Blood Crown
By Violet Day
Date: November 2, 2020
Ch. 55

The man sitting in the armchair dropped the book he was reading as well and looked up at her, eyes wide behind wire framed glasses.

“What are you –”

“I’m so sorry –”

They both started to speak at once.

“I’m so sorry,” Senna started again, leaning down to pick up the books. She felt the jeans dig into her waist; they were a bit too tight after all. She hadn’t been able to tell until that moment. “I thought no one was here. I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to be here.”

She picked up the last book which had landed at the man’s feet. She looked up at him as she straightened, standing before him. She set the books down on a low table next to the arm chair and waited for him to say something, to let her know if she was in huge trouble or not.

But in that brief moment where they stood there in silence, Senna couldn’t help but not think about her situation at all. This man… something about him enthralled her. She looked at his face and features carefully, trying to figure out what it was about him.

Dark auburn hair. Pale skin. Strong bone structure. Green eyes.

She decided it wasn’t quite right to think of him as a “man,” but also definitely not right to call him a “boy.” He was around her age. A young man, with smooth skin but a piercing, intelligent gaze.

He wasn’t saying anything, just looking straight back at her.

“Who are you?” she asked, finally, breaking the silence.

He glanced around, apparently nervous. His eyes left her and flitted from the garden to the stacks of books on the side table. “Dorn,” he said after a moment. “I’m a castle librarian.”

“You seem a bit young to be a librarian,” Senna said, feeling a bit more at ease. It didn’t seem like she was in trouble. She wanted to ask him what kind of name “Dorn” was but decided not to. This wasn’t her working class social sphere; she had to try to be polite and put together and mind what kind of impressions she made here in the Silver Palace.

“I’m new, so they put me in charge of this little library.”

“Why aren’t these books with the others in the bigger library? Or libraries?” Senna pulled a cushioned stool that was probably meant to be the footrest for the armchair toward the table and sat down.

“This library is, well, a special collection.”

“Oooh.” Senna opened one of the history books. The pages were thinner than any she had seen before and felt like liquid between her fingers. “What makes these books special?”

“They’re the prince’s personal collection.”

Senna dropped the page between her fingers. Oh. She most definitely wasn’t supposed to be here. The contestants weren’t supposed to have any contact whatsoever with the prince before the final trial. Not that it was likely; he was away on foreign business. Still… maybe she should just ask to borrow these books and leave…

“Who are you? I’ve never seen you around the castle before.”

“I’m Senna, a contestant in the contest for queen,” Senna said, marveling at the fact that what she said was true. This was really happening. “The competition’s just started, I probably won’t be here for long.” She laughed, a bit self-deprecatingly.

“Oh,” Dorn said. They both happened to look at each other’s eyes at the same moment. “Well, I hope you do stay.”

A beat of silence. Senna thought she heard birds in the garden.

There really was something about Dorn’s look that Senna couldn’t take her eyes away from. He was good looking but not exceptionally beautiful, his clothes were clean and cut from rich cloth but nothing extravagant, just a brown button up shirt and black slacks… Maybe it was the red tinted hair. Senna didn’t see a lot of redheads in her neighborhood.

Yes, that had to be it.

“I hope so too,” she said finally, almost having forgotten what the topic of conversation had been. She snapped back into the present, out of her thoughts. “Hey, can I ask you a favor? If you’re not too busy?”

The humor in her voice was obvious. It was clear that this library didn’t see much use. The prince must not be much of a book lover, Senna thought.

Dorn smiled, leaning toward her a bit. “Yes, I think I have the time.”

“The second trial is a written examination, but since I’ve grown up in the gate area, I don’t have much formal education in history, and, well, no higher education in anything really. You finished school, right?”

Dorn nodded.

“Could you help me study? Oh, I’ve also got to find a queen that inspires me.”

“Of course,” the young man said. He took off his glasses, rubbed them with his shirt, and put them back on. “But I think we better start with math and English and science, just the basics, because I’ve heard that it’ll be important to have a good grounding in those on the exam.”

“Oh, okay, alright.”

Dorn got up. “I know just the book…” He ventured into the shelves.

Senna couldn’t help but notice that he had a very –ahem –visually pleasing body. She had only known one librarian in her life (the librarian of her elementary school’s library) and the woman was lazy, large, and decidedly not as helpful or as pretty to look at as this Dorn.

She couldn’t help but think this was going to be the most enjoyable study session of her life.


She was right, but not just because Dorn was pleasant on the eyes.

He was incredibly intelligent and guided her through touching up on her math and science effortlessly. It was clear that history lessons were his favorite; he wove in stories with the dates and facts that made Senna laugh and stay engaged.

If he had the opportunity, Senna would have pushed him to become a teacher.

Or maybe he was one of those guys who was good at everything. He seemed like it. Someone with the muscle tone to spend a day in her life, working at great vats of dye in a textile factory, but also someone with the intelligence and strength of heart to rule a country –if either of those things had even been an option.

Senna really wanted to get to know him, but as lunch time came and was about to go, she felt her hunger genuinely distracting her from Dorn’s soft voice and prompting to answer his questions.

“I have to go,” she said as he perused a book, looking for something to teach her next. “I didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast and I’m really hungry.”

“Oh, if you must,” he said, looking up from the book, his eyes visibly surprised over the thin rims of his glasses.

“I think with your help I’ll do so much better on this test than I would have otherwise,” Senna said, smiling at him from her seat on the footstool.

“I’m glad to have been of service.”

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