The Problematic Prince
ady, hurry up,” the head maid ordered and the other maids bustled about on pattering feet.
It was the last night in Felia and there was to be a party to say farewell to the Grand Duke and Duchess of Lechen.
Even the maids who despised the Grand Duchess showed unwavering loyalty to the couple.
It was a matter of show, no outsiders should see the slander the maids spoke of the Grand Duchess.
They did not want to see the wife of the once Crown Prince of Lechen disgraced.
Erna was dressed up and adorned with all the new accessories she had bought.
With each adornment, she looked more and more beautiful, more and more regal.
Even the maids couldn’t hide their surprise.
There was no sign of the ignorant country girl, she looked like she had always been among true nobility.
No one dared to think that just a few months ago, she was a scandal-ridden bumpkin, tossed to the bottom of the marriage pile.
Once the maid had fitted the necklace gift, Lisa came forward with the last piece of jewellery.
It was a tiara that the Queen had gifted her.
Erna looked at it nervously.
‘It’s a very dear treasure to me, please cherish it.’
Although she had been embarrassed, Erna had curtsied and promised the Queen she would look after it.
Although Erna had inherited several other tiaras, she cherished this one the most.
When she got married, it was this tiara she chose without hesitation.
“It’s done, Your Highness.”
Lisa backed away.
Erna got up and left the room.
She passed through the long hallway and when she came to the stairs, Bjorn was waiting at the bottom.
As they made eye contact, she felt the fear melt away, like snow in the summer sun.
As she came down the stairs, she held out her hand to Bjorn and smiled with excitement.
It was a night that passed like a beautiful dream.
The splendid world always stole the breath from her, but she was fine as long as she was with him, with Bjorn, with this man who always held her trembling hand.
Everything would be fine.
She wanted to believe that, even when she was hurt, because she loved him.
With Bjorn, Erna forgot everything.
The only thing that filled that forgotten feeling, the tension and the fear that still plagued her heart, was Bjorn.
It was not something that could be seen, only felt and Erna really did.
That dazzling, brilliant night often came to her.
Erna saw that night in the sunrise, over the sea, as she stood on the deck, in the familiar, yet unfamiliar streets of Schuber and in the still-overwhelming unfamiliar Palace.
Then everything became fine like magic.
The love she felt was as bad as her husband,
sad, sometimes hurt
but it was also alluring like him.
When the waters rose and the branches of the tree filled with leaves and became good again, Erna knew it would hold true.
She maintained that firm belief, until winter turned to spring.
“Erna,” A voice interrupted the afterglow of her beautiful dream, “wake up Erna.”
When she slowly opened her eyes, she saw a faint smile greet her.
The first thing she felt was a warmth about her.
It was from the fresh spring sun pouring in through the curtains and…
She saw him.
A beautiful dream smiling down at her in the light,
“Do you still want to see the fountain’s first operation? It’s nearly time,” he playfully tapped the bridge of her nose with a delicate fingertip.
“A…fountain?” Erna’s eyes slowly came into focus and the dream fuzz melted.
Erna jumped up and got off the bed.
It wasn’t until she was practically out onto the balcony that she realised she was not wearing a single thread of clothes.
Bjorn burst into laughter, as Erna ran back to put on a robe.
Mrs Fitz had told her a few days ago that the fountain would resume operation today, after being switched off for the winter season.
Erna had been talking about it to everyone and was very excited to see the first jets of water.
She was embarrassed by the fact that she had slept in.
“Bjorn, you too…”
Erna turned to call him and stopped as his naked body stood before the bed.
Sunlight streamed in and made him glow almost.
She was used to his nakedness by now, but seeing it in the sunshine like that made her falter.
While Erna turned back to the fountain, Bjorn put on his own gown and came out to the balcony.
As he leaned on the railing, his long shadow was cast back into the room and merged with hers.
Erna watched the great fountain and held his hand.
The Fountain was at the end of a long waterway, stretching down the garden, it was attached to the Abit River, which sparkled under the spring sun.
While she frowned at the glittering water, great spouts jettisoned into the air all along the watery path until it reached the fountain that exploded into motion.
Her gasp harmonised with the sound of gushing water.
By her side, Bjorn looked at his wife, who was beaming like a child.
The first day of spring had arrived, it was his third season with his wife.
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