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On her birthday, he took her away from the hay and the dirt inside the walls, brought her to a meadow, gave her wild flowers and placed a crown on her head with a kiss on her forehead. She believed his kiss was his seal on her and the crown, a mere shadow of what was to come. The wild flowers filled her heart and expanded her with love.

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They stayed all day in the sun and the shade, away from the dust and awful heat, away from the dryness. Being near him was that water found in the desert. She loved him and she rose to the joy of her dreams with him.

That day they had the chance to discuss things. “Remember,” he said,” it’s about love, love of others. You are too focused on your self-centeredness that you still aren’t seeing anyone else.” He carefully affirmed her as he taught her, “but do not worry, you’re doing wonderfully. I’m so proud of you.”

Proud? He was proud of her? She heard the words. What exactly had she done?

“You love me,” he explained. He held a small flower, pulled apart from the bouquet, in his left hand, moving it back and forth between hands. He held it in both hands. He settled it in the palm of his right hand.

“You started to tell someone the other day…about us.” She remembered. It meant a lot to her to be that honest. It was not often she could share her story

“Was it wrong?” wrong to share, to reveal, she asked. “Sometimes I hardly know you, and I remember what I am or I remember what I was. Maybe it’s wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t say that…”

“But…?” he urged her to continue speaking.

“But I feel it. Our love isn’t perfect. Yours is—it’s wonderful. But mine—our relationship isn’t perfect because it’s real, complete, like those days when we hardly talk or it doesn’t seem to go well. Yesterday I said something about you jokingly and the person commented on my familiarity with you.”

“Well, that’s my gift to you.”

“Do I deserve it?”

The king laughed lightly. “No, but it’s yours. Just like everything else.” He placed his arm around her as they walked back. The king pressed that small flower in her hand. “We have a good relationship. I love it. I love you. We’re doing really well.”

She felt a calm, peaceful joy, one that did not overwhelm her.

“Keep the crown for tonight. Maybe give it back tomorrow, but I’d like you to have it—to hold onto wearing it.”

As he began to walk away, she tested him, saying, “I don’t think about marriage much anymore.” How would he respond?

The king looked at her. The girl backed down from her challenge and asked him, “are you mad?”

“No.”  Stepping back to her, he moved her hair from her forehead with his hand. “I want you to remember it though. I did ask you for a reason. I know you’re waiting, that I asked you to wait, but don’t let it get too far from your mind.”

“Okay.” She had not been able to talk to him like this in so long. He was so clear, so honest. It all seemed so straightforward now. He had proposed, she had accepted, he asked her to wait. She was waiting.

“I’m sorry I keep complaining,” she said.

He answered back, “I know.”

“How do I start loving again?”

“Step out of yourself for a moment and look at them, the people in your life. See what they mean to you. Then, start over. You’ve sunk into things too deeply, pull yourself out.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He hugged her. “you’re so beautiful. I keep you in my heart.” He kissed her head again. “It’s late. You should go to sleep.”

The girl pleaded, “I don’t want today to end.”

“I’m glad you liked it. Come now, I’ll take the crown. Keep this.” He kissed her forehead again “and you have the flowers and my love. Please don’t complain anymore. These are my gifts to you. It hurts when you do not like them.” He was referring to her situation and her place inside the walls.

Ah, she wanted the day to go on forever. He continued to step away and she continued to call him back.

The king could not resist her and she would not budge.

“You’re tired,” he told her

One more question. “My friend…?” she began.

“Yes, he is still there.”

“Will he…?”

“Yes, all things yes. All things to your heart: yes.”

“What? You mean…”

“Yes.”

“I don’t understand.” The words had not come. She had not asked for anything.

“All things to your heart: yes. Have your desire.” What did she desire?

The girl wanted to share. She wanted to be understood. She wanted to be reassured. “He’s my friend.” No other words would come.

“Yes, I know. After all, I introduced you and kept you in contact. Do not worry. You’re friendship will always be.”

“I love my Queen Mother.”

“I know. Won’t you go to sleep?”

“I don’t want to. I could stay up later.”

“It’s late. The sun has set. you’re my little girl always. Don’t you want to work tomorrow?” He had found work for her that she enjoyed, even though it was hard. But it had to happen in the morning, while it was still cool outside.

“I love you.”

“I know. I love you with all my heart.” He kissed her forehead, hugged her, and said, “good night. Happy birthday, my little love.”

“Good night, my loving king. I love you always.”

He grinned and shook his head at her. “Forever like a child,” he observed. “You are beautiful. Good night.”

Called beautiful by the king! There was no higher compliment. She lay down that night, holding onto all he gave her heart that day out there in the sun and the shade.

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The king told her briefly of the man who found a treasure hidden in a field and in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“I never had very much to sell. I never bought anything. You brought me here.”

“I know,” said the King. “I did. You might not have sold anything had you anything to sell.”

They told each other that they loved each other. She thought of their love. It all seemed one-sided. He, the perfect king, and she was always falling short. Yet he saw beauty in her. He allowed her to wear the crown, that string of pearls on her forehead, a while longer. He had added a small diamond at the point of the “v.” “I will add more as time goes on.” Ah, fit for a queen, not a servant. She felt like a servant, but admitted she was a servant deeply loved by her king. One day she would know she was a queen, both queen and servant, and love made such things happen.

What mystery that was. She had one diamond. One day he would give her everything, welcome her into his palace and she would go to live with him. One day, ah, what a day.

And the battlefield? She questioned that. There was a knight who served the king. He had traveled many lands, seen and fought many things. Presently, he served the queen in all his time and efforts. He spoke to the king about the girl’s time on the battlefield, assuming her time was always spent out there.

“That knight doesn’t understand,” she thought, “or he doesn’t know. I am never on the battlefield anymore. It’s all different now.” But the knight continued to speak to the king on these matters, and to her, when chance they would meet. She served the knight as best she could, knowing how close he was to the king and queen. Underneath his armor lay so much heart, deeply in love with the queen and the kingdom. His armor was different than hers. She admired it. He was a true knight. He had his place very near the king in the palace. In her heart she could see the glory of days when this knight, this true servant would retire and rest near the King, no longer going out and fighting, but just resting with the love of his heart, for all he had been made.

So many great men and women walked the great halls of that palace. So many more the outside. Many fought and conquered. Very few fell without getting up. She could meet many, had indeed met many already already, but perhaps could remember only a few.

Perhaps she would be one of those soldiers someday, when she was ready. In his love the king would come for her and name her among his great ones – like her little friend in the palace. Ah, so many servants for so good a king. All served him out of love for him. No slaves. Those days were gone. There was only true love. Her heart swelled as she thought of him, of so good a king.

 

The king asked her if perhaps he could see her every week, once a week. He told her that he knew he saw her and spent wonderful time with her every day—but that once a week to meet her and for her to open her heart to him, to tell him her troubles and joys, and for them to just talk. They usually did this very sporadically and she smiled at his request as she realized that it would be good for her. She agreed.

It made sense. This week she almost did not see him, so a commitment to one visit a week would help. He told her, “and we will still meet other times, but this day in a different setting: no distractions, only some lessons, counsel, and talk.