Little Slave Girl
♪ Prelude ♪
"Marilyn!" a loud, booming voice reverberated around the elegant hallways, startling my lady. Princess Marilyn raised her slender neck in response, her mesmerizing icy blue eyes alert.
"Yes?" her voice was sweet, tender, like the tinkling of snow bells. She fingered her ornate, jeweled brush with a gloved hand, her head slightly tilted in the perfect listening position. Her long, blonde hair laid in tight coils down her back, perfectly curled, a wondrous masterpiece. Everything about my lady was perfect, from her gorgeous tiara, overlaid with rare jewels, to her fantastically high heels, made of pure silver, the only pair made in all of England. She defined beauty.
"Please come down to greet our guests!" I immediately recognized the obstreperous, rambunctious voice as King Henry VI's, a commanding quality laced through his every word. I didn't like King Henry VI at all, with his nasty breath and impulsive attitude. He was a dominating, controlling king who liked to stuff himself with delicacies while his subjects starved. But I couldn't voice my opinion, or I would be beheaded. King Henry VI would do it with just a snap of his golden ringed fingers. My life doesn't matter. I'm a slave girl.
Princess Marilyn stood up slowly, releasing the beautiful brush, examining herself in the mirror once more. "Perfect," she murmured softly to herself, then turned away, ignoring me as I vigorously scrubbed at the stained glass that Princess Marilyn had to have. It was an arduous job, for every speck had to be scrubbed off or the light would catch your mistake and magnify it onto the stone floor. And Princess Marilyn punishes people who make mistakes when wiping her stained glass severely.
She exited the room, her flawless back facing me. The whole time when she was in her room, she never talked to me. Looked at me.
I was used to Marilyn's cold treatment of me. I could understand it, really. She was a princess, with a reputation to uphold. She couldn't associate with low-life slaves like me.
But I couldn't help but feel saddened by it.
I walked over to her beautiful mirror, stepping into it's vision. I did not look anything like the stunning Princess Marilyn, with my hazelnut eyes that were way too big, and my short, scratchy dresses that turned my skin raw and cut off just above the knee. I wanted a floor-length dress with rubies and silk that made my skin scream with delight, but it was not to be. Slave girls could not wear beautiful clothing.
My nose was too straight, and my hair was straight also, running down my back like a river, way too level to compare with the gorgeous beehive hairdos that my queen so magnificently displayed. Everything about me was awkward and ugly, not a single attractive feature in my face or form.
The sounds of people laughing and chatting happily filled the castle, the guests from France obviously fitting in well with the court at England. They were here to negotiate with England for an end to the Hundred Year's War, and many of us were deliriously happy for their arrival. This war had gone on long enough, and many innocent men had been sacrificed. I was personally very joyful that they were here, both King Rupert and his son, the handsome Prince Lucas, because they might end the terrible war that killed my mother and my father. I had no expectations, though, of ever seeing their face.
The chief servant, Poe, a rather plump man, with a fat, doughy face and coal black eyes, appeared at the doorway. "Are you done?" he barked, his loud voice banging against the stone walls, hurting my ears with it's force.
"Yes sir," I replied, my eyes facing downwards. Poe always demanded me to look down when I was in his, or any person that was of higher social status's, presence. It was rude, Poe always said, for no one wants to look at an ugly slave.
"Then don't just stand there idly and GO HELP WITH THE KITCHEN!" he spouted, as was his normal habit. Poe liked to think that slaves should be working all the time, therefore we were constantly wiping floors, scrubbing dishes, and cleaning the outhouses, which was a terrible, horrible, torture that I, luckily, only had to experience once. If we were not working, Poe got very angry, spouting off like he did now. I guess this meant he was very good at his job, for because of him, the castle was kept in pristine condition.
"Yes, sir," I nodded, and in obedience, I slipped down the beautiful stairs to the serving room. The beautiful sun, framed by puffy marshmallow clouds, winked at me as I descended. A single dove shot across the horizon, its friends tagging along, a beautiful sight to behold. I smiled with delight. This was one pleasure the world couldn't take away from me.
Everyone was desperate for my arrival. Jacque, our chef, was speeding with energy, hurriedly making dozens of the tiny sandwiches that was the style here in England. He was a fabulous cook, one of the most wanted in the country. He had brown, curly hair, with sapphire eyes, very much like Princess Marilyn's, and was very handsome. However, he was one of the only people in the castle that was kind to me, which made me very thankful.
Amy, a servant, was scrubbing dishes furiously, and countless other slaves were working beside her. As I entered the room, she looked at me, fury in her gaze. "I can't believe these nobles are eating so much!" she huffed, her average body shaking with anger. I jumped back, frightened.
Amy caught my scared expression and smiled reassuringly. With a little laugh she said, "No, honey buns, I'm not mad at you." Then, she looked to the little window, where you could spy the feet of the nobles, and narrowed her eyes, "Those pigs up there are eating food like Jacque when he finally gets off one of his three day fasts!" Jacque was a very religious Catholic, and he often fasted for several days at a time to think more about God.
I smiled in response, not saying a word. Sometimes, I forgot I even had a mouth.
Amy grabbed a beautiful plate, topped with the little delicacies the nobles craved, and shoved it into my arms. "Serve this to the nobles upstairs," she demanded, quickly putting me to work.
"But I am not dressed properly, and nobles don't want to look at my ugly face," I said in surprise, with no trace of sarcasm. Serving the food was reserved for the servants, too good a job for the lowly slaves. And Poe all the time said that I had an appalling face.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," she said carelessly. Then, as I passed her, she whispered, "Dear, your face is definitely not ugly. In fact, it is very beautiful," She looked back and shot me a smile.
Wow. My brain was struck dizzy with amazement, thankfulness, and incredulity. Someone just said my face was beautiful.
I knew what she said was not true, but it was nice, sometimes, to believe.
The huge archway leading to the ballroom loomed before me, like a forbidden gate I was not allowed to cross. In all of my eighteen years, and ten of them working at the castle, I had never set foot into the ballroom. Slaves had very limited access to anywhere that the nobles and the royal family stayed. Cleaning was their purpose, and they were expected to do so until they rotted with age, returning to the ground from which they came.
My heart was nearly jumping out of my chest with excitement. I was going to do what no other slave had done before. I was going to enter the magnificent and glorious ballroom.
I reached out with one foot to cross the invisible line...
But then the worst happened.
A pretty servant girl, her name unknown to me, appeared, a curious expression on her face. "What are you doing?" she asked.
I quickly remembered to look down, and I respectfully said, "I am going to serve this food to the nobles."
I suddenly heard a guffaw, and glanced up to see the servant laughing her eyes out. "You think you can serve to the nobles? What madness is this? The slaves must be rising up against us." Then she suddenly snatched away my plate, her eyes narrowed with disgust. With a final look of contempt, she snapped, "Go empty some chamber pots, little slave girl."
A blinding pain entered my chest, something totally unfamiliar to me. It wasn't her rudeness, I had been treated much worse, but something else.
Go empty some chamber pots, little slave girl.
