He’d been on his knees for an hour now, and knew he could endure an hour more if only he could gaze upon her face. So beautiful, he thought, wreathed as it was with her luscious waves of caramel. He loved her. He’d been a fool to be without her for so long. His heart ached. His mouth twitched with desire, to speak and to kiss. His arms, his legs, his other bits… All of them called her name. Margaret… Margaret… Just a breath, a sigh. The wind through the trees on a spring morning. Ah, how he loved!
She’d put on her finest gown, combed her hair just right, steadied her trembling hands with a cup of wine, looked at herself in the glass and thought. ‘E is ‘ere! My warrior, my pirate. My Earl. And I ‘ave aged. ‘Ow can ‘e lurve me now? The cares and woes of life had indeed taken their toll on the Frenchwoman. Was it only twenty five years ago that the maiden had stepped off the ship onto English soil to marry her king? She sighed pitifully and wiped away a tear. She had hoped to find love with her prince, but instead life – and the fates – had thrown another man into her path. And her bed. She swallowed hard, the memories were too raw, too real. She wanted him there again.
Outside in the garden the young Prince looked sideways at the girl who sat next to him. The air was crisp and he thought he caught the smell of snow.
“My mother says we are to marry,” he said. “But there can’t be any… you know. She didn’t tell me why.”
The young girl was relieved to hear this. The lad was certainly handsome. But there was something profoundly annoying about him. He will spend our married life trying to read my diary, she thought. Or come up with some dreadful nickname and tell all his friends! And they’ll be all superior and look down their noses at me.
He jumped to his feet. “Hey, Antsie-pants, want to go into the village and sneer at the peasants?”
Anne scowled. He’d come up with that with disconcerting speed. But she did so like sneering at peasants. “Sure, that’s one of my favourite things ever!”
“Well, you know what they say… Great minds think alike!”
Once the ceremony was over and Margaret’s court-in-exile had retired for the night, she kept him on his knees in her bedchamber for another hour or so. She rather liked it. Liked the way his beseeching eyes locked onto hers, the way his hands seemed to be begging to let her touch him. Realising that she was punishing herself at least as much as him, she finally relented, dropped to the floor in front of him and threw her arms around him.
“My earl! My lurve!” she said breathlessly.
He stroked her honey blonde curls and kissed her face. “We must never be parted! Never!”
Late into the night they plotted together, whispering beneath the covers, interrupting each other now and then with kisses and sighs. And more. Much much more. Seventeen years since they’d seen each other and each one was burned to a cinder this night by the fire of their love.
As Angleterre will burn, she thought.
On their way back from the village, where they’d spent a pleasant hour or so sneering at peasants, Edward Prince of Wales, son of Margaret of Anjou and secret son of the earl of Warwick, looked sideways at the young woman to whom he was to be betrothed. She wasn’t a bad old stick, he thought. They might rub along together tolerably well. He thought, just for a second, of what she might look naked and almost immediately wanted to poke his eyes out with a stick. That had never happened before! And he spent a lot of time picturing young women naked. To cover his momentary embarrassment, he reached over and pulled her hair.
“Ow!” Anne said. “Edward! God, you’re annoying!”
He smiled, waited until her attention was diverted by a passing horse, and tapped her on the shoulder. She spun around. No-one was there. She looked at Edward, but his face was innocent. She just wanted to kick him!