The young girl was in a daze as she worked to complete her chores. Thankfully, she was so accustomed to the routine that her wandering mind did not impede her work. She knew of course who the elf boy was, the son of Lord Elrond, a high-born heir to a long-standing elven family. Yet even as she tried to focus on his status, all she could picture were his sharp eyes, his long hair and commanding tone. He seemed shy around her, yet that would be impossible for such an elf. He must be accustomed to ordering his mother's servants around, she thought. Why would I be any different?
Returning her empty basket to the linen room, Ailsa grabbed her shawl and covered her hair. She knew going to the market would be risky. Someone could see them, see her . . . perhaps recognize her! What then? Yet, she remembered the desire in the elf lord's words that she attend with him. She could not betray her promise over such a little thing.
"You have finished early," said Hibernia, the head of the servants staff. "All of your chores done?"
"Yes, ma'm," she answered softly, fastening her shawl around her chin and taking her basket from the corner. "I have some errands to do at the market, if I may?"
"Hurry along," said the elder woman. "Dinner must be handled soon and we need your help."
Smiling and nodding her head, the girl rushed out the door and down the hill to the marketplace.
On the market place a young elf was walking around in circles on the meadow where people used to meet and talk to each other inbetween the shopping in the marked places. His noble attire showed he was a young man of good family, but not yet fully grown. People passing by looked strangely at him as he walked in circles, as if they noticed a circled path of dust on the grass in his way. Not far away from the young elf lord, three boys were sitting calmly under a nearby tree. Their clothes showed that they belonged to the Royal guard, but at the moment they had a day off to follow their friend to the market. Maurice had explained to Lord Haidar that the alternative would be to send Eldarion on his first date with a human girl alone, and he had pointed out to the commander how inexperienced Eldarion was with girls. Maurice could almost swear that the Commander had problems stifling a laughter when he sent the boys off - but perhaps he was imagining things. He hadn't said anything funny, had he?
"I think the path we already have on the marketplace is fully functional," Maurice pointed out. "No need for you to stomp up a brand new one..."
"What if she doesn't show up?" Eldarion said. "I still can't believe I treated her like a servant! How stupid can I be?"
"If she doesn't show up, there's no need for you to be nervous," Oliver replied calmly. "And if she comes, all you need to do is being sweet and romantic to her and melt her heart."
"Easy for you to say," Eldarion replied. "You're not the one telling her a huge lie that mother has ordered you to the market to oversee that Ailsa does her duty."
Paul nodded and patted his back reassuringly. "I am sure she will forget that when you make this day the most romantic day ever for her," he said. "From what I understand older girls looooove romantic stuff." The six year old boy scrounged his face up in disgust, glad that Charlotte did not have such idiotic thoughts. She was rather fun to play with for a girl. Yvette was okay too, but she was more around Oliver's age and had more in common with him. Charlotte, on the other hand, was Paul's partner-in-crime. The two children rarely did pranks without involving each other. Today, however, he was helping Maurice and Oliver with supporting his friend Eldarion so this date should not end up as a complete disaster.
Maurice went through the plan with Eldarion and the boys once more, just in case. "Everyone knows what to do now?" he asked, and the boys nodded. "Eldarion, you try to look your best and charm your Ailsa, we others will stay out of sight, but still close enough to give you advice if you should need it. Not that I have had any girlfriends myself, but the men I worked with told me lots about how to romance a girl."
Oliver, trained to be a scout in Lord Haidar's army, perked his ears and turned his gaze towards the path leading to the marketplace. "She's coming," he warned, and the boys scampered into their hiding spots. Only Eldarion stood clearly visible, his hands nervously touching a bouquet of wild flowers little Charlotte had picked for him before the date. He hoped they would stay fresh until the date ended.
His gaze caressed the girl as she came down the path towards him, looking more beautiful than a brigh Summer day. He felt his heart beating wildly in his chest, his hands felt sweaty, and he was certain his ears were red from embarrassment.
Ailsa kept her eyes downcast as she made her way to the market, the shawl around her head concealing her face from everyone. To anyone else, she was just another servant in the crowd, sent by her master to fetch items from the market. Yet, the girl was keenly aware of the person she was meeting this day. The young elf lord, Eldarion, was from a prestigious family and to be asked personally to help him was an honor. Still, the woman felt a knot in her stomach of uncertainty. Was she the right choice or was there more to this invitation than she knew?
Reaching the first stall, the girl glanced up. She could see no one in the market that she knew and a sigh of relief passed her lips. Perhaps today would not be so terrible after all. At least the elf lord's embarrassment would be small if she was foolish.
Spotting the tree to the center of the market, Ailsa saw the boy standing there. He was moving in a deliberate circle and her eyes became wide. Was she late? Had she disappointed him already? Fear in her face, she rushed forward, nearly knocking into a man with a crate. The man glared at her, but thankfully said nothing.
Reaching the tree, she knelt down at the elf's feet. "Forgive my tardiness, Milord," she said quickly. "The Queen wished her chores done before the celebratory dinner tonight. I will accept any punishment you see fit to give me for my disobedience."
Eldarion watched Ailsa as she made her way to the market. He felt a tiny hint of disappointment as he saw the shawl hiding her face from everyone, but at the same time he felt relieved that no other man would be able to enjoy her beauty. The way she moved made his heart jump in his chest and his hands holding the bouquet of flowers trembled. His hands felt warm and sweaty, and he hoped he didn't smell from sweat by the time Ailsa reached him. He hid the bouquet behind his back, not wanting to reveal his surprise right away.
He saw fear in her face as she rushed towards him, silently cursing himself for his foolish mistake to treat her as a servant the first time he spoke to her. He hoped he could make up for that later, if she would ever talk to him again when she learned about the ruse. To his horror, she knelt down at his feet as she reached the tree, begging his forgiveness for her tardiness.
"Lady Ailsa, please," he said as he reached out a hand - not the one holding the flowers - and helped her back on her feet. "You don't need to kneel for me. I have yet to earn my spurs to be called an Elf Lord. And please, call me Eldarion..."
Looking into her beautiful eyes, he found himself lost for words. He began to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and he stuttered a few words just to say something.
"Ehhhh.... Lady Ailsa, there is something I must say to you... something I have wished to tell you for a very long time now...." he started, but was silenced as he drowned himself in the depths of her beautiful eyes.
