Phobos carefully removed another one of the thin gold pins holding the net of golden chains to Artemis’ hair. Lifting the headdress off gently, untangling a few strands of hair from it along the way, she placed it on the dressing table. As she went to work on unravelling the complicated braided hairstyle beneath, she looked up into the mirror.
She saw herself reflected behind Artemis who was using a cotton swab dipped in a cleansing solution to remove the heavy makeup around her eyes. Discarding the stained swab, the first princess of Regiis tore off another bit of cotton from the large bunch on the dresser and went to work on the other eye. “Cosmetics are so tedious,” she complained. “I can’t imagine doing this every day like some of the other girls and ladies I know.”
Phobos nodded. “Unless it's for a special occasion, I generally tend to stay away from heavy makeup. Nothing wrong with a touch, though. A little colour on the lips goes a long way.” She pursed her lips a little, then broke into a grin. “And it’s fun leaving a mark behind whenever you kiss someone.”
Artemis raised an eyebrow at that before shaking her head and returning to her task.
They were currently at an apartment in the Capital, two floors of which were under Artemis’ name. It was quite modestly furnished, definitely not as luxurious as the palace, but in the Capital where each inch of land was as precious as gold, it was quite the asset.
What was more impressive – Artemis had bought it with money she had earned herself. While the salary she earned from her job wasn’t remotely adequate for such an expense, the royalties she received from the translations of Regiis literature she marketed to other nations, were. Actually, she was one of the major stockholders of her teacher, the Prime Minister’s company, Royal Road, that sold translations of original works across the Continent in an attempt to promote mutual understanding of each other's cultures and paradigms between nations.
The morning of the wedding, assisted by a moving agency, the whole Felidae family had shifted to this apartment from their hotel room. The apartment had remained unused as Artemis mainly stayed in the palace, but from now on, this would be their home as long as they were in the Capital.
Teasing out the final braid, Phobos ran her fingers through Artemis’ reddish-gold hair, gently working out the knots in it. Stepping back to inspect her handiwork and nodding in satisfaction, she turned to Artemis in the mirror.
“Not to be rude or anything… but how are you going to prevent your wings from taking Husband’s eyes out tonight?” Reaching out, she flicked a wing with her finger making a metallic sound ring out. “I mean, these things don’t look too comfortable.” This was something that had been bothering her for quite a while now.
Discarding the final cotton swab, Artemis blinked the tears caused by the fumes of the cleanser out of her eyes before pushing the stool she’d been sitting on back and standing up. Turning to face Phobos, she said, “Well… I can do this.” A soft glow covered her wings for a moment and a ripple passed through them.
“Touch them now,” she invited. “Go ahead.”
Curious, Phobos reached out and ran a hand along the inside of one silvery wing. Instead of the razor-sharp edges she expected, she felt like she was touching the feathers of an ordinary bird. In fact, they felt even better than that, and as her fingers trailed across the wing, she couldn't believe that it was metal she was touching, not the softest of down.
“Ah! That tickles!” cried out Artemis with a shudder, taking a step back to get her wing away from Phobos’ questing fingers.
Phobos looked at her in wonder. “How?” she asked.
“Actually, this is the original state of my wing,” explained Artemis. “But it’s way too sensitive in this state and even a light breeze can send my nerves jangling. That’s really great for detecting minor turbulence in the air but useless in daily life and a liability in a fight. So, I generally keep them flooded with my steel mana. That turns each feather into a tiny steel knife as well as dulls the sensation I have of my wings, turning them into the perfect weapons. I keep a few feathers as they are to let me retain a level of sensitivity to the air currents. The best of both worlds.”
“That’s convenient,” commented Phobos, her eyes glinting as she saw the wings in a new light. Her fingers twitched as she forcibly suppressed the desire to touch them again. ‘Lucky boy.’ She thought, feeling envious of Mars who would be spending the night with Artemis and her heavenly wings soon.
Shaking her head to get those thoughts out of her head, she pointed at Artemis’ clothes and said, “Anyway, let’s get you out of that. After all, we wouldn't want you ruining your wedding dress, now would we?”
Nodding in agreement, Artemis began stripping without so much as batting an eyelid. The latches of the dress weren’t too fancy and before Phobos could recover from her surprise, she was already down to her underwear.
Phobos closed her jaw with an audible click. Hastily stepping forward to help the princess fold the dress, she said, “I thought you’d be a bit more reserved about taking your clothes off in front of me.”
“Why? Should I be?” asked Artemis, shooting her a confused glance. “I’m naked with my female co-workers in the shower rooms after training sessions at the Arena… and I bathe together with Venus and the Imperial Mother whenever possible… there are usually some handmaidens there as well. You’re a woman and my sister by marriage to boot. I thought it wouldn't be a problem.” Her eyes widened in realization. “Wait! Is it some kind of taboo in your family? Did I violate some kind of custom?”
“Ah, no, no. Nothing like that. We have public baths too. All the girls of the clan go there to wash after training. I just thought that as a princess you might be a bit more exclusive about these kinds of things,” said Phobos, inwardly feeling glad that she wasn’t. It would be easier for her to get a glimpse of her fascinating body that way. It was a perfect balance between strength and femininity, with her musculature visible but not overwhelmingly so.
“You have a really beautiful figure,” Phobos complimented as she handed her a towel, feeling regretful about those beautifully sculpted abs getting covered up.
Knotting the towel above her chest, Artemis took a step forward so they were nearly chest to chest. “I know,” she leaned forward and whispered into Phobos’ ear. “Some of my female colleagues told me that… just before inviting me to their beds.” Stepping past the frozen panther-girl, she chuckled. “The look in your eyes is exactly like theirs back then.”
Making her way towards the bathroom and opening the door, she paused. “I’ll be looking forward to the time you finally invite me to yours.” The door shut behind her, leaving a mortified Phobos’ behind, blushing down to her neck in embarrassment.