If you got this story from my author alert and were hoping it was Burn Series…I'm so sorry. I got completely writing blocked and I hope you understand and give me time. My beta encouraged me to write something else to help write again and this is what I came up with. I hope you can enjoy it!
If you are just randomly reading this, then hi, this is a story by me.
"So it is decreed, that should the king pass with only a female heir, there shall be a competition held between men from each of the twelve regions with the winner gaining her hand and the kingdom," Seneca finishes and I can hear smirk in his voice, but its hidden on his face. The fact that he is finding enjoyment in these times, with my father, his king, dying in his bed angers me even more than the law he just read.
"That cannot be the only choice," I say through clenched teeth. Seneca moves his hands up to adjust his glasses, as if they matter, leaning towards the parchment illuminated by candlelight. Most everyone knows the lenses within them offer no adjustments to his vision, but he keeps them in an attempt to look more scholarly. Somehow it keeps people from realizing what an absolute idiot he is.
"I'm afraid it is the law," the smirk isn't as hidden this time when I look at his face. The shadow of the flickering candlelight bathes the other half of his face in darkness so that the smirk is hauntingly clear and insulting. I look around the room instead of his masquerade face. In the large stone fireplace burns a dying fire, set for the light and still making the room overly hot. Sweat forms under my layers of clothing but those same layers also hide it. Around the room are huge mahogany bookshelves that have been there since the building of the castle.
Stories say that giants brought them in and looking at them reach high into the vaulted ceilings, it's not entirely impossible to believe. The books range from the oldest in known existence to newly printed stories of fairy tales and dragons. One of the newest had a shrewd princess who refused to marry and kept her little sister trapped in a tower. Until of course, a handsome peasant who was secretly a prince rescued her and vanquished the bitter spinster princess.
Everyone will smirk and laugh, and whisper behind my back. Princess Katniss Everdeen, who swore against marriage and the lords of the kingdom, will be forced into marriage with the best jouster or archer or melee fighter. Whichever stupid competition they decide they most want to see my future husband succeed in. The spinster princess vanquished with a kiss and a contract instead of a spear to her heart.
I decide against even responding to him. We already spent enough time combing through papers and books to find our answer and I have been far too long away from my father's bedside. I turn around and head towards the door, the skirts of my dress twirling around me, the red color bright even in the dark study. A servant opens one of the large intricate wooden double doors as I approach, staring down at my feet as I pass. I wonder how quickly the news will spread through the castle. The man was not one of my servants and he is sure to gossip.
The door isn't closed behind me and I hear the shuffle of clothes. Seneca Crane follows me into the dark echoing halls. His shoes that give him an added bit of height clops and echoes down the hall. "Your Highness, I think it would be best to begin planning this event," I turn around on him so fast he stumbles backwards a step. He quickly feigns recovery, rubbing his hands down his ridiculous purple velvet outfit as if I spit on it.
"You want to being to throw a tourney while my father dies?" He at least has the intelligence to look apologetic but it isn't enough to keep down my anger. How this man became one of my father's top aides is beyond me.
"No, Your Highness, of course not. That would be dishonorable to a man so wonderful as your father but when," he cowers under my glare, "if His Majesty passes, there will be no King to rule. As you know your male line, has disappeared to the point where we would have to go back generations to find a son and then he would probably be a peasant, not fit to rule." Peasant is said like a curse, a disgusting word that causes a bad taste in his mouth and I know I cannot spend another second with this man.
"Lord Crane, if my father passes we will plan this farce in accordance with the law but, until then, I wish to be left alone with my family. Should he die, I think the kingdom can survive a Queen for a few days. This is the last I will speak of this matter with you," my voice strains under the pressures of being civilized, as it almost always does.
Seneca knots his hands together and bows deeply, the hair from his frivolous red wig falls in front of his face, "As you wish, Your Highness." Kissing ass, I think, he got this far in the council by kissing ass. I walk away from him before he stands back up.
The walk to my father's room is long and the sweat breaks out even more under my dress. The winding stairwell leading up to his keep have prevented my weakened father from descending. Before, when the sickness had just struck him, he would crawl down slowly. One arm wrapped through mine and the other clinging to the polished hand rail. The last time he made the ascent he collapsed at the top and couldn't get out of bed for three days. We wouldn't let him try to go down them again.
At the top of the stairs two guards are posted, who both bow their heads down at my approach. Not the normal guards then, every one of my own and my father's closest know not to bother with such trivial things around me. But I don't stop to correct them; I've already wasted enough time away from my family. The entrance area is as lavish and well-kept as always, the maids not letting any sign of the pain and sickness just in the bedroom beyond trickle into here. The rugs that spread across the room are a deep red and the golden color of the furniture matches that of our sigil.
A portrait of my sister and I encompasses almost an entire wall, with our banner on either side. The golden mockingjay stands bright gold on the fiery red background. A piano that only my sister and her handmaid ever touch sits in the corner. The farthest wall is full of windows with a door leading out onto a terrace, an expensive feature but beautiful. During these hot summer months they are left open and a breeze rustles the golden curtains. I stop and look at myself in the floor length mirror, Father would get upset if I look as distressed as I feel.
The red dress clashes against the red of the room but there is nothing I can do about it. The dress shows more of my figure than I am used to but its one of the few without sleeves that Effie deems appropriate for a princess and it is far too hot to be stuck under lengths of fabric. Most of the time I prefer not to stand out so colorfully either, but the bright color will show everyone that I am not in mourning. Father has not died and I have not been deigned to wear black and dark colors. My dark brown hair falls down my back in a simple braid, but is decorated with gold ribbon. Nothing can ever be as simple as just a braid. The only thing that looks out of place are my eyes. The grey irises are framed by red from lack of sleep. I rub them and hope father doesn't notice and sigh painfully knowing that he won't.
