“Did you call for me, Shah?”
Shah looked up and smiled, setting down the paper he’d been reading. He ignored the scowls and sudden blustering of his councilmen, more than content to keep his attention on his beautiful wife. She was, as always, radiant – dressed in the deep greens and blues of the temples to which she devoted so much of her time. Rather than her usual jewels, she still wore the simple bead and carved wood ornaments that were gifts from the people who adored her.
He stood up and moved around the table, taking her hands in his own as she met him halfway, kissing the back of them. “Yes, my jewel. Thank you for coming.”
She reached up to kiss his cheek. “Of course. What did desire of me, dear husband?”
Shah smirked briefly, an expression only she could see, before turning serious. “A question for you, my jewel. We have been debating all day—” More like he’d been trying to fight an urge to lock them all on grounds of stupidity and stubbornness born of childishness, but a King was not supposed to give in to the tantrums in which his council apparently indulged. “We are deliberating over the allotment of funds next year, and the temples have come up for their share. However, we cannot seem to agree on what is required or how much money will be needed. You, of everyone in the city, would be able to best settle this matter. By your pleasure, tell us what you know.”
“It would, indeed, be my pleasure,” Fahima replied, moving gracefully as Shah led her to his own seat and bid her take it. He nodded a thanks as a guard brought up a second cushion, and sat just slightly back to make it clear Fahima was the focus now.
Calmly, precisely, and smoothly Fahima explained the status and state of every temple in the city, from the central one which she visited at least once every day to all the smaller ones and even a few which resided outside the city proper. With a fluidity that startled all but Shah, she discussed the best way to disperse funds, other adjustments and changes which could be made, and finally concluded with a courteous bow of her head, hands folded neatly on the table.
Politely, if stiffly, each councilman thanked her for her time.
Shah barely kept from rolling his eyes, and knew from the way Fahima squeezed his hand when she took it, that she had missed none of their ridiculous behavior. Ah, he did love his clever wife.
Gently he helped her to her feet, once more kissing both her hands. Releasing them, he tucked back a stray curl which had slipped free of the intricate knot in which Fahima had bound her hair. “I owe you many thanks, my jewel. You have saved us a great many hours of work.”
Fahima smiled and looped her arms around his neck, dragging him down and kissing him thoroughly. Shah laughed, more than happy to kiss his lady wife, especially when half the council was likely ready to start shouting – if they had not simply passed out.
“You can thank me tonight, after dinner,” Fahima said, and pulled away. The scent of wildflowers and incense, mark of her precious temples, lingered as she walked away. She looked over her shoulder with a smile before vanishing entirely, and Shah smiled as he resumed his seat.