DG yawned in a very unladylike manner though she tried to cover it with her hand. She was listening to the Prince of Doune talk about his 36 thoroughbred horses, trying not to fall asleep. She glanced at Cain for just a second; he was frozen like a statue in the corner, hat conveniently hiding his eyes.
“Don’t have very interesting personalities, do they?” Glitch mused, peering into the room. He had offer to keep Azkadellia company, so that her entrance into the room wouldn’t frighten the visiting royalty.
"No... or Deej wouldn't be yawning like that," Azkadellia whispered back. DG was 'mmhmm'ing methodically in rhythm with the Prince's story, nearly nodding off.
“Must make you feel better.” He mused. “Not having to go through this sort of thing.”
"Not really... I'd go through a hundred times more courtship sessions if it meant being accepted by the people of the OZ again..." Az didn't look at Glitch. She just watched the stuffy Prince scoot closer to DG.
“I didn’t mean…” He looked back at DG himself. “I only meant…You’d be just as bored if that were you out there. It’s not like they’d be winning you over.”
"No, I don't suppose they would," Az agreed softly. She continued watching her sister for only a moment longer, when the guardian in the shadows caught her eye. Cain was made of marble in that corner. She wished there was something she could do to make DG accept the fact that she had feelings for this stone of a man.
"He's still just standing there?" The zipperhead went on. "If they annoy her so much, why doesn't she do something? It's not like she has to pick out of this batch, right? There's still hope for her and Cain, right?"
"No, she doesn't have to pick out of this batch, but she's doing it for mother's sake. If she says no to this group, there'll just be another one. I don't think its our place to say what is and what isn't probable for Cain..." Az saw DG scoot further away from the obnoxious suitor.
“If he just spoke up, said how he was feeling directly to her…” He sighed. “If he only had a heart…”
"He's got a heart... it just needs to be defrosted," Az retorted. She observed the Prince as he put a hand on DG's knee and all of a sudden, the muscles in Cain's jaw tightened.
He moved over swiftly to step between them. “Did the princess tell you, in any way, that it is alright to touch her?” Cain demanded.
"I don't believe she said anything in opposition," The Prince said, looking down his nose at Cain. DG looked away and blushed furiously.
"Just because she doesn't oppose to it doesn't mean you should take that as an invitation." The Tin Man growled.
"I'm sorry... I didn't catch your name. Or your title for that matter." The Prince scoffed, standing so he was nearly nose to nose with Cain.
Cain's eyes narrowed. "I'd step back if I were you."
"Or what?" The prince asked. DG stepped back from the bench so it was between her and the brewing fight.
"Shouldn't some one stop this?" Glitch spun to look at Azkadellia. "If I had half a mind-"
"Let Cain handle it," She whispered. "He is her bodyguard, after all."
“Still,” He sighed and looked back at the scene. Cain’s eyes were narrowed on the haughty prince. “Last chance. Step back and step off.” He warned.
The Prince got the hint. He took a step back hastily, safely out of reach. "Princess DG, its been lovely," He said to the cowering Princess. The Prince of Doune bowed quickly and left the room, nearly colliding with Azkadellia and Glitch.
"You gonna let all of them paw all over you like that?" He demanded, looking at DG. "Or are you going to speak up for yourself?"
"What's it to you?" She spat back. "So what if they all grope me, at least I'm being the good little princess! that's all anybody wants me to be!"
"So being good ultimately implies you keep quiet and let them feel you up all day?" He demanded.
"Yes," DG stormed past him after a deathly glare, headed for anywhere but there.
Glitch winced at their parting. “I’m beginning to think they’re a lost cause.”
"I think SHE may be the lost cause," Azkadellia sighed, waiting to see what Cain's next move would be.
The tin man merely sighed and moved back to his position as a wall ornament.
"This is going to be a LOT harder than I thought," Az observed.
“It was implied that this would be easy?” Glitch gave her a smile. “We’re dealing with two of the most stubborn people in the O.Z.”
"And one of them is magical. Tell you what... The next Prince isn't due for another few hours... want to play matchmaker?" She whispered quietly to Glitch.
"Sure that's a good idea?" He looked between the pair.
"I think its a brilliant idea. We'll send them on errands that will insure they run into one another in the process... I think if DG ticks Cain off enough, we can get him to slip and say something..." Az rubbed her hands together.
“You sure they got rid of that witch?” He smiled. “You sure do plot well.”
"The witch is gone alright. I just happen to be... strategic." She winked. "Mr. Cain?"
"Something I can do, your highness?" Cain asked.
"I need you to alert the cook that his highness the Princess of Doane won't be joining us for lunch," She blinked innocently.
"Gladly. You and the zipperhead can deal with your sister, for now." He said and stormed out.
"Ooh... 'For Now'..." Az snickered at Glitch. "My lovely sister should be getting her mid-afternoon snack from the kitchen right about now."
“One shouting match and they should be confessing their undying affection to each other?” The advisor mused. “If not a queen, you would make a good general.”
