and you fill in the blanks for me?" She said sliding to sit beside him. He stared down at the palms of his hands, and nodded his head. Sofia slipped to the floor before him and took his hands in her own.
"You and Dad used to be best friends." She stated gazing up at him with soulful eyes. She bit her lip before continuing. "And when... Amber and James' mom got sick... Dad asked you for help. And you did." the corners of her mouth upturned slightly as she recounted his good deed. "But when medicine and even your magic and potions couldn't keep her alive... He asked his best friend to do the unthinkable; to commit the ultimate taboo." she frowned. Cedric's eyes closed tight and a single tear ran down his cheek. "Your best friend was wrought with grief over his lost wife and you made the ultimate sacrifice for him; to help end his pain. But black magic comes with a price." Cedric bit his lip and looked up at Sofia with pain in his eyes. "And when your magic couldn't bring her back to him, he began to blame you. All his anger and pain were redirected to you... All these years..." she ran her thumbs over the palms of his hands, over his marks. "You kept his secret, you took on the burden of it all. All the misdeeds of your past... Were because you opened the door to the darkness when you tried to bring her back." Cedric looked away from Sofia. "It tainted you. You knew it would but you did it anyway. It was all for him. Everything you've been through or done, it's always been for him."
"Everything." He sighed, flinging himself back onto the bed. Sofia climbed onto the bed and leaned down over him. He stared back up at her and took in a deep breath. "I can't imagine what you must think of me now." He muttered facing away from her. "I understand if you don't want anything to do with me now. Or if you, of all people, could forgive me."
Sofia grunted and moved to straddle his lap. "I don't know how to feel about your past, but it doesn't mean I think any less of you. I'm hurt you think it would change our relationship. Because it won't." She said leaning down to kiss him tenderly. She pulled away from him when he didn't return the kiss, hurt that he might not want her after all they had been though, all he had been through. Cedric slipped his hands up her back and pulled her back down, meeting her with passionate lips.
He kissed her hungerly, running his hands through her hair, and down her back. Sofia dug her fingers into his shoulders and pushed her hips down into him, grinding against his groin. Cedric moaned and rolled Sofia underneath him. He kissed her neckline, skirting down between her breasts. Sofia's heart fluttered as Cedric pushed aside the robe and left a trail of kisses down her belly, stopping at the top of her panties. He lifted his lips to look up at Sofia's face; she longed from him as much as he did her. He groaned and flipped onto his back, arm draped over his face, a knee raised as a buffer between them.
"What's wrong?" She asked disappointed, needing more of him.
"You have no idea how tantalizing you are." He groaned from under his arm. A smirk crossed Sofia's face as she blushed.
"I could say the same for you." She said running her fingers over his bare chest prompting him to drop his arm from his face. Cedric raised an eyebrow at her before the corners of his mouth upturned into a crooked smile. His eyes lingered over her exposed form. Slowly he tore his gaze away and closed his eyes as he inhaled deeply.
"Thank you Dearest. For everything." he said capturing her hand in his, giving it a tender kiss. "I should have known you'd figure it out after seeing my marks. You never cease to amaze me."
"I just hope you realize that you don't have to keep stuff from me. No matter what it might be." She stated as she readjusted the robe to cover her breast.
Cedric nodded and smiled softly. "Obviously there will be no keeping of secrets from you." He winked. "Honestly, though, Sofia, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Because of you, after all these years I... I think the darkness that invaded my soul has been cast out. … I just hope your father feels the same. Sofia... I'd never make you choose between us. I have a feeling that if your father can't forgive me, then it might come to that."
"I think Dad sees he's been wrong all these years. I might have to explain some things to him about dark magic... but I think this is something both of you needed to get off your chests."
"You have no idea." He sighed. "I was so afraid that if I told you... That you'd never forgive me."
"It's understandable though, he was your best friend, and your king. If anything, Cedric, I think it's made me love you more." He arched an eyebrow at her. "Your loyalty and your acceptance of your actions... To me its shows how strong your character really is."
