(7) Coronation

 

Good morning Monsieur. *My goodness I am impressed……and that does not happen often, Monsieur Daquin has the staff scurrying in every direction with one look or a wave of the hand!…..the kitchen is a hive of activity. Having already acknowledged him when I entered the kitchen ….. with a no-nonsense expression, head inclined to the side accompanied with a characteristically sharp nod. I intend to start as I mean to go on! *

 

Monsieur, we have much to discuss regarding the arrangements for the “Royal Gala Banquette” Miguel will be here shortly to discuss the overall logistics of the affair.

 

Beauregard Daquin‏ @ChefDaquin 46

//Smiles politely, while trying to work out if we have sufficient flour and eggs.// Indeed, Madame. Zis banquette must be spectacular and talked about for years to come. Zis must be ze best banquette ever.

But I cannot produce such a thing until I know who it is I am cooking for. Ze dishes must be exactly so. I have ze quarter of stag which has been a night in salt, and ze civet of hare, naturellement. For ze second course, we have ze pies. Ze third course we have goat, sturgeon, or chicken, but ze sauces … //waves hands aimlessly// I am not sure. And then there are capons, bread, malardis, spice wines, cheeses, and fruits. And for ze deserts, I have made croquembouche, chocolates, and cherry hearts. I think there is something for everyone, but I must know ze details.

 

Miguel! My dear. *Offers a small smile…..this is a man of substance and substantial credentials. * Do come in please, Monsieur Daquin has planned a menu fitting a royal occasion. Now we cannot progress with any arrangements until we have heard what plans you have made.

 

Miguel Pedrosa‏ @miguelpedrosa91 39m39 minutes ago

*Rubs my forehead.* My first official banquet, and apparently I cannot seat the French ambassador next to the German ambassador, in case they both drink too much and start a fight. Oh, and the Dutch ambassador has been waylaid by some storm at sea, so Bart’s cousin, Jacob, is stepping in. *Rolls eyes.* Naturally, Bart has to come along as well, and John promised Billy that he could join them. That can’t possibly go wrong. Luckily, I’ve managed to persuade everyone that perhaps it would be best if Albain was given a jug of rum and persuaded to stay on board ship, with the parrot and monkey. Oh, and my brother will be there, with Don Pau, representing Catalan. At least I can seat them with the French. I’ve got the meats you wanted, and Bart has thoughtfully provided some more exotic fruits. Honestly, whatever menu you can come up with, will be absolutely perfect. If it’s any help at all, we would particularly like to impress the French, especially since Aurore’s uncle will be present.

 

Beauregard Daquin‏ @ChefDaquin 34

//Nods thoughtfully.// Parfait. Ze desserts are Francais, I can make ze sauces ze same. Loaves of bread, I must bake some more bread. Excuse moi, s’il vous plait, I leave ze seating to others.

 

So! We have made a start! * Tuts dans ma barbe……these men have no idea……Oh mon dier * And the guest Miguel! * Raises a brow folding my arms across a well starch apron* ….they need to be assigned chambers the foreign ones at least.

I assume you are expecting my girls to clean the chamber…and the beds made up and aired, I will assure that fresh flowers are placed in each guest’s quarters. Monsieur Daquin, may I suggest you furbish Miguel with a list of stores you will require ensuring no panic when you

start your preparation. Miguel! * A small smile graces my lips…..Oh the thought of Joao and Amalure….those well-toned torsos* have Joao and Amalure lists of guest attending…..some of them will need watching. *Narrowing my eyes with head tilted to the side*

mon dieu! should there be any unwanted interruptions! And please tell me who are ordering wine, champagne and brandy *Tuts Loudly* I am sure John will not be amused if his cellar is drunk dry.
 
 

*Smiles broadly.* Don’t worry, Don Pau is providing the wines, Mano is in charge of brandy, and we already have a good stock of champagne, thanks to some of Barts previous trips. Alcohol need not concern either of you. Just let me know if you need any other provisions, preferably before it’s too late, and I’ll do what I can. *Or Bart can earn his keep. Decides that maybe saying that out loud might be a bad plan. The less people know about that scoundrel, the better.* Oh, and I’ll get the guest list to you, Aimee, so you can make whatever preparations are necessary. *Bad enough I have to sort the seating out, I’m certainly not going to get involved in the sleeping arrangements.*

 
//Nods and wanders away muttering under my breath.// Provisions … always with ze provisions. Zis is an art form. I am not always knowing ze provisions in advance. Brandy though. Yes, I could use brandy. And plums. Many more plums.
 
