17. Lion with heart

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"Sit." The King commands as I enter the dining room. It's not like I was planning on anything else.

No matter what he says, he couldn't possibly ruin my mood. The relief and the happiness that filled me after seeing my people be set free, has left me in a sort of euphoric state.

They've gotten to keep their lives and for that I am more than thankful. Dinner is soon served and the King hasn't spared me a single glance since I've sat down.

After taking a few small bites I while my mouth with a napkin. I've got to talk to him, my feelings leading me to speak.

*Theodore's POV*
My inner conflict is only getting stronger. Letting anyone go was never my plan. It was more so my intension to figure out who to sentence to death and who to keep alive. The war is only just starting and my dungeons were already to full. More is to come.

So why?

I push my food around my plate frustratedly.

Frustrated because I let them go.

Frustrated because all my principles I've grown to value about what's right and wrong are all mixed up now. Like they've been thrown into a pot and stirred up. All Lyrians are the same is what I thought. I know it's her fault. She's at fault for all of my confusion.

So why did letting them go feel so right? Why did watching Alice's eyes sparkle with joy make me hold my breath. I'm loosing my head, I must be going mad.

A mixture of happiness and anger is coating my heart and I don't know how to deal with it. I should go speak with Jaxon later.

"I wish to thank you." Alice says out of the blue. Our eyes lock. And I can still clearly make out the sparkle in her eyes.

"For what? For judging?" I huff.

"For showing mercy to those people." Her plump lips widen into a small smile.

This is a game and we're playing with fire. Someone is bound to get burned and I won't let it be me.

"I didn't do it for you." To my surprise her smile doesn't fade.

"I know, but I still feel the need to thank you, for showing my people-, I mean the Lyrian people mercy."

"Your people? Do you still feel that close to your former country?"

"It is my home after all, your highness."
I wouldn't have thought her to be so loyal to a place she won't ever see again. On the other hand  if I where to be brought into Lyria I never would accept it either. The difference between us is that I rule my country as a part of the royal family and as King and she only grew up in hers.

I don't feel like talking anymore, which is good timing because wine is being served. Hopefully drinking will take my mind off everything.

I watch as the red simmering liquid fills my glass and the servant boy turns to leave. "Won't you be asking Lady Alice if she would like a drink?" I growl. It's not like I care but being my servant I expect only the best of services. Lord knows how mad I would be if I had important guests over.

Quickly the boy turns back and bows deeply. "I'm terribly sorry, your highness."

He hurries around the table to Alice, who didn't seem bothered at all.

"Would you like some wine, my Lady?"

"Yes, please." She smiles brightly at him.

Shortly after her glass is filled and the boy had left.

I take a big sip of my cup before saying, "I must be mistaken in thinking that good girls don't drink."
I can't help but smirk. She truly is a surprising woman.

"I don't drink but today is different. It's only one cup to cheers, to your good deed."
She raises her cup in my direction and smiles at me brightly.

At least I now know we're both going insane.

Still smirking I clink glasses with her. She takes a big gulp of wine and her nose scrunches up as she swallows. I to take a swig but it tastes normal.

"Why do you drink this stuff?" She mumbles, still looking agitated.

"I actually find it quite flavorsome. I doubt even you as a noble would have been able to try a wine so exquisite."

"I've never tried before...," she says sheepishly.

I chuckle. For some reason that doesn't surprise me.

We resume eating and soon my glass is empty. "Servant!"
Alice jumps at my shout. Whatever.

The boy comes running quickly with the bottle at hand. Entertained I see that Alice watches me drink and grabs her chalice as well.

"If you're trying to keep up, I would give up now." I taunt.

The amount of alcohol I've been drinking over the years has built up a strong tolerance. Even after my first cup I feel nothing, like I've drunken juice.

"Don't challenge me, I'm not much of a looser." She lifts an eyebrow.

"Suit yourself." I couldn't care less.

After finishing my second drink Alice is almost done with her first. "See- im catching up." She giggles.

Her cheeks have flushed red along with her ears. "You drunk already?" I ask.

She huffs, "no, no, no, I'm not drunk I'm just a bit warm." She fans her face with her hands.

"Sure." I grin.

I wave to the boy who now doesn't dare leave to room again, to refill my glass.

Although letting those people go today felt right, I can't seem to shake to feeling of betrayal. Have I betrayed my country by being to kind to those peasants?

"I'm sorry, ummmm-," Alice looks at the boy who was still filling my cup.

"Wait, I don't even know your name, silly me." She goes on. A strand of her long hair hangs into her face and she subconsciously strokes it away behind her ear.

"I- um, my name is Arthur, my Lady." Why does she care. He's not of importance.

"Okay, Arthur, it's nice to meet you. Could you please refill my cup?"

Being seemingly mesmerized by Alice, my cup almost overflows.

"Watch it!" I'm surrounded by idiots.

"Oh, please forgive me." Again he hurries around the table and refills Alice's glass, but never taking his eyes off of her.

When her cup is half full I grit my teeth, "that's enough."

The boy bows and hurried away after throwing another look at Alice. "You're no fun..." Alice mocks me.

"I'm perfectly normal, I don't think Alkohol works on me," she continues and takes another sip.

„Whatever," I murmur.

„Why are you always so grumpy?" she sways.

She doesn't wait for me to answer before going on, "You're a grumpy cat."

„No wait, you're bigger, you're a grumpy lion!"

Ok she's drunken.

"If you were sober I'd scold you, for the insult." There's no point now, she'll only start crying, and how I hate seeing her cry.

She moves her half eaten plate away from herself toward the middle of the table, and proceeds to lay her arms on the table before resting her head on them. Why is she grinning.

"But you're a lion. Lions are majestic...,"

Her eyelids look heavy as the drop and open a few times before closing completely. I stroke through my hair making sure not to knock the crown. I can't believe she's falling asleep at the dining table.

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