A/N I am doing a complete rewrite of this story since a friend has taken an interest. Bare with me.
Chapter 1- Bound
Lord Selwyn's eyes scanned the document before him, the quill feeling heavy in his long, tapered fingers. His gaze once again fell on the little girl, cradled so securely in her mother's loving embrace. She was so young, hardly over a year old. Was it right for them to decide her fate when she could not even protest?
The child shifted in sleep and her black hair moved, revealing the thin slashes across her face, left that morning by an assassin's blade. Selwyn took a deep breath. Yes, this had to be done.
A young man, hardly fifteen himself, had been watching from across the room and hesitantly took a step towards the woman.
"Here, let me hold her," he said, his voice a gentle murmur. The woman looked at him for a moment, unsure, but then she slowly nodded and held out her baby. She watched with fearful eyes, positive he would hold the child wrong or otherwise upset her.
The girl awoke and blinked up at the unfamiliar face with bright, hazel eyes. She rubbed at her injured cheek and whimpered. The young man smiled kindly at her through ragged white bangs.
"Hush little one. There is nothing to fear."
He then leaned forward and whispered something in a language the woman could not understand. The flesh mended itself at his bidding and the girl quieted. Her small fists curled into his navy blue tunic and she yawned, snuggling her face into the warmth of his chest before falling back to sleep.
The woman looked at him, her eyes swimming with unshed tears."Can you really keep Andrea safe?"she whispered.
He looked at the woman, his young face sad and resigned.
"I will protect her with my life. No harm will befall her if I can prevent it."
Lord Selwyn placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Cameron is our most skilled Mage. Your daughter could not be safer than with my son."
King Edward flicked his eyes over the elfin youth, taking in the starlight hair, golden skin and strange emerald eyes. He cringed. Their people prized dark hair and a good, solid frame for work. The boy looked as if he would blow away in a strong wind. Certainly he wasn't the best protection for Andrea?
"He is so much older than she, Selwyn. I know he is only fifteen now, but by the time she is old enough, he will be in his thirties. Is there no other way?"
Selwyn looked surprised at this. "Many girls are betrothed to older men. It is rather common place in our world, Edward."
Edward opened his mouth to say something, but his wife jumped in instead.
"We know that, Selwyn, but Edward and I agreed that we would let Andrea chose her own husband."
Victoria's eyes slid back to the small girl held in the elf's arms.
"I know it isn't normal, letting a girl chose for herself, but we want her to be happy. I'm not sure if she will find that happiness with someone she is forced to wed."
Selwyn nodded to the boy. The young man put the sleeping girl back into the queen's arms. Then, in a move as graceful as moving water, his form flowed into that of a large, shaggy, white dog. The human king and queen stared in open mouth shock.
"He is a shifter? They are so rare...and one so young," Victoria murmured.
Selwyn nodded. "My son has mastered the art of form shifting. While in his shifted state, the aging process slows considerably. He will age one year for every three and a half. It is the way our people are capable of such longevity. By the time your daughter has come of age he will only be a few years older than she."
The boy shifted back to his former state and the room fell quiet. Andrea had awoken and began to struggle in her mother's arms. The queen set her down and the little girl looked around with interest. All eyes fell on the baby as she began tottering around the room, thumb in mouth. She began hobbling towards her father, but turned and made a bee line for the boy. She stopped in front of him and tilted her head all the way back to see his face.
"She seems to have taken a liking to you, Cameron," the queen said softly, watching the way her daughter already clung to the elf. Perhaps...perhaps it would work after all.
Andrea turned at the sound of her mother's voice, then looked back at the boy.
"Camon," she said.
He reached out a hand and fondled a strand of her soft hair. "You're a smart little thing, aren't you?" he murmured affectionately.
As if reassured by his words, Andrea took hold of the hem of his tunic and gave it a tug.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" Victoria asked, surprising the youth. He gazed at her with startlingly deep emerald green eyes and she knew in that moment no one had ever asked his opinion on the matter.
"You are truly willing to spend seventeen years as a dog? You won't see your family or home for so very long..."
He did not answer at first, watching the child as she took his hand and began to play with his long fingers.
"My duty to my people out weighs my duty to myself," he said quietly.
The queen felt her heart ache for him. So young and yet so loyal...
She turned her attention to her husband, coming to a decision.
"When should we tell her?"
"She cannot know...not before she has reached maturity. No one can know what Cameron is until Andrea is old enough to wed. If they knew, then both our kingdoms would be in grave danger," Edward replied.
He gave a resigned sigh. "It is settled then. Cameron will be her guardian from this day forth...and if he succeeds in keeping her safe...Andrea will be his."