Chapter Two

Reaver watched as Queen Sparrow waddled her way through the throne room to sit on the throne and formally begin the court session. At over eight months pregnant the Queen was experiencing all the classic symptoms, from the bizarre cravings (chocolate covered spinach really?) to the sudden mood swings to most noticeably (lately at least) her imitation of a penguin. He found himself feeling very glad that it was women who had to go through all that rather than the men although Queen Sparrow's trials should be ending pretty soon.

Walter leaned over and whispered, or more accurately attempted to whisper (he had never quite figured out how to talk softly when he wasn't injured) in Queen Sparrow's ear

"Your majesty, do you really think this is wise? You're due any day now; you really should be in bed."

"He is right, you know" Adrian apparently felt the need to add his two golds to the situation "Walter and I can handle things for a couple of days so-" he stopped abruptly as the queen silenced him with a glare. Reaver chuckled inwardly, Albion by and large was a patriarchal society, but there was no doubting who wore the pants in that relationship and it wasn't Adrian.

"All right then" the queen stated "Let us proceed with today's agenda, Sir Walter, if you would" despite the phrasing of the sentence as a question, her tone was one of command. Queen Sparrow was often like that, she would phrase her orders as requests but her tone made it clear that she expected others to conform to her wishes. It worked usually although Reaver thought it was a bit stupid, she was the queen, she shouldn't worry about offending the common rabble.

"Right" Walter said and then took a moment to consult his notes "Some local farmers are having difficulty getting their goods to the markets here in Bowerstone, they request that the crown help repair the roads in the area." The aforementioned farmer's stepped forward nervously, likely none of those peasants had ever been anywhere near the castle before or spoken to any noble let alone the Queen herself.

"You may speak" the queen said. The farmers began to recite the speech that had mostly practiced for days before hand. Reaver, however, was not the least bit interested so he didn't even pretend to pay attention. The roads around Bowerstone were good enough for him. A few bumps along the way made the trip more interesting, but if the roads were smoothed out that would be just fine too.

Sometimes he didn't know why he bothered to attend these things, other than the fact that the queen insisted that members of the royal court must attend each session unless they were ill (and no, being hung over did not count) or had some other legitimate excuse for not attending. She was very serious about that policy of hers. He remembered an incident that occurred shortly after she'd taken the throne.

After her coronation, she had graciously granted amnesty the surviving nobles who had tried to stop her from taking the throne (something Reaver certainly would never have even considered if it were him) provided they were law abiding citizens from that moment on. One of those nobles had decided he would not legitimize the rule of a 'peasant queen' and refused to attend any session or other gathering hosted at the castle. After a week or so the queen had had enough, the guards dragged the man into the throne room. The queen had reamed him publicly and also gave a speech about how everyone, from the lowest beggar to the queen herself had a duty to Albion and he/she had to do it to his/her best ability. Then she stripped him of his title and his lands (except for one small farm) and passed them over to his sister (he had no living male heirs) and as a punishment for failing to do his duty. Then on top of that she exiled the man to that farm claiming that if he thought it was so easy to be a peasant then he should enjoy it far more than the exhausting work of being a nobleman. The other nobles had quickly gotten the hint, attend the court and everything will be fine, fail to attend and lose all claim to nobility.

Reaver frankly hadn't seen and still didn't see what the big deal was, most of the nobles didn't actually do anything during the court session; they simply stood there and listened to other people talk for a few hours, not very difficult. Still Reaver was somewhat grateful to the silly ass, because he had given him the opportunity to get on the queen's good side a bit. Shortly after the incident, the man was found murdered on the farm, he had been exiled to. Rumors quickly circled among the nobility that the queen had ordered it and there were speculations over who would be next. There were also talks of rebellion, to save their own skins, naturally.

