It was late evening, the sky overhead full of twinkling stars.
I'd left the palace and was on my way to visit another country in the region.
(I know we have to stop for the night since it's so far away—but I never thought it'd be such a big deal to set up camp.)
I sat waiting in the carriage as I'd been told, gazing out at the hustle and bustle going on outside.
At last the door opened, and Alyn offered me his hand.
Alyn "Don't trip."
I picked up the luggage boxes I'd brought with me, and took Alyn's hand as I stepped out of the carriage.
(When I'm with Alyn like this, it feels almost like we're on a romantic trip together, just the two of us.)
I glanced up at Alyn, then paused to adjust my grip on the boxes I was carrying.
(I may have packed too much, though—these are heavier than I thought.)
Alyn glanced down at me, and then sighed softly.
Alyn "Seriously, you."
Without another word, he reached out to take the boxes from me.
Tina "Careful, Alyn, they're heavy."
I resisted letting go for a moment, and Alyn frowned at me in confusion.
Alyn "Of course they are, that's why I'm trying to help."
I couldn't help but giggle at the seriousness in his expression.
Tina "Alright then—thank you."
I let go, and Alyn shifted his grip, tucking the boxes under one arm and reaching out to take my hand with the other hand.
Alyn "Now don't let go of my hand."
We stepped into the forest, and suddenly the light dimmed, only a spattering of moonlight filtering down through the trees.
(I can hardly even see the ground—I guess Alyn's taking extra care of me because he's worried I'll trip.)
I glanced down at our hands with a small smile, and Alyn shifted his fingers, twining them carefully with mine.
(We're alone in a dim forest, holding hands, I can't help but feel—)
Tina "This is kind of romantic, you know."
I turned to look at Alyn as I spoke, and he slowed to a stop.
Alyn "Well then, if this is so romantic, and we're all alone—
Alyn "What comes next?"
I looked up at him, startled by the sudden impish tone in his voice,
and a moment later his lips pressed lightly against mine in a soft kiss.
He pulled back slightly, smirking, and then kissed me again, longer this time.
At last our lips parted, and I sighed softly, looking up at him.
Alyn "Your expression says you want more."
Tina "As if!"
I laughed and poked him gently in the ribs, and he grinned at me and began to walk forward again.
(I love it when we have quiet moments like this.
(I don't ever want to let you go.)
I squeezed his fingers gently, hurrying my step to stay close by his side.
It was evening, and the stars twinkled in the dark sky overhead.
Louis and I were visiting a mansion by the lake, spending a secret holiday together.
(But today's the last day of our holiday.)
Louis lay beside me, sleeping peacefully, and I gazed down at him.
(We've had such a wonderful time.
(But I don't know when I'll get to see him again. It's so hard to for us to find moments where we can be together like this.)
I'd been lying in bed for hours, unable to sleep—my mind just keep ticking over the same thoughts.
(I wish I could just enjoy this moment instead of worrying about what comes next, but tonight—)
I adjusted my pillow again, sighing in frustration, and Louis opened his eyes, just a little.
Louis "What's wrong?"
Tina "It's nothing—don't worry."
I rolled over quickly, turning my face away and burying it in my pillow.
The next day—
(My eyes look awful today—all bloodshot and puffy. I guess it's because I had trouble sleeping?)
I finished getting ready and stared at myself in the mirror, pulling the brim of my hat down over my eyes.
(I wish I had a better way to hide it, but this will have to do. I don't want Louis to worry or think something's wrong.)
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and Louis stepped into the room.
Louis "Are you ready?"
I glanced over at him and nodded, and he walked slowly over to where I stood.
Louis "Why are you wearing a hat?"
Tina "Well, it's sunny outside."
(I know that was a lame excuse, but what else can I say?)
I bit my lip a little, and suddenly Louis reached out and lifted the brim of my hat, revealing my face.
I raised my eyes automatically, and my gaze met his.
He stared at me in surprise for a moment, his eyes wide and concerned.
