"Your Majesty," you say, when she opens the door-- her, in a suit, as always. You're too stricken with rapture to take note of its clean lines, the lack of laces and brocade and ruffles. You sweep to your knees before her, and your gown drapes a frothy pool on her stoop.
"Elizabeth?" she says. That name means nothing to you.
"I'll not rise," you tell her, "until I have your pardon." You look up at her through your lashes. "Until you take me back." After she sailed away, you read the history books. You learned, too late, what you lost when you betrayed her. Across oceans, across time, to her very doorstep you pursued her, vowing to let no obstacle thwart your undying love.
"Who is it?" you hear a voice calling-- him, coming down the hall in a summer sundress. An invert, even back from the dead.
"Please, not him," you beg her. "It was never meant to be him. It was you and me, always, I know that now."
"John, be a dear and fetch Mercedes." She doesn't take her eyes from you. A woman rounds the corner, another woman in pants. The interloper looks down at you as she winds her arm around the Queen's waist.
She says, "Countess Ebba, fancy that."
The Queen reaches out, strokes your cheek with her fingers. A desperate tear gathers in the corner of your eye, wells out to anoint her hand. "My darling," she says, "those times are past."