I turned and ran like the wind. I didn't know where I was going. I didn't care.
Go empty some chamber pots, little slave girl.
I rushed to a small door I had never seen before. I was almost positive that it was a forbidden territory for a slave, but daring was pumping through me, and I, for once, was not afraid of anything. Let them punish me.
I swung the door open, stepping into a small area, a garden. It was absolutely beautiful, with weeping willows looming over a small fountain, purple flowers blooming around it reverently. The grass was green and crisp, and it crunched under my feet as I walked. I looked for a ledge, somewhere where I could sit down until the hurt went away.
Go empty some chamber pots, little slave girl.
A slave girl.
That's all I was, and all I was ever going to be. A slave until I die.
I bent my head, and the tears started to flow.
The air whistled as I heard the door fly open. I didn't look up to see who the person was. It was probably a noble. I wondered if they would faint at the sight of me, a miserable slave, occupying their perfect garden. Ruining their perfect world.
The tears were still in full force, a truly horrendous waterfall that poured down my cheeks, probably disfiguring my face even more than it already was by itself. I wondered if it was my hormones that was making my emotions boil. I had not cried so badly in my entire life. Why did I pick this night to bawl my brains out when the nobles were out and about around the castle?
"Don't cry," the most hypnotizing, lulling voice I had ever heard speaks, an interlude of notes squashed into two words. Yet, a deep, husky quality was to it that could only belong to a man.
I looked up to see the owner of the spectacular voice, and was stunned. He had a mop of golden hair that sparkled in the sunlight, and eyes almost exactly the same color. His lips were plump and not chapped like mine were, and his whole face was shaped in a perfect oval. He was slender, yet muscled, and he was very tall. He was pure perfection, Princess Marilyn's counterpart, her ideal match.
This must be Prince Lucas.
Startled and horrified, I jumped to my feet. I realized now that I had done a horrible thing. I needed to go back to the serving room, and await the consequence the king would mercilessly inflict on me when he heard Prince Lucas's report. Or maybe he would drag me there right then, humiliation consuming me. Endless tortures flashed through my mind, horrible places they could send me...
"Don't worry, I won't hurt you," Prince Lucas put a hand on my shoulder, sending sparks throughout my body. I shuddered from his touch, the feeling of pure excitement rushing through my veins. What was he doing? I kept my eyes downwards, the tears still flooding down my face and onto my dress. I knew what was coming. He would soon come to his senses and realize I was a slave. Then his eyes would grow wide, and his lips would part, his musical voice saying dooming words that would send me to living hell.
But the words I thought would erupt from his beautiful mouth didn't come. Instead, a hand reached out and touched my face, lifting it up. Wonder crossed my features as I once again met the gaze of this handsome man, this man of infinitely higher social status.
"What is your name?"
A direct question. I couldn't avoid answering it. "Evangeline," I said softly. I was named after my grandmother, who died last fall with my parents.
"Beautiful," he commented, and my heart jumped. I didn't know if he was talking about my voice or my face, but either way it was very flattering.
His gaze skimmed over my face, my ugly face, the face I wasn't allowed to show anyone... then he focused in on my tears. A frown appeared on his face.
"What happened?" he asked gently, softly.
I looked away, pulling away from his touch. "Prince, you don't have to bother with a slave," I choked out, saying the proper words, "I was not supposed to be here, and I should be severely punished." A guilt consumed me as I brought about my own doom. He surely knew I was a slave now, with the way I so bluntly said it. But there was no way around it.
Prince Lucas laughed genially, "You think I'm one of those cranky old people who like to ruin people's life for no reason? Ha! Nothing could be further from the truth."
"Sir," I backed away, my expression of terror, "you don't know what you're saying! You shouldn't be talking to me, Prince..." I curtsied hurriedly as I opened the door to run inside, my straight, stick-like hair waving in the breeze. I would never do this again. I learned my lesson.
"Stop!" I heard his voice but kept moving, snaking through the hallways, blood pounding in my ears. I had done a terrible deed. I would surely be beheaded the minute the king hears about it. At least I wouldn't be a slave anymore.
At least I would be free.
I rushed down the long, rickety flight of steps that led down to the slaves quarters. A horrible stench greeted me, as always, as I entered the dungeon like hallway. I found the door to my room, and swung it open, immediately repelled by the disastrous odor and the overall grossness of the place. We spent all our time cleaning the upstairs, so we never got to clean our own rooms.
Barely larger than a queen sized bed, it better resembled a prison cell than a bedroom, the brick walls marred with writing of the slaves that lived here before me, their blood staining the walls from when they bled from the arduous scrubbing. My bed consisted of a mat made of hay, hay the horses refused to eat, of course. It was funny how the extremes on both sides of the spectrum of wealth was here at the castle. Only the best for the King, only the worst for the slaves.
I laid my head on my straw mat, the tears rushing even harder now that I was truly alone.
What had I done?
"Evangeline," Poe said loudly, his voice reaching my ears immediately. My eyes flew upon, and I sat up, my hair still perfectly straight from the night before. Poe frowned at my probably disgusting appearance. "Go get washed," he held his nose, "then go see the King. He summoned you."
"Yes sir," I dully replied, though inside I was shaking with fear. Prince Lucas HAD told on me. Or maybe a noble had seen me sitting on that ledge. Either way, I was doomed.
Did I hear him right? I actually was going to get washed instead of washing myself?
I quickly headed to the washing room, a confused look adorning my face.
"We have been waiting for you," an old lady appeared at the doorway of the washing room, one of the forbidden rooms for a slave. She whisked me inside, where a tub of frothy water was waiting, smoke rising from it in little spirals, the heat radiating from it.
The woman watched my open-mouthed admiration with a smile on her face, "This must be a dream come true for you, right, dear?" she asked softly.
I just nodded, awed.
"Go ahead and get in," she pushed me towards it. Heart throbbing, I undressed, awkwardly fumbling with the buttons, then placed one toe in the sizzling hot water. It was the perfect temperature, not incredibly hot, but not cold at all. I slipped in the water, tons of bubbles popping as I broke the surface.
"Do you know why you were called by the king?" she asked curiously as she began to wash my hair with soap, getting out the tangles. I could tell she was a lady that liked to gossip, a trusting person, and even if I told her I was going to be their adopted princess she would probably believe me.
I just shrugged in response, just as confused as she was. If the king was going to punish me, why would he order me to be washed and presentable?
This had never happened before to a lowly slave.
"Maybe you did something," she murmured to herself, then looked at me suspiciously, "You didn't steal anything, did you?"
"No ma'am!" I said, alarmed. I would never dream of stealing anything from my king's castle.
Another cleaning lady entered the room. She had short, blonde hair and sparkling green eyes, but they were too small for you to truly look into them. Her nose was huge, dominating her face. Overall, she looked like a mouse.
She looked at me, carefully measuring me, "She's a tiny little thing, don't you think?"
"Yes," the woman washing me said, "very slim and delicate, like the Princess Marilyn."
