As time passed, Lenna’s wounds healed. All that remained of that horrible day, which changed her life so drastically—for better or worse was still to be determined—were pale risen lines in her skin. She was glad to have the freedom to roam about the castle grounds, especially in the royal garden. Still, she felt the sting of loneliness. Egrin would talk to her whenever he was free. Antalos and Marian were constantly called away to discuss certain details for their wedding. They always tried to make time to come and see her everyday, but their time together never lasted long. This is life in the castle, then. It’s so dull!
She sometimes sat out on the castle’s front steps sometimes, taking in the familiar warmth of the sun with closed eyes. Memories of her village kept Lenna company mostly. Life in her village was so much different from living in the castle. Her father and mother felt it was their duty as the leaders to spend time with their people, to get to know everyone as close friends. It supported and strengthened their excellent leadership.
She could almost taste the food her mother used to make for the evening meal…
“Excuse me,” a voice drew her out of her thoughts.
Lenna opened her eyes to see Egrin standing above her. Beads of sweat dotted his brow. He must have been dueling beforehand. She had often seen him practicing with Antalos in the eastern courtyard, near the barracks. It was like watching a dance, which used the terrain around them.
“I’m sorry, if I interrupted anything,” he started.
“Oh, no. You did not interrupt anything. I was just enjoying the sunshine,” she said with a smile. “Was there something you wanted?”
“Yes, I was told to inform you that the queen has requested your presence in the gardens.”
The queen wanted to see her? This hadn’t happened in all of the time she had spent in the castle so far. She thought the queen had been avoiding her since she first arrived. “Did she say what for?”
Egrin shook his head, his chestnut-colored hair swaying back and forth. “I only know what I have told you.”
“Where exactly am I supposed to meet the queen?” It wasn’t that difficult to navigate her way to the gardens. It was finding a specific place in the gardens that was the hard part. The gardens were more of a maze, the hedges specifically grown like the ridges in a fingerprint.
“I can escort you there, if you want.”
“That would be nice, thank you!”
They didn’t have to go far into the gardens. Egrin led Lenna to a small pavilion connected to an open area behind the castle. She saw the queen sitting at a small round table. Marian sat on her right while Lady Catherine and Morgaine sat on her left. An assortment of plates and food were arranged on the table with a vase of purple and pink flowers in the middle.
“Ah, there you are,” Wilisca said with a smile as Lenna approached. She rested her cup on a saucer. The two items were intricately decorated with pink roses on the surface with golden trim. “Come, sit.”
Lenna hesitated for a moment before sitting in the empty chair next to Marian who gave her a welcoming smile. She was unsure of what to do next. It was not every day that the queen invited a leïfae to have tea, if that was really what was happening right now.
Wilisca motioned to someone behind Lenna.
A female servant came and prepared a cup of tea and set it in front of Lenna before returning to her original position. The pleasant scent of tea leaves mixed with hot water wafted above the cup in the form of steam.
“I do hope you like the tea,” Wilisca said. “I was not aware if it was something your people had often.”
“It has been some time since I last had tea, but I do enjoy it,” Lenna replied.
“Oh good.” The queen smiled softly. “Marian has been concerned over your health since you first came under our care.”
“Yes,” Marian said, nodding eagerly. “How are you feeling today?”
“I am feeling much better, thank you. Every day, I find myself regaining my strength.” She tried to sound as proper as possible, not wanting to accidentally say anything that could offend these royals.
“From what I have heard from Emrys, you have made a tremendous recovery.”
“Yes, your majesty. I can walk much easier now without much pain.”
Lady Catherine grinned ever so slightly. “Such excellent manners you have, my dear. I trust your mother taught you well. What a shame we all could not have gotten the chance to know her.”
Lenna stiffened slightly. She wasn’t quite sure, but there some something she felt was hidden behind Lady Catherine’s tone of voice as she spoke to her and also the way she looked at her form the corner of her eye. It was as if Catherine was keeping a close eye on her for some reason. She could not tell if it was a gut feeling or if her gut was simply trying to get a taste for the tea.
“Do you miss her?”
“I miss her every second that passes by. She was the greatest woman I have ever known in my life,” Lenna replied.
A quiet moment passed over the table, and Lenna wondered if this tea session was even going as well as she hoped it was.
Wilisca cleared her throat. “Well, I think we are finished with this subject. Why don’t we move onto something such as…the wedding!”
Lady Catherine nodded happily. “Yes! I wanted to talk to you about the floral decorations.”
Lenna gladly distracted herself by sipping her tea, occasionally pausing to watch the bubbles float on the surface before popping into nothing. It seemed all anyone wanted to talk about in this place was the wedding. What could they possibly talk about that they couldn’t take care of within a year?
It would take her more time than she realized to get used to life here.