“This is no longer up for discussion, Elsine.” King Ulric’s voice was resolute as he turned away from his pleading daughter, looking out the window of his study.
“But-!” She started, pausing at the frustrated glance he sent her.
Pushing her father had never worked well before, but she was so caught up in her disdain she even took steps nearer to the towering man, “Why can’t it just be a fun, get-to-know-me summer?” She shuddered at the thought of marrying someone she had only known 3 months, rubbing at her arms and hoping her father would reconsider the terms of The Summer Court.
He turned on her then, his sky blue eyes blazing, “You would have me invite sons of other Kings and Lords to this castle and humiliate them by letting you simply flirt with them all, then send them home with nothing?!” Elsine flinched at his thundering voice, the reality that she had crossed the line settling heavy on her chest. She knew her duties as the only heir, but it seemed so quick and unfair to make her marry for politics instead of someone she fancied.
Hanging her head she shook it side to side, her golden waves swinging against her cheeks, “No, my King.”
Bringing his hand to up he dug his thumb and forefinger into his temples, “You must understand, Elsine, we have no choice. If things were different I would wait another year or two so that you could have had the chance at meeting and conversing with these suitors for years. . . and it would have made this entire thing easier.” He fixed her with his strong gaze, but his eyes softened. “I am sorry for that, I am. . . but I hope you will behave as the future Queen of Summer. I believe in you Elsi.” With that he passed by her, patting his big hand on her small shoulder and left the room without waiting for her answer. It was not a question he had posed, but an order.
Elsine watched him go and ran her fingers nervously through the ends of her hair. She would try to do her best. . . it was what she always tried to do at least. Her thin regal nose scrunched a little thinking about the possible suitors and she sent a prayer to Titiana, the goddess of Summer, to help her. And to make sure these suitors were hot or she would run, begging her to turn her into a Cait Sith for the rest of her days.
Leaving the room, keeping her head up as she passed the guards, she folded her hands across her torso. She rubbed absently at the intricate lace there, keeping her face blank as she walked back to her quarters.
As soon as she entered her room she shut the door behind her, leaning on it heavily. She wanted to cry at how things had begun to change so rapidly and uncomfortably. Loosing a queen of a realm was one thing, but with her father the King’s health declining. . . Summer would be without it’s sovereign. Elsine’s face crumpled as some tears wove silently down her cheeks. She didn’t feel ready to fill those shoes, let alone with a man that would be more of a stranger than the true love she wished for.
Her hands came up to cover her face as she sank to the floor. Tears warmed her palms as she mourned the love she hoped for, her mother, and soon her father. She knew it was selfish to feel so empty and alone when she had a kingdom standing behind her, but still she let herself have the moment of silence.
When her shoulders stopped shaking Elsine wiped her tears away and stood, sniffling. It was time to stop crying and face her fate. Though she might be considered unlucky in her circumstances, Elsine knew the privilege’s she held as heir were more than most girls could hope for. Making her way across the stone floor, she paused at the mirror and patted at her pinked face. Her fingers traced under her long eyelashes to clear away the remnants of her tears.
Standing up straighter she pulled her golden waves over her shoulder, bringing her fingers down to trace the lines of the laced corset with all of it’s embroidery and little ruffles of delicate lace. Her soft sloping chin rose, the determination coming into the depths of her crystal blue eyes. Her mother’s voice echoed in her mind.
A Queen’s reign is not measured by her King, but by the strength of her own heart, my darling.