Chapter Thirteen, Season One - Arrival (b)
“Oh, I would love to,” Mother replied as I stepped forward beside her. “I’ve heard that your kingdom makes the most delicious tea in all the kingdoms of this realm.” Mother slowly turned to me, “Would you like to join us, Robert?”
“If you don’t mind me saying this, Your Majesty,” I faced Queen Marta, keeping my head down. “I would love to meet Princess Lorain.”
As I spoke those words, I could feel a bit of tension between Queen Marta and me. My mother also looked at me with shock.
“I understand that you don’t want us to meet until the formal engagement, Your Majesty,” I began my explanation. “However, I do believe that as her future husband, I think it’s only appropriate that we meet each other now that I am here. Since I’ll be spending a long time here in your kingdom, I would like to have good relations with the princess,” I continued. “With your permission, of course.”
A moment of silence came between us. Mother clung suddenly onto the back of my coat. I kept my head down and my hands behind my back, not moving one muscle.
Queen Marta let out a sigh. “With all honesty, I find nothing wrong with your request.”
My head quickly shot up, delighted that she wasn’t angered by my sudden request.
“You do have a very good point, young Robert. I don’t mind if you want to meet my daughter now. If anything, your explanation makes a lot of sense,” she answered. “However, as much as I agree with you, meeting my daughter isn’t a possibility as of now.”
My brows furrowed and I could tell that she saw my expression in a blink of an eye.
“Don’t misunderstand my response, young prince. I’m not keeping her away from you,” she quickly continued. “You see,” she began walking towards me. “My daughter has decided to go and live with our relatives until she gets married. She said she would need a lot of… self-reflection to do and she did say she would like to be away from court as long as she can before she returns as queen,” she stopped in front of me.
“Oh,” was all I could spit out. “She never mentioned that in her letters.”
“I’m surprised she hasn’t, as well,” she sighed, fanning herself again. “I did ask her if she told you anything about it and she said she didn’t. She wouldn’t want you to think that she’s running away from this marriage.”
“I would never think of that, Your Majesty,” I shook my head. “I would support her on that so she could have a clean, blank start before she sits on the throne with me.”
Queen Marta just smiled at my response. I don’t know if she’s impressed or she finds my response funny, maybe amusing to the point of annoying. She then turned to my mother, “You’re lucky you have a son like him, my queen. He’s advanced for his age.” She looked back at me, scanning me from head to toe, “He will make a great king, even better than his father.
Mother smiled and said, “That’s what we’re hoping for, Your Majesty.” She put her hand on my shoulder, giving me a smile that said, ‘You’re currently doing a good job’.
“Anyways, shall we?” she gestured to the room on her right.
“What will you be doing while we have tea?” Mother was quick to ask me.
“I think I would take a walk outside,” I smiled, holding her hand. “I would love to see everything in this kingdom. I promised His Majesty to enjoy everything, as long as it won’t be of any hindrance to my royal duties.”
Mother nodded and I kissed her on both cheeks as she went ahead with Queen Marta, accompanied by her handmaidens and Queen Marta’s guards.
“Gentlemen,” I turned to the guards that stayed with me. “I would like to go sightseeing. Can one of you lend me his horse and stay with the queen?”
They all started looking at each other with hesitation. Their eyes fighting on who gets to stay and endure a boring tea time with the two monarchs. They weren’t saying anything but I know that they’re trying to force one of them to stay behind.
“Gentlemen,” I added, causing them to turn their attention to me. “Whoever lends me his horse for the rest of our stay here in Middle Earth, I would gladly tell His Majesty to reward him with knighting him higher than whatever rank he’s currently in now,” I smirked.
All of the guards quickly raised their hands, shouting at whom I must pick. Seconds ago, they were fighting on who should do it. Now, they’re fighting for a chance to be a rank higher than their comrades.
After the guards finished with their little banter with one another, I finally chose one and we all proceeded with looking around the kingdom.
“Remember, gentlemen,” I turned around at them. “We must be back before sunset. Do I make myself clear?”
They quickly nodded in response and we went ahead with our day.
