Erna was laid up in bed, with a cold, for three days.
When she was able to get up, she could only make it as far as the breakfast table.
“Fortunately, you have not turned into the Ghost of the Grand Duchess of Lechen,” Bjorn joked.
Erna adjusted her clothes, making a fuss.
She wore a shawl over her dress, which was embroidered with various flowers, her favourite being on a brooch.
Her hair was loosely braided and tied up with a pink ribbon.
She spoke less than usual at the breakfast table, much to the delight of Bjorn, and although she found the energy to come to the breakfast table, she was still emaciated.
She emptied her plate of food step by step.
“Will you be late again today?” She asked.
Putting down the tea cup she had been holding for a long while, she looked at her husband, who had finished his breakfast awhile ago.
Bjorn was about to stand up, but decided to sit back down and leaned back.
“What are you thinking, Erna?” He asked calmly.
“Why? Even if I were to tell you, you’d just forget.”
“That’s…” Bjorn paused as he noticed the smile on Erna’s face, “you think now’s the time to be joking on such matters?”
“Of course, I would say it more elegantly, but…”
“But I only feel good when you listen to me.”
Erna’s expression was serious.
It seemed like Bjorn was in the dog house after the way he treated Erna, it was not an unfair assessment.
“Then why don’t you say it in an elegant way?”
Bjorn winked at the attendant who came into the room to announce the readiness of his carriage.
This was one appointment he could not skip, though the Bald Eagle that was Felia’s noble lineage was quick tempered, they would not go to war because they were kept waiting for a couple minutes.
“I’ll listen to you Erna,” Bjorn said softly
Erna was still drummed up the courage to speak her mind.
“I just want to have dinner with you, if you have time,” the confidence she finally found was undermined by her hoarse voice, which shattered the elegance in the words.
“I will,” Bjorn agreed, after thinking for a second.
He had no other meetings scheduled for that day and the good thing about the impatient Bald Eagle, was that they would finish up pretty quickly.
“Can you look me in the eye and say that?” Erna said, all notions of cheer was gone from her and she fixed Bjorn with a stern gaze.
Bjorn looked Erna dead in the eyes and repeated what he had said.
Satisfied, Erna smiled with relief.
“How about tomorrow? I would like to travel with you,” Erna said, pushing her luck.
“No, I don’t want to,” Bjorn said, he could see she was in no fit state to travel yet.
Erna looked like she had been slapped in the cheek unexpectantly.
All her aspirations suddenly dashed on the floor.
“Why, didn’t you say you would listen to me?”
“I did listen to you and I said no.”
“Are you trying to make fun of me, by treating me like a child?”
“So I hope you don’t still see me as a young girl.”
“You might be twenty now, but you are still younger than me.”
“Only by five years.”
It was hard to tell when he first saw this woman, but she can be quite the talker.
Even being ill was no hurdle for her talkativeness.
Once she started, there was no stopping it.
“Why don’t you treat me kindly sometimes? Like now, like this?”
“And, what else…”
The attendant came back into the room, to express the need to get moving.
Bjorn needed to leave.
“It would be nice to hear something romantic, sometimes.” Unable to miss this rare opportunity, Erna found the courage to say so much more.
Bjorn stood from the table and adjusted his coat.
He looked like he went back to that same old Prince, who had just forgotten when what they had been talking about.
The look on his face stung, as if he was looking down at an immature child.
Erna changed her mind about giving Bjorn an example and went out to see him off, like she always did.
She ignored his order to go back to bed.
It was only fair, he ignored her all the time, what was fair for him was for her too.
“See you later,” Erna said, “Don’t be late.”
She looked Bjorn in the eyes when she reminded him.
Her eyes were big and wide, and sparkled as they caught the light of the sun.
Bjorn looked back at her and nodded once, before setting the carriage off.
He couldn’t help but laugh when his route took him past the old cathedral.
There had been a little fuss, but in the end, everything was back in its place.
Light and fresh, without any unnecessary emotional exhaustion.
