The midway point of the processional came all too soon. She wasn’t ready. What had the gods been thinking? And her uncle for going along with the whim of the fates? Leaving her all alone and about to do this thing. Her heart raced in her chest, the heavy coronation robes suffocating her. The stays of her bodice underneath clamped down, seizing around her lungs it felt like. Just shy of the temple steps, she froze. Vision blurring under the brilliant midday sun, she swayed on her feet. The crowd went silent, and the harps ceased playing. She felt everyone holding their breath, waiting. Thinking she’d faint right there in front of thousands, some soft sound pulled her away from her impending doom. She turned her head and looked over her shoulder.
The muzzle of a cavalier’s horse from the military processions ruffled in an equine sigh. The animal’s gray nose dipped in her direction. Mira followed the elegant line of its head, over a white blaze and silver forelock to the cavalry rider perched atop the stallion. She’d missed the procession of the different fae kingdom’s militaries at the beginning of the coronation. Of course, her carriage had been surrounded by a mounted escort riding to the temple hall earlier. They had worn the full ceremonial regalia of Savine, dressed in deep purple and white for the kingdom’s prized crops.
This soldier wore a pale blue jacket trimmed in ermine, colors of the fae’s northmost kingdom, a land of ice. Blinking the sun out of her eyes, Mira brought the cavalier’s face into focus.
The soldier’s mouth twitched. Mira felt her eyes widen. Dark, overly long hair blew back from his collar. She knew she stared too long. Her walk to the temple should have been a fluid train of movement all the way to the end. She’d faltered. Overcome by what would soon happen and all that it would mean. An unbearable solitude caught her in its grip, stopping her feet from in their march of duty. And now she stood, caught in the spell of this stranger’s midnight gaze.
His dark head dipped, a mimic of the stallion’s, but his dark blue eyes remained on hers. A thousand tiny wings fluttered in her stomach.
“A cavalry soldier?” The familiar voice echoed in her head. Gentle censure in its tone. Her spine straightened. Uncle? “Mirabella, you are about to be crowned a high queen of the Twelve Kingdoms.”
Her head snapped forward to the temple steps inches away from her toes. Her dark eyes darted one last time to the soldier’s barely bowed head, the irreverently amused turn of his lips and the silently conspiratorial gleam in his stare. If she’d had to name the feeling that filled her in that moment, she couldn’t have. Whatever it was, it swallowed the loneliness of the day’s solemn occasion. She set one slippered foot on the first temple step. The harps resumed playing; the crowd breathed again. She walked on.
Copyright © 2022 Amanda V. Shane, First published as But for the Crown in the Wild At Heart PNR Flash Fiction Writing Circle. All rights reserved.
For more flash fiction from the Wild At Heart PNR Writers, click the links below:
Stripped by K.O. Newman
Hooked on Them by Miri Stone
Rin by Shelly Ferguson
Amanda V Shane is an author of paranormal and fantasy romance and is currently working on her Tides of Atlantis series about the super hot lost kings of Atlantis as well as her Enchanted Lands Romances.
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