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The Queen's Apprentice

Heather Petsche

     "You ought not to let her boss you around like that," Sir Reginald of Lawrence said matter-of-factly as he watched his friend, Prince Harry, scrub the stone floor at the entrance of Castle Brock.  Harry looked up from the gray sudsy water and blew his brown hair out of his piercing blue eyes.
     "Well, I don't really mind it, Reggie," he shrugged as he rinsed out the rag and moved on to another stone.  Reginald rolled his light brown eyes and sighed.  He leaned forward in his chair to get Harry's full attention.  "Excuse me, your highness, but you happen to be a prince, remember?  Princes don't normally scrub the floors of their own castles."
     "Would you rather I commanded you to do it?" Harry asked.  Reginald's smile quickly faded.  "I thought not," laughed Harry.  "Look," he said, putting down the scrub brush.  "She asked me to do it, so I'm doing it.  To tell the truth, I'd rather wash the floor than be off doing my princely duties!"  And with that he lowered his head and returned to his task.  Reginald stood and shook his head of rust-colored hair.
     "Have it your way, then, my friend, but I am off to more adventurous things." And he walked past the prince into the castle foyer.  The large, open room was rather dark, being made completely of stone and having small windows.  Candles hung on the walls and from the ceilings, giving off a glowing light and casting shadows everywhere.  Burgundy velvet cloth decorated the mantle above the large stone fireplace, and burgundy-patterned rugs were strewn over the stone floor. 
     "You might at least wipe your boots off before you go tramping around in there!"  Harry shouted after him from the terrace.  He had put down the brush once more and stood up, walking outside to survey his father's castle.  It was a grand view.  The impressively large gray stone castle covered a lot of land. Many turrets, gables, and towers gave it a decorative front.  This was not just a fortress; it was a home.  Green hills stretched for miles and gently blowing pine trees framed the castle grounds.  It was peaceful here, Harry knew, but he was not happy as he had once been.  He felt that his stepmother, Queen Gabrielle, was an evil woman, but he went on pretending to be happy in the face of his father and his friend. King Henry had been ill for months, and he was so in love with her that Harry dared not reveal his true feelings. 
     Reginald was so deep in thought, he barely heard his friend's call.  He was gazing up at the portraits of the royal family above the mantel, hands behind his back.  The truth was that Sir Reginald, cousin to the prince, was worried.  Ever since King Henry had remarried, a change had come over Harry.  He no longer had that look of pride and happiness that he saw in this portrait, painted just over two years ago. Harry's mother had been dead for many years when Queen Gabrielle appeared one day out of the misty morning fog.  She was a good deal younger than Harry's father – in fact, she was scarcely older than Reginald and Harry's own twenty years.  The whole kingdom thought she was beautiful with her black hair and bright green eyes. Reginald had to agree, but he didn't like her.  There was something suspicious about her, about the way she made Harry work like a common servant and obey her without complaint.  And King Henry doted on her.  Reginald was determined to find out why the whole kingdom seemed to be under her spell.  He turned right and headed for the tower. 
    Still outside, Prince Harry squinted into the distance.  Was there a figure approaching?  Yes, it appeared to be a young woman.  Harry wiped off his wet, soapy hands on his white tunic and set out to meet her. 

