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"Callan!" Ariella giggled, "You cannot just abandon your responsibilities, we must return to the Palais at once."

Cal shrugged, falling onto the bed beside her, "Sometimes I wish I didn't have to be the heir to the throne."

Ariella sighed, "You're strong, my love, you can accomplish anything that you believe in. Establish trust within yourself."

Cal looked to Ariella, who smiled lightly. He placed his hand on her cheek, "I believe in us."

"And I believe in you," she said softly, "You will be a wonderful ruler, Callan."

"With you beside me, perhaps," he whispered, "What would I do without you."

She laughed, "You might attend to your responsibilities, that's for one."

Cal smiled flirtatiously and leant down to place his lips to hers, he slid his hand down her waist and hips, "Why should I waste my time on royal procedures when I have you here, like this."

"You're quite-" Ariella paused to catch her breath, "-inappropriate, Your Highness."

Cal chuckled, "And you're too prim for your own good."

"I wouldn't call last night very proper," she hinted, smiling mischievously.

Cal smirked, twiddling with a piece of her long hair, "I'd love you to elaborate-"

The door to Cal's chambers burst open, just as Ariella slid under the covers and hid herself.
Cal sprawled over her body and pretended to sleep.

"Your Highness, an urgent message from the capital-" the servant paused to gasp, realizing that the Prince was entirely naked, "Forgive me— the council calls for Your Royal Highness at once," the man placed a piece of royal stationary on the floor and backed out of the room, closing the door firmly behind him.

Ariella threw the covers off of her face, "Well, Callan, you seem to have given the man a thorough startle."

"What was I supposed to do? I had barely five seconds to compose myself," Cal laughed, jumping out of the bed and picking up the letter from the ground.

He looked down the the parchment, his lips smiling, though his face seemed to fall almost instantaneously. He read the letter a few times through, his mind not processing the information. His head began to spin.

"Callan?" Ariella asked worriedly, sitting up from the bed.

He continued to stare blankly at the parchment. His eyes were motionless and unmoving.

Ariella got up from the bed and walked over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder as she leant over him to catch a glimpse of the letter. She scanned the royal document with curious eyes:

Salut, Callan.

It is unfortunate news I have for you today. I hope this letter has reached you in time, for the council is going mad without someone here to keep order. And that is what I have written you about. Your father, the King, has taken extremely ill, and is not expected to survive a fortnight. It is with great despair that I be the bearer of this news, but I saw it only fit seeing as I believe you hold as much trust in me as I do you, which is a considerable amount. I hope you don't grieve too severely, dear friend, his passing will be gentle, as the doctor has reassured me. I am afraid the council calls, please be on your way soon, court is strange without you here. Travel safely.

Your Loyal Friend,
The Duke of Palais Blanc, Jacques de Morterre.

Cal took a moment to compose himself before ripping the letter into several pieces and throwing them into the fire.

"What is the meaning of this, mon amour?" Ariella asked, questioning his actions.

Cal sighed and walked into his dressing parlor, "If that letter landed in the wrong hands, the Kingdom could face serious trouble."

Ariella stared blankly into the fire, memorizing the patterns of the flames as the sparks popped and sizzled. She thought for a moment about what this meant for the kingdom. Cal would become King immediately after King Henri's death, which meant he needed a Queen. She took a deep breath. She didn't know if she was even prepared to be married, let alone rule a country. And on top of this, she worried for Callan, who seemed unfazed by the entirety of the situation. Perhaps he was prepared for this day, when he would be called into court for his coronation. Perhaps he was prepared for his fathers demise, prepared to move on and take his place immediately afterwards.

She shut her eyes tightly to cut off her eccentric flow of thoughts and began gathering her clothes. She slipped on her nightdress and helped herself into Cal's robe which hung on a hook beside the door. It smelt nice, of his pine soap and lavender.

She walked into Cal's dressing parlor, her gown and corset in her arms. Cal stood facing the wall, his back towards her. He rested his head in his hands as he massaged his temples, he must've noticed her presence because he eventually dropped them and spoke unusually clearly, as if he had been thinking it through, "Ariella, perhaps it would be best if we hold off our engagement until after—after the coronation."

Ariella slowly walked towards him, tilting her head slightly, "Whatever will make this easier on you, Callan."

She placed a hand on his shoulder, forcing him to turn and face her. He struggled to meet her eyes, not because he was was tearful, but because he was ashamed, "I wish it didn't have to be this way," he muttered, "I wish I was a regular man who could marry you right now. I want that for you. If you ever feel like you need to leave me, I will accept that. I will not force you into anything."

Ariella smiled sadly, "You are the one I am meant to spend my life with, Callan, and if that means I have to wait to marry you, then I will gladly wait."

"I don't want to cause anymore commotion at court than there already is, I hope you can understand," Cal said softly, almost whispering.

"I understand, Callan. You have responsibilities and I will respect that aspect of your life, there is nothing to feel guilty for."

Cal smiled lightly, "Well, then I suppose we should begin packing for our journey back to the Palais. I will find you once I have everything in order."

Ariella gave him one last reassuring glance before she turned and headed back to her chambers.

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