They hiked their way up the stairs.
“You have no idea what this is about?” asked Keldrick.
Kendrick shook his head. “No. Although if it’s another meeting, I will scream. I’m ‘just putting that out there for consideration,’” and they laughed at the familiar phrase that lords used when they wanted their idea to be personally considered by the King, rather than turned around and around in an Assembly meeting.
Kendrick knew he, and Keldrick now as well, were being included in more and more of Father’s duties as King so that they might learn more of their responsibilities as princes. But much as Kendrick appreciated Father finally trusting and respecting him enough, he missed his freedom.
The Crown Guards saluted and Keldrick pulled open the door to Father’s solar.
“Ah. Boys. Well, my sons,” said Father, who was standing behind his leather desk chair. “I suppose I will always consider you my boys, though you are grown now.”
Kendrick shrugged noncommittally and was relieved to see no lords in the room. He did see Mother, however, that was odd. She stepped forward to join Father behind his chair.
Kendrick had started to sit down, but now he smelled a plot. He remained standing and stared at them. Keldrick stood before the desk as well.
“My sons, I would like you to meet… Princess Mirelle…”
A lovely girl who had been hiding in the far corner of the room strode gracefully forth. Lace trimmed with cloth of gold and embroidery covered a rose gown which brought out the blush of her cheeks, and her golden hair was arranged artfully atop her head. Dainty but yet she had a strength to her. She reminded Kendrick of his mother.
“…your younger sister,” finished Father.
Kendrick’s head jerked toward Father. “Our what?”
“Sister, did you say?” Keldrick asked at the same time.
“She was born at the same time you were,” Mother said, with an enormous smile upon her face. In fact, Kendrick saw, her eyes were glistening…. “The two of you are her brothers. Twin brothers.”
Keldrick looked lost. “How…?”
Even as shocked as he was, Kendrick never missed a chance to tease his brother. “It’s a very simple process, really, Kel –”
Keldrick dug him in the ribs. “I know how, you prig, I just –”
Father took in deep breath and shook his head. To Mother, he said, “I had envisioned this going much better.”
Kendrick finally asked, “Where – where? Where has she been all this time? I mean, why have we not known?”
Then he realized how rude he was being. “But I’m being so rude. Let me first welcome you… Sister.” He bowed. The word seemed so odd on his tongue, sister. She, of course, had Father’s eyes – Romeny blue always breeds true, Kendrick mused. And she looked just like Keldrick, but a female version. Or himself, that was to say.
She curtsied. “Thank you, Brother.” Kendrick could hear the hesitation behind her speech and knew that the word brother was just as awkward for her as sister was for him.
Keldrick, of course, immediately welcomed her as well.
“If you knew then what was happening, you would know it was necessary. And much of it still is, current happenings of which I will speak to you about very soon. But a daughter’s blood runs truest, and it was necessary.”
“Of course, of course, Father.” Kendrick recognized that tone as his Father getting irritated. As always, there was a disconnect between his brain and his tongue, however. “But where has she been all of this time?”
Keldrick prodded him in the ribs to stop talking.
Two things happened then – Father drew in breath to reply, with that look, that Royal I will brook no disregard of my authority look – and his new sister stepped forward. Clearing her throat just as Father started to say something, she said, “She is right here and need not have anyone speak over her.”
Father blinked. He was not accustomed to being interrupted when he gave that look.
Kendrick would have successfully kept in his laughter. The look on Father’s face –
was just – so comical. No one ever interrupted the Royal Fatherly “We” when he started on his supreme rampages and there he stood, interrupted and by his own daughter, no less. She’d taken the words right from his mouth, and he stood there, literally speechless. And if it were not for his damnable brother snorting, Kendrick would have kept a straight face, would never have burst into laughter….
Kendrick’s new sister had yet to understand what she had just done.
“Boys,” came a mild rebuke from Mother. Father had given up and looked to her, shaking his head.
“I think we may just have a new conspirator, Brother,” Keldrick said to Kendrick as he outstretched his arm toward their new sister.
Mirelle smiled a little uncertainly.
They stopped laughing. Keldrick looked from her to Mother.
“She looks a lot like you, Ken, but she has Mother’s face.”
“You’re an idiot, of course she looks like me, she’s our twin. And Mother’s daughter.” Kendrick knocked his brother behind the head.
“Again, I have ears. I can hear you just fine.”
“Oh, oh, right. So sorry about that,” said Kendrick. Her lips were tightened and her blue eyes narrowed.
“Oooooo, she’s got Mother’s temper. Mother, you have a conspirator, now,” laughed Keldrick.
“You idiot!” hissed Kendrick. He knocked Keldrick behind the head again.
Mother’s eyes narrowed and her lips tightened, too.
And Father laced his hands atop his head and walked toward the window, saying “Bloody hell.”