"I was one, remember?" Az laughed, taking his arm.
“Ah, but you think so much better ‘un-possessed’. Besides, DG will be grateful.”
"Eventually. Once she forgives me for manipulating her."
“She’ll be so happy she’s not marrying some stuffy prince who feels her up, she’ll be begging you.”
"She better be kissing my feet, all this matchmaking is making me tired," Az sighed but then laughed.
“Sorta makes you long for your own…Match.” He shrugged uselessly.
"Eventually... but I don't want all of this crap that DG's been put through."
“No. Never, not all this ‘arranged marriage’ sort of thing. Looking on your own.”
"Exactly. I'm sure there's someone out there who'd marry an ex-wicked witch." She rolled her eyes.
“You are not an ex-wicked witch. You were possessed. You don’t have a wicked bone in your body.” He tried to soothe her. “Besides, cast aside or not, you’re still royal. You’ll have dukes and lords banging on the door before you know it.”
"I don't want a duke or a lord or a Prince for that matter. I want someone real," She looked at him just a second too long and tore her eyes away, blushing. "I had better see if my master plan has worked in the kitchen, excuse me."
He watched her go and only looked away once she was gone. Some one real. “That doesn’t mean zipperheads.” He chided himself. “Princesses don’t marry zipperheads.”
DG ripped open the door to the refrigerator and reached in for a fizzy water; something that would calm her raging libido. She wasn't mad at Cain but at the same time... how could he possibly understand that she was being courted against her will? If he was so worried about Princes feeling her up, why didn't he... no. She couldn't think that way. She put the bottle to her lips and chugged, causing herself to go into a choking fit.
“Trying to drown yourself?” A voice behind her asked.
"Gah.. ugh... no.. I" DG sat down and practically coughed up a lung.
“Were angry with me and took it out on the drink, trying to chug it?” He ventured.
"Give or take," DG said raspily. "Come to chastise me?"
“No, I came to tell the cook to prepare your snack before you went to deal with another one of these-” He forced a smile. “Royals. But you’re already here.”
"You could be a little more helpful," She shot back.
“I tried helping. You didn’t want it.”
"By yelling at a man who could have you beheaded for sneezing the wrong way? If you were gonna play with fire, you might as well have punched him..."
“That was part of the plan. I told him to back off and he did.” He sighed. “I don’t care if your mother expects you to marry these guys or not. You don’t belong to them and if you don’t want their paws on you, you tell them anyway you can. Turn them into frogs if you have to.”
"I'm not sure I deserve someone better than these guys! What if my mother really does know what's best for me?" DG yelled, on the verge of tears. "How c-could I have possibly earned something better than this?"
“You DO deserve some one better than them. Royal or not.” Cain insisted, taking a hold of her shoulders. “You’re a hero. You saved your sister and the OZ. You deserve nothing less than the best.”
DG burst into tears and tried to pull out of Cain's grasp. All of her emotions that had been building for the past few weeks came bubbling to the surface. She hid her face in her hands.
He raised a hand, as if debating whether or not to comfort her. She had pulled away. “You’ve endured things in the past few weeks that no one should have to go through.” He went on.
DG looked up at him, eyes clear as glass. She saw his momentary flinch to comfort her and it made her eyes run more that he hadn't. "It's my duty." She whispered, not believing it herself.
“Forget duties.” He ordered. “Forget your mother and father, forget Az, forget Emily and Hank. Ask yourself what you want and if you can deal with these stuffy shirted idiots a second longer. Surely, your mother can agree to you waiting longer to find a suitor. You’ve been through a lot and to force this on you now,” Cain shook his head. “It’s wrong. It’s disrespecting you. You thought this place was something you made up, now you’re here and being groomed to be queen. On top of that, being forced to find some one to marry. If you won’t say something to your mother, then I will.”
"Cain... I... know what I want... but I'm not sure my mother would allow me to have it." She was whispering now, afraid someone was listening.
“She can’t stop you from having what you want.” He said. “Even if you have to run away to get it.”
"What if what I want is a person specifically?" DG said quietly.
“Go after them. Tell them how you feel.” He smiled. “No one can stop you.”
She smiled, wiping her tears. DG stepped forward, kissed him square on the lips, and then ran all the way to her room, hardly sure what had happened.
He raised his hand to his lips, shocked himself by what had happened.
"Oh God... I can't believe I just did that!" DG was about to go out to her balcony when a knock came at the door notifying her that her next suitor had arrived. Great. Now she'd get to be in the same room as Cain for another few hours after her idiotic move... She felt her stomach drop as she followed the page to the reception room.
Glitch noticed her face as she flew past them and into the reception room. "Is that supposed to mean things went well?" He looked at Azkadellia.
"If the Tin Man's pink cheeks are any indication, I'd say things went very well..." She whispered as Cain passed.
“Highness,” He gave a slight nod to Az as he moved into the reception room himself.
