Late into the night Maëlle was able to escape from her mother and the grasp of the party guests. As the guests became more intoxicated they hardly even noticed as she slipped away and down the hall. She first stopped at the dressing room she had been forced to change in. She picked up her wool cap which had been carelessly tossed by the maids. Then she snuck out of the room and through the halls of the palace until she found her room.
Inside she stripped the bulky, uncomfortable dress from her body, and pulled her hair from the tight braid that snaked down her head. She pulled heavy pins from her hair where the tiara sat and fell into her bed in her light silk slip.
She breathed in a contented sigh. It was the first time in three years she had been in her bed. The soft sheets had been kept clean in her absence and her room had been dusted and cleaned before she came home. It was just like the day she had left, except now, her luggage sat neatly beside her door awaiting her to unpack all of her acquired belongings and clothing from the Callen Kingdom. She wanted to sleep so that morning would come sooner and she could return to Sottises and Elric.
The excitement of being home however caused her nerves to spike and she found she was incredibly restless with the echoing noises of party goers still filling the halls.
She would occasionally hear wanderers pass by her door laughing and hollering as they went. She sighed and sat up in bed, looking around her dark room. She stood and threw open the curtains covering the windows to allow moonlight to flow into the room then she lit a few candles and allowed them to burn as she began to pull open her luggage and stack folded pieces of clothing in piles around her floor.
3 years worth of her life was stored in these bags, clothes, jewelry, books, notes. Everything she had brought with her and accumulated in the Callen kingdom, including a leather folder filled with a stack of handwritten letters and careful drawings. She took special care to store the folder inside the bedside table before going back to her bags and continuing to remove items. She neatly stored her clothing back into the wardrobes and pulled out small trinkets and gifts she had acquired over the years, setting each on dressers and shelves in the room.
She pulled a small box encrusted with jewels from the bag. It was a gift to her mother from the Baroness of Callen. A beautiful jeweled pendant set in a velvet cushion.
She stood and pulled on a long, blush, silk house robe, tying the waist tightly around her and slipped on a pair of house slippers before she turned out of the room with the box tucked gently to her chest. She peeked from the room and then followed the halls to the other side of the palace where her mother's room was.
As she neared the room she heard vulgar noises flooding into the hallway from behind the door. She paused and made a face.
She’d nearly forgotten about her mother’s frequent visitors, especially during royal get togethers, as a child she was told to just wait outside if she came during those times. Now at 19 the memories started to make her uncomfortable but she sat against the wall with her knees tucked to her chest and the box head tightly in her arms. She stared silently at the wall across from her and waited patiently like she always had when she was younger.
After a while the noises stopped and then the door slid open. She looked up expecting to see Lord Brimming or some other handsome nobleman from the party, but instead she saw Augustin, his beard and hair disheveled and his cheeks red from alcohol. He was fixing the belt around his growing gut.
Maëlle gave him an uncomfortable look as she looked to the door and back to Augustin. She felt tears near her eyes as her mother peeked her head from the room as she reached for Augustin with a playful look.
Queen Elizabeth paused as she saw her daughter sitting against the wall. She shifted her eyes between her and Augustin and then cleared her throat.
“Mae… Dear, shouldn’t you be asleep now my sweet girl?”
Maëlle swallowed a lump in her throat before standing and giving her mother an apprehensive nod, “I… I wanted to bring you this gift from the Baroness…”
“Augustin dear, I will speak with you later.” Augustin quickly nodded and shuffled away. “Come in my love.”
Maëlle cast a bothered look to Augustin and watched him walk down the hall in a drunken haze, then she stepped inside her mother’s room.
“Mae… please don’t start…”
“You promised…” Mae whined, tears threatening to escape her eyes. “You…”
“I know dear… but he’s been such good company and so gentle and sweet with me… you know it’s cold and lonely in the palace...”
“But mother… you promised you wouldn’t do anything with him…”
The Queen shook her head and placed her hands gently on her arms. “Sweet girl, you may not understand it, you’re young, you’ve not been courted by a man, but once you have you will understand.”
“Young does not mean naive…” Mae responded.
“Dear, once you’ve been loved by a man you’ll know how terrible it is to be without.” Her mother sighed, “I’ve lived my life as the queen and a widow, your father told me to never give up feeling good in his absence…”
“But Augustin… he has a wife and three children…”
“I know dear, but we’ve both felt lonely…”
“Why couldn’t you entertain yourself with other nobles then?” Mae asked with tears.
“Because Augustin is different and we connect…”
“But mother…” Mae begged as she shook her head, “You PROMISED me. I told you how badly I wanted to be courted by his son when I came of age… you promised you wouldn’t do anything to affect that…”
Her mother squeezed her hands tightly and looked into her eyes, “My dear… things changed in the last 3 years, Augustin and I have become close and have sought support from one another… we’ve found common needs that we can fulfill for one another… and have confided in one another…” her mother gave her a deeply sorrowful look, “Aren’t you happy your mother has found love again…”
Mae shook her head, “I want you to be happy, mother… but… you made me a promise that you would not have relations with him…”
“I’m sorry Mae…” the queen gave a pitiful look to her daughter “I have to think of my happiness…”
“It’s always about your happiness mother…” Mae muttered as she pulled her hands away from her mother.
