Adding to the Flame

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9

After setting his pants on fire multiple times during our journey, it was no surprise when Ignis finally hurled me off of his shoulder onto the forest floor.

I lit another fire on his foot and he angrily stamped it out with a hefty amount of dirt, "Stop that. You should be thanking me."
I scoffed, "You're not living up to any of my high expectations by kidnapping me."
Ignis glared down at me as I remain seated, truthfully -I still felt nauseous from hanging upside down for nearly an hour. When Ignis spoke he had a tinge of annoyance in his voice, "You thought I abandoned my people each month to destroy lands. You should be grateful that I am taking you away from that Kingdom, and not demolishing it."
I cross my arms in annoyance, as relieved as I am, one question still remained on my mind, "Why were you looking for me anyway?"
Ignis shrugged, "There have been rumors of a woman gifted with the ability to control fire. Locked away and suffering."
My mouth dropped open at that, not expecting such a selfless answer. A harmless laugh tumbles from me, "And here I am, thinking you were trying to find a Princess to consummate and finalize your Kingdom."
Ignis remained silent.
"Oh." My glare replaced the original feeling of gratitude toward him. His main goal was to find a strong Queen. But I sigh, not able to ignore the obvious, "Thank you. For helping me get away from Prince Hennel."
Ignis grabs my arm and begins walking cautiously through the forest, "What was he planning?" Even though he was leading us, he took a moment to turn back and stare into my eyes. Looking for an honest truth in the messy lies surrounding the numerous Kingdoms.
"If I went with Prince Hennel, he would have presented me to the Kingdom of Fire... your Kingdom. In the hopes that they would disperse, join the other Kingdoms and-" I cut myself off.
Ignis breathed heavily, stomping quickly through the forest, "-and die off without a strong Kingdom to lead them."
I nod silently, staring at the surrounding forest and barely recognizing the trees that resided on this part of the land. In the Kingdom of Water, there were plenty gardeners who provided for the trees so that they would grow in abundance and variety. The trees here were shorter, with rough bodies that would retain water when none was prevalent.
Ignis points to a mountain in the distance, "My Kingdom resides at the top of the mountain."
I snort, "And you assumed I would've flooded your Kingdom," I trek behind him awkwardly in my wedding dress, "Prince Hennel would need at least two of my sisters to get enough water to the top of that hill."
Ignis sends me a glare, "None of the other Kingdoms give us information. It has been hard enough ruling a Kingdom on my own."
My throat dries up as I continue following him. I hadn't considered that Ignis is a King at twenty-three with no other support system. Leaving me to wonder, "What about your parents?"
His shoulders tense up and he doesn't turn around to answer me, "Assassinated when I was twelve. Our Kingdom kept it under wraps until I was old enough to rule."
Twelve. He was officially King at sixteen, but his real duties, his real suffering, began when he was twelve.
The rest of the walk to the base of the mountain was in silence. At least mostly silent, since every few steps my dress would get caught on plants or barely fit through tight spaces.
"That's it," in a quick flick of my arms, I let a ball of fire consume the lower half of my dress. The thick bundles of fabric quickly diminished and left me in only a few layers of knee-length fabric.
I let out a sigh, and make a move to continue walking, but stop in my tracks when I find Ignis staring at me.
With barely any thought, I send out a flame in his direction, waiting until it reaches his face, to let it combust. The firework display shook him out of his thoughts and he continued moving forward.
I stare at his hands as we begin the upward journey to the top of the mountain, comparing our markings and finding few, if any, dissimilarities.
Ignis stops on a ledge and turns around, "If we are going to make it back before nightfall you need to hurry up."
"I'm right behind you!" Even as I say it, I have to keep hiking up the hill, losing my footing multiple times, and pant exhaustedly while Ignis continues to watch me from the ledge.
I'm halfway to him when he begins to walk down the mountain, toward me, and grabs my waist. Pushing me to keep up with his long strides as he ascends the mountain at a much faster pace.
A new sheen of sweat breaks over my forehead, and in a bout of annoyance I erect a wall of fire between myself and Ignis. He doesn't even flinch at the distraction and grips my waist tighter. The sides of our clothes burning and melding together.
With a huff, I distinguish the flames and slow my steps, forcing Ignis to half-carry me up the mountain at this point.
He grunts when I lift my feet off the ground and force him to carry me with the single-grip of his arm around my waist, "You're not even trying."
I shrug, smiling as I finally get a reprieve from walking, "I don't particularly want to be here."
Ignis just smirks, "Is that it? I figured you were just too lazy after years of sitting around in the Kingdom of Water."
I set the terrain in front of us on fire. Blocking Ignis's vision as he steps straight into the fire. Our clothes are burning, but our hair and skin remains perfectly at ease within the flames.
I can see the smile of his face as he continues walking through the flames. The action soon lost when thick smoke snuffs out my flames and shrouds us.
I set my feet back on the ground and hold onto Ignis's side tightly. Neither Ignis nor myself were producing the smoke, leaving us both on edge.
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