I dropped my gaze, feeling embarrassed, and Louis suddenly let go of the hat brim again.
Louis "Don't worry. I won't look."
A soft silence fell between us, and at last I spoke, because I needed to say something.
Tina "I know this sounds silly, but I couldn't sleep last night—I kept wondering when I'll get to see you again—"
Before I could finish speaking, Louis reached out and pulled me close, his arms tight around my waist.
Tina "Louis, I'm—"
I looked up without thinking, and Louis lowered his head, ducking under the brim of my hat.
His lips pressed against mine, soft and reassuring.
I closed my eyes, letting the warmth of his kiss spread through me and ease my fears.
His lips moved away slowly, and when I glanced up again, I realized that his cheeks were slightly red.
Louis "Well then, I'll just have to stay with you forever. Is that okay with you?"
I couldn't help but smile up at him, nodding slightly, and he lowered his face towards mine again.
(I'll be the happiest girl in the world if you do that, Louis.)
I whispered the words in my heart as his lips met mine again,
and we shared another kiss that was even sweeter than the last.
The sky was bright and blue overhead, with barely a cloud in sight.
I was visiting the town as I did regularly to inspect the current state of affairs.
(I'm glad to have so many people recognize me and want to say hello, but—)
As we walked through the streets, people kept smiling at me and greeting me.
(I can't help but be a little sad that I can't walk around town anonymously like I used to.)
I sighed softly to myself, looking down at the ground, and then I heard Giles's voice.
Giles "Is something the matter?"
Tina "No, it's nothing."
I glanced up and gave him a quick smile, before returning my gaze to the streets around me.
A few days later, I was finally able to take a day off.
Giles decided to take me to a town I'd never been to before.
(It's so pretty here!)
I started to step down from the carriage, but I paused to take in the sight of the street in front of me.
Suddenly Giles reached out and caught me around the waist with both hands, lifting me into the air.
Tina "Giles! What are you doing?"
I blinked at him in surprise, and he smiled as he set me down on the ground.
Giles "In a dress like that you might well trip getting down."
I smiled ruefully and shook my head a little, glancing down at my long dress.
(He'll use any excuse—though he did tell me to wear a simple dress today rather than a gown. I wonder why?)
Giles closed the door of the carriage, and then turned back to face me, reaching out to take my hand.
Tina "Giles, we can't—"
(Our relationship is a secret—if someone were to see us holding hands...)
I started to pull my hand away, but Giles tightened his grip, pulling me gently towards him.
Giles "The people in this town have no idea what the princess looks like."
Giles smiled as he glanced down at my dress.
Giles "And even if there is someone here who knows what the princess looks like,
Giles "I doubt they'll recognize you without your regal princess gowns."
(I don't believe it—how did he know that I wanted to walk around a town like a regular person?)
I stared up at him in wonder, and he reached out and touched my lips, his fingers gentle.
Giles "Don't forget, Tina—
Giles "No matter how much everyone else looks at you and sees only the princess,
Giles "to me you are a regular person. And a very special one."
He pulled me closer to the carriage, hiding us from prying eyes, and wrapped his arms around me.
His lips pressed softly against mine in a kiss, and I closed my eyes.
(I feel the same, Giles. You're not just a tutor or an advisor—)
I reached up and wrapped my arms around his neck, eagerly responding to his kiss.
(You're someone who's very special to me.)
It was a beautiful day, the sky filled with warm, gentle sunshine.
I'd been given a short holiday, and so I was visiting Stein to spend time with Byron.
(I wonder if he'll notice.)
I reached up to touch my new hairstyle as I sat waiting for Byron.
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and Byron stepped into the room.
Byron "We're always stuck in the castle. I imagine you can't really relax here either.
Byron "Why don't we go out somewhere today?"
Byron smiled as he spoke, and I couldn't help but smile back at him.
Byron decided to take me to visit a small mansion on the very outskirts of Stein.
(This is so nice—normally we never get to go anywhere like this.)