“It’s always been for you mother… the reading, the schooling, the lessons, spending three years away in Callen, diminishing my time away from the young children in the palace and even keeping me from seeing the tarragon who was born for me and the man who is supposed to be my keeper. The lavish parties, the big dresses, the jewels, the dinners, and long nights awake to be paraded around by you… all of it has been for your happiness.” Mae sniffled as a tear ran from her eye.
“Dear, I’ve been a wonderful Queen, all I have done has been for the happiness of the kingdom and our people….”
“Your people, mother… not your family… not me…” Mae sighed softly and hung her head, “Everything you’ve done is for you and your people… it has never been for my happiness…”
The Queen stuck her finger beneath Mae's chin and pulled her to face her. The Queen's dark eyes gave a pitying look and she gave a gentle smirk. “Dear, I am sorry, but your happiness has not been my goal, I must think of me and my people, as long as I rule it will be my happiness first… your feelings are an afterthought to me.”
Tears suddenly flooded from Mae's eyes, her mother's condescending tone ripped her heart in two. She sniffled as her composure finally broke but her mother showed no emotion toward her tears. The Queen pulled away from her, flipping her robe as she walked to the vanity in her room. “Now dear, if you’re finished I am going to bed, we have a showing tomorrow for Sottises and I would like to sleep beforehand.”
Mae’s face burned with anger as she watched her mother give her a flippant look and waited for her to leave. Mae tossed the jewel encrusted box to the ground and turned abruptly on her heel and left the room, allowing the door to slam behind her.
Mae passed her room and slipped down the stairs, she passed the dining hall and the ballroom as she followed the halls through to the kitchen. She pushed past cooks who diligently worked on preparing food for the morning for guests. They all gave confused looks as she went.
She pushed through the door at the end of the kitchen and stepped into the chilling fall air. She was pelted by freezing rain and she trotted through the yard, her slippers becoming wet and muddled as she ran.
She paused at the door of the stable, the lights were completely out, it was dark and quiet inside.
She turned the door handle slowly, trying to keep it from clicking as it opened. The inside of the stable was almost silent, she could hear the snoring of the two towering dragons. She kicked her soggy slippers off of her feet.
She used the moon flowing in from the upper window to guide her. She saw the light silvery blue of Sottises’ scales shimmering, his body lay against the farther wall from her and above him was a fading canvas painting of her. She smiled at it and carefully closed the door behind her before she tiptoed through the stable, carefully passing Sabina.
She picked up a blanket which was carefully folded on a stack below the loft area and returned to Sottises. She carefully stepped over his tail and sat, leaning against his warm stomach and pressed her hands against his scaled skin.
“Sottises…” she whispered softly.
The beast shifted slightly as he felt a new sensation against him. His silvery eyes shot open and stared at her for a moment in the dark, he suddenly picked his head from the floor and sniffed at her, he excitedly chirped and pressed his snout into her chest.
She held one finger to her lips as she used her other hand to place over his nose.
“Shhh, Sottises, please don’t wake your keeper…” she begged in a whisper. The tarragon pressed his face to her body and pushed her roughly as she adjusted into a sit against his side. He swung his tail over her legs, and placed his huge head over her lap. He curled around her protectively and let out a low and satisfied purr as he nuzzled into her legs, the scales on his throat catching on the silk robe over her body. She pulled the blanket over her and carefully adjusted it around his neck to allow his face to poke out from beneath the blanket.
Sottises’ silver eyes peered up to her longingly, a sense of gratification washed over him the longer he looked up into her eyes. His comb flexed up and down happily as he stared. He let out a sweet noise that sounded like a short chortle.
“Oh, I missed you too my sweet, mischievous Tarragon...” she whispered to him, she scratched her fingers into the fat pad below his jaw and he shifted his face up to her. His silver eyes looked content and his low purring radiated into her body. Her tears dried finally and she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her robe before she settled into Sottises’ body and allowed herself to fall asleep against him.
Need help With easy pronunciation, Lost on who is who? Wondering what a word is meant to mean? (Many words and names from the story are French, Gaelic, and otherwise European, Translations are often rough and generalized per the use of the word/name in the story.)
Progenitor- A Latin derived word meaning a person from which one is descended or originates from, Most often known as an ancestor or parent.
For Royal, noble, and rich families in this world, it is common to send a gift home for the parents of a student you have hosted at your home or school. The Baroness of Callen sends a gift home for the Queen to thank her for allowing the princess to spend her time studying at her estate and the gesture is typically met with a returned gift of equal or greater value to thank a host for having the child in their home or place of study, the value of the gift changes based on the amount of time a student studies at ones home or under ones care and will often be accompanied by a gift for the scholar which they study under.