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So This is Love

by on May 5, 2015

They first met at the Faun’s Summer Ball in July. Amaryllis had no idea why it was called that; she’d never seen any actual fauns there. She didn’t even want to go; she was pledged to Prince Evinrude, and he wasn’t going. She was frightfully bored, but then Prince Philip of House Shirley asked her to dance.

At first they kept to safe topics, like the weather. The weather, unfortunately was only good for so much. Finally, Amaryllis ventured into dangerous territory with a question about politics. She remembered that House Shirley hailed from the southern coast, and was very keen on trade. What did Philip think of the prime minister’s new tax on coastal shipping routes?

She expected to be dismissed. This wasn’t her first spin ’round the ballroom floor; she knew that noblemen like Philip and Evinrude didn’t care about the political opinions of a lady. To her surprise, Philip responded with a thoughtful critique of the new taxation policy, and suggested several alternatives. Amaryllis, startled, asked whether he thought the alternatives were realistic. Twelve minutes later, they had left economics and dived into foreign policy, as the musicians flailed away at their violins in the corner. It was the second happiest evening of Amaryllis’s life.

They next met at Christmas. Amaryllis was marching steadily through the endless round of holiday feasts and balls and carriage rides, and longing for it all to be over. Then came Christmas Eve. The royal family, and most of the aristocracy on hand in the capital, packed themselves into the cathedral for the traditional Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, as Amaryllis stepped out into the cold midnight air, she missed her coachman. (It turned out later that he had gone off drinking with a scullery maid.) Philip approached and offered her a lift back to her capital residence. She accepted gladly, and they spent another lovely hour talking about politics. As they said goodnight, Philip asked hesitantly whether she might visit him down in Shirleyhold, his family’s coastal palace.

“I’m sorry,” Amaryllis said, hating what she had to say. “I can’t. I’m pledged.”

“Who?”

“Evinrude.”

“Ah,” said Philip, and went away.

She didn’t see him again for six months. She saw Evinrude once. They talked about the weather.

July came round. Amaryllis had gone to her family’s country house in the north, tucked away in cool mountain pines. The Faun’s Summer Ball was coming up, but she wanted even less to go this year. She wondered if she could feign illness.

Then, the night before the ball, Philip arrived. “I, er, found a letter,” he explained hesitantly. “You should read it.”

It wasn’t addressed to her. It was addressed to Lady Eulalie from Isle Turtledove. Amaryllis hesitated, not wishing to read someone else’s post. Then she recognized the handwriting, and the royal stamp. It was Evinrude’s letter, and he was saying some very friendly things to Eulalie. Much too friendly.

“How did you get this?” Amaryllis demanded.

“That’s not important,” Philip said. “The point is, he’s pledged to you. But he writes more like he’s pledged to her.” 

Amaryllis crumpled the letter in her hand. “I shall have to do something about this.”

“The thing is… I already did. ”

“What?”

Philip smiled. “We’re not just keen on trade, you know. House Shirley has an…acquaintance with certain powerful wizards. We don’t talk about it much. People might think it’s cheating.”

“And so you…”

“I sent a dragon after her. Isle Turtledove is probably cinders by now. Which means Evinrude will be off on a futile quest to hunt it down. He’s not likely to come back. And since you were pledged to him, and he has no heir and no family…”

Amaryllis swiftly grasped the implications.  She smiled brilliantly. “You darling.”

What followed made for really the happiest evening of her life.

The fiction focus for this month at yeah write involves romance. It isn’t quite my genre, but I thought I might take a stab at it. So to speak. 

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10 Comments
  1. I love this story. It is just like a brilliant fairy tale!

  2. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    I loved seeing this from the other side…and you’ve made Philip and Amaryllis so sympathetic…but now that Disney song is stuck in my head!

  3. “She saw Evinrude once. They talked about the weather.” Well, that sort of says it all, doesn’t it? 🙂 Your note at the end made me smile even more. I love how you make every genre – even the dreaded drottkvaet – sound like *your* genre. It’s that strong voice of yours 🙂

    • Thanks. 🙂 I’m glad my voice comes across nicely; in the era of the Internet, where there’s fifty million (give or take) other voices, one does worry that one gets lost in the crowd. 🙂

  4. Meg permalink

    This is so sweet, Michael! (Well, except for the dragon part.) It has a fairy tale, musical quality with a twist that also characterizes your scifi/fantasy stories — it flows beautifully. And I love that the protagonist, as a woman, is respected and Phillip talks politics with her. Silverleaf put this in words much better than I. What she said. 😉

    • Yes, other than the fact that Philip and Amaryllis resort to incinerating their romantic rivals via dragon, I think they have a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and appreciation, and I’m glad that came across. 🙂

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