Months passed. Francesca was crowned Queen of Navaria and the land was alight with celebrations in her honour. All cares were forgotten and for a while it seemed the horrors of her past would no longer haunt her.
“There’s something you have to know,” said Francesca to Annabelle as they ate breakfast together one morning when the snow fall was so heavy it didn’t allow a comfortable walk outside. The fire was blazing in the black marble fire place. The two women sat across from each other in a small parlour in the east side of the castle, away from the hustle and bustle of the court. Most of the noble women tried to endear themselves to the new queen in the hopes they would find themselves in her favour but even after all that time only Annabelle kept her company.
“What is it?” asked, although her interest was waning.
Francesca was carving a shiny red apple with a knife. “I’m with child.”
Annabelle stopped starting at the window immediately. She turned her attention to her companion. A rush of emotion flooded her but it trickled away. She remained unmoved.
“The king must be pleased.”
Francesca stabbed the blade into the apple’s flesh and dropped it on the table.
“He doesn’t know yet,” she said.
“Don’t you think you should?” pressed Annabelle.
“You and I both know the implications of this. My child will be strong. They will be unstoppable. The true power they have may frighten Roman. Roman will wish to raise the child unaware of their own strength,” She paused for a moment and pulled the blade back out of the apple and examined the point.
“Then there is Charles. Roman must forget the boy at The Hand.”
“You are rightful queen,” Annabelle replied. “Natalya’s child could never replace yours.”
“I won’t take any chances whilst my blood runs through this kingdom. Charles will have to die.”
She waved the knife at her companion.
“He may be just a little boy now but people can put ideas in little boys heads. He will grow and whilst a part of Natalya remains my place in this kingdom could be challenged.”
Annabelle shrugged her shoulders. “You will do as you wish regardless of my opinion so why ask for it?”
Francesca turned blade in her long fingers. “You forget your place if you think I was asking for your opinion. I was instructing you. Get rid of Charles and put Natalya to rest once and for all.”
Annabelle said nothing so she continued. “Besides, you have been looking out of sorts lately. Some flesh will put you right.”
Annabelle stood, pushing her chair back with a rough drag across the crimson coloured rug on the floor.
“It must be tough for you being eternally bound to the one who destroyed everything you had,” said Francesca with a grin.
Annabelle shook her head. “You know I don’t see you that way.”
Francesca laughed. “Every night I fuck the one man you ever loved. How does that make you feel?”
Annabelle’s face remained free from expression but her glare burned. She approached Francesca slowly. Francesca didn’t move. She watched her companion draw closer with confidence. Annabelle clutched the pendant around her neck. She leaned over and her lips met Francesca’s with a kiss. When she stood again she said, “I love you Francesca. I always will.”
Francesca rolled her eyes. “Just kill the boy,” she said. “Consider him my gift to you.”