Kneeling at the elf's feet, Ailsa prepared for the worst. She had seen servants beat before for misbehaving, herself standing in the room as it happened. She did not know which was worse: to be struck or to be ridiculed with words. As she heard the elf speak, she closed her eyes, not wishing to taint his name any longer.
The words were not what she expected and she dared to look again. To her surprise, she could see a hand held out, the fingers soft and long. Lady Ailsa? she thought in wonder, her heart skipping a beat. She had never been called that before . . . in this city. Glancing up at the elf's face, she could see his nervousness, uncertainty that was very unlike his race.
Slowly, she reaching out for his hand, placing just the tips of her fingers against his. "Please do not honor me with such titles," she told him, rising to her feet, her face downcast again. "I have done nothing in my life to deserve it. I am only a lowly servant and a servant's life is what I deserve."
With a gasp, she realised that she was still touching his hand and swiped it away, hiding it behind her back. When he asked her to call him by his proper name, the girl gave him a puzzled look. "If that is your wish," she answered after a pause. "E-Eldarion, son of Elrond."
His stuttered words drew her attention more, the shy servant becoming more curious. She looked over his form again, wondering if she had mistaken him for a noble elf. This was not what she had expected . . . but she found herself fighting a smile.
"Whatever would you need to tell me?" she asked softly. "Has your mother changed her plans for the shopping? Is there something else I must help you with?"
Eldarion felt his heart skip a beat as she, the most beautiful girl to ever walk the earth, placed her sweet gentle hand in his for support as she got back up on her feet. He shook his head when she spoke of herself as a lowly servant, having done nothing in her life to deserve being called a lady. "N-no..." he stuttered, as he held onto her hand, lost in her beauty. "Y-you are more than that... You are..."
You are the most beautiful woman to walk the earth. The love of my life. The only woman I will ever wish for. The sun that lights up my sky. My light in darkness.
As much as these thoughts flowed through his mind, he was so lost in her beauty that the words refused to reach his lips. Instead he just stood there and watched her - dumbstruck, not unlike a dog watching a juicy steak in the window of the butcher's shop. He closed his eyes for a moment as her sweet voice said his name.
She knows who I am, he thought happily. I exist to her!
Hidden not far away, Maurice, Oliver and Paul watched the young couple with anticipation. They hoped for their friend Eldarion to win the heart of his dream-girl but at the same time they knew he was inexperienced and uncertain of himself.
"What is he doing," Maurice whispered as he hid behind the tree trunk. Oliver, being smaller and better at staying unnoticed, whispered back from the bush he was lurking behind. "Nothing at the moment. He is red as a beet and stuttering without being able to say a word. And... noooooooooooooooooo.... now he is drowning himself in her gaze! He'll never get things done at this speed!"
Maurice facepalmed. "Has he given her the flowers yet?" he asked, without much hope in his voice.
Oliver leaned in to have a closer look. "No," he whispered back. "They are still behind his back, trembling as much as his hands do."
"Oy," Maurice sighed, sitting down on the ground and quicking finding a piece of paper from his notebook. He made a quick sketch of a flower and reached it to Paul. "Paul, make sure Eldarion gets this, and fast," he ordered. "Before his silence ruins the date completely!"
The six year old orphan nodded and grabbed a pebble from the ground, curling it around the paper and pulled his trusted slingshot from his back pocket. Aiming in Eldarion's general direction he released the pebble and shot.
Eldarion woke up from his ecstatic dream world as the beautiful girl beside him spoke to him, asking what he wanted to tell her. He opened his mouth to say something, but at that moment he heard a thwang from a slingshot. Shortly after he felt a burning pain in his skanks as a tiny pebble with a note wrapped around it hit him in very high speed.
"/&%¤#"!!!!" he cursed out loudly as the pain burned through his body.
Thinking she had stepped over bounds by touching his hand for so long, Ailsa was surprised by Eldarion's response. It was clear from his words that he had something on his mind. She was curious what it was, but at the same time worried. His fixed attention on her face made the girl nervous and she glanced around, wondering what he was trying to say. She was about to ask him if he was alright, when she heard the snap of a rope being pulled. Her eyes widened as the elf cried out in pain, a tiny pebble rolling towards her feet.
The curse the elf released was not elven and it was so surprising that the girl giggled a little. Catching herself, she covered her mouth with a dainty hand, hoping that Eldarion had not heard her. "Are you alright?" she asked, her face red with mirth. "I did not know the House of Elrond allowed such human language in their parlors."
Bending down, she picked up the projectile and pulled off the scrap of paper. The ink on the inside was smudged and Ailsa studied it with interest. Was it a person or a symbol? Holding it out to the elf, she smiled softly. "I believe someone was trying to contact you, Eldarion."
Eldarion's face turned beet red with embarrassment when he realized what he had said. For a moment he held his hand in front of his mouth looking around him with big eyes to see if anyone had heard him. He met a few shocked glances from people nearby, but they quickly returned to whatever they were doing when he glanced in their diretions. The elf boy cringed and sank down against a tree trunk, hiding his face in the hood of his cloak. He was certain that now he had ruined everything, that Lady Ailsa now was insulted and would never wish to speak to him again. He had made a complete fool of himself.
He had expected her to slap his face by now, but instead he heard a giggle. He sighed inwardly. Even her giggling was sweet and feminine, and did not lessen his feelings for her. After how he had behaved towards her, she was in her full right to laugh at him - he deserved it. He was surprised to hear her sweet voice asking him if he was alright, but he also noticed her face was red with mirth. He expected her to mock him, and it would be nothing more than he deserved.
My honor and self respect went down the drain, and I will probably be mocked by the other boys for this for the rest of my life, but I'll live... he thought.
He felt his cheeks blushing red when she teased about the House of Elrond allowing such human language in their parlors. "They don't," he replied gloomily. "I mean... we don't. If my mother had heard me now, she would have dragged me home after my ears and scrubbed my mouth with soap and water."
As if his shame wasn't big enough already, Ailsa spotted the projectile that hit him and unwrapped the scrap of paper. And worse - she read the message from Maurice. As she held it out to him, he read the note with a bit difficulty since the paper was so smudged, but he thought he recognized a flower on it. Under the flower was written in Maurice's clumsy handwriting with the hopeless spelling: Givv her the flovver already, lovver boi....
