Authors: Breeana Puttroff
Leaves of Revolution
Book Six of
The Dusk Gate Chronicles
THIRTEEN PAGES PRESS
Copyright © 2014 Breeana Puttroff
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To my amazing Dusk Gate readers – you’ve made my dream of
sharing stories come true.
Thank you so much for helping bring Quinn, William, Thomas, Linnea,
Zander and the rest to life!
“COME IN,” ZANDER YELLED toward the door of his apartment as he walked out of his bedroom. “Oh, hi Mia.”
“Hello, Sir Zander. I brought your clothes for the ceremony.”
He managed to stifle his eye-roll before she saw – she was never going to stop calling him that. “Thank you,” he said instead, reaching for the hanger she held toward him. “I would have thought you’d be too busy this morning with everyone else to be bothered with small jobs like this. I can take care of myself.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You’d have shown up at the ceremony in what you’re wearing.”
“Is there something wrong with what I’m wearing?” He glanced down at his tan pants and the nicest top he’d acquired since coming here – a light blue wool sweater. He’d even ironed the pants with a strange metal contraption that had to be heated over the fireplace.
“Ordinarily, no. But you’re an honored guest of the king and queen today. You’ll need those.” She nodded toward the hanger and then looked up at him, frowning at his damp hair. “I was going to send someone in to heat the bathwater for you, but I see you’ve taken care of it already. You don’t have to do everything yourself, you know.”
He shrugged. “What else do I have to do? I’m fine, Mia, but thank you.”
“You’re expected in the main hall in an hour.”
“I’ll be there.”
“You’ll ask if I can do anything else for you?”
“I’m not making any promises.”
Shaking her head, she chuckled softly. “All right then, I’ll see you downstairs.”
Once she was gone, he carried the heavy wooden hanger into his room and laid the garment bag across his bed before untying the ribbon and pulling back the cover. He sighed. The white silk button-down shirt would have been one thing, but the green velvet tunic-thing to wear over it… He wasn’t ready for that.
The black slacks, of course, were pressed far more neatly than he would ever be able to manage. Perhaps Mia was right – he should be grateful to live in a castle with servants who were happy to take care of things.
He made it downstairs less than forty-five minutes later, only to discover he was far from the first one there.
“Zander,” Thomas said, walking over to meet him as he reached the bottom step, “I was just on my way up to find you.”
“Why? I thought I was early.”
“You are. I just thought maybe you would want the company.”
“Oh.” He still wasn’t used to any of this – this place, these people, these
Thomas’ outfit was just as startling to him as his own. He wore the same kind of silk shirt and black pants as Zander, but there was a purple velvet cape over Thomas’ shoulders, secured at the neck with a silver pin. “Thanks anyway. Is there anything I can help with?”
“We’re just trying to keep the children from destroying too much while they finish readying the carriages.”
Zander looked around. The youngest princes and princesses of Eirentheos were scattered about the hall, chattering and playing, though they were hardly destroying anything. Since the arrival of both royal families at the Philothean castle two days ago, Quinn and William had set the servants to work transforming the rooms and halls to a more child-friendly environment. Breakable vases and artwork had been moved to out-of-the-way places or stored and replaced with wooden and metal decorations.
The changes weren’t only to accommodate the out-of-town guests; for the first time in decades, the castle would be home to a royal child of its own – Quinn and William’s infant son, the future heir to the throne, who would officially receive his name today.
The tiny prince wouldn’t be the lone child in the castle for long, either, Zander thought, seeing another figure approach them from across the room.
Linnea’s dark purple dress clung perfectly to her still-flat stomach, hugging her waist before flaring out in rippling folds toward the floor, but he doubted she’d get many more chances to wear that dress before the early signs of her pregnancy gave way to more obvious ones.
She was beautiful, all dark curls and long eyelashes framing her bright gray eyes. Zander nearly couldn’t breathe around the brick in his chest as he thought about the man who wouldn’t be joining them today, the man who wouldn’t be here to see Linnea grow round with his child.
The weight of his tunic, of the small round medal pinned to the front was suddenly much too heavy. He wasn’t a hero; he hadn’t fixed anything – least of all the one thing that mattered.
“Hey Zander,” Linnea said.
He mentally shook himself – he couldn’t allow his mind to go there right now. “Hi, Linnea.”
“You clean up nice,” she said.
A warm, shaky feeling settled in his stomach. He never knew how to respond to statements like that. Linnea spoke that way to everyone all the time, even in her grief. Part of him wanted to tell her she looked good, too, but it didn’t seem right.
“And what am I?” Thomas teased, taking his sister’s hand and twirling her around. “Just a hanger for you to display your loveliness on?”
Zander took a step back, glad for the save Thomas had provided him. He was about to escape and go find Josh or Daniel, the next-oldest Rose boys, when suddenly, one of the enormous main doors swung open, sending a blast of cold air into the room. Everyone quieted and turned toward the entrance.
Marcus Westbrook was standing there in the full green-and-gold regalia of the Philothean guard. The green silk sash draped over his tunic indicated his position as Queen Quinn’s foremost advisor. Flanking him were several more members of the guard, also in dress uniform.
* * *
“Are you ready, love?” William asked, reaching down to straighten the chain of Quinn’s necklace, placing her pendant just-so under the pin of her long fur cape.
“To face a few thousand people? Not really. This is not my favorite part of the job.”
He smiled at her grimace. For as much as she claimed to hate it, when she actually had to stand up and speak, people listened – most of them anyway. “You’ll do it beautifully.”
She smiled, a warm glow lighting her cheeks. “Are
“No. I wasn’t much more prepared to be a king than you were to be a queen, you know. Nobody was supposed to care about my child’s Naming Ceremony – they were supposed to have been bored with all of it by the time the fourth-born prince became a father.”
