The couple sat in the carriage in silence on the ride to the capital. The silence wasn suffocating, it was rather a comfortable silence. It allowed the two to ponder and ingest what happened during the picnic.

When Eleanor pointed out a characteristic of Ashans, he was worried to recall his shameful past. The trauma of being punished for someone loving you never really processed for Ashan in that way until Eleanor questioned his behavior. It was uncomfortable to be vulnerable when you grow up never being allowed to be vulnerable. It felt unnatural, despite his thoughts of Eleanors reactions…she proved him wrong. He was afraid that she would leave him after listening to his story. It surprised him that she made the space for him to feel safe. She provided the comfort of saying that shell stay. Ashan thought again, the woman hes loved for so many years was always amazing, without his anxiety, he knew shed stand by him. On the other hand, Eleanor felt a rush of new emotions that were simultaneously intertwined. In her heart, she ached for Ashan. How could a man so cheerful be so emotionally damaged? To Eleanor, his early childhood was painted in black: bleak and painful. It wasn her pain, yet it pained her. Eleanor wanted to take his pain away and prevent future pain from coming. She knew what she needed and wanted to do. I won leave you. We will stand side by side together. It was a relief that he accepted her reassurance.

The couple thought at the same time, This is soon, but I think they
e the one. Eleanor stopped looking out of the window in the carriage, she moved to sit next to Ashan. Once she was seated again, she gently intertwined her hand with his. With the other hand, she turned his head towards her. ”We left off on a sudden note, but I wanted to say that I appreciate you opening up to me. Your childhood doesn change what I think of you. ”

Ashan looked at her deeply and smiled. With the hand she placed on his face to turn his head, Ashan squeezed her hand gently. ”Thank you. ”

Thirty minutes had passed, and the two arrived at the capital of Gaia, Crystal Hills.

”Im so hungry and parched. I could drop any second now. My love, would you be able to revive me by giving me the moisture of your lips and indulge me in many delicious meals? ” Ashan begged.

The princess looked at him with a questionable expression. The emotions she displayed were a mix of oddly intrigued, disgusted, and confused.

What did I just get myself into?… Am I surprised?….no.

”Lets go to the Summerport cafe near the river! The food is delicious and the desserts are phenomenal. ” She grabbed his hand and began to walk in tandem through the busy streets. Every step Princess Eleanor took, liberated her. I love the capital. The livelihood of the people, the culture, and the connection is what made her love her people so much. Minutes of walking, ”Ashan, look over there. That is the Summerport River of the Capital. ” She stopped to let him take in the scenery. The river was vast and beautiful. ”The water is usually crystal clear and even more immaculate than its current presence. Until recently, new laws have passed that allow factory pollution to be discarded in the river. ”

Ashan interrupted, ”Why? ”

Eleanor took a deep sigh, ”The reason being is labor costs. The people in power do not wish to pay our commonwealth proper payment. The empire is selfish. ”

Eleanor began to walk again. ”This reminds me of something you mentioned to me during The Royal Academy. You had a plan of creating safer sources of water for the commonwealth. I think you even spoke about it with your father because you were so passionate about the topic. I love to see your passion hasn been lost. I left Gaia before you could tell me the result of your meeting though. I could be of help if you need assistance on this issue. ”

”I will be meeting with my father in the Emperors palace after we are done exploring around. You could join me if youd like. ” Eleanor gave him a smile. ”We
e here. This cafe was named after the river. ” She opened the door. A feminine figure came running at the princess.

”ELEANOOOOR!!! ” She gave the princess a big warm hug. ”Ive missed you so much! Its been so long since youve last visited. ” The new person looked at the man aside from Eleanor and pointed, ”Who is he? ”

”Ive missed you too! Okay, introductions, this man standing me is The Crown Prince of Jamilla, Ashan. He attended Gaia Royal Academy. Ashan, this is my best friend Letticia Charleson from the Charleson Ducal House. ”

”Nice to meet you! ” She stuck out her hand for a handshake. ”If you
e comfortable with informalities, you can just refer to me by my first name. I don follow the rules of high society. I think thats why I and Eleanor get along so well…we care for people, not their titles. ”

Ashan shook her hand, ”Nice to meet you too! Are you here eating with anyone? If not, you can dine with Eleanor and I. ”

”Im not dining here. I own the Summerport Cafe! Ill guide you to your room. You two follow me! ” Letticia gave them both a bright smile. ”The room youll be dining in is newly renovated, so you both will be the first customers seeing it. I will show you both the room and guess what the room is inspired by. ”

Eleanor and Ashan stood observing the room. Eleanor raised her hand, ”I know exactly what this is based on! ”

”Go on… ”

”This room is based on my palace, but a crystallized version to match with the capitals aesthetic! ”

”Ahhh! I could totally see that, my love! ” Ashan exclaimed.

Letticia sat the two down. ”First, lets talk. My Love! Explain. ”

”Ashan and I are something Im not exactly sure of yet. Ashan, what are we? ”

”Eleanor and I are romantic. I am deeply in love with the woman who sits in front of me. Ive been in love with her since I was a child. However, Im in Gaia with the intention of marrying Eleanor. I would like to go at her pace and what shes comfortable with. ”

”I see, considerate. I love Eleanor deeply as well, so I will have to observe you! You seem nice, but I feel like I should be wary of you. I don want you breaking my dear friends heart or else you will face my anger, you understand? ”

Ashan sat up straight as a board and gave a salute, ”Yes, madam! ”

Eleanor and Letticia laughed in sync, ”Second, this room is based on your palace! I made this a private room for my most loyal customer. I hope you both enjoy it. What would you both like to eat? ”

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