It was a nice end-of-summer evening and Sylvi decided to go have a look around the castle, hoping to find something interesting to do instead of her usual studying to become a good future ruler of the country. It was mostly quiet around this time but she saw light at the garage and decided to have a look as she knew the owner since she was little.
Looking through the door she saw a pair of legs sticking from under a truck. ‘Uncle!’ she said as she hopped inside.
‘Sorry, the boss is out at the moment.’ was the reply from under the truck, followed by a bit of hammering. ‘Better come back tomorrow.’
‘Then I’ll just wait.’
A bit more hammering. ‘Better tomorrow, we’ve got too much work to do now.’
‘He always has time for me.’
‘Sorry to disappoint you missy,’ a rattle was heard. ‘but we have no time to spare this time.’
‘Missy!?’ she huffed. ‘I’m no “missy”! You’re talking to the princess, so be respectful and apologise!’
A few tools came from under the truck, then Bjark rolled from underneath and stood up, wiping his face with a rag. ‘Sorry princess, but I’ve got no time for pleasantries right now.’ he said and checked the crane and chains to lift the engine out.
‘When royalty is present peasants are supposed to pay attention and listen!’ she said irritated.
He sighed and turned around to her, for a moment looking at her as this was the first time he saw her in real life. She really was the beauty everyone told him she was, thick pure white fur, bright blue eyes, large fluffy tail. She was a full Kat for sure.
She had to look up a bit at him as he was taller like most humans. Despite the grease on his face and his brown hair all over the place she thought he didn’t look bad.
‘When I’m finished with this job you can come back and I’ll give you all the attention you need, but for now my attention is on something more important.’ he said and started lifting.
‘Are you saying this thing is more important than a princess!?’ she said angrily.
‘At the moment, yes. If I don’t fix this by tonight, there won’t be fresh bread for breakfast tomorrow and not all of us who can’t cook have the luxury of having a chef making our breakfast from a private stock.’
‘Are you saying I can’t make breakfast myself?’
He shrugged and rolled the crane away from the truck to set it onto a stand.
‘I’ll have you know I can do that! You just wait and I’ll make you a breakfast that’ll make you beg for my forgiveness!’ she said and walked out, stamping her feet on the ground.
He snickered a bit and continued his work.
When Sylvi got back to the castle she went right into the small kitchen used only by the staff, grabbed the books and got to work as she’d never cooked before.
The next day Bjark was woken up by the sound of a table being moved and dishes laid out on it. Groggy he got up from the bunkbed he used to get a few hours sleep. He walked into the breakroom scratching his bare chest and yawning when he almost bumped into Sylvi.
‘Wha!’ she shouted as she saw him standing in front of her in just his pants. ‘Don’t you have any decency?’
‘Not when I get woken up after a long night and barely any sleep.’ He rubbed his eyes. ‘What’s all this then?’ he asked as he saw various food laid out on the table.
‘Your breakfast.’ she replied with pride. ‘I told you you’re going to beg for forgiveness after tasting this.’
He scratched his head, went to the sink to keep it under the tap to freshen up and sat down after drying. This time she saw his tail to her surprise.
He nodded, checking where to start on the food.
‘I should have know where the rudeness came from.’
‘No, that’s called honesty.’ he said and took a bite of porridge.
Sylvi looked at his motionless face. ‘Well, already impressed enough to beg for forgiveness?’
He swallowed, grabbed the can of juice, poured a cup and took a big gulp.
Again he sat there motionless for a moment again, then tears came out of his eyes. He put the cup down, took an egg, tapped it with his knife, tapped harder, hit it on the table and looked at the small crack in the shell. He poked at the blackened strips of what might be bacon and looked up at her. ‘I’ll be begging for forgiveness alright.’ he said and she smiled deviously. ‘Except it’s to save my life.’
Her smile vanished. ‘What!? This is a great breakfast!’
He pointed to the porridge, ‘Salty.’ then to the juice, ‘Sour.’ eggs, ‘Rocks.’ bacon. ‘No idea.’
She tasted it herself and discovered new facial expressions.