"Well, atleast one good thing has come of it; one very good thing." He smiled pulling her down into another kiss. "Stay with me tonight..." He asked caressing her lips with his thumb as her face hovered above his.
"I planned on it." She smirked kissing his forehead.
Cedric smiled and sighed softly. "As much as I'd like to lay here with you in my arms all night, I think I should bathe. I did stop bleeding right?" He said turning his face to the side for her to see. "Your Dad can still throw a good punch." he said with a smirk.
"If I didn't know any better I'd say that you rather enjoyed that."
"It's how we used to settle everything." He laughed, sitting upright. "It was kind of fun..." He smirked.
"What a lovely way to commence our engagement; the two most important men in my life duking it out. You'd better not make it a habit." She warned with a crooked smile.
"Of course not, Dear." Cedric promised, leaning over to peck her cheek with a kiss. He made his way across the room into his bathroom, gave his hand a wave over the tub and filled it with hot water. "Would you be a dear and bring me some ingredients for a salt soak? Mmm, maybe some pink sea salt, comfrey petals, a bit of lavender and some magnesium sulfate?" He asked poking his head out the door. "I think that should help..." he muttered under his breath as he turned and strolled back into the lavatory. Sofia did ask he asked, gathering the ingredients into a leather pouch. She returned to Cedric's chambers to find it void of him. She took in a deep breath before slowly entering the bathroom, her eyes downcast as she passed the threshold. She glanced up shyly to find him at the washbasin and mirror washing blood from his eyebrow.
"Thank you Love."
"Mhmm." She nodded dropping the contents into the tub, giving the water a stir with her hand and wiping it dry with a nearby towel. She walked up behind him, running her hands over his back as he continued to clean his wounds. "You know, I didn't know you knew how to fight so well, or knew any form of self-defense."
"Well, there's still a few things you have to learn about me. As I'm sure I have things to learn about you."
"Really?" she said playfully running her fingertips over his back.
"What? You surprise me everyday." He said turning to face her. "I'm sure I'll find plenty of surprising things about you once were married." He said looking her up and down. Sofia blushed and looked away.
"The thought makes you nervous, doesn't it?" He more or less stated.
"Getting married?" She asked turning her eyes back to him.
He nodded his brow furrowed in deep thought.
"Not exactly, no." She said shaking her head softly. He raised an eyebrow at her cryptic response. "I'm excited about marrying you, Silly. I'm nervous about... the things that it entails, though."
"Ah, I see." Cedric cleared his throat. "Turn if you would." Sofia did as he asked and heard the water stirring. She was tempted to steal a peek of her future husband, but knew from his actions that looking would be frowned upon. "Ahh- shit! That stings." He muttered as he splashed water on his face. Sofia shifted uncomfortably, wanting to face Cedric. "So... You're uneasy about... Taking our relationship to the next level?" He asked posing the question delicately. Sofia turned her head slightly and nodded. "Oh, you can turn back around now Love, sorry."
Slowly, she turned herself to face him, keeping her eyes downcast before finding the courage to look at him. His head rested back on the tub and his arms rested across the rim of each side, the water cloudy from his salt soak.
"I wouldn't have thought you nervous based on previous instances." He muttered as he closed his eyes and relaxed in the warm water.
"Just because I want something doesn't mean that I'm not nervous about it." She said hands behind her back, twiddling her fingers nervously.
"That's fair. I'd be worried if you weren't anxious a bit." He stated sinking further into the soak with a sigh.
"I... I just want...Want to do things correctly, and make you happy, the way a wife should." She sighed moving to sit on the window seat across from the tub. Cedric opened his eyes to watch her.
"Sofia, I'll be the happies man on Earth just to finally have you as mine."
