Queen Solea was known for being the most beautiful woman to ever set foot on the cobblestone streets of Nedréa. She was entitled to the label, of course, being the queen and all.
Or at least, before Princess Lucia of Ledaria had to come and spoil it all. She was pretty enough, and had a charming enough personality. She checked all the boxes for a fit enough wife to be betrothed to her only son. But she was nothing extraordinary. When Ezra announced that the little wench was with child, Solea excused herself from the drawing room in a desperate attempt to keep the tears from spilling over. How dare that little girl take the shining halo that floated above her head and pass it off as her own? Solea pressed her thumbs to her eyes to keep her tears from running clean streaks through her freshly powdered makeup.
How dare she. Well, wasn’t it peculiar that only a few weeks later, she and King Alejandro swept into the dining hall with the same exact news Ezra had given. Everyone seated exchanged glances, ranging between surprised and elated. Lucia was the first to get up, and congratulated her mother-in-law with a gentle hug.
“Oh, what wonderful news,” The young woman said brightly, which..had the queen taken aback. Did this girl not feel threatened in..the slightest. With a burst of new anger, Solea pushed the girl away.
“What are you thinking, touching me in such a manner!” She hissed whilst wrapping her long slender arms around her torso.
Lucia let out a little gasp, and quickly retreated over to her post. Ezra gave his mother a warning look, eyes narrowed and such. Solea felt one side of her red-painted mouth curl up into a smile.
This was going to be fun. Or so she thought.
As the months passed, she found that Lucia garnered more well-wishes from commoners as they went on public outings, got more attention from the King, and even the guards, who barely acknowledged her presence when she first arrived to Nédrea. Perhaps, the queen wondered, it was because she was carefree, and sweet, and kind.
Gods, she hated everything about the girl. But perhaps, Orion would be able to help out his Highness. Solea wasn’t accustomed to exchanging words with the sorcerer, and wasn’t keen on visiting his magic chamber, so one hazy summer evening, she had him brought down to the throne room. She was ruling alone, and had been for the past month. Her husband and son were away in a kingdom she didn’t care to remember the name of, working out a trade system..or something like that. Again, she didn’t care to remember.
She smirked gently as Orion was led into the throne room by a pair of heavy-set guards, their spears pointed in his direction. The sorcerer flinched every so often, even as he was bowing to his Highness.
“Guards, disassemble.” She told them and watched as they marched in uniform step to the overarching doorway. Orion turned to the queen, a look of confusion crossed his face.
“Your Highness, though I am honored that you are in need of my services..may I ask what you need me for?” He asked feebly.
“I need you to rid me of a pest that lurks about my castle.”
Orion smirked and pulled his wand from his pocket. “No pest can ever pass by my skills. Give me a fortnight, and I can guarantee that no rat will ever skitter in between these royal walls ever again.”
Solea set a hand on her swelling belly and shifted on her velvet cushion. “It isn’t an animal I need you to get rid of..rather, it’s a person.”
Orion arched a brow and peered over his shoulder before looking back at his Highness. “Whatever do you mean by that ?” His tone lowered to a hush.
“I need you to rid this hall of Princess Lucia..specifically her child.” The queen went on. She thought she saw Orion’s lip curl up in a sneer.
“I think I have just the elixir..” He bowed to Solea and disappeared in a plume of grey smoke.
Orion shared the same loathing of the princess as the queen did, though for a different reason. Before the girl had come along, he and Ezra had been thick as thieves since they could toddle. Though they were both reserved in their own rights, they still enjoyed each other’s company. Then, things changed, they both begun to blossom into adulthood, for Orion, that meant working on spell after spell with his old crippled father, while confined to his shabby quarters. For Ezra, it meant preparing to take on the responsibilities of a whole kingdom before he had even lost all of his baby teeth.
They were both isolated, that was for certain. The only difference was that Ezra was allowed to escape; he had found love and balance in his life in only a few short months. Orion could only dream of finding love..but within that, he found
a new feeling arise within him; hate. Hate was all he felt when he was crouched by his workbench, watching as the potion he created morphed from red, to green, to brown, and returned to red. Once he took it from the flagon, it had deepened to a shade of maroon.
This, this was the thing that would earn him Ezra back. So, it was treason against his wife—who cared? No one had to know. He snapped his fingers, and a teapot appeared on his workbench, a delicate china piece with accompanying cups and a tray. Delightful. He peered out the window of his stone-crafted abode which looked out onto the garden. There she was, the princess sitting upon a marble bench, looking out upon the koi pond that sat in the throngs of brightly coloured plants and such.
“Hello, Princess..” He appeared beside her, teapot in one hand and two cups pinched between the fingers of the other. Lucia let out a little squeak and stiffened, setting a hand on her enormous stomach. “Orion!” She squealed, her cheeks pink. “Oh, it’s only you..” Her voice settled into its normal range, and she smiled at him. He forced one, just to reciprocate..kindness. Oh, what hogwash.
“Yes, your Highness. It’s quite warm today, so I thought you might want a drink after sweltering under the hot sun.” He plopped down beside her and poured her a cup, watching as the crimson liquid splashed into the bottom. “I’m sorry I’ve nothing else to offer but tea.” He added as she wrapped her calloused, yet delicate fingers around the thing.
“Oh, please. Don’t apologize. Tea is good any time of year.” She pushed a shiny, dark brown lock from her golden eye and smiled. “Thank you. You’re so very kind.”
He had to admit, she looked stunning in the afternoon light. Her hair hung down to the middle of her back, styled with nothing but a simple pewter pin. The dress she wore, made of yellow organza, flowed about her supple figure with grace and elegance. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t hurt her.
Even so, he didn’t react when she took one sip of the disguised poison. Then another, then another. It was like he was frozen. He only reacted when her water broke..along with the cup. He offered her his hand as he helped her to stand, and cringed; her grip was so tight it could crush bone.
He kept on holding it when they arrived at her chambers, where only a midwife was, along with her faithful, plump lady in waiting, Hazel. He was astonished; how could the High Court have been alerted of the Princess’s labor so quickly?
“I wish you good luck, Prin-“ Orion started to let go of her hand, which was shaking violently. “Stay..” she whispered. She hadn’t let go of his hand, in contrast. “Please. I’m scared.”
He obeyed, and stayed by her side, coaxing her through the delivery as she struggled, and screamed, and moaned. It was midnight when the child finally arrived.
“W-why..is it not crying?” Hair was matted to her forehead with sweat. Her eyes were ringed with the remnants of ruined makeup and tears.
The midwife said nothing for a moment. “Your Highness, your son is stillborn.”
The wails that the princess let out were so guttural, so feral, that Orion feared her vocal cords would start bleeding. He held the girl close as she shook, and stroked her sweat-matted hair.
“Your Highness, I’m so terribly sorry.” He whispered. “I wish there was something I could have done…”
But there was something he could have done. He could have never made the tea, he could have disobeyed the queen, he could have never agreed to meet with her in the first place.
But what had been done could never be reversed. And it was all his fault. He stayed by Lucia’s side the whole night until his eyes were heavy, holding her as she sobbed endlessly.
She deserved so much more. Oh, the things that jealousy make us do, he thought to himself. Such awful, awful things.