Christopher Key, chapter three scene two con’t

Her ladies, dozing over their card game, jerked upright and fluttered. Mere set down her book and went to see who it was. “Father?” she said in surprise.
It was, yes, Sir Gawaine. With him came a page, holding out one of Father’s signet-rings.
Finally. Alexane stood, tucking Perrin’s portrait away. “Well?”
The page bowed and offered her the ring. “Your grace. Your father asks you to return this to him in his study.”
At once her ladies converged on her, putting her hair in a swift braid with a velvet bow, folding a day-coat around her shoulders. They’d paint her face and force her into jewelry if she let them. She waved them off. “Mere?” Of course Mere was already beside her, smooth hair immaculate and not a single wrinkle anywhere, though her grey eyes were somewhat wide.
“Not you, Mereling,” said Sir Gawaine gruffly. “You’ve got other business tonight. Come along now.”
“Father?” said Mere.
Alexane took a firm hold of Mere’s wrist. “No.”
“Your grace, my daughter must go to—”
He was holding a sheet of notepaper. Recognizing the writing, she whisked it out of his hold. Yes, that was Father’s penmanship, the lines like slashes and the curves impatiently swift. He’d written out a list of names, with Mere’s at the top.
“These are the daughters of the knights-royal. Why?”
Seventh, Dimity, Merriment—her three ladies-in-waiting were listed right under Mere. Seven more names followed, the youngest not yet six. Their fathers were this generation’s knights, and their brothers would be the next generation’s knights, but that was all they had in common. Well, and a fair number of them would be the wives of the next generation’s knights, because the knightly families all intermarried. Mere had taken a vow never to marry; Alexane secretly suspected it was because none of the knights’ sons were worth considering.
Sir Gawaine hadn’t answered. She folded the paper and shoved it in her sleeve. “I’ll deal with this,” she told him. “You’ll explain it to me after I speak with Father. Mere, come.”
She had no authority to give a knight orders, but never mind. Take it as if it’s yours was a good way to live. After all, she was her father’s daughter.
Sir Gawaine apparently decided not to argue. “That’s why the palace guards call you the Young King,” was all he said.
And it was a lucky thing she kept Mere with her, because Sir Gawaine followed them all the way to Father’s study. At which the study door slammed open with a crash, and her brother Alexander thundered out. He shouted back over his shoulder, “You can’t do that!” and then saw Alexane. His face became ugly. She saw that face in her own mirror after Father particularly upset her, so she knew it went with an urge to punch something. Yes, having the biggest knight in the castle at her back just now was a definite stroke of luck.
Alexander was a lout at heart. He’d used to tag after Father’s master of horse whenever unwanted stable-kittens needed drowning, and then he’d thought it funny to hide burrs under everyone’s saddle-girths, and that wasn’t even taking into account what he’d done to the smaller children when he cornered them. Not to her, of course, but she’d heard horror stories from Mere. Nowadays Alexander was all civilized and only tortured foxes on the hunting field … except when someone drove him wild, that was. Someone had done it now, from the look of it. She could guess who.
He almost hit her. She saw it on his face. Then Sir Gawaine moved gently forward, shoulders wide as a bull, and Alexander swung around and stormed off in the other direction. Alexane stared after him. She’d seen him lose his temper a thousand times, but never like that.
Sir Gawaine didn’t look in the least surprised, either—why?—maybe because he was a philosophical man.
Well, if this was about Perrin, she was going to lose her temper too, and she could do it more effectively than Alexander. She knocked on the study doorjamb and advanced through the open doorway, thinking of battlefields. “Father,” she said.
Father, sitting behind his desk, had his head in his hands, but at her entrance he straightened and put on that formidable look he did so well. He steepled his fingers. His desk was scattered with official documents, all freshly penned from the gleam of still-wet ink. And by Father’s own hand, no less, because none of his clerks or adjutants were in evidence. He’d signed them and affixed the king’s seal, so they were law now.
“Ah, Alexane. So good of you to come. I suppose you passed Alexander in the hall?”
“Of course I did. Whatever you did to him, is it my turn now?”
“The opposite,” said Father. “But you still won’t like it.”
He passed her the documents he had just made law.
The first disinherited Alexander; her brother was no longer crown heir. No reason was given.
The second—she had to read it three times—made her heir in Alexander’s place. She had just leaped from useless nobody to queen-presumptive. Though she couldn’t believe it, she was now Crown.
Joy blazed through her.
Breathless with it, she read the third document:
… by this writ, upon this hour, her grace Alexane’s betrothal with Perrin Percy of Gloxia is dissolved as if it had never been, and she is free to marry elsewhere as her duty directs …

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