*                    *                    *                          *

     "You little fool!" Gabrielle shrieked as she threw down the heavy volume, Spells for the Sorceress in disgust.  The book narrowly missed the figure cowering on the floor.  "You've mixed it all wrong – there's too much wolf's bane."  She pointed a long slender finger, trembling in rage, at the glass vial in question.  The potion inside was turning a sickly greenish color and giving off a foul stench.  "Four months and you still can't get it right!" she ranted. "He should have been long dead by now!" The young apprentice slowly got up from the floor, straightened her simple pink dress, and pushed her dark blond hair out of her face.
     "I – I'm sorry, your highness," the girl stammered.  "I seem to have mistaken it for the, the worms wort again."
     "You certainly have," the Queen observed dryly, calming down.  "Well, clean it up, Petrenella," she said in a sugary tone, "and just don't let this happen again, hmm?"  She put a finger under Petrenella's chin and smiled.
     "No, my lady," the girl whispered, nearly in tears.
     "All right, then.  I must go now, but I'll return tonight to see that my special potion is ready."  With a swish of her blue velvet cloak Gabrielle descended the staircase and was gone.  Crying softly, Petrenella dumped the ruined potion out the window, and gazed down the many flights to the bottom.  The wild red roses directly under the window were immediately burnt and withered where the green fluid had touched them.  Wiping her eyes with her sleeve, she opened the book once more, talking softly to herself.  "Let's see now, hemlock – that's the one in the green bottle.  Three drops . . ."  She was being so careful to get it right, her brow lowered in concentration.  Just then, Sir Reginald stepped from the shadows.  He had been hiding behind a bookcase watching the entire scene, and now he confronted this strange young girl.
     "What is that," he asked levelly, coming round the large wooden table where she was working.  Startled, the girl spilled some of the potion on the wooden floorboards, leaving a black burn mark.
     "Oh no!" she cried, highly agitated.  "Look what you've done – what I've done.  She'll be furious!"  She tried in vain to wipe up the remains of the liquid, but only succeeded in burning a hole through her apron.  Flustered, she realized that Reginald was still standing over her, watching every move she made.  She straightened and tried to look him in the eye but quickly lowered her gaze.  She had never seen such a handsome man before.  "Who, who are you, sir?"  She asked quietly.  Reginald stepped forward and put a hand on her arm.
     "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you," he began, as he saw that the poor girl was trembling.  Surely she was just a pawn in the Queen's plans.  He would not believe that this beautiful, innocent face was capable of any evil.  "It's all right," he insisted softly when she still did not calm down.  "I'm not going to hurt you."  Finally she looked up into his warm brown eyes and then gave him a weak smile.  "That's better," he laughed.  "My name is Sir Reginald of Lawrence.  I'm the prince's cousin."  They were silent for a moment and he realized how pompous he sounded.  Rocking back and forth on his heels, Reginald coughed uncomfortably.  "Now it's your turn," he said politely.
     "Oh! Petrenella.  My name is Petrenella," she said shyly.  Reginald held out his hand and she put her small fingers in his. 
     "I'm pleased to finally make your acquaintance, Miss Petrenella."  He glanced around the dark, shadowy tower at the tall shelves of spell books and jars of mysterious ingredients.  He raised a perfectly arched eyebrow.  "So tell me, Petrenella, why are you working for the Queen?"
     "Well, I guess you could say I'm a kind of apprentice," Petrenella began hesitantly.  "I – I'm just no good at sorcery!  That's the second time today I've managed to ruin that potion!"  She burst into noisy tears as she glanced at the mark on the floor.
     "Here now!" Reginald exclaimed, rather at a loss from this sudden turn of events.  "Don't do that!"  He fumbled in his pocket and finally produced a dingy handkerchief.  Leading her to a rickety wooden chair, he gave her the cloth and she sat and wiped her eyes.
     "Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry, Sir Reginald of Lawrence!" she sobbed.  "I didn't mean to cry, but you saw for yourself how clumsy I was with that poison.  Why, imagine what could have happened if it had landed on you or me, instead of the floor!"  Reginald turned his head sharply in surprise.
     "Poison!"  She nodded.  "Listen here, Petrenella," he said seriously, "I need you to tell me what the Queen is up to, and why you're making this poisonous potion.  I need to know for Prince Harry's protection.  Will you tell me all you know, Petrenella?  Will you do that for me?" he asked, intently staring at her face. 
     "Sir, I am forbidden to tell anyone about this.  She'll kill us both if she finds out!"  Reginald shook his head.
     "No, never mind that, you must tell me now.  I promise you, you'll be kept safe.  And by the way," he added as an afterthought, "call me Reggie."
     "Well, Sir Reggie," Petrenella said, "I'm glad that I can tell you this, because I didn't want the Queen to succeed in her evil plot, but I had no one else to tell.  She keeps me locked up here and I'm forbidden to see another soul!"  She paused.  "Shall I start from the beginning?"
     "Please," he said encouragingly.
     "Well then," she said, "I am an orphan.  I have no family left in this world except my elder sister, Rowena.  And really I have no idea at this moment where she is or whether she is alive at all.  After our parents died, we stayed in our cottage, in a kingdom far from here; Lannika – do you know it?" she asked, looking up at him.