‘It’s horrible.’ she sighed and sat down.
‘Guess you royalty got a thing or two to learn from us peasants.’
‘Hey, we can do everything you can do! I just had bad luck with the kitchen!’
He snickered. ‘Sure.’
She leaned over to him and looked into his brown eyes. ‘I’ll prove to you that I can do just as much as you and then you’ll have to admit I’m right and you’re wrong.’
He smiled. ‘If you can prove it I’ll publicly admit my fault and bow down to you.’
She grinned. ‘Alright, it’s a promise.’
‘How about coming to my home, there’s plenty to do there.’ he said ‘But then again you might not be allowed to.’
She shrugged. ‘Don’t worry about that. I’m going to grab a few things, then come back here.’ she looked back before leaving. ‘Don’t dare to leave before me.’
He laughed. ‘No way. This is too interesting.’
When she came back she found he had cleared the table and had done the dishes. She looked in the trash but found no food. ‘What did you do with that?’
He burped lightly. ‘Couldn’t let a breakfast go to waste which had taken so much effort by a girl to make.’
She blushed. ‘Who said it took so much effort?’
‘The band aids on your fingers.’
She blushed more as he had noticed those. ‘That was from needlework! Had nothing to do with you!’ she said and shoved him forward. ‘We go. now!’
He snickered again. ‘Okay, okay. Hop in and we’ll drive to my home.’
It took about an hour of driving through the country to reach his home. The raised house consisted out of two square wooden buildings with a courtyard, connected by a short bridge.
‘This is it.’ As they got out of his car. The front building holds living room, kitchen and the main bedroom, the one at the back is storage, bath, and bedrooms for my sister and I.’
They walked up to the front steps when a girl ran out the door and down them to jump into Bjark’s arms. ‘Oniisan!’
Sylvi looked at the brown furred girl wagging her tail, then at Bjark.
‘What I lack in Kanine traits, she makes up for it.’
She looked at Sylvi. ‘Who’s that? Is she your girlfriend?’
‘It’s not like that!’ they both replied.
‘This is Katly. She’s the daughter of one of the men at the garage and she’s here to learn about working out in the country.’ he said with a wink at Sylvi. ‘And this is my sister Imou.’ He put her down. ‘Now go and tell mom there’s a guest.’
‘She’s cute.’ Sylvi said as she watched Imou run off to the house. ‘Thanks for the cover. I hadn’t thought about that.’
‘It’s okay.’ he said and grabbed his bag from the car. ‘Come, I’ll introduce you to my mom.’
His mother almost dropped the plate she was holding when she saw Sylvi walk in. ‘Oh my!’
Bjark laughed and nudged her. ‘I know. This is why she has the nickname Ojousama. Fix her up and she looks almost like the real princess.’
‘Fix her up?’ Sylvi asked, raising an eyebrow. ‘Are you saying I need fixing to look as good as her?’
He smiled. ‘No, I said you need fixing to look like a princess. You’re more beautiful in your natural setting. Now I’m off to my room to get some sleep.’
She watched him walk away speechless and blushed.
‘Oh my.’ his mother said. ‘First time I hear him compliment a girl. You two aren’t..?’
‘It’s not like that!’ they both replied, even Bjark from out there.
She shook her head fiercely. ‘No no no! No way!’ But his mother noticed her twirling a lock of her long white hair and smiled.
When he woke up it was already afternoon. He walked into the kitchen to find his mother preparing dinner.
She pointed to the barn. ‘Imou took her to take care of the animals.’
He walked out the door and across the walkway to the barn where he saw both girls busy with brushing the horses.
‘So, how’s she doing so far?’ he asked his sister.
She looked back at him. ‘I like her a lot oniisan, she’s really nice.’ she replied, and added with a grin ‘She’s too good for you, just so you know.’
He blushed. ‘Wha, what are you talking about? I have no such thoughts!’
Sylvi leaned over from behind one of the horses. ‘And you better not have…’
Bjark turned back to the house holding up his hands in denial. ‘Who would with such a haughty ojousama?’
‘You wish!’ she shouted after him, puffing up her cheeks as Imou snickered.
