asatira: (stories)
[personal profile] asatira
Hello! Took a while for me to get to this, but still ahead of the deadline. I'd like to get some proofing of this before I submit it Friday afternoon/evening. It's a short story of Mytho and Rue and their son's bedtime. Done for the Club-Tutu contest. And yes, I'm still calling him Mytho in this. I can easily change it to Siegfried, but let's go with it for now.

"Bed Time" by Michelle Johnson

"'Then the Prince woke up directly, calling out, "Oh! that makes me shiver! Dear wife, that makes me shiver! Yes now I know what shivering means!"' The end."

Rue closed the large book with a soft thud and lay it in her lap while she turned to look at her son Albrecht sitting beside her. "Did you like that one?"

His dark curls bobbed vigorously as he nodded with a smile. "He was really brave to have spent all those nights with those monsters and spirits. Almost as brave as daddy!"

She chuckled at this. "Well, I think your father is much braver. Your father knows fear but he will overcome it to do what's right. And speaking of what's right," she rose off the bed and gestured him to settle in. "Time for you, my little man, to go to sleep."

Albrecht's cheeks puffed out as he pouted and crossed his arms. "Aww, I don't want to go to sleep. I'm not tired. Please, mommy, tell me another story."

"Oh, no. One story per night, you know that."

She knew that he knew the rules about bedtime and his mommy was not going to budge, no matter what he did. He let out a dramatic sigh and plopped further down on the pillows in an equally dramatic fashion. This brought a smile to her lips as she pulled up the covers. He had definitely inherited her flair for the dramatic. Pity he didn't know to apply it to the stage and not on his immune mother. She gave him a warm kiss on his head, bid him sweet dreams, and turned off the lights as she left the room. Once the door closed, she leaned against it with a dramatic but exhausted sigh of her own. While it was still early, her own bed was loudly calling for her, and she was perfectly willing to comply with it.

She had gone only a few steps when her husband caught her by surprise around the waist. She laughed and squirmed a little as Mytho tried to steal a kiss from his wife. It was a quick, half-hearted battle and the kiss was easily won, with a growing urgency behind it that more than she expected. Eventually, Rue did push him away, as much for air as to be able to verbally greet him.

"You don't look like the man who's been busy handling the kingdom's needs. How come you're not as tired as I am?"

"Well," he tilted his head with a playful smile. "It was a long day, as I'm sure yours was as well. But I realized I wouldn't see you for a fortnight, and that puts things into perspective."

The reminder about his departure to make a tour of the land made Rue frown a little. She was fine with the tours and other duties that called him away, and she often accompanied him or went on her own. Still, there was a part of her that was still the little girl who didn't want to be alone, and she missed him. A gentle finger along her jaw broke her from her thoughts, sparking a smile in return.

"I'm so glad you have your priorities straight." Mytho let out a chuckle as he let his wife pull him into another kiss.

"Dadd-ie-ie!" rang through the air. The parents recognized the source and raced to the door. It was Mytho who sprang open the door and flipped on the lights to Albrecht's room. Rue came in a heartbeat later. Both rushed into the room, eyes searching for the cause. Albrecht sat huddled on his bed, comforter bunched up in his arms, his face scrunched in fear. Certain there was no visible threat or evidence of entry, his mother came to his side and wrapped him in her arms, comforting words instinctively flowing over her little boy. Brown eyes and red watched Mytho as he made his own survey around the room before calming down enough to put on a strong face for his three-year-old son.

"What happened? Did something come in to scare you?"

The boy nodded, visibly calmer than he was moments ago. His father prodded gently for more: "Was it something outside?" A shake no. "Something inside?" Another nod. "Where was it?"

Albrecht pulled away from his mom to crawl to the bed's edge and pointed down. "There's a monster under my bed."

Both parents blinked at this news before exchanging looks between each other. The idea that there might be something crossed their minds. They lived in a kingdom that once had a monster raven, so monsters were not out of the question. Still, it was likely nothing at all.

Mytho made his way over to where Albrecht perched and quickly crouched on the floor, flipping the blanket and sheets out of the way. The floor beneath was perfectly empty, not even dust bunnies.

"There's nothing there," he replied as he sat up. "Are you sure you saw something?"

"Yes!" answered Albrecht.

"What did it look like?"

"Like the monsters in the story mommy told me."

