Leaning in too close for propriety, the Zigur reached passed the queen’s ear and plucked a flower from the hanging-bower, drawing it unhurriedly past her cheek. She raised her hand to take it from him, thinking it a gift, however he retracted his hand and the little red blossom with a start, and grinned.
”Oh, but- this was for me! Do you not think it matches my eyes?” He rumbled, full of mock-surprise. He tucked the blossom into the button hole of his high silk collar, where indeed, one could see that it matched the hue of his scarlet eyes.
For a moment the queen’s face was a dance of subtle emotions, finally alighting on exasperated pleasure. It was not often that the court, or even her ladies in waiting saw her smile. “Priest, you tease an old woman.”
"You are not old. Not by the standards of your race and certainly not by mine." And then her face was troubled, for like many of us, she did not wish to be reminded what in truth the Zigur was, or had been. "I feel each year like a lead weight tied to a fishing net." She said.
The Queen is no longer in her spring years, but then neither is she in winter. She has born children, though they were none of them living. You can read the lines of many thwarted desires on her face like a scroll.
The Zigur clucked his tongue. “When rather each year is another coin in your coffer, making you the richer, and more grand.” He countered, hands tucked in their blue-grey sleeves.
"Ah— but were I young, this flattery might have found some purchase in my heart. Now it simply bores me."
She said, though her smile had not yet faded. The Zigur bowed. “Then let us talk of other things, your majesty. Tell me, when will your royal feet grace my temple? You have not yet made a pilgrimage.”
"I attend the Temple with the king and court." She said, raising her eyebrows. "As you well know."
"Only when ceremony demands!" Chided the priest. "If you would only come and confess your grievances to the Giver of Freedom, you would know what solace he has to offer. Do not think, my lady, that I do not see the turmoil in your mind, or the grief haunting your spirit…" He said this with a glance of gold and crimson, and a spark of some more-than-human canniness.
Miriel halted in her steps, her delicate features suddenly sharp. “You would dare spy on my thoughts?”
"My lady, not even I can do that unaided." He inclined his head most solemnly. "But I would be a fool not to recognize your suffering. You could have been empress— instead you are the king’s wife, and the king is not the man he used to be."
She was silent in the space that it took a petal of the red flower to twirl to the floor. “You overstep yourself. Let us speak of something else. Or more pleasing yet— sing to me instead, and I will rest my voice. You know how I love it when you sing.”
"As you wish," the Zigur bowed, lifting his dark voice in song. And to herself the queen smiled, the heat rising to her cheeks as it had done in years past.