For several days now, Septimus had been visiting the queen’s chambers in the evenings.
As night would fall, he and Pallas would finish their duties, and do what was needed around the palace grounds. Once he had done what was needed, he would excuse himself and walk into the palace, knowing his fellow slave’s eyes were on his back.
Tonight was the same as most others. The first night, Molpe and he had simply sat and talked, before she had kissed him deeply and sent him on his way. But the next night had been…
He hesitated in front of her door.
“Come in.” As always, her voice was quiet, and yet he felt that same reaction to it as he stepped through the doorway and into the room.
It was a modest bedchamber, with a beautiful bed, an elegant rug, and a small room off the side. Her chess table stood to the side, the pieces lined up and ready for a game.
Inside, Molpe was waiting, sat on the bed. Her dark eyes found his, and he could not look away.
“Septimus…” Her lips tilted slightly. “So you return.”
It was a slight joke. He had learned a lot about his queen, these past few days. She had a hidden sense of humor, but to his surprise, she could be shy, too. He had assumed that she was more proper than most of her sisters, as she had always been a quiet one, but the way she blushed and smiled when they talked was enchanting and surprising.
She did not talk with him about important matters, not really, but she did tell him about how she missed the palace she had grown up in, and how she missed playing with the others. How they used to dare each other to steal fruit from the trees, how they would read of queens gone by, and how they would wander around the gardens.
She missed the gardens particularly, he could tell. She spoke of them wistfully, and sighed as she did so. He had never been quite as enamored of them, and for some reason, that made hearing her speak of them all the more interesting. She would describe the roses, and the crowns of flowers that the girls would make for each other.
Tonight, she was a little more restless than usual. She smiled, and watched him, and he felt drawn to her again.
“Did you know that Penelope was adored by so many of the girls?” she asked, her eyes twinkling. Penelope had been a warrior a couple of years older than both of them.
“No, my queen.” He looked at her, wanting to hear more. Penelope had been very skilled, although he himself had not taken too much notice of her beyond that.
“She was. I remember we used to write poems to her – I did not, I must confess – but the others would, and we had a little box hidden in my rooms where they were kept. We would pick flowers, and leave them at the door to her chambers, and we would have races. Whoever lost would have to attach their poem to their flowers! I never lost, you know.” She looked proud. “And I know that they did not let me win, because they shoved me a couple of times, but I think perhaps a couple of the girls lost on purpose so Penelope would see their poems.”
Septimus could not help a smile from crossing his face. He did know that the women would often find love among each other, but to think of a group of young girls all fawning over the very sensible Penelope made him smile.
“Once she actually caught poor Lydia putting down her flowers and poem. Lydia just dropped them and ran away!” Molpe giggled. “I remember her face was so red, and Penelope did not even mention it to her when they met again, but every time she saw her, she would blush. We all used to tease her about it.” She sighed happily, and stood up, and he was unprepared as she stepped towards him and leaned in.
Her delicate hands settled on his waist, and she leaned in, kissing him. He kiss her back, gripping her while still not quite believing that he was allowed to kiss her. To kiss a queen, to make love to her.
He had been chosen.
That night, as Septimus left to go back to his quarters, Molpe slept peacefully. She had done as she needed to, and chosen someone to help her fulfill her duty as queen. As she closed her eyes, she murmured a prayer to the Goddess.
Please. Bless me with a child for this tribe. Bless us with a baby, and watch over us, my Goddess.
She thought of her mother, and how many children she had borne. She though of the other queens, with their daughters and the tribal sons.
She needed to be on their level, and ensure the survival of her Hesperians.
She needed to be a true queen.