I will not bore you with a recitation of the events of the following day- one wedding is much like another, if it is not your own, and since I was not a willing bride, in this instance, it did not even hold the charm of being my own. Suffice to say, by sunset I was wedded and bedded in the very worst of the old customs.
I understand that the physical act of love does not have to be terrible- but I imagine that is because it is a physical act of love. What happened to me, while physical, had nothing to do with love. Well, not beyond the king’s love of his own self, of course. Each night he came to me, and I retreated into my mind as much as possible. Each morning, as he slept, I chewed the herbs that would prevent his seed from taking root. Each day I longed for him to return to his many mistresses, and bother me no longer. But the kingdom required an heir, and so he kept at his work, as unenthusiastic as he found me. At times I toyed with the idea of letting it happen, just for a few month’s reprieve : after all, the creature would take the child off my hands as soon as it arrived, and no one could say I hadn’t done my duty to the kingdom. But I couldn’t bring myself to doom an innocent child to such a dubious fate, blood of the king’s blood or not.
Unfortunately for my scruples, the winter held on longer than anyone expected, and the plants stayed sleeping, locked beneath the frozen earth. I discovered, to my horror, that I had not put aside enough of the dried herb to outlast this delay- and before the first moon cycle had passed without it, I was with child.
I considered doing away with it, of course- I was a wise woman, after all, and knew how. Had known my mother to help other women when the time was not right for them. But I found that, for myself, I could not do it. Much as I hated the king, hated my life, I could not bring myself to hate the potential growing within my body. And then I felt it move, and found that I loved it, poor unwanted thing.