The day was glorious, the crowd loud and excited. The ground was still wet and muddy from the night’s rain, but it wouldn’t put a stop to the day’s festivities. After all, it was the King’s birthday, and the celebration would go on no matter what. In the stands, the fans were gathering, cheering for their favourite jousters. On one side was the tall and slightly robust knight, Sir Richard Matheson. He wasn’t a likely winner—a fact even he would attest to—but he knew how to hold a stick and aim it for his opponent’s heart, or head, and that’s why the townsfolk liked him.
On the opposing side, however, was the reigning champion, Sir Julian Timsley and the town’s favourite. He was young; he was handsome; he charmed women into doing whatever his heart desired. He won all his matches and today would be no different, of that he, and Sir Mathewson were sure. Julian liked horses as much as he liked women—and he wasn’t too proud to deny the occasional man.
As the champions gathered on their sides, the King and Queen waited on the outskirts, being lead into the town in their royal carriage.
“It’s a beautiful day, Husband,” The Queen said, reaching for her husband’s hand.
“Yes, it is,” He agreed, pulling away.
The Queen sighed ever so quietly, not wanting to admit her disappointment.
They had been married for a little less than a year and since their wedding night; she could not coax any form of intimacy from him. She knew he loved her; he acted like it, but physically, the most she could ever expect, was a chaste kiss as she made her way to bed.
Today, being his birthday, she’d made it a point to be as beautiful as possible. She’d risen before dawn and had her ladies gather the freshest, most delicate flowers they could and set them in her hair which braided and ran straight down her back. They had perfumed it with the scent of jasmine and lavender, a scent they told her would make any man quiver in the knees, and had added small jewels, of reds, blues and greens, to make her hair shimmer in the sunlight. It was doing so now, but other than the habitual “You look enchanting” the King offered nearly every morning, the Queen had received no other compliments.
Now, as she sat next to him, touching the side of his hand with her own, she felt a gaping hole in her chest. Did her husband not love her, she wondered?
They arrived at the lists and were escorted to their thrones. The crowd welcomed them, but they loved their King more, of that she was aware. She waited until he sat to seat herself.
“You look stunning, my Queen,” Marguerite whispered into her lady’s ear.
The Queen nodded and grinned warmly, “Thank you, Marguerite, as do you.”
Marguerite bowed and stepped back, standing just behind the Queen’s left shoulder. She looked out onto the field and noticed the champions and their horses, riling up. The announcer stepped into the middle of the ring and announced the beginning of the joust.
Sir Matheson’s horse hesitated ever so slightly and then took off with a delay. This was obviously to the benefit of Sir Timsley, who charged at full speed on his magnificent black stallion. Marguerite knew the horse well, having visited the Knight many times. She’d met him in the darkness of many evenings, and they’d bedded one another since the age of fifteen. She wasn’t in love with him, however, but liked the way his body felt in hers.
Marguerite’s heart belonged to someone else—someone who did not understand how in love she was.
Sir Timsley’s lance pummelled into his competitor’s chest, throwing the latter onto the ground with a loud thud. The crowd exclaimed yet again, the entire stadium vibrating with the sound. With difficulty, Sir Matheson’s attendants hoisted him off the ground, but everyone present knew his riding days were over. Sir Timsley and his stallion galloped proudly to the centre of the ring where the King proclaimed them victors.
The King stood and saluted the champion, announcing him the official winner and offered him the golden statue. After removing his helmet, the Knight held his prize proudly above his head, and his smile melted the hearts of all the ladies present. Including the Queen and Marguerite. He bowed and wished the King a glorious birthday, to which the audience agreed with loud cheers and hurrahs.