Archduchess Marina was slightly and embarrassingly lost. She had no sooner reached the cathedral for her nephew’s wedding and she’d had to use the bathroom. The problem was that now she couldn’t find her way back to the main body of the cathedral. Who would have thought the back corridors of the place could be so confusing? She was standing at a corridor junction trying to work out where she should go when a dark-skinned boy of about eight came around the corner on the far side of the intersection. He walked up to her, bowed correctly which made his tight, dusty copper curls bounce, and asked in good if accented Terrencian, “Archduchess Marina, may I be of assistance?”
She curtsied in return. “I’m afraid that I am lost. Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”
“Prince Terje du Barbaigos, a second cousin of the bride. I am at Your Imperial and Royal Highness’ service.” He bowed again with a certain flair, both grave and with a smile as if this were a game they were playing together.
The Archduchess smiled back. “Prince Terje, could you please escort me back to the main body of the cathedral?”
She wondered for a moment if she had outrun his Terrencian vocabulary but after a second’s thought he replied, “You would like me to take you back to your seat? I can do that!” He went as if to offer her his arm but realising the difference in their heights gave her his hand.
With an expert guide it took her only a few moments to return to her seat. The trick, she discovered was a shadowed section that appeared to be a dead end but was really a tight corner. Prince Terje answered her words of thanks with, “It was my pleasure and an honour,” bowed again and went to a pew on the other side of the aisle where he sat with Alexandrina, one of the queen’s nieces, and two other boys enough like him to be his brothers.
Her sister-in-law, the groom’s mother, turned discreetly in the front pew and asked, “Who is your young gallant?”
“Prince Terje du Barbaigos, one of Princess Alexandrina’s sons.” Archduchess Marina smiled. “He’s going to be a real heart breaker when he’s older.”
“I heard that his father had a great deal of charm, certainly he had no family background as we know it. Speaking of which, have you seen the Princes Isadora?”
“Princess Isadora, the pregnant one in lavender?”
“Her consorts, they were ushers but they’ve just taken their seats beside her. They're her official consorts, both of them.” The two Imperial and Royal matrons turned their heads to look. “Have you ever seen such extraordinary moustaches? But beautifully turned out and they tone so well with her outfit.”
Marina regarded the lavender and purple clad trio. “You do realise they’re both helots? They might be descended from King Phillipe’s knights but I’d bet my best diamonds on them being helots.” She sighed a little wistfully, “Our family would never permit some of the options these people seem to think are normal.”
Her sister-in-law squeezed her hand consolingly then said brightly, “Look, Franz and his groomsmen are coming out of their hidey hole. The Emperor and the Queen must be about to arrive.”