Bjark spend the afternoon stocking up on firewood and doing some minor repairs to the house, then went for a shower and bath while there was still time before dinner. Still feeling a bit tired from the all-nighter he dozed off in the warm water, dreaming about sitting on the porch during a late summer evening rainstorm. With a bit of a shock he woke up. Still feeling a bit groggy he splashed his face, rubbed his eyes and got out. Just as he wanted to open the door it opened and he almost bumped into Sylvi.
‘Hola!’ he said, barely managing to avoid her.
Sylvi looked at him, realised slowly he was standing wet and naked in front of her, then tried to hide herself as she squealed.
Imou stepped out from behind her. ‘Oniisan! Why are you in here!?’
‘What? Can’t I take a bath after work?’
‘Couldn’t you have said something when we came in?’
‘I dozed off for a while so I didn’t hear. Couldn’t you see my clothes on the shelf?’
‘We have a guest here, can’t you be a bit more careful?’
He raised an eyebrow. ‘Oh yeah. Well, I’m going out now so you two have the bath all to yourself.’ he said, stroking her head as he walked past her.
‘My apologies, ojousama, for such a terrifying display.’ he said, smiling softly at a very embarrassed Sylvi as he grabbed his clothes and walked out.
Some time later he walked into the kitchen where the table was being set for dinner and his father walked in.
‘Ev’ning dear.’ he said and kissed his wife passionately.
‘Da-ad, stop that!’ Imou said as she entered with Sylvi behind her.
‘What?’ her father asked. ‘Can’t I show my love for your mother?’
She shook her head. ‘Not in front of guests.’
He watched Sylvi looking shyly away. ‘Oh my! I didn’t mean to embarrass my son in front of his girlfriend.’
‘It’s not like that!’ Sylvi and Bjark replied simultaneously again.
He laughed and shook Bjark’s shoulder, ‘It’s okay boy, you got a nice catch here.’ then looked more closely at Sylvi and dropped his jaw.
Bjark sighed. ‘No dad. She looks like her but she’s the daughter of one of the guys at work. She’s here to learn more about work on the farm.’
‘Ah, okay then.’ his father replied and smiled. ‘I hope you can learn many good things here.’
‘Time to eat,’ his mother said. ‘so chow down.’
‘You did show her your good side, didn’t you?’ his father asked Bjark during dinner at which Bjark and Sylvi almost choked on their food.
Bjark coughed trying to say something and Imou slapped him on the back.
‘He just showed her his worst.’ she said.
His father snickered. ‘Sounds like how I met your mother.’ He turned to Sylvi. ‘I met her just as I was about to wash off the mud that I had fallen into while working at her dad’s farm. She laughed so hard at my predicament that I had to revenge myself by pulling her in.’
His mother smiled. ‘We ended up wrestling in it and I can still remember how my mother scolded us both. And that was the start of our lives together.’
Sylvi cleared her throat and drank some water, watching Bjark’s human mother and Kanine father. ‘I didn’t know Bjark had both human and Kanine blood in him.’
‘Well,’ his father said and smiled. ‘it doesn’t show from the outside like his sister, but he’s got what it takes inside. Just having been able to have them was a small miracle.
Sylvi nodded as she knew that inter-species mixing didn’t work out often.
‘So, don’t worry and all will work out.’ he said. ‘And where’s dessert?’
Later in the evening Bjark showed Sylvi the guestroom. ‘It’s nothing as comfortable as a castle, but I think you’ll sleep well.’
‘I will. It’s not like I need to be pampered all the time.’
‘Oh? So only some of the time then?’ he grinned.
‘You know what I mean!’ she said as she hit him with a pillow.
‘Good night then ojousama, just let me know when you miss your bed and I’ll drive you back home.’ he snickered as he closed the door on his way out.
The next days Sylvi worked around the farm, tending to the vegetable garden and animals, and learned more about cooking and clothing. Bjark had been working late in town every day and didn’t see her much but knew things went well from his mom.
One evening he managed to come home early so he could have dinner with the rest of the family. As he took one bite of the pork he tasted something very new.