Reaver, however, had never believed that; he knew that if Queen Sparrow (he never understood why she wanted to be called that) had wanted the man dead she would have done it herself in the court session. Sure enough, he was right; he found evidence that the real culprit was the dead man's uncle, a proud elderly man. The elder had been ashamed at the huge loss of honor that had been brought upon his family and had his nephew killed to punish him even further. Although Reaver believed that it had probably come as a relief to the pampered noble man. He made the said evidence public and the queen had somewhat reluctantly granted him a minor noble title and a spot on the royal court.

Reaver's musings however were interrupted when the queen doubled over in pain. Adrian immediately rushed to her side

"Darling, are you all right?" he asked her

"No" she said softly "my water's broken" Adrian froze for a moment and then he asked "what?" Reaver rolled his eyes, really, the man had done this once before, you'd think he'd have an idea of what to do. Reaver couldn't for the life of him figure out what the queen saw in this pathetic excuse for a man. Since everyone else was staring, it seemed he would have to take charge.

"I believe that the queen said that her water has broken, so here's what we're going to do. Adrian you go fetch the queen's midwife and tell her what's happened. Walter and I will help get her to the nearest bed, the rest of you…clear out, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here." Everyone stared at him blankly. "Do what he says!" the queen shouted and then doubled over as another contraction began. Finally people began to move, Adrian ran off and Reaver and Walter moved to either side of the queen. Together the three of them slowly made their way out of the throne room and down the hall to a nearby bedroom. Walter helped the queen onto the bed while Reaver stepped into a shadowy corner. He wasn't sure why but he actually wanted to watch this, curiosity he eventually decided he had never seen a woman give birth before, that was all. It wasn't because he was worried or anything certainly not. The midwife soon arrived and shooed both Adrian and Walter from the room but apparently she didn't notice that Reaver was there because she left him alone. Eventually after a lot of screaming, groaning, pushing and pulling, the midwife finally held up the baby and examined it.

"It's a girl, your majesty, and she's the picture of health." She announced. The queen smiled and held out her arms, the midwife correctly interpreting the gesture placed the baby in her mother's arms

"Please go get Adrian and Logan" the queen said. The midwife nodded and left. A minute or two later Adrian and Logan entered the room and came to stand beside the bed.

"She's beautiful, just like her mother" Adrian said, the queen smiled. Reaver rolled his eyes "oh brother" he thought to himself

"She's awful tiny" the six year old prince Logan said. The queen laughed a bit and then said

"Of course she's small, she's only a baby. Logan, listen, you're her big brother now, and it's your job to protect her because no else will do that like you will." Logan nodded and then as if he felt compelled to say something nice about her he said

"She has pretty eyes"

"Come Logan" Adrian said after a minute "Let's let your mother get some rest, it sounded like it was a difficult birth" Together the males left the room. Once they were safely out of earshot the queen said

"Reaver, aren't you going to come over here and greet your daughter properly?"

"You've got sharp eyes my dear" Reaver said and then he walked over to the bed. He examined her, the baby giggled and cooed at him. Reaver said with a pleased smile "She's going to be quite the little heart breaker when she grows up, mind you with us as her parents; it's only to be expected."

"Don't you go teaching her any of your bad habits, Reaver" the queen ordered. Reaver put on a fake scandalized expression "Really, my dear, what a thing to suggest!" In spite of herself the queen laughed (Reaver couldn't help but be pleased inwardly, he didn't often get that response from her) and then she asked

"Can you ever be serious?"

"Where's the fun in that?" Reaver responded. The queen decided not to even try and answer that instead she in a more formal tone said

"Anyway, thank you for what you did in the throne room today."

"No thanks necessary, your lovely majesty, I simply took charge because if I hadn't no one would have." He replied then taking the queen's suddenly formal tone as a sign that the conversation was over. He added "Well, it's late and I have things to get to-"

"Spare me the details Reaver, just go" the queen interjected

"Very well, your majesty" he replied with an exaggerated bow "tatty-bye" and then he turned and went out the door, on his way he thought he heard a female voice say "farewell, Reaver" but it was faint so he couldn't be sure.