The Queen moved slowly through the hall. Her heavy skirts dragging behind her like an anchor in the ocean, weighing her down, sweeping the dust and dirt from the flagstones as she pulled her tired, tiny frame towards the dark wooden door.
She was exhausted, every part of her body ached, but every ounce of her legitimate self-respect kept her upright, her back straight, her head held high.
If she could just get to the door, she would be safe. She would be away from the sneers, the betrayal, the treason. She could retreat to her rooms, her ladies and her children. She could recover from the treachery, seek counsel and, perhaps, discredit the perpetrators. She could find revenge and then…peace.
Was it only yesterday she had been laughing and loving in the sunshine? His arms protecting her? His lips promising forever? When had it turned so ugly? How did the rumours start? At what point did she take her first step onto the path that had led to his displeasure, his refusal to see her, his assured belief in the lies of the gossipmongers.
With one last effort she reached the door and placed her fingers on the handle. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of turning back, her eyes pleading with him to protect her from the agony that surely lay ahead.
She straightened perceptively and paused, willing the confidence to flood back into her body. She had lost her standing in the world today but she knew she had already secured her place in history.
She threw the door open widely, she wasn’t going to slip out like a thief in the night, she was going to leave with strength, dignity and elegance.
She stepped through the doorway and smiled at the waiting paparazzi.