Eldarion winced and buried himself deeper into his cloak, but from somewhere inside this sad heap of misery stuck a trembling arm holding a big bouquet of flowers in lovely colours in Ailsa's general direction. He was certain that he now had ruined everything and that she never would talk to him again after a meeting like this...
Despite being caught in the act of laughing at an elf lord, Ailsa could feel her face glowing bring red. She did her best to hide her smile, but it was a fruitless effort. From the defeated look of Eldarion and the unexpected combination of language and speaker, the girl had not heard such a funny thing for quite some time. Glancing down at the elf as he buried his face, she knew that he had experienced his first (if not the first) blunder of his social life. The affect was rather charming on him.
The elf's confession of his mother's rage upon hearing that language made the girl smile all the more and she knelt down at his side. Timidly, she looked at the cloak covering his face, wanting to draw it away so she could look at his face. Timidly, she began to reach out but then he reached towards her. Jumping a little from this sudden move, it took the girl a moment to realize what was in the boy's hands.
Flowers, she wondered. Had he concealed them all this time . . . for ME??!!
Seeking his eyes for conformation of her thoughts, the girl lightly took the bundle from Eldarion's grip. "I am honored, milord," she whispered. Tucking them into her basket, she glanced his way, a soft smile on her face. "Eldarion, I mean. Thank you."
She picked one of the flowers from the bundle, a tiny white bud and rose to her feet. "It seems that we have both been foolish today," she said softly. "Shall we begin again and fetch those items for your mother?"
She held out a slender hand, her fingers shaking a little as she waited for his response.
Hiding inside his cloak the young elf lord mentally berated himself. Get back up on your feet you coward - he berated himself in thoughts. What are you - a baby hiding for monster under bed? This was not how your father raised you to be. Stand up and look in her eyes, and be the man she deserves to be with. You are lucky she hasn't ran off already! Peeking through his fingers, he could see her beautiful face, even more beautiful as her skin reddened from suppressed laughter. Her eyes were so beautiful when they sparkled from hidden mirth like this....
He had partially expected that Ailsa would laugh haughtily at him and walk away when she heard how his mother used to scold him when he misbehaved. To his surprise Ailsa stayed, even kneeling down at his side. He could feel her looking at him, and his heart raced in his chest by having her so near - but he was afraid to scare her off by saying or doing anything wrong. What does it matter what you say or do now, you coward, he bitterly scolded himself again. She can impossibly be interested in you after your brillant act of cowardice behavior....
He felt a light tug in the bouquet of flowers when she accepted them, and he remembered to release the hold of them to make it easier for her to take them out of his hands. He managed to look at her for long enough to confirm that the flowers really were for her. The sound of her voice pronouncing his name when she thanked him for the flowers was the sweetest sound he had ever heard, and he sent little Charlotte a grateful thought for thinking of flowers for Ailsa.
Seeing the sweet, slender hand reaching towards him, he took it gently as he finally came out of his cover and rose to his feet. His face was dark red from embarrassment when she spoke of the alledged errands for his mother, knowing he had yet another confession to make before he could go on. He expected her to be angered for this confession, but it was nothing more than he deserved. Losing all hopes that she would ever see her again, he watched her with sad eyes as he gave his last confession.
"I lied," he confessed as he felt his heart breaking inside of him. Everything was ruined now, and he would be surprised if she did not slap his face and ran away. "My mother didn't send me here to run her errands. I made that up because..."
His eyes filled with tears, and he lowered his gaze as he hoped to sink into a ground in the hole to die. "Because you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, and I wanted to get to know you better. I'm sorry. I understand if you never wish to speak to me again after this..."
As she helped Eldarion to his feet, Ailsa was sure that all the surprises were over. Yet he had one more up his sleeve. Removing her hand, she stepped to the side, prepared to follow him around on the errands, yet his voice caused her to stop. She gave him a look of confusion when he said he lied, that his mother did not send him here for errands.
The girl gave a soft "oh" when Eldarion explained his reason for bringing her here. She studied the ground, unsure of how to proceed. The heat grew in her face and she almost felt tears form in her eyes. Glancing up at the elf as the silence was cemented, she saw that he was close to tears himself. Stepping closer, she held out the flower in her hands.
"I am flattered by your honesty," she said softly. "It is rare for anyone to notice me as anything special. Though it was a lie, you showed creativity with your ruse and I can see the honesty in your eyes. Perhaps we can begin again?" she suggested with a soft smile. "I know that the Queen wished some special treats for tonight's meal. I would love your opinion on the selection . . ."
Without a word she stepped towards the first stall, hoping (yet afraid) that Eldarion would follow her.
Feeling like the most rotten person in his world for his ruse towards this sweet, innocent goddess, his heart sunk when he saw her look of confusion as he confessed what he had done. He was certain that she would shout at him, call him the worst things and maybe even slap him. He waited for it to happen, closing his eyes to wait for it. But the slap never came.
He heard a soft "oh" from her lips and opened his eyes again to look at her. Her cheeks were burning red, and he could see tears forming in her beautiful eyes. Then she stepped closer, holding out the flower in her hand. Then she said the words he never expected to hear: That she was flattered by his honesty. He shook his head when she said it was rare for anyone to notice her as anything special.
"I would say you are very special," he bursted out. "You have the looks of a goddess and the kindness of an angel. I have never looked at a girl before, not even spoken to them. I have no idea what to say to a girl to melt her heart or what to do to make her happy. But in spite of all that, every time I look at you my heart is racing in my chest, and all I want is to spend time with you and get to know you better."
He smiled when she asked if they could start again, willing to follow her anywhere she wished at the market place.
"I will be happy to follow you anywhere you go," he smiled, offering his arms to lead her where she wanted. "We can do the errands the Queen wished for, and - if you find anything that pleases you - perhaps we also can get some nice things for you as well. I know so little of what girls find most interesting, but I want you to have a great day when you are here with me."
Maurice, Paul and Oliver watched Eldarion and Ailsa from their hiding places and smiled. "Well, that took an unexpected turn," Maurice whispered. "But I am glad they still talk to each other. We leave them alone for now, but we stay nearby in case they get into trouble. As you remember from Paris, markets are places for all sorts of individuals to gather, and not all of them are nice and gentle. Keep your eyes and ears open, and your weapons at ready."
