"Mum!" Merida screams at the top of her lungs.
Her father raised his sword, metal gleaming in the firelight, ready to deliver the killing blow. Elinor’s brown eyes looking up at her husband wide with fear, trapped by ropes holding her down. But Fergus is too blinded with grief to see that his wife was actually right in front of him.
Afterall, he didn’t marry a bear.
Her brothers cry out in their cub form, scared for their mother. Merida jumps down from Angus, and she begins to run towards them.
But her limbs are heavy.
She can barely move.
Her father begins to strike. Everything is slow. Merida thinks she’s screaming, but no sound is coming out of her lips. She reaches out to her mother, and she thinks she’s crying. She can’t tell.
Suddenly, Bear Elinor looks right at Merida, scowling. Merida’s eyes open wide.
"This is all yer fault!" The bear says in perfect English, her mother’s voice.
Droplets land on Merida’s face. She looks down and sees her hands covered in blood. She’s holding a sword, blood and dark fur all over it. She glances up in horror.
Her mother was cut right across her neck. The blood drips onto the grass, flooding the area in it’s fluids.
"Ye did this." She looks around frantically. All the men from the clans and her father, looking at her with disgust and anger.
"Ye killed yer own mother," her father says, voice cracking. He turns away from her.
"No! Ah tried- Ah tried to save her!" Merida cries, her chest collapsing in sobs.
"Ye killed her!" Fergus turns back to her, eyes blazing in fury. "Ye killed yer mother! Ye killed our family! Ye bring nothing but death and shame to this kingdom!"
"Yer a monster!"
"No!" Merida sat up, screaming before her voice gave out. She’s panting heavily, sweat gleaning her forehead and chest. Her hair is a perfect mess from the tossing and turning, some of it sticking against the skin of her neck.
No one comes running in.
There’s no one left.
Merida sits there in the dark, reliving her demons by herself. Her heart is racing, her mind is convoluting on hundreds of “what if’s”, and her limbs are shaking.
Yet, not a tear escapes her eyes. She only ever cries in her nightmares now. She can’t even if she wanted to. After a while, her breathing returns to normal. Her limbs feel the bone in them again, and she stares into the dark. Her mind slows down, and she forces herself to think of her surroundings now. She listens to the silence of the stone castle. She hears the coo of the night owl. She listens to the rustling of the horses in the stable.
Eventually, she thinks of nothing. Soon, she feels nothing. She continues to sit there, letting the emptiness consume her.
It was another normal night.
She opens her eyes. The rooster crows. She’s late.
She gets up, not bothering to remember when she went back to sleep after her nightmare. Not remembering was good after all. The door clicks open, her maidservant walking in with the obliged “Good Morning”. Merida doesn’t respond. She can’t remember her name.
A bathe is drawn, fresh clothes is left out, and she’s left alone. Again. She doesn’t daddle about it; in half an hour, she’s ready. She takes the crown lying on her dresser, and places it on top of her head. She’s no longer Merida.
She’s the Queen.
She walks to the throne room, mentally schooling herself before she entered. The doors are opened for her, and she is announced. Her advisors are all waiting for her, and they bow deeply. She sits on the throne that once belonged to her father. It stands alone now, the other chairs taken out when the king died. On the Queen’s orders. They begin to go over the day’s agenda.
"Th’ Viking Chief is to arrive today."
She had forgotten about that. How could she forget? This was important. They’ve been waiting for this day for months. She doesn’t betray her surprise, long mastering the art of keeping her face in complete control. Control. That’s what this kingdom needed; a Queen in control of her emotions, of her actions, of her decisions, or their fate.
"Let’s be ready to receive him, then." They bow.
She’s the Queen.