We reached the great hall, and Marie entered with a flourish.
“My lord, I am your cousin Marie. Your aunt Blanche-Rose is my mother,” she informed the king.
The king puzzled for a moment, pulling on his beard and studying Marie.
“Yes, yes…I see,” he mused, then introduced her to Isolde his wife and asked Cecily to move Marie’s possessions to the royal chamber.
Marie smiled winningly to Isolde and I, and came over to greet us.
“Bonjour, Mesdames,” she said to both of us. “We have already met,” she nodded to me.
“Ye must be tired from your travels. Would ye like to go upstairs to settle in?” Isolde asked.
“No, thank you, Madame. But I do have a terrible headache,” she said touching her forehead.
“Come with me, my lady. I will make ye a remedy,” I told her.
Marie followed me to the cottage, sitting on the doorsill, and I bustled around the small space, fetching dried rose petals, lavender, sage, and hay to brew a tea. I noticed her observing my garden and passersby.
“Madame, what did ye mean in the forest when ye said ye have an adventure to share?”
She stood and faced me, studying my countenance and what I was doing. I felt slightly unnerved by her close gaze.
“Tonight I will share my stories that I have gathered far and wide.” She glanced outside. “You don’t by chance have any local love tales of interest, do you?” Her eyes pierced mine.
I looked away to reach for the last ingredient. “No, we are quite dull here.”
“Truly? Nothing between the handsome knight that so lovingly looked at the queen, ready to protect her at any moment if needed?”
I blinked to cover my astonishment. How observant she was! I would need to be cautious.
“It is a duty for knights to protect the king and queen,” I said flatly.
Marie smiled slightly, not fooled.
“I need some water,” I said, almost a whisper and headed to the nearest bend of the stream, then returned to set the water to boil.
“Your tea will be ready soon,” I nodded at Marie, my lips pressed.
“Oh, I am sorry–I have offended you, my dear.” She seemed genuinely contrite.
“The grounds are so beautiful here. I think I will take a stroll,” she said gently.
“I will bring ye the tea when it is ready,” I told her.
She stepped out optimistically.
Once she left, I sighed worriedly. How would I warn Tristan and Isolde to be careful without Marie hearing?