ashes and snow

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The wine red dress nestled around the curves of her upper body as if it was a second skin. Its ostentatious skirt flowed around her feet as she turned to the side to inspect herself further in the mirror.

Her dark hair had been laid in curls, half of it pinned back to form a bun at the crown of her head. Diamonds hung from her ears, sparkling from the light they captured. Her lips had been painted with a deep red, matching the material of her dress. The rest of her makeup was kept plain and simple.

Like usually, there was a crown on her head, representing her status. It was heavier than the ones she had worn before, rimmed with silver stones.

Eira couldn’t help but wonder where it had come from. Was it something that remained from the old queen? She wouldn’t even be able to ask someone about it.

She folded her hands in front of her skirt and tilted her head to the side. A sigh left her mouth. Since she had been put into this kingdom, her exterior had changed drastically.

She welcomed the change, having grown tired of the old rags and dirt she had worn. Back then, her skin had always itched because of the cheap materials.

How easily things had changed for her...

There was a knock on the bathroom door. Eira stayed put, not moving an inch as she watched it open through the mirror. She chuckled quietly as a small brunette pocked her head in.

Eira gave her a small, welcoming smile.

It was all the affirmation the girl seemed to need. She entered swiftly and pulled the door close behind her. She gave her a shy smile and folded her hands behind her back. “Are you ready, your majesty?”

Eira lifted one brow at her, “What was that?”

Her eyes widened slightly. It took her a second to understand what she wanted from her. “Are you ready, Eira?”

Eira gave her a nod. She stroked over her skirt, looked at herself one last time, and turned. “Where are we headed?”

“The king is waiting for you in front of your chambers. I was sent to get you to him fastly. His patience seems to be thinning.”

Eira sighed in vain. His demeanor never seemed to change for the better.

“Alright,” she spoke, trying not to clench her teeth, “there’s no need to keep him waiting.”

Together, they left the grand bathroom and crossed her room. The girl gave her a small smile as she held the door open for her. Eira bowed her head in gratitude, and the girl’s smile widened.

It was one of the simplest things in life that gave her joy.

She stepped out of the room, and her eyes immediately found their way to the king. His gaze racked all over her body, and she was greeted with an approving nod.

“I see, you’re already wearing the blood of our defendants,” was the first thing he said to her.

It took all of her to not roll her eyes. “Are you ready to go?” she asked.

She gave him a forced smile and stepped forward.

“Are you so eager to leave?”

She linked her arm with his and simply pulled him away from the door. She could feel the burning heat of his skin even through his brown leather coat. Something in her body had started to reject his touch over the time she had known him.

It could have something to do with his resistance to her magic.

The two guards that were always near her followed them as they began their way through the castle. For a second, she looked back and saw that the girl didn’t walk behind them. She stood next to her door and watched them leave.

Eira whispered her goodbye out to her and gave her a wink before she turned again. A smile grew on her face as she heard the same words whispered from behind her.

What was this sudden warm feeling in her chest? She hadn’t felt this spark in her heart in a long time...

She shook her head. There were other things she needed to focus on.

They left the castle and walked outside, where their carriage was waiting for them. The coachman greeted them with a bow as he opened its doors for them. She gave him a small smile.

Her husband got into it first, turned, and then reached out his hand to led her inside. She ducked her head and followed him swiftly, her hand in his.

She wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.

She had wished to pass the time in the carriage with silence. But as soon as the doors closed, the Arkyn opened his mouth. “There are a few things you need to know before we get there,” he started, looking down on her. She hated the fact that he was taller than her.

If it wasn’t for her figure, she would look like a child compared to him. Only with the height of her shoes, her head was able to reach past his shoulders.

She blamed it on his height. He was taller than the average man.

“You will not talk once we are in the courtroom,” he said, staring firmly into her eyes. “There’s no need for a woman to open her mouth when the men are making decisions, right?”

She had to bit her tongue to stop the words she wanted to shout into his face. It took everything in her- but she managed to nod at him.

A satisfied smile grew on his face. “Good. Furthermore, you’ll walk behind me at all times. If someone tries to speak with you, you’ll put on that sweet smile of yours and tell them if they want something, they’ll have to talk to me. Understood?”

She simply nodded again.

Her hands were shaking, and it took anything in her to not attack him. Who did he think he was?

She stared out of the window for the rest of the ride to stop herself from doing something reckless. It would be over soon. A few hours and then she could have some moments to herself again. She needed to stay calm.

Her husband followed her lead, staying silent as they watch the sceneries change. It didn’t take them as long as she had thought it.

They stopped, and soon the doors were opened for them.

She followed her husband as they approached the stone building that towered over them. Its high walls were rimmed with pillars. Two guards stood next to its open doors and bowed their heads in greeting.

Heads held high, both of them entered the courtroom.

A crowd of arguing and screaming people stood before the large wooden platform, blocking their way. Their guards pushed them out of the way as they walked towards it in silence.

Some of them had grown silent after they’d noticed their arrival, staring at the king in awe. No one even gave her a second glance.

She breathed in through her nose, trying to prevent a growl.

Things would change soon, she promised herself. She’d only need to have patience. She had lived for centuries... Who would be better at that than her?

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