Jay crawled up into the bed next to his wife and smiled, if a little goofily. “‘Fore I go to sleep too, I wanna tell a story, ok?”
Inca looked up at him, a little confused from sleepiness. “Mmkay?”
Y’know, cuz maybe I should practice for when I’m a dad, cuz that’s…that’s what they do, right?” He couldn’t for sure remember what his own father had done, but who could remember being two? This was the kind of thing fathers did on television, though, so he figured there had to be some truth in it. She had more chance of knowing for sure.
"I guess…". She laid a hand over her slightly swollen "stomach" through the covers. A small bit of anxiety she was apparently too tired to try to hide fell over her features.
Jay reached over laid his own hand over hers, squeezing it gently. It was the most he could do, seeing how he couldn’t really tell her how to be a mother. He just hoped she realized he had faith in her. He cleared his throat rather loudly and began, “So, um… Once upon a time… There…there was this prince…guy and y’know, he was all dashing and handsome and stuff. And, uh, he did all those knightly adventures, like saving pretty girls and fighting dragons, y’know, brave sh- stuff.” This storytelling stuff was turning out to be a little harder then he thought it’d be. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to search for words like that.
She got closer to him, snuggling into his chest in her familiar way. “Sounds valiant…”
Encouraged just a little more, he continued. “Mm-hmm. And, anyways, there was also this girl, who was, like, secretly a beautiful princess, but of course she didn’t know that and she thought she was just an ordinary girl on a farm. And they met one day and became friends, even though she didn’t think they could.”
"And, um, he had to go back to his castle to take care of his princely duties, but even though he couldn’t go see her, he thought about her a whole lot like how she was pretty and stuff and how he wanted to go. But then this black dragon appeared. It was kinda short for a dragon, but it was sorta mad so it was really mean, and it ended up destroying the castle." It was getting a little easier and more lifelike as he went on.
"Oh no…" She looked up with what seemed like real concern in her eyes. Maybe she was into it…
"I know…and he was left, all alone on the road. He was trying to get away from the dragon or fight it but it kept following him and laughing and flying up where he couldn’t reach it. It wouldn’t leave even when this big storm came up, so it just kinda hung out near where he was trying to hide in a cave. But then he saw someone else going down the road in the forest…it was her-the one from earlier."
He couldn’t help but smile at the warm attentiveness in her eyes.
“And so, he…he called to her, and she went towards him, but the dragon tried to get in the way. But then, she reached out and got all glowy, and the light started pushing at the dragon. It backed up and eventually just flew away and the storm even started to clear away.” He paused to catch his breath a little. “And so he got out of the cave and ran to her. When he got there, he saw she was wearing a pretty dress and a crown like always, and he was all like, ‘you really ARE a princess’. But…but she couldn’t see it.
Because she looked at herself and all she could see was an old farmer’s dress. He just had to look at her and tell her it wouldn’t matter anyway cuz he loved her, and he realized he did. And she must have loved him too because they went and got married in the village, and they were going back to her home, and, and she was all worried that he wouldn’t like having to live in this tiny little farmhouse. But, well, it looked like a castle to him.” He dropped his hands from where he’d been miming the size.
"Was he crazy? Did the dragon bite him with hallucination venom or something?"
"Well, no one really knows why. Cuz a bunch of people say it’s love that makes you blind and just accept it but some say it makes you see things as they really are."
"Ok…. So what happened then?"
He smiled bigger at her, expecting her to give the old, tried-and true ending. “Well, what do you think?”
"Uh… I dunno, the dragon seems like it should return… There’s also the issue of the ruined castle… And they’re poor."
He blinked a little. That didn’t sound like “happily ever after”. Yet, he was usually able to recover quickly. But of course she would question it, as analytical as she was. He chuckled a little. “Aww, hon, it’s a fairy tale. But I guess, uh, that dragon didn’t want to get blasted again or found itself another dragon or something. And aren’t most normal people poor when they get married?”
"I guess… I just thought itd be more exciting. The story, I mean. But he’s a prince… Shouldn’t there be inheritance or something?" She was in full-on question mode, despite being tired.
Well, at least she’d been paying attention. He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “I guess I gotta work on my storytelling skills. But yeah, there might’ve been…the part he didn’t spend adventuring.”
"Yeah, they eventually found some, so they could like I dunno, use it to help the country? And he worked too…"
"What did he do? How did they help the country? Did they have kids? Servants? Wars?"
Still smiling, he just shook his head. “Whatever they had to do. There were good and bad times, but whatever they had to go through, it was more important that they had each other. And yeah, there were kids, and they loved them.” He hoped she understood how he’d come to mean his answer,
"Good. I like love…" She replied to him, but her words were slightly slurred by her drowsiness. She was lying against him even more now, her eyes drooping.
He carefully pulled her just a little closer. “Me too.” He bent his neck and gently kissed her on the forehead. “I love you.”
"I… Love you… Too……." Her words trailed off into a sleepy little noise.
He reached up, found the switch, and turned the light off. Softly, he whispered to her. “Night, princess…”
She didn’t answer, but remained curled against him, her breathing becoming slow and steady. With the love of his life safely tucked in his arms, he followed her into sleep.