Ailsa listened as Eldarion explained what made her special. The girl blushed and looked at the ground when he described her beauty and kindness. It had been many years since she had been complemented for her kindness, a trait that she had once tried to suppress for the sake of her family. Her smile increased when he confessed that she was the only girl he had the courage to speak to.
“I am honored then to be your first choice,” she said softly. “I am sure there are more fitting elf-maids in your circle that would crave your attention. Yet I am happy that you chose me . . .”
When he offered her his arm to walk, the girl looked flustered. It was unseemly for a servant to walk next to her master, let alone touch them. All her instincts cried out in protest as she carefully wrapped her arm around his. The fabric of his shirt was soft and comforting to her skin, yet his limb was strong and steady. She gave him a soft smile, her eyes shinning a little, as they stepped up to the first stall.
The woman at the produce stand gave them both a hard stare as the two approached. Her eyes cast over Eldarion quickly, as if looking at him for any length of time would blind her. Yet Alisa could feel the disapproval etched in her skin as the woman saw her poor clothing, her skirt stained from work and her sleeves thread-barren. The young girl stood a little taller, her back straight and gave the woman a deadly look. After that there was no problems.
As they walked, Alisa felt more free with her closeness to Eldarion. She walked with more pride and even removed her scarf to drape over her shoulders as a wrap. Her smiled brightened with each moment and soon she was laughing more than she had in ages. Nothing could ruin this time together, she thought. Little did she know who she would come across . . . a ghost from her past.
Eldarion watched Ailsa as she blushed by his words, the smile on her face making his heart soaring like an eagle. Again he drowned himself in her beautiful eyes, a happy smile reaching his eyes when she said she was proud he chose her. Then he could not be completely indifferent to her... He shook his head when she psoke of more fitting elf-maids in his circle craving his attention.
"I don't want any of the elf-maids," he bursted out spontaneously, without thinking of what he said. "I want you!"
Realizing what he had said, his face turned beet red once again. "As a friend, I mean... We are too young for marriage yet..."
Again he beat himself up mentally. Calm down boy! SIT! No need to scare her off with talk of marriage yet. For the sake of the Gods - give her a chance to know you first! What's gotten into you?
But to be completely honest with himself he already knew what had gotten into him. His feelings for Ailsa had lasted for a long time, and his heart told him that these feelings were real. He stood proudly as her gentle hand rested on his arm, and he placed his other hand on top of it, patting it gently as they stepped up to the first stall. He was here at the market, side by side with the prettiest woman in all of Isparia.
Noticing the hard stare from the woman at the produce sent a devilish smile to his face. His father had learned him how to deal with stone-hearted merchants. As sweet Ailsa sent her a deadly look, Eldarion picked a heavy pouch from his pockets and played with it as he spoke to Ailsa in a soft voice - as if they were already engaged. He only hoped the girl would play along, to put this woman in her place.
"Do you see anything here you want, my dear?" he asked softly. "Or should we go somewhere else?"
As they walked, he felt closer to Ailsa, enjoying the smile on her face and the sweet sound of her laughter. He joked with her to make her laugh again, and his laughter mixed with hers. As they sent playful comments to each other, he heard a voice from one of the market stalls - an elderly woman's voice.
Ailsa was surprised when Eldarion burst out that it was she he wanted . . . as a friend. She chuckled a little as he attempted to save his pride, his face so red that it blended into his hair. "There is always room for more friends, is there not?" she asked, hoping to save him from further humiliation. "All good things start with friendship and blossom . . . perhaps to something more in time."
When he spoke of marriage, the girl dropped her gaze. "I have seen women married as soon as they reach womanhood," she whispered. "Never given a choice or a say. Many fell to darkness because of it, hidden away by their families as their minds broke. A personal shame, they were called, yet it was never a path they could escape from. I am glad that the people of your land do not have such barbaric notions," she added quickly, realizing how she had strayed from the topic.
Receiving the cruel welcome of the stall owner, Ailsa used her eyes as a tool to stare the elder woman down. It was a trick she had learned as a child, yet never wished to use upon others. She had seen it used to much worse cases in her old home, a legacy she never wished to inherit.
When Eldarion spoke to her, Ailsa turned on him with soft eyes. My dear? she thought. Was he slipping into his feelings again, a bundle of emotion he had kept hidden for so long? He could see the coy glow in the elf's eyes and knew what he was thinking. Smiling softly, she gave a small laugh and rested her head upon his shoulder. She could smell the scent of his skin and closed her eyes for a moment.
"The selection is fine," she said finally, raising her face and looking at the owner, "yet I know of a better price not far away. Perhaps we should look there again?"
Walking away, the girl smiled brightly at the ruse they had played. She was sure the stall owner would be much kinder to her next customer (if there was any to be had). Passing the next few buildings with small glances, Ailsa froze in her tracks as she heard someone call to her. She let out a small gasp, the voice as clear as the last time she had heard it.
It cannot be! she cried. Not here, not NOW!
Fearful, she glanced to her side where a small table sat. A intricately woven cloth covered the table, dotted with small trinkets of glass and gems that the owner had created. The elder woman was dressed well, a bearing about her that spoke of high beginnings. Around her throat she bore a silver pendant, a small shield divided into four pieces. At the top was an eagle, settled on a nest and peering out with watchful eyes. Below was a hound, much more wild than those that occupy a farmer's home, yet elegant and strong. To the sides were two serpents, each twisted around in unending bundles, guardians of the others.
In a moment, her eyes caught the woman's and Ailsa turned her face away in fear. "We should continue on," she told Eldarion swiftly, hoping he had not heard the woman's calling. "There is another stall ahead that is much more promising."
Eldarion was surprised that he had not scared the girl off yet - with his clumsy behavior and uncontrolled outbursts. He wondered what his father would have said if he could see him now... The boy cringed, imagining he could hear his father's laughter echoing across the marketplace... But Ailsa, his sweet and gentle angel, did not laugh at him. Instead she tried to save him from further humiliation, saying that all good things started with friendship and blossom. He blushed when she implied there even might be something more than friendship in the future. The idea of having a relationship with her made his heart race and a sheepishly happy smile appeared on his face.
"I only hope I haven't scared you away by then," he sighed. "You have already seen how clumsy I am when I try to talk to you... My elder sister says I don't know anything about romancing women. Maybe she's right..."
