Ava stood, distinctly feeling the cold metal of her new ornate headpiece. She scanned the room with new eyes. The numerous flags decorating the room stood out ferociously against the grey stone walls. The deep red banners, embroidered in gold with the Nordian royal crest, represented the kingdom of her father. Rich blue banners, the Glacian crest embroidered in silver, represented the kingdom of her mother.
Now both hers. Ava wondered how the contrasting flags could possibly be combined into one. She looked down from the walls to the people filling the room. A clear rift separated the crowd, the nobles mingling with who they knew. The only thing keeping the banquet room from looking like a battle were the servants bringing in platters of food and inviting guests to sit at the long tables for the feast.
Feeling gratitude swell in her heart, Ava watched the loyal servants treat the nobles from both kingdoms equally. These humble people worked tirelessly to ensure that she could focus entirely on making decisions and solving problems that seemed larger than she could handle.
“It was your mother’s.”
Ava turned sharply, her hand flying up to ensure the tiara would not fall.
Her grandfather caught her hand. “Perfectly designed to fit securely, your mother’s favorite. I thought you would like to wear it for the first while.”
“Thank you.” Ava curtsied.
Again, her grandfather corrected her, this time lifting her hand. “I am no longer your king, just your grandfather, and you, my queen.” He bowed and kissed her hand.
Ava blinked rapidly to control the emotion coming from seeing this wise and noble man bow to her.
Without ever letting go of her hand, her grandfather led Ava to her seat at the head table. The room had gone still as Ava sat in the large chair. All eyes drifted to her and the stillness was deafening. Having lived most of her life in hiding, the attention caused a panic stir in her chest. Glancing to her grandfather she saw encouragement, but even he watched her expectantly.
“Please, eat!” Ava called with what she hoped was a strong, clear voice.
The tension eased as everyone began filling their plates.
“So, my queen.” An older noblewoman addressed Ava, possibly a cousin or distant aunt. “What will be your first actions or declarations as queen?”
Ava turned to her grandfather, but he ignored her questioning look, reminding her that he was no longer king. She then looked to find anyone who might be able to guide or inspire her in some way. Instead, she saw the servants and the Nordian and Glacian nobles filling the room.
“I will visit different parts of both kingdoms. I don’t know the nobles, but I need to. I also want to them to know me, and the towns. Then I think I’ll know better what I need to do as their queen.”
“Oh,” the noblewoman sat back in her chair. “I would have combined the kingdom and named the country after myself.”
Ava blinked then scanned the room. She had not been raised as a princess among the nobles. But maybe that was for the best. Uniting two kingdoms that had been at war for years needed more tact than the frivolous decisions of a pampered noblewoman.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ava thought she saw a proud and approving smile on her grandfather’s face. But it didn’t matter, because Ava realized she was more concerned with earning the approval of her kingdom, both parts, as she is part of both.