King Rhys's PoV
I wake up early as usual. My eyes opening on schedule at four am. My dreams riddled with her face and her smile. And her laugh forever echoing in my ears. I lay in bed, my body paralysed as normal, unable to move without her by my side. By six o'clock I haven't moved a muscle, but now I know I need to get out of bed for my people who need a ruler and my children who need me to be strong for them. Owen is freaking out about courting this girl he's found and Xav is thinking of proposing to his girl, so both of them need me. Soraya needs me to support her with Lillia being gone and Dalia's wedding is coming up for which I haven't even begun to prepare my speech or my emotions for walking her down the aisle.
But I pull myself up from the spiral and manage to climb out of bed, have a shower and get dressed into one of my suits, a grey one with a white shirt and matching tie and shoes. I comb my hair and then take my crown, placing it on my head, then longingly looking at Paulina's crown, safely in the glass cabinet never to be worn again atop her head of blonde curls that she constantly complained about not being able to tame. Every morning she'd mutter to herself in the bathroom while she did her makeup "My hair. It won't work." And every time I'd reply "Beautiful to me."
Then she'd smile and leave it alone before taking her crown and placing it on her head then telling me that mine was wonky and straighten it.
I check it now in the mirror and it is indeed wonky so I straighten it, just as she would have before making the bed and leaving for the first meeting of the day.
Sitting in the conference room isn't the same without her sat opposite me, nodding or talking, smiling at me every time she would catch me looking at her. She would always have the best solutions to problems and be able to diffuse tensions with ease. She'd always bring reason to the table and a level head.
Today the table is slightly more empty than before as some of the lords are out of town for business. Today it's just me, Lord Banjay, Lord Lake and Lord Fallo. Banjay and Lake are good friends of mine and they often support my ideas, Fallo can be temperamental, he has good and bad days. Sometimes he agrees with me and some he argues like it's his final dying wish. Let's say he can be opinionated. Normally we'd have Lady Sari and Lord Sari along with Lord Valea and Lady Polin. Lord and Lady Sari are lovely people, can be a little bit shy or quiet sometimes but when they do speak up they have really good points to make. They share the same hair, thick brown locks, the Lord has it cropped short and the Lady's is almost as long as her knees now. As far as I know she's never cut it. They also share the same brown eyes that hold secrets people may never know. Then there's Lord Valea who is always open to food, he's a plump man who has no children and no wife. He has a spot of bald on his head but his hair is blonde and thin. His eyes are large and grey that rarely leave the biscuits we have on the table every meeting. When he shares he shares average ideas and more times than not the weird ideas that we get. Lady Polin is a thin, sharp woman with lots of angles, she's the kind of person who you never know if they're lying or telling the truth and who very rarely share details or give out compliments, they give out a lot of harsh criticism. That kind of person. We all know one. Lady Polin has always scraped back grey hair (no one knows how old she is) and she has beady green eyes that follow whoever is talking, intensely. Paulina would always be able to diffuse the situation when Polin insulted Valea for eating too many biscuits or if Sari wanted to speak and Polin interrupted Paulina would step in and politely ask if Sari wanted to speak and Polin would always respect that. Now though, I don't what will happen when the whole gang's here. Chaos probably, a lot of chaos that I won't be able to control. As the meeting comes to a close without any tension and a few proposals approved I leave for my meeting with the people. I sit on my throne without her by my side, answering peoples questions and queries with sufficient information. They keep telling me that they're sorry for my loss and I keep accepting their condolences. I get given gifts of food, woven baskets, anything they can make. I accept them putting on a grateful smile every time. As the two hours pass I feel the darkness closing in and my body becoming paralysed once more. These waves I get come at least four times a day, paralysed, unable to do anything and my mind clouded by black ominous thunderstorms, I feel tired yet I can't sleep. I want to be active and be doing things yet I lack the energy to be bothered. Luckily today I don't have anymore meetings to attend so I head back to our room. Closing the door I sink down into a crouching position, curling my arms around my legs and burying my head. The tears come quickly, flowing over my cheeks, searing my hands as they drop off my face.
I don't know how long I've been here when someone knocks on my door.
"Dad?" I hear Soraya's voice coated with worry.
"Dad, come on, let me in please."
I don't reply.
I don't reply.
"Dad please." Her voice sounds desperate now.
"Come on Dad, let me in. I can't help you if you don't let me in. Metaphorically and literally."
"Dad. I'm coming in."
Why does she have naturally white hair instead of blonde or black hair like mine or her mothers?
I hear a crackle then a pop and then the door is shoved open, moving me with it.
"Dad?" Soraya says but to me it's muffled.
Her face appears around the door, a sad smile on her face.
"Hey." She says softly.
I don't reply, my lips preventing me from speaking.
"Ok. So we're not speaking. Well guess I'll just sit with you then."