"But her hideously tanned skin!" The mousey lady commented, "and her dreadfully straight hair! Princess Marilyn and this slave look nothing alike," She paused, skimming over my face, my body. "You know, she seems rather exotic. Like an Egyptian girl."
My mother was born in Egypt. My heart tingled with pleasure at the thought that I looked like her.
"Yes, she does," the older woman agreed. Not once did the mousey woman ever ask me a question, or even speak to me. I was just a slave, an object people could throw away or mistreat badly at will. I had no choices, or voice.
The thought almost brought a fresh wave of tears, but I managed to hold my emotions back.
When the lady finished washing me, the most pleasurable ten minutes in my whole life over, she gave me a plush towel to dry myself off. I did so, wondering where my clothes were. The lady had disappeared with them earlier.
She reappeared before me, suddenly, with an odd looking bundle in her frail hands. "Wear this," she placed it in my hands.
I cautiously unfolded it, amazement etched in my features. "Is this what I think it is?" I asked breathlessly, examining it, then hugging it close to my chest with joy.
"Yes. A floor-length, respectable dress, much better than those rags you wore."
I wondered what I did to make God smile on me like this.
"Thank you," I curtsied, tears in my eyes, happiness filling me. Then, I raised the dress over my head, and slipped into it. The softness of the dress astounded me, its magnificent feel a delight to my skin. It was light brown, the color of oat, with a small, dark brown sash wrapped around it so I could tighten the dress around my waist, giving it a somewhat hourglass shape. It wasn't as loose as the other dress, bunched up a little in the chest area, and stretched across my hips.
The old lady's eyes widened, and I wondered briefly why. Did it look good on me?
The mousey girl frowned a little at the dress, "She doesn't look like a slave." She seemed to be displeased by my appearance, probably too servant-like for her tastes. I was a slave, after all.
"Go on," the older woman gestured to the door, "Go to the king."
I walked out of the washing room, scared to death of what would happen next.
I looked, anxiety surging through me, at the huge double doors before me. They led to the throne room, a place I never wished to go. Usually, if a slave went in this room, he was beheaded. Executed. Exterminated.
I shuddered to think of the last slave that was killed last week. He had stolen Princess Marilyn's tiara... a terrible offense that even a thousand deaths wouldn't forgive. The same brutal death awaited me, but I was not yet ready to embrace it. I didn't want it, no matter how much better life after death was supposed to be.
The doors swung open, slowly, intimidatingly. Two men, clothed like knights, stood against each door, as if holding it open just for me.
Then I heard a rambunctious voice say, "Come," and I was frightened.
As I took meager steps towards the King, the king who I never expected to meet, I shook with terror, thinking of the horrible punishment I deserved, the punishment he was sure to give. King Henry VI was very merciless, and enjoyed watching his slaves tremble with fear before the executor brings the sharpened axes down on their scrawny necks. He probably dressed me well to make fun of me. I HAD gone into a forbidden garden, and talked with the prince of France, just like a noble would've, so he probably just wanted to dress me in this clothing so I could feel like a noble when I died. He liked entertainment, and a slave dressed as a noble definitely would be.
The long walk took ages, the whole room gigantic. The ceiling was very tall, a vault, decorated with marvelous masterpieces, beautiful murals that seemed to nearly dance off it's canvas. Old heirlooms stood at various places in the throne room, vases, tea cups, and statues placed on pedestals. I was walking on a red carpet, a beautiful one, to my doom.
I kept my head down, watching the carpet before me as my feet edged closer to the king. I didn't want to reach my destination.
I stopped at the end of my trek, and curtsied, all the while keeping my gaze on the floor.
"Your Majesty," I said softly.
"Look up," Not a suggestion, but a command. I obliged, meeting the gaze of the King as he studied me. His eyes skimmed over my face, my clear complexion, and my dress.
I let my gaze roam, and I spotted Princess Marilyn over to the side a little. She was wearing a pretty, peacock style dress with real feathers adorning her skirt. Her hair was, as always, perfectly curled, and her icy blue eyes were sparkling with laughter as she talked genially with Prince Lucas. He looked stunning as well, even more handsome than last night, his golden hair catching the light, making it glow.
I wondered why Prince Lucas was here, in the throne room. If he had told the king about my terrible deed, then why would he be here? A slave is not such an important person for a prince to be present at their beheading. Obviously Princess Marilyn was just in here because Prince Lucas was. I could tell she like him very much. She should. They were the perfect pair.
A sudden pain stabbed at my heart.
They both turned at King Henry VI's next words, "Your name is Evangeline, correct?" he asked me.
"Yes sir," I mumbled, hyper aware of Prince Lucas's eyes on me, raking over my face, my body.
"Is this the girl you saw?" he asked Prince Lucas. Fear mounted within me. I really was going to die. Everyone had seen me in the garden, and now I was going to pay.
He nodded slowly. All my hopes, if any, crashed at that moment. I was really going to die.
"Then you both may go," he waved his hand, dismissing us both.
I glanced at the king, obviously bored and done with me, with an open-mouthed expression. What does he mean? Where was I going?
I felt a vise-like grip grab my hand, and I turned to see Prince Lucas's eyes on mine.
"Come with me," he said solemnly, and, without releasing my hand, began the long walk out of the throne room.
When I glanced back behind me, I could see Princess Marilyn staring at me with pure hate in her eyes.
Mercilessly I was pulled through the narrow hallways, forbidden rooms, past nobles who stared at me, surprised that Prince Lucas was walking with a mere slave.
I could sense him, smell his intoxicating aroma as it danced around my nose, feel his impossibly soft hand, devoid of any real labor. I wondered how my hand must feel to him. My fingers were callused and raw from vigorous scrubbing and various taxing tasks. It was the first time I was actually jealous of a man.
He, finally having reaching his destination, opened a luxurious door covered with engraved designs. I instantly recognized it as one of the beautiful guest rooms, pure opulence that was not to be seen anywhere in the castle except in the King's own bedroom.
The bed was king-sized, a true masterpiece, and the furniture was extraordinarily beautiful. A huge vase stood in the corner, decorated with vines that winded around it, coming out of an even larger pot that was at the bottom. I had never seen anything like it before. Similar wonders filled the room, a museum's worth of gold, silver, and other tempting treasures. I realized this must be normal for a prince or king, being fantastically rich.
Prince Lucas finally released me, and I backed away from his stunning form. "What is going on?" I demanded, "Why am I here?"
Then I quickly realized I was talking to a PRINCE, a guest, no less, and shut my mouth in shame, looking down at my feet.
Prince Lucas, however, smiled. He seemed to actually enjoy my outburst, and he said, "So Evangeline actually has a voice."
I kept staring at the floor, regret searing through me. I could feel the silence sizzling between us, him staring at me, and I staring anywhere BUT him.
"We need to fix that," he tutted. I looked up at him in surprise. "Your not-looking-at-people problem," he explained. I kept silent. "Who told you to look at the floor when you're speaking to people?" he probed.
"Poe," I barely whispered.
"Look at me. Every time you look at the floor, you will be punished," he said sternly. I obliged him, discomfort mounting in my chest.
"Now," he said, "Who is Poe?"