Bjorn liked the fact that she was an easy and clear woman.
By the time he was satisfied that this somewhat impulsive marriage was a good choice, the carriage stopped outside the royal palace.
It was late in the afternoon, when the Grand Duchess was having afternoon tea in their guesthouse, that she received an unexpected visitor.
Lisa had tried to negotiate with the man who had promised an audience with the Grand Duchess without an appointment, returned, panting.
“Your Highness, you have to go.
This is really, I can’t explain.”
Lisa dragged her away and Erna could do nothing but be led on by her maid, who led her to the parlour, where the guest was waiting.
The other servants were all as surprised and stunned as Lisa, even Karen.
“What the hell is going on here?”
In the parlour, Erna came face to face with a polite man, bowing before her.
People lined up behind him, each with a colourful box.
“First of all, please have a seat,” Karen said, leading Erna to the sofa in the middle of the room, “It’s a gift from the Prince.”
Erna’s eyes grew wide as she sat and Karen whispered in her ear.
A middle-aged man, who had been waiting, approached as soon as Erna was seated.
“It is our honour to present to you, her royal highness, the princess of Lechen, with these wonderful jewels,” he bowed again, as he spoke clumsily in Lechenian language, “as ordered, we have selected only the very best for you, Your Highness.”
When he smiled with a face full of pomp and pride, he sent a glance to the others behind him.
They had been waiting patiently in the shadows of the parlour, but now stepped forward and opened up their boxes.
“Please, take your time and choose,” as he stepped back, the box bearers moved a step closer.
The revealed jewels.
Such jewels that were so gorgeous and beautiful enough to make your head wander.
“Bjorn!” Erna called as soon as he entered the drawing room.
Bjorn stopped when he noticed the jeweller was still standing guard outside the parlour, he should have left ages ago.
Erna was sitting on the sofa, surrounded by people holding boxes filled with sparkling colours.
“You haven’t chosen yet?” Bjorn looked at his watch, bewildered.
The jewellery had arrived on time, which should have given Erna plenty of time to choose.
It would seem the Erna was incredibly indecisive.
“I…I just can’t do it.”
Erna ran up to him and grabbed his sleeve, she looked like she was begging him to take her away from this.
He couldn’t believe she had gotten stuck choosing a simple accessory.
He let out a long sigh and led her back to the sofa, like she was a lost child.
“My wife, you must hurry and choose.”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t.”
“I don’t know about these things, they all look so beautiful, its impossible for me to choose one.”
As she continued to speak, Bjorn could feel his impatience rise and he was getting angry. Looking at Erna, he could see the confusion on her face and she would probably cry if he raised his voice even slightly.
“If it’s that hard for you decide, then take them all.”
That’s not what I want at all, never.” Erna flushed.
“I already received so many gems when we got married, I couldn’t possibly, I’m not that greedy, really.”
“Can’t you pick for me, please?”
“I wish that I could, but you see, you have a much better eye for these things than I do, so I know what ever you pick, will be the most special jewel.”
Bjorn placed his hand on Erna’s hip bone and gently urged her toward the jewels.
He nodded with his chin at the jeweller who had been watching them and he came over.
“Bring the most expensive one.”
The jewellers eyes widened slightly at the princes command in Felian.
He quickly regained his composure and ushered forward the clerk in the middle, who stepped forward with a box containing a blue diamond necklace.
“This is a necklace I have made recently.
I am proud to say that this is one of the finest and unique gems in Felia…”
“I’ll take that one.” Bjorn said.
Bjorn had cut off the jeweller before he had chance to finish explaining, he was disappointed at not being able to share the work he had put into it, about how unique the gem was and the fascinating technology used to cut it and set it, but he accepted the Princes request.
Bjorn placed the box given to him by the jeweller into Erna’s hands.
“A little while ago, what did you say?” Erna asked, as she examined the necklace with both fear and joy.
A smile spread across Erna’s face, Bjorn studied that smile for a long while.
The eyes of his wife were so beautiful, that the jewels of Felia could not compare and they were full of him.
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