Princess No More
by Memory Scarlett
Estelle refused to let Richard linger in her presence as his father lay dying. "You should be with him," she said. "He needs his family close by."
Richard scraped a hand across day-old stubble. "Let us pray he disowns me with his last breath."
They both knew that could not happen, no matter the love King Ambrose bore his son's wife. He had no heir but Richard, and the people could hope for no finer King. Estelle clung to that knowledge in her darker moments.
"I'll be all right," she said softly. "We've prepared for this. Please, Richard, will you give him my love? And my forgiveness?"
Richard nodded. Grief transformed him into a stiff, haggard creature; a far cry from the graceful prince with whom she had danced the world into focus. "I will tell him he is at the forefront of your thoughts," he said, lower lip trembling, "and that you harbor no ill will towards him."
It was enough. She let him go with a soft kiss on the cheek, as though this were an everyday parting. He did not meet her eyes.