"To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it."
― Elizabeth I Tudor
July 3rd 1607
Three bloody days. Three damned bloody days since she and I have truly spoken. It is as though there is a barrier that neither of us can penetrate. I know she is saddened but I do not know how to approach her after my previous actions. I had spoken to her as though she were not only beneath but as a child.
As if to make matters worse, due to the unexpected arrival of the French ambassador, I have barely any time to seek her out. I just wish for the briefest of moments to feel her in my arms. Three bloody eve's bear reminiscence of many damned years since I do not know her thoughts of me or my actions. I have given the boy a trial, he will speak within a days time and yet she has not come to me.
Damn it all to hell!
"Sire?" My counsel seeks my attention in the library chambers.
"The Ambassador has arrived, shall we welcome him in?" Emmett asks, looking me over as if I am a book he can read.
"We are not savages, he wishes for an audience, I shall grant it." I reply, leaning into my chair.
Nodding, he opens the chamber doors to reveal a man dressed in blue, with an ostentatious feather in his hat.
Only the French.
"King Edward," He bows as his men bring in treasures behind him.
"Ambassador, your princess has already set sail back to France. What other business have you with me?" For I have no time for it.
Once again he bows before standing; "King Philip wishes not to make enemies with you or your people. He seeks a compromise."
I smirk, glancing at my advisers; "I was not aware there was a compromise to be had."
"There is always a compromise your highness."
"I shall be the judge of that, please enlighten me." For I dearly need a laugh.
Nodding, he opens the chests, from spices, to gold, jewels and silver. It is enough to have a pirate brought to his knees.
"His Highness shall double the princess Genevieve's dowry and upon your marriage you shall become the Dauphin of France." Gasps of shock ring through the room as my counsel members turn to me.
"King Philip has two sons does he not?" I ask the ambassador.
He nods; "Aye your highness, he does."
"How would they take such news; that I, the English King will usurp their title as Dauphin of France?"
"They are but small boys."
"Does a boy not grow to be a man or does the King hope I shall fall ill before they are to notice?" I snap at him. He takes back step back as though he is surprised that I questioned him on this.
"And what would become of the lady I have sworn my hand? For surely the great Philip has a plan for that as well?"
"She would be free to become your most treasured mistress." He swallows deeply, "and of course she would be a princess to that of the French."
Nodding, I stand, moving to inspect the riches of France, all that would be my own should I accept the kings offer. Pulling out my sword, I hear gasps and whispers behind me.
"I believe the king wishes time to think of such a generous proposal with the aide of his privy council." Lord Denali states.
"I do not wish for any of the sort." I interject, taking the tip of my sword and closing each one of the chests, no longer wishing to look upon their contents.
I turn my attention to the Ambassador, he stares at me as though I have gone mad… Good, surely he will get my point across to his foolish king.
"I. Do. No. Want. Your. Princess."
I hold the tip of my blade to his neck, watching as the sweat begins to build around his nose and forehead.
"I am not fool, nor am I blinded by the same greed that has corrupted many kings before me. King Philip believes we are one in the same, but he can not be further from the truth. You come to me with gold and silver as though I am a pauper and have none of my own. I have heard stories of your king, how he murdered his brother and stole his wife in order to gain the throne. When that wife did not bear him any sons, he had her beheaded for treason before marrying another. Now what kind of man would I be to take such a creature at his word? He wished for sons more than air and now he would give that birthright to me? An Englishman." I laugh at the share lunacy of the statement. "Should I accept, it will be my life in exchange. For I am sure the princess, in her anger, would slit my throat as I lay resting. No. I shall not accept, nor should he bother asking once more. England, Ireland, and Scotland all belong to me. It's queen shall be English and so shalt its princes and princesses. Should my words be lost upon you ambassador, I shall have a letter sent."
Turning my back from him, I take my seat once more as silence overtakes the room. I look upon their shocked and confused faces, some hunched over with their hands over their mouth. Apparently they are not approving of my decision… after all, more power gained for the king is more power stolen for them. But my concern is for my people, not expansion.
"Is there more you wish to speak of ambassador?" I ask him.
"Nay." He bows.
I clap; "Very well, you may rest and dine with us this eve, then return to your ship in the morrow."
He and his treasure take their leave.
"Why so melancholy council, one would think I had set all of London ablaze?" I ask simply.
"Sire, do you not think you should have entertained the idea for a moment longer?" Lord James questions with a small bow.
"Nay and I do believe I have said all that needs to be said on the matter." I reply. Nodding, they all stand, grabbing their things before leaving.
"Brother stay." I call to Emmett who stops.
"Your thoughts… honestly."
He nods and frowns; "I do not know if you are the wisest man I have ever met, or simply the most foolish. You are wise in not trusting Philip, but how can one give up such a chance to rule."
I snicker understanding; "Thank you, brother."
I was about to rest when no other than Carlisle enters with another one of his bloody apples.