Chuckling, she stretched up to kiss him lightly on the lips. “You’ve taught me more than you give yourself credit for. I don’t think I could manage any of this without you, Will.”
He kissed her tenderly before pulling back and studying her face, reaching down to pull a single curl loose from its jeweled clip, twisting it so that it bounced softly against her cheek, catching the light and casting the warm auburn glow he loved.
She gave him a wry look and opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the knock on the door.
William hurried to open it, revealing an older woman with kind eyes. She smiled up at him. “Your Majesty?”
He resisted the urge to look around for his father. “Yes, Ruth?”
“They’re loading the carriages now. Marcus will be up to escort you down in just a moment. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“No. We have everything we need. Did Lady Sophia make it down all right?”
“Well, she’s downstairs and being helped into a carriage anyway, Your Majesty.”
He sighed. “How upset is she?”
“I believe she expected to be allowed to carry the prince outside herself.”
Closing his eyes, he pressed his fingers to his temples.
“I think your mother has her in hand, though. You and Her Majesty should concentrate on yourselves today. I’ll do what I can as well.” Ruth’s smile was conspiratorial, and a swell of gratefulness filled William’s chest.
* * *
“What are you doing?” Zander turned around at the annoyed sound in Linnea’s voice.
He held his hand out toward the line of carriages along the brick driveway in front of the castle. “I’m just waiting to see where I should go.”
“With us,” she said, rolling her eyes and nodding toward the organized groups of people being helped into the vehicles by castle guards. “I apologize if it wasn’t self-explanatory that we wouldn’t send you out here to flounder on your own. Come on.” She waved him toward the back of the line where the carriages were filling with William’s family members and a few others he vaguely recognized as Quinn’s Philothean relatives.
He started to follow hesitantly just as Thomas came up to meet them. “I’m not royalty,” he said, in a last attempt to avoid that spotlight. “I don’t belong with you.”
“Yeah, that’s what Quinn tried to say the first few times we dragged her with us to a formal event.” Thomas grinned. “Keep opening your mouth like that and we’ll find out you’re her long-lost cousin or something.”
He shuddered. “Definitely not. My family is crazy, but not like this.”
“Come on, Zander.”
Thomas and Linnea led him to one of the closest carriages to the back. There were only two more behind them – the one holding King Stephen and Queen Charlotte along with Simon and Evelyn and their son, and the one that carried Quinn’s grandmother, Sophia, and her children.
Zander tried to make himself as invisible as possible by squeezing onto the seat between Thomas and the wall, after calculating which side most of the crowd would likely be on. Howard, Rebecca, and Maxwell were on the seat across from them.
Not one of them looked at him like he was out of place. Even the guard who helped them up and secured the door behind them bowed his head in respect.
“Oh, hey, I forgot to give these to you,” Thomas said, reaching under his cape and pulling out something small and black.
Zander realized as he took them. They were made of soft black leather and wool, and they matched the ones Thomas and all of his brothers were wearing.
“Thank you.” The gloves were warm against the biting chill that had crept back into the air in the last couple of days. It wasn’t nearly as cold as winter weather at home – he might not even have worn a jacket in Bristlecone in weather like today’s – but the cooling temperatures reminded him that he was missing spring there. That he might never see spring at home again.
“So…” Thomas waggled his eyebrows at him. “Do you have a bet on when Alvin will show up? Max says a few minutes before the ceremony, but I’ve got my coins on him just appearing after it starts.”
“What? Why would Alvin do that? Isn’t he performing the ceremony?” Zander honestly hadn’t paid much attention to the preparations leading up to this, because it was all overwhelming and not that interesting, but he’d assumed, given the level of stress in the castle, that Quinn’s grandmother had mapped out the tiniest details.
“Yes – at least as far as we know – but he is Alvin,” Thomas said. “You can’t plan for what he’ll actually do.”
Zander looked back up at the castle, at the banners and flowers and green bunting over everything, at the line of carriages and the rows of guards in full green-and-gold regalia, polished swords swinging from their belts. And he looked at the procession now starting at the top of the castle steps, Queen Quinn and King William – crowns and all – William carrying a green bundle. “I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to guess he’s already here.”
“Ooh, a gambler,” Max said, before he followed Zander’s gaze. He narrowed his eyes. “That’s cheating.”
Zander shrugged and grinned. “So don’t pay up, then. You were both still wrong.” Alvin was up there on the steps too, standing next to Quinn as Marcus and several other high-ranking guards led them down the steps.
Quinn and William’s whole path was lined with a dark green carpet that took them down the stairs and along the line of open carriages until they reached a much more opulent vehicle in the back. This one had a roof and large doors, and enormous curtained windows, though the windows had been removed for the occasion to give the onlookers a glimpse of the new prince.
Zander’s rear-facing seat afforded him a perfect view of the whole spectacle. Marcus helped Quinn into the carriage, holding her hand as she stepped up and settled her long cape and dress inside. When she straightened for a moment before sitting down, she bumped her head on the roof of the carriage, knocking her green-jeweled crown askew.
For a moment, as her cheeks turned bright pink and wisps of hair fell out of place, Zander could see her – the Quinn he’d known just a few short months ago, the one who could laugh at simple things, who’d been the first girl he ever really loved, who’d said yes when he asked her to the Valentine dance.
But then William climbed into the compartment beside her, helping her sit, removing his gloves to return the crown to its place, tucking the disobedient strands back into their proper positions. Of course, everything had to be perfect for the display.
He didn’t even kiss her as he sat down next to her, allowing Marcus to step up and arrange the bundle of blankets just-so on her lap.