Writing.com has little contests, where you write a short story based upon a single quote. Here is this month’s quote:
“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”
~Titus Maccius Plautus
And this is what I wrote:
All eyes turned to Trey as he stopped and stood in the doorway to the Great Hall. He wore his finest burgundy gown, against which the highly polished steel of his swords stood out brilliantly. His heavy chain of office, which bore the Mark of Herongarde, lay proudly upon his chest. His crown, that he had so seldom worn in recent years, was polished and shown like a halo atop his head.
Trey looked sourly at the courtiers in the Hall as they gasped in awe at him. He had combed his hair and pulled it off his face, showing the angular contour of his jaw, and his jaw muscles working beneath. He was looking for someone. This was the first time in many years, he had presented himself as the heir that he truly was. Most of the time he had looked like nothing more than an ordinary warrior, even concealing the fact that he bore the Mark of Herongarde, placing him in the brotherhood of the most elite of Herongarde’s warriors. But today, he was the Prince of Herongarde, and in a few short months he would be King. This future he now embraced, because of her.
The courtiers stood up respectfully, but were silent, waiting for Trey to say or do something. He had been known for his violent temper and quick steel, and people gazed upon him nervously. Trey looked at the faces, scanning the crowd until he spotted her. Hanna gazed at him warmly, a faint smile on her lips. Trey felt his heart lifting and coyly looked down at his hands. He held a single white flower between his fingers, that no one had noticed until that moment. There were a few more gasps and some whispers.
Trey looked back at Hanna, now smiling broadly. The courtiers were shocked by the transformation. Who was this man who so suddenly seemed happy? He walked slowly into the Great Hall, calmly approaching Hanna who was sitting among the Ladies of the Court. The other Ladies stood and moved away and Hanna rose to her feet to greet Trey. She nervously brushed and straightened the fabric of her new gown, only just completed this afternoon. Trey stopped in front of her and they faced each other, saying nothing, raptly staring into each other’s eyes. He reached up and touched her cheek, tenderly stroking her smooth skin. He frowned as he looked at her other cheek, which remained swollen and stitched from the blow she had taken in battle four days earlier. She smiled, drawing his attention back to her eyes.
He looked down at his hands again, slowly bringing up the flower so she could see it. He offered it to her. She took it and inhaled its scent, smiling at Trey all the while. She stroked the petals. Trey reached out and took her hands. He grinned. Hanna giggled in response. They gazed deeply into each others eyes for what seemed to be an eternity, losing themselves into each other’s soul. They were oblivious to the happenings in the Great Hall, even as gasps and whispers filled the air.
“Beautiful, it is,” said King Anthony, breaking the silence.
Attention turned to Anthony, though Trey and Hanna were reluctant to turn away from each other.
“On this day – and from this war – we have discovered a great many things,” continued Anthony. “We have emerged victorious—.” The courtiers cheered, interrupting Anthony. He smiled and clapped his hands, allowing time for celebration. He held up his hands to quiet the court. Attention turned once again to Anthony. “Not only have we defeated Falgarth as they attempted to rob us of our lands,” he started again, “but in our efforts to maintain our boundaries, our own Prince has found again peace within himself and will within the year take this crown from my head.”
There was a short, uncomfortable silence. “Long live Lord Trey!” shouted Lord Balayn, with a nod to his cousin, Trey. The court erupted again. Trey smiled, enjoying the accolades, nodding occasionally, yet wishing the cheering would stop. His eyes turned back to Hanna’s. She was grinning. A tear rolled from her eye.
“Hold! Hold!” shouted Anthony over the din in the Hall. The crowd continued its celebrations, unaware of his shouts.
“SILENCE!” roared Lord Markus. The room quieted immediately. Markus turned to Anthony, his brother, with a bow. “Your Highness.”
“Thank you, Lord Markus.” Anthony turned to address the court again. “We have many things to celebrate this day. Our victory. Our future King. Our newest Mark-Bearer…” Anthony smiled an held a hand toward Hanna. She curtsied slightly.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” she said.
Shouts and whoops filled the Hall once again, which Anthony silenced with a raise of his hand. “Today we also celebrate what I hope is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. For these two here,” Anthony held his hands toward Trey and Hanna, who were still holding hands. “These two this day shall begin a proper and formal courtship, under the Codes of Herongarde.”
For a moment, it seemed all the air in the Hall would be sucked out as the courtiers inhaled in unison. Suddenly, cheering exploded. Trey and Hanna grinned at each other, pressing their foreheads together. They kissed softly and the jubilation grew louder. Trey and Hanna parted and waved to the court in acknowledgment. Trey raised an eyebrow at Anthony.
Anthony smiled, holding his arms up once more for silence. “Let us celebrate this occasion with wine and sweet words,” he said. Boys began to circulate with ewers of wine, filling each person’s cup to capacity.
Trey motioned Hanna to sit. He sat down beside her, watching her arrange her skirt. He was completely captivated by her. A boy approached and bowed. “My Lord, Lady. Wine for you?”
“Aye, Tomas. Wine,” replied Trey, holding up his and Hanna’s cups. Tomas moved on, and Trey turned his attention back to Hanna. She was once more inspecting the flower.
“What does it mean?” she asked.
“Courtship,” replied Trey. “His Majesty acknowledges our love.”
Hanna smiled and sighed. Her lips shook and her brow wrinkled. She put her hand over her mouth and leaned into Trey’s chest. He wrapped his arms around her as she wept quietly. These most recent days had been horrible for her. Neither of them had thought they would be allowed to be together. Anthony had wanted her gone. Somehow, all of that had changed, and there they sat now, finally allowed to openly love each other. Trey squeezed his eyes shut, holding back his own tears. Yes, it had been horrible for them both.
Hanna calmed and straightened up, gazing softly at Trey. “Finally,” she whispered.
“So what now?”
“We love each other as always.” Trey sighed. “I shall need you. More than ever.”
“I’m right here.”
Trey stroked her cheek again and gave her a gentle kiss. “Aye, my love. Forever and always, I shall need you.”