Chapter 64: Lunch with the new Queen
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Once again the Capital was filled to capacity as yet another royal celebration was held, this time the wedding between the King and his new Queen who was said to be just as regal as the Queen Mother. King Albert spared no expenses on the wedding, he brought his bride through town in a white open-top carriage so that everyone could see their new Queen who looked as beautiful as a flower, yet had the poise of an experienced aristocrat at such a young age. The held the ceremony on the Palace steps in front of an audience that stretched for blocks in every direction. People crowded the rooftops around the plaza, any place they could see even a small part of the ceremony. 

When the marriage was finalized and the two people kissed, the crowd of thousands roared in applause. The Bride couldn't help but lose her poise and cry at such a sound. Doves were released into the air and trumpets sounded until an orchestra began to play the Pays Des Abrutis anthem. The crowd of thousands began to sing loudly and proudly until the couple was taken away by carriage to consummate the marriage in private. No one living could remember seeing such a grand wedding, even the previous King's wedding was nowhere near as extravagant. As the carriage headed the King's private retreat, Albert spoke to his bride, "I've kept every promise I made to you but one, Cecil, the promise I broke, I can't make amends. I know that had you had a second more, you would have taken his place, but it had to be one of you. You are alive and here with me." He pulled her into a tight hug.

"I froze, I let him die, I couldn't speak even if I had ten minutes more." She leaned into him and said softly, "I will live this life he gifted me with, I will be the Queen you deserve, my love." She kissed him softly.  

*****

Five days after the wedding the Council of Magic received an invitation for them to come to a luncheon hosted by the new Queen of Pays Des Abrutis. First Mage Diggory bowed out saying that he had too much research to work on with the color version of his auto painter so the rest of the Council decided to honor the Queen and participate. Claude decided to tag along for the free food and he felt it was his knightly duty to be with his wife to be, who didn't say no to his company. Although Seventh Mage Ella was still new to the group, she felt that being by Olivier's side was the safest place to be in the world.  

The luncheon was held in the palace garden surrounded by beautiful red roses. As the Council approached the saw a beautifully decorated table with the exact number of places set group plus a seat at the head of the table currently occupied by a delicate looking woman wearing a white veiled sun hat. A male servant stood behind her holding a matching white parasol. As the group approached, she rose to her feet and said, "Greetings, friends, or should I say, old friends?" 

Just about everyone aside from Olivier and Ella looked surprised to see the Queen sitting in front of them. Madeline asked, "Eloise?" 

She lifted the veil and passed the hat to the servant behind her and said, "Yes, but please, my real name is Cecil. I am sorry that I had to deceive you back then, I was a member of the King's Black Knights." Doreen trembled in rage, Madeline took her hand and gave it a squeeze. Cecil saw their various reactions and asked, "Please, have a seat, I understand and accept your anger and hatred, my role was not pleasant for you. I invited you all here today because I am no longer an assassin. I am the Queen of the country you all call home." 

She looked at each of them in the eye and said, "I was a soldier acting under orders, so I hope, no, I beg your forgiveness. We all lost someone dear to us." She looked at Doreen and said, "Norris, the man who had been by my side since I was six years old was killed by my own brother-in-law as I was forced to watch. He was... The only family I had." Tears started to roll down her cheeks and she broke up into heavy crying, "I'm sorry, it's still hard for me, forgive me, I just want to.. Start over with all of you. I know most of you from our time together at the Academy. You only know the role I was playing there, I just want you to know, that I am a real person with feelings and emotions just like you." 

The whole group looked down aside from Doreen who glared at the Queen. Guy put a hand on Doreen's shoulder and shook his head. Doreen's expression softened and she nodded. Doreen spoke first, "Your Majesty, I understand that you were following the orders you were given. Losses have been devastating on both our sides. I am sorry for your loss, I just want you to know, that one of the women you killed, her name was Lady Renée Baux, and she was my everything. You took my best friend. That's all." Doreen broke out into tears and buried her face in Guy's shoulder. 

It took some time, but eventually, everyone was seated and the meal was served. The conversation was polite between them and even Doreen managed to laugh and carry on as they spoke about their time in the Academy together and some of the nobility and how they acted like children when they got together. After the lunch, the Queen walked up to Doreen and said, "I'm so very sorry Mage Leon if I had the ability, I would travel back in time and refuse the order, nothing good happened for any of us as a result." she pulled Doreen into a hug and said, "Both of us lost our dearest, I know that doesn't make us even, or make it right, it just is what it is, please accept my sincerest apologies. I am very sorry for your loss." 

Doreen felt herself hug the Queen back as she whispered softly, "I forgive you. I am sorry for your loss as well. We will start over, not as friends, but not as enemies, that much I can give you, your Majesty."

They broke from the hug and the Queen put her hat and veil back on, "That's fairer than I deserve, you are indeed a noble worthy of respect Mage Leon." 

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