"Our chief servant," I replied, the words flying much easier out my mouth. Talking to Prince Lucas was actually not as scary as I first thought. He was definitely different, a strange man compared to the respectable men of England.
"How dare he!" Lucas was actually angry at Poe, a thing the king wouldn't have thought of doing if Poe was maiming and killing us at a whim.
"I don't mind, Prince Lucas," I lied through my teeth.
"I mind," he replied, eyes narrowing, as if he wanted me to be angry also. "England is so different from France. In France, we do not put people beneath us. I mean, we are also above our subjects, but we treat them right, unlike your Poe and King Henry VI," he practically spat, "Citizens of England are inhuman! It is like the Indian caste system here in Europe."
"Yes, Prince Lucas," I nodded feebly in agreement with his words. He was right, but each poison-laced word against England stabbed at my chest. I was a citizen of England also. A very low-ranking citizen, but still a citizen.
"Oh, and call me Luke," he added offhandedly.
"I couldn't, Prince!" That was an intimacy reserved for the royal family.
"You WILL," he demanded, and I fell silent. There was a pause, then Lucas, the prater, spoke again. "I saw you looking at Princess Marilyn and I in the throne room."
"No, Prince, I-"
"Luke," he corrected.
"L-l-Luke," I choked out, somehow finding it hard to say his name. It was as I had committed some sort of great wrong, which the way the word tried to squeeze itself back into my throat.
Luke laughed, a wonderful, intoxicating sound. "I love the way you say my name, Evangeline," He flopped on the bed, laying on his toned stomach, glancing up at me, "It's so beautiful."
"Uh, thank you... Luke," I replied, still tripping over my words. Luke looked so handsome, laying on the bed enchantingly, his face looking up at mine. I felt unworthy of even being in his presence. He was too perfect, like Princess Marilyn, to even be around me, tainted by my ugliness. I was just a slave.
"Anyways," he continued, "are you jealous of Marilyn?"
I froze, staring at him with a frightened expression. Then, I nodded, unable to lie. I was incredibly jealous of her curly blonde locks, tumbling past her shoulders, her perfect smile, her mesmerizing eyes... the way she was treated.
He grinned, "At least you're honest." Then, he paused, and then looked at me with that searing gaze of his. "I think you're wildly attractive," he said sultrily, his mouth twisted into a smirk, "You shouldn't be jealous of Marilyn. She doesn't... interest me like you do."
He cast a glance at my tight dress, my face, grin widening. "You are different from the other England people. Are you Egyptian?"
"Luke," he corrected me again, exasperated. With one eyebrow raised, he gestured for me to copy him.
"Luke," I repeated timidly. He smiled in approval. Luke walked closer to me, his deliciously tempting aroma exciting me. I tried to reign in my thoughts, but I couldn't. His pull was just too powerful. I ached for his touch, his voice to caress my name.
He stroked my cheek with a single finger, brushing from beneath my eye to my chin.
"My little exotic wildflower..." he said softly, intimately. We both held each others gaze, unable to look away. Then he smirked, and the spell was broken.
I looked at the floor, embarrassed by my uncontrollable blushing. I couldn't stop the red from running into my cheeks. I had been affected by Luke. But he was just playing with me. He had to be. I was just a slave girl.
"Look up!" I heard his exasperated voice, "How many times will I have to tell you... I guess I will have to punish you until you understand."
I hadn't realized that I was even looking at the floor until then, his words alerting me to my forbidden position. I immediately lifted my face, surprised when I discovered he wasn't in front of me. He was actually sitting on a luxurious chair looking at a book.
He looked up, saw my face, then gestured for me to come forward. I obeyed, curious to know what his punishment would be. Strangely, I wasn't scared of whatever the punishment was. I wasn't frightened in the least of Prince Lucas himself. He seemed to emit a relaxing vibe, a soothing aura surrounding him that wove through my defenses effortlessly.
"Lean down," he commanded, and I bent my form to put my face near his. He looked at me sternly. "This is what will happen if you don't stop looking at the floor. Close your eyes." He seemed almost... eager to inflict my punishment upon me.
I closed my eyes, his breath tickling my nose. I waited for my punishment, a little anxiously, wondering just how hard he was going to end up slapping me...
A pair of lips, impossibly soft and sweet, brushed against my cheek, an extremely inappropriate act, but a delightfully dangerous one.
"Go to the next room, which is yours from now on," he whispered softly, his voice echoing in my ears, "my little slave girl."
I then realized, finally, why I was here. Prince Lucas had requested for King Henry VI to give me to him as a trifle. To be a little plaything of his, a toy. He, like the others, didn't think of me as a person, but an object. Somehow, Prince Lucas thinking that I was an object actually hurt worse than anyone else doing the same.
This was almost worse than being a slave of the castle.
The days passed by quickly. Unlike the long hours of scrubbing, sweeping, and washing, I was spending much time in absolute solitude, almost wishing for something to clean.
Being Luke's personal slave was not difficult. I had to collect his breakfast when he wanted it in his room, compelled to clean his clothes, and was always sent on various escapades to get something he needed. It was almost effortless, really.
It was the boredom that killed me. Luke was always in the meeting room negotiating peace with his father and King John, and I soon, in the long hours between his appearances in his room, yearned for a glimpse of his beautiful face, his heart-breaking smile that always managed to make me break into a sweat.
When he finally returned to his room, I would angrily leave it, satisfied after seeing his face, yet angry because he was not showing me any attention. I had grown selfish, false hopes growing after that very first night, wanting something more than I already had. He would usually let me leave, exhausted by the endless verbal sparring between him, his father, and the king of England.
But one night, yesterday, in fact, he did not. "Evangeline," he said, rather abruptly, just as I was about to leave the room. I paused, small tremors of excitement coursing through my veins.
"Yes?" I replied, concealing well the anxiety that seared within me. He was sitting, cross legged, on the floor, looking at letters splayed out in front of him. They were probably letters from home, his beautiful France that he liked to talk so much about, where they treated servants well. I felt a pain stab my chest when I thought about France. In a couple of weeks, he would be returning to his homeland.
With... or without me.
"You are angry with me," It was not a question.
I kept silent, picking up his boot and placing it in his chest of drawers. His room was always spotlessly clean, thanks to my boredom. He watched me as I idly wandered around the bed, picking up trash and small scraps of paper and placing it in my pocket to put in the furnace.
"Why?" he finally asked, his eyes trailing over my body as I turned towards him. My eyes devoid of emotion, I made sure my body language expressed pure boredom.
"Luke," my tongue twisted still as I spoke his name. That was all I could say. Oh, how I ached to say the words biting at my tongue, the mean accusations that I knew he didn't deserve.
Luke smiled at me slowly, realization entering his features. "You're jealous," he said softly, teasingly. I, alarmed, shook my head quickly. He, however, just laughed. "You want my attention," he observed. He rose from his position and started walking towards me, purpose in his step.
"I just want to do something!" I quickly squealed in defense, backing away from his quickly arriving form. He laughed again, backing me into a corner, my hair messy from my movement.