‘What’s this?’ he asked his mom. ‘This is good.’
She smiled. ‘Katly invented this.’
He looked with one raised eyebrow at Katly. ‘Really? I must admit this is very tasty.’
She blushed a little but puffed up her cheeks. ‘I do know how to cook I’ll have you know.’
He grinned. ‘But I remember a certain breakfast some time ago and the agony thereafter.’
‘You didn’t have to eat it!’ she snubbed.
‘I’m not one to waste food made by ojousama.’ he grinned and ruffled her hair. ‘You’ve become a good cook in such short time and I’d like to taste what more you can think of.’
She blushed again and mumbled. ‘If you really want to I could maybe let you have more of my cooking.’
‘I do.’ he smiled. ‘And now I know I can safely ask you the question I got today. Would you like to help out at the bakery for a few days? The baker’s daughter got sick and he needs help at the store. It seemed a good opportunity for you so I said I’d ask you.’
She looked up and nodded. ‘Sure!’
‘Then tomorrow I’ll take you to town with me.’
Later that evening he felt like having seconds and walked from his room to the kitchen, almost bumping into her as she came out the door from his mother’s room. He looked at the sleeveless black, shiny long shirt she wore and thought she looked very good in this.
‘What are you staring at?’ she asked looking away. ‘Is it not good?’
He smiled. ‘No, you look very good. It matches your beautiful white fur.’
‘T-thank you.’ she said feeling embarrassed somehow. ‘I’ll see you in the morning.’ she said as she hurriedly walked to her room.
‘My my.’ his mom said as she walked out. ‘Looks like you know the right thing to say to a girl.’
He looked back at her in surprise. ‘What are you talking about? It’s not like that!’ he said proceeding quickly to the kitchen.
Early the next morning they arrived at the bakery where they were greeted by Bjark’s friend Forinth.
‘Thank you for coming. I wouldn’t be able to run the shop and the bakery at the same time on my own so I can really use your help.’ he said. ‘But say, you kinda look like…’
‘Yes.’ Bjark said. ‘She hears that all the time. Just show her what she needs to do and she’ll manage.’
He waved her goodbye when he walked out and she quickly learned about the shop and goods before they opened up.
Things went very well during the next days and Forinth told Bjark that it seems things were much busier at the store than before because of Katly’s charm.
Bjark looked at her helping a grandma and her grandchild with such pleasure he nodded. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised at that.’
She saw Bjark and hopped over to him smiling. ‘I’ve been making cakes today and I can take a few home so look forward to those.’
He felt his heart skip a beat at her radiant smile. ‘Yeah, i will.’
He watched her for a moment when she went back to the counter and noticed Forinth nudging him. ‘She’s a good catch.’
He looked at him. ‘Eh? No, it’s not like that! I’m just helping her find out what she wants to do.’
Forinth nodded and smiled. ‘I see.’ he said as he patted him on the shoulder and walked to the counter. ‘Just don’t forget to notice what you want.’
A few moments later she came out of the shop while he was waiting outside and got stopped by a young man.
‘Hey cutey, are you free tonight?’ he asked leaning close to her.
She backed off startled. ‘Eh?’
‘I saw you today and think you’re very pretty. How about going out with me?’ he grinned.
She didn’t like the greedy look in his eyes. ‘Sorry, but I’m not interested.’ she replied and wanted to turn away.
‘Hey!’ He said and grabbed her arm. ‘You can’t turn me down just like that!’
‘Yes she can.’ Bjark said glaring at him while he grabbed his wrist and squeezed it with all his strength.
The guy let go of her and squirmed. ‘Ah! Sorry! I didn’t mean to!’
‘I’m sure you didn’t’ Growled Bjark. ‘If you ever treat another girl like that I’m going to teach you some old fashioned manners, got it?’
The guy nodded and he let him go, watching him run off. ‘Fucking bastard.’
He looked back at Sylvi as she quietly looked at him. ‘Ah! I’m sorry! I got a bit carried away when I saw him bothering you.’
She smiled softly. ‘It’s okay.’ she said and grabbed him by his arm. ‘You’re the knight to protect the princess.’