     "I've heard of it, yes," he replied.
     "We – Rowena and I – we were the most beautiful maidens in that land," Petrenella said quickly, blushing furiously.  "But Rowena is far more beautiful than me! Oh, I mean, I don't mean to say that I am beautiful!  Please, you mustn't think badly of me," she pleaded.  Reginald allowed himself to study her small face – the large green eyes, turned-up nose, rose pink lips, all framed by long, wavy dark blond hair.  She was so delicate, fragile even.
     "I think you are beautiful," he whispered.  As soon as he realized he had said it, he turned pink all the way up to his ears. 
     Petrenella blushed even more and stammered, "Oh, uh, thank, thank you." 
     Reginald cleared his throat to break the spellbound silence.  "Yes, well, you'd better continue.  So, you two were the most beautiful girls in Lannika . . ." he sat down in the little chair opposite her and gestured for her to go on.  Thankfully she resumed her tale.
    "Right.  You see, Gabrielle was jealous of us because Prince Ewan, the ruler of Lannika-" 
    "The Queen?  Gabrielle, you knew her?" Reginald interrupted quickly.
    "Mm-hm," Petrenella nodded, getting into her story.  "Yes, she wanted nothing more than to be Queen.  But the prince was in love with my sister, Rowena," her voice softened.  "They were to be married." She paused.  When she spoke again her voice was harder.  "Gabrielle took revenge with her magic."
    "So she is a sorceress!  Reginald exclaimed. "She literally has Harry under a spell!  Oh, but please go on with your story," he added quickly.  She smiled and nodded, looking down at the burn mark on the floor and swallowing hard.
    "Yes, she's a sorceress, from a long line of dark witches.  But all her charms and potions couldn't capture Prince Ewan's heart.  His love for Rowena was true.  They decided to journey to a far away kingdom to avoid Gabrielle's wrath, and I was to go with them, of course.  In fact, I think they meant to come here.  We planned so carefully.  Everything was arranged quickly, and we had only to wait for nightfall.  Rowena was leading the horses, two chestnut stallions, and Ewan and I carried some of the baggage.  Castle Lannika was beautiful in the moonlight.  The lake gleamed and the swans slept as they glided over the silent waters.  I turned back to say goodbye to it all – the large cream-colored stone palace, the expansive flower gardens – we had just passed the castle grounds and shut the gate behind us.  When we turned around, there she was, blocking the path.  Gabrielle, she," Petrenella hesitated, then took a deep breath to steady herself and went on.  "She was furious!  But it was a cold, unfeeling anger.  I was so frightened!  She raised her arm and pointed her wand directly at Rowena.  She was determined to kill her," she whispered, then stopped.  Reginald took her hand once more.
    "What happened then?" he asked gently.  Petrenella shook her head.
    "Rowena just stood there, ready to fight her, as if she could.  She's so brave like that, so strong, not like me.  But Gabrielle wasn't about to make it a fair fight.  One spark from her wand and Rowena would have been done for."  Petrenella looked up and met Reggie's gaze.  "Just as she shot the sparks from her wand, Prince Ewan stepped in front of Rowena," she said, dully. "Gabrielle killed him.  He's dead."  She stood and walked to the window, looking far away into another time and place, remembering the scene that awful night. Reginald put his arms around her and silently held her as she cried.
    "He must have been a very noble man," he said solemnly.
    "He was," she sighed, wiping her eyes again on the already damp handkerchief.  "I think Gabrielle was in shock after it happened," she continued.  "It gave us time to escape.  I dropped the bags and tried to pry Rowena from Ewan's fallen body, pleading with her to get up and come with me.  I was so afraid Gabrielle would try to hurt us again.  But she just sat there, ruining her burgundy gown with the dew, staring down at the wand in her hand.  And Rowena lay there sobbing, holding Ewan in her arms; she wouldn't listen to me.  We all lay there in the dark, wet grass, it seemed like hours passed.  Finally, Rowena's sobs quieted.  She stood up with a determined look, and glared straight at Gabrielle, daring her to stop her.  But Gabrielle didn't move.  Rowena and I lifted Ewan's corpse onto her horse and took him back inside the castle gates.  Then she mounted the horse and rode off, looking back at me just once." Petrenella was struggling fiercely to hold in her endless tears.  "I never saw her again." 
    Reginald waited a moment in respectful silence.  He heard the call of a robin in the birch tree near the tower window.  Water dripped somewhere and mice scurried in the corners looking for crumbs.  He could sit here forever with her like this, but they had to press on; Harry's life might depend on it.  "But the Queen – how did you come to be here with her?" he asked.
