The King of Kalbem: Chapter 20 - Happily Ever After Continues
Chapter 20: Happily Ever After Continues
Edmund awoke in his bed. He jumped up and ran into the hall until he found Sir Aaron. “What happened?” Edmund inquired.
Aaron put a hand on Edmund, “The castle is ours again. Frederick is dead and Will is proclaimed leader of both kingdoms.”
“I missed all of that?” Edmund darted away to find Will and Kat.
Caroline woke dizzily in the servants’ quarters. She looked around and startled, “What happened?” she asked a maid. After all was explained to her, she ran out of the room, “Where is Daniel?” She ran about the castle, asking everyone she could find about Daniel.
Finally she remembered that Daniel was dressed as a Tezelian, so he was probably not let out of the dungeon like she was. Caroline walked down to the dungeon. Looking around, she found a figure that was not as slumped over as she was used to seeing him, “Daniel?” she whispered.
He turned to her, “Thank goodness you are safe! Did we win?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
Daniel gave a sigh of relief and rested his head on the bars of the cell.
She also rested her head on the bars next to his. He reached up and stroked her cheek. She gave a half smile, then remarked, “You were brilliant with getting the gate up.”
“Thank you,” he gave a half smile back, still with his hand on her cheek. “Surprisingly the hardest part was getting rid of that guard.”
She looked away slightly, “You handled it quite well; I didn’t realize you had such good acting skills.”
“I didn’t act,” he corrected. “I hope you weren’t too uncomfortable with it.”
She put her hand on his cheek and looked at him, “I didn’t act either.”
“What?” his eyes widened with shock. “But you said you… I mean I said I… then I… and you… but you wouldn’t… and you didn’t slap me!”
“Why would I slap you?”
He looked at her and whispered as if he was telling a secret, “I kissed you.”
“I know,” she winked, then whispered softly, “and I enjoyed it.”
His face lit up, “Does that mean you would let me do that again?”
“I can’t tell you everything. You’ll have to try it and see for yourself.”
He realized that if he kissed her now, she wouldn’t be able to have any momentum if she slapped him through the bars. He put his other hand through the bars, then holding her face in his hands, drew her in and kissed her. He opened one eye to see her drawing away slowly, smiling.
As she opened her eyes, he closed his tightly. She looked at how strained he looked with his eyes scrunched up so tightly and whispered, “Relax. I’m not mad at you.”
He quickly opened his eyes and blurted, “My fault!”
Caroline chuckled, “So you weren’t acting, eh? Could you explain the part about falling in love with me?”
His face turned red and turned away slightly, “You know how I feel towards you.”
“Well,” she got up, “I expect you to tell me when I get you out of here.”
“But I don’t have my notes!” he called to her.
She flipped her braid and flashed a smile at him, “Just say what you feel.” He gulped as she exited, thinking, Take your time; this dungeon cell is rather lovely. I could get used to the smell.
“Will and Kat have arrived!” Aaron breathed a sigh of relief. Will, Kat, Lizzy, and Edmund walked into the throne room where they embraced their family members.
The funeral services for Frederick and Jennifer were arranged. Kat put Rosemary on both of their bodies.
“Rosemary for remembrance,” Will sighed. “Certainly unforgettable.”
Morgan stood by Michael as they paid their respects.
Michael turned to him, “Morgan? I have much to tell you that I’m ashamed of. I don’t expect you to forgive me, because I’ve caused you more pain and anguish than should ever be felt by a person.”
Morgan took a deep breath, “I don’t need to know. I already forgive you.”
Michael was so touched that tears started rolling down his cheeks. He quickly did his best to hide them, but he embraced his friend in gratitude.
“You fought bravely, Morgan,” Will patted him on the back. “I’m glad you chose to side with us. I hope I can prove myself as king soon enough. Also, I desperately need a better blacksmith in the castle.”
Really desperately! Michael thought.
“I was able to break through Borin’s chain with tongs. Please give it consideration.”
“Thank you, my lord, I will,” Morgan replied.
“By the way,” Will made almost as a side note, “Beatrice is here to see you. I sent for her.”
Morgan gasped as Will motioned Beatrice into the room. He ran to her and then stopped short, right in front of her. “Beatrice!” he whispered.
She lifted her arms and he embraced her, “Morgan!”
He pulled back and looked into her eyes, “I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”
“I know you mean well, Morgan. There is nothing to forgive.”
He smiled and then backed away, “Thank you. I won’t trouble you anymore. I wish you the best.”
“You don’t have to drop out of my life again.”
“You know I don’t deserve you, Beatrice.”
“Perhaps that’s a good goal to work towards.” She stepped closer.
“After all that has happened, I’m not sure things can go back to the way they were.”
