In her childhood, they had celebrated the eve before Christmas grandly. There had been brilliant festivities and cheer, and everyone had been so excited for the holiday, but here, in her new home, it was a solemn occasion reserved for reflection and sobriety. She had been quite disappointed but had made no contest. Instead, she had sat and watched as the Queen reveled in what she now assumed was Her Majesty’s favorite day of the year. Even when all had retired in the evening after dinner (at the usual time too; perhaps even slightly earlier than usual) and she and her husband had stayed up until the early morning hours, trading stories of past Christmases and generally being silly as they rolled around the warm blankets and cushions, she couldn’t help but still taste the bitter disappointment. So this was what the Christmases of the rest of her life were going to be like: dull and austere.
Still… He had promised to take her out sleigh-riding tomorrow and, when they had gone far away enough from the hawk-like eyes of the Duchess of Canterbury, would let her take the reins. And with ice-skating in the afternoon… She tried her best to cheer up. Wasn’t her husband being so indulging? Not to mention how she’d finally be able to meet his closest friend. All the way from Russia! My, wasn’t that quite a ways away?
Yet, even with all this excitement awaiting her, when morning came, the Princess couldn’t help but wave away those who tried to rouse her from her sleep and pull her away from the warmth of their bed. Burrowing deeper into the blankets, she squeezed her eyes shut as her hand searched for her husband – where was he? – as she had found some time ago that he was a great source of heat for the cold winter nights, when she felt something warm and wet on her cheek. Waving it away, she spoke into her pillow, but the feeling persisted until her hand hit something warm and soft and an all too familiar yelp snapped her eyes open.
Sure enough two familiar black eyes blinked at her from the folds of the sheets. Wide awake, she sat up and dove for them. Giggling, she held her long-lost puppy close to her as Fromage greeted his owner in kind with a vigorously wagging tail and plenty of kisses to go around.
“By what miracle are you here, my sweet?” Holding him up, she looked into his eyes as he happily barked at her. “What darling brought you to me?”
“Will Fromage be replacing me as your favorite then?”
She looked up to see her husband smiling at her in the doorway. Gathering up her heavy nightgown, she wasted no time in hugging him. Swallowing the force of her embrace, he chuckled to himself.
“I take it that you like your present?”
“How did you…?”
“It wasn’t easy,” he admitted. “But it’s nothing. I’m just happy to see you smiling.”
Giddily, she pulled him down for a kiss. Taken by surprise – he hadn’t expected a kiss like this first thing in the morning – he blinked before closing his eyes and returning the gesture. As he kissed her shoulder, she whispered into his ear a sort of secret that only a wife can tell her husband. He looked at her. “Are you sure he won’t mind? He’s waited a long time to play with you.”
“I love Fromage, but I can’t play with him the way I want to play with you.”
He looked over her head at the puppy watching them from their bed. Panting, he stood with his tail a blur behind him. Looking back down at his wife, he thought for a split second before sweeping her up.
“A change of location is called for. I’d hardly say what we’re about to do is fit for Fromage’s precious eyes.”
He smiled as she flushed, and with little time put to waste, he moved them to the apartments she had formerly occupied where, upon seeing their prince and princess, the servants immediately filtered out so as to give the couple the privacy that they lusted after.