Holding the Pieces

Mayvery had always thought that meetings were supposed to be exciting. Her mother used to sit her down and brush her hair while conjuring images of visiting foreign ports where lovely strangers would smile and stop to pick up your hat as the wind blew it right off your head.

Yet, as she stood in the expansive caste entrance hall, columned with polished marble, sunlight feebly filtering through stained glass and her dress bunched between her fingers, she was very much worried.

A man had never called her to their castle before. Not that it was an impossible occurrence — she was the queen of Etolia — but because she had very little to offer any man. She was a foreign girl, her lands were wild, and her heart wilder still.

She spotted a small table on which stone figures were lined, some black, some white, and all very stoic. She stepped towards it when she heard heavier footfalls from upon the steps and glanced over to see the black haired, fur cloaked king standing above.

“Are you interested in games?” he asked.

She decided that he must have been talking of the board and stone figures of which she had never seen.

“What do they do?” she asked of him.

“They fight.”

The king seemed to enjoy the word.

“For what?”

“Anything,” he explained, “We set them against each other to see who will win.”

She imagined the poor knights clashing swords, the running peasantry, and the expanding piles of treasure pulled from burning homes. She absently heard him moving down the stone steps and turned before he could loom over her.

“Mustn’t it end?” came her quick enquiry.

“My dear,” he said calmly taking her hands, “The question is: mustn’t love begin.”

That was the day most will not remember, but she remember it. It was a time she was expected to give her duty before love. It was a time she believed in things better. She had thought that love was meant to overlap all that was so uncertain. Now she knows the pity.

Love is not in all of us.

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