Dragon Day

A princess that's not a lady. A king that's not a gentleman. And a wedding that does not go according to plan.


1. Twins



            When the queen had twin daughters, there was celebration within the kingdom of Lor. There were celebrations from dawn to dusk, merriment and barrels of free alcohol, courtesy of the king. The man loved celebrations. Some would say that he lived for them.

            Night fell, and the queen was caring for her two daughters in the nursery. Her face, with the ash blonde hair in disarray around it, looked confused. Both her daughters were beautiful. They were healthy, and she was happy about that. But they could not be more different. The older one was a miniature of her mother, the signs of the light blonde hair already visible and the baby’s soft hazel eyes welled up as her mother put her in the cradle. Her mother reluctantly picked her up again and tried rocking her to sleep.

            The king came in, never silently, but bellowing loudly with a golden cup of wine in his hands. Her eldest, almost asleep, startled awake, bawling loudly. The younger baby awoke. She didn’t cry, and she didn’t scream for attention. Her grey eyes took in everything around her, and her nose scrunched up at the sight of her sister crying.

            She was scooped up into her father’s giant arms, and he looked down at her lovingly.

            “She looks like my mother,” he said.

            The queen smiled. “Although I have to agree with you on that, Henry, let us just hope that her countenance is not as your mother’s was.”

            “What was wrong with my mother’s countenance? She was a great queen,” the king said.

            “Yes, she was a wonderful queen. But not an ideal lady,” the queen replied. “She always had scrapes and bruises. She never rode a horse side-saddle. She had a quick temper, and a quicker tongue. She…”

            “She was perfect, Eleanor,” the king said. “Frivolities and etiquette were always a priority with you. My mother’s priorities were with our people.”

            “So are you saying it is more important for a woman, a princess, no less, to learn fencing, rather than the so-called frivolities?”

            “Yes,” the king said. Then he realized his folly. The mood swings from the pregnancy had yet to wear off. His wife was furious. Although her face held no expression, and her voice had a steely calm, she would snap soon. He gently put his sleeping daughter into the cradle.

            “Perhaps we continue this conversation in the study?” he whispered, careful not to wake the child in Eleanor’s arms.

            “Please,” she said, quickly placing the infant in the cradle and walking out of the chamber. A nurse was waiting outside, entering as soon as they left.

            His study was filled to the brim with everything his mother had collected over the years. Her books in languages only she spoke, her journals of her travels, and the strange trinkets that she accumulated from her adventures. He missed his mother, and all of her eccentricities.

            “Well?” his wife asked impatiently.

            “I just think that times are changing, Eleanor,” he said. “And our practices should as well. We know that our daughters are all we have, all that we will have. They should learn how to fight. They’re, after all, the future of Lor!”

            “We’ll see about that,” Eleanor said.

            “What do you mean?” Henry asked.

            The queen clasped her hands together, something she did after she had made a decision and would not back down.

            “I propose that we see which one of us is right,” Eleanor said. “I’ll take full responsibility for raising of the older daughter, and you take care of the upbringing of the younger one.”

            “That’s folly, Eleanor,” Henry said. “How could you think of such a thing?”

            “I’m not saying we ignore the other daughter,” she said. “I’m saying we split control over their upbringing. And when you figure out that you are wrong, you will hand her over to me.”

            “Fine,” the king grumbled. There would be no more argument. And even if there was, Eleanor would win.

            The next day was the naming ceremony.

            “Lucille,” Eleanor announced. The name suited his oldest daughter. A thought came to the king.

            “Melaina,” he said with pride, looking down at the dark-haired infant who gurgled happily. “Named after my mother.”




            Henry carried his five-year old daughter out of the stables, as she tried to wriggle out of his grip and run back. All the stable hands looked at them quizzically as she screamed for her horse. It had been a bad idea to teach her riding so young. Just as it had been a bad idea to teach her swimming so young. She would soon ride out beyond the castle walls in secret, just as she swam in the moat.

            He knew she could outswim the crocodiles. They were getting old, but still… she liked to play games with them. Daring was admirable, and he loved that his daughter had it. But he was starting to think that fear was healthy for a person. She had none of it.

            “Mel, we’ll come back tomorrow,” he promised, and she stopped struggling against him.

            “Every day,” she pleaded.

            “Every day,” he conceded. He carried her to the deeper part of the castle, to a small courtyard with a garden. He saw Eleanor waving from the balcony, waiting for him. Lucille was standing next to her, looking down with horror at her dishevelled sister. Lucille was, even at five years, a proper lady. Her mother had dressed her in a purple velvet gown, despite the summer’s heat. And the little girl was wearing it without complaint.

            Eleanor embraced Melaina lightly, carefully not to get dirt onto her dress or her gloves. Melaina did a light curtsy. She sat down on one of the wicker chairs, grabbing herself a handful of tarts and munching on them happily.

            Lucille daintily took one tart and took a small bite before dabbing a napkin to her mouth, unabashedly staring as her sister devoured tart after tart. Eleanor said nothing.

            “You can accept that you lost, you know,” Eleanor commented.

            “I didn’t lose, look at her,” Henry said. Melaina was now climbing over the railing, latching onto a vine and climbing down. Her little feet landed onto the dirt of the garden gracefully, and she ran off towards the small pool that was hidden beneath a banyan tree.

            Eleanor frowned at the way her daughter was behaving. It wasn’t ladylike, but not without a strange wild grace. Her short black hair, cut like a boy’s, framed her round face. She was beautiful, but in such a different way.

            She watched as her younger daughter kicked off her black boots and dipped her feet in the small pool. Eleanor already knew. It didn’t matter if Henry admitted he lost. She would never be able to control Melaina. Their little bet held no importance. Melaina would never be a lady.



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