We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.
My people were so happy, so pleased to see me wed. After the battle scars and losses of good men in the fight with Thurkill, they needed the festivity, the cheer. I suspected they were also comforted by our new alliance with Mercia and Leofric’s reputation and strength. They didn’t guess at the battle being fought inside me.
Drumming started on the table tops.
“A toast!” The cry came from a Mercian warrior at one the tables below.
“Was Leofric hail!”
“Was Godiva hail!”
I was Lady of Coventry. The sacred act that had been my mother’s, of offering our feast cup full to the brim, was now my task.
I hadn’t expected it to be my wedding cup.
I raised the silver goblet shimmering with amber.
Filled it to overflowing with feast mead. Spiced. Offered it to Leofric.
He grasped it. My fingers too.
For a moment he seemed to caress the cup.
Over the edge of the goblet our stares met.
“Good health! Was hail!”
Lifted it to his lips. And drank.
“To my bride,” he said when he was done.
A hint of a smile. A creased cheek.
“To Coventry,” I said.
The smile vanished.
He released the cup.
“Good health! Was hail!” The cry came again.
I lifted the goblet.