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*Stares down the line of dignitaries jostling for position in the line up to shake hands with John and Aurore. I honestly did not think these many people would actually turn up. Oh well, here goes nothing. Clears my throat.*

Ladies, gentlemen, please, take your place in the line. Our new King and Queen will greet all of you in turn. While you are waiting, please feel free to sample the treats being circulated by our servers.

*Hopes Aimee and our new Chef didn’t underestimate the number of mouths we would be feeding. Then again, I did warn them that Bart and Porthos would both be here, so they should have made extra, just in case.*

John‏ @DukeBraganza23.

*I take a deep breath and try not to pull at the neck of this overly starched shirt. So many people, so many names to remember. I hope I get them all right, or that Miguel has a chance to whisper loudly in my ear. I squeeze Aurore’s hand and start down the line,

smiling and shaking hands with people and exchanging completely pointless small talk, trying to make everyone feel special.*

 
 
 

“Meu Amor my King! *My smile lifts from the corner of my lips, hazelnut eye’s crease at the edges, not yet accustomed to calling John, My king. Among the throng of people jostling for our attention a few familiar faces, courtier and dignitaries, some of whom,

will meet with my scrutiny! We continue our parade, each step I take with perfect posture supported from within by dogged determination, to make my King proud. My arms relaxed gentle at my side. John subtly reaches for my hand closing his fingers firmly around mine in a show

of solidarity. Pausing from time to time, smiling politely and engaging in trivial conversation with members of the royal court. *

 
“My dear Ambassador how reassuring to find you well after you resent illness”
 
“ Your majesty, John do you remember the Ambassador of Brazil?”
 
 
 
*I smile to myself, relieved that Aurore has managed to jog my memory.*
 
But of course, Luiz, how are you? I hope the cold weather this winter did not cause you too much distress, I know how your knees dislike the cold.
 
*I really hope that’s not overstepping the bounds of diplomacy, but it is true. A slight draft and the man limped for days. I am relieved to note the man smiles with pleasure at the fact I remember him.*
 
And your daughter, she is well?
 
 
 
* Tightening the grip on John’s hand, squeezing more firmly than I intended, John glances at me slightly startled. I whisper explaining my surprise. *
 
Subtly glance along the line of people waiting for us to greet them, see about eight down. Its Lord Charles Fitzwilliam, from England, I met him briefly on one of my- little enterprises in France. Now, what could his business by here at court?
 
 
 
{Flourishes a stately bow, a perfectly manicured hand waved theatrically to one side– lace kerchief— held delicately releases an exquisite aroma. On straightening I take Aurore’s hand pressing to my lips.}
 
Sink me! Beloved Highness, your more beaut-i-ful-than ever I remembered- you -could teach -the stars to shine.
 
 
 

Aurore Braganza👑‏ @auroretrav201423

 Charles! You’re a flatterer and incorrigible! and in front of my husband. May I introduce the King.

*Slightly bemused  as Charles is far more effeminate than I had remembered him, now I wonder what is his purpose here.*

John‏ @DukeBraganza23. 

*Oh dear gods, I wasn’t sure it was capable for one person to overact quite so much, and I do not believe the act for one second. I have met his kind before, the kind for whom lies are second nature. In fact, no, the kind for whom lies are first nature. After all, I am no novice at this art. That is how I first met Aurore. I raise an eyebrow to Miguel and smile as he rolls his eyes and nods back. This English ambassador needs careful watching, but for now, I’ll humour him. After all, this is not the time or place to make a scene. Besides, it would seem that Aurore is already well acquainted with him. We can discuss him in detail later.* Lord Fitzwilliam. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, I’m sure. I am so pleased you were able to travel all the way from England for our little gathering. Such a long way. I am truly honoured.

Lord Charles Fitzwilliam‏ @charlesfitzwil23.

