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By:Jordan Silver

Many had the thought that alas it was a good thing that the younger brother would not be called upon to take the throne. That the son had not perished with the father this day, or the kingdom would be in an uproar for many days to come. But those words were not uttered aloud.

It wasn’t that prince Frederick wasn’t well liked. But the boy was a pale, weak version of his more valiant brother. He’d ever been sickly and given to bouts of melancholy and there was always talk about the very glaring differences between the two.

Julian’s thoughts were running along much the same lines. Not that he disparaged his brother in the same way. He loved his sibling, as an older brother should. But a king should have an heir and Frederick was next in line if something should befall him. The thought was less than inspiring and the new burden grew that much heavier.

Upon their arrival at Glendairy Palace, the young king’s first order of business was to gather his family around him in the kings’ inner chambers. “Where are my brother and sister? Have they arrived safely?”

“Yes your majesty.” Majesty, he had once jokingly said that it would be his title of preference once he ascended the throne. Others had teasingly called him that from time to time. How long ago had that been now?

The door opened behind him and he turned to see his travel weary brother and sister rush into the room. “What has happened Julian where’s father?” Prince Frederick, two years his brother’s junior did not bear the majestic carriage of his older sibling.

Neither had he been blessed with the beauty of form that his brother had. Instead taking after their mother, who had been a plain woman but who had known the love and admiration of her husband.

The differences between the two were never more evident than now as the king looked upon the fearful stance of his brother. The young prince looked more of a huntsman than the son of a king, as he much preferred the hunt and frolicking with his hounds than much else.

Julian faced him now with the knowledge that he would share his sorrow. But where he was strong enough and sound of mind, he wasn’t sure how his younger sibling would handle the news.

There was no way to soften the blow so he said the words out loud for the first time. “Father is dead.” He caught his little sister against him when she fell into a near swoon. His heart hurt for the young girl who had been his sire’s cherished last child with the wife of his youth. She had been the last gift from his wife who had lost the battle for her life in childbirth.

His brother looked on in obvious bewilderment as if the words had not yet registered, as if they were too much for him to take in. Julian held out his hand to his brother, clasping him to his side with one arm as he held his sister against his chest with the other. “It will be well.” He kissed his brother’s cheek before releasing him again.

Whereas his siblings were now allowed to show their grief and sorrow he held fast to his staunch outward calm and waited for them to settle down. The big brother was gone and in his place now stood their king. Even that had been changed in a moment this day.

He schooled himself and looked at the two of them as his little sister came to herself with tears streaming down her face. Ever the princess, she did not make a sound as she looked to her brother for direction.

“There is much to be done before this day is over pull yourselves together.” They both bowed before their brother the new king and pledged allegiance to him. Julian laid his hands on their heads and blessed them before helping them to their feet. He found that he was reluctant to leave the sanctity of the room he was in, to go face his people. Once he walked out those doors the life he knew would be at an end and a new one begun.

Julian spent more time with his siblings getting them settled when he knew he should be handling matters of the throne. Their grief was real to him and he understood well their fear. They were now essentially orphans with only a brother to stand between them and the world. A world that still held some hostility, and if he didn’t handle himself well, their very lives would be forfeit. It was times like these he wished he’d been born the son of a dairymaid.

His men would be waiting for his orders. The passing of the throne called for much ceremony, none of which he was interested in just then. He could hear movement beyond the doors but did not rush to answer the unuttered call. Let them wait. He would take this time to grieve with his family because after this day he must put it aside and look to the future.

Unlike most of his peers, he had loved his father. Not because he was a king, but because of the man he had been. He had known from the time he was old enough to understand such things, that he would one day sit on the throne, but never did he want it at the demise of his sire.