Later that night, I returned to the dungeon with two plates stacked high with food. They were the leftovers from the large portions of uneaten food my father and sisters left behind, and it could easily feed another five people.
The Kingdom workers were always thinking ahead, on behalf of the Kingdom and on behalf of themselves so they weren't fired.
Ignis doesn't look up from his slumped position when I awkwardly open the cell door with two massive plates of food.
I set one plate in front of him and can finally view his bruised torso and split lip. While our Kingdom rarely put people into the dungeon, this outcome was to be expected.
To venture into another Kingdom's land, so close to the date of another Kingdoms visitation... was an act of war. I'm sure my father was scouting out his alliance with the Nature Kingdom this very moment, trying to figure out why Ignis had come here.
At my sight of food Ignis lurched forward, "Unchain me so I can eat."
I shake my head, "Can't do. Even if I do hate my father," whoops, that second part was not supposed to be voiced aloud. I quickly tried to amend my verbal dissent from my father, "You are a prisoner after all, coming to our lands without a treaty or pass."
"I was trying to find someone," he grumbles as he bends over to eat the food from the floor. He groans uncomfortably in the process, no doubt from the bruises on his abdomen.
I set my own plate aside and push at Ignis's shoulders before lifting a forkful of food to his mouth, "Whom exactly were you looking for?"
I secretly hoped he would say a brother or sibling. Anything but a significant other. Then I could proceed with the daydream that this buff man in front of me is single, and possibly ready to mingle.
"A woman," this voice is garbled by the food but I sigh at the response anyway.
After feeding him nearly half the plate, I looked up to his dark eyes, "Any woman in particular."
Ignis shrugged his shoulders, staring into my face with distrust, "What are you doing in the dungeon, Princess." Despite the obvious subject chance, Ignis sneered my title through his split lip, as though he blamed me for getting caught.
I put his plate on the floor, no longer in the mood to feed him while my own stomach grumbled angrily. When he notices my own plate, he seems shocked, "You hadn't eaten either."
I scoff, "I prefer to eat here. It's quiet and peaceful and I can-" practice my magic without my father killing me, "-be alone."
Ignis doesn't need to know about my ability to manipulate fire. Only that I am the middle Princess of the Kingdom of Water, about to be married off, and would likely never return to see my sisters or father again. Sadly, the thought of never seeing my family again did not strike a cord.
The thought of losing my dungeon, my practice room, was more frightening.
Ignis peers at me through a curious gaze, not maliciously, just... curiously.
We drop the subject after I finish eating, "You want the rest of your plate?" Ignis nods a look of anger in his eyes at not being able to feed himself, "You don't rely on other people a lot, do you?"
"No, never." Ignis continues eating hastily. Like the guards would come in at any moment and kick the food right out of his mouth.
Which, was a possibility for a prisoner.
I stack our empty plates when he is done, leaning back against the metal bars of the cell.
I desperately wanted to tell him he could rely on me. That I could help him, but I knew I couldn't release him from the cell. And more-so, I didn't rely on other people either. As much as I want a prince to sweep me off my feet, I know it won't happen.
My fate resounded with the sixteen year old Prince Hennel from the Kingdom of Ice. I had met him last year, when he was young and stupid. Even with etiquette training that every royal child receives, he took one look at me, smacked my ass, and then hissed as though it had burned him.
My sisters, my father, Prince Hennel and his father all laughed. It had been a tense laugh, shameful even, but there was nothing else that could be done about his behavior. My father needed the alliance with the King of Ice, and everyone wanted the disgraced fire-gifted-me to be married off and contained.
I let my gaze travel to Ignis while he leans back with his eyes closed. Pitch black hair cut close to his scalp, sharp cheekbones, long nose, and a well-defined body. So unlike my sixteen-year-old future husband.
"How old are you?" The question popped out of my mouth with a sigh, and I nearly clapped a hand over my mouth in embarrassment.
Ignis chuckles, following my thoughts, "Trying to get out of your arranged marriage with the kid," he didn't need to ask the question, it was clearly the reason I had asked him.
I blush, waiting for his reply. He slides one eye open and gives half a smirk before closing his eye again, "Twenty-three."
I grinned, knowing he couldn't see me. A pleased sound escaped my lips as I gathered the plates and closed the cell door behind me. Hopefully Ignis is not married, because he will be keeping my dreams warm until Prince Hennel arrives with his father.
After I clank the door shut, Ignis opens his eyes again, "Turn off the light."
I roll my eyes and pinch the flame with my gloved fingers to snuff it out. If I didn't know the small dungeon by heart, the darkness would've easily made me lose my footing.
Instead, I walk briskly to the door, only pausing when Ignis chuckles, "A normal princess would've used the plate."
I turn around, searching for Ignis in the darkness, but seeing nothing, "What?"
He chuckles again and I glower, what could be so funny?
"For the light," he explains, "a normal princess would've used the plate, or the fork at the very least, to put out that flame."
I freeze in place, trying to play it cool, "A normal princess also wouldn't have spent the evening in the dungeons feeding a prisoner."
That seems to stop him from chuckling. Instead he shuffles against the wall, getting comfortable, "Thanks for that, Annabel. I mean it."
I open the door to the dungeon, cold air and moonlight shining through the crack, "Your welcome, Sir Ignis. Sleep... well."
As I walked through the vegetation toward the Kingdom, I couldn't stop thinking of Ignis. Perhaps I should've given his a blanket, or a pillow, and then retrieved those materials early the next morning so the guards wouldn't find them.
I sigh, or perhaps I should care about my own future, the one where I get married off.
A small grin stretches over my face as I finally reach my bedroom window and climb through, nah, it is much more fun to think about Ignis.