{Twiddles my hand to the side—held between fingers tips a lace kerchief waved limply—-formally bowing! Raises my hand hiding a yawn —don’t you know—at the lack of culture presented in the ensemble intolerable boring —-peering over the hand shielding such rudeness—my eye’s fix on those of Aurore’s—inclined head nods in recognition.}

 

 

Miguel Pedrosa‏ @miguelpedrosa9123h23 hours ago

*Rolls my eyes and hopes John doesn’t try to overact this English spy, er ambassador. Sighs with relief. Finally, that would seem to be everyone, and the German Ambassador’s wife is eyeing the food in a predatory manner. Now would be a good time to feed our guests.*
 
Ladies and gentlemen, I would ask you to raise your glasses to the King of Portugal and his Queen. *Pauses while cheers are sounded and glasses are clinked.* Now, if you would like to make your way to the Swan room, the banquet is open.
 
 
 
 
 
* Leaning in towards John giggling. *
 
Meu Amor will you look at Aimee, I do believe she is in her element. Despite the protest, we will hear to the contrary! Uncle! how wonderful to see you, I thought I would lose you in the throng.
 
 *Taking his hand warmly the affection held for him in deep chocolate eyes, leaning slightly towards him we greet each other with a kiss to both cheeks. *
 
 
 
*Shakes John”s hand warmly and smiles affectionately at my niece.* Wild horses would not have kept me from this, as well you know.
 
*Glances sideways at Porthos.* Besides, someone has to feed him.
 
 
 
*I chuckle and shakes hand with Treville and his ‘bodyguard’.* Well, help yourselves. I checked in the kitchen earlier, and we seem to have catered for a small army.
 
 
 
 
 
*Closes my eyes and takes a deep breath.* I really wish you hadn’t said that. Porthos eats like a small army on a good day, and today he has been eating very little in order to save himself for this evening.
 
 
 
*I can’t help but laugh at the look of innocence on Porthos’s face.* Well, don’t seat him near Father Ryan. He’s been doing the same thing.
 
 
 
 
 
* Almost reluctantly John and I are drawn into conversation with yet another boring diplomat, smiling politely towards my uncle, I promise to spend some time with him soon. I’m whisked away into the crowd on Johns’ arm, he glances down at me with a broad reassuring smile. *
 
 
 
“Dépêchez-vous” * Hurry up I offer in encouragement waving my hand ushering them along ……Mon Seigneur! I mutter……* the guests are waiting for champagne and canapes! * Come along no time to dawdle…. This is just the start of the evening, if you can’t get this right!  *Tuts loudly…glaring at the new maid @palacemaid* there is no hope!
 
 
 
*Watches from ze shadows. Most of ze dishes were prepared well in advance, but some need ze final touches, and I must know ze timings to make sure everything is perfect. Nods to ze servers to start carrying in ze huge platters. Yes, there should be enough. Scratches my chin. A large musketeer … and a very rotund German lady. Still, I am sure there is enough.* Vite, vite, quickly now. *Retreats to my kitchen to finish ze last of ze dishes, singing happily to myself..
 
 
 
* Claps hands together…. the sounding like thunder….. Tongue flicking across my lips, mouth salivating when a large platter weaves its way under my nose…reaches out and grabs a chicken leg…..with a satisfied groan, sinks my teeth into the flesh tearing the meat from the bone….Exclaiming* …..God ,I could eat a horse, not eaten for hours…..well a man has to save himself in order to fill his boots! *Winks at Aimee with a mighty grin…. cocking the head to the side. * Very tasty, my dear and the foods not bad either.
 
 
 
* Half conceals a smile…..dear lord some people never change. Cocks a finger wagging it under his nose. * Now you behave you brazen big bear. *Slaps him across the shoulder, tutting, then making my way over to a chattering group of pages. * Come on you idle lot get a move on……..circulate and serve the wine.
 
 
 
*Wonders if it is too late to disown Porthos. I should have brought one of the others with me. Then again, Athos would have happily drunk the city dry, although any signs of happiness would have been well disguised,  Aramis would have seduced all the serving wenches, and d’Artagnan would have stumbled into some ambassador and started a fight. Sighs deeply. Well, one of us had better mingle and act diplomatically, if only for Aurore’s sake. Drifts towards the Dutch contingent.*
 
 
 
*Nudges my cousin.*
 
Heads up, Jacob, the French are heading this way. Play nicely. Don’t worry, this one is friendly enough. Billy, please come out from under the table. When the German lady said you were cute enough to eat, she didn’t mean she was actually going to eat you.
 
