Before he’d become king, Owain hadn’t realised quite how much work was involved. Roald had never really spoken about the practical details, only the moral things like mercy and clearsightedness. He’d never mentioned that you could go days on end without any sleep, that mostly there wasn’t an arrow showing you which decision was the right one, and that the courtroom was the other side of the palace from the privy.
Owain wanted to be a good king very much. He knew what he had to do, and he knew how to do it. The only problem was...
He sighed. Beatrix.
He loved her. There was no two ways about it. He loved her intelligence, her kindness, her sarcasm, her beauty, her grace. She would make a perfect queen, he had no doubt.
But she didn’t want to.
Anyone, even a fool, could see that she wasn’t happy. She was quiet. She was listless. She hardly ever spoke to him. She spent all her time in the library, hidden away with her books. She had barely any appetite. Her beauty faded. Her hair grew lank, she was pale, her eyes hollow and red from crying.
This wasn’t what he wanted. Not what he wanted at all.
What to do? He knew very little of the ways of the heart.
But she didn’t love him. That much was obvious. She loved Keiran, the outlaw, who’d returned to his mud patch at the back of beyond the day Beatrix accepted Owain.
Owain hated Keiran for that. That an outlaw could make Beatrix so unhappy! It was not fair. Owain was just as good a man as any peasant - better, in fact.
But no, it wouldn’t do to speak ill of Keiran. Owain knew that he owed his throne, probably even his life, to that band of outlaws who fought on his side. He would have to pardon them all, of course. He should have done that earlier, but something stopped him... Maybe it was the idea that, once Keiran was pardoned, Beatrix would run off to him, leaving Owain all alone?
What to do? What would Roald have done?
And with a sigh, Owain realised he’d known all along what to do.
Now he just had to do it.
Even if it broke his heart?