A few days before her seventeenth birthday Philania was walking the market place picking out some flowers when out from behind a corner Quinlin snuck up behind her; he swept her up and swung her around with the biggest grin on his face.
“Hey Lana, I heard that it’s someone’s birthday soon...”
“QUINLIN! You put me down this instant…you bully you….sneaking up behind me like…like a thief!”
Quin laughed and set her down,
“Now Lana, take it easy, besides I may or may not have gotten a gift for a certain someone!”
Quinlin loved the fact that he could be clever get a rise out of her. Philania’s mad face immediately brightened,
“Oh Quin, you didn’t? What is it? Please show me!” She said excitedly as she tugged on his tunic sleeve. He smiled clearly happy with her reaction.
“Oh no, you think I’m a bully and as I understand it’s not your birthday yet.” The corner of his mouth turned up into a devilish curve and he chuckled.
“My birthday is only a day away! Besides you were being a scoundrel.”
“Okay, but only because you’re so cute when you’re angry!” He kissed her cheek, “You haven’t forgotten our deal have you?”
Philania crossed her arms and said slightly annoyed,
“How could I, you remind me every year….I hope you’re not still serious about that…I was a little girl when we made that pact!”
“I made a promise and I intend to keep it. I am a man of my word. Now do you want your gift or not?”
She rolled her eyes and smiled, “Yes please!”
Out from behind his cloak he drew a blue silk pouch with gold strings and handed it to her. Philania felt the softness of the beautiful bag and traced her name which was embroidered on it in beautiful gold letters. She slowly opened it to reveal a small diamond shaped brooch with a small oval shaped black onyx in the middle with rubies framing it.
“Oh Quin…it’s beautiful, thank you.”
She said slowly. Then looked up at him with her big golden eyes with a smile and threw her arms around his neck; he held her tightly in his arms. Then she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“I am glad that you like it, when I saw it, I knew it had to be yours, it suits you well.”
“It’s…the most wonderful thing I have ever gotten in my life, thank you!”
She kissed his cheek and held his face in her hands for a moment, looking into his eyes, then said,
“I won’t forget our agreement!”
* * * * * *
The Queen had been planning the big celebration to acknowledge Philania becoming a woman for three months. The feast was being held in the great hall; the Viceroy, the Lords, the Squires, the Ladies, and of course the Knights, were all eating, drinking, and happily chatting with each other. They continued this way until the Queen stood from her thrown and signaled the musicians to stop playing; when the crowd settled down and the hall grew silent, the queen said with great excitement,
“My friends, and high members of the court, I am so delighted to have you all here to celebrate a wonderful occasion, my wonderful daughter’s eighteenth birthday!”
The guests clapped, then stood in obedience, as the queen raised her arms. Their eyes looked to entrance of the hall, where Philania stood, beaming with flawless beauty. Her dress was a beautiful deep red with gold trim and her blonde hair flowed down her back in curls, she had a braided crown on her head with small red roses tucked in throughout. Philania walked elegantly to the royal table and sat in her seat to the right of the queen; after she sat the guests followed suit. Music was played and a boar had been killed and cooked in her honor. All the eligible men of the court lined up to dance with her and who was the first in line, but her dearest friend Quinlin. Philania smiled wide when she saw him, she hadn’t seen him in a year, he had been gone recruiting and training the young squires for the King’s army; the Viceroy predicted war since reports had reached the King’s council of dragons returning to the land.
As Quin took her hand she saw a serious expression on his face that she couldn’t recall ever seeing before. He had always had a playful mischievous look on his face, but not this night, it made her wonder if there was something wrong. He kissed her hand and led her across the floor. They twirled and marched this way and that through the line dance, they broke free of each other and walked around the couple next to them, then joined again and Quin took her hand, brought her close and he whispered in her ear,
“You are so beautiful, not even a phoenix could compare to you tonight!”
Philania blushed at the wonderful compliment; phoenixes were rare and known for their immaculate beauty, legends stated that if you happened to see one you would be so overwhelmed by its beauty that a spell would be cast on you and you would never be seen by your loved ones again. Quin stopped suddenly and looked at Philania with his serious expression again.
“I have to talk to you…”
“Alright…what is it Quin? Is something wrong?”
“No…nothing is wrong….”
Then Quin knelt down on one knee, Philania’s eyes grew wide and prayed that he wasn’t about to do what she thought he was about to do. The musicians stopped abruptly when they saw Quin lean down, making everyone turn looking around confused, and then their gazes fell upon Quin and Philania.
“Quin….I…oh please don’t…not now…not here.”
“Philania, please let me just say what I need to say while I have the nerve. (He cleared his voice) It was about six years ago, that I met a captivating little girl of the age of twelve and through some amusing events following our first meeting, she and I came to make a pact, that on her eighteenth birthday I would ask for her hand in marriage. As the years have gone by I have loved her as my greatest friend, and pursued her with patience until the day I would keep my end of our pact. Now I stand before you all (he looked around at the crowd) keeping my promise, not because I am bound by a promise, but rather because I have watched her grow into a fine woman, a woman of great character, patience, love, and wisdom. As I have witnessed this, I have fallen more in love with you everyday since our first meeting. I am not a perfect man, I have my faults; however I am honest and I keep my word, I believe myself to also be a man of integrity…humility, however, is still a title I am working on earning. I would be privileged to have you as my wife, to be devoted to you for the rest of our days. Will you do the honor of being my wife?”
Philania was speechless, oxygen refused to come and with shaky hands she quickly snatched Quin’s hand and dashed out of the hall. She dragged him behind her into the small private prayer room locking the door behind them; she then led him to the kneeling place in front of the cross where she pushed him away from her. She started pacing…yelling all the while,
“How dare you…in front of ALL those people! I haven’t seen you in over a YEAR Quin, and then here you are to faithfully declare your love and commitment? Do you have no sense? How do you know if I still wanted you to do that? And what in God’s precious name, made you think that I would want you to do it in that way!?! Oh, of all the stupid things….that’s what you chose to do! I…I am so angry I could slap you!”
Quin took her hands and held them tightly as he spoke to her in a firm voice,
“Now listen here, I am a man of my word, I am sorry I haven’t seen you in over a year, I can assure you that that was NOT my choice, you can thank the Viceroy’s predicted war for that! However, when I saw you walk in tonight, I knew I had to ask you tonight before any other fool had the chance to ask for your hand...I am sorry that you don’t commend my way of asking you, but it’s too late to take that back now. If you do not love me than tell me and I will go, but if you can’t say it without a single doubt in your mind, than grant me a month to court you. If after that month you do not love me, I will remain only your friend or I will leave you to live your life without me. What do you say?”
She stared hushed at him, thinking…she knew it was only fair, after all he had kept his promise even after all these years. That had to count for something. She looked into his light blue eyes, took a deep breath, and said,
“I wore the brooch you gave me…don’t you think it matches my dress beautifully?”
Quin laughed and smiled, he stroked her face with his thumb then kissed her hand,
“Thank you! I look forward to marrying you at the end of this month. ”
He winked and laughed again as he dodged a swat from her, then he bid her fair well.