DG paled and then pinked when she saw him come in the room. She sat with her back to the door, looking out the window. Az nodded to Cain but remained standing with Glitch.
“So they did it,” The court advisor muttered. “They confessed to how they feel. Why avoid each other?”
"We don't know if they confessed a thing... something certainly happened though." Just then the next Prince was brought in and all Az could do was wait.
“Something must have happened.” Glitch said. “Otherwise his cheeks wouldn’t be so pink.”
DG smiled fakely at the new suitor. If she was gonna get through the day, she needed some sort of sign from Cain that he felt something for her too. When the Prince was seated and occupied with pouring a bottle of expensive wine, DG glanced at Cain briefly.
He locked eyes with her and a look crossed his face that said everything.
DG's heart leapt and she bit her lip, biting back every bit of happiness that was coursing through her. She nodded the tiniest bit to Cain before turning her attention back to her needless suitor.
"Prince Henry, how kind of you to come. Unfortunately your services are no longer required."
“No longer-Have I offended you, your grace?” The Prince looked a bit shocked.
"No, you haven't offended me. I'm sure you're a very nice person, but I've found love." She spoke simply, happily.
“Oh.” was all that came out. Cain smirked.
"Sorry for the inconvenience," DG offered him a pat on the arm.
“No inconvenience.” He said and lifted her hand to his lips. “May you be happy.”
"Thank you," She smiled, standing.
Cain tried not to smirk from his spot against the wall. He had expected, being a prince, the other man would demand to know who was her choice and why she had refused him.
DG curtsied respectfully as the Prince graciously left the room. She nodded to her sister and Glitch as she headed for the terrace, hoping Cain would follow.
He did indeed follow and Glitch looked at Azkadellia. “Did you see? Your plotting worked!”
"Oh my Gods... I can't believe that really worked!" Az whispered. DG leaned against the railing and tried to breathe as Cain joined her.
“He took it well.” The Tin Man said. “Your ‘suitor’, I mean.”
"I have a feeling that he took one look at you and decided not to fight me on it," She giggled.
“Frightened him off then, did I? Your mother won’t like that.”
"I don't care," DG turned to face him, leaning backwards on her elbows against the railing. "I just hope that the person I want wants me too."
"And that person is?"
DG looked up at him and smiled, raising an eyebrow.
"Is this gonna be a guessing game?"
"I thought for sure you'd have a clue after this morning..." She trailed off, blushing.
"I think I can guess then." He gave her a smile.
"Can I ask what you think of that...?" She asked softly, taking his smile as a good sign.
“Of you and me?” He asked.
He didn’t speak, just looked away.
"Oh God... I... I guess I thought... I'm sorry, Cain..." She pushed back from the railing and headed for the door, cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
Before she could reach the door, he reached out and grabbed her wrist. “Wait,”
She stopped and turned back to face him but she didn't make eye contact. Her heart was on the verge of breaking... if he rejected her she might fall to pieces.
“You’re sure this is what you want?”
"Positive," She said quietly. "I want something real..."
"More than anything."
“Thought so.” He said before capturing her mouth with his own.
DG's heart nearly burst as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She was pretty sure her feet weren't touching the ground anymore, but she didn't care; she kissed him back.
He finally released her and looked her in the eyes.
She had to hold tightly to his arm to keep from falling over; he completely took her by surprise. She bit her lip and smiled.
Slowly, he returned that smile.
"So..." She breathed, taking in his icy blue eyes.
"Does this mean you like the idea of 'us'?" She asked with a glint in her eye.
“If you’ll have me.”
DG wrapped her arms around his neck and held fast. "What did I do to deserve you?" She whispered.
"Saved the OZ," Was his reply. "Saved your world and your family. Heroes get some kind of reward."
"I don't want to think of you as my reward for doing those things... you're more like the one that a girl dreams about but never really finds." She brushed his cheek. "But here you are."
“You dreamt of the OZ before you came here. Did you ever dream of me?”
She blushed. "I didn't dream of you until I came to the OZ... but let's just say, you're usually the subject of my dreams in some form or another."
"Your mother wouldn't think that was a lady like thing to say." He teased.
"She fell in love once, I'm sure she can relate." DG tucked her head into the hollow of his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Please don't let go, I'm afraid that this isn't real and I could wake up at any moment."
“I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
DG closed her eyes with a smile, happier than she thought possible. Az peeked through the window inconspicuously.
"Glitch... it finally happened!"
"Finally!" He grinned. "Of course, without your brilliant plotting-"
"Don't forget your stellar brains," She beamed.
"When they work." He added.
"They work, and that's what matters," Az said gently. She watched as Cain traced lazy circles on her sister's back and a happy ache struck.
“They both look happy.” Glitch smiled.
"Yeah," She smiled also. "I just hope that my mother lets things be... now that everything is perfect."
“If not your mother, your father’s sure to step in and put his foot down.” He said. “After all, he was a commoner too.”
"I know. For now, let's just let them be happy, and let's prepare ourselves to fight for them." Az pulled him away from the window.