     "Please understand," Petrenella explained, "I'd never been separated from my sister.  I was lost without her, hurt and confused that she'd deserted me.  I wandered into the forest that night and lay down and cried until I thought I would die.  When the dawn came, I finally slept, exhausted.  I think it must have been near midday when I woke, the sun was shining hotly on my salt-dried face.  And then a shadow passed above, blocking the light.  When I opened my eyes I saw that Gabrielle was standing over me.  She had recovered from the shock somewhat, and though she was masking her fear, I could still see it in her eyes.  ‘Get up!' she commanded me. ‘Where is your sister?' She grabbed my arm roughly and pulled me up to face her. ‘Where is she?' she nearly screamed it, she was losing her temper. ‘I don't know,' I told her, and she could see that I was telling the truth. ‘So be it,' she said softly, and a new light came into her eyes. ‘You will come with me,' she said suddenly and decisively. ‘I'm going away from this place.  They have already found his body and it's not safe here.  Yes,' she said slowly with a wicked smile, ‘you will come with me.  You will help me with my plans.' She turned away from me and spoke to herself then. ‘I shall be Queen yet,' she whispered."  Petrenella searched Reginald's eyes for understanding. "I had nothing else to do, nowhere to go, you see?  Perhaps she would have killed me if I'd refused her, but I didn't even think of it then.  I thought if I could live, I would have the chance to search for Rowena.  But that was over a year ago now, nearly two.  You know the rest of the story." Petrenella folded her arms about her as though she were cold and sat back in her chair.
     "The two of you came here, to Brock," said Reginald.  "I remember the day she appeared out of nowhere, making everyone pity her for her bedraggled state and then admire her for her beauty."  Reginald searched his memory.  "I don't remember you, Petrenella.  I've never seen you before today, or believe me, I'd have come sooner!" 
    Petrenella smiled.  "Well, she kept me out of sight, yes.  She told me to go hide in the forest until she had secured her position as queen.  I found a little abandoned cottage there in the woods, and by day I gathered all her potion ingredients."
    "Gabrielle must have seduced King Henry with her potions," Reginald said, putting the pieces together, confirming what he'd suspected all along.
    "I mixed many of them myself," Petrenella admitted.  "She taught me all the rules of sorcery; I suppose you could say I am her apprentice in the dark magic.  All those charms worked on King Henry, just as she had wanted them to work on Prince Ewan.  Gabrielle got her wish – she is Queen,"  Petrenella said, discouraged.  She fell silent, her little hands twisting the hanky in her lap.
    "But the poison!" Reginald suddenly remembered, standing up.  "Who is it for? What does she mean to do with it?" Petrenella jumped from her chair so quickly that it fell back with a crash.
    "Oh, the poison!" she exclaimed.  "What time is it, Reggie?" Both looked toward the window at the rapidly setting sun.  "We've lost track of the hour!  She'll be here soon!"  She wrung her hands in distress.  Reginald took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him.
    "Then we must hurry.  This is no time to fall apart, Petrenella," he said, looking deeply into her eyes to give her his strength.  "Be brave like Rowena, like Prince Ewan.  Now tell me," he said, taking her hands, "who is the poison intended for?" 
    "For King Henry," she responded immediately. She let go of his grasp and paced back and forth across the wooden floorboards.  Reginald blinked in shock.
    "The king?! Why, I thought Harry was her target all this while!"
    "Well, he'll be next – that is, if he gives her any trouble," Petrenella said grimly.  "Gabrielle wants the king out of her way. She does not love him and has no use for him now that she's got her crown."  Reginald gaped, he could not speak.  He was trying to think of some plan himself to fix this dangerous mess.  Suddenly his eyes narrowed as realization dawned.
"His illness!" he gasped.  "She's poisoning him!"  He turned to face Petrenella.  This girl was helping the queen to mix the potions; she had said so herself.  She was helping to poison the king.  Petrenella could read these thoughts transparent in his face.  She spun away from him, praying silently that he would believe her.
    "Oh, Reggie," she sighed so softly he wasn't sure she'd spoken.  "I know what you're thinking.  And it's partly true; she tells me to mix the poison, and I do."  She turned now and met his gaze bravely.  She was not lying, and she would hold her head up no matter what he thought.  "I've been mixing it wrong now for months, for as long as she's been asking me to make it.  He'd be dead now if it were in her hands alone.  I know he's been rather sick, but believe me, Reggie, I've kept the king alive all these months."  And Reginald did believe her.  He opened his mouth to reassure her, but before he could, he heard another voice from the doorway.
    "I believe you, Petrenella, and I thank you for the service you have done my father," Prince Harry said as he stepped forward and bowed his head to her.  "When I tell him of this, he shall reward you greatly."  Petrenella was overcome.  She was not quite sure of herself in front of the prince, and some of her shyness came back.  But he seemed such a kind man, and Reginald was there with his hand on her arm, supporting her.
    "I thank you, your highness," she managed to say as she curtseyed.  Prince Harry now gestured to another figure waiting impatiently in the doorway, a young woman with long blond curls and dark brown eyes.  He crossed to her and offered her his hand.  Together they came into the light, and Petrenella gasped in shock.
    "Rowena?!" she breathed, her legs nearly buckling under her.  "Is it really you?"  She found the courage to approach her and touch her as though she were a ghost. 
    "Petrenella!"  Rowena cried.
     "You're real, you're really here!" Petrenella exclaimed, as the sisters joyfully embraced.
    "I will leave you to your reunion now," Prince Harry smiled.  "Come, Reginald," he said, turning to his friend.  "We must go find my father and tell him what has happened."  With one backward glance at Petrenella, who at the moment did not even know he existed, Reginald hurried to follow his friend.  Harry had that sparkle back in his eye, his shoulders were square and his chin uplifted.  Prince Harry was back! 

