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Pledge

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“You better take good care of Lady Eleanor! Or else.”

Eleanor found herself forced to suppress a giggle, at the sight now in front of her. Princess Jade of Heliodor - a young girl that Eleanor had come to care for like a sister, or even a daughter - stood firm, all the while pointing a finger at poor Irwin, as soon as he’d walked through the chamber doors.

From where she sat by the window, Eleanor met his eyes. He was confused for all of a second, until he quickly understood the game they were playing. Drawing to full height, he stood at attention in front of the princess, looking every inch the knight he was.

“Or else what, Princess Jade?” Eleanor asked.

Only momentarily did the young princess seem to pause at the question. She turned to look back at Eleanor, who shrugged.

“What will you do, Jade?” she questioned again, already seeing the wheels turning in the young princess' head.

Jade seemed to mull it over for quite a bit of time, with a hand under her chin. She hummed, in deep thought, all the while - a nervous tick that Eleanor was sure the lass had inherited from her father. Irwin, to his credit, stood still the entire time, never wavering, even as Eleanor tried, not unlike she did whilst they were courting, to distract him.

But Irwin, as always, was not one to be so easily distracted.

Finally, Jade, as if she’d come to sort of conclusion, clapped her hands together. She looked incredibly pleased with herself, and Eleanor let herself wonder what kind of hypothetical fate Heliodor’s princess had concocted for Dundrasil’s future King.

“I’ll have my father throw you into the dirtiest dungeon in all of Heliodor Castle!”

Just the dungeon?” Eleanor asked, softly. “Isn’t that too...lenient, Your Highness?”

And when Eleanor looked up, she could see Irwin’s lips turn up into a small smile, followed by a shake of the head that might be imperceptible to anyone else. But not to Eleanor.

Eleanor was proud to say that she knew the man she would marry very well.

Jade scrunched up her face in thought, and crossed the room to kneel on the seat beside Eleanor.

“What does that mean?” she asked, in what Eleanor guessed Jade thought was a whisper, but very well wasn't.

“It means it seems like too fair of a punishment,” replied Eleanor, letting the girl believe she was being stealthy.

Jade nodded, eagerly, standing from the seat as she did so.

“I knew that! You passed my test, Lady Eleanor!”

“Of course you did, Jade.”

Eleanor smiled, watching as Jade looked to be devising some new pretend torture. With the princess lost in her imagination again, Eleanor turned her attention to Irwin. Impressively, he continued to stand still and at attention.

With a raised eyebrow, Eleanor asked her husband-to-be if he was really planning on staying that way. In silence, and with an eyebrow of his own, Irwin said he would, for as long as Jade wanted him to.

Eleanor beamed at him, now. He was so good with children. It only served to make her more than excited for the day when they finally had one of their own.

Jade, obviously unaware of the silent conversation going on around her, nodded.

“And obviously you didn’t let me finish,” she insisted, clicking her fingers. “I’ll put a million slimes in the dungeons with him!”

She let out a loud laugh, at the idea, turning to Eleanor.

“Do you think that’s not le-leni-,” but clearly the young girl was struggling with the word she had definitely only learned today, “fair enough, Lady Eleanor?”

Eleanor giggled, with a nod of her head.

“Absolutely, Jade.”

Jade looked pleased that her idea of such a ‘punishment’ had been much with such approval.

“Though I think we have little cause to worry,” Eleanor added, as she stood, placing a hand on Jade’s shoulder, and kneeling so she was at level with the younger princess. “After all, you remember the story of how I met Irwin, don’t you?”

In fact, the story of how Irwin, when he was only newly-knighted, had stepped in to save Eleanor from a group of particularly nasty monsters, on an evening’s ride through Dundrasil’s countryside, had quickly become a favourite story around the kingdom.

And though Jade would often express her annoyance at how Eleanor and Irwin made, what she described as, ‘googly-eyes’ at one another, Eleanor knew Jade loved it as much as anyone else did. Once, when Eleanor had told her it yet again, she’d said it was her ‘favourite fairy tale’.

“Do you promise, Sir Irwin?” Jade asked, studying him intently. “That you’ll take care of Lady Eleanor?”

Irwin brought his hand to his heart, bowing his head, making what looked like his most important and solemn vow.

“With all my heart, princess.”

And though the words were for Jade’s benefit - and she accepted them with a bright smile for Irwin - Eleanor knew his pledge was for her too. Those words only served to affirm the love in her heart she already felt for him.

“Good,” muttered Jade, smiling up at Irwin, all the while missing the words that didn’t need to be spoken between the princess and her knight. “Because I really don’t want to put you in a slime-filled dungeon.”

Irwin knelt beside her, ruffling her hair with his hand, which made her break out into a fit of giggles.

“Well, truthfully, I don’t want to end up in one, princess,” he admitted, with a wry smile, that caused Jade to laugh.

“Dundrasil’s bravest knight? Scared of slimes?” Eleanor teased, lightly, while Irwin chuckled.

“But it’s a million slimes, Lady Eleanor!” Jade replied, with a laugh, before holding out her hands, as if to show just how much that was. “A million.”