There were Whispers about the Princess that I now served, all around Castle Ravenclaw. Young men, both noble blood and knights whispered about her beauty and how they have tried and failed to woo her. Ladies both young and Old whispered about her impertinence. Those loyal to the Queen her stepmother, whispered about her being a witch and how she should be burned. Old men whispered about her intelligence, and her spirit. Servants whispered about her kindness to them. There were many rumors about this princess. All of them were true, and yet the princess pretended to be oblivious to the rumors. I could see in her eyes though the cunning intelligence she had to rise above them.
I left my home in Scotland three months ago to serve the English King. I would never return home, as I had been exiled for witchcraft of my own. Rowena was a witch, as was her mother the late queen. She used her magic only for good, mostly for healing, and protecting. She had her own garden that she tended to in the spring of herbs she used for her potions.
We had become the closet of friends since my arrival. I was the same age as her, not 12 like one of her ladies, not married like her other ladies. I shared things in common, the ability for magic being only one. The compassion to feel her impatience with the ignorance of those around her.
But the princess had not left her chamber in over a week now. The ladies spent their time talking amounts themselves over needlework. Rowena always dismissed them to eat their meals in the Great Hall. I was the only one she allowed to stay, but her silence remained throughout that time. The only time she spoke was to make a command to one of her ladies.
I had finally had enough of her silence.
“Princess, please, can’t you hear their whispers? They think that there is something wrong with your head. I know better. Whatever is troubling you?”
“You are smart Helga. Tell me. Are you Betrothed?”
“No. I was.”
“How did you get out of it?”
“I was exiled?”
“Witchcraft. I was caught casting a spell over a sleeping lady who had trouble breathing in her sleep. I was trying to help, but of course Witchcraft is always something that people fear. I was exiled to England to serve you. My betrothed had no want for me anymore.”
“You were very lucky not to be burned.”
“Yes. I was supposed to be, but my servant, Elisa helped me escape. She drugged the guard at my door, and unlocked the door, gave me the cloak I am wearing now and a horse from the stable and told me to ride fast for the boarder and to use my name until I had reached it.”
“I’m lucky to have you, and I’m glad you made it. I will protect you if anything bad were ever to happen.”
“What is ailing you Princess?”
“Rowena. Please. I’m bethrothed to the Prine of Wales.”
“I had always expected that I would rule England alone after father, well after he dies, but now he has decided that I must have a husband and a king to co-rule.”
“Men do not understand that women are just as smart and capable at decision making as they are. It is the ladies like those dumb broads that serve you that form these opinions in men. They act stupid therefore all women are stupid. In ancient Egypt, Isis the Goddess was revered as the most powerful, above any other god. Yet that is not the opinion now.”
“Men have decided to make a law saying that women must marry to have children, that it is unlawful for a woman to have a lover that is not their husband, punishable by death, it is unlawful to disrespect their husbands. Yet men do all the same things and they are patted on the backs for it. I am just as intelligent as they are, yet it is disgraceful for me to speak openly about politics and it amazes most of the men that I know anything on the matter in the first place.”
“It is a shame that it is the way of the world.”
“It is. But I cannot blame father foe deciding that I need a husband by my side. He wants the Ravenclaw name to carry on, he wants me to be protected. I believe that his advisors told him that England would be at risks of losing the throne to Wales and Scotland if they rebelled against us and I sat alone on the throne. Again their opinion is that I do not know enough of the affairs of war and politics to make the proper decisions.”
“A good king listens to his advisors.”
“Yes. That is so.”
“When do you get married?”
“Two months is not soon.”
“No, but it will go fast.”
“It will, since it is the last two months of my independence.”
“You can yet change the world Rowena. You are intelligent enough to do so.”
“I like you Helga. You can make me smile because you understand me. You have the same wild spirit that I do.”
I smiled at her words. Yes we were all but the same. I just came from a land that was conquered by the English and she was raised to rule the land that conquered mine. But that was long in the past. We had only the future to look forward to.