He put his hands on either side of me, leaving me no place to go, no place to hide. "A slave actually wants to work MORE?! I thought I'd never see the day."
I flinched when he said the word slave. He didn't make it sound degrading, yet the word still hung between us, biting me to the bone.
"I promise I'll spend more time with you when all this is over," he said apologetically, "The long periods of time in the meeting room has been wearing me out these last couple of days."
I looked away, closing my eyes as he leaned in, brushing his lips against my ear, my cheek, my forehead. This was the first time he had touched me since that first night, but I knew now his kisses meant nothing.
"Please," I choked, nearly suffocated by his allure, his irresistible pull that I couldn't walk away from. His touch was so sweet, so full of softness and caring, an edge of desire thrown into the mix. He probably kissed Princess Marilyn too, bringing his beautiful, plump lips to hers, grabbing her waist and holding her tight. I tensed at that thought, sadness filling me, overwhelming me.
"What?" he asked suddenly, stopping the touches that made my heart tingle. He peered at me, concerned, waiting for words to come out of my mouth.
And come they did, but not the ones I really wanted to say. "Have you... touched Princess Marilyn? K-k-kissed her?" I stuttered.
Luke grinned, "Why would you ask something like that? That sort of stuff is private."
My face grew chalk white, my worst fears confirmed. He did touch her. Kissed her. Treated her like a precious jewel, admiring her perfect features.
He laughed melodiously. "No. I didn't," he answered me, taking a piece of my hair, stringing it along his fingers. Then, he looked at me, his hazel eyes staring right into mine, "Didn't I tell you not to be jealous of Marilyn?"
Yes, he did. I just didn't obey him like a good little slave girl would've. Luke did that to me from the very beginning. He made me think, and act, for myself.
"Am I just a plaything to you?" I asked quickly, my words in a rush. I had to know. It was now or never. Anxiety pounded through my chest as he drew back, startled.
"Did you really think that?" he asked, anger laced in his words. I kept silent, stunned myself by his outburst. His eyes were narrowed, fury in his expression, his body language. "Did you really think that I was just having a little fun with you?"
I nodded slowly, shamefully.
"Do you think I would do this," he rushed forward and grabbed me, his lips rushing to meet mine, want flooding between us both, "if I thought you were a plaything?"
This kiss was different than before. Filled with urgency, his lips forcefully met with mine, eager to make his point. It still was sugary sweet, but filled with determination, and a whole ton of fury. I had never seen him this angry before.
"Did you think that because you are a slave?" he asked bitterly, ceasing the kiss, leaving me breathless.
"I guess..." I whispered, "so."
He looked away, and when he soon met my gaze again, his face was more calm, more composed.
"Believe me, my little slave girl," he said sharply, "Just because you are a slave doesn't mean you can't be loved."
Then, he turned away, walking back to his letters, keeping his gaze away from mine. He sat himself on the luxurious carpet, focusing his attention on the letters. Anger still flooded his beautiful features, but it was controlled. More peaceful.
"Please go to your room," he crisply ordered, "so I can think."
I rushed away from him, opening his beautiful door, my head hurting with information I could barely process at once. He said he loved me. He loved me.
That can't possibly be true.
♪ Waltz ♪
The next day, I woke up to the sound of music... absolutely beautiful music that made the birds sing and the heart dance. It was rather early, about five thirty, and although my body screamed with fatigue, I quelled its qualms and got up to get my master, Prince Lucas some breakfast.
Prince Lucas liked to play the flute, and he oftentimes played it in the morning when he woke up. He usually asked for breakfast right after he played, so I, after a while, started to catch the hint and get his breakfast as soon as I heard the sweet whispers of a bright morning song. I wondered why he was up this early. Usually, his body woke him at a later time, like seven o'clock or so. I knew his usual patterns by heart, having seen him go through the motions every day.
Maybe he couldn't sleep, plagued with dreams of last night's events just like I was.
I almost knocked on his door when I returned, but the relaxing lull of the flute beckoned for me irresistibly. If I did knock, Luke would stop his playing, and I didn't want that. I wanted to see him play, see that confident smile grace his features, his expression of joy.
So I slipped in the door, carrying the tray of food, determined to get a glimpse of him when playing. He was not immediately in the room, where I expected him to be, so it took a few seconds for me to spot him. When I finally did, for on the balcony he was, I placed the tray on the ground, careful not to make a clatter, and headed towards the irresistible attraction.
It was wonderful, just like his voice, an interweaving of notes, chords, and melodies, a collage of emotions that stung my heart. It seemed to tell a story, and though I couldn't distinguish it from the song alone, I seemed to understand the emotions it was trying to convey.
It was a sweet song, a beautiful melody, until a crash of some kind, a downfall. It was like a completely different song then, full of terror, hurt, and anger. Then, just as the song reaches it's climax, the sweet song creeps in, taking over the crash, the angry song, until the sweet song was the only thing you could hear, as if the angry one never existed.
Luke turned from the balcony, the song over just as quickly as it started, and met my gaze.
I had never felt so in love as I did just then.
His face was stunning, his golden hair sparkling, his hazel eyes clear as could be. He was adorned in light, loose clothes, his huge muscles seen through his shirt. His expression was not of surprise, but sadness, exhaustion in his features from the effort the beautiful song had cost him.
"I feel so terrible," he said softly, looking directly at me, "You know that feeling, right? That feeling that you did something you shouldn't have and you can't take it back?"
I nodded. I understood that feeling very, very well.
"Well," he continued, "I wish I could take back my frustration from last night," his eyes were blurry and unfocused. Obviously he had done a lot of tossing and turning the previous night. "I know it must be hard for you, being a slave."
I nodded, apology already accepted. The word slave still bit at me, but not when he used the word so apologetically.
"I forget that you don't know love," he whispered, his eyes directly on mine. I knew he didn't mean parental love, but a different variety I had never experienced before.
He came to sit by me, his closeness taking my breath away. The tips of his knee was touching mine, energy surging through us both from that one touch. He brought his hand to my face, pulling it until it was directly in his view. "You are so stunning," he whispered, stroking my hair softly, my cheek, my nose. Then he laughed. "I never liked that silly style of curling your hair until it burned away."
"Really?" I asked, my eyes alight with surprise. Princess Marilyn had the perfect curly hair, in tight coils, bouncy and inviting. It attracted men to her like bees to honey. How could he be so different from all the others?
"Yes," he said laughingly, amusement across his features, "I much prefer your dark hair that doesn't stick out in every direction."
He truly was a strange man. But it only attracted me to him more, his quirky ideas a pleasure for me to listen to.
"Well, thank you," I laughed. Luke stopped touching my hair, a strange expression on his handsome face. "What?" I asked curiously as I watched his frozen form.
"I've never heard your laugh before," he said softly. I realized that I had never laughed in front of him, even after the weeks upon weeks of talking to him, seeing him, loving him.
I had not laughed since the day my parents died.
"Well, not anymore," I smiled, my fingers reaching hesitantly for his arm. I wrapped my hand around his muscled wrist, my hand grazing his. He looked at me, a smile on his handsome face, and he laughed softly.
