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Chapter 5 : Crown of Blood and Wisdom
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I wondered if Chancellor Evans had been travelling with us, whether or not she would be giving me the same looks. My condition was worse than hers (and frankly worse than anyone else’s had ever been – except for Great-Aunt Margaret apparently), but she was never patronizing. Staring out the window, I sighed and fiddled with the crown in my lap. Since this was a public outing of sorts, I had to get dressed up.
My full-length, puffy dress was a light blue that matched the colour of my heels. My hair was pilled n my head and coiffed expertly so as to highlight the golden crown I now held in my lap – it weighed about 10 pounds and had been giving me a headache. The jewels alone probably cost more than my entire castle, but that wasn’t why I liked it so much. This had been the crown that had been forged when the first king of Avalyn declared himself king.
King Prometheus the First had directed Irish monks to forge the crown out of gold found in the Avalynian mountains. Of course, he had first kidnapped the monks and then had them mine the gold themselves, so all in all, not a good king. But that wasn’t why I loved the crown. The monks had been so mad at King Prometheus that they didn’t forge it properly or something – Avalyn’s history about enslaved monks forging a crown for a royal dictator isn’t all that specific – and deep red marks crisscrossed around the headpiece.
The monks told King Prometheus it was just a lack of experience on their part, but the distinct patterns of the lines were enough to have King Prometheus arrest them and he almost sent them to the gallows. But before they were hanged, his wife Avalyn – yeah, he named his new country after his wife… how original – snuck down into the dungeons and had them smuggled out.
Then, when she had successfully rounded up guards that were loyal to her and not her husband, she had them stationed outside her husband’s door while she slipped inside and stabbed him. Morbid, I know. There was also something about a curse, but I had ignored that part. But this Avalyn went on to become queen, reign justly and regally, and she also had seven different children from five different men, while remaining a widow.
Her oldest, Vienna, was crowned queen per Avalyn’s request to give the crown to her eldest child and not eldest son when she died at age 57. Vienna followed in her mother’s footsteps and never married but had three children from three different men. Again, she demanded that her eldest child get the crown after her death, which was when she was only 44 years old.
Queen Carolyn the first was that child, and since then, the crown has been handed down from mother to daughter, generation after generation. There has never been a king of Avalyn since King Prometheus.
And that's why I loved this crown. Made for a man but was stolen by a woman and has been worn by women and only women since then. It demonstrated how strong my family was. How strong it would be. And as I slowly traced my fingers along the inside of the crown, I smiled as I felt the familiar scratching of letters. A few days before your death, you’re supposed to scratch your initial into the rim of the crown, to leave part of your wisdom for whoever wears it next.
My mother’s glaring scratch rubbed against my finger and I slyly wiped a tear from my eye as the wheels of the plane touched down. Time to be the queen people knew me to be. I placed the crown on my head and straightened my back. Pulling myself up, I walked over to the door of the plane, holding on to it to keep myself steady.
When the jet finally stopped altogether and a flight attendant opened the door, I put on a coy smile like Chancellor Evans had taught me and took a step out into the sunshine. Only an older woman was on the runway, a tight smile stretched across her lips. I delicately walked down the stairs and held out my hand to her as she neared.
“Headmistress McGonagall, I presume?” I asked politely.
She nodded curtly. “That I am. Queen Carolyn, is it?”
“That it is,” I said, shaking her hand firmly. “But if it’s not too much to ask, Carolyn is just fine.”
She frowned. “While I appreciate it, you do not need to try and act too common for my sake. Please be yourself.”
“I am. Carolyn is who I am,” I said, not breaking eye contact. “The crown is but something attached to the blood that flows through my veins. It is not me, but will always be a part of me. I cannot change my blood, but you may find I can change my attitude.”
The ghost of a real smile flickered across her weathered face and she looked past me, up at the jet. I turned slightly and grinned as I saw Marielle step out, her pretty features accentuated by the yellow of her dress. She didn’t have heels, but flats and she bounded down the steps to stand next to me, her hand slipping into mine.
“Marielle,” I said, gesturing towards the headmistress, “this is Headmistress McGonagall.”
Marielle thrust out the hand that wasn’t entwined with mine and shook the woman’s hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” she said cordially.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Headmistress McGonagall said, finally smiling down at my sister. “Now, why don’t I get you to Diagon Alley. There is a nice place to stay and tomorrow I can send one of my most trusted professors to guide you along.”
I smiled and squeezed Marielle’s hand. “Thank you, but if you don’t mind, I think we can find our way there ourselves.”
“I have no doubt you are competent enough to find Diagon Alley,” the woman in front of me said, pursing her lips. “The problem is, Diagon Alley is part of the wizarding world.”
I nodded slowly. “Well then, I await to meet this professor. Shall we say at nine?”
“Perfect. And Your Highness, dress appropriately, like you are today.”
AN: Up next, our first glimpse of George!
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