Tale as Old as Time
The crown belonged to him even if he didn’t want it. As a young boy he was taught how to walk, how to talk, how to stand, how to sit– all so the crown would fit. But all those years were wasted, all those training forgotten as he laid on his bed naked, drunk in alcohol and sin. Yet it looms above his head– the weight of the responsibility he held. So tangible. So real. Easy to see, easy to claim but all he ever wanted to do was run away.
The bride was his too. A lady of noble birth. Beautiful and kind. Sweet and gentle. Her lips know no curses, her eyes have seen no evil. She was the serenity of cardinals that nestles on dogwood trees outside his window. It was so easy to love her– a perfect, dainty wife-to-be. If only he could, he would.
Today marks his eighteenth name day, and the shadow of the throne is slowly fading. Soon it will be visible. Soon he won’t be able to pretend he does not see it. So he savors the days that remained as his own. And just like most days, morning has passed and yet he made no attempt to wake. His head still aches from last night’s too much wine. The only thing that snapped him out were the clamors outside the halls. A commotion only brought by his mother. He laid still as he waited for her to burst in his room with only her anger as her gift.
He braces himself for her chastisement, her cold and cruel words that scalds his bones– burning him enough to numb.
Queen Mathilde pulled the quilt that covered him and dragged him hard out of the bed. A good slap really did wake him. It blew the intoxication out of his brain. And when his eyes focused and his mind cleared, he was face to face with his mother and he wondered when she began to look so old.
“Didn’t I tell you I needed you early?”
He grunted. The only response his tired body allowed.
“Oh for heaven’s sake–” she pulled harder to keep him from falling back. “The gods had punished me by making you my first-born.”
She called for the servants to help dress him up and he let them do what needs to be done to make him look presentable. All the while he thinks how much easier it would be for everyone if his sister was a brother, and a brother born first.
The Princess Louissa is just as comfortable with a sword and riding as with dresses and knitting. A keen hunter, a great dancer, a feared fighter and a clever scholar. She’s known as the land’s Princess Summertime, the Queen’s joy, the King’s pride and everything her brother cannot become– the realm’s favored heir. And yet she lacked the only thing her brother owned– the thing that matters. That thing between the legs which apparently makes a King. But if you ask the Prince, he’d have given her the throne in a heartbeat.
But he didn’t get to where he is now without a lack of trying though. Back when he was younger and was eager to please, he tried to do good. He studied and trained, learned and mastered. But it wasn’t enough. You cannot be King if you’re just good, his father once told him, you have to be great. But it was the best the Prince could offer and yet they all thought he wasn’t trying enough.
So now he is past trying, past caring. He could only hope that if he kamikazee this enough, they would know not to pass him the crown. That they would deem him unworthy, because they already look at him as such. But it was a tale as old as time, that the throne belongs to the male of the line– a terrible tradition really.
The music flowed heartily from the castle’s garden to the halls and chambers. There was a light ambience that envelopes everyone within the ground. Maybe it was the entertainment, maybe the abundance of food, maybe it was the overflowing wine that made the Lords and Ladies giddy, light on their steps and easy on their conversations. But it was definitely not because of the Prince, who’s name day is the reason for such a grand event. Because the moment he entered the gathering, it was as if an angel of silence swept through every voice, taking their vacant happiness as it left.
Dancers held their steps, the music died down, the jesters and performers stopped their tricks– and everyone just looked up to him, their Prince. And not with great admiration, those kinds of looks are reserved for the Princess. His is something different. More disdain and affliction– a grave indulgence or dismal toleration. But his mind is still thick with wine and sleep or lack of it. So he stumbled down the cobblestones, took a glass and then two, raised a third one and said, “Don’t let me stop you! Cheers for my eighteenth, and I hope this shall be my last!”
The silence that followed was deafening, no one else raised their glass. The King could only look with apathy as with the rest– it is only the Queen who remains disappointed.
Princess Louissa finally raises her own cup. She pitied the brother she once loved and admired. He used to be so kind and gentle and made her laugh. Sometimes she wonders where that brother went, and if she was the reason why he is no more. “Happiest name day my dear brother, you bring us such hope with your presence. Cheers!”
The resounding cheers that came after, only proved how much these people listened more with their Princess and not the actual heir of the throne. The Prince only smiled and vanished within the crowd. Not that they will notice. Not that they will care.
In silence he left. Why stay in a place where nobody wants you anyway? He’d celebrate his name day alone, as always. Maybe in a dark tavern on the lower end of the town. Where people are unaware of who he is. Where his greasy hair and wine stained shirt is acceptable, where everyone is just as drunk and lonely and alone as he is. And where they call him Mave instead of the dreadful Prince Maverick.