The Hedge Maze
The queen crouched down and hid below the outstretched tail of a topiary mermaid. She peeked, safe, carefully watching the maze’s pathways and trap alleys. She ran across and hid behind a thick hedge.
The sun’s position and the flow of the wind conspired against her. Rising up like a vengeful cat ready to pounce, the ax maiden manifested at her full, impressive height and leapt forward, seizing her queen.
“Nooo!” the monarch shrieked with laughter as her significantly taller significant other picked her up. “How?! I saw you down on the path!”
“Illusions,” the ax maiden said with a grin, kissing her royal girlfriend. The queen wrapped her arms around the warrior’s neck and held tight. Snow began to fall and the queen held tighter.
The lovers walked hand-in-hand through the garden as the cold descended like lace. “You are not afraid we will be seen by the court?”
“No,” the queen replied. “You are not the only tricky one. There was an ‘accidental’ mishap with the royal invitations for this gathering and everyone is scrambling to figure out where to go as each lead to a separate, and very far away, location.”
The sweethearts were able to steal an entire week alone. Days were spent in the hedge maze, alternatively playing hide-and-seek and simply chasing each other through the winter wonderland. Nights were spent before a roaring fire, telling stories and building fantasies of a lifetime together, away from the pressures and responsibilities of ruling, of protecting the ruler.
“Do you ever just want to run away? Hide on a farm, raise griffins?” the queen asked as she kissed her companion’s forehead.
The burly warrior melted. She was brutal on the battlefield, the toughest task master in training her elite armies, and a cotton cloud in private, in the arms of her queen. “We would send the entire realm into chaos, our home and surrounding territories would fall to our enemies. Even this time we are stealing is dangerous. Someone could see, use me as weakness to attack you. The entire kingdom —”
“Don’t,” the queen implored, placing her fingers to her bodyguard’s lips. “Not now.”
She then pinned down her warrior’s wrists. “I want to spend my royal holiday–” “–stolen holiday–” “–stolen holiday,” the queen conceded with a mischievous smile, “on the pursuit of the present alone. And at present, I do not care about the future. Now then, will you surrender to your queen?”
Those words wove the spell of passion years ago when the ax maiden had first taken position of Personal Guard to the Royal Rose.
For life, surrender your strength to the throne’s protection.
For life, protect her at all costs.
“As a mortal flower will press towards the eternal sun,” the warrior said in the present, echoing her answer that sealed her fate years earlier. And, unwittingly, her heart.