A clenched groan escaped before Rue could stop it. She looked down at her husband's face, whom bore a waiting expression. She straightened her back at the silent accusation and took on an offended look of her own. There was no way she was going to take the blame. "Don't look at me. I always read him stories, and he has heard even scarier ones than that one. I think he likes the scary ones."

Her gaze fell onto Albrecht, who was now fidgeting a little, and she softened. The story may not be the cause, but something had upset her normally carefree boy.

"Sweetie, what's the matter?"

"There's a monster under my bed," Albrecht answered softly as he crawled back to his mother. "I want daddy to handle it, just like he did the Raven. Daddy can do anything."

The praise made Mytho smile at the same time it caused him scratch his head. He wanted very much to protect his son, but he had no idea what to do. Ravens and real monsters were easy, they could be met with a sword and overcome. Overcoming an imaginary monster was out of his league.

Mytho sat next to Rue and Albrecht on the bed. "What would you suggest I do to defeat this hidden monster?" he asked gently.

Albrecht brightened at this question. "You and mommy could stay here tonight. It wouldn't ever never ever come out if you're here! And you could stay with me tomorrow instead of going away again!"

Rue's mouth made an O as the pieces fell into place. It wasn't monsters he was afraid of, but his father's absences. An idea quickly formed in her head to solve this problem. She gracefully rose to her feet, interrupting Mytho's attempt to explain why he couldn't stay.

"I think I know how we can get rid of this monster, something I'm only going to share with you, Albrecht. Do you want to know what it is?"

He nodded eagerly. She leaned forward so she was eye level with him. "You have to promise to use it sparingly. You can't use it all the time. Can you promise me?"

"I promise as a crown prince not to use it too much," he pledged somberly, only to revert back to his eagerness from before for the secret. "What is it?"

Rue mounted the bed with the same grace she entered a stage, and just as easily demanded their full attention. She gestured both her boys to stand on the bed with her, Albrecht was eager while Mytho was confused but eager as well.

Once they were settled, that was when she started jumping.

Within moments, the bed was shaking as the king, queen, and prince jumped and raced around the large bed. The noise and laughter floated out the open door into the hall. A few passing servants stuck their heads in briefly, only to move on a while later, shaking their heads and smiling. The fun lasted almost half an hour before the three collapsed laughing and exhausted. The blanket and sheets were a tangled mess, and a few white goose feathers of an unfortunate pillow floated around the bed, but it didn't matter.

"So what did you think of my method to get rid of those monsters?" managed Rue.

"It was great!" exclaimed Albrecht with a dramatic flop into the pillows. "I bet that monster doesn't know what's happening! He's pro'ly packing to leave right now!"

The image made both parents laugh. "Now you have something to help face the monsters when I'm away," said Mytho.

Albrecht frowned at this reminder. He rolled over to look at his father. "But I don't want you to go. I want you to stay with me. I miss you."

"I know," answered Mytho. "I miss you and your mother, too. But you know I have to."

Albrecht nodded that he understood but it was clear he didn't like it. It was time for the next part of Rue's quickly made solution.

"Albrecht, I miss daddy when he's gone, too. And that's okay. He will always return, just like I'll always return when I go away. Understand?"

He nodded again, still unhappy. She continued, "Well, I think you're grown up enough that maybe, if you're good and can act like a crown prince, we could take you on some of our shorter trips. What do you think about that?"

The look of absolute joy on Albrecht's face warmed her heart. "I can? Really?!" He turned to look at his father, who'd been taken off guard by his wife's suggestion but was quickly working it out.

"Yes, really," Mytho answered with a grin. "I think you'll enjoy it. But, you have to earn it."

"Oh, yes, daddy! I'll work real hard to get a chance to go on the next one."

Relief flowed through them both. They both recognized that Albrecht knew it was something to be earned, and he hadn't earned enough to go on tomorrow's tour. But now he had something to look forward to, and this helped soften the disappointment of not going this time nor his father staying home.

A large yawn from the crown prince reminded them it was well past time to go to sleep. They gently straightened the bed and tucked him back in amongst the remaining pillows. Both kissed him goodnight and were at the door when Albrecht spoke up.

"I know the monster's gone. But, could you stay? Just this once?"

Once again, the parents shared looks. Rue silently acknowledged it was rather indulgent. Mytho silently countered with a shrug. They closed the door, turned off the light, and went to lie on the bed, one on either side of their son. In the dim moonlight, they watched over their sleeping son, their hands clasped over the pillows, savoring the moment until they fell asleep as well.
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