"I know, I just hope I can... Fulfill my duties as a wife... You've some experience, I assume, and I've none at all. I-I-"
"Sofia." Cedric said sternly sitting upright, water sloshing out of the tub. He motioned for her to come to him. She approached him slowly, her heart felt as if it would burst form her chest. He took her hands in his and pulled her down to meet his lips. "I repeat, you have nothing to worry about. And sure, I admit, I've bedded women before... but that's why I want to wait with you. Do things right. You're not some one night stand, Sofia, I want your first time to be something special. I want... I want it to be everything you imagine and more... I could bed you tonight, I want to, more than anything in the world, but I also know I want to wait for our wedding night, when you'll be completely and officially mine... And it's not just that." He continued holding her hands rubbing his thumbs in small circles on the soft skin. "When two magic wielders say their vows, they become linked to one another... Your awareness of the other is heightened, so to say... It's supposed to be an enlightening and erotic experience upon consummating the nuptials; you would be able to feel my emotions and sensations to a degree and vice versa. I want to give you the utmost pleasure I can, Love. That's why I want to wait." He finished kissing her again. "You're already making it very hard to wait. There's been a few times I've almost said to hell with it and taken you then and there. But, if I've waited this long I can wait a little longer..." he rolled his eyes. "I think." he added, causing her to blush.
"I didn't know that... I understand now. It doesn't mean I don't want you any less though." She smiled at him.
"Yes, well I can't blame you there." He winked. "Now go put some clothes on before I change my mind and pull you in here with me." He teased.
"Oh, I see. So, you like it when I wear nothing but your robe..." She said coquettishly turning away from him letting the shoulder slip down to expose her skin.
"You little minx." He said reclining back into the water.
"What?" She said crossing the room pausing in the doorway. "You said to change my clothes." She finished dropping the robe to the floor in a puddle at her feet, pausing a moment to glance over her shoulder at his reaction, before walking out his field of vision into his bedchambers. Cedric groaned and rolled his eyes into the back of his head.
"I've learned something new about you already." He said loud enough for his voice to carry into the neighboring room. "You're a tease. Just wait until I get out of here, Princess."
"And you'll do what exactly?" she said slipping on one of Cedric's shirts over her head, it stopped midthigh.
"I-…" he pursed his lips. "That's a good question." He laughed as he got out of the tub and wrapped his towel around his waist again.
"This better?" She asked presenting herself in the doorway, leaning against the frame. Cedric turned to face her and swallowed hard.
"You're doing this to me on purpose aren't you?" He sighed.
"Me? This coming from a man wearing nothing but a flimsy towel..." She said giving the corner of the towel a flick, almost causing it to fall off. Cedric grasped at the material and held it closed and cleared his throat.
"Valid point, Dear." He said sliding past her to the wardrobe. Sofia already knowing the drill turned her back and allowed him time to dress and adjust. He slipped into a pair of plum colored underwear and decided that was all he needed. Cedric stepped forward, wrapped his arms around her waist, and gave her neck a soft nuzzle. "I know it's relatively early, but I'm exhausted Love. I'm ready for bed." Sofia nodded and led him to the bed. She slipped under the covers and was followed by Cedric who held her form to his before she would get comfortable. He pressed her back to his chest and sighed. He left a trail of kisses down her neck and shoulder, while his hands roamed her body, feeling every curve. He dipped his hand beneath the shirt she wore and let the palm of his hand roam over her flat belly and up to her bare breasts. Her breath stilled in her chest, she bit her lip and arched her back pressing herself against Cedric more.
"Mushrooms, this is going to be torturous now; waiting and wanting something so badly." He said rolling to his back, running a hand though his messy hair.
"We just have to keep ourselves busy until then."
"It's not just waiting for your birthday, Dearest. If your father approves we have to abide by royal standards, won't we? Have an officially ordained wedding with all the neighboring kingdoms in attendance... And your sister is sure to throw in all the bells and whistles... You know, I never asked you what kind of wedding you want, Love." He stated rolling his head to gaze at her.
"Nothing as grandiose as Amber will insist. I just want our families and friends."
"You have many, many friends, Dear." He laughed.
"Best friends then. What about you?" She asked rolling onto her side to face him.
"I want you to have your dream wedding." He said caressing her cheek.
"That's not what I asked."
He sighed and smiled at her. "I guess I'd like a small ceremony that includes some traditional magic rituals."
"So we can be bonded to one another?"
