Jaik spent the rest of the week adjusting back to life in mera territory, though he spent some afternoons and nights in the royal caves with Sam. It wasn't always sex, but it got close a lot of the time. After taking his work in to the school with Shay on his first day back, he quickly realised how easy it was to lose track of time in the wild territory that Pandora reigned over. What he'd at first thought was Wednesday turned out to be Monday, and he then remembered that Shay had been walking around at about midday when she'd met up with him in the tunnels.
The teachers were astounded by how quickly he'd managed to read through the many textbooks containing some eight or more years of work, but he put it down to the many years spent reading through Hannah's textbooks to help her with her homework and the few assignments that he'd done with her before his life there ended and his life as a true mera began. His memory recall also came from that, as he'd learned to remember key ideas and easily put what he'd learned into his own words. On that Friday, he sat the test that all meras sat upon finishing the junior school and he'd find out his results on Sunday. Apparently, mera weeks weren't like human weeks, at least as far as school hours were concerned. Teachers could be contacted on any day and from any time until the sun went down. It thrilled Jaik that all of the teachers were those that truly loved their profession and cared about their students. It was much different to the human teachers who claimed to care about the learning of their students but simply worked for the money.
Sam wished him luck before Jaik walked into the room where the test was to be held, and for the first ten minutes all he could think of was the soft feel of Sam's lips and the tenderness with which he'd kissed him. But after that, it was all business. At the door of the room, one of the supervisors had put magic-restricting collars around the neck of every mera who was sitting the test. Jaik felt naked without his glow, and the bonds were temporarily severed as well. He did think that it was a very good system, though, to stop any meras from cheating with either their powers or their bonds. He knew that bonds could be used to communicate telepathically, and sometimes they could even see and hear what the other mera was seeing and hearing.
The test was quite easy, as it was largely just on the history of mera territory and meras as a whole. He smiled to himself as he filled out the answer on meras with dragon in their bloodline, remembering everything that his parents had told him. He even managed to add a little information on dragons, with the knowledge from his father and the fact that his mother was hatched from an egg that had been around for many centuries.
After the test, which took a few hours, Jaik exited the room to find a smiling, albeit nervous, Ash waiting for him.
"How did you go in your test?" she asked him, drawing him into her arms after his collar was removed. She was trying to put on a brave face but he could feel the trembling in her arms.
"Quite well, I think," Jaik replied, walking away from the room with her. "I had a lot of help from what mum and dad told me about dragons and the meras with a longer lifespan. I also used to help Hannah study and do assignments, so I remembered how to read textbooks to get the most information and remember the most of it."
"We'll find out on Sunday but I'm sure that you've done well," Ash assured him, rubbing his back in a way that only very motherly people did to people they saw as their children.
"I almost feel like telling mum," Jaik smiled, his glow burning a bright yellow. The purple in it had resurfaced as his glow returned, but now it, too, was yellow. Maybe his parents already knew and it was their happiness that he could see.
"I think she already knows," Ash confirmed. "At least now I know what the end of junior school exams are like."
"You'll have to pick another kid up from them in a few years," Jaik figured. "I know that Shay will do well. Grace probably won't but Shay might just help her girlfriend to study for her exams."
"She helps her do her homework at the moment," Ash commented with a smile. "Helping her to study shouldn't be too much harder."
"Now Sam will be helping me with my homework once I've caught up on what I've missed," Jaik remembered. At the thought of it, his whole glow turned purple but the glow showing his parents' bond was still yellow with their happiness.
"I envy the love all other couples seem to share," Ash confided in him. "I almost want to leave Zak."
"So why don't you?" Jaik asked, glad that she was finally talking about it.
"He might take away my children," Ash informed him with a sigh. "The laws here still allow any partner to do what they wish with their children or partner."
"Should I mention it to Sam?" Jaik wondered. Ash nodded and smiled her gratitude.
"You might convince the king to change that law, and he might even be able to enforce it now that he's back with his mate. Surely someone who loves his mate so much must care about the state of other people's relationships," she figured.
"Maybe he didn't think of it before because his own relationship was so troubled," Jaik suggested.
"Thanks for believing me," Ash smiled. "You seem to have a better idea of different family structures."
"My human family was different but quite common to other humans," Jaik agreed. "The mother lived alone and her daughter lived with her a lot of the time, and the father remarried and the son from the first relationship stayed with him most of the time."