"Thee does know you are free to sit in on such events?" I ask him, catching the apple he throws to me.
"Aye," He grins, "But I find greater pleasure in gossiping with the rest of the castle. I assume you rejected the ambassador once more?"
"I rejected double the princess Genevieve's dowry and the chance to become the Dauphin of France." I state, kicking my feet up as he freezes and his eyes widen in shock.
"The Dauphin of France?" He repeats.
"Aye." I mutter, taking a bite out of the apple.
"Well, you and I both know he would have you killed before the marriage was even consummated." He snickers.
"My thoughts exactly! From now on, I command you to be in the chambers just so I know there is at least one sane man within my privy council. They are all greedy fools, I ought to replace them but I can find a just man no where."
He laughs, pulling out a seat; "Edward, King of England, Ireland, Scotland and the Dauphin of France? It even sounds blasphemous and what shall become of the Lady Swan should you have accepted?"
"My mistress and a French princess." I snort at her accepting such a tittle.
"She would sooner run." He points out as though I am unaware, "Speaking of which, there has been a distance between you both. Has something changed?"
"I simply called her an imprudent, thoughtless and rash child with no knowledge of the world and reminded her that I am her king and as such I wish her to be everything I ask of her not to be."
"Is that all?" He laughs, though I find nothing to be humorous.
"I know not how to face her and she has not come to seek me, so I can only assume I have wounded her. She has more pride than I can understand sometimes."
"So, you fear her?"
"I fear no one!" I snap.
"Let me clarify, you fear her feelings for you have lessened?"
I do not answer, for fortune spared me and enters a guard.
"The Duke of Devonshire wishes an audience sire." He announces.
"This shall be interesting." Carlisle grins, biting from his apple once more as I throw my own at him before regaining compose. He of course ducks and laughs.
"Send him in." I state to the guard and enters Charles, fresh from a days ride, it seems she takes after his wildly ways. "Charles, what brings you here?"
"It is on behalf of my daughter—"
"Is she well?" I panick, already on my feet.
"Other than an aching heart, she is well my king." He states with a hard expression upon his face.
"I do not understand what you mean." I sit back down slowly.
"Sire, she has informed me she had insulted you and since then you wish no longer to speak or look upon her."
"She has not insulted me! It is I who insulted her!"
Now he looks perplexed; "She says she compared you to the king Aro and since then you have not been in her presence. She wishes not to make a spectacle of the matter and with arrival of the French ambassador, we assumed she has fallen out of favor. As such, I wish to see if she is to return to Devonshire."
I am at a lost for words, I wrestle with everything he has spoken of. It takes me a moment to understand before I give into the silliness of it all and laugh.
"We have both behaved very childish it would seem." I shake my head, rising from my chair and before Charles; "I am in love with your daughter and she shall be my queen. What became of us was nothing more than a misunderstanding, I had not gone to her for I too worried I had fallen out of her good graces. But I promise you, I shall go now and clear this matter before it becomes the spectacle she fears."
"My king, I wish to confess one thing before you, for I believe it may help you better understand her." He says before I can take my leave.
Facing him, I nod for him to speak; "Well make haste, for no doubt she shall rush to ride off before I correct this."
"You are aware of the penned literature under my name, are you not?" He asks.
"All of England has read your writings of follies. I shall admit, I learned a great deal from the Follies Of A King, though I am not sure what that matters here?" Or is he trying to stall for her to make her escape?
He sighs and nods; "Aye, many have learned from them, but they are not my lessons."
"You are a fraud?" Carlisle stands in anger and I in shock. If he did not write them, who did?
"Aye, I penned neither, nor did I wish to take claim, but so good they were that they had to see the light. My wife, Lady Renee, of Devonshire, penned both The Follies of a King and the Follies of the Common Man. Every word upon every page were her own. It was her last work before the illness took her. I sat her side as she fought death to finish. They were her core beliefs, her very passion, for she loved England more than any man, woman and child I had ever known. Upon her passing, I wished not leave her work unseen, her truth to rot away in darkness. I published it in secret. Only one other knows of this, and that is Isabella." He says with a smile so sad it seems to make him shake. "Isabella's passion, love, wisdom are all of her mother. She sat upon her mother's lap every day before her passing; learning."
I am not sure what to think. I along with many were inspired by those written words… to think that they came from a woman… is beyond me.
"So, you wish me to know Isabella is as her mother was?" I ask him slowly.
"I wish for you to understand that Isabella's passions sometimes runs away from her. She speaks from her heart, speaks truthfully and to my dismay openly. Nothing you nor I can do will ever silence her and it leaves me to worry once more of her safety, should she remain here. You saw how she was with the cup-bear and the maid. That shall be how she will remain until she is no longer of this world. Go to her, but I beg, should you truly love her, understand that she speaks only to be heard and listened. That means more to her than gold and shall make marriage much easier."
