mantra and felt it pump strength into her.

   The next morning, the boat arrived at its destinations, Lars, their first honeymoon destination, the home of Princess Gladys.




Bjorn finished up by adjusting the sash and the emblem draped over his shoulder.
Satisfied, an attended came over and gave him his gloves and formal sword.

   Bjorn turned away from the mirror as he put on his gloves.
He raised the sword and checked it for marks.
There was no trace of the problem child any more.
He was a dignified figure in a crisp black uniform, blue belt and dazzling golden ornamentation.

   “Would you really mind going alone, Your Highness?” The attendant asked.

   Bjorn had announced that he would be meeting the King of Lars alone.
He was not to be accompanied by the Grand Duchess, or any of the delegation.
Everyone was nervous, but Bjorn was calm and focused.

   “Are you afraid the Prince of Lechen is going to get whipped by the King of Lars?”

   “You highness, whipped!?”

   “It might happen, which is why its best I go alone.
Less embarrassment.” Bjorn grinned as he strode across the bedroom with wide, graceful strides.
The attendant just looked at him with wide eyed worry.

   After disembarking from the boat and then taking a day to rest, they had been in the city for three days before they were finally able to meet with the King.
They were staying at the Manster Palace, the guest house of the Lars Royal Family.

   “Bjorn,” Erna greeted Bjorn as he came into the drawing room.

   She had been sitting in a chair and stood up abruptly when he came into the room.
She looked like she was seeing Bjorn off to battle.

   “Are you sure you’re okay?” Erna asked.

   “If it’s not, will you accompany me?”

   “You only need to ask.” Even though he had been joking, Erna’s response was flat and serious.
The ribbon in her hair swayed slightly.

   From the moment they stepped from the ship, Erna had showed a lot of determination to fulfil her role as the Grand Duchess.
How is this? And how about that? She would diligently babbled about the things she thought a Grand Duchess should be.

   He said she was being absurd, but somehow, that only made her double her efforts and Bjorn found that increasingly cute.
In the evenings he found he had to kiss her more than usual, because even in bed, she would not stop talking about doing her duty.

   “Late,” he gently stroked his wife’s blushed cheek.
“If I get beaten up, its all on you to avenge me.”

   Erna blinked at him, her eyes going wide.
“I beg your pardon.” Her eyes narrowed.
“You’re making another joke.
A bad one.”

   Bjorn giggled nonchalantly.
Erna let out a small sigh and looked at her husband.
He was an enigma in many ways, but one thing was certain: He loved making fun of his wife.

   “Don’t worry, my dear,” a long finger stoked her chin.
“I fight to win and don’t stop until I do.”

   “Please don’t joke like that, I’m really worried.

   When his gloved hand stroked her lip, she shuddered and pushed his hand away.
She looked like someone who had been caught doing something they shouldn’t.
That made her so much more adorable.

   “Its because of me, isn’t it,” Erna said looking away in embarrassment.
“It’s because I married you, so the relationship between Lechen and Lars …”

   “Erna,” his smile faded.
“There is nothing wrong with the relationship between Lechen and Lars, nothing in the past or future is going to change that.”


   “Of course.”  Bjorn was convinced.
He considered the risks and knew that the alliance between Lechen and Lars must remain strong, it was to the benefit of both countries and Bjorn was determined to keep it that way.

   Bjorn had considered this very carefully and had made up his mind long before the honeymoon was planned.
He wished he didn’t have to stop in Lars at all, but it was unavoidable, but it was fortunate that he only needed to deal with the King and be on their way as soon as possible.

   Erna was lost in thought for a moment, but she eventually nodded and let go of Bjorn’s hand.
She was not convinced, her eyes still showed worry and guilt.

   “I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help.”

   “You could help by letting me slip in from the back.” Bjorn said quietly.

   “I beg your pardon.” Erna glared at him in shock, surprise and disbelief.
She looked around for anyone that might have heard, they were alone.

   Bjorn found it amusing.
Even after the first time he tried to turn her over, she declared that she was a lady, not an animal.
She was worth the trouble of having to sooth her through most of the night, even when she finally relented, she was not happy about the position.
It gave him a little sadistic pleasure looking at her swaying beneath him.

   After giving her a passionate kiss on the cheek, Bjorn headed out of the room.
Erna followed him and saw him off.
She saw him off every morning and greeted him every time he came home, it was part of her wifely duties and that of a Grand Duchess.

   “Hey, Bjorn,” Erna called after him, just as he was about to close the carriage door.
“Will you be coming back late?”


   “Can we still have dinner together?” Erna gave him her best puppy eyes.
There was a moments pause as they looked at each other, a battle of wills sparking between them.
Then Bjorn surrendered and nodded.
Erna smiled brightly.

   Erna waved a hand with a flutter as the carriage pulled away, like petals caught on the wind.
Bjorn laughed, it was a soft laugh with a little warmth added to it, it was something different from his usual faded smile.

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