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Title: Undignified
Description: Sven l Stables

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 01:16 AM (GMT)
She had allowed him to have a day to himself, but there was a very real chance that she had done so for the sake of something other than pity or mercy. Surely he was avoiding her because she had dared to kiss him. There was no doubt about that in her mind, thanks to the way he had looked at her after she had done that and the fact that that was the last time she had seen him. However, she'd had very few thoughts about his delicate feelings.

There were other things to worry about, and when she had bothered to think about how she had upset him, she spent most of her energy on thinking of ways to ensure that he didn't damage her position by being a wreck.

Now that he had been allowed a day without his wife- and most notably some time away from her bed- Astraea was done allowing him to remain hidden from her. After a few inquiries, she found out that he was hiding out with the horses. Of all the places-- he chose to hide with the horses, where the visible filth was almost as offensive as the smell.

Honestly, she regretted marching straight to him when she found out where he was, because her gray dress dragged over the ground as she walked down the aisle. She was certain that it was gathering urine and dirt, amongst other things-- as certain as she was thankful that today's choice of clothing had her covered from head to toe. Even gloves covered her hands, and the collar of her dress reached up to cover the entirety of her slender neck. Her hair was gathered up and pinned behind her, ensuring that it would be guarded against most of the filth in the air. . . but she still felt dirty.

Thinking she would inhale so many foul fumes and clouds of hay dust that it would make her ill before she found her husband, she nearly walked right by him. She came to a sudden halt, however, before she passed by. Eying him critically, she stated:

"You have been avoiding me."

Just so he would know that she knew, of course.

"That needs to stop."

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 01:44 AM (GMT)
He'd been quite away from his senses. Meetings had carried on as usual, for the King was most needed in stately affairs, but he avoided her like the plague. No nightly visits, no following around to make her see reason.

His impossible situation was ripping, hacking at his soul. He was married to a woman who had every right to kiss him, and to demand even more than that of him. He had been married to a woman whose kisses, body, mind and soul he loved (and missed) so dearly that he woke up in the morning still hoping she would be there.

She was never there.

Yet that feeling and that hope made him feel like an adulterer every single second of his existence. Part of him scoffed at his own weakness, as it long had done, before he even married her. He was a Winterborn. He could have had anyone and he should not have depended on anyone. How blissfully free would his existence have been now? How wretchedly empty?

Footsteps were ignored. Vasher's slight movement announced a presence, but Sven did not open his eyes until she was done speaking. He was amazed she'd come this far; he'd doubted she'd disgrace herself so much as to walk through the filth and urine.

Apparently, Sven had been wrong. He'd been annoyingly stuck in that rut for a while now.

Even the sight of her made his skin crawl. It was easier to just close his eyes.

"Astute observation," the King murmured stonily.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 02:00 AM (GMT)
"Well, I am very glad you think so," Astraea responded monotonously. "What are you hoping to achieve by hiding with horses and filling your clothes with the scent of their filth?"

She wanted to know precisely what her husband was up to-- what good he thought avoiding her like this would do. . . so she could inform him that he was wrong. He wasn't going to guilt her, and he certainly wasn't going to use this behavior to get anything out of her. She wasn't in the mood for a compromise or a bargain, and if he thought that he could fix something by avoiding it for a while, he needed to be corrected.

. . . or so she thought as she took a step closer to him and wrinkled her nose at his surroundings.

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 02:03 AM (GMT)
He got one thing right, at least.

"If my surroundings offend you so much, Astraea, I suggest removing yourself from them."

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:39 AM (GMT)
"While your kind suggestion is very much appreciated, I think I will stay until my business here is done," Astraea said, pretending she hadn't noticed how rude he was being. The look of disgust was slowly being drawn out of her features. "What benefit do you see in hiding here?"

He hadn't answered her question, and she wasn't about to allow him to dodge it that easily. She wanted to know his motives for hiding from her-- particularly in this place, of all his options.