"She's already making you look better." Carlisle snickers.
"Thank you Charles." I respond, before finally taking my leave.
July 3rd 1607
I do not look upon anyone of them. I simply stare at the cards in my hand. Apparently the women of court have chosen this day to play cards and gossip… about me. I wish not to dwell on it, but I can feel their gazes upon me.
"Lady Swan?" Rosalie calls my and head snaps to her. "It is your turn."
Nodding, I say not a word before placing my card down.
"Isabella, are you well?" Esme asks, forcing me to smile. However, by looking to her, I find myself gazing about the room. There are women at different tables scattered throughout the room, a few of them look to me with pity in their eyes.
"They all heard of the French ambassador's visit and believe the king is through with you after your disagreement." Rosalie says out loud before placing her card upon the table. How I miss Alice so. But sadly, she had gone after our visit. One thing I have learned; in court, one moment you could be queen and the next you can be a jester.
"Rosalie." Esme hisses.
"What? She does not wish for me to lie, she can hardly blame me for speaking the truth."
"Aye, but it could have done with a bit more tactic."
On que, Lady Denali laughs, drawing attention to herself. It seems that she is now being showered with false affection. It has only been three days. How could this have happened?
"No it is alright," I smile once again, placing my next card down, "She said what they are all thinking. Though it still shocks me how quickly gossip spreads. What have you heard?"
Rosalie looks up innocently; "Nothing."
"Rosalie, we've come so far, I wish us not to go back." I state.
Sighing, she folds her hand and leans in; "They are saying you insulted Edward and thus he will not come to you. I heard from a guard that the French ambassador came with treasures. King Philip has another proposal for him, one he can not resist apparently."
"I would not count on that." Esme grins as the doors open and Edward enters with a concealed package.
We all stand quickly and curtsey as he scans the room until his eyes fall upon my person. With a grin upon his face, he walks forward with his head held high and I feel the need to back away and hide, but I can feel Esme behind me as if she means to trap me in place.
"Milady." His eyes dance with joy as he takes my hand and lays a kiss upon it; "Forgive me for my absence, it seems there was a misunderstanding. Will thy accompany for a ride?"
I can not speak so I simply smile and nod, trying not to make a mockery of myself. He raises an eyebrow before handing me the wrapped package. Taking it gently, I unwrap it to reveal a book. Upon seeing the title, I can not help but laugh. The Follies of A King.
"Never have I heard a more beautiful sound then thy laughter." He smiles, holding his hands behind his back, they are far too distant for my liking.
"Never have I met a man who can make me laugh so." I counter, finally finding my voice.
"A lifetime of joy for us both then." He replies, extending his arm and when I take it, he looks to Esme. "You will forgive me for stealing my bride away, dear Aunt?"
"Of course." She grins and follows after us as we take our leave. I hold the book to my heart as we move to a private section of the castle. Standing by the window, he stops and kisses me deeply.
"My apologies for not coming to you sooner wife, I feared you wished not to see me."
"Me?" I grin, "After I had compared you to Aro I thought I would never see your face once again."
"How foolish and cowardice of us both." He snickers.
"So you have not been cross with me?" The entire time I had figured my mouth had caused me to lose him.
He shakes his head and kisses my hands; "No. I have not been cross since that very moment, and also a few moments ago when your father wished to take you away from me. Of all people, I would have thought you would have come simply to speak your mind."
"I once told you I am not as strong as I wish. When it comes to you, I am powerless it would seem. I become a blushing, silly girl who smiles until her face aches." And on cue, I smile for him.
He closes his eyes, wrapping me in his arms and we stand for a moment.
"There will be grander things that shall seek to divide us wife. We must never fall privy to it again. Even in anger, you may come to me and I shall remind myself to do the same. After all, a King should never rest his head in anger… as your mother once said." He whispers the last part into my ear. Gasping, I pull out of his arms and meet his gaze.
"How did you—"
"Your father enlightened me after the meeting with the ambassador. Do not fret, your secret is safe with me." He cups my cheek.
"Your meeting with the ambassador—"
"Changes nothing but the date in which I want us to wed."
"Edward, I do not believe we can make it another month." I say with a blush. Our wedding is supposed to be at the end of the month and already that is too lengthy a wait.
"Aye, which is why I wish us to be wed in three days."
My mouth drops open as he grins openly; "Three days?"
"Edward, can such a thing be done within three days? I do not even know where to begin—"
"Esme?" He turns to our chaperone; "Can you organize an espousal in three eve's?"
He turns to me; "You and I shall be wed before the week is out. You shall be my queen and I your king and we shall fight, we shall love, and we shall rule… always together."
"Aye." I say as he takes my hand and rushes us away from Esme and towards the stables.
I truly hope all our future days were to be as this one is.
Hey so sorry this took so long to post! I have missed you all i've just been so busy between school and publishing.
Also head to goodreads and search Ruthless People! The cover is finally up!