Listening to her words, he noticed how she dropped her gaze as she spoke of women married as soon as they reached womanhood and how they fell to darkness because of their broken minds. Spontaneously he lifted his hand, caressing her cheek in compassion as if he tried to comfort the poor unfortunate girls through her. "I would never allow that to happen to you, Lady Ailsa," he said softly. "If you and I are ever to be married, I want it to be because we both want it. I would never force you into something you did not wish to do..."
He was amused to see her staring contest with the unfriendly stall owner, glad that she was able to stay her ground when someone tried to step on her. He loved the fire in her soul, and looked forward to get to know her other traits as well.
He smiled warmly when she turned on him with soft eyes, his heart skipping a beat of happiness when she rested her head upon his shoulder. He closed his eyes for a moment, enjoying the feel of her soft body against his own. As she asked to look in another stall, he draped one arm around her shoulder, as if they were a couple already. "Lead the way, my sweet," he said softly. "Today you can buy anything you want." He laughed as he felt the glare from the unfriendly stall owner as they left, and to tease her he kept his arm draped around Ailsa's shoulder as they continued walking.
"I think we tricked her," he whispered to Ailsa. "But if anyone else tries look at you like that we pull this trick again."
As they passed the next few buildings he heard someone call for Lady Ailsa, and he looked at the girl beside him with a gentle confusion in his eyes. "I think that woman was calling for you, milady," he whispered to her. "Do we wish to talk to her, or should we continue - pretending not to have heard her?"
He had just finished his sentence when the woman called again. "Don't you remember me, Lady Ailsa?" she called out. "It's me, Mika! I was there when your mother the Queen gave birth, and I was your first childnurse!"
Ailsa listened with kind eyes as Eldarion spoke of scaring her away. “I have seen my share of foolish men,” she told him. “But a fool with good intentions will always stay in my mind. Your sister may not know as much as she thinks.”
Trapped in her memories, the girl gasped in surprise as Eldarion touched her cheek. His hands were smooth and pale, a little cold, yet she could feel his compassion through the skin. “I was once trapped as they were, prepared to marry a man of my father's choosing,” she explained, a tear dropping from her eye. “Now I am free . . . and I pray that the time of my marriage will be of my own desire.”
Leaning against Eldarion's shoulder, Ailsa could feel her heart racing. It was rare for her to connect with someone so quickly, being partial to her own solitude. Yet with the elf boy, it was as easy as breathing to laugh and speak with him. Perhaps this COULD work, she thought. Perhaps you can step out of the shadows after so long alone . . .
A small sigh of contentment crossed her lips as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, drawing her closer to him. “You spoil me so!” she laughed as he told her she could buy anything she wished, gazing up at him with shinning eyes.
Walking away, Ailsa smiled when he said that he would be willing to play the trick again. Deep inside, the girl's insides twisted. Is it STILL a trick? she wondered.
She was not given long to think of it as she heard the elder woman call out to her. She averted her eyes as Eldarion asked what she would like to do. “Poor dear must be mistaken,” she said softly, giving the elf a shy smile. “We should not trouble her. I fear she is not well.”
The world seemed to fall away when the woman called out again. Mika, cringed Ailsa, doing her best to hide the worry in her face. She could see the curious glances of the other shoppers and knew that she would have to defuse the situation as soon as she could. Putting on a sweet smile, she faced the woman. “I fear that you have me confused with another,” she said. “The only Queen I know of is Radella of Isparia. As you can see, I am no elf.”
A sheepish grin crossed Eldarion's face as Ailsa spoke of having seen her share of foolish men. He just knew that he was one of them. But strangely she did not seem upset with him. It surprised him a bit - but for a moment there it almost looked like she... liked him? His heart raced in his chest when he had her so close, but he knew it was too much to wish for - that this sweet angel would actually love him. He was just an elf boy, and she was the most wonderful woman on earth....
"My sister would not like to hear that," he chuckled as he listened to her words. "But I am glad you have experience with handling fools, as I seem to be one every time you are near... But no matter what my foolishness will have me to say or do, I want you to know that I do not intend to hurt you..."
As he caressed her face and she spoke of the unfortunate girls forced into marriage, he spotted a teardrop on her cheek. He wiped it away with a gentle finger, his eyes filled with compassion as he learned of the man she once had been promised to. "I hope he will never find you or claim you," he said softly. "If anyone try to use force against you, come and see me - and I will protect you. Do you promise? I don't want you to fall into the hands of men who only wishes you harm - I want you to be happy and to marry a man of your own choice."
As she leaned against his shoulder, he wrapped his arms protectively around her. He felt his heart racing in his chest, a smile of happiness on his face when he held her in his arms like this. It almost felt like she belonged there. Never having experienced to be with a girl before he was surprised by how easy it was to connect with her - it was like there was some kind of spark between them.
He laughed happily as she did not resist his arm wrapped around her, his eyes sparkling with joy when she played along, telling him that he spoiled her. "Of course I spoil you," he replied and pulled her close, drowning himself in her shinning eyes. "I love you!" His eyes grew large when he realized what he had just said, and his cheeks flushed red. Not because of the words, as they were a part of the ruse to make the people on the market believe Ailsa and he was a couple, but because he suddenly felt he meant them.
As they walked away he tried to convince Ailsa he was willing to play the trick again, but deep inside he wondered if he would be playing this time. The more time he spent with her, the deeper his feelings for her became - and he knew that soon it would be clear to all that this was not a trick anymore...
He listened to Ailsa when she spoke of the old woman, and was about to lead Ailsa away when the old woman came towards them.
"Milady, wait," she called out as she caught up with Ailsa, kneeling in front of the young servant girl and kissed her hand. "Do you not know me? I am Mika, the maidservant of Queen Neasa and King Ulric - and you are their daughter, Princess Ailsa!"
The people in the marketplace had stopped and watched this scene, and Mika turned to the crowd. "I can prove that my words are true," she exclaimed. "This woman is really Princess Ailsa! The Princess has a birth mark on her left wrist in the shape of a star. Check for yourself if you do not believe me!"
Ailsa blushed when Eldarion said his sister would not like her comment. It just occurred to her that she had INSULTED an elven high-born, the daughter of a lord! She feared that Eldarion would be angry with her, but she could see the sparkle in his eyes. She was glad he had a sense of humor.
His promise never to hurt her made Ailsa's heart flutter. "Thank you," she said softly. "It has been a long time since I have had assurance of safety."
