The story of A Girl and Her King, joins the young protagonist as she grows in her commitment towards her good king. She is young and he is old. He teaches, her watches over her, protects her. He has taken her to the battlefield, the arena, and now asks her to find her place inside the calm environment of her old home, where challenges abound to test her dedication to him in even in the smallest matters. She does not yet know what form their love will take, if he will one day bring her to live with him in the palace, or request she stay in that quiet home forever. But willing to wait, she receives the lessons he has in store for her.
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Philothea sat in an armchair at the palace, out of sorts, looking at the ground. The king walked to her.
She said to the king as he approached her, “if you’re looking for a place to put for your heart, mine isn’t the spot.” Philothea had no reason to be in such a mood. She felt tired. She had been away from him again that day. “It may not be the best place. I’m just not always that good,” she paused, “but you still can if you like. You can still put your heart here. I still love you. I do, honestly,” she paused again, “we’re awfully quiet.”
Philothea continued, “you just have this heart that is so good and with all that’s been going on—you stay good. You raised me up. You raised me up passed a servant. You’ve been calling me your little princess. This diamond seemed more like a drop of water, but a drop of water that belongs to you. It cools my head. It feels different than the diamond used to feel.”
He remained silent, allowing her to speak her full.
It seemed like an empty room with this chair in the center, sometimes by the wall, sometimes near the window. She often sat there in these moods. It was just the two of them: him, with all his heart, no words at all.
The girl looked back at a time with the soldiers and the arena. They were putting their weapons away, preparing for a banquet and were about to pray together for their benefactors. She approached a fellow soldier and asked him how he was. “Okay, you?” he said quietly.
“Okay,” Philothea responded. Their tones matched. The same sadness when things were neither well nor good, just…okay.
“Want to sit and be okay together?” he asked her. She couldn’t remember the moment perfectly. It was a moment of allowance, allowing the other to be neither well nor good, but just okay, with love and understanding. Deep down she loved the king, even though she was mad at him now. Even if she threw things, he continued to love her…deep down.
After some time passed, the king approached her again. He took her hands (clasped together around an object) and stood her up from her armchair in that great empty room of the palace. “Now, what have you here?”
Philothea opened up one hand, then another. He had each hand of hers gently in his.
“What’s this?” He asked very lovingly, wanting her to answer.
“It’s a little piece of my heart.”
He closed her hands around it, kept her hands in his. “Oh, my little love, did you go out and take a piece off from out by the gate?”
“You can keep it, you know.” The girl tried to give it to him, moving her clasped hands towards him.
“But I want you to have it.”
“Maybe you do, but you aren’t ready to part with it.” He smiled at her gently. “I’ve seen you walk out there and look at your heart and touch it.” He smiled, “and put a hand around it, but never pick it up. You took this when I wasn’t looking.”
“You’re always looking.”
He laughed a little. “I am. Because you’re my little love and if you did things in secret I couldn’t love you like I love you now.”
Philothea protested, “but I’m not willing to give it up. How can you love that?”
“Aren’t you better for it? Aren’t you better full of personality and fears and desires and confusion? Isn’t it better I love you and you need it, than marry me and it’s done.” She remembered something she said to him the night before. In a rush of love and sweetness she said, “I love you. I want to marry you,” or something near it. She tried to mean the second part but her heart was not there.
“It’s only a small piece,” she told him.
“True. You’ll get there, darling.” They were not afraid. She would get there. “No more sneaking around, though, okay?”
“Is it unbecoming of a little princess?” she asked.
“Terribly. Come now, let’s have everything in the open.”
She knew very honestly that he’d never be disappointed in her, that he’d love her always, and that she never would have a quota to fill on actions to show her love.
In simple truth, she was not yet ready for total abandonment. That was clear.
And he loved her. He loved her full of these things. She used to try to hide a great deal from him. She counted the little moments for less in those days. Love was more than that.
The king showed her.