“If you ever decide to remarry, you must marry someone who is as beautiful as I and has my golden hair.” The words seemed to echo all around the darkened, red room as my dying mother whispered them. Candles were lit all across the room, creating a gloomy and death-like atmosphere around us as they flickered against the stone walls; the only solace of light were the flames, curling out from the fireplace. My mother’s hair, like spools of golden thread, lay against her forehead, clinging to her dying, pale skin as she lifted her hand, reaching out to my Father for his answer. My mother, the Queen, was dying in her bed with my weeping father on bended knee, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles and the corner of her lips.
“My wife…” His words were soft and full of a clouded grief I knew I didn’t understand. My father and mother were hardly ever affectionate behind closed doors. I often saw them together in the throne room, together in my father’s den, but never close; never touching. His loss of her was a mystery to me.
“Promise me,” she hissed at him, her breathing was growing faint as she shifted and grunted, trying to look at him more closely. Perhaps it was her only solace that her husband, my father, would never truly love anyone after her. Perhaps she hoped a new wife would only be a constant reminder of his first.
I stood in the background, watching the scene between my mother and father, clinging to the thick red bed drapes, my own golden curls tied back with a black ribbon. I had been pulled from my tutoring lesson with Mousier Rayner, learning French from the brittle books of my father’s library and had dressed for the occasion of my mother’s death in a simple black dress. I hadn’t known how to feel as the black silk brushed against my skin. I felt almost as if we were being paraded into her room to watch her die like an animal. Was this how life truly was?
We were born, lived the life God granted us, and then, just as quickly, our flame dulls until it becomes a wisp of smoke in a darkened room and we’re gone. As the servants and house-hold hands guided me into the room, I stood frozen in the back. It was often said by the Courtiers I looked much like my mother; I had the same golden hair and the same blue eyes. I wondered now how true it really was. Did I truly?
I felt fear as her last breath slipped between her lips, her hand slowly falling from my father’s shoulder. Everyone in the Kingdom knew the King did not have a male heir, and in turn, would need one to carry on the Royal Line. Who would be next? I could see eyes staring at me; I was my Mother’s reflection: my Mother’s legacy. I felt a cold shiver run up my spine as I heard my father reply, “I promise.”