George and Victoria

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about love and politics.

(Author's note: really cliche, and not my best, but I'm tired of it just sitting in a folder collecting metaphysical dust.)

Submitted: November 24, 2015

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Submitted: November 24, 2015

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I’m watching her. The room is well-lit and warm feeling, night just beginning to cast it’s shadow on the land and my conference room. In case our conversation should run long into the night, several candles are lit to illuminate the colder parts of the room.

She is sitting, leaned back in the covered arm chair, much more casual than you would expect from a woman of her stature. But then again, she was nothing like anyone would expect--of her stature or other wise.

The Lady Victoria is the queen of the kingdom of Aissura. I have known her for years on a purely business basis. She constantly makes contact with me to try to convince us to be allies, but I must admit that I don’t trust her. I have told her this, and she gave me no comfort by only replying with a small, understanding yet amused smile and a curtsey before leaving our conference room and returning to her home.

She has long, brown, almost reddish hair curled and piled high up into stacked ringlets on the back of her head. Today she is wearing her yellow dress, a large, ruffle covered, fluffy thing that hardly suits her personality but flatters her form well enough.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I am not romantically involved with the Lady Victoria. I do not wish to be romantically involved with the Lady Victoria, beautiful and intelligent as she is. Not at all. I completely glaze over her eyes, which are the exact color of the light blue sky close to the sun, or ice blocks that aren’t cold yet never melt, if there can be such a thing. I have never observed how she smirks mischievously whenever I accuse her of being greedy or unladylike. I certainly have not seen her breast peek out from under her corset and never have I wished while talking to other women for them to be more like her. Most of all I do not imagine what my life would be like if our two kingdoms were united through marriage.

And if I did it would be for purely political reasons.

“So,” Victoria said cooly, steepling her fingers and leaning in toward me. “Do you want to insult my people’s education or debate the war today?”

I frown at her. I am also in a chair with my fingers steepled. For a moment I wonder if she’s ridiculing my stiff posture, but I decide to ignore it.

“Going to war with Mais was wrong,” I say firmly, neglecting her sarcasm.

“They invaded us,” she informs me calmly. “I had to take action to protect my people and our land.”

About fifteen years ago Aissura and Mais went to war. True, Maisan warriors attacked an Aissurian scout who was patrolling Mais. Aissura immediately responded with a war threat which was countered with a hasty and thoughtless acceptance from Mais.

Aissura hit hard, completely armed with the most brutal weapons and the fiercest soldiers. The war was technically started by Victoria’s father, Edward, but he died midway through, when Victoria was just sixteen. Even though she was so young she ascended to the throne in the middle of raging war, took control of the battle forces, and won the war within three months of taking power.

I remember I was around the same age when my father sat me down to give me a chat. He was a kind, yet busy man, and one-on-ones with him were rare.

“George, my son,” he said seriously with one hand on my shoulder. “This war, you need to know that it is the most vile of actions led by the most vile of creatures. Do you understand, my son?”

“Yes, father,” I had said.

“You must never trust the Aissurians, George. Especially Victoria Longard. She is a despicable being, George. Do you understand?”

“Yes father.”

“Good,” he sighed, sounding relieved. “You will make a fine king someday, George. A fine king.”

My father has passed now. He fell off his horse on the way back from visiting his longtime ally and friend, Emor, and died instantly. That was when I had to rise to the throne. That was only three years ago, when I started having to interact with other royals, and the Lady Victoria. But I never forgot his advice.

“They offered you peace on multiple occasions and you refused each time!” I countered.

“They’d killed so many of my people that it was a matter of principle.”

“You killed hundreds of men who were just trying to defend their homes on principle?”

“And when I took Mais’ capital I overthrew the king, offered the Maisons into my rule, publicly apologized for the pain caused, and protected them from the invading barbarian hordes.”

“You didn’t offer them your rule, you just took it!” I was getting too worked up. I tried to take a breath, but Victoria made it difficult.

“I would dare you to find someone within my kingdom who disagrees with the way I run my country, but I have the distinct impression that my offering you a biscuit would be taken as a sign of aggression.”

I only glare at her. This always seems to happen. I say something, she responds with a clever, sarcastic remark and I am left speechless by her sharp accent and sly, twinkling eyes.

She wasn’t entirely wrong about being judged and assumed to be dangerous. Emor hates Aissura with a passion, and wants me to hate her too. Oh, my mistake: them. Emor hates them.

Emor and my father went very far back. Emor is the emperor of Sucoi, a large country across the sea from my country, Acirema. We only conduct trade with Sucoi, Ynit(a small farming country to the south of Sucoi), and Mais--before it was taken by Aissura. Aissura is actually a completely independant nation, most likely because it was forced to be.

The truth is, nobody likes or trusts Aissura. Even before the war they were isolated and quiet, not really interested in forming bonds and alliances with other countries. Victoria is probably the most social member of her family, and regrettably, the most hated.

But she earned her status.

“Why can you not admit your wrong doings?” I say quietly. I feel tired and defeated. Fighting Victoria is so much work, and she never seems to grow weary of the endless arguing and debate. She always keeps that damn cavalier attitude plastered on like some kind of proud mask. How can she never show weakness?

I understand that people of power aren’t supposed to show any visible sign of vulnerability, but Victoria takes it to a new level. My personal opinion on why the Lady Veronica didn’t surrender to Mais and stop the war is that she was trying to prove herself.

When the war broke out and Edward Longuard went into battle with Mais, my father thought that it was brash and uncalled for. When Edward died and Victoria took over, he thought that the entire country was going to fall to ruin and fire. When Mais begged Victoria to end the war and have mercy on his armies, he thought that they were weak, and yet he was appalled when Victoria staunchly refused.