When the elf said that he loved her, the smile vanished from Ailsa's face. Were these words for the ruse or was this real . . . She could see that he was just as surprised as she was with his confession and she touched his red cheek with a soft hand.
Hoping that Eldarion would take her advice and lead her away, Ailsa's turned in fear as the woman rushed towards her. Please, no, she thought, her eyes begging for the woman to stay silent. She gasped when the woman took her hand, kissing it with all the gentleness she remembered. As she heard the names of her parents, she could feel each sting on her heart and closed her eyes. One was a sting of regret and the other of pure rage.
Glancing about, Alisa could hear the people muttering about her. She had no other choice . . . she had to betray the woman that helped give her life. "Forgive me," she whispered softly to Mika, her eyes flushed with tears.
An instant later, she pulled her hand from the woman's grasp with an air of disgust. "How dare you!?" she shrieked. "The King is nothing more than a vile monster and his family is no better. You soil my name by lumping me in with those traitors . . . They are the enemy, the ones that started this war!"
There was mutterings of agreement from the crowd and Ailsa found a spot to breath. If she was able to gain the favor of the citizens perhaps she could vanish back into the Queen's house before this got too far. That was dashed when Mika spoke again, mentioning a secret only a servant of the royals would know. Ailsa could feel the eyes of the crowd veer towards her at the mention of her birth mark.
"She must be loosing her mind," she laughed back. "How is a mark like that to prove anything? For all we know you are making the entire story up. I am sorry for your loss, old woman, but I will not be part of your delusion any more. Come along, my friend," she said to Eldarion. "Let us move on."
Suddenly, the shopkeeper to the right stepped in her path and took her wrist. "I have never know that woman to lie a day in her life," he snapped. "If you have nothing to hide, why keep your skin bound?" Pushing down the sleeve of her blouse, there was a scrap of cloth bound around her left wrist. "You have too much nerve to be a simple servant girl . . . Who are you really?"
Seeing Ailsa's reaction when she realized she had insulted his sister, Eldarion chuckled with laughter. "Relax," he whispered and squeezed her hand gently. "My sister is not here and can hear you, and I won't say anything. Besides, you are right that there's a lot of things she does not know. She can't punish you for telling the truth..."
His gaze softened when Ailsa thanked him for never wanting to hurt her. "Poor girl," he said softly as he heard of how unsafe she was. "But you have me now. If you ever feel unsafe or insecure again, you can always come to me. I will protect you from anyone that might want to harm you. I may not be good at talking to girls, as you have seen for yourself, but I do know how to use my weapons."
He stared at her in shock after confessing his feelings for her. Looking at her he could tell that she was just as surprised as he was. He partially expected her to run away or laugh at him, but once again she showed a remarkable patience with his blunders. Instead of a slap to his face, he felt a tender touch to his cheek with her soft hand. Grateful that she did not seem angry, he held her hand against his cheek, turning his head a little so he could kiss her hand. This was all he could do to show her he meant his words without threatening her honor.
Eldarion watched as the scene between Ailsa and the old woman unfolded before his eyes. He heard the woman accusing Ailsa of being a princess, and he smiled as he recalled he had told Maurice and the boys that Ailsa did not move like a servant. No, these news were surprising, but they did not come as a shock. He had always thought Ailsa was something special, and the things the old woman said now did nothing to decrease his feelings for Ailsa. Mika said nothing as the other shopkeeper stepped in, almost as if she had expected someone to come to her rescue. She watched without protesting as the man pushed down the sleeve of Ailsa's blouse, nodding when the scrap of cloth was revealed. "That is where the birthmark should be, good Sir," she said. "I know this because I cared for the little Princess from birth. She may deny it all she wants, but I recognized her when I saw her today - like a mother would recognize her own child among dozens of others. This is indeed Princess Ailsa - the daughter of our previous King and Queen."
As the shopkeeper to the right grabbed Ailsa by the wrist, the elf jumped into action. "Hey," he called out sharply, wrapping his arm protectively around Ailsa's waist. "Hands off my wife!"
Ailsa smiled a little when Eldarion said he would not repeat her words to his sister. "I have seen many punished for much less," she whispered. "But that was far from here and long ago."
At first the elf's pity angered Ailsa, stirring the pride that she had forced down all these years. But as she looked at his eyes, she knew that it was from a genuine place and that his promise of safety was true. "My demons are not yours," she reminded him, "but I am grateful for your kindness."
Red blush appeared on the girl's cheeks as he kissed her fingertips, the soft as feather-light as she had imagined. Not that she HAD imagined it that often, but it was no use denying that his features were alluring.
Feeling terrible for betraying her old nursemaid so harshly, the girl wanted nothing more than to leave the area. When the male shopkeeper stepped in, she looked at the woman with wide eyes. She almost expected Mika to say something, but the betrayal was already done.
"Release me at once!" she cried, pulling away. "I don't have to prove anything to you!"
Mika's continued words that she was of royal blood struck Ailsa to the core. "Silence, old woman," she shouted. "Stop your lies this instant! I forbid you to speak again!"
In that moment, Ailsa's heart dropped, hearing the command echo in her ears for what seemed an eternity. Fear enveloped her face, and she began to back away. In that moment, she felt a hand on waist and she gasped aloud. She heard Eldarion's proclamation of her as his wife and she pulled away from both men.
"Your wife?" asked the shopkeeper with a chuckle. "Are you not the son of an elf lord? What are you doing with a woman like this? Either she is the lowly servant girl she claims to be or the daughter of a sworn traitor, neither of which an elf lord would allow his son to marry!"
Eldarion shook his head when he heard people being punished for much less than what Ailsa had done, silently hoping there one day would be possible for people to speak their minds freely without fearing for their lives. He knew there would be many long and hard battle before Isparia and Brunian could be free again - and he would be more than willing to join the fight. "I hope you will never suffer anything like that here in Isparia. Perhaps one day we will experience peace and calm once again," he said as he stared dreamily towards the horizon. "I have already spoken with father, and it has been decided that I am old enough to serve in the Royal guard. I hope to be part of the new Royal guard around Prince Blaz and his princess. My father serves in the Royal guard protecting the Queen, and I do not wish to stay in his shadow."
