The Queen skilfully led a daily conversation as if talking to a long lost friend and they were catching up on old times.
The Prince’s name was not mentioned again.

   Erna closed the window and shuffled back over to the desk.
Her hands still hurt, but they were no longer so bad that they kept her from her work.

   If you are soaked in pointless sentiment, you will only deepen your depression.
If you work, you can reduce your debt.

   Erna continued to work as she repeated the mantra in her head.

   She knew that selling artificial flowers would never be enough to cover the cost of the trophy and then add the money Pavel had leant her, she would have to decorate the hats of every women in the city if she wanted to pay every one back.

   This was the only solution Erna could think of, so she decided to do her best.
It might take her whole life, but she had to deal with these things, no matter how overwhelming they were.

   Erna was used to the struggle, her whole life had been one challenge after another.
Sometimes she feels helpless, but other times, there is always something that can be done, no matter how small or insignificant.
Erna knew she should never give up, especially not on herself.

   By the time Erna was done making the last petal, it was well past midnight.
Other than the few hours with the Queen, she had dedicated the whole day to making flowers.

   After tidying everything away, Erna went to wash up before laying down on the bed.
It was easy for her to fall asleep.
Thanks to the fatigue of the work and the emotional drain on the afternoon, Erna slept the night away.
She was even able to create harmony with her dream, which was of a flower the size of the city.


“Look over there, she’s finally here.” Peter declared.

   He was examining the crowed with wide eyes, scrutinizing every face he could, daring not risk missing the opportunity to see the young lady that was the main character for today’s festival.
The Hardy family had just entered the stand and with them was Erna Hardy.

   “I knew it.”

   While laughing at the crowds reaction, Leonard was also relieved.
If Erna had not shown up once in awhile, all the young lads would have degenerated into mindless idiots, obsessing over mythical phantoms.

   “Well, Miss Hardy, I am glad to see you don’t have any trouble with boats.” Peter said.

   “Pah, do you think you have the skill to ride your boat?” Leonard scoffed.

   “Of course.” Even though ridicule was in his eyes, Peter stood firm.

   Among the young gentlemen who were taking part in the bet, Peter sent the most letters and flowers to Lady Hardy.
From that, he got the most replies, which Peter took to mean she was more interested in him.
The pride of his letters is the one preceding the one he sent asking after her health.
Despite the reply containing a firm rejection, like the others, it did contain a little more, only to state that she was well.

   “Do you really think you can entice a woman so embroiled in a scandal with Prince Bjorn Dniester?” Leonard teased.

   “Oh that? Its fine, Bjorn is just using her to get at his ex-wife.
I’m different, we have a genuine, emotional bond.” Peter said proudly.

   Thinking about the large pile of personal replies from Erna, Peter really thought he stood a chance, but little did he realise, he and Erna were not on the same boat.

   “Well, here comes your rival now.” Leonard pointed.

   He giggled like a school boy who just heard a funny fart joke.
The Royal Family was coming down the narrow path from the palace to the riverside.
The whole family came down to the VIP seats, all with the exception of Leonid, who participated in the games.
The crowd applauded and cheered, charging the atmosphere of the riverside festival.

   “Psst, Bjorn, look there.” Peter whispered as he approached the podium and slipped into the seat next to Bjorn.
Princess Louise gave him a stinging glare.

   Bjorn leisurely turned his gaze towards where his friend notioned with a not so subtle finger.
Down at the bottom right of the stand he saw the woman that was his straight flush.
Erna Hardy.

   Bjorn brushed away Peters silly behaviour and dipped his eyes.
His long eyelashes vailed his eyes and Bjorn let a smile softly curl his lips.

   “Huh, I see she is here.” Bjorn said softly.

   When Erna turned her head to look around, Peter shrunk away a little and giggled.
Bjorn really thought the man was going to hide in away in the flap of his coat.
The movement alerted Erna and her eyes met Bjorn’s.
They exchanged polite nods and a half hearted smile.

   He could not help but notice how pale Erna looked.
He had thought the news of her ill health had been excuses, but seeing her now, he might well believe the stories.
She was still beautiful though.
After that, Erna didn’t know where to look and turned back to the face the front.
She was a distance away, but Bjorn could still see she had blushed.

   “Oh boy, if I only Miss Hardy would accept my companionship, I think I would die.” Peter said, staring at Erna’s back.
“Because my father will kill me.” Peter practically laughed at his own punchline, but at the same time, it was no joke.

   Peter’s father, Earl Bergen sat not too far away, laughing heartily.
He was a good looking man and was a fairly famous pugilist in his youth.
He proved he could still throw a punch when he caught his eldest son with a maid.
Earl Bergen beat sense in the boy and called it repentence.

   The announcement for the start of the match sent the crowd into a cheer.
Bjorn took off his gloves and leaned on the back of the chair in front of him.
He was not watching the match, his attention was on Erna and as the noise of the crowd died down, she looked over her shoulder.
Their eyes met and Bjorn’s whole world became just her.
She looked surprised he was looking at her, but to him, the whole world melted away and only she was left.

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