Now she sprawled before her dressing table in an unqueenly fashion and tapped at the polished glass before her. It was a large glass and rare, a gift after the birth of a son, but at the moment, Laveth wasn’t interested in appearance or cost. Mirella was late, very late. She’d tried to control her anxiety by primping and pacing until finally her old nurse, Nan Maura ordered her to sit. Her finger nervously dipped in and out of a pot of lip balm.
“Where on earth is Mirella?” The figure sewing in the corner stopped sewing. A pair of hooded eyes looked up quickly and met her green ones in the glass. “The bells rang an hour ago.”
The old woman gathered the material in her lap. Nan Maura, Laveth’s own childhood nurse brought from Glynnis Fen, was embroidering a pillow for the youngest royal head. She pulled through a final thread and snapped it with her teeth.
“Aye, past time it is. Go down without her.”
“I’ll not leave you alone with the boy.”
“I’m old, Laveth, not an imbecile. I can care for him for a while.”
“Your back is bent and your hands are swollen. I think not.”
Laveth rose from the bench. The women regarded each other steadily; one young and fair, the other olive skinned with black eyes no bigger than dried raisins protruding from the creases in her skin. A thrush’s low call filtered through the shutters; the child kicked and stirred from beneath the curtained bed. The Queen threw her hands up in exasperation.
“I know what you’re thinking. Can you never leave me in peace?”
“There is no peace. Soon, the boy will walk. What then?”
“That is months away.”
“Weeks. Days, even.”
Laveth walked to the great bed and uncovered Eric Augustus, heir to the Casorian throne, who lay in the center on a coverlet of softest fur. A stray bread crumb rested in the corner of his mouth. With the tip of her finger, Laveth gently brushed it away. The child stirred, but didn’t open his eyes.
“He’s so peaceful. I can’t bear to see him go.”
Nan Maura crossed the room to stand beside the Queen. In her youth, the old nurse had been tall and thin; now she was thin and bent. She managed to bend over and pull the blankets completely away.
“Peaceful for now, but how long do you think he will draw breath when Elymas learns of that foot?”
She pointed to the baby’s thickened sole.