*Tilts my head to one side.* I mean, I know she’s a big lady, but even so, she’d struggle to eat you in one sitting. You’re safe anyway. Porthos is keeping her entertained. I never knew he could juggle … well, not with chickens and bread rolls anyway.
 
 
 
*Paces the far side of the room, away from John and Aurore. Miguel has their back, and I have a better view from here anyway. Snatches a bread roll from the air as Porthos juggles to entertain Gizelle, the German ambassadors wife. Grins at the attempted look of annoyance on his face, which is quickly replaced by a large beaming smile and a roaring guffaw as I take a huge bite of the bread.* Tastes better than it juggles. You should try it. Our chef has surpassed himself.
 
 
 
 
// Surveying from a well-chosen position to the back of the swan room. Leaning against the wall, arms crossed over my chest, away from the throng, gives a great vantage point to view the maddening nobles and dignitaries vying for John and Aurore’s attention. Raises a thick brow glancing harder over the crowd, can’t believe my eyes, the effrontery of the toad to show his face at court. Swirling black leather clicks around leather boots, I stride down the room, coat pushed to one side revealing my gloved hand wrapped around the hilt of my sword. In stride side stepping through the gathered groups of guests to where I thought I saw Amante concealed. Intending a quiet word in his shell-like ear. The worn had disappeared, realising he had attracted some attention. Growling under my breath, run away little man but you will not stay hidden for long!//
 
 
Duchess of Cadaval‏ @andrianatwinsis22h22 hours ago.<< An involuntary gasp leaves my lips, I am so shocked to observe a man from the past. My hand delicately rests upon the skin above the neckline of the bodice, décolletage lifting with the intake of breath, a pink flush raise’s colouring my cheeks. >> Abilio! Please my dear look over there in the back of the crowd, discretion was never his forte. << Leaning closer to Abilio discreetly flicking open my fan, speaking softly behind the fans protection.>>
 
The man is trying to be inconspicuous, behind the rather large German ambassador’s wife, there Abilio! Amante @AmanteBelo1. Do you see him now?
 
 

Abilio‏ @_Abilio_PereiraFeb 27

*Frowns thoughtfully and tries to stare through the German Ambassador’s wife, to no avail. She really is a substantial lady.* I’m afraid you have the advantage of me here, my dear. I don’t believe I have ever met this man. Amante? No, I really can’t recall the name.
 
 
 
 
 
 
John‏ @DukeBraganza15h1 .Well, Gizelle is rather easy to hide behind. Joao and Miguel had to physically prise her from a chair earlier. I’m not sure the chair will ever recover. You’re sure it’s Amante? Of course, you are.
 
 
 
 

Aurore Braganza👑‏ @auroretrav201415h15 hours ago

*If it had not been for the seriousness of the situation, I am sure I would have laughed at the description of the poor German Ambassador’s wife, she had been unable to raise from her chair when John and I greeted her earlier, I do believe she may have been stuck! However, this sudden appearance of Amante is worrying. * The absolute effrontery of the man! So abstruse! And thick-skinned, and he probably is deluded enough to think he will be welcomed at court! Why is he here? John do you know?
 
 
 
I have no idea, my sweet. I had thought him long gone from our lives, with his cheesy pickup lines. I’m sure Miguel wouldn’t have invited him, and he’d certainly have said something if he’d seen the name on the guest list. I can only assume he has some passable excuse for being here. *I sigh deeply.* I can only guess that he has found work as someone’s aide. Please say it’s not the English. The two of them in the same room at the same time might require a purchase of extra buckets.
 