*                    *                    *                        *

    Petrenella worked more quickly and accurately than she ever had before.  Rowena helped her to mix the ingredients, and soon the vial was ready.  Correctly done, the liquid was a brilliant royal blue color, quite beautiful – and deadly.    Every now and then Petrenella would glance at her sister to be sure that she was really there.  Rowena now gave her a reassuring smile and stood. 
    "Gabrielle will be here soon.  It's time I went downstairs."  The sisters shared a hug once more, then Rowena moved towards the door.  "I'll be there, hidden behind the curtain," she said.  "Don't worry, it's going to turn out all right.  I can feel it."  And then she was gone.  Petrenella steeled her resolve.  Just these next few hours to get through, and, if their plan worked, King Henry would be saved.  She had just placed the stopper in the bottle when she heard slippered feet on the stair.  Gabrielle entered the tower room, dressed in dark green taffeta, her bejeweled, pewter crown firmly upon her raven hair.
    "Is it ready, Petrenella?" she asked.  Petrenella placed her own slippered foot over the charred mark on the floor and tried to smile.
    "Yes, my lady," she said.  "I've got it right here for you." And she held up the vial for Gabrielle to see.
    "Why, my dear girl!" the Queen exclaimed, pleased.  "It actually looks like you've managed to get it right!" She took the vial and examined it in the fading light. "Yesss, it's perfect!" she looked at Petrenella.  "We may make a sorceress of you yet, my dear."
    "I have the goblets right here, your highness," said Petrenella, pushing the tray forward on the table.  "Shall I pour the wine?"
    "Yes," said Gabrielle, smiling, "yes, do."  Petrenella moved to fill the glasses with the dark red wine, and the Queen carefully measured a few drops from the vial into the right-hand glass.  The blue swirled into the red and then mixed until it was invisible.  Gabrielle replaced the vial in its holder, and as she did so, Petrenella switched the glasses so that the poisoned cup was now on the left.  In doing this she moved her foot.  The Queen looked down at the hole in the floor and narrowed her eyes.
    "Why, this wasn't here when I left you earlier," she said.  "Did you have another mishap, Petrenella?"
    "I – I, yes, my lady.  I spilled a few drops.  I'm sorry! I didn't mean-"
    "Quiet!  Never mind, my poor girl.  I spoke too soon.  You are a clumsy, bumbling misfit who will never properly master the dark magic!"  Gabrielle was angry, but she reined in her temper with effort.  "However," she said calmly, "I will deal with that problem later.  Tonight," she said, now smiling wickedly, holding the glass up in the dim light, "tonight, the king will finally die!  And I shall reign supreme over all of Brock!" 
    Petrenella shuddered inwardly as the queen laughed evilly.  She took up the tray of wine glasses and started down the stairs.  Tonight the queen was allowing her to masquerade as the new serving maid.  Petrenella would get to witness what she had helped Gabrielle to accomplish.  Or she would witness the queen's undoing, Petrenella thought silently to herself.