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:41 AM (GMT)
"Inner peace," he disinterestedly replied, letting his head slip back onto Vasher's back.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:46 AM (GMT)
Inner peace. For some reason the idea seemed absolutely ridiculous to her.

"I suppose the strong scent of horse urine could do wonders to bring one a sense of clarity," she commented, hating that she was actually starting to get used to that particular scent after having been surrounded by it for a short time. "I hope your time hiding has been well-spent. It needs to end now. You cannot avoid me forever. People would start to talk, and then you would have far worse problems than a lack of perfect inner peace," she explained, not daring to move any closer to Sven and his equine companion.

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:55 AM (GMT)
"Would I really?" he asked, just as succinctly.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:00 AM (GMT)
"Yes. That would be why I said that," Astraea snapped, unable to hide her annoyance completely, though her expression remained fairly calm. The rigidity of her posture couldn't be helped regardless of her mood.

"You should be able to handle a brief moment of contact better than this-- especially since no one witnessed it," she added, daring to mention the event that had started this behavior of his. "A king does not have the luxury of extended vacations from his queen without repercussions."

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:07 AM (GMT)
His eyes snapped open at the mention of their previous... encounter; the same clear blue eyes watched her for a moment, even as silence fell after she spoke.

"I shall leave this place when I please," he merely said, his calmness reflecting a much more numb and detached inner self. This... squabble they were having... what was the point of it? He was losing himself again, very foolishly.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:22 AM (GMT)
Her own blue eyes stared back at him, considerably harder than his, framed by dark, harsh features his face didn't possess. "You should think to choose your battles more carefully," she told him. "It was a kiss, not a threat against your life or your children."

His defiance was troubling-- not because she didn't think she could handle it or because the situation was so important but because he was choosing to be difficult about this, of all things. What would happen if she made a notable political decision that he didn't like? Was he suddenly going to decide to oppose her then?

"Consider that your children would be impacted by your foolishness, should you create conflict in something inconsequential. . ."

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 12:04 PM (GMT)
It broke, like a bubble.

"Do not even presume to play games with me, Astraea."

If she'd hoped to have drawn more emotion out of him, she'd succeeded.

Though his tone was not much different, Vasher immediately reacted and Sven was forced to stand up to let the horse do so, too. His agitation pushed Sven up to where he was uncomfortable, forward, towards her.

Nonetheless, his impassive features remained the same. He stepped right up to her, too close to maintain formality. "It seems I need enlightening. What could you have hoped to have achieved?"

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:34 PM (GMT)
The queen didn't like his new proximity, but she held her ground as well as she could have. She didn't want to be the one to back away or back down. He had turned this onto something of a battle, trying to assert himself as if she might be receptive to allowing him to be in control of himself.

The law might have said they were nearly equals, with the king's subtle power over her mostly implied, but Astraea meant to be the one in control. She had gotten him into this position, and she hadn't done so to have him do anything more than act as a figurehead.

His question wouldn't go unanswered, despite that.

"I could have hoped to achieve a number of things, but my intention was to encourage you to speak. I was unable to succeed. . . oh well. That is an acceptable failure, I suppose," she explained casually, staring up at his eyes with an unwavering focus. "I will not try that method again anytime soon."

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:37 PM (GMT)
He inched even closer, his spine arching slightly as he towered over her.

"Speak? Speak what?" What do you want from me?

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:50 PM (GMT)
She wanted to lash out at him for getting so close, for hovering as if he meant to intimidate her with his height. Still she refused to move, but she hated that he was towering over her. It put a slight furrowing in her brow and a hint of hostility in her tone.

"Anything," she answered. "The plan was not as premeditated or full of sabotage as you seem to have thought. You might have learned that in the moment if you had asked why instead of staring at me as if you had seen a ghost then fleeing like a little boy wondering if he was allergic to girls."


Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:53 PM (GMT)
His insides squirmed in both shame and frustration.

