Nothing, Nothing At All
Keira shook her head in disbelief. "What?!" She blinked staring at him dumbly while trying to take in what he'd just said.
"Marry me." Aiden said again waiting for her response. Hoping this time her response was a little more concise.
"I… can't." Was the only thing she could manage to sputter out.
"Why not?" He questioned. "Give it a week or so and I won't look like I'm half dead." Aiden only half joked.
"It's not that, the heavens know half the suitors here aren't what anyone would call… lookers." Keira looked away slightly, her face showing her obvious discussed at the image it gave her. Taking a slow deep breath, she sighed heavily before getting back on track. "You're a prisoner. You have less standing than a commoner. Hell you have less standing then the town drunk."
"Wow… didn't know royalty could talk like a commoner." She threw him a dirty look to which he just chuckled at. "You know you or your father could pardon me. AND," Aiden held up a finger to keep her from cutting him off. "Before I got tossed in your father's lovely dungeon, I was quite the ranger-ing woods guide. Anyway the viscount of Karatal granted me knighthood, land, blah, blah, blah, fun junk that I really don't give a damn about, before he had your dear daddy lock me up. Point being you can't say I have no standing to contend with everyone else here for your hand." He clarified in a way that sounded more like countering than clarifying. With a shrug of his shoulders he off handedly remarked, "Not that I needing to be knighted anyway."
"What are you talking about? You have to be at least a night to even think about courting any noble let alone a anyone from the royal houses."
"OR," Aiden began with a smug smile on his lips. "By the Old Laws, Rangers and Druids are not subject to the constraints of titles or boundaries."
"You can't, be serious." Keira narrowed her eyes slightly, tilting her head a bit sizing up his claim. He was calm about it, and hadn't tried to offer up extra information. As much as it could mean he was telling the truth, it could also have been proof that he was a very good liar as well.
"Well unless your bloodline was stupid enough to try and surpass or undo the Old Laws, no I'm not." Aiden's tone was serious as he held her gaze.
"You would marry me knowing what you do, because it would keep your head attached to your shoulders." Keira accused with a frown on her face. She quickly changes the subject, not liking where any part of this conversation was going. There was no question in her mind that his prompting of such an outlandish suggestion was because he stood to gain as much from it as she.
He merely shrugged neither confirming nor denying her claim. "Think what you will." For the first time since she'd come in, he stood up. Quickly yet at a casual pace he closed the distance between them.
Keira pushed back against the door, instantly regretting her choice of positioning. There was no doubt that at one point in time Aiden; at the very least, looked normal. Rather than his current half dead look. Judging by what he'd said earlier; and the musculature that his body still held, he was probably a more than decent looking human being at that. Even with the scars and burns that clung to his skin, though she could only see those that snuck past his clothes. "And… what would you do?" She quickly found her bearings, not letting herself dwell on her less than ideal position. "People will talk; they will not like a prisoner, even an ex-prison for a king. You know that as well as I."
"People will talk regardless. They always do. If not me, they'll either talk about the King betraying his people, or the whore they have for a Queen. It's like I said before though, whom I marry is not constrained to the modern world of titles and classes. So," He paused letting her take in his words. "What would you rather they talk about?"
"Then you really do think me a whore, and are just using the situation to your own advantage." She nearly growled at him as she pressed her body closer to the door. "You are no better…"
"I never said that!" Aiden snapped back, cutting her off. He stood just a few feet away from her, his eyes never leaving hers. Taking a deep breath he calmed his voice. "At least not directly anyway, and not at you. I would never say that in this particular situation, or think it for that matter. No one; man, woman, or child, should be held accountable for that which is not within their control." Clearing his throat he took a few steps away from her.
"And what will you do? You have no experience dealing with politics. You haven't a clue how a city works let alone a kingdom." As he stepped back, she pushed away from the door.
"It doesn't matter." As she opened her mouth, he gave her a look that kept her from cutting him off. "I want nothing to do with running your kingdom. You can deal with figure head politics. You need someone to help with back alley politics, and run your military; well then," He gave her a small smile as he rocked on his heels. "I'll be happy to lend my assistance."
"And Rosslyn? What happens to her? You know HE will make it public." She emphasized though both knew she didn't have to. Carefully Keira moved away from the door, allowing her a less claustrophobic and more tactical position within the room.
"No he won't." Aiden spoke in what many would call an over confident manner. "I've already shown him that I'm more than a match for him. And that's while I'm half dead in comparison to his butter ball size." Clearing his throat he leaned one shoulder against the wall. "Besides you can always say she's mine or something. I mean, I've been locked up for two years. Who's to say someone didn't take pity on my kid and take her in for me?" He scoffed a bit as if it didn't really matter what excuse she used. "Sides, she's fond of me as it is. Don't think she'd mind spending more time with me anyways… You know you can sit." Aiden offered as he watched her move around his temporary quarters.
