It’s Valentine’s Day, which generally calls for some cheesiness; I hope I have delivered.
LOVE FOR THE KING
The king was hungry; for although it was the eve of the Feast of Saint Valentine, he had only picked at the plentiful food. The rich taste of the meal of all lovers turned to ash in his lonely mouth.
His wife would be spending the night with her Poet. The king would as always pretend not to notice. After all, Courtly Love was between the lady and her lover; the husband had no place in it.
He did not deny the queen her romance. The people loved her and she was a fine ruler. Their marriage was a good one. If love was made available to her she had every right to take it.
If only the king had such an opportunity.
Even if he hadn’t found the concept of Courtly Love a silly thing (after all, if you loved someone, why was one of the steps to refuse them?), it was for the ladies. The king, being the husband, was expected to take a mistress. He had never been tempted on that score; a mistress would not fulfill the longings of his heart.
He would have to attempt to fill the void with food.
The king sent a servant to the kitchens to request Saint Valentine leftovers. The head chef himself brought the platter, and served it to the king at his little table. The king, in his bath robe and slippers, suddenly felt pathetic. He could not eat.
“Is the food not to your liking?” asked the chef.
“The food is not the cause of my mood,” said the king.
“Are you ill? Do you need a stomach tonic? I can fetch the doctor. There’s a nasty bug going around. Three of my staff spent last night in the outhouse. I could hear them from the kitchen. It was – ”
“You are as talkative as ever,” said the king, interrupting what was surely unnecessary detail.
“I’m surprised you remember,” said the chef.
The king realized how long it had been since they spoke. When they were children they had been the best of friends, before differences in class had separated them. Even as young men they had met on occasion, and had even discussed their hopes and dreams. The king had missed his friend, but had never taken the time to ask if the friend had missed him.
“I’m a royal jackass,” said the king.
“Took you long enough to notice,” said the chef.
“Oh, Geoffrey. I have been a fool. There are no flowers or chocolates on hand, but I would like to show you my affection on this eve of Saint Valentine.”
“I don’t need any of those things,” said the chef. “All I want is to have my friend back.”
“Sit here, and dine with me,” said the king. He poured the chef a glass of wine. “We can once more discuss our hopes and dreams.”
“You let me fade into the background. How do I know you won’t do it again?” asked the chef.
“My dream is that when we are old men, we will look back on tonight as the start of something wonderful,” said the king.
“Yeah, well my hope is that you aren’t truly a royal jackass,” said the chef, but he was smiling. He sat and raised his glass.
“Here’s to old friendships,” he said.
“And new love,” said the king.