The Love Story in King Jason’s War

Jason immersed himself wholly in his quest for Miriam’s attention. He devoted even more of his time to studying, learning the topics that interested her and reading anything he hadn’t already seen. He attended every class offered at the Academy, and did everything he could to engage in the conversation whenever she was there, to draw her into it as well.

One day, when they were both reading in the Cathedral’s sprawling library, Jason looked up from his book and asked Robert, “How does a boy land a girl, here at court?”

“Piles of gold usually does the job,” Robert said. He shrugged, “But sometimes the just use gemstones.” Jason glared at him for several long moments before Robert noticed. When he did, he laughed. “To be honest, I’ve never paid close attention, but the tradition where I come from is for the father of the boy and the father of the girl to have a polite discussion in a stuffy sitting room, and two years later everyone’s married. Something to that effect.”

Jason sat back, and sighed. “So that leaves me where?”

“That leaves you chasing after a girl whose father has already had a polite discussion with one of the most powerful men in the kingdom, even without land. She’s promised to David.” He grinned. “It’s not unheard of for promised girls to go sneaking off with young men in the last years of their freedom, though. You could hope for some of that.”

Jason shook his head. “Could I meet with her father? She once said that he likes me. Maybe if I could convince him I’m something special–“

“Oh, you are that,” Robert said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. “You go get that girl.” He set his book down, one finger marking his place. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “I hear her father is in town for a Council meeting. Perhaps you could arrange a meeting.”

Jason did, and only two days later he found himself waiting in the stuffy sitting room in a rich manor off High Street. He’d arrived early, and was beginning to regret it as he waited, his stomach dancing with nervousness. Servants bustled past in the halls, the noise of life filling the halls, but Jason sat quietly in a side room and waited for his appointment.

And then there came a smell of roses and violets, light on the air, and he raised his head to see Miriam standing in the doorway, considering him with a small smile on her face. He met her eyes, and still she stood there for a moment or two, then she stepped into the room, and drew the doors closed behind her.

“What’s this foolishness, then?” she said, her voice light and teasing.

Jason rose from his chair and nodded to her, then sank back down. “I’ve come to speak with your father, while he is at Court. I hear we may have some opinions in common, and, umm, some similar concerns. I thought it might be fun to–“

She shook her head. “You’re going about this all wrong,” she said. “For one, you should have worn your red shirt. He likes color, and all the black, no matter how fine, won’t really impress him.” Jason only stared, and after a moment she blushed, but her voice held the same confidence. “And the red shirt is quite flattering.”

He smiled, “Thank you,” he said.

“More to the point,” she said, coming around in front of him, “it’s all a waste of time, really. Unless you really do want his opinion on affairs of state.”

Jason sat back. He met her eyes. “What exactly are you….”

She shook her head. “I thought you were a southern boy.” She moved directly in front of him, and sank down onto the footrest in front of his chair. “You should know better.”

Jason laughed. “I was seven when I left, and my childhood wasn’t the sort that left a lot of room for cultural niceties.”

She smiled. “I like it when you use phrases like that.” She shook her head again, a smile on her lips. “Okay,” she said, “Here’s how it works. The Lords of the Ardain are a jaded bunch, and they’ve all heard the stories of forbidden love one too many times to put up with it anymore. These days, they always let their sons choose their first wives. Promises don’t really take effect until the first marriage falls apart. So you’re wasting your time with Daddy.”

Jason considered her. “You really are a little too smart for me,” he said. “You’re dangerous.”

She shrugged. “A girl’s only got so many defenses.”

“So,” Jason said, “you’re saying that David gets to choose his own–“

She stopped him with a narrow finger on his lips. “Stop drawing conclusions,” she said. “No, I’m not talking about David at all. Daddy hasn’t got a son, and he’s never let it bother him. I’m his legally adopted heir, and he treats me like one.” She sat back. “I’ll choose my own first marriage.”

“Ah,” Jason said. He tried for a charming smile, and she laughed.

“You could be fun,” she said. “I’ll consider you.” Her eyes narrowed, and her voice grew serious. “You could be a great man, Jason. I can already see that in you. You already have one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard, and I fully believe there’s more in store for you.”

Jason thought for a moment. He said, “I want you to be a part of my story. It will be a happier story, with you in it.”

She smiled. “You’re still reading too much Anton.” She sat forward, elbows on her knees, her face inches from his, and said, “Will you make the world a better place, Jason?”

“I will,” he said. “With every opportunity I am given.”

She said, “I’ll hold you to that.”

He moved forward, mere inches, and kissed her lightly, once, on the lips. “Choose me,” he said, as she gasped in surprise. “I’ll show you things you’ve never seen.”

She rose, fighting her smile, and looked down on him. “I shall consider it,” she said. As she crossed toward the door, there was a light knock on it, and she turned back, smiling now. “That’ll be someone to announce Daddy’s ready. Have fun discussing politics.”

Jason smiled. “I’ll try.”

It needs another 500 words or so, but that’s the root of it. Who needs long drawn-out romance plots in a book about war?