"I guess so."
I smiled, my white teeth shining in the rather darkened room.
"So, do you think you could?" he asked me anxiously.
I had frozen, eyes wide with surprise. My hand dangled at my side, my hair waving in the breeze. I had never expected Lucas to do something like this.
Luke had just asked me to attend the annual Yen Ball as his partner.
"But Luke!" his name came easier to me than ever, effortless to say, "I'm a slave!"
"Not for much longer," he said quietly. My eyes widened, my mouth stretched into a smile.
"You're going to release me?" I asked, my breath suddenly catching in my throat. He nodded slowly, a smile to mirror my own on his handsome features.
These last days had been the best of my life.
Since that morning following Luke's outburst, Luke had stayed in his room all day, I sent to tell everyone he was sick. It was fun, seeing his face every second of the day, and we both enjoyed the chance to be with each other. Talk with each other.
We had talked about our pasts, I spilling the story about my parents in the Hundred Year's War, he talking about his dead mother. We found out even more about each other than before, growing closer in the process.
But this? This was amazing.
"Thank you!" I exclaimed, practically jumping on his, my lips racing to meet his. It was a beautiful feeling, kissing Prince Lucas, and I just couldn't get enough of it. His lips were just so incredibly soft, like a dream, his perfect face's closeness sending tingles throughout my entire body.
He laughed, his hands around my waist. "You're very welcome," he replied genially.
We just stood in that position, his hand around my waist, I leaning against him, reveling in his sweet warmth.
"I guess I can't say no to going to the Yen Ball, then," I said quietly, though my heart ached inside. I knew it meant a lot to Luke, me being there, in fact, that was the only reason I was going to go, but I didn't want the nobles gossiping about me. The kings disapproving of me, both of them narrowing their eyes at my tanned skin, my skinny figure, my huge eyes, and my long, straight hair. Not to mention I was a slave.
Luke smiled sweetly. "I'll make sure you have a wonderful time, Evangeline," he said my name as if it was sweet syrup, making me tingle with delight.
I imagined me, entering the room filled with nobles and the royal family, them staring at my disheveled appearance, laughing at me, laughing at Prince Lucas for bringing me. I didn't want that to happen to Luke.
I was going to do all I could to make myself beautiful, and make them sigh with absolute awe.
The days leading until the Yen Ball passed quickly, Prince Lucas having to make up for his "sick time" by arguing with King Henry VI for even longer hours than before, stretching from nine o' clock to nine at night. I missed him, my yearning for his beautiful eyes to meet mine growing ever larger in each passing minute. When he did return, we sat on his bed, talking about miscellaneous things, like our hopes and dreams, our worst fears, and our heartaches.
Luke would always be tired, however, and fall asleep quickly, his snores reverberating around the room, I laughing at the way he slept like a log, not even a kiss from me waking him up. Then, I would go to my room and sleep, dreaming of Luke's sugar coated kisses, his lovely velvety voice echoing in my mind.
Luke was just as anxious as me about the Yen Ball.
"What am I going to say to dad?" he asked me one day, overwrought.
I frowned. He couldn't say he had a slave on his arm, for then he would probably get King John to throw me into the dungeon. He also couldn't pretend I was a noble, for everyone would obviously know that was a lie. Then, I got it.
"Don't tell them," the words flew out of my mouth, words I couldn't take back. He looked at me, confused.
"What do you mean?"
"Don't tell them I am a slave," I said urgently. I needed to get my idea out as quickly as possible, or else I would try to shove it back down my throat. "Don't tell them anything. Let me be a stranger to them."
"That won't work for long," he commented slowly, his eyes alight, thinking hard.
"It will work for long enough," I said softly, "long enough to get us through the day."
He looked at me sadly. "You're right. We'll have to tell them the truth very soon."
"And you have to release me before you tell them," I warned, my voice edgy.
He smiled that beautiful smile of his, "Of course."
I stared at him with suspicion. He told me two days ago that he was going to release me, yet the day hadn't come. Luke told me it was because he didn't want me to lose my room next to him and be thrown out of the castle like a commoner, and that was definitely not a good thing, but I still yearned for freedom, like an ache in my chest.
He kissed my nose softly. "You know I love you," he whispered.
Obviously he had seen my dubious look.
"Yes," I agreed, swept away by the scent of his intoxicating aroma, his feather-light kisses, his energizing touch.
The day had finally come. The Yen Ball had arrived.
The nobles were prancing around, all having arrived from their castles, and even Princess Marilyn was fussing about her looks, wanting to look stunning for their appearances at the ball.
I could hear her, even, from across the hall. "NO!" she would scream, "I WANT TO WEAR THAT DRESS WITH THE SPARKLES! NOT THE FEATHERED-ONE!" I laughed a little. Princess Marilyn would look beautiful no matter what she wore.
When I entered Luke's bedroom that morning, balancing a heavy tray of delicious delicacies, instead of Luke being there, there was that old lady that washed me in the washing room that day. Beside her, there was a small basket she could easily carry around, and several other trinkets.
"You," she said softly, "are Evangeline, correct?" I nodded slowly. "Prince Lucas told me to make you gorgeous."
"Where is he?" I asked, amazed that he would do such a thing for me.
"Negotiating," she said nonchalantly, "he said he would meet you at seven o' clock."
Seven o' clock was the time of the Yen Ball.
She quickly examined me, from my straight hair to her feet. "We can't make you look like the others," she commented, "So, we are just going to build on that. Evangeline, we are going to make you stand out, like a little exotic wildflower."
Luke called me a little exotic wildflower too. I felt a tingle in my heart that was strangely delightful.
"First," she said, "Pick from these dresses." She gestured to a long line of beautiful dresses that laid on his bed. I walked over to them, my eyes nearly popping out at the sight of such lovely silk, rubies, diamonds, and lace. They were all stunning, truly magnificent attire, that delighted me very much. I had always wanted to wear a beautiful dress. It was my dream from the very beginning.
One dress stood out to me. Long, slender, and simple, it was blood red, with a big skirt like the others, but a little bit skinnier. The neckline was not really low, but it was in a v shape, the arms of it ending at the end of the shoulders. With rubies adorning the bodice, and the simple skirt decorated with fine lace, I knew it was the one I wanted.
The woman helped me get it on, a scratchy and arduous task, but when it was, and the final sash was tightened, I was very delighted with the way it looked on me. It was different, sure, but it was enchantingly simple, temptingly sweet.
Without a word, the woman brought me to a mirror, sitting me down in front of it. "Dearie, close your eyes," she said, "I'm going to put something called makeup, a newly discovered product, on your face. Prince Lucas commanded it."
I obliged her, waiting as she applied these newfangled products I had never heard of before. I could feel a sticky brush stroke my eyelashes, powder puffing on my cheeks, some sort of weird material put on my lips. It took a while, the lady's concentration clearly evident, but as she finally drew away, her lip was pursed with satisfaction.
