of it felt like hers.

   Her mind drifted to the other night and the energy of the medicine spread fast.
Her tired body stiffened and she couldn’t believe that just thinking about that night got her heat rising and made her breathless.

   Erna got up and checked the door of the bedroom was closed several times.
She then scrambled back under the sheets, and pulled them up and over her head.
She became distinctly aware of the pain that was still there.
It was more of a dull ache now.

   She remembered laying out on the bed in the early morning of that night, before the sun’s first light came over the horizon.
She was curled up on the bed, willing the pain away so that she could sleep.
She was vaguely aware of movement beside her and she turned just in time to see firelight reflect off of Bjorn’s back.
He didn’t look back at her once, as he left, she remembered that much.

   Erna hoped he would be coming back soon, she wanted him to come back, but he never did.
Erna buried her face into her pillows and fell asleep crying.

   Bjorn was friendly and he was heartless.
He was as warm as he was cold.
It was strange to see such disparity in one man.
How could opposite aspects exist at once, there must be some falsity to Bjorn, but Erna could not detect any fabrication or lie.

   The more she looked at Bjorn, the more she realised she didn’t know and because of her cluttered mind, nightmares and bad dreams followed.
She dreamed of being eaten alive by a wolf.




The Grand Dukes carriage returned to Schuber Palace just as the sun settled in the west.
Despite his busy schedule, Bjorn did not look tired, he was the same as usual.
He exchanged brief glances with the servants as they came out to meet him.
Mrs Fitz fell in behind him as he strode toward the entrance hall.

   “Her Highness is asleep, she seems unwell, so I told her to rest.” Mrs Fitz said.


   “You have been busy with getting married, maybe a few days rest for you, is in order?”

   Bjorn sensed a thorn in the question.

   “I’ll enjoy some rest on my honeymoon.” Bjorn said.

   “That’s over two weeks away, my Prince.” Mrs Fitz frowned.

   “Has the Grand Duchess already swayed you to her side?”

   “I beg your pardon?”

   “There’s no way you don’t know the honeymoon isn’t just a honeymoon.” Bjorn said, pausing on the landing and turning to face Mrs Fitz.
He smiled, but it did not go as far as his eyes.

   The honeymoon was just a formality, in reality, it was an overseas diplomatic mission.
It was important to reaffirm alliances and to check the intricate web of political power was intact.
Especially after such a major event as raising up a new Grand Duchess.
It had been Bjorn’s job since the laying down of the crown.

   A visit by the king, or crown prince, is a major political act, but a prince who disbanded from the throne would not cause as big a fuss.
Couple that with the ruse of going on a honeymoon, Bjorn was able to affectively spy on other countries with ease, as well as scout out financial markets.

   “So why do you say such things? There must be a reason, have you so quickly abandoned me?” Bjorn said with a sly smile.

   “Your Highness…”

   “To abandon me in just one day, you don’t even look sad about it.” Bjorn’s intentions were made clear as he over emphasised his wounded pride.

   “Your childish jokes is what pushed me to her, it was not a difficult choice, my prince.” Mrs Fitz said.
Even after all these years, she could not get used to his flirtatious jokes, so far.
Sensing the clearly drawn line, Mrs Fitz stepped back.

   “I’m sorry, Your Highness.”

   “Don’t be like that.” Bjorn said smiling.

   He climbed up the stairs like he was that child again and Mrs Fitz followed, preparing the words for her report.

   “Ah, Mrs Fitz,” Bjorn said.

   She found him sat cross legged in the chair by the window, opening the letter he had just received.

   “Like you said, there are fifteen days until the boat trip, plenty of time to teach my wife.”


   “Since there wasn’t an adult in Erna’s life that could have taught her the bedroom chores, we need someone else to do it now.”

   Mrs Fitz was stunned at the calm and monotonous manner in which Bjorn had given the command.
She obeyed with her own calm demeanour.

   “I will send for the right person for the job, Your Highness, erm, if I may?”

   “Please, speak.”

   “Why her, Your Highness? What was the reason for wanting this young girl as your wife?” She knew she was being presumptuous to ask such a question, but her curiosity was out of control.

   “Erna…” Bjorn started to say, then stopped and stared up at the ceiling, as if pondering the great mysteries of the world.
“Because she’s pretty.”

   “Your Highness?” Mrs Fitz said, breathless.

   “She’s a very pretty woman.” Bjorn turned to the window and opened the letter.
“Isn’t she?”

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