Author's Note: At the moment, I'm focusing my time on the novel Myuri and so I probably won't add the next installment of this until a little bit. Feel free to read this and tell me what you think/some ideas!
2 Years Ago
“I could have your sons,” she whispered to Finian.
He took tendrils of her thick gold hair in his hand; he caressed her neck and gave it a wet kiss.
“Your golden princes and princesses,” she continued.
“Golden as your hair, sweetest June? As your beauty?”
“Yes. I am at the peak of my fertility; there is no greater time than now,” June said.
“No greater time, than now,” Finian breathed into her cheek. He pulled her to him and crushed his mouth against hers.
“But you must marry me. You will have me no other way. You will have your handsome heirs no other way.”
The young king slipped his signet ring from his finger, and in a daze of lust slipped it onto her own. “You are mine. Now give to me my heirs.”
In the month of June, they were wed so that Finian could honor his bride’s name.
And, although their marriage would not last long – though neither, at the time, was aware of this – it was a wedding and coronation ceremony not to be soon forgotten. The entire month was passed with grand feasts and balls every night, elaborate masques, and celebratory song and dance.
The most unforgettable of it all, however, was the new Queen June’s beautiful coronation speech.
“I will always be wholesomely faithful to His Grace and our dear subjects. I will be a loyal queen, a sweet and obedient wife, and the loving mother of His Majesty’s dear princes and princesses. Yes, I will borne Myuri’s future kings and queens with hope that they should be as brilliant, compassionate, charming, and loving as their own father.”
And then, on the night of their wedding, Finian had her another time; June began to count down the days to her next course – which she expected, and hoped, she would miss.
“Lady Kathryn, you’ve a visitor.”
Kathryn set her flute to her lap and gazed up at the maid in her doorway. “Yes? Oh! A visitor? Might it be the Lord James?”
“Leave me, then. Bring him here, to me, now!”
She smoothed the dress about her plump body and brushed her graying hair, and then took her seat again, folded her hands primly in her lap, and lifted her chin. How could any man resist her, like this?
James entered meekly; he seated himself about the chair of her desk.
“You look particularly handsome, today,” Kathryn greeted him, warmly.
“Thank you.” He shifted uncomfortably, under her unwavering gaze.
“Have you come so that we may discuss our engagement? Oh! A court wedding, how lovely! We will be newly-weds fine as the king and queen!”
James was a handsome boy of eighteen; he had hair fair as the queen’s, and skin to match. He was a champion of the joust, the royal Lord of the Music Hall; he was a wealthy landowner fancied by every woman at court. He could not have this woman, eight years his senior and nearing thirty with colorless hair and crows feet. She had little more than apartments in the music hall, and a small ensemble of lady flutists under her instruction.
He had alas come to his senses and realized that this woman called bitter and terribly jealous by her pretty little underlings, could not be his wife. They could not be a powerful couple of the Music Hall; she hadn’t a cent to her name, and no beauty to her face.
“What news do you bring? Good, I should hope!” She smiled like a happy little girl, far as she was from being one.
“Milady. It was a very tough decision, but I have decided to dissolve our betrothal.”
The smile vanished from her face. She cleared her throat. “Um. What?”
“We are no longer engaged, Kathryn. I am sorry if I offend.”
“Oh, you do offend! It is our age difference, is it not? I once respected you!”
“And you should, still. Don’t speak to me, that way.”
James stood, turned on his heel, and then he was gone. The door clicked shut behind him.
“A fine flute. I am a flutist, myself.”
Wren looked up from the linen she was examining. Over the sound of the busy marketplace around her, she did not at first take notice of the girl before her. “Thank you. And are you one? There are few musicians around here.”
“I shouldn’t think so. I am of the palace.”
Wren gasped. “Are you?”
“I am. I am a musician of His Majesty’s music hall, a flutist of Lady Kathryn’s ensemble.”
“Do you play for His Majesty? Whatever are you called?” Wren demanded. She enjoyed to play the flute. She had always been too clumsy to be a dancer; but song came naturally, to her, naturally as breathing. She had a sweet enough face, but she knew she could never be called beautiful. Not by the standards of Myuri, at any rate. She did not have pretty golden hair, eyes green as holly, or peach skin; she had black hair and black eyes and skin pale as skim milk.
“I do – but not alone, of course. I am called Eriph.” Eriph reached for the flute in Wren’s hand, and examined it. “Play me a tune. Any tune.”
Wren was obedient to her betters; she brought the wooden flute to her lips, and blew a pretty rain-calling song.
By the end of it, she hadn’t at all noticed that the marketplace had silenced, and around her a crowd had gathered. She only noticed upon finishing the song that her dress was soaked; she was drenched in rain falling heavily about.
And then the crowd dispersed; tents were being set up, and canopies to protect from the summer storm.
“Very nice. Better than I could play it, at any rate. And your name is?”
“Wren, Mistress Eriph. Wren.”
“You have talent, Madam. I should think even beyond my Lady Kathryn. A fine future awaits you.”