The soldiers knew and her family knew…wedding plans were about to be made. The girl just did not know when exactly the king would marry her. More time had to pass pass, but the girl knew the waiting would be beautiful, filled with white roses and wild flowers, just like when she was little. She could return to so many things in her past. She was so young, yet so in love. He had given her many wild flowers in the beginning of their relationship. Some said they were weeds. She never saw them in that way. “They’re flowers,” she said. The girl felt desperate to protect these gifts from the judgment of others.
In truth, the girl loved those weeds because when the king found her and she found him, she felt like the weeds he gave her. She felt rejected and unloved by all the things around her, by all the things she loved. So when he took her gently into his arms and called her beautiful, she felt beautiful for the first time. And he waited.
The king lavished on her gifts and love. He made known his intentions to make her his. Yet he waited until she could see how beautiful and valuable shew was before he would ask her to be his completely. He wanted her to move beyond simply finding value in a weed. The girl had to grow to understand that she was truly a flower. Little, of course, but beautiful. Not merely a matter opinion.
He waited and he waited and he waited until the time was perfect. She heard him perfectly, in that arena. Through the noise she heard his voice. He asked her. As the world stood still, she answered him.
She sat outside her home and reflected. Now they would wait some more for her to adjust to the outside, outside the arena, before he could take her into the palace to leave her family and live with him. The girl had visited the palace many times, visited it, received his gifts and love. Though it felt like home, there were places she may never ever in the palace before they married. It was a simple house. It was an oasis. “It’s made for you,” he told her. He wrote her name in the walls as it was being built, as he wrote the names of all those who lived there. “You belong here,” he said softly.
The girl had no regrets. Nevertheless, as she sat thinking, the girl thought of the places she would never visit if she married him now. She was so young. When the girl spoke these thoughts to him, the king reminded her that this was what she always wanted. As a child, her only dream was to fall in love and be loved. This was her dream. This was real.
Nineteen. The number echoed in her mind. At thirteen the king told the girl he loved her and wished to marry her. He proposed when she was eighteen. She once thought she heard him whisper that she would marry him at nineteen. The king was unclear now. She wondered. Was it real? Would she miss the things of the world? What were they compared to love? She was so young. But she knew this was right.
So she reassured herself: she would wait and see. He would tell her. She was not afraid. Soon though. She would not be disappointed if he wished her to wait longer. If he waited till she was old, she would wait happily. But if she was old, she would ache for it. It would be hard to know and wait so long. If it meant she could grow to love as he loves, she would do anything.
It seemed like there was more for her to experience before marriage. Everything seemed to melt away when she was with him. Yes, she would choose him before anything else. He had already chosen her. He was calling her. Whenever he said the word, she would run to him, and they would be together, closer than they had ever been, only to draw closer still.
At home she did not feel too far from him and the wisdom with which he taught her. It was difficult to be out of his shelter. She felt confused. The girl felt drawn to other things and people. It wasn’t as pure as in the arena. She felt selfish.
Before a long journey, a friend gave her a beautiful ring, with a tanzanite stone and white gold. She moved it back and forth from hand to hand wondering what such a gift meant. Did the king ask the girl’s friend to give it to her. Was it truly just for her or must she return it? It was so different than all other gifts. She held it, but felt as though perhaps it would not be her’s forever. She saw her friends’ reflections in it and the girl felt confused. The sense she had must mean something.
The girl needed to adjust to the feel and the weight of that beautiful ring. “Don’t make it an engagement ring yet,” her friend told her. The girl looked for signs. What did it mean? She looked at her king with perplexed eyes. The king was silent.
He placed his hand on her back and said to her, “peace. It will make sense. Hold on now; look at it in peace. Do not be afraid. These things are good. I love you.”
To cool her anxiety she reminded herself that the king would never forget his love. All that he willed for her was good. Love wills only wills good for the beloved. The troubles that lay just around the corner, on the other side of the wall, she would face it tomorrow. That was reality. The king stood tall on her right side. She looked up at him, lay her head on his chest and thanked him. “I know it doesn’t make sense, my dear king, but…I trust you, I do.” He wrapped his arms around her and they stood together watching another sunset. Life was changing quickly. Her king stayed the same. “Are you afraid of me?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “Not anymore. I don’t remember when it all changed. Perhaps, last winter with my new heart, but I know you better. I understand you. You let me understand you.”
“Yes,” he said smiling. She knew he was faithful. That is why she trusted him when it seemed there was no one she could trust.
That night they sat together longer than usual. The arena was almost a week gone, her fellow soldiers almost a week gone, and her heart had been through so much since then.
He sat beside her on her couch. They faced the same direction. He turned his head to look at her, then slowly turned his whole body and gave her his attention. The girl told him, “I want to serve you again, through everyone.” He was proud of her desire to support his mission. The moment energized her. She felt a that familiar zeal of the arena and the battlefield.
“Fear not,” he said. He moved closer to her. She rested her head on him again. The king told her, “stay here tonight. Tomorrow I will take you out to the battlefield again.” The girl knew he did not mean the battlefield where she had been before. It meant they would be away from each other. She would have to fight her own fears, her own loneliness. She was afraid of the independence he pointed her to. The girl feared thinking she was closer than she really was, thinking they were closer than they really were. She had to trust him.
So tonight she would stay and love him. She would await tomorrow with eager love.
The next day, it felt like a battlefield. She felt sad. The girl reminded herself that he was her king and she was working for his kingdom. She felt broken. It was difficult to remember both his greatness and his tenderness. He was not only her friend, but a great king. She felt broken with love. Of course, the girl was not at the battlefield. She was beginning her life at home.