“You’re right, they can’t.” She stepped closer, “But they can get better.”
“Is it possible that you would give me a chance again?”
“It is possible,” she assured. “Once you are emotionally stable again, if you want, we can try again. You are an incredibly strong and loyal man when you want to be.”
His face lit up, “I would be honored, my lady.”
Will put a hand on both of their backs, “You are both coming to my coronation, right? That is if you promise not to hit anyone with a prybar, Morgan.”
“I am truly sorry about that, my lord,” Morgan bowed.
“It’s fine,” Will shrugged, then winced in pain, “I’ve had worse.”
Morgan turned back to Beatrice, “My friend, would you give me the privilege of escorting you to the coronation?”
“I would be delighted,” she replied, taking his arm.
Michael slipped a note into Beatrice’s pocket, explaining things. He chuckled as he realized he was matchmaking, Kat must be rubbing off on me, he thought.
* * * * *
Caroline explained what happened to the guard of the prison, so he let Daniel out of his cell. As Daniel walked out, he saw Caroline’s chocolate eyes, glimmering in the firelight. He walked straight up to her and hugged her. “I…” he stuttered, “I wanted to tell you… I mean I really… I think… you are…” He stopped himself and cupped her face in his hands. Looking deeply into her eyes, he smiled and said, “I love you, Caroline. I always have.” Her eyes lit up and he kissed her slowly.
She smiled and hugged him, “I love you too,” she whispered.
Suddenly, the prisoners all started whistling and clapping. Daniel gave them an embarrassed look, but was comforted by Caroline’s smile. He smiled awkwardly, offered his arm, and escorted her back to the kitchen.
From a distance, Edmund saw Dominique embracing her father. The sight of her brightened his countenance. Then realization struck and the light dimmed. He looked back at Will’s family and stood by them.
Kat noticed Edmund’s inner struggle and whispered something in Will’s ear. Will turned lovingly to Edmund and pulled him aside, “My friend, you have protected my family. Thank you. You have always helped me to live my life, and I want you to live yours. Dominique is welcome to marry up in station and you are more than welcome to have a family of your own. Knowing your skill, I’m sure you can protect all of us at the same time.” He smiled and nudged Edmund. “Go. Don’t give her up.”
Edmund didn’t need any more permission than that to rush over to Dominique and Thomas, who were invited to stay at the castle for the coronation. Dominique went home to fetch her brothers, which gave Edmund the chance to talk to her father.
“I promise that I will always put her above my life and my pride,” he assured Thomas. “I will protect her and love her always.”
“You saved her, my boy,” Thomas replied, “and you have my blessings.”
“Thank you,” Edmund vigorously shook his hand.
The next morning, Dominique arrived with her brothers at the palace. They tackled Edmund with hugs, and after they had finished with their greetings, Edmund asked Dominique to go walking with him in the garden.
“So what happens now?” she asked nervously.
He put his hand on her arm that was linked with his. “Dominique,” he turned to her and held her hand, “do you love me?”
She looked up with begging eyes, “If I say that, I don’t know if I could let you go.”
“Then don’t,” he kissed her hand and dropped to one knee. “Dominique, I hope I am not too forward in saying this, but I love you, and I don’t want to ever let you go. My life has risks, so I understand if you don’t want to, but I promise I will do all in my power to protect you if you would… marry me?”
She gasped and covered her mouth, “Oh Edmund, does this mean we get to be together?”
“If you want to.”
“Then yes!” she nearly tackled him with a hug. He smiled. Her gray eyes looked metallic silver. He stroked her cheek and lifted her chin to kiss her. The two spent the morning walking and talking, making plans and explaining things.
Two days later was Will’s coronation.
“I solemnly promise to do so,” Will vowed.
“Lords and ladies, nobles and peasants, I give you, the King of Kalbem!” The crowd cheered.
Will took Kat’s hand and began to walk with her down the aisle. Edmund and Dominique followed nearby, holding Lizzy in their arms. Daniel, now the royal carpenter, and Caroline waited for them at the balcony which overlooked the people. They walked out to the edge of the balcony. Will smiled. His parents and sister were there with a smiling Michael, Kat’s parents and brother were there, Will’s friends were there, and best of all, his wife and child were there. He turned to his left and kissed Elizabeth on the cheek.
Kat looked at him with sparkling eyes, “William, my love, is now the King of Kalbem.”
He stroked her cheek with his good hand, “My eternal wife is now Queen Gardenia.”
He brushed her hair back and kissed her slowly. Again, it was the best kiss they had shared yet. They made it through this challenge, and a bright new future stretched ahead of them. As king and queen of Kalbem and Tezel, they ruled with love and service through good times and bad times.
And they continued living happily ever after.
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