I was too. I couldn't believe how this... makeup made my eyelashes so long, my cheeks so rosy red, my lips so soft and delicious looking. I wondered if this was how Princess Marilyn made her face look so incredibly beautiful... it probably was. Some of my jealousy melted away at that comforting thought.
The old woman turned her attention to my hair. Picking up one strand, she let it fall back to it's straight position. "Dear," she said, "there is nothing I can do about your hair. You are just going to have to show them you have unbelievably straight hair, and be proud of it."
She took several ribbons and threaded it through my thick, voluminous hair, putting sparkles in it that made my hair shine. I started to really look like an exotic wildflower, my eyes huge, covered in that "kohl" makeup I now realized the Egyptians wore, my mouth plump and desirable, my dress slimming and beautiful.
I realized we had three minutes until seven o' clock, and I urged the lady to hurry. She wiped away carefully at a smear on my cheek, then stepped back, running her eyes over my face, my body. "You look very lovely, Evangeline," she said softly. Then, she looked away, and when she finally returned my gaze, I could see a tear on her cheek. "Maybe slaves are not so disgusting after all," she admitted.
"Thank you," I said softly, hugging her. For some reason, although slaves weren't allowed to touch people, I felt this would be okay.
Maybe this was the first step to freedom for slaves everywhere. Maybe... if the world saw how beautiful we could be, they wouldn't want to hurt us.
The door creaked open, and Lucas walked in, a handsome smile on his face. "You look gorgeous," he whispered as I grinned in return.
"I know," I laughed, "like a little exotic wildflower."
"Exactly," he confirmed. Then, he paused, and whispered, "My beautiful little slave girl."
His words didn't bite at me, only elating me even more. I had finally learned to accept who I was. And, somehow, when Luke said it, it didn't seem so bad.
The door creaked open, the crowd whispering among themselves. They were all wondering about Prince Lucas, I'm sure.
Princess Marilyn had just arrived at the ball, her beautiful, tightly winded hair bouncing down her back, her eyes huge and stunningly mesmerizing. She was wearing a sparkly dress with a huge skirt and tight bodice, heavy amounts of cleavage showing, and a figure heavily enhanced by a tight corset, I'm sure.
And she had come alone.
Obviously everyone had expected Lucas to come with Marilyn. After all, they were the perfect match. The ideal pair. The dream couple.
But instead of the pretty Marilyn, Lucas had me on his arm. Standing before the entrance to the ballroom, waiting our turn, we anxiously hugged each other. We didn't know what the nobles would think or do. The kings were in the crowd also, and if King Henry VI recognized me...
then it would all be over.
We were the last couple to enter, and my heart was shaking furiously in my chest. What if they don't like me? What if...?
I didn't know, really.
Luke nuzzled my chin quietly. "Everything will be alright," he reassured me, "I will protect you."
I had faith in him, and I was wanting to believe him. Badly. But, somehow, it was hard.
The doors swung open once more to admit us into the ballroom, underneath the stares of the vulture-like nobles.
Hundreds of eyes were fixed on us as we glided onto the dance floor, Luke's insecurities gone, vanishing under their gazes. He was every bit the perfect prince, taking my arm, twirling me around to the first waltz, talking to me energetically. He was cool, calm, and composed, doing everything a prince would do.
But they weren't staring at him.
They were staring at me.
"Relax," he whispered in my ear, swaying me from side to side, "everything is just perfect." He laughed quietly. "I told father that your name was the Red Maiden."
I smiled in return, enjoyment on my face, "and what did he say?"
"You have to introduce me to her," he said, mimicking the deepness of King Rupert, his voice dropping by several pitches. I laughed.
"Almost perfect," I nodded with approval, then whispered in his ear, "only a few more gray hairs and you'll capture his essence perfectly."
I would've never said that to a noble or anyone of higher rank, and normally they'd be terribly offended if I did so, but he just chuckled. Then, he lowered his lips to my ear as we danced, and said, "You know what they're thinking right now?"
I shook my head, nearly whacking him in the process.
"They're thinking... who is this beautiful Egyptian girl who dances so wonderfully, the one with the perfect figure that even Princess Marilyn lacks?" he mischievously whispered, making me blush.
"She does not! She-"
"Anyone can tell she's wearing one of those ghastly corsets, puffing her chest out as far as she can to impress us all," he shook his head regretfully, "Princess Marilyn starves for attention, and she'll do anything to get it."
I looked at her, dancing with an old man, looking like she'd swallowed a lemon. She obviously would rather be dancing with the stunning Prince Lucas, and I couldn't blame her. He WAS the handsomest bachelor in the room.
"Go dance with Princess Marilyn," I said, feeling pity for her.
"No," he was adamant in his decision.
"Please. You can see how she is miserable!" I argued.
"She's cold, heartless, and doesn't deserve your pity."
"For me?" I asked softly, and he sighed.
"For you," he kissed the top of my forehead, then walked over to Princess Marilyn. I walked off the dance floor, watching them to make sure he wasn't mean to her.
But he wasn't. In fact, he was treating her wonderfully, bowing, kissing her hand, smiling when she spoke. They were perfect dancers too, dancing the waltz perfectly, until I was dizzy from watching their frenzied movements.
A stab of jealousy hit me when I saw his beautiful face alight with happiness. He was enjoying Princess Marilyn's presence. She was obviously enjoying his presence, with the way she batted her impossibly long eyelashes at him, her slightly parted, ruby red lips pouting at him temptingly. They were perfect for each other.
I turned away, suddenly sickened.
I could see King Rupert coming my way, and I quickly patted my dress, making sure everything was in place.
"Hello," he said, "I am King Rupert, Prince Lucas's father."
"Your Majesty," I curtsied in return, trying to make even my words enchanting, melting like delicious syrup through my teeth.
"I heard from Lucas that your name is the Red Maiden," he said rather dubiously, making my heart jump.
"Well," I tried to mask my shock with sugar-coated sweetness, "that is one of my many names, yes."
"Where do you come from? England?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"What part?" he probed.
"Um, around here," I vaguely replied, caught off guard by his questions.
"Hello!" I saw a flash of gold, and Luke was right by me. He turned to me, "Do you want to dance?"
"Yes," anything to get away from the questions. Obviously, we were both through with King Rupert.
"Well, I look forward to finding out more about you," he said, his eyes narrowing, "tonight at dinner." Then, he walked away, off to converse with a noble.
Suddenly, I wasn't hungry at all.
"Don't worry about him," Luke said, "He's just curious. If I tell him the truth about you, he will at least be more accepting than my grandmother." He led me to the dance floor yet again, I growing dizzier with each step.
Suddenly, my arm brushes past anothers and I quickly look back to apologize. The room was heavily packed, but that was no excuse for touching a person without permission.
The person I had touched was Marilyn, looking at me furiously. "I'm sorry," I said coolly, trying not to give off an air that I was affected by her. She said nothing in return, looking elsewhere. But then, she returned her gaze to my faze, and her eyes widened. I knew exactly what that meant.
Marilyn had recognized me.