He smiled ass Ailsa reminded him that her demons was not his. "Oh, but they are," he replied. "You are my friend, and I care for you deeply. I see it as my duty to protect my family and my friends from harm." He smiled and shook his head when she thanked him for his kindness. "I only do what any gentleman would in my situation," he replied and kissed her hand softly.
The feel of her soft skin against his lips felt lovely, and perhaps the kiss on her hand lasted a bit longer than it should have. Whhen he finally looked up he noticed a red blush on the girl's cheeks - and he hoped it was from pleasure and not from anger or embarrassment. He felt a heat in his own cheeks as well, and he didn't need a mirror to know he was blushing again.
I know I should not have kissed her hand for that long, but she is so attractive... he thought to himself. I don't know for how much longer I can resist her charms...
Not far away from Ailsa and Eldarion three human boys blended into the crowd. They were plainly dressed and looked just like everyone else, so nobody took notice of them. Maurice, Paul and Oliver watched the scene between Ailsa and Mika with keen eyes and ears, and they were ready to jump in if Eldarion gave them a sign. But for now he seemed to handle things on his own.
Eldarion stood in the crowd with one arm protectively around Ailsa's waist and listened as the shopkeeper spoke. His voice and his face was calm, the same calmness his father had trained him to keep in all such situations. "Yes, my good man," he replied calmly. "I am indeed the son of an elf lord - and as I have told you this woman is indeed my wife." He smiled as the shopkeeper asked what he was doing with a woman like this. "Have you not seen how beautiful she is?" he asked as he threw an admiring glance in Ailsa's direction. "I don't care if she's a lowly servant girl - I would have married her even if she was a beggar in the streets. Even if things are as you say - even if her father should be a sworn traitor, has anyone here seen this girl betray anyone? Do not punish the child for the sin of the parents."
"If she is your wife as you say," the shopkeeper said slyly. "You should have no problems proving it to us. Kiss her, and we will let you go. Refuse - and you will both have to face the wrath of our people..."
Eldarion looked over at Ailsa as he heard the words, silently cursing himself for his ability to always get in trouble. How would he get out of this in one piece? If he didn't kiss Ailsa, this crowd would beat up the both of them - and maybe do worse things to them too. If he kissed the girl they had promised to let them go - but how would Ailsa react to being forced to intimacy like this - with a man she barely even knew?
The shopkeeper watched them with a stern expression on his face. "Now boy, what will you do?" he said out loud. "Make up your mind - I don't have all day..."
Ailsa smiled softly when she saw the dreamy expression on Eldarion's face as he spoke of a free world. She knew that it was long in the future, if ever, that the people would be truly free. When he mentioned being part of the royal guard, the girl was frightened. “I hope you will be safe,” she said. “Even if you are only to watch the Prince, it can still be dangerous.”
And you will also be closer to me, she thought. She blushed and looked away, not letting her true feelings reveal themselves.
The girl shook her head when he spoke of his duty to protect her. “You know not what you promise,” she said. “You do not know me, not all of me. Do you wish to pledge yourself to my safety without know all my history? That is a dangerous move to make.”
As he kissed her hand, Ailsa noticed it was for longer than before. She could see the compassion in the elf's eyes and her heart grew heavy. She knew the secret that she kept and feared what he would do when it was discovered. Eldarion was a gentle soul and did not deserve to be dragged down with her if she should fall.
Caught between the angry shopkeeper and Eldarion, Ailsa did not know what else she could do. She wished she had the power to disappear, even to take flight, so that she would not have to witness the heartbreak on Eldarion's face when he learned the truth. She could face the wrath of the citizens, but not the loss of him. As he spoke of her beauty, the girl lowered her head, hoping he could not see the tears in her eyes. She hated herself for letting him get so invested in her. The downfall would be harder than she thought.
When the challenge of a kiss was made, Ailsa looked at Mika with hatred. She knew the old woman did not know the pain she had brought by this meeting, but the young girl hoped she would get an idea of it. She could feel the elf's eyes on her and knew he was waiting for her to make the decision. Glancing up at him, she saw all the potential of his future tossed away. The dishonor of his family, the loss of his guard status, the humiliation of his kind. She could not let him fall so far, not like her. He was the honorable one, the one worth saving . . . she, she had no honor left . . .
Without a word, she leapt forward and kissed him hard. Her fingers disappeared into his hair, caressing the curve of his pointed ears and the back of his scalp. At first the passion was only for show, but as the kiss wore on, she could feel her own emotions driving her forward. Tears misted her eyes, a silent fear that this would be the last of it's kind. With a trembling whimper, she drew away, her eyes searching for his reaction.
“I will explain everything later,” she whispered to him, before stepping back.
Facing the store owner, she tossed her fallen hair aside. “Are you satisfied now?” she growled. “It must be a dull day when you get your pleasure from the affections of two innocent lovers. Come away, my sweet. I no longer wish to do business in this part of the market.”
Not wanting to loose their chance, she pulled Eldarion back to the market entrance and into the upper ring of the city.
Eldarion smiled when he heard Ailsa's wish that he would be safe as a part of the royal guard. It was sweet of her to show concern for him like this, and he caressed her hand gently. "You don't need to worry for my sake," he said reassuringly. "We have the best training in the country, and I spend several hours every day practicing my use of weapons. Even my father says my training is starting to pay off - and that's not bad coming from him. The Prince and his family will be safe on my watch."
Throwing a stolen glance in Ailsa's direction, he blushed and and looked away. And you will be safe as long as I am there to protect you... he thought, hoping she could not see his true feelings in his eyes.
He listened as the girl spoke of him not knowing all of her just yet. "This is true, but that is why we spend time together now," he replied. "So we can get to know each other better. I am certain that you will tell me your history when you feel ready to do so. As I said before, I will never use force against you."
AS they stood between the angry shopkeeper and the crowd, Eldarion could see Ailsa lowering her head, and he wanted to give the shopkeeper a smack in the head for making her sad. He squeezed her hand gently, trying to silently give her support - to let her know that she was not alone against the crowd. He would be here to protect her, no matter what went down.
When the challenge of a kiss was made, Eldarion watched the girl and waited for her reaction. He had expected her to get angry and refuse, or to smack him for dragging her here - but the slap against his face never came. Instead she leapt forward, her lips crashing against his as her fingers disappeared into his hair. The feel of her lips felt more wonderful than he could ever imagine - and for a moment he stood there in complete bliss - before he remembered the ruse. What kind of husband would not return his wife's kisses?