"Experience will definitely help you to get your point across," Ash enthused. By the look of passion burning in her red eyes, it was clear that she really wanted the law to be changed.
"I would've done it anyway, just to see you free of your mate," Jaik informed her. "You seem to be a lot like your sister, so your free spirit should be let free instead of cooped up in a cave all day."
"Thank you," Ash thanked him again, unable to say anything else, and she hugged him tightly for a few minutes before continuing into the "town" part of mera territory with him.
There, they had some dessert at one of the cafes and Jaik was given a job offer that he didn't want to refuse. After hearing his comment on the cake being a little dry, a mera who worked at the cafe asked him if he could do better. Jaik recognised the barb in her comment but agreed anyway, walking into the kitchen and preparing a recipe for a much better chocolate cake. He ended up staying there for hours while he waited for the cake to cool so that he could ice it, and then the staff were so pleased by his creation that the boss asked him to take on a job at the cafe in the kitchen.
With a new job and what was almost certainly a successful test result, Jaik ended up in the cave where Sam slept and shared his joys of the day with him. Sam was, unsurprisingly, impressed by Jaik's ability to pick up a job simply by making a complaint and then showing that he could indeed do better.
"I like the way you prove yourself to anyone who doubts you," the prince smiled at him. "Maybe you'll inspire me to do that as well."
"I hope I can," Jaik replied, rubbing his thumbs against the backs of Sam's hands.
"Well, my dad managed to go back to being a regular king fairly quickly once things returned to normal between him and mum so maybe I can somehow manage to start acting like a proper prince," Sam estimated. He sounded very unsure, though, and the way he doubted himself was almost painful to see.
"Speaking of your dad," Jaik started, deciding to steer the subject away from troubled waters, "I was wondering if I could make a suggestion to him considering the way he has things between families. There's nothing stopping one partner from pursuing or hurting a partner or children when they leave."
"Well, there is the law saying that a mera can't hurt another," Sam pointed out to him, brightening up considerably as the talk turned to something he was familiar with. Jaik smiled softly to himself at the knowledge that there was a good chance of mating tonight.
"Maybe he could just make sure that meras who split up are protected if one of them was particularly upset by the break-up," Jaik suggested. "How are things sorted out at the moment?"
"If a couple breaks up, one of them can move to another house or cave and they sort out who gets the kids and when during the process of moving," Sam replied.
"And what if one of the meras in the relationship chooses to pursue the one who left?" Jaik worried. "What happens when the couple can't come to an agreement?"
"They sort it out among themselves and if someone gets hurt or killed, the offender gets a dangerous mera mark," Sam stated.
"So what can see a mera put in prison?" Jaik wondered.
"If they hurt another mera again after they've been marked, or kill a mera, they'll be put in prison," Sam replied after a few minutes of thought.
"And the only legal system is that with your dad, right?" Jaik asked. Sam nodded.
"Well, yeah, dad decides everything. He is the king, after all, and the king takes the role of the alpha male dragon who-" Jaik cut him off.
"Yeah, the alpha male dragon was really the big boss of everything and he decided who lived and who died and who could get married and stuff," Jaik concluded. "This isn't right, though, having a monarchy in a country that's ruled by prime ministers. I mean, Australia broke away from Britain and the queen's rule years ago."
"You can't break tradition, Jaik," Sam protested. "If you'd been raised by your parents, or more specifically your dad, you'd be so much a traditional dragon that you'd probably be living in the wild territory with him."
"You sound like you don't like the really traditional meras," Jaik summed up. "Is there a reason for that or are you just being the rebellious teenager?"
"I can only say this because I'm going to be king someday but I really hate the way that traditional meras insist on everything being so... traditional," Sam admitted, throwing his hands up in exasperation. "There's as much equality of the sexes as there was in the 1900s, and we're as weak as the African-Americans back before some people decided to stand up and fight for their rights. Before I met you, I was content to just put up with it and maybe try to change things if I lived long enough to be king. But now, seeing how you're so passionate about this, I feel like I can actually try to be the king I want to be when I become king. I might not show it much, but you and I are really alike, Jaik. We both long for equality of humans and meras, only you show it way more than I do. Together, we can really fight for what we want." Jaik felt a strong surge of some kind of power coming from Sam to him, a power that had been slowly building as Sam talked, and then all he wanted was to get as close to him as he possibly could.