‘Ah, yeah.’ he said as they walked back to the truck, not noticing they were being watched by a maid of the castle.
Late that evening Bjark walked out of his room to get something to drink when he saw Sylvi sitting on the porch.
‘Hey.’ he said.
She smiled at him, then turned her gaze back to the stars. ‘It’s so peaceful here.’
He sat down next to her. ‘Yeah.’
They sat in silence for a while when she suddenly leaned against him. ‘I want to stay here.’ she whispered.
He shifted and wrapped his arm around her. ‘I wouldn’t mind that.’
A minute later he knew she’d fallen asleep from the sound of her breathing. He picked her up gently in his arms and carried her to her bed and laid her down carefully so as not to wake her. Just as he was about to tuck her in she opened her eyes a bit and grabbed his hand. ‘Can I sleep with you tonight?’
He blushed. ‘Eh? Sleep with you?’
She nodded sleepily. ‘I want to cuddle up with you. You’re sweet and warm.’
He sighed. ‘Well, okay then.’ he said and crawled into bed next to her and she snuggled up to him.
‘So warm.’ she whispered as she fell asleep again.
‘Sweet dreams.’ he whispered as he kissed her forehead.
The next morning Sylvi woke up and found herself wrapped up in Bjark’s embrace. At first confused, then remembering the night before she felt herself warming up to his presence. She stroked his arm wondering how life would be like this.
‘Sleep well?’ Bjark whispered.
‘You’re awake?’ she asked feeling a bit startled.
He smiled. ‘Yeah. Didn’t want to wake you.’
After a few minutes of silently lying in bed she asked ‘Do you love me?’
A little surprised he thought about it. ‘You’re actually not bad at cooking, you know how to take care of a household, you’re gentle to young and old, you can work hard when you want to, you’re feisty but also sweet, you’re beautiful and it feels absolutely wonderful to hold you.’
He scritched her gently with his fingers. ‘I really hated it when another guy approached you.’ he said after a moment.
He thought in silence for a while again. ‘Does it bother you when I say there’s no other conclusion that I must love you?’
She turned around and snuggled up to him. ‘It’s not passionately, but it’s a good and safe answer.’
He grinned, ‘You caught me by surprise. Just wait until I get passionately.’ then tickled her.
She laughed and squirmed trying to hold him off when he suddenly stopped. Still smiling she looked into his eyes and saw him looking seriously at her.
‘I don’t care where you come from, all I know is that I want you next to me.’ he said and kissed her softly.
At first surprised, she then gave in and kissed him back. There was no mistake, he was the one she wanted to be with from now on.
She wanted to feel him inside her but before she could do anything a loud knocking sounded on her door and it opened.
‘Oh shit!’ Imou said as she peeked around the edge of the door.
Sylvi ducked under the cover as Bjark snickered. ‘Is it that bad to see us together?’
‘Yes and no.’ she said and gestured behind her. ‘There’s someone here who won’t like it.’
A minute later they both walked outside to see the captain of the guard waiting there.
‘Princess.’ he said and bowed.
She looked around at the family gathered outside and mumbled. ‘What do you mean? I’m not her.’
He cleared his throat. ‘You’ve been seen working at the bakery by staff. His highness the king wants to see you now.’
‘Sorry, my dear.’ Bjark’s mother said as she put a hand on her shoulder. ‘We knew. It couldn’t last.’
‘Should have known.’ Bjark said.
‘I’m not going back, he never cared about me so he has no right to start now!’
‘Princess, I was ordered to get you back one way or the other.’
‘I don’t want to!’
He stepped forward. ‘Princess…’
Bjark stepped in front of her. ‘If she says she doesn’t want to, she won’t.’
‘Please, don’t get in the way.’ The captain said, indicating a weapon under his suit.
Bjark folded his arms.
‘Princess, don’t make me use force.’
‘I can’t go! I.., I’m pregnant!’
The captain stood shocked. ‘What!?’
She looked defiantly at him. ‘I’m pregnant, so don’t you dare touch the father.’
