Eight years ago
I fidgeted as I stood by Mama’s throne. Until last year, I had been allowed to sit on Papa’s lap during state affairs in the Throne Room, but now Mama said I was getting too old for that, so I stood beside her instead. Helga, Freyja’s mother, stood behind Mama, almost hidden in the shadows in the back of the room, and Freyja stood beside her - Mama’s and my ladies in waiting. They were above a ladies’ maid, who weren’t allowed in the Throne Room, because they were minor royalty. Freyja’s dad was a Duke and a close friend of Papa’s. Papa’s valet stood in the same position behind Papa.
I expected to be scolded for my fidgeting by Mama, but she was being kept busy by the bump in her tummy that was my sibling-to-be. She seemed tense, her hands clutching the throne tightly, but then the doors to the entrance of the room were flung open and a guard stepped forward to introduce our visitors, her back straightened out, and her face smoothed.
I blinked. If I hadn’t seen her clutching the armrest a second before, I never would have known she was in any kind of discomfort.
I wondered if that was what being a Queen meant.
“Your Majesties,” the guard at the door announced in a loud voice. “King Vegard of Aquilum, and his son, Prince Lucas of Aquilum.”
Both men bowed to us when they reached the steps of the thrones’ dais. Papa stood from his throne, and approached the foreign King.
“Vegard,” he said in a happy voice, clapping the other man on the shoulder. “So good to see you.”
“Likewise, my friend.”
The two men chatted while Mama beckoned the young Prince forward. He climbed the steps and came towards us.
Mama smiled at him warmly. “Prince Lucas, this is my daughter, Regina.”
The Prince nodded at me politely, then turned his eyes back to Mama. I could all but feel Freyja trying to get a good look at him from behind me, and had to fight to conceal a smile.
Mama continued: “She has prepared an itinerary for you, so that you won’t have to listen into boring political conversations if you do not wish to do so.” At that, his eyes seemed to light up and Mama laughed. “As I thought,” she chuckled. “Why don’t you follow her and Lady Freyja Hollomitva, her good friend, and they can get started on your plans?”
He nodded quickly at her, bowing again. “Thank you, Your Majesty. I should warn Papa first, however.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll let him know when they’ve stopped gossiping,” she said, grinning at us. “You kids go have some fun.”
We didn’t have to be told twice. We turned and all but sprinted to the door of the room, with Freyja hastening to catch up.
Freyja poked me.
“He’s awfully handsome, don’t you think Gina?”
I rolled my eyes at her. “I suppose he’s good looking enough.”
She gasped at me, throwing herself backwards on to my bed. “How dare you say such blasphemous things! He’s gorgeous!”
I laughed as I sat on the bed next to her. “If he’s so handsome, maybe you should marry him.”
“Oh, be quiet, Gina! A Prince, marry me? I’m only a Lady, he’d never settle for me. I bet he’ll only agree to marry a Princess. Like you.”
“Oh no you don’t,” I warned her, narrowing my eyes at her.
“What?” she asked innocently, batting her eyelashes.
I giggled. “You know I don’t want to marry, so don’t even start.”
She sighed. “I’m sorry, Gina. It’s just… well, you probably will have to one day, and he seems like a nice guy - hotness aside.”
“Yeah, he does, and I’m sure we’ll be great friends. But really, Frey, I don’t know…”
“Hey,” she said, sitting up and grabbing my hands. “It’s better to marry a friend than someone you can’t stand, right?”
“And I’d marry you, but that would be like marrying my sister,” she said, laughing. “Plus, I like guys.”
“You don’t say,” I told her drily.
“Hey! Be nice!”
“I’m sorry. I know you’re right, it’s just, I’m avoiding as much as I can.”
She nodded. “He’d be a great choice, though.”
“Yeah, but won’t he have to rule his own kingdom one day? I can’t marry a Crown Prince, Frey, you know that.”
“Yeah. Just wishful thinking, I guess…”
I shook my head. “You’re incorrigible.”
“Yep. And he’s very handsome.”
I laughed, throwing a pillow at her as she hopped off the bed and made her way to the door connecting our rooms.
“Get out, you sex-addict!”
“You know you thought so too! Admit it, Gina!”
“Never!” I said, throwing another pillow at her. She squealed and ducked the soft missile headed towards her head.
“Fine. Goodnight, freak.”
I laughed. “Yeah, I know. Love you too.”
She closed the door, and I waved my hand, extinguishing the flames around the room. I flopped back down on the bed, smiling.
Freyja was right, though I’d never admit it to her - the Prince did have a handsome face. It wouldn’t be a hardship, I thought, to see him everyday