"Yes. Nothing special; just the lighting of candles and the vows are binding spells. Most magic wielders are familiar with the concept. I don't expect your family to understand though since they didn't grow up in a magic household." He said as he rolled onto his side and slipped a hand over her hip.
"I like the sound of that though. Magic is what brought us together. It's only fitting."
"I'm glad you agree." He smiled. "Enough talk though, I'm sure tomorrow will be a rough day. We need all the rest we can get. Hopefully your father will give us his consent then we can discuss matters further. For now, though, I just want to enjoy laying here with you in my arms." He smiled pulling her to him and nuzzling into her damp hair.
Sofia smiled and molded her body to his before drifting off to sleep in his muscular arms.
Chapter 22: That's Life
Cedric and Sofia face Roland and the Royal family. Finally after almost 20 years Roland and Cedric hash it out. Cedric's tattoos are revealed to the family along with their meaning.
CHAPTER 22: THAT'S LIFE
A/N: HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE! So sorry I've neglected writing on any of my stories. I've dealt with the loss of my dearest grandfather in July, then my grandmother days before Christmas. They practically raised me while my mom was working third shift as a single mother until I was almost nine when she married my stepfather. Then I spent most days after school with them and then weekends with them during college. It's been really hard to be motivated to do anything creative for a long time. I'm crying just typing this, thinking about them. But I think I've got my groove back now. I've got more chapters written out, they just need typed and edited. So, here's to hoping I'll finally get his story wrapped up! I love you guys, you're the best fan base ever!
When Cedric awoke the next morning, he was acutely aware of a foreign feeling of stiffness in his body. Groggily he attempted to open his eyes, realizing as he did so, that his left eye was completely swollen shut. He winced as the simple action made the corresponding cheek and eye socket sting like salt in an open wound. He flexed his fingers to relieve the stiffness in them, unwittingly opening the scratches and cuts that had only just begun to heal, causing his knuckles to tingle and sting. He was certain that his face was covered equally with minor scrapes and bruises. He wondered to himself if Roland had awoken to the same fate; part of him hoped that the man had.
Through his good eye, he looked down to see Sofia's form curled up beside him. He gave a lopsided smile then grimaced at the pain. His arm was draped over her form, spooning with her, holding her to his chest. Gently he lifted his hand to his face and muttered a quick spell to hide his swollen features before Sofia awoke. Instantly his body felt relieved; the pressure and aches in his joints were gone, the throbbing in his eye dissipated, and the sharp sting of open cuts and fresh bruises vanished.
With his face feeling and looking better he nuzzled closer to Sofia, breathing in her sweet scent. He trailed light kisses down her neck and shoulder, savoring the sensation of her skin on his lips. She stirred slightly, her eyelids slowly fluttering open. Ceric pulled her closer to his form and nibbled on her earlobe.
"Good morning, Dearest." he murmured against her ear.
"Mmmm, morning." she replied sleepily with a yawn and stretch. She rolled over in his arms to face him, wrapping her arms around his neck as she did so, entangling their legs with her final stretch. "Mmm, how do you feel?" she murmured.
"You look surprisingly well for someone who was in a brawl last night..." she stated already suspicious.
Cedric cleared his throat. "About that... I might have healed myself some before I woke you."
"Ah, I see." she smirked her suspicions confirmed. "Was it that bad?"
"Not really, it could have been worse. I suppose I might have to fix your Father up if he'll let me..."
"He'll let you. He can't walk around letting everyone see him like that and know he got into a fight." she stated.
"True." he paused a moment, biting his bottom lip nervously. "Maybe it would be best if you dealt with your father's injuries instead."
"I can if need be, but I think it would be better if you did it; help mend the bond type thing." she said as she ran her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.
Cedric sighed. "I suppose we ought to get out of bed then... before he barges in here and finds us like this." he said rolling her underneath him and playfully kissing her.
"Yes, we had best get up and get dressed. They'll be wanting an explanation as soon as possible."
Cedric groaned. "I'd rather stay here in bed with you." he murmured into her neck as he distracted himself with her body; kissing her neck and roaming his hands over her breast then down to her hips.
