At the age of sixteen, Lily Hawksworth met her husband and fell in love.
"I'm going to marry him one day," Lily whispered to her mother, watching as her future strolled further down the reception line.
"Oh pish," her mother whispered, chuckling, watching their honored guest as he greeted the gathered. "He's handsome enough and looks good in his uniform. Everyone's eyes have been turned. Yours especially."
"He is handsome," she agreed. "He is worth a stare or two."
Her mother patted Lily on the arm. "That George boy down the road is just as handsome, and he likes you."
Lily shook her head. "Not like that. They could belong to different species, they're so different."
The guest was tall and fair-skinned, broadly-shouldered, and carried himself with military precision. Bald with piercing blue eyes, he stood out from the assembled who were clad in their brightly-hued best against the dark blue of his uniform. He smoothed easily down the line with polite mumblings, brief smiles, and the occasional clink of a military honor on his uniform.
"He smiled at me," Lily whispered, smiling in return.
"He smiled at everyone, dear," her mother said, chuckling again.
"I will marry him. It's not far-fetched, Mother. We're nobility, afterall."
Mary Hawksworth tilted her head closer to her daughter, speaking more softly. "Not as noble as some, girl. Not by far."
Lily shook her head, sending a strand of brunette hair loose from her upswept bun. "That's enough. It will be enough."
"You want to be a politician, remember? You're going to run our council," her mother whispered. "Go to school and do that."
"I will be a politician. A Queen is a politician too, so I won't be giving anything up."
"Dear, be sensible. He barely looked at you! Think of all the women he will meet in the capital! He won't be able to pick you out of a crowd again. He's also much older."
Lily watched Cyrus Moorston leave the reception line and head for the lunch, which was just now being served alongside the vineyard's luxurious, green lines. The golden statuettes of the Holy Serpent glowed metallic inn the sun.
"I will marry the King, even if he doesn't know me yet."