*                    *                    *                      * 

    "Try the wine, my dear, it's excellent," King Henry said across the long rectangular supper table.  "I've never tasted any quite like it."  He smiled as he raised his glass to his beautiful queen.  Gabrielle's eyes glinted as she also picked up her goblet.
    "No, Henry, it's of a different stock, this is.  I'm so glad to see that you're feeling so much better tonight, darling, so happy!  Let's make a toast – to your health!" Gabrielle said, smiling brilliantly.  King Henry nodded his head and took a deep draught of his glass.  The queen watched him with narrowed eyes . . . the poison was so diluted in the wine that it would take a few minutes for it to work its magic.  He'll be out of my way in just a little while, she thought, taking a sip from her own glass.  Prince Harry watched her from his side of the table.  She had drunk some, but was it enough?   He stood up quickly and lifted his goblet.
    "And I propose a toast to you, Queen Gabrielle," he said.  She looked up at him indulgently.  My, that charm potion was working well on the boy.  He kept busy with his chores and never complained.  Now he was gazing at her in admiration.  Oh, this was too, too easy.  Gabrielle smiled sweetly and took up her glass again.
    "Harry, how sweet of you, dear," she purred.  They all drank from their glasses again.  Gabrielle put hers down and gazed at King Henry once more.  Why wasn't the man falling out of his chair by now?  Surely Petrenella had mixed that potion right this time.  It had looked right.  If that girl had messed up her plans again . . .  She felt a sudden rage within her, and then a strange terror.  The room was spinning around her.  Pushing her chair back, Gabrielle stood up and glared madly from Henry to Harry to Reginald on the other side of the table to Petrenella standing in the corner. 
      "Who – what – what's happening?" she panted, clutching at her throat in panic.  She doubled over, gasping.  Trying to straighten, she glared at Petrenella and lunged at her with all the strength she had left. 
     "You did this, you!  I'll kill . . . you!"  Gabrielle cried fiercely, struggling with Petrenella.  Reginald rushed over and freed her from Gabrielle's grasp, as Harry tried to contain the queen's wild thrashing. King Henry stood by, his eyes hard as he watched the death of the woman who had tried to kill him.  Suddenly Rowena stepped forward, throwing back the velvet curtain that had concealed her.  She resolutely stared Gabrielle down as the dying queen sank to the floor.
     Rowena!" Gabrielle gasped weakly, her eyes still burning with fury. She tried to rise up on one arm as she hissed in hatred.  "You should have died that night . . . You should have died!  Not Ewan . . . not him!"  She was crying now, hysterical, thrashing, but her every move was getting weaker, every whisper an effort. 
    Rowena looked down at Gabrielle, and her voice held no trace of pity.  "Gabrielle," she said calmly, steadily, "You are the one who will die now.  I've come back to destroy your evil, hateful darkness.  To have revenge – for Ewan!" 
    "You cannot destroy me, you idiot!" Gabrielle seethed, her chest heaving.  She moved to pull her wand from her sleeve, but she could not reach it.  Feebly, she stared up at Rowena, her eyes glazing over, her breath slowing.   Everyone stood motionless,  their eyes fixed on Gabrielle.  She was sprawled upon the floor, her dress and hair flared out around her, the crown resting several feet away from her where it had fallen.   She lay still.
    "Is she dead?" Reginald asked quietly.  Rowena bent down to search for a pulse at the white throat.  After a moment she straightened and nodded.

*                    *                    *                    *

     "Well, Harry, how do I look?"  Reginald asked as he turned around to see himself in the mirror from every angle.
     "You ought to look well enough," Harry laughed. "You've been looking in that mirror for an hour now at least!"
     Reginald looked offended.  "See here, Harry!  I've got to look my best!  It's not every day that Sir Reginald of Lawrence gets married!"
     "No," said the prince, fiddling with his collar, "and it's not every day that Prince Harry of Brock gets married, either.  So stop looking at yourself and come fix my collar – that's an order!"  Reginald rolled his eyes and gestured for Harry to turn around.
     "All right, your highness.  No need to get bossy with me," he said as he stepped back to look at his work.  "Well, it's done.  You look almost as good as me!"  As the two laughed, King Henry opened the door and stuck his head in.
     "Are you two still in here?  Don't you know the ceremony is about to begin?  For heaven's sake, come on!"  Reginald and Harry looked at each other and ran for the door.
     The double wedding ceremony between Sir Reginald of Lawrence and Petrenella of Lannika, and Prince Harry of Brock and Rowena of Lannika was the most celebrated event Brock had seen in years.  The new additions to the royal family were enchantingly beautiful, intelligent, and kind.  Eventually, Harry and Rowena ruled Brock as King and Queen for many years, and the land prospered.  As for Reginald and Petrenella, they lived happily ever after in their large estate near the castle.  And neither of the couples ever went anywhere near magic again! 


I would like to thank my entire Creative Writing class for giving me their opinions and suggestions to improve this story.  (That includes Terry Heller!)  Also, thank you to Liz Nicklos, my friend and writing center consultant, for helping me to come up with the ending of this story. 

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