Author's Note: Hello! This is my project for the summer, and I'm very pleased with it thus far. If anyone would like to create a character for the Selection, please feel free to send her in! I've never done something like that, but I think it's a great way to get readers involved. Just be sure to include as much detail as possible about her characteristics and any pertinent information. Thanks for reading!
Mornings were always one of Eadlyn's favorite times of the day. Aside from the fact that she was certain that the palace retained the best chefs in the world to prepare their breakfasts, it was the only time in the day that truly felt like hers. She usually started the morning with a cup of coffee in her own rooms with Kile as she looked over the morning papers, but once they finished, they would move to the dining hall to join their family.
Her father told her that when he was growing up, the palace had been quiet. At that time, the royal family had only consisted of himself and his parents. Eadlyn couldn't imagine what that was like. The palace had always been bustling and crowded when she was growing up, between her brothers, the Woodworks, and whatever members of her mother's family were visiting that week. As a child, she had found it slightly overwhelming that she had to work to find quiet areas, but now, she realized that she wouldn't have it any other way.
Since she and Kile had married twenty-five years ago, she had tried her best to emulate the example that her parents had set for her both in her reign and personal life. Although she tried not to give herself too much praise, she thought that she had done a damn good job. Illéa was reporting the highest approval ratings of the royal family in years, and surrounded by her family, most days she felt like she had a pretty good handle on things.
Although that didn't mean that everything was smooth sailing. There was one particular area that Eadlyn had struggled with for some time, and as she sipped her morning coffee on her balcony and waited for the rest of the castle to wake up, she was focusing on the concerning subject.
Usually, she didn't give much credence to gossip magazines. She found they were rarely accurate and altogether a waste of time. But it did catch her eye when too many of them started reporting similar stories, and it concerned her when the stories focused on her family. It was even worse when they focused on her oldest son and the heir to the throne.
It might have been the effect of her strong coffee on her empty stomach, but she felt a little ill as she scanned the articles. "Prince Oliver at It Again! Will Our Royal Wild Child Ever Settle Down?" The headline was complimented by a photo of her twenty-year old-son being helped into a car by his body guard, clearly intoxicated. The sight—along with a subheading in the article that said "What Would the Queen Say?"—made her cheeks flush.
Another magazine had a feature titled, "What Happens in France Doesn't Stay There!" made Eadlyn nearly crazy enough to call her brother, Ahren, immediately and demand to know why Oliver wasn't more closely watched during his latest visit. She wasn't sure how much use that would do, since one of the photos featured Ahren and Oliver with their arms around each other's shoulders, laughing as though they were each other's closest conspirators.
She jumped when a pair of arms wrapped around her from behind, and she momentarily forgot her concern when Kile placed a kiss on her cheek. "Morning, Eady," he murmured sleepily.
"Good morning," she smiled. "Coffee?"
"You always know the right things to say," he grinned as he dropped onto the couch beside her. After he had taken a few sips, he noticed the stack of magazines that surrounded his wife. "What are these?" he asked as he picked one up. His eyes bulged a moment later, and Eadlyn grimaced as she realized that the one that he had picked included an "exclusive" from a model that Oliver had apparently met in Italy. She would be placing a call to the Italian royal family later, she decided with a grimace.
"Good god, are they all like this?" demanded Kile.
"Not quite," she countered, a little defensive. She had always been accused of babying Oliver, but he was her firstborn. For some reason or another, having children hadn't been the easiest for Eadlyn, and it had taken years of trying and consulting doctors before she had Oliver. Two years later, they had welcomed his younger brother, Tristan, and another four later had brought their only daughter, Celine. While she loved her children all equally of course, Oliver had changed her life.
"I suppose he is still young," she reasoned as she folded up the magazines before Kile could find some of the worst articles.
"Eady..." sighed Kile. "When you were his age, you were married and running a country."
It was a point that many people, including her council and her own mother, had brought up to the queen. She frowned as she caught sight of a poll that questioned whether Oliver would be the best person to run the country when his mother's reign ended. It seemed that public opinion heavily favored the younger, more responsible Tristan. "Maybe we should set some guidelines, give him more duties," she admitted.
Kile picked up the magazine with the poll. "I mean, at this point, I don't know if that's enough. They've seen this side of Oliver for years. I don't necessarily blame them for being unsure if he's the right choice for the future."
"You're right," she frowned as she rose and started pacing the length of the balcony. "It might take something extreme. Something to show that he really does have the country's best interest at heart."
"And something to keep him out of trouble," added Kile as he held up the "exclusive" from the Italian model.
"I just don't want to seem like I'm forcing him to do something as a punishment," Eadlyn sighed. "You know how Oliver's always liked his freedom." She glanced out at the gardens beneath her balcony. One of her son's favorite pastimes as a child had been clambering up trees, hiding in bushes, doing whatever he could to get away from the watchful eyes of nannies and tutors, and sending everyone into a tizzy as they searched for the crown prince.
Eadlyn had usually been the one to find him. They'd always had a special bond, the two of them. She smiled at the thought. It was hard to realize that her son wasn't her little baby anymore.
"Eady," Kile began as he rose from the couch and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her out of her thoughts. "Oliver knows what his duties are. He does these things because you—" She cast him a dark look, and he rolled his eyes before adding, "We let him. It's time for him to step up."
"I hate it when you're right," she sighed into her husband's chest as she leaned against him. It was a statement that she had repeated far too often throughout their marriage for her liking.
She had to think of something that would get Oliver to settle down and focus seriously on the future while simultaneously acting as damage control. She couldn't throw him out as the public face of the royal family or into negotiations with other countries, because there was no way that anyone would take him seriously when he was being paraded by tabloids as "The Prince of Pleasure." But at the same time, she didn't want Oliver to think that she was forcing him into something as penance for his good times. She knew what it was like to be young and want to enjoy oneself. Right after she and Kile had been married, she had shirked quite a few royal duties when the pair couldn't bring themselves to leave each other's company.
She froze as soon as the thought came into her mind. "That's it," she muttered. "Kile, you're brilliant."
"Course I am," he grinned, "But, uh, what exactly did I say?"
"Oh, Jesus, here we go again."