She slides down the door, sitting herself down next to me, her arms copying mine and wrapping themselves around her knees.
For I don't know how long we just sit in silence. Soraya being stubborn as always, doesn't say anything.
"I couldn't move." I say.
"I couldn't move from behind the door. When you opened it."
"It hurts so much. Doing normal things around normal people. Normal things she should be doing."
She leans her head on my shoulder, her hair falling across her face.
"You used them." I say seriously.
"I know." She replies just as serious.
"You said you wouldn't."
"Why did you then?"
"I had no choice. You weren't letting me in and I was worried."
We fall back into silence.
"You excited for Dalia's wedding?" I ask to change the topic.
"Yeah. It will be fun. Sad without mum but we'll have fun for her." Soraya replies firmly.
I smile slightly, "You'll get some ideas."
"Ideas?" She says confused.
"For you and Lillia's wedding." I say with a bigger smile.
The dark clouds turns grey.
"What?!" She exclaims.
I laugh. The grey clouds turn paler grey.
"For when you guys get married." I say as seriously as possible.
"We will not be getting married." She says stubbornly.
The pale grey clouds turn white.
"So you don't love her anymore?" I ask in a fake sincere voice.
"Who said anything about love?" She says back defiantly.
The clouds drift away entirely to reveal the sun shining down.
"Your body language did."
"Fine. I might love her." She says defeated, "Might."
"Do." I say quietly.
"Might." She repeats being stubborn as usual.
"Definitely do. When I mentioned her name your eyes lit up and you started fidgeting with your hands."
"Darn. Yes. I do love her. I haven't told her yet though. What if she doesn't feel the same way?"
"Trust me she does if those letters are anything to go by."
"You know about those?" She says surprised.
"Of course. I haven't read any of them, don't worry but I know you send them." I reply a smile on my face.
I stand up, brushing down and adjusting my suit. I splash some cold water on my face before offering Soraya my hand to help her up. As we sort ourselves out we smile at each other. Both of us feeling better. Dinner time arrives and we take our places at the table, everyone except mum.
I clear my throat, "So Xav have you asked her yet?"
"Not yet Dad. I'm still working up the courage. Takes more than I first thought."
"It does but you'll find the right moment. The key is to keep the ring on you at all times."
He nods and smiles, "Thanks Dad."
"And Owen? How are you doing these days?"
"Good dad. I think I might be getting somewhere with her. She's finally said yes to going on a date with me and I have a good idea of where I want to take her but can I run it by you later?"
"Of course." I say.
Soraya clears her throat and says, "Guys, I have some news. Dad you already know but I thought I'd say it officially."
"What is it Ay?" Owen says always the concerned brother.
"Me and Lillia are dating." She announces really quickly.
"Called it!" Shouts Xav unexpectedly.
"Damn it!" Owen says pulling out a twenty pound note and handing it to Xav.
"Wait. Were you guys betting on me?" Soraya says.
"Yes. I said you were dating someone and Owen said you were being blackmailed by someone." Xav explains slightly sheepishly.
"Fair enough, Owen you should have known I'd tell you straight away if I was being blackmailed." She says in a matter of fact way, pointing at Owen with her fork. We carry on eating, laughing at Xav and Owen's immaturity. Xav sits and eats with the smuggest looking face ever while Owen grumbles the entire way through, me and Soraya, well we just do the normal thing. We laugh and laugh and laugh. We laugh so hard that we don't eat anything else because we'd just start laughing again. We don't make eye contact in case it sets us off again but Owen and Xav soon join us in laughter. We fall into a content silence all of us trying to catch our breath after laughing so hard, then a squawk and a flap of wings enters through the terrace doors in the form of a black feathered, red eyed hawk that lands on the floor. Owen is immediately stood up and in a fighting stance, Xav soon copying him. Soraya simply smiles and looks expectantly at it. It's black talons that look sharp as a razor, glow slightly before a rolled up piece of parchment tied with a ribbon appears out of thin air. The creature drops it on the floor before turning around and flying back out through the terrace. Owen lunges for the letter at the same time as Soraya. But Soraya being smaller slips under Owen's arms and grabs it, holding it close to her chest.
"Soraya. Give me the letter." Owen says sternly.
"No." Soraya says just as sternly.
"It could be dangerous, it could be a death threat or a bomb or a I don't know. It could just be something dangerous. Just give me the letter."
"I know for a fact that it's none of those things Owen. It's a secret letter from a secret someone. I've been getting them for months." Soraya answers.
"Fine. I'll trust you but only because you look smug and happy. And that normally means you aren't in danger if you look smug and happy." Owen says looking slightly defeated.
"Well I'm going back to my room to read this letter and pack for tomorrow. Goodnight." Soraya says before giving me a kiss on the head and walking out the doors.