Dinner just finished and when I left the dining hall, Mother was still talking with Queen Marta. I know I should’ve stayed in the dining hall with them but I figured that their conversation would be nothing that concerns me. I should let them enjoy the rest of the night having a long chat.
I was about to get some sleep when all of a sudden, a knock came upon my door. “Your Highness,” a palace guard bowed as he entered. “Queen Amelia is here to see you.”
I nodded, preparing the blankets as the guard left.
A few seconds later, Mother entered, already in her nightgown. “My child,” she walked towards me, the door closed behind her.
“Mother,” I greeted her with a smile and hug as she reached me.
“How was today for you so far?” she asked. “Is it too tiring for you already?”
“No, Mother. I think today will be the easiest part of this trip,” I said. “Along with the day that we’ll be heading home, of course.”
She giggled, holding my hands. “Forgive me for speaking about this but I did notice that you were expecting to meet Princess Lorain when we arrived, am I correct?”
I looked around for a bit, trying to think of a better response but in the end, all I could do was sigh and nod. I still kept a firm smile on my face to prevent any wrong interpretations. I admit it: I felt excited when I found out I’ll be visiting Middle Earth with Mother because that would give me the chance to meet my future bride. I was full of expectations, even prepared myself for future disappointments. But seeing as Lorain isn’t here, the agony of her mysterious entirety is frustrating me even more.
“I’m happy that you’re on good terms with the princess. However, I think we should go along with what was originally planned for the both of you,” she replied, rubbing my arms. “You will meet her in time. You don’t have to rush into things. After all, you did say you two are already sending letters to one another. That should suffice for now.”
“Letters aren’t enough to build a strong relationship with someone, Mother,” I sighed. “Letters are just words, written on a paper that doesn’t evoke much of the emotion of a person. Sure, words can describe how a heart flutters but that doesn’t mean it can substitute any personal interaction with another.”
“My child, don’t frustrate yourself with things that are out of your control,” she answered with so much gentleness, making me sit down on the bed as she stayed standing. “You have all the time in the world to build a friendship with her,” she put her hand under my chin, lifting my face. “As of now, your concern should be about your duties as a prince. You will be king but in time. And you will have all the time in the world to get to know your bride.”
I nodded in defeat, knowing that Mother has a point. I know that I shouldn’t be rushing into anything, especially with this marriage arrangement that I detest. But the fact that I’ll be spending the rest of my life with a woman I don’t know isn’t a good thing, to begin with. I’m not trying to shine a bad light on the princess. However, I still believe it’s better for us to personally have contact with one another. One where we can see our faces and hear our voices.
“I’m all too familiar with that look on your face, Robert,” she played with my hair. “You make that expression when you have a lot in your mind and you’re hesitating to let it all out.” She knelt in front of me, my hands still in hers. We looked at each other, eye to eye. “As a ruler, you must learn patience and understanding. Not everything can be solved in an instant. There are things that a king can control and things that you have to leave up to fate. You must know when to let certain things go to learn and move forward.”
Mother has always been brilliant with her wisdom. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the experiences she went through as a queen. But whatever it is, that helped her to be a beloved queen. Her approach to reality has a gentle touch, a contrast to James who approaches everything with a strong front. James has solved most problems with his style but with Mother, her strategies have made longer and better solutions for the kingdom.
And I hope that she’s the kind of monarch I would be, which is strange when you think of the fact that I’m a prince. As a future king, I should be aspiring to be like my father but I would prefer to be like my mother.
She laid a soft kiss on my forehead before standing up. “Go and get some rest. I will see you tomorrow.”
I quickly wrapped my arms around her waist, hugging her the way I used to when I was little. She giggled and returned my embrace, rubbing my back gently as I could hear the faint sound of her pure heart. I looked up at her as we pulled away. She gently pinched my right cheek and left my room, smiling.
As the door closed, I quickly got under the sheets and blew the candlelight, allowing the moon and stars to illuminate the room. As I turned to the window with a little part of it uncovered by the curtains, I started thinking about Laura.
What could she be doing right now?
Is she all right?
Did she receive my letter?
Does she think about me the way I’m thinking about her?
As my eyes started to slowly close, all my thoughts were about her.