"So would I." she chuckled. "But this needs to happen. I'll be good for all of us. Hopefully, they'll understand."
"You mean hopefully your father told them the truth about me; about us." he more of less stated. Sofia nodded and brushed his bangs from his eyes as he gazed down at her. Cedric rolled his eyes and groaned again before rolling off of her into a standing position beside the bed.
"I have to teleport to my room, seeing I have no other clothes here, I-"
"That can be remedied easily." he interjected slyly with a wink. "I can always stash some of your dresses here, in case of... extenuating circumstances... where you might need to stay the night with me." he said pulling her to him playfully.
She smiled and kissed the tip of his nose. "Maybe, if you're lucky, we'll discuss that later. But for now, I'll go to my rooms to dress. You can meet me there."
He raised an eyebrow at the thought of joining her alone in her room.
"Outside my room." she smiled softly at him.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. "I suppose you've got a point. Just don't be too long..." He inhaled deeply, chewing on his bottom lip again before exhaling slowly. "I'd rather get this over with as quickly as possible." he said solemnly.
"I'll only be a minute. And everything will be okay. If Dad was angry, he would have found us by now. Seeing that he hasn't, I'd say he wants to talk things over."
"That's a fair enough deduction." he nodded finding a pair of pants to slip on. "Off with you then." he muttered, shooing her away with his hand. She chuckled lightly as she gathered up her semi-dry dress from the chair and slid her wand out from its pocket.
"Everything going to be fine. No worries." she stated with a soft smile, before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Slowly Cedric let out the breath he had been holding as he sank onto the edge of the bed. He hung his head between his hands and whispered. "Can he possibly forgive me..."
"Stop fidgeting. You look fine." Sofia said straightening out his bow tie.
"I'm sorry, I'm... I'm just a tad nervous is all."
"You can't be too nervous, seeing that you're not stuttering." she teased him.
"I suppose it's more of I'm afraid than nervous..." he said running his hands down the front of his vest in an effort to smooth out any wrinkles.
"You have nothing to be afraid of."
"So you keep saying, but I still feel a noose tightening around my neck." he said, his hand rubbing his throat.
"Trust me, please?" she asked brushing his bangs from his eyes.
"I always trust you. That doesn't mean worry any less."
Sofia opened her mouth to utter a rebuttal but closed it again thus ending the conversation as the large ornate doors creaked open. The royal family entered the room, closely followed by Baileywick, who locked the doors behind them. Sofia heard Cedric swallow hard, and fidget with his watch chain.
"Would everyone please have a seat?" Roland asked hesitantly. Cedric froze, breathing shallowly and staring at the man before him. Sofia lightly brushed his hand with hers, prompting him to take the seat beside her. He blinked out of his trance and pulled out her chair for her before taking his spot beside her.
"I take it Baileywick is now privy to our topic?" Sofia inquired.
"Yes." Roland replied slowly. "I felt he deserved to know. I... I felt he needed to understand what's really going on."
Sofia nodded and glanced over to Cedric hoping he was okay with the steward being part of the conversation. He nodded ever so slightly, glancing over at the steward then back to Roland.
"I... uh... I suppose this should start with both of us... Cedric and I... telling our sides of this... story... This... This is really hard for me Sofia... But I know you're right... It needs to be addressed. So... if it's alright with Cedric I'd like to go ahead." The king glanced over at the sorcerer and proceeded when Cedric gave a nod of his head.
Roland closed his eyes and inhaled slowly before he began his speech. "When Amber and James were three years old their mother suddenly became ill. None of our doctors... or sorcerers..." he said pausing a moment to make eye contact with Cedric. Cedric held the man's gaze, his heart twisted at the pain in the king's eyes. "...could do anything for her." he finally finished. "It was a mysterious disease no one could identify." he went on as he began pacing the room. "Back then... I was a different man... Back then... Cedric and I... Well... We were best friends." he said slowly looking over at the man beside his youngest daughter. "I tasked him with finding a cure. Which I was sure he could have done; he was the best potions master in the kingdom." he said with a faint smile. "Even better than his father... But the illness manifested and plagued her body so quickly nothing we tried worked." he added solemnly.
