"There isn't much point in delaying the reply."

"Francis, I don't know if I can trust him."

Mary was staring outside the window, where the sun had completely sunk into the horizon, leaving behind traces of light in the sky. Twilight had such a sad coloring, she contemplated.

"Even if you can't trust him, right now he is your only chance in having a semblance of peace with the nobles. Take it step by step, love."

Mary turned to look at him. The dimming light made his complexion glow. He was sitting in the sofa, much more relaxed than he usually was.

It reminded her that she hadn't eaten for days. The stress and nerves were wrecking havoc on her body and mind.

"I suppose there isn't much of a choice for me to make. My brother knows this as well as I do. It feels as if he is leading me into a well calculated trap. I'm afraid by the time I realize what it is, it will be too late."

Francis looked at her solemnly.

"You can outsmart him. Just be patient." He smiled. She knew why.

"I would think you would know by now never to ask that of me."

"Trust your instincts then. They have never failed you before. If I could help you more I would. But I'm afraid this is solely your responsibility."

"Tell me again the story of the bracelet."

Francis smiled.

"We were seven. I was about to join my father in the first royal welcoming. The Spanish Prince. He looked at me the night before and said : "When they look at you tomorrow, they will see the future of France. Will it be strong and solid? Or will it be weak and easy to overpower? " I was short, clumsy and I stuttered. I didn't have a hope in the world. In the morning, you came into my chambers and handed me this thin chain."It is a promise bracelet" you said. It reminds you that you are not only the heir of a throne, but the consort of another. You don't have to reflect power Francis. You have it. You have me. He will never have as much as you." The meeting went well, better than I dared hope. All because of what you said. This is the same thing Mary. No matter his tactics, he will never have what you have. A birthright. A crown."

I smiled at my King. I felt relief wash over me.

Then the a knock was heard and the servant came in.

"Forgive me majesty but they are waiting for you in the throne room."

"Of course." I said.

She went to reignite the fireplace and I gathered my papers. The servant finished her chore and looked at me hesitantly.

"Your majesty, if I may ask, may I set the bed for you this evening?"

I looked at her, then at the empty couch next to her where Francis stood a moment ago.

"No Rose, thank you."

"Then perhaps a tray for dinner?"

"No, I am not hungry."

The servant nodded , bowed and left the room silently. I hadn't slept in a bed ever since I came to Scotland a month ago. I had eaten poorly and rarely.

The discomfort made me weak, dizzy. Sometimes, at dawn or twilight, when the light was tricky, it made me hallucinate him. In those rare moments, I forgot to grieveā€¦