Lillian makes her way to her room where her head maid, Malinda, is waiting for her. Lillian has known Malinda since she was old enough to remember. The young woman had been with her through the lost of her family and her ordeal at the mansion of Lord Argon. Throughout all that time Malinda stood by her and suffered through the pain with her. Lillian now trusted Malinda with her life and trusted her above all others.
“Welcome back, my lady. What was the meeting about?”, Malinda asks when Lillian enters. Lillian walks over to an armchair as she speaks, “Prince Winston presented his plan on how he wanted to deal with the lords; specifically Lord Argon.”
“Plan? What plan?”, Malinda questions.
“The order, it appears, sought to stop the prince from taking all power by making his mother his co-regent. All on grounds that he is of a young age to take such responsibility. As a result Prince Winston has chosen to form a council of advisers and he wants Vincent and I to join it.”, Lillian answers as she begins to undress.
“This is the first I’ve heard of such a plan.”, Lillian knows what Malinda is really saying is ‘Why am I just hearings this from you now?’.
“I just heard about it myself, but apparently Vincent has known since the day it became known to Prince Winston.”, she says with disdain. Lillian remembers how Prince Winston just brushed aside the fact he hadn’t told her. She understands he has been in a state of grieving, but she feels he could have ran it by her prior.
“Why the sound of jealousy?”, Malinda says presenting Lillian her clothes.
“It’s not-”, Lillian starts out intensely due to her thoughts, but pauses to gather herself. “It’s not that. It’s just as his betrothed and future queen Prince Winston should be more open to me, shouldn’t he?”, Lillian wants to know if she is wrong to sound selfish; to want the prince to herself.
“Hard to say. He is not obligated to do so.”, Malinda points out thoughtfully as she assist Lillian in getting changed.
“Yet he seems to tell Vincent everything.”, Lillian comments half to herself looking to the ground with half closed eyes.
“You know those two’s bond is a strong one. There are few friendships like theirs; pure and true.”, Malinda reminds Lillian. Lillian knows of the relationship between the prince and knight. She has seen the power it holds and their devotion to one another. It is legend by now.
Everyone in the kingdom knows no one can make a move against either without the other knowing. How is it that she is going to be able to match that. During his time of mourning Prince Winston sought comfort from Vincent not her and it was he the prince only spoke to at first. This resulted in Vincent being assigned to the castle as Prince Winston’s personal guard. Lillian is forced to realize that she would never be the only object of Prince Winston’s trust and affection; not while Vincent remained here. That, she could not accept.
He must be removed then. Only I can have the prince.
Prince Winston follows the servant to his mother’s study where she is waiting for him. She is seated at a table with her face in her hands at which Winston seats on the other side of. When he does so she lifts her head to him.
Prince Winston and his mother’s relationship had come a long way in the past seven years. There was once a time when his mother sought to control his life with her obsession of him being the perfect prince spearheaded by her desire for him to choose a fiancée. The result was that Winston saw her as a personal enemy, but once he gained the strength to take control of his life from her everything changed.
As the years came and gone their understanding of one another grew and now that his father has past they suddenly only have each other to look to when it comes to their political situation. Although that isn't completely true. At least not for Winston, but now he is all his mother has.
“You summoned me, mother?”, he says.
“Yes, I wanted to remind you that as part of you taking the throne it is customary to meet with the Order of the Lords upon being crowned. I am hoping you have an answer for them concerning the beginning of your reign.”, she says to Winston. He looks at her closely and notices the wary and worry mixed with lingering sadness in her eyes. It is clear to him she is worried. Thankfully he is able to give her some relief.
“You don’t have to worry, mother. I do have a response and it is nowhere near an agreement.”, Winston begins. “I understand the fact that my age may arouse concern among the lords and some citizens even. I also accept the fact that it is foolish to think I can jump into this and know what I’m doing. As a result I have chosen to create a council that will serve as my advising body and made up of those I trust and share my mindset.”, Prince Winston explains. His mother looks to him with intrigue.
“A council? That just may work, but who shall make it up?”, questions the widowed queen.
“Well, you of course, Lillian, and Vincent.”, answers Winston. A look of doubt comes upon his mother’s face.
“That is a small council along with an interesting make up.”
“There is no need for there to be so many. I still have the church and order who are already like a set of advisers anyway. The presence of a large council will make it appear I am hiding behind them and unable to rule at all on my own.”, Winston looks away with his hand under his chin before adding. “The power of the crown is spreaded to far as is. Even this council is meant to be temporary for now.”, Winston looks back to his mother. He knows what else his mother would question about his plan as well, for even he did at first and he suspected Vincent does the same.
“What about Vincent? Do you really think he will be able to serve in your plan as you want?”, There it is. “He is a knight after all. A well known one yes, but not one in the position to exchange his duties for this.”, Winston’s mother speaks. The prince shifts in his chair.
“I know, but it just wouldn’t seem right without him and it is exactly the reason he is not in the position to do this that I chose him. Perhaps if I do this it will give him the opportunity and he will take it?”, Winston’s mother looks at him with both exasperation and understanding.
“Oh dear, I suppose the lords are right that you still have a child’s mind. I suppose it is hard to remember that seeing how you have grown.”, she starts.
“I never said I wasn’t a child.”, Winston retorts seeking to defend himself.
“Does Vincent knows this?”, she pauses catching herself. “Better question does he want you to do this?”, she asks leaning forward towards the prince. Winston pauses for a moment lowering his hand.
“I’m not sure to be honest.”, he says in an unsure low voice. “When I told him and Lillian about it he did seem shocked. Which is a natural response, but... I did sense he is a little...unwilling I suppose.”, Prince Winston admits.
“Why you think that is?”, his mother presses. Winston sighs heavily dropping his eyes to the floor.
“I don’t know.”, he admits. Honestly, Winston doesn’t see the point of any of this. He is just trying to do something good for his friend. Was that so wrong?
“Have you ever thought about the position Vincent be in sometimes being the best friend of the prince may as well say king of the kingdom. Sure your bond is known throughout the kingdom and appears to be mostly adored, but what about those who feel that Vincent is able to get things that the average knight or person of his status wouldn’t get. When have you ever heard of a knight the rank of Vincent being present in the royal castle as much as he is.”, his mother says.
“I-I don’t know... Never I suppose.”, the prince replies raising his hands in a giving up motion.
“Come now Winston you know Vincent is privileged. You are the reason he is!”, she says with exasperation.
“Alright, what if he is and what if I am?”, the prince retorts.
“Believe it or not there are those who would criticize Vincent for that or be envious of him because of it. They would seek to discredit him by saying everything he has done he has been given by you. How do you think that makes Vincent feel?”, his mother replies.
“Even if there are those who do that I don’t care and Vincent shouldn’t either!”, Winston says.
“That’s a child’s answer and those kind of answers will not be accepted anymore.”, his mother replies coldly. Prince Winston rubs his hand over his eyes and drops it back down.
“I don’t know.”, he admits. “I don’t.”
“Well then ask him.”, the prince’s mother suggest.