"How many rooms has she refused?" Peter asked Hinry softly.
"Over a dozen, Your Majesty, each grander than the last," the faun replied.
"That's the problem, Hinry. Give her my first room. It should suit her," he suggested.
"Your first room, sire? The blue and gold one?" the faun sputtered, shocked.
"Yes. The room I had before my dear sister decided we needed grander and larger rooms," he assured him. The faun trotted off as a familiar white tiger came padding down the marble hallway.
"Your Majesty, would you come to the infirmary please? She's refusing the healer's help," the great cat said, nodding to the white leopard.
Peter felt a wave of worry and guilt wash over him. He'd been then one to suggest all this. He nodded and headed for the east wing, where the infirmary was often brightened by Queen Lucy's presence. The two cats padded at his side as he made his way through to the area designed for humans. He knocked before he opened the door and the healer, a brisk female centaur, looked up from where she stood over the girl. The healer stepped back, allowing him to stand before the girl. "Are you alright?" he asked softly, kneeling so he could see her face. He tried to sound more like an older brother than the High King, so he decided to throw formalities out the window.
"I do not like needles, Your Majesty," she replied, looking up to meet his eyes. She bit her lip sheepishly, but she did not blush like he'd expected. There was still no color to her skin, and she looked so tired. The shirt, thankfully, was loose, so he couldn't see how underweight she was, but when he sat down behind her, he saw the outline of her spine beneath the shirt. The healer stepped forward with a needle and thread ready, and the girl squeezed her eyes shut.
Unable to help himself, and knowing she needed to be restrained, Peter put his arms around her. "You're alright, it'll be over soon," he murmured repeatedly into her ear, holding her against his chest. She slowly relaxed and leaned against him, turning her face into his arm to hide her eyes. He felt drops of water fall onto his arm and realized she was crying. "It's okay, I promise you, everything is okay," he assured her. She didn't reply, but her hand came up to hold his wrist as the healer moved to work on the gash in her side. "Did this happen when they were stitched the first time?" he asked her.
"I did it myself the first time, Your Majesty," her muffled reply was soft and shaken.
"How?" he exclaimed quietly in her ear, watching the healer remove the last of the stitches.
"I do a lot by myself, Your Majesty. I have no control over what your healer does, and I'm not a particular fan of needles," she explained. She flinched when the healer began to restitch the wound, and he released her waist to smooth her hair the way he would with Lucy. He held her against him as the healer continued to unstitch and restitch the various gashes and wounds on her body.
When the stitching was done, the healer wrapped bandages around each wound. Peter released the girl, but remained seated beside her. Then the healer turned her attention to the rope burns, applying a bitter smelling ointment to each. Last attended were the raw scabs encircling her wrists and ankles. The Centaur woman treated them with an ointment as well, but she bandaged these ones. When the treatment was taken care of, the healer said, "Come back to me tomorrow and I'll take a look at those, or you can stay here tonight if you'd rather."
"Thank you, but I think your Golden King intends to find me a room for the night," the girl replied as she stood.
"Golden King?" Peter repeated, looking up at her curiously.
"Well, Your Majesty, you are the only being in this whole castle with golden hair, besides the great cats," she replied, coming to stand before him.
"True, I am. You know, I think I like the Golden King," he teased, standing. She backed away a step, and the tiger came to stand beside her. "I hear none of the rooms you were offered were appealing to you," he smiled, taking her pack, bow and quiver from a dryad. He nodded to them as they curtsied and opened the door for her.
"Those rooms were fit for queens, Your Majesty. They were far more elegant and grand than I need," she replied, her chin lowering once more.
"Well then, it's a good thing I know just the room for you," he told her, leading her through the palace. They went through corridors, archways, doors, even gardens and courtyards, down straight stairs, over a small bridge, and finally climbed a flight of spiraling stairs to a main hallway. And then he was holding open a beautifully carved door of golden wood. She stepped passed him and let out a breath of wonder. She looked to the window, where she could see the sun above a glistening ocean. She realized though, that the room raced north, and she had the most amazing view of a clear sky.
"Are we in a tower?" she asked, turning to where he stood leaning against the doorframe. He nodded, and she looked about the room. It was a simple study, with an ornate desk in the same golden wood as the door, a heavy wooden chair that reminded her of a throne in the same color with a plush dark blue pillow on the seat, and a bookshelf in the same golden wood. Heavy books and novels, even scrolls, filled the shelves, and maps framed with the golden wood hung on the walls. A large table stood in the south western corner of the room. The floor was carpeted in dark blue over a golden wood floor and the walls were painted the same dark blue as the pillow.
He gestured to another door in one wall, and she opened it carefully. "Oh," she breathed, stepping through. The walls were painted with the same dark blue as the study, but this was a bedchamber. A huge bed stood against the western wall, and a side table stood on either side. The bed was made up in dark blue sheets with a dark gold comforter on top. Pillows in various shapes and sizes in gold and dark blue covered the top section of the bed, and the dark gold carpet was soft and warm under her feet. A window seat looked out over parts of the castle and the ocean, depending on which way she sat. She didn't touch the closet or wardrobe, both which were made of the same golden oak as everything else.
"Your Majesty, was this your room?" she asked, rejoining him in the study.
"How did you know?" he asked, looking up from examining the dagger in her pack.
"You are the Golden King, remember? This is a golden room," she teased, taking the knife. Her fingers brushed his, and when she pulled back, both of them felt a strange tingling in their fingers. Neither said anything, but instead, went on as though nothing had happened.