“Who is that beautiful woman over there?” John Neville murmured.
“Which one?” His brother Thomas said sitting next to him.
“That one.” He pointed and Thomas could see now which woman he meant. She was pretty, he thought, but not beautiful. On the Duchess of York scale she only came to about a 7. “Oh that one,” Thomas said.
“I’ve just fallen in love with her,” John Neville said conversationally. “I think I want to marry her.”
Thomas shook his head and sucked air in through his teeth. He was married himself and no-one was quite sure if he was happy or not. Her name was Maud and he thought maybe he was. “No-one will let you marry her, not if you’ve fallen in love with her. You know that.”
But John was determined so he wrote a letter to the queen who was in charge of deciding whether the girl whose name was Isobel Inglodsthrope should marry anyone and she wrote back and said no thank you. But Isobel had found out that John loved her and that made her love him even though she’d never seen him or met him or talked to him so she went to see the queen.
She threw herself on the floor at Margaret’s feet and wept. “Please let me marry him. I love him so much!”
“No,” scowled the queen. “He is ze brozer of ze nasty Earl of Warwick who I don’t like anymore.”
“But I love him,” Isobel Inglodsthrope said. “Have you never loved anyone your Majesty? Because if you had you’d understand and you’d let me marry him.”
Margaret didn’t want to remember being in love because it was so painful but she just couldn’t help it. She remembered. Hiding her lover behind the raven-wing curtain of her midnight black hair. His hands, his mouth, his lips, his other bits… The smell of him, like a sweat drenched stallion after a long gruelling ride. Long. Gruelling. Ride. She was carried away on a wave of dream and memory, swept up into the sky of lost love, hopeless, helpless, weeping from longing and loneliness. The dream soared to a roaring cradenza then faded, wavelets lapping at the edge of her memory. Reeesharrr, the wind seemed to say. Reeesharrrr…
But no! she thought, or Mais non! in her native French. Her lover left her and it broke her heart. She should tell this young girl about broken hearts, maybe that would wipe the simpering grin of the stupid idiot girl’s face! But Warwick, ah Warwick… How could she forget the touch of his hand, the way his mouth curled at the corners when he sneered… The queen’s hard face softened and she looked at the young girl on the floor and thought: Zis girl is in lurve. Zere is nozing I can do. So she said, “Yes all right you can marry him but he’ll have to give me lots of money.”
So John gave the queen lots of money and he married Isobel Inglodsthrope and they went to live somewhere a long way away from anywhere while John was fighting the Scots in Edinburgh and they had lots of children.