Alone in her chamber, Catherine caressed the milky ermine lining of her coronation robe. Peter was dead; she was finally free of the loathing which had poisoned her peace since her marriage.
She drifted in the afterglow of her latest lover’s attentions, lingering in a reverie of past and future – childhood memories merging with dreams of enlightenment, empire, power and progress.
In the autumn evening chill, old Ivan, toiling homeward, pulled his threadbare cloak closer and paused in a forest clearing. He’d seen ermines there, in that old stump.
Time to prepare his winter traps. Those pelts would buy his freedom.
I’m venturing into historical fiction this week for my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, a weekly writing challenge, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, where authors compose 100 word stories in response to a photo prompt.
I’ve wandered through many fascinating pages in my research for this story, and I’ve added a couple of little gems here. Please look at this tiny Huffington Post video. You’ll want to watch it again and again. If you’re interested in Catherine the Great, you might like to read about her here, and if you’d like to know about the role of the humble ermine in heraldry, here is where you’ll find more.