Keira rubbed her brow before she folded her dress under her, sitting on the edge of Aiden's bed. She had to admit he made both good and valid points. Leave it to a prisoner to be too smart for his own good. One thing in particular chewed at the back of her mind. "What brought you here?" This time it was her turn to keep him from making a smart ass comment. "By that I mean what put you in prison. What is it you'd be pardoned from exactly?" Her body language changed almost instantly. She'd gone from scared and concerned to hard and unreadable. Her siren voice went from musical to even and straight.
Aiden let out a chuckling grunt. There was no doubt she was a master at playing chess on a political battle field. He walked over to her, resting one hand on the footboard. "I'll tell you the same thing I told Rosslyn." He just gave Keira a smile as he leaned in. "Nothing, nothing at all."
His answer only made her frown in annoyance. "The truth if you will," Keira demanded.
"That is; to the best of my knowledge, the truth." Aiden remarked his eyes locked on hers. Pushing himself off from the footboard he took a deep breath. "I'd just left Karatal…"
"The place where you earned your un-needed nobility from the Viscout?"
"The very place. Anyway I'd left to head back home, only to be stopped and swiftly; and might I say uncomfortably, thrown in shackles. Highway patrol said by the Viscount and King Isaac's orders I was to be jailed, put under investigation, and trialed for the murder of the entire village of Karatal." Rubbing his jaw Aiden frowned, walking towards the small window in the room. "Hadn't a clue what they were talking about then, and I still don't have a clue now. However it didn't stop them from beating some sense into me, putting me in the back of a transport wagon, and carting me to your father's lovely dungeons. Two years and a day later; here I am, sentence to death due to a lack of evidence pointing to any plausible murderer other than me. Hell they didn't even have anything pointing to me, but the world needs something or someone to blame when people die." He shrugged his shoulders as he leaned one hand against the windows edge. "To this day I don't know who scapegoated me or why, granted not that surprising seeing as I've been in prison, and no one's going to look into something that already has someone in line to die."
Though he'd moved around the room, for the most part his eyes never left her. His body language never once suggested he was hiding something from her. Plus it was hard to argue against a story like that. Most guilty people would try and stick with something simple that they could easily dance around and hope not to get caught on their own lie. Aiden however easily offered her information she could look in too, so it was pointless to lie about it in the end. "I will have words with my father on the matter." Keira stood up, straightening her dress. As she made her way to the door, Aiden managed to get to it first. He opened it up for her bowing his head slightly.
A squeak caused him to lift his head and peer around the corner. Keira looked out into the hall to see what or rather who had made the noise. There, half in the doorway; was Rosslyn trying to listen in. Aiden let out a chuckle, while Keira frowned with crossed arms.
"Do you not remember what happened the last time you did that?!" Keira scolded.
"But mommy…" Rosslyn whined.
"Not to interrupt but what happened to Talon and the Captain?" Aiden wondered aloud.
"R-osslyn?" Keira gave her daughter a knowing look.
"Th' Keptain went tae git some rest before he releases one o'us frae yer care. Talon wis suppose' ta tak' th' pup tae th' kitchen." Biggers clarified, still standing guard by the door.
"I can't help it if they got lost." Rosslyn said in the most innocent and sweetest tone she could muster.
"Come along." She motioned for the little girl to follow her, as they left Aiden's presence.
"Rosslyn this needs to stop." Keira scolded in a soft voice, as they made their way through the castle via the servant hallways.
"But mommy I…"
"Don't give me that line again. Your eves dropping almost got you killed today."
"Your just worried people will find out about me." Rosslyn pouted, pressing her head to the ball. "You never wanted me in the first place. You've never wanted me around, so what else am I supposed to do?"
"Sweetie you know the situation is much more complicated than that…"
"But if you marry Mr. Aiden I won't have to hide anymore!" Rosslyn chirped, looking up at her mother. Her big eyes filled with hope.
Keira offered only a half-smile. "I don't know if that will even happen. If the King ordered his arrest and execution, he's the only one who can pardon him."
"So if grandpa did, would you do it?" Rosslyn continued on, not giving her mother a chance to answer. "Mr. Aiden's a nice man." She smiled bouncing her ball. "He always plays with me, and he was really nice when he was in that human cage. Always told me really fun stories, and asked silly questions." Keira couldn't help but smile. She'd rarely seen Rosslyn in such good spirits. "So would you?" Rosslyn asked again, this time expecting an answer. "Marry Mr. Aiden that is."