Bessie had absolutely no regards for her dress or headdress as she threw herself into her brother’s outstretched arms for a hug. “Oh Henry! I’ve missed you!” she cried.
Behind her, there was the ‘tsk’ of his advisor, “Your Grace,” the advisor started to scold.
“Oh, hush, Artie. These are my private rooms and the only one here to see us is our mother. I won’t have my sister bowing before me in my Private rooms.”
“Yes, Your Grace,” Arthur sniffed. Henry took a step back and made a small face at Bessie. Arthur gave a little “Mpmf” as he saw the face, but even he wouldn’t dare say anything to the King, not in his own bedroom, not when he’d been already told to hush. Finally, Henry gave a little sigh.
“Oh, very well.” Henry let his arms fall and took a step back. He gave a formal, regal, bow of his head. “Lady Princess Elizabeth Margaret Cecily. I greet and welcome you on behalf of myself and my Lady Mother Dowager Queen Margaret Anne.”
Bessie dropped into a low mocking curtsy. “King Henry the Fifth of the grand kingdom of Krallen and its colonies. I am honored to receive your greeting and welcome,” she answered formally. They both turned in unison to look at Arthur, who threw his hands up in frustration and left the room, leaving the members of the royal family alone in the King’s private rooms.
“You two shouldn’t be so cruel to him,” their mother chided, but it lost some of its sting because of the wide smile on her face, “He has been training members of this family since before either of you were born. He does know what is proper for this court.”
“Mama!” Bessie grinned, running to hug her as well.
“Bessie, my doll,” she placed a kiss of blessing on her youngest daughter’s forehead, before setting to sitting Bessie’s headdress to rights again. “Did you have a safe trip, Doll? Did they take good care of you?”
“Yes, Mama,” Bessie smiled, “It was a beautiful ride. But no one would tell me why we were coming to visit. I hope I’m here for a good reason.”
“A very good reason,” Henry offered, joining them by the fire, taking a seat in his tall chair, indicating to Bessie to sit on the padded bench opposite their mother. “Tell me, Bessie, have you ever wanted to go to Zaltslyn?”
Bessie narrowed her eyes as she considered her brother. He knew very well that she wanted to go to Zaltslyn since she was a small girl. They said that their capital city was built next to a lake so blue that it sparkled like a large sapphire, and built near that lake was the biggest library ever built on this world, with documents so old that no one still alive spoke the language. But Bessie grew up as the only daughter of the King of Krallen, a royal princess that had responsibilities of state and couldn’t wander off on whims for fear of being kidnapped and ransomed, or something far worse.
“Oh, put the poor girl out of her misery,” Mama laughed, smacking her son gently on the knee, “Tell her.”
“I am to be married, Bessie. To Princess Nimue of Zaltslyn. And Mama has decided that she is too old to travel as a representative of the state, and since I don’t trust Jaime to go alone,” Henry stopped, waiting for the gears to turn in Bessie’s head.
“I’m to go?” She finally asked in a very small voice, almost not daring to believe it just in case she was wrong. “I’m to go to Zaltslyn to help pick up your bride?”
“If you’d like,” Henry shrugged.
Bessie pitched herself off the bench and hugged her brother tightly around the neck again, squeezing him a bit too hard and making him cough in the process. “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you,” Bessie cried repeatedly, “You’re the best brother a girl could dream of.”
“And a King to boot,” Henry laughed, pulling her free of him. “You have one week to visit with me and Mama, and then Princess Elizabeth and Prince James will head on a royal progression to collect the future Queen of Krallen.” Henry tried to look regal and officially, but dissolved into his wide goofy grin all too quickly. “Oh, Bessie. Go call back Arthur and ask him to bring some wine. Today we should celebrate.”
Bessie kissed her brother squarely on the cheek, before heading for the door. Today she would celebrate indeed.