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three busy bees

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Alm slumped at his desk, face planting squarely into the wood. Unifying Rigel and Zofia? Great! Making all necessary arrangements for said unification? Not so great. Mycen, while an excellent combat instructor, had never really taught him how to be a ruler. Celica wasn’t as well trained for the role as she could have been, either.

Now, between the two of them, they had been doing fairly well. However, Celica was ill. Between losing sleep over concern and trying to manage the entire workload by himself, Alm was having a difficult time.

At least I have a window to look out of, he thought. And the fire is nice and warm…

When Zeke had asked her to check on Alm, Tatiana hadn’t been quite sure what to expect. With most of the members of Alm and Celica’s respective groups returning home, she had been the cleric trusted with overseeing the queen’s recovery. Zeke had been doing his best to cover additional work to aid Alm, but between organizing the military and covering his typical duties as general he was extremely busy.

Zofia Castle, currently occupied by the One Kingdom’s rulers, was in the midst of winter. When she stumbled through the main doors, snow tracked in her wake. As she neared Alm’s study, the sound of snoring began to fill the air.

“I’ll just have to be careful,” she whispered as she began to tiptoe.

One step, two steps, and-


Polished stone and wet footwear don’t mix.
As she began to stand up, the sound of snoring cut off.
Tatiana froze.
As she waited, the snoring resumed.
She resumed walking, albeit slower than her typical pace.
As Tatiana stepped into the study, she saw Alm fast asleep at his desk.
She sighed. “Alm, what ever will we do with you?” The room was fairly large, with an armchair and a couch near the fire. Blankets lay near it. The castle healers had advised Alm to rest often, to prevent falling ill as well. Clearly it wasn’t happening.

While Tatiana wasn’t particularly tall or muscular in appearance, especially next to her towering husband, the years she’d spent working at the church and the time she’d spent on the battlefield had made her stronger than one might expect.

She stepped carefully across the rug, coming to stand next to the desk in a handful of steps. The snoring persisted. The cleric poked the king. Once. Twice. Three times.

“Sleeping like a rock as ever, I see.” Tatiana smiled fondly. “Well, let’s get you out of this chair."
Tatiana scooped Alm, who was at least half a foot taller than her, into a bridal carry from his chair.
As his head lolled in her arms, he slept on. Trudging over to the couch, Tatiana laid Alm across the couch. As he laid down, he began to stir.
“Whuzzat? Wazgoinon?” he muttered.
Tatiana laid one of the blankets across the king.
“Go back to sleep, Alm. You need to rest.”
The king nodded sleepily. “Mmkay ma.”He turned over and resumed snoring.
Tatiana giggled. It wasn’t the first time he'd called her that, but she found it funny every time. As she turned to leave, Tatiana stifled a yawn. This was her free time, and a nap sounded heavenly. Besides, Alm wouldn’t mind.
The cleric turned back, trodding towards the fireplace. She scooped up a blanket, and hopped into the armchair. Moments after curling up, she was asleep.

When Tatiana opened her eyes, the only sounds in the room were the crackling of the fire and the scratching of a quill. She lifted her eyes to see the back of a head directly in front of her, and darkened windows. General Ezekiel sat on the floor in front of her, report in hand, working away. She stretched, coming up to a more comfortable position. Zeke turned his head.
“How are you, my sweet?” he whispered.
“Wonderful. I’ve missed you, y’know. I know you’re busy, but you haven’t been home in a couple of days.” she replied quietly.
Zeke ran a hand through his hair. “My apologies, Tatiana. I have been occupied, but that is no excuse.”
Tatiana began to fiddle with his hair. “I don’t mean to sound needy or anything.”
He sighed. “I have missed you, as well. I will take tomorrow off. The kingdom can manage.”
The couple sat quietly by the fireplace. Zeke put down the report, and laid his head into the seat of the armchair as Tatiana continued to play with his hair.
In little time, they had both fallen asleep.

There would be time for work later, but for now, the general, the cleric, and the king slept by a slowly dying fire.