Cedric clenched his hands to his sides at the painful memories returning. Sofia took his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. Roland clenched his teeth at the display but pressed on. He turned his back to them as he spoke.
"Before long she had succumbed to her illness. And I... I was wrought with grief. So, I turned to Cedric... And asked him to do something I knew very little about... And at the time … That fact mattered very little to me... All I wanted was to have her back. I didn't care how. So, I went to him not knowing the consequences of my actions... Asking the impossible." Roland turned back to them, tears in his eyes clearly hurt by the memories. Cedric bit his lip and did his best to hide his own emotions.
"I... I asked you to use dark magic to bring her back... I didn't know if it would work or think of what it would do to you..." he swallowed hard. "I never did until last night. I still don't quite understand but I realize that's when things changed. We both changed. You did what I asked without a second thought... and when you couldn't bring her back to me... I took my anger and grief out on you. I have been all these years. I never forgave you... For not being able to do... To do the one thing I asked, the thing that mattered most. And you... You were different after that … You were no longer the happy and carefree man I knew. That's when your hair changed too. I thought it was the only side effect of the ritual." he shrugged. "But now I see I was wrong. I... Tell me... what happened? What is the penalty of using such magic?"
Cedric swallowed hard and gripped Sofia's hand tighter. He moved his mouth but words failed him.
"It might be easier if I explain that part..." Sofia spoke up giving Cedric a tender look. Roland glanced from his daughter to the sorcerer and nodded ever so slightly. "You see, all magic has a price: for example, healing magic can be very costly to the healer and the patient- energy wise that is. So, one's healing capability is based on how he or she uses their own energy, and how much they have to spare in the first place. So, something like dark magic... Normally takes a bit more... From what I've read and heard, most the time it consists of…" She bit her lip and sighed before continuing. "A contract, binding for all eternity; sealed by blood... Normally for one's soul in exchange for the power to fulfill the contract... Upon completion of the contract, whatever that may be, whenever that may be, the person's soul is taken... In Cedric's case, it only took part of his soul, because the demons didn't uphold their end. They failed to revive Elizabeth, so their contract was broken. Cedric had summoned their help though, so part of him was taken... tainted, if you will. That's why his behavior and even his appearance changed. He's not the same person he was before, not for lack of want or trying. He just..." she sighed heavily.
"It's taken a long time..." Cedric began his voice almost a whisper as he spoke. "And someone as pure and loving as Sofia to bring me back from the darkness that consumed me." Cedric said gazing over at Roland. "When I … When I made my contract with the necromancer... I never imagined that I would survive. Everything I knew and had read about necromancy made it very clear what the outcome would be... It was worth it though; you and the kids would have Liza back... That's all I wanted." he said shifting his eyes down to his hands in his lap. "The kingdom needed her, you needed her..." he shrugged looking back up to his king. "You were my best friend. I was willing to give my life for you. It was my duty as royal sorcerer... And your confidant. A-And I missed her too. I missed how happy she made you. Her laugh." he smiled at the memory. "How she could light up the room in an instant."
He shook his head softly. "Nothing was the same after that..." he bit his lip before continuing. "To this day I don't know why it failed. But because I did make a blood pact, part of me was, as Sofia said, tainted. All those times I disappointed you; all my scheming and planning was from this urge... the darkness within me. It filled me with anger and hate; angst and jealousy. And as you directed your pain and anger onto me, I did the same to you. Not because I really felt that way... but because I couldn't suppress the dark urges I had. And it took a very long time... and Sofia's unending confidence and trust in me for it to finally begin to lift. The more she wormed her way into my life, into my heart... The more the darkness began to dissipate. And now, I feel as if it's finally gone... It's left its mark, I'll never be the same... but I can accept myself now and be happy."