As we made our way through the mansion, I suddenly found myself stopping.
(That door has such beautiful ornamentation—I've never seen anything like it.)
Tina "King Byron, what's that room for?"
I turned to look up at him curiously, and he shrugged slightly.
Byron "Open it and take a look."
I opened the door and stepped into the room, gazing around in wonder.
It was lavishly outfitted, and there were two of everything, from the teacups to the cushions.
(Is this a special guest room for two?)
As I stood there taking in the room, Byron spoke quietly, his voice relaxed.
Byron "It's a room for married couples."
(We're not actually married yet—it seems a bit weird to be in here with him.)
Tina "I've never seen one like this before."
I spoke lightly, but I decided it was time to leave before I felt any weirder, so I turned towards the door.
But as I did so—
Byron caught me around the waist, pulling me towards him.
As I turned to look up at him, he gently caught hold of a lock of my hair, twining his fingers in it.
Byron "Did you change your hairstyle?"
The honest surprise in his gaze made me want to giggle, but I kept my expression calm as I nodded up at him.
He smiled suddenly, and leaned closer to kiss the lock of hair.
Byron "You look beautiful."
Tina "Thank you."
(I did it for you—I'm glad you like it.)
I smiled gladly back at him, and his hand moved to cup my chin, lifting my face towards him.
Byron "When you look as beautiful as you do—
Byron "Well, I may have to hurry up and make it clear to the world that you're mine."
Tina "King Byron—"
(Are you trying to say you're going to make sure we're married soon?)
Byron leaned forward, his gaze twinkling mischievously,
and before I could say another word, he pressed his lips against mine in a passionate kiss.
It was mid afternoon, the clouds streaming slowly across a clear blue sky.
I'd been allowed to take a holiday, and Leo and I were visiting a tiny cottage together.
The one stipulation from Giles was that no one in the palace was to know.
(It's so nice to be able to sit in a place like this and relax with a book, and Leo at my side)
There was a beautiful hill covered with flowers in front of the cottage, and I was sitting there, reading.
Leo was sprawled in the grass beside me, and after awhile he rolled over to peer at my book.
Leo "What are you reading?"
It was a fantasy novel, and I turned the book towards him and showed him the cover.
Beneath the title was a picture of a broad lake, sparkling in the sunshine, and a single bird flying overhead.
Tina "You know, I've always thought it must be wonderful to be able to soar through the sky like that."
Leo raised his gaze at my words, looking up at me with mischievous eyes.
Leo "Would you like me to grant that wish?"
I blinked down at him, and then laughed softly, reaching out to ruffle his hair.
The next day—
(It feels like we've been walking for ages.)
Leo had led me away from the cottage, and we'd walked through the woods together, holding hands.
At last we'd reached a small house, and he'd told me to close my eyes as he led me inside.
Leo "Don't open them yet."
Tina "I know."
I kept my eyes closed as Leo led me by the hand, until at last I felt a sudden gentle breeze against my cheek.
Leo "Okay, you can open them now."
I slowly opened my eyes and looked around me.
We were standing on a balcony, with a huge lake stretching out directly below us.
The sun shone down on the lake, and the entire surface seemed to sparkle and shine.
Tina "It's like we're soaring over the lake—"
Everything suddenly clicked then, and I looked up at Leo with a start.
(This is just like the cover of the book I showed him!)
Leo must have seen the realization in my expression, and he smiled suddenly.
Leo "No matter what it is you wish for—
Leo "I'll do whatever I can to grant it."
He reached out his hand, his fingers gently stroking my cheek.
Leo "So I hope you'll grant my wish too."
His expression seemed to soften then, and he leaned slowly towards me.
His soft lips pressed against mine in a warm, gentle kiss, and I closed my eyes.
At last our lips parted again, and he gazed down at me steadily.
Leo "I want you to stay with me, always."
(Oh, Leo—there's no wish I want to grant more.)
I nodded without hesitation, and pressed up against him, my lips catching his in another kiss.