 
 
*Wishes someone would tell me who this man is, and why his presence here is such a problem. He looked nothing much to worry about. A little over dressed perhaps, but this is a formal occasion. The English ambassador looked even more over dressed to my eye. I assume this Amante is obviously no soldier, so perhaps … a lover? I frown deeply. I must talk with Adrianna about him later. Calmly, of course, and without seeming to be perturbed …. but, still ….*
 
 
 
*Stifles a yawn. War was preferable to this mind-numbing dance of politics. An ambassador bows to another ambassador and they exchange small talk … nothing of any worth is said, and no problems are resolved, and yet everyone acts so friendly … it’s almost sickening. Don’t they know how many died so that they could discuss the weather over a roast chicken? A well-cooked chicken, true, but still … there are so many other places I would rather be right now. Let’s my gaze linger on Catina and edges discreetly in her direction, avoiding her father who seems to regard me as the enemy, breathing gently on her neck until she quivers.*
 
 
Tiago! Papa is watching! {Quivers as his breath tickles the back of my neck. And pouts! My fingers gripping the edge of the banquet table, Papa has watched us all evening, if he was not watching now while talking to Miguel, I would stamp my foot!!!} Tiago it’s unfair, we have had no time together! {Ruby lips quiver, a small tear forms in the corner of my eye, the longing for Tiago’s sweet lips on mine is too much to bear.}  Can we slip away, the new maid is very good, but I really should check on Alexander. He is my responsibility.
 
 
 
 
 
I can see no reason why we shouldn’t slip away. Nothing is likely to happen tonight, except for half the room eating too much and the other half drinking too much. I’m sure Joao and Miguel can cope without me for a few moments. *Clasps her hand and drifts back into the shadows, before leading her to Alexander’s chambers. And no one can say I deserted my post. After all, part of my role here is to watch over the baby.*
 
 
 
{Tiago stands close behind me, I can feel my skin burning at his closeness, he rests his chin on my shoulder with a silly grin on his face. Alexander sleeps peacefully in his crib, I tuck the covers around him, smiling and bend forward, kissing him on the forehead.} Sweet dreams little prince. {Tiago wraps his arms around me and gently turns me to face him, I am willingly captured within his arms, passions raise our lips press together in the sweetest kiss, but this kiss hungers for more. The door opens abruptly and I stamp my foot in protest!} Papa! Oh, Papa! when will you ever let me grow up?
 
 
 
// Making my rounds in the garden aware of raised voices ahead on the path, stiffening at pending danger automatically fingers curl around the butt of a pistol from my belt. Taking long strides covering the ground quickly towards the affray, cautiously glancing from side ascertaining the situation. Joao had apprehended an intruder dressed in dark clothing, Joao’s hand firmly gripping the intruder’s arm. Hackles raised the hair bristles on the back of my neck, with a nod to myself as another unwanted intruder argues his right to attend the court. And this viper, I would relish some time with, surprising what is revealed at the tip of a blade. // So, what do we have here? Another viper crawled out from under a rock!
 
 
 
Another one? My God you need the services of a musketeer.
 
*Pistol already in hand raised to the intruder’s temple, cocking the trigger with a wide broad grin……as I give Amalure the nod, raising one heavy brow as Joao throws in a quip. *
 
It would be rude not to assist now wouldn’t it, besides it’s a good way to work off the banquet…….and a jug or two!
 
* Freehand pats a washboard stomach……. grinning*
 
Come to think of it, a wench is what I had in mind, exercise will work off any gains to hard-earned masculine physique! *Booming laugh cuts through the silence that had befallen my comrades. *
 
 
 
Yes, another one! A simpering weasel called Amante
 
//Flashes an iridescent smile creasing the corners of jet eyes from under a cocked brow. Lifting with a gloved hand, freeing tasselled ebony locks, my black broad-brimmed hat. Stepping back into a rakish half bow! //
 
Porthos my friend may owe me a drink!
 
//slaps him on the shoulder breaking into a laugh// And a Basque man knows how to entertain a lady!
 
 
*Pats a less than washboard stomach.* Trust me, son, not all excesses can be worked off so simply. *Checks around and decides my blade is surplus to requirements here.* No one told me there’d be so much free entertainment tonight.
 
 
*Sidles up to Miguel.* So, when you were checking the list of ambassadors, what did it say next to Spain? Did it say Felipe by any chance?
 
 
 
*Rolls my eyes.*
 
If it had said that, I’d have denied him entry, or at the very least, warned you of his presence. Please tell me you’re joking.
 
*Sighs deeply.*
 
Oh great, you’re not joking. That’s who you just apprehended?  And just as I was beginning to think life was getting less complicated …. Amante and Felipe … give me strength.
 
 

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