"You overstepped a line," Sven reminded her, with a firm jaw.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 05:58 PM (GMT)
She made a skeptical and humored face, clearly fighting off a smile as her eyes widened. "It was nothing more than a brief kiss," she said, as if he had forgotten that. "I am your wife and your queen. Is that really something to make such an incredible fuss about?"

. . . nevermind that she would have made his life an absolute hell if he had done that to her.

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:04 PM (GMT)
He looked at her, their bodies close to each other, their faces a few insignificant inches apart and his eyes narrowed as the moments passed. "You are very cruel, Milady."

And cold. Very cold.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:11 PM (GMT)
Her eyes narrowed at that, but there was a subtle smile on her lips. "I certainly can be," she agreed to some extent, wishing he would back away and invade the space of his damned horse instead. "If you are not yet used to it," she added more quietly, "I suggest you learn to tolerate it."

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:15 PM (GMT)
"Am I the only one expected to adopt tolerance in this so-called relationship?" he asked, almost without thinking and immediately cursed himself for his impulsiveness.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:21 PM (GMT)
"I am tolerating you right now, am I not?" she asked, intending for the question to be mostly rhetorical. "You and your silly questions and pointless rebellion. . ."

Astraea was not particularly fond of him. Every moment in his presence was a careful attempt to be tolerant, and he should have known that.

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:33 PM (GMT)
His features un-tensed as he found himself become taken aback by her words. Pointless rebellion.

"Are you serious?"

Sven shook his head and turned away from her, walking back to his horse.

A few days ago everything had gone so well... Freya had unexpectedly visited them during the night and instead of pushing her away, Astraea had let her stay. That morning, Sven had felt happier than he'd been in a while. And, even more fabulous, Astraea had asked for his opinion.

And then she had trodden all over it.

And then she had kissed him.

And so his mind had gone.

He was a fool. A silly, disillusioned fool.

Did she think he hadn't reminded himself, time and time again, that it could mean nothing? The only thing he'd felt was shock and revulsion. Granted, that was mostly directed at himself. Why hadn't he moved away? Why had he just let her do whatever she pleased? Why was he still letting her do whatever she pleased?

He clicked his tongue and Vasher came to him instantly. This would probably hurt later. Nevertheless, he pulled himself onto the animal's bare back with the remarkable ease of one all too accustomed to riding without a saddle and pointed Vasher towards the infuriating woman.

"If you have any more 'pointless' discussions to entertain, I'm all ears." And then Vasher was instructed to move forward, though gently, straight towards her.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:48 PM (GMT)
Of course she was serious. Her inability to take his question as a serious one showed clearly on her face as amusement flooded her features, but that amusement was short-lived. He was getting on his horse, and before she could think to say anything, that horse was heading toward her.

Knowing better than to try to fight with an animal that weighed a ton and could hardly be swayed by clever words, she eventually took a step back then another to the side.

As she quickly pulled the fabric of her skirt out of the creature's path, she said, "Your inability to converse on the ground is really rather sad, husband. Are you really so uncomfortable that you can only confront me from a horse's back, where you can feel tall and have an easy means of escape?"

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:50 PM (GMT)
"You're more than welcome to present your objections to me from the same level," Sven said as he urged Vasher to move forward. He doubted she'd actually grab a horse and follow him. He doubted she knew how to ride a horse.

Astraea Winterborn - January 15, 2012 06:53 PM (GMT)
"Oh, no. You are welcome to your cowardly escape," Astraea responded pleasantly, remaining where she stood rather than following the man and his horse. "You can only keep this up for so long. I will wait here and try to be the vaguely responsible one while you are off finding your precious inner peace."

Perhaps she wanted him to stay out of her bed for a few weeks. . .

Sven Winterborn - January 15, 2012 07:02 PM (GMT)
Vasher turned quickly, at Sven's instruction. The horse had perfect form. Beautiful.

The King grinned. "Cowardice can go both ways."

Vasher huffed and stared at the woman with disinterest. Then, after being made to turn away again, he suddenly broke into a spry canter which quickly progressed into a surging gallop, making both himself and his rider shrink quickly as they left the stables and the woman behind.

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