La Rana y La Reina
The queen was but a princess, her parents lost this year past, one to war and one to childbirth. The child, too, was lost. He would have been heir.
When news of the Queen mother’s death, and that of her infant child, reached the ears of the kingdom, envoys of counselors and suitors came to the hall. But the princess-Queen chose La Rana.
La Rana had been advisor and handmaid to the Queen mother. She was short and stout, with dark hair, large, black eyes. They said she had been taken from the gypsy caves in Granada, a spitting, half-feral thing. As a child she had been in an accident, and about her throat was a burn mark as if from a rope. She wore high collars, and when she spoke above a whisper, she seemed to croak. No one knew her age.
“The gold gown,” she nodded to the princess-Queen’s handmaid. “The red brooch. You must look powerful tonight.”
The princess-Queen, Aurelia, lifted her head. She was dressed in only a shift, her long, black-brown hair loose about her shoulders. The coronation ceremony had taken place a month ago. Requests for her hand had not ceased since. On average, her suitors were 25 years older.