Gradually they became friends and Afshan startedt appearing during the princess’ escapades with her brother and his retinue. Ahmer was surprised to be introduced to the fiery tempered lady from whom he had received such a cutting set down, and who had been in his thoughts constantly since then. He attempted to be his most charming, but apart from Afshan’s mortification at discovering that he was royalty, all he received was a stiff apology from her for overstepping her bounds. Later when he was sitting in his room thinking over his encounter, he realized that though her apology had been long, courtly and scrupulously polite, she had not actually apologized for her words, instead she had said that she was sorry for not treating him with the courtesy required by his rank.
His fascination with Afshan only grew, the more he came to know her, and the prince applied his considerable charm upon her in order to earn her friendship. He did not succeed. Afshan was the type of person who, while slow to anger, once angered, was extremely slow to relent. She snubbed all his advances, for a good three years, before finally accepting an overture from him. From there, slowly but inevitably, the more the Prince got to know her, the more he fell in love. In the end they both loved each other and their engagement was announced to court. For Gul, their love story was her benchmark, her ideal of romantic relationships. She did not believe in love at first sight, but instead, love through friendship and devotion to be the ultimate in romance.
This was partly why she had been so determined to get to know her Sultan. She believed fervently with all her heart, that a friendship built over time yields a happy marriage, and may even turn into true love. Her letters to Mehmed carried her fierce hopes for a happy and fulfilling life. She set herself the task of getting to know her future husband with a determination stemming from hope and yearning.
To be continued…