Hey there, everyone! I know it's been forever since I last posted. Blame college and work for dragging me down! But I'm back for a little while, now that the holidays are over. So Happy Holidays and a have a great new year!
Are you going to tell your mother?
His words echoed in my ears as my throat suddenly felt parched like I was chewing on cotton. Uncomfortably, I tried to clear the lump away with a cough. “I suppose I’ll have to, yes. Is she awake? Do you know?” I was appalled to hear my tone turn formal again though the change was unavoidable.
Phillip looked crestfallen and he removed his hand from my shoulder, stating that she had been, in fact, conscious and alert the last time that he had checked on her. With a proper bow, he backed out of my chamber and left me to my thoughts in silence.
As the wooden door clicked shut, I released a breath that I hadn’t fully realized I was holding back. The tension that always invaded me at mention of the maternal part of my parentage was something I was used to now. However, the stark contrast in moods left my heart feeling heavy as I moved to wash my face in the basin.
A few minutes later, I had redressed and left my room to wander down into the west wing of the castle. The hard soles of my shoes clacked loudly on the floor, almost keeping in time with the beating of my heart.
By the time I reached the double doors that had once been the bedchambers of the King of England and his beautiful Queen, I was no more prepared for what I must now do than when I was back in my room.
Still, I raised my fist to knock and dutifully did so, not knowing what to expect.
“Come in.” Her sickly sweet voice came through the heavy wood and I reached for the iron key that hung from the torch bracket.
“Rupert! My boy!” I hadn’t any time to think before my field of vision was obscured by curly gray hair as my frail mother took me into her arms. Reluctantly, I embraced her back, trying hard not to fidget in discomfort. When she pulled away, her soft hands danced over my face.
Green eyes stared up at me, once shrewd and sharp, they were now soft and surrounded by tiny wrinkles. Still, her skin was smooth and soft and her lips spread into a gentle grin as she regarded my face. “It’s been so long since you last visited. I was beginning to wonder if you remembered where I lived.”
I smiled back, only halfheartedly and carefully led her towards her bed, stating my excuse as I went. “You know that it hasn’t been safe for me to travel those roads, Mother. I only just made it here in one piece.”
There was a time when the lie made me cringe but after saying it so many times, it was now natural.
“Oh, of course, of course. Those thieves haven’t found me yet but I know they’re looking! Just the other night, I heard their horses outside my window! Oh, do be careful on your way back home, Rupert!” She sat on the bed reluctantly as I went to pour her a goblet of water.
“I shall, Mother. I swear it. But… I come bearing news. Good news.”
When I turned, she was covering herself in the down comforter, smile still plastered on her face, though now it was twisted. “Your father’s been caught, I assume? Killed by those treacherous royals that he doubled-crossed back in Preston? Serves him right, the blundering old fool.”
The edge of the mattress sunk when I added my weight to it as I sadly shook my head. “No… Father died some time ago. We discussed it.”
Her green eyes regarded me carefully before she prudishly turned her nose away. “Yes, well, he deserved to be gutted like a pig, didn’t he?”
In my chest, my heart was clenching at her words and I breathed through my nose to maintain control. “Yes. He did. But I didn’t come here to discuss Father. I’m getting married, Mother. Celia accepted my proposal.”
A frown crossed her face as I spoke my words and her features were softened by sadness. “Oh Rupert… I told you not to stray into that world. Celia can’t love you. The two of you come from two different places. Why didn’t you heed my advice, my son?”
“It can work. I love her. And she loves me. Open your eyes and try to remember what I’ve told you about her.”
“About the whore? The whore with royal blood?” Her eyes began to grow wide and her finger nails dug into the comforter. “Spreading her legs for any common peasant boy? She’s using you, can’t you see it? She wants your land for her own and she will stop at nothing to get it! Greed rules the woman! She’s driven by lust for power! You don’t matter to her.”
If I hadn’t heard it all before, her delusions would have stung me. Instead, they bounced of the barriers I built when her mind had started to decline. Slowly, but surely, my mother lost her sanity, therefore losing her place on the throne.
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