Sofia slipped her hand into his and gave him a soft smile. "Happy with Sofia." He added with a crooked smile. "I never meant to hurt you. The day Liza died I didn't just lose her, I lost you too. You had been my best friend since infancy. Part of me just always wanted to impress you. Win back our friendship. But it always seemed the darker forces were at work to prevent it. Always filling me with doubt and making me nothing but a bumbling fool; nothing but an embarrassment to you and the kingdom. But..." he rose from his seat to finish his oration. "Now I know I can prove to you I am still... mostly... the man you remember and perhaps, even a friend..."
The room was still as both men stared at one another, chests heaving from the emotions building within them. Sofia stood beside Cedric and quietly slipped his gloves from his hands. She turned his palms out for the room to see. Cedric looked away with disgust.
"These are the marks he bears for his sin. Tattoos needed to perform black magic; his blood contract. Dad, he's lived with this all these years silently hurting and hating himself for feeling like he failed you... and her. We will never know how it feels to be filled with such darkness, with no way out. Don't you think he's paid his debt? Don't you think he's suffered enough?"
Slowly Cedric turned his eyes to his king. Roland took in a deep ragged breath.
"I... Cedric... I'm... So sorry. Why... Why didn't you just tell me?"
"You had just lost your wife, your queen." he shook his head. "You had a country to worry about." Cedric scoffed casting his eyes down to his hands. "I thought it would be easier that way... I suppose part of that thinking was the darkness taking over though..." he sighed running his thumb over a tattooed palm.
"I've been such an incredible ass... Can you ever forgive me?" Roland sighed.
"So have I... I just hope that you can forgive me." There was a paused between the men as they looked one another over.
"You did all you could and more. There's nothing to forgive you for. I'm the one who should be pleading for forgiveness."
There was another pause as Cedric closed his eyes, finally hearing what he had longed for all those years.
"I forgive you Sire." he almost whispered. Roland closed his eyes and sighed as well. They both felt the world lift from their shoulders.
"Thank you, my friend." he replied with a tender smile. "And thank you Sofia. He said turning to her, rounding the table to wrap her in a hug. "This is all because of you. Thank you, Sweetheart."
She hugged him back and said "I just want you two friends again. It hurts me knowing how things have been and how they were. Dad, I love you. You're the best father anyone could ever ask for. I'm so glad you and mom found one another. I know you love her just as much as you did Elizabeth; perhaps love in a different way for different reasons, no love is ever alike." she smiled at him softly. "And that's why I hope you understand how much I love Cedric. For so many reasons and in so many ways. We complete one another... Please tell me you understand...If you of all people don't then no one will..." She said looking up to her father with soulful eyes. He looked from his daughter to his old friend and placed a hand on Cedric's shoulder.
"It's hard from me to accept the age gap... but I know your both serious about this. Everyone can see how much you care about one another and need one another." He returned his hand to his daughter's shoulder and gazed into her eyes. "Sofia, you're the glue that holds this family together. You've turned into a lovely young woman and an amazing politician. If I can trust state affairs with you then I can trust you to make your own decisions." he smiled at her. "You both have my blessing." he turned to face Cedric, placing both hands on his shoulders now. "Take care of my baby girl. Make her happy, she deserves it." he said giving the man a squeeze.
Cedric swallowed hard and nodded, steel-faced. Roland laughed and pulled Cedric into a hug. "If I ever turn into an ass again just hit me with your left hook." he muttered pulling back to rub his swollen jaw.
"The same here." Cedric scoffed rubbing his own face. "I can fix that for you..."
"Ah, I was wondering why you looked so pristine." he said with a smirk. "I know I gave you my best."
"That you did Sire." Cedric gave a crooked smile. "But you'll never see the evidence to know." he said with a chuckle brandishing his wand over Roland's face minimizing his wounds, leaving him with only a cut on the corner of his lower lip. Roland ran his fingers over his face pausing at the blemish Cedric had missed. He gave him a puzzled look and pointed to the scab.
"A reminder?" he shrugged with a smirk.
Roland nodded and returned the smile, wincing at the sting as the wound reopened. "It's good to have you back, Cedric."
"You too Sire, you too."