She disappeared into the heavy crowd just as quickly as she appeared, I shaking with fear. Lucas continued to pull me, his vise-like grip dragging me along with him. It was as if nothing happened, everyone talking amongst themselves, Luke still looking at me with a loving grin.
But the terror quickly consumed me.
Several hours had passed. I was worn out, tired from the endless sways, the turns, the twists, and the terrible twirls. Luke was talking to another man, seemingly engrossed in their political conversation. I, however, was standing by the punch bowl, filling my cup for the first time of this forbidden drink that I was never allowed to sip before. It was really delicious looking, red as a cherry, people gulping it down heartily.
I raised the cup, half full, to my lips, my parched throat yearning for a drop of that sweet, yummy goodness.
But then, it was snatched away.
"What?!" I asked furiously, as two men surrounded me, one of them gently placing my cup back on the counter. They chuckled as I looked at them in anger.
"Look at her," the man on my left mocked, "she's angry."
"Ooh," the other man grinned, "I'm so terrified!"
They both grabbed my arms, squeezing tightly, taking my breath away with their force. I closed my eyes with pain as they kept close to me so no one would notice, leading me to the door. "What are you doing?" I choked, then felt a rough, callused hand press against my mouth.
"No talking," one of the men ordered me.
I was endlessly dragged through hallways, tunnels, stairs, and rooms, I growing fainter and fainter as they dragged me along. I stumbled as they pulled me, and one of the men angrily swore.
"Keep up!" he demanded.
"Please..." I whispered, tears running down my cheeks. I didn't understand anything. Why they were taking me, why they were handling me so roughly. My makeup was smearing, my dress dirty from the dirt.
What did I do to be treated this way?
Finally, we reached our destination. The courtyard, a beautiful outdoor area that I had always longed to see. But not like this. Not now.
Princess Marilyn stood waiting, a firmness to her features that even I could not mimic for it's seriousness.
"You," she bitterly spat as I was brought before her, struggling. The man lifted his hand away from my lips, letting me speak.
"What are you doing?" I asked softly, frightened.
"Punishing a slave who doesn't know what she's doing," she smiled frightfully, her perfect teeth gleaming. I winced at the word slave, for the way she said it made it feel like a poisoned barb.
King Henry VI appeared, a man trailing behind him, wielding an axe. "What did you call me out here for?" he called irately.
"This girl," she gestured to me, "the one who's ruining our plan, is one of our SLAVES."
King Henry VI looked at me, expressionless. "You sure?"
"Yes," she nodded confidently, "she has been in forbidden rooms, done forbidden things, AND talked with a royal guest! She should be punished."
I begged King Henry VI with my eyes to stop the crazed Princess Marilyn, but he paid me no attention. "So you think killing this girl will solve our problems?"
My blood ran cold, my face turning chalk white.
"Exactly," she confirmed, "because then, Prince Lucas will fall for ME, we will marry, and then we could more easily work out a treaty with France. Then, they would leave their capital with less defenses around it, going to repair and help the people of France to recover from the war, and then we could attack, finally winning once and for all!" Then, she smiled frighteningly, her mesmerizing blue eyes fixed on me. "The attack starting by me murdering Prince Lucas,"
"No!" I screamed, yanking at my bondage, shooting furious glares at Princess Marilyn. I couldn't let this happen. I had to save the man I loved.
She just laughed cruelly. I looked to the king for support. "Please..." I begged him, "don't kill Prince Lucas! Killing me is fine, but don't hurt him!"
But he was smiling too. "Perfect plan, Marilyn. You're starting to sound like a good future queen," he nodded approvingly.
I was doomed.
Prince Henry VI nodded, and the man behind him stepped forwards. "Lay her on the block," he demanded, and the men obeyed. I screamed and struggled, but it was no use. They were too strong for me.
I started to see dots in front of my eyes, redness taking over, adrenaline pumping through my body. Then, as they held me on the block, I slumped over, my struggling over. I gave up.
It was all over.
I hoped that I would meet Luke in heaven.
There was a flash of silver, and the last thing I saw was the form of a man, his hair golden, his actions unknown to me.
A blinding pain, then nothing.
♪ Coda ♪
A bright light filled my vision as my eyes fluttered open.
Was this heaven?
The objects in my view were blurry, unable to distinguish. A golden blob floated above me, with no shape or form.
"She's awake!" I heard a mesmerizing, musical voice, and then the pounding of feet. Another blob stood before me, his bulk filling my sight. I felt a warm hand on my forehead, the big blob still too close for comfort.
"Yes," the blob agreed, "and her fever is gone."
Everything suddenly shifted into focus, and I recognized Luke in front of me, the other man obviously a doctor. I looked at them both, puzzled. "Why am I not dead?" I asked.
For clearly I wasn't. I could move my hands, my toes wiggling at my command.
I was laying on a comfy bed, in a large, airy room that comforted me. I wore a long, loose dress that came to my feet, an ugly one that nearly made me gag.
"I pushed you out of the way," Lucas said plainly.
"What?" I was still confused.
"I pushed you off the block before they could kill you," he stared at me, a pained look to him, a strand of his beautiful blonde hair falling into his eyes, "but in my panic, I pushed you too hard, and you got a concussion from hitting the ground with such force. At least, that was what the doctor told me." Searing regret showed plainly on his face.
"So how long was I unconscious?" I asked.
I sat up, my straight brown hair splayed out on the back of the wall as I leaned against it. This didn't look like a room in the castle at England, with practically no heirlooms, instead a beautiful mural that stretched from wall to wall. "Where am I?" I questioned.
"France," Luke smiled finally, happily. Then, he laughed, "King Henry VI didn't exactly want us around." He put his hand on mine. "I heard everything. I was there."
"What?" I asked, amazed. He heard every word they spoke, found out about their whole plan?
"And I was there too," A big man, whom I instantly recognized to be King Rupert, entered the room, a smile on his face.
"I saw you being forced away," Luke explained, "and I grabbed Father and followed them. When they brought you to the courtyard, we hid right by the archway."
I stared at them both, open-mouthed.
"You were very brave," King Rupert nodded at me, "You stood up to them."
"I can't believe you would actually die for me," Lucas shook his head regretfully, "I'm not worth it."
I looked at him, my beautiful prince, his hazel eyes sparkling in the sunlight. "Yes," I said softly, "you are."
We stared at each other, energy surging between us, happiness crackling in the air.
King Rupert coughed awkwardly. "Well," he said, "I'll just go now." Then, right before he left, he shot me a wink.
I could hear his happy humming as he thumped away.
Luke nodded at his retreating figure. "He's practically in love with you himself after your amazing bravery and courage."
The doctor had gone, us being the only two people in the room.
Silence sizzled between us, words not necessary.
"I love you," I whispered, brushing the stray hair out of his eyes. He smiled, lighting up the whole room with it's brightness. He was so beautiful, with eyes like stars and hair like gold.
"I love you too."
We came together in a kiss, his soft lips dancing on mine. The scent of him intoxicated me, I bringing both of my hands around his neck, he putting his hands around my waist.
Somehow, we both knew there was many more of these pleasures to come.
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Publication Date: 08-20-2011
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