It was early May in the 37th year of King Baldwin’s reign. Violant sat in a horse-drawn carriage, facing Sybil. Both ladies additionally were accompanied by one maid each in this women’s coach. The reason why the red-haired girl travelled together with her sister-in-law instead of riding Huwcyn – what she would’ve preferred since the ceffyl dwr accompanied them nonetheless – was Sybil’s expressive wish to do so. She wanted to use this journey for some girl’s talk. Violant had an inherent dislike against girl’s talk, being a tomboy through and through, but no matter how much Sybil loved her husband, girl’s talk was the one thing she simply couldn’t do with him. Thus Violant had given in.
Yes, Violant and Sybil were in-laws, for several months already to be honest. Accordingly, Sybil now also wore a married woman’s white veil like it was custom. The wedding of Mortimer and Sybil had been back in early October of last year, roughly four months after Violant’s return from the other march accompanied by Arinnefja. It had been a sunny and warm day in early autumn, with most pleasant weather for a most pleasant occasion. The wedding ceremony had been scheduled to take place in Avallach’s main temple. It was doubtlessly the event of the decade in the margraviate, which was not least due to the presence of some very illustrious guests.
The presence of Duchess Adelaide was a matter of course. There was no way in hell this doting mother would miss out on the most important day in the life of her dear darling daughter.
Chief minister Jocelyn, as the brother of the bride, was also present, accompanied by his wife Princess Mabel. That too was nothing out of the ordinary. Both had been accompanied by their children, three years old Petronella and her baby brother Adelard. Of course the children hadn’t been present at the ceremony but had been in the care of Lady Alse (who thus temporarily returned to her former workplace) and the young son and heir’s nanny respectively. In the place of their late father, Jocelyn had taken over the honor of escorting the bride to the altar.
Something that had been not exactly unexpected but nonetheless created quite the stir was the arrival of both Queen Berengaria and the nowadays rather famous berserk Prince Wynkin. The two royals had made an appearance because they were, on one hand, in-laws and close friends of the Sulias and, on the other hand, indebted to the Avallachs in various ways. The queen openly gave her blessing to this marriage she came to celebrate, emphasizing the fact that the excellent youths of today would form the ways of the kingdom in the future.
All in all it had been a very memorable event and in further consequence Sybil had managed to settle down in Avallach quite quickly. The only thing the margraviate was lacking – at least in her eyes – was the wholesome thermal springs she was used from Sulia. But she didn’t need to lack hot baths. This problem was solved thanks to the help of a bannik who had arrived as a refugee of the other march some months earlier and who turned out to be a specialist for bathhouse matters, thus successfully landing a job with the margravial house.
“Oh, it is so exciting, is it not?” Sybil asked “Just imagine it: How wonderful it must be, all of Kingsborough fervently anticipating the great day, the crowd cheering for His Highness Edric and Her Highness Myrtis, a match made in heaven. Then the ceremony with all the splendor. And best of all, we are allowed to witness this all at close quarters! It is just too exciting!”
“That it is.” Violant replied halfheartedly. She already had enough of her sister-in-law’s current overenthusiasm. As demure as Sybil normally was, as giddy she was now. It was more than clear that the normally modest future margravine was a huge romanticist inside. And what could be more romantic than a royal wedding, especially one where the groom and bride appeared like they had been made for each other?
To express their gratitude for the role the meeting in Avallach played for the realization of their engagement, Edric and Myrtis had invited everyone who had been present back then at Cockatrial festival, namely the Avallach siblings and Sybil. The princes’ attendance of the wedding of one of their brothers was a matter of course, as was the presence of Lady Mafalda, Myrtis’s future mother-in-law. Librarian Augustine, though much revered as a scholar by the second prince, lacked the noble blood to be eligible for one of the wedding invitations. Not that he likely would have come if he had gotten one though.
“A dreamlike wedding it will be for sure.” Sybil continued with unbroken enthusiasm “One that we can be proud to have attended even when we talk about it to our grandchildren. Apropos, speaking about weddings. When is yours planned to be, my dear Violant.”
The tomboy who at this very moment snacked on an apple was so startled that she choked on it and began to have a violent coughing fit. Abigail, who sat next to her mistress, immediately began to slap Violant’s back with full power to aid her.
As soon as the apple piece had left the redhead’s windpipe again and she had caught a bit of breath, she answered:
“I am in no hurry. I don’t believe I will be ready for love and marriage anytime soon. But you know me, Sybil. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you in the least.”
“Yes I know.” the sickly sister-in-law replied poutingly “But you do not know what you are missing out on. I am particularly curious if there is a man who you possibly fancy. That Prince Gervase perhaps? You always had quite heated discussions but teasing is a sign of affection after all. I now it would be a forbidden love. The ever-neutral Avallach girl and the royal prince vying for the throne. How dreamy!”
Violant shuddered at that thought. The last thing she needed was a repeat of the tragedy of last time, the more so as she now knew about Gervase’s treacherous true character. Accordingy her answer sounded extremely harsh.
“Never ever!” she said “There is no way in hell I will ever marry Prince Gervase. The more so as this is an impossibility in and of itself. But believe me, Sybil, there is nothing between His Highness and me that resembles anything like love, and be it remotely. The only thing there is between us is a deep enmity and antagonism. Wherever it might have come from. That’s all it is, nothing more.”
“Well, if you put such emphasis on it, then it will be the case.” Sybil agreed, “But honestly, Violant, you do not want to end up as an old spinster, do you?”
“Of course not!” Violant denied “It is just that I am simply not ready yet to think about such matters like marriage.” Not after Gervase’s heartless betrayal. Not so soon. she thought. Although it had been almost three years since her return to the past, the scars in Violant’s heart and soul still needed time to heal. But that wasn’t something she could allow anyone to know. That was something she had to deal with by herself after all.
With further girl’s talk Violant so dreaded they smoothly arrived in the capital. All of Kingsborough was filled with a festive atmosphere, simmering with excitement for the royal wedding that would take place in a few days’ time.