‘I know you had your eye on me and the throne.’
He held back his anger. ‘I’ll inform the king.’ he said coldly, then turned back to the car.
Bjark turned back to Sylvi. ‘You what!?’
She playfully stuck out her tongue. ‘The idea just popped into my head.’
He sighed and slapped his palm into his face. ‘Now I’ll be crucified by the king…’
She took his hand. ‘Nothing bad will happen. I won’t let anyone harm you.’
‘Alright, let’s just get breakfast for now, then see what we’ll do later.’ Bjark’s father said.
‘He’ll know it’s a lie.’ Bjark said to Sylvi.
She squeezed his hand a little. ‘What if we don’t make it a lie?’ she asked softly.
She looked up innocently at him.
‘You can’t be serious?’
She smiled and leaned against him.
‘It’s so sudden.’
‘Don’t want to?’
He cleared his throat looking away blushing. ‘Can’t say I don’t want to.’
She pulled back his face and kissed him. ‘Let’s discuss this after breakfast?’
He smiled softly. ‘Sure.’
After breakfast they walked down to a stream running behind the farm and sat down on the bank.
‘Are you sure?’ he asked.
She snuggled up to him. ‘Yes, I want to be with you.’
He smiled and caressed her. ‘Then I’ve got one heck of a job before me.’
‘Yeah, you do.’ she chuckled, then kissed him.
When they returned the captain was back as well.
‘I’ve been told to get you back together with him.’
‘Very well.’ Sylvi said. ‘We’re going to see my father.’
Bjark drove behind the captain’s car to the castle while Sylvi held his hand. He noticed she did feel a little nervous.
At the castle they were led through a side door to the king, who didn’t look pleased at all.
‘Your majesty.’ the captain said and gestured at Sylvi and Bjark.
‘Your majesty.’ Bjark said and bowed.
‘Daddy.’ Sylvi said.
‘Don’t daddy me.’ he grumbled. ‘Do you know what you’ve done!? You’re embarrassing me!’
‘So all of a sudden you notice me.’ she said.
‘The staff has noticed you! What were you thinking!? Working!?’
‘Why would you care!? You’re never around!’
‘Don’t talk back to me young lady! I am your father! You’re a princess and you’ll act like one and not hang around with a peasant!’
‘Too bad because I love him!’
The king grabbed a sword from the wall. ‘I will not have my daughter disgraced!’
‘So you think a peasant isn’t good enough?’
The cold tone of the queen’s voice struck a nerve and he froze on the spot.
‘Mommy.’ Sylvi said as her mother appeared behind her husband.
‘So this is the one who’s rumoured to have seduced my daughter?’
‘Bjark’s the name. Pleased to meet you your majesty.’ he said and bowed again.
‘Dearest..’ the king said but went silent at a glare from her.
‘It seems age has made you forget certain things.’ she said.
‘I suppose you want me to leave as well now?’
She held up her hand to him and he bowed down his head.
‘Now then,’ she said looking at Bjark. ‘what ever do you see in her?’
He smiled a little looking at Sylvi. ‘She’s cute, warm, works hard to prove herself and is kind to everyone.’
‘Really, that brat?’
‘She can be, but that’s part of her charm.’
He snickered as she punched him.
‘I remember those words being said about me, the baker’s daughter, by a certain prince a long time ago.’ she said throwing a glance at the king who shrunk a bit.
‘Now I remember!’ Sylvi said. ‘Peer, the gardener once told me when I was very little.’
The queen nodded. ‘He could be very stubborn about things back then as well.’ She looked at Bjark again. ‘So, are you serious about her?’
He looked sideways at Sylvi and took her hand. ‘Yeah.’
‘I guess that settles it then. You two better start thinking about what you want to do from now on.’ she said as she turned around and took the king by one ear. ‘In the meantime I’ll convince your father. We have a lot to discuss.’ she said and Bjark almost felt sorry for him.
‘You really don’t mind?’
‘Spending the rest of my life with you?’ he asked, then frowned in thought. ‘I guess I had worse jobs.’
A moment later the maids saw the princess chasing a young man through the halls.