She was a new queen, unfamiliar to her position and her people, she had to prove herself. All new rulers must at some point show their people that they’re competent enough to handle ruling a nation. When I rose to the throne I fractionally raised taxes and put money into healthcare and the military protecting our borders. When there was a drought, I commanded the masses to remain calm and set up a water-sharing agreement with Ynit, which has many lakes within its lands. Victoria killed hundreds and won the war against Mais.

“Because I was not wrong,” she answers me finally. “I did what was in the best interest of my people, as all leaders must. Aissura is the most technologically and scientifically advanced nation in the world, with the strongest military and the healthiest people. Since the war I have been nothing but generous and fair with you. Truly, I am cruel and unusual.”

“Are you so blinded by your self-righteousness that you cannot see your own evils?” I marvel. She laughs harshly, sounding almost forced.

“Do you think me evil?” she asks, cocking her head to the side coyly.

“I think that you need to take what you’ve done seriously!” I cry suddenly, spreading my arms. “I think that you should feel terrible for what you’ve done and that you should have accepted Mais’ offer of peace!”

Victoria smiles and nods, then rises to her feet and turns to leave. This is the way it always ends, and for some reason we always return to these angry political conversations.

Not this time. I will not allow it to end this way.

For a reason I will not ever entirely understand, but is something I recognize as being similar to desire, I shoot to my feet and grab her arm. She turns, looking surprised for once. She eyes my face curiously. It must be so strange. I try to adjust it to less that of a fearful child and more of a stern man, though I fear I failed.

“Victoria,” I whisper. This is the first time I’ve called her by her first name. I’m so close to her face that I can see that the only makeup she wears is a dash of lipstick and some light eyeliner. She has a small mole below her lip on the left, and a sprinkling of pockmarks on her cheeks. Things I have never noticed before are brought out by our extraordinary closeness.

“Yes, George?” Now she’s whispering too, and not smiling. Her saying my name is like electricity going through my spine, nearly making me shiver.

“Don’t leave.” I don’t know what I mean by this, whether I mean for now so we can finish our conversation, or ever, but in this moment it’s all that I want. Everything feels like it’s swelling up inside me and I can’t decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.

Apparently, Victoria doesn’t know either, because she does nothing, only closes her eyes and waits. Waits for me. I then realize something: she’s always waited for me.

Whenever we argue, Victoria lets me start it. She initiates conversation, but lets me make the first blow. Then she only defends herself and never attacks me. She invites me to Aissura, but never fights me when I insists we meet in Acirema.

But she’s here, and I won’t force her to wait for me anymore.

I move my hands to her shoulders and use them to pull myself to her. I have my eyes closed when the kiss begins, but I open them again because I want to see her. She also has her eyes open, but blushes and closes them when I see her. I’ve never seen her bashful. There are so many new things I’m learning about her tonight.

She tastes like jam from the rolls that my servants served earlier in the meeting. She insists on bringing her own jar of preserves from Aissura to spread on anything she can. I’ve never tried it or asked about it, but now I know it’s raspberry flavored.

When we pull away it’s only for air. I don’t know how long it’s been, but now it’s dark outside and I’m grateful for the candles. Victoria is smiling again, eerie in the new lighting, and I don’t mind. The smile might not be any different, but it feels different. Looking at it is more joyous.

“I must say, George,” Victoria says, trying to sound sly. Much to my pleasure I can hear the excited buzz in her tone and I know she’s faking. “That was surprisingly delightful.”

“You don’t have to joke, you know,” I tell her. “You can just enjoy it.”

She shakes her head and looks down. “No, no, that’s not how it works, George.”

How does she know that I love when she says my name?

“Why not?” I’m being dumb.

“You know why, George. Our countries can’t even be related, how can we be anything?” She sounds sincere, like she is looking for a way out and wants my guidance.

“We’ll find a way,” I assure her. She leans into my chest and wraps her arms around my back. Victoria is only tall enough to reach about my chin, so I rest it on her head while we talk. “We can keep it a secret.”

“Hmm,” she purrs. I feel the vibration through her lips. “That sounds romantic.”

I don’t say anything to that. I don’t know what to say.

“You’ll come back in a few months?” I ask her finally, knowing that she has to leave soon for her home.

“Of course, George. I wouldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t miss you.”

I want to say, “Who’s sounding romantic now?”, but I just laugh softly.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you laugh,” Victoria remarks.

“I’ve laughed before,” I protest.

“Not in front of me. I like it, you should keep doing it.” A pause. “Do you truly think that I was wrong about the war with Mais? Do you think me evil?”

I sigh deeply, letting out as much air as I can to give me time to form an answer.

“I think you are strong,” I finally tell her. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had to deal with my father’s death, ruling a kingdom, and commanding a war at sixteen.”

I feel her nod into my neck and she pulls away. She’s giving me a small, closed-mouth smile. She looks sad.

“I should go,” she says.

It’s all so surreal, being with her this way. She seems to be wistful and somber, but also excited. I wonder how long she’s been waiting for this, tingling with anticipation at every meeting, hoping that today will be the day that I set aside politics and do what has to be done. If she’s waited as long as I have.

“Yes, you probably should. Promise that you’ll travel safely.”

“Of course!” she scoffs playfully. “And don’t forget to write. Subtly though, George. Remember, the great governing powers are always watching, and always making judgements.”

“How would they ever let me forget?”

We laugh.

Victoria leaves.

I watch her climb into her carriage, and smile when she turns and shoots a quick wink at my window.

Until the next time, my Victoria. Until the next time, my dear.


© Copyright 2020 Darwin James. All rights reserved.

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