I am queen.
I was never meant to ascend the throne; never meant to rule. My mother was supposed to live forever or, more realistically, one of my siblings was supposed to take the throne. My mother and I didn't have much hope that we would ever convince the Council to change the laws so that my brother--the best suited to leadership of we three siblings--could one day inherit, but that didn't stop us from trying. Should our efforts fail to bear fruit, I was going to step aside as heir as soon as my younger sister had come of age. Unfortunately, fate is a cruel thing and my mother was cut down in battle, which is likely how she would have chosen to leave this plane, but just not this soon.
Gods, it wasn't even an important battle--merely a skirmish with our neighbors over borders and grazing lands. She was supposed to be gone only a couple of hours but now she's not coming back at all and I'm thrust into a role that I am not qualified for, no matter how much my mother worked with me to assure otherwise and the issues that sparked today's skirmish still haven't been resolved and no one's yet told my siblings that my mother is dead and my father has disappeared into his grief and a bottle of brandy and gods, I am not ready.
And now there's a knock on my chamber door. A messenger from the Council, no doubt, come to summon me to a meeting to determine my future and that of our land. Not one of them will care that I am more hurt, more broken, more grieving than any of them could ever imagine. Not one of them will care that I feel as if I am drowning in the tide of responsibility that I now face. I cannot show them that I am weak and overwhelmed and not suited for the role I now must play.
I call out to whomever's at the door to give me a moment. Facing the mirror, I smooth my hair and brush dirt and creases that only I can see from my dress, then turn and walk slowly to the door. I take the deepest breath I can and, as I exhale, I lift my chin, square my shoulders and school my features into a mask of regal dignity.
Another deep breath as I turn the handle to open the door and step through to whatever my future may hold. On the exhale, a silent reminder to myself:
I am queen.