A curtained archway leads into my father's bedroom to the left and the other side has another lighter wooden door. The bathroom has large metal tub with a fire4place next to it for heating up water and keeping out the cold. A pulley system was used to bring water from a well into the high up bathroom - one of the few systems in the kingdom and one of Lord Beetee's favorite inventions. His late wife, Lady Wiress, always loved her baths. There is another door hidden within the walls that escapes down a small dark staircase into the sewers. We pray to the Gods to never have to use that door.
I head towards the curtained archway when I hear a giggle from the terrace. That giggle puts a smile on my face faster than any jester ever could. My little sister's, Prim's, laugh is so clear and happy, coming from outside. That must mean father is outside as well. She would never leave his side. I keep myself from running through the curtains and see my sister bouncing on a red pillow set on top of the hard stone bench. Her light blue dress, that perfectly matches her eyes, is ruffled up as she sits on her knees. Her handmaiden, Madge would normally scold her but as I look towards the large wooden chair, I know this is a special occasion.
"Father! How nice to see you out here!" He sits on the chair with furs underneath him, and, it pains me to notice, furs on top of him, despite the heat. But he is outside, in his chair, when he hasn't been able to get out of bed in weeks. His formerly dark thick hair, now thin and greyed, blows lightly in the wind.
"Kitty Kat!" his voice is harsh and clear for that moment but the words cause a fit of coughing. I look over and see Madge, sitting behind Prim with her hands completely stilled from her stitching, waiting to see if he needs to be taken inside. They must have dismissed his doctor for the night and allowed Madge to watch him. Madge and Prim were always better caretakers to my father than that despicable man. All he would ever do was say father needed to be alone and drain him of blood to remove humors. He never seemed to improve after such treatments and I refuse to believe it works. People die when they lose their blood, I can't imagine that it is good to take it from them. Plus, it is just disgusting.
I look around at the night sky instead of the bloody saliva forming at his lips. The stars are thrown across the black sky like diamonds in the mines of House Trinket. The moon provides the only light but it's a huge and full so everyone is bathed in soft light. The breeze that comes from being up so high gets rid of some of the heat and cools the back of my overly hot neck.
Father regains his composure, but pulls the furs tighter around himself, his hands shaking. Madge nods and gives me a supportive smile before going back quietly to her stitching. I keep my smile from faltering at my father being so sickly. This is still an improvement. He may still get better.
"Primrose, Margery," Both of the girls hate their full names, just as I hate my nickname, but know instantly that he is serious at the use of it, "I have to talk to Katniss for a moment in private." His voice catches and wheezes but still manages to sound stern. The ghost of a voice that ruled a kingdom.
Madge gathers her knitting together and kisses my father on the cheek as she leaves. What would be a high honor for most people is commonplace with my father, servants and commoners are treated as friends, and he always adored Madge, the daughter of Head Watchman Undersee. He taught us just the same. It made me bitter towards most of the spoiled and snooty Lords and Ladies of Panem. Prim throws her arms around our father and watch as her small frame seems to encompass his completely. That isn't right, he should dwarf our little duck. I keep the tears at bay and kiss Prim on the cheek, while tugging on one of her perfect blonde ringlets.
She skips away with a concerned glance thrown at me and a smile thrown at our father. The tail of her dress is still caught between her legs as she rushes through the curtains. I remember her clear and hearty giggle from earlier and pull a smile on my face. I do not need to concern father in these matters. Especially when they only matter if he dies.
"My little Kat, tell me what Lord Crane said," I open my mouth to lie and he cuts the words off in my throat, "Katniss Everdeen you better not lie to your King, and most importantly, your Father. You will tell me true what Lord Crane said or I force you to marry Lord Haymitch with my dying breath." My nose wrinkles at the idea of being married to that old drunk as if I could smell the liquor on his breath from here. His drunken antics may be amusing at balls but they would certainly not be amusing as his wife.
I lick my lips and my father smiles while I decide what to say. He knows me too well. "He said with no male heirs that there must be a competition to decide who is to marry the female heir," I get out and the rage fills me again. As if a man with a sword would be better fit to rule a kingdom, then a woman raised to rule it.
Father's head bobs up and down to all the way to his chest, as if he no longer has complete control of his neck. "He found no other way?" he asks.
I look up at him surprised, he seemed to know the law. I should not be shocked but I felt as if he could have told me. Maybe then I would have been less picky with my marriage choices, maybe I will still have time now. "It is the law. Father perhaps I can marry," I try to pull up a name that wouldn't be horrifying to me and my mind goes completely blank.
"Marry whom, my Kat?" He shakes his head, "None of these Lords are worthy of my beautiful girl and you knew that when you met them," he coughs and hides the blood in one of the furs. I pretend not to notice.
"Father, I can find someone before," he flings a hand out from the fur and I see the flash of blue veins under the pale skin, the bones of every knuckle.
"I am dying, Kat. I taught you to be a smart woman and you know this. I believe I only have a short time left. This competition will take place," I start to speak and his skeleton hand shakes at me for silence again. "But the law is vague Kitty Kat. It does not say who is to be sent, what they should compete in, or how the winner is chosen. You may decide all of this Katniss, and maybe we will find someone worthy of you, and worthy to be king."
If this gets enough interest I will continue (I already have the idea outlined but ideas are different than writing) I just hope this is a sign towards my ended writing block and just wanted to tell my loyal readers that I wasn't dead. So please bear with me! I haven't given up and I hope you haven't either!
This will be Everlark with some Gale/Katniss, Finnick/Annie, Gale/Madge? And other pairings. Its just a fun write for me and my love of Game of Thrones and my beta a history major. We discussed bathtubs for like a half hour guys. She is the best.