Wrapping his arms protectively around her, he responded to her kiss with passion. At first it was only for show - but as the kiss grew longer his true feelings for the girl came to the surface and he was no longer playing. He held her tightly against his body as he deepened the kiss, never wanting it to end. Only when Ailsa whimpered and drew away did he release her - a dazed expression on his face.
He heard her whispering in his ear that she would explain everything later and nodded, hoping for a chance to kiss her like this again another time. Still catching his breath after the kiss he heard her growling at the store owner, and a smile appeared on his face as she called him her sweet as she motioned for them to walk away.
"As you wish, my love," he replied softly, wrapping his arm around her waist as she pulled him away. In the crowd Maurice, Oliver and Paul were grinning to each other, knowing Eldarion would no longer need a ruse to talk to Ailsa.
Ailsa was glad to hear that Eldarion was taking his training so seriously. She had known other men who took guard positions with little military knowledge, dreaming of easy glory, the result shortening their lives. “I have little to fear then,” she said with a smile. “You are more wise than most men your age.”
When Eldarion said that he would like to know her history, the girl smiled a little. Some histories are too dangerous to be revealed, she thought. Yet she felt she could trust the elf. Perhaps she would speak more with him when they were out of the marketplace.
Kissing the elf had only been part of the plan to escape detection, yet the girl could not help but feel a hidden passion behind her embrace. She could feel Eldarion's stiff body, clearly surprised by her bold action. The girl feared their ruse would not hold, but then she felt his arms envelope her. It was the most natural thing in the world to be in his embrace and her heart raced. She could feel the heat of his kiss and knew that they were both lost in their emotions. The girl wondered if they would be lost to it . . . not that she cared.
Stepping away, she saw his dazed expression and couldn't help but giggle a little. He was rather cute when he looked at her that way. She was glad that he didn't get angry with her for initiating the kiss, knowing that women were not to do such things in high-class cultures. She hoped he would forgive her for the transgression, the first of many she feared she would have to face.
Leading him away, the girl was relieved when they reached the top of the hill. As soon as they were out of sight of the market, Ailsa rested against a stone pillar. She could feel Eldarion's hand still in hers and she slowly pulled away. Glancing at the ground, she waited for him to speak. She could hide her past no longer.
Eldarion smiled as Ailsa spoke of the guard positions, still touched that she worried for his safety. One of the reasons he took his training so seriously was that there was little else for a young son of an elf lord to do. He could stay with his father, learning all the things a young elf lord needed to know, but his father was just as keen with training as he was - and father and son often trained with weapons together.
"It is kind of you to think of me as wise after I made a fool of myself in front of you today," he said as he smiled in self irony. "The other boys at the training fields spend more time flirting with girls than practicing, but I never found a girl who appealed to me before you came along. And I would never hurt your feelings by using you on a cheap affair like I have seen other men do to girls. If you and I are meant to be, I will be as loyal to you as the sun is to the sky."
He saw her smile when he said he wanted to know her history, but it was a friendly smile. This was not the time or the place though, so he trusted she would speak more of herself later.
Eldarion was lost in the passionate kiss with Ailsa, his arms wrapped around her waist and his lips locked with hers when he heard the shop keeper's voice behind him. "Alright, alright, I believe you," he said grumpily. "Perhaps you are married at all. Nobody kisses with such passion just for fun... You are free to go..."
He reluctantly returned to his shop, and the crowd made way for the young couple as they walked away from the market. The last thing they heard was that the girl refused to do business there again.
Eldarion reluctantly released Ailsa, his face flushed and his heart racing in his chest. He heard her giggle when she looked at him and offered her a sheepish smile before allowing her to lead him away from the market. Maurice and Oliver later teased him by claiming they could see tiny pink hearts swirling around the young couple's heads during the kiss. At this moment he would have followed Ailsa anywhere she asked.
At the top of the hill she stopped and rested against a stone pillar, and Eldarion allowed her to catch her breath. Resting beside her he offered her a gentle smile. "I am sorry for what I had to put you through at the market today," he said as he caressed her hand gently. "It was not this way I wanted our first date to be. I wanted to give you something romantic. Can you ever forgive me?"
Looking at her, he remembered the things she had mentioned about her past, and he didn't want for her to suffer more than she had to. "You wished to speak to me?" he requested gently, hoping she could see on his face that he wished her no harm.
Ailsa chuckled when Eldarion said he had made a fool out of himself. "Even the wisest of beings can be the fool when confronted with new challenges," she reminded him. "I am sure those boys will be wishing they had practiced more when their lives are in danger . . . probably from the fathers of those same girls!"
Hearing that the shopkeeper believed their story, Ailsa felt it was safe to part. Glancing at his face, she had a feeling that they had played the part too well for his taste. She was happy if he spent the next hour in sickness for what he had put them through. At least that would give them time to leave unharassed.
Sitting down at the bottom of the pillar, Ailsa heard Eldarion's voice beside her. She was glad that he was not scared away yet, but also worried. How would he react now that the ruse was over and the sin had been completed? What would he do when he learned the truth?
She smiled a little when he mentioned their date. "You are not the one that needs to apologize," she told him. "I was the one that brought all the attention down on us. I should be the one asking for forgiveness."
When he prompted her to speak with him, the girl closed her eyes. "Do you still wish to know?" she asked him. "I fear that you will hate me when you learn the truth."
Glancing at him, she saw the tenderness in his eyes and smiled a little. Reaching forward, she touched his shoulder. Gathering her courage, she kissed his lips again, soft and lingering. "One last time," she whispered. With regret in her eyes, she tugged at the cloth around her wrist. It came free and tumbled to the ground. On her wrist was the dark shape of a star.
Eldarion was relieved that Ailsa did not see him as a fool, in spite of how he had behaved most of the time during the date. He smiled when she spoke of the boys at the training field, knowing she was right about their lives being in danger when the fathers of the girls learned what they did to their daughters... "I am certain you are right," he agreed as he smiled. "Figwit was foolish enough to flirt with the blacksmiths daughter - and you have seen the blacksmith - a HUGE man in every meaning of the word. I would't mess with him or his family. Now that Figwit does no longer have his father around to protect him, I wonder what the blacksmith will do with the situation."
The elf boy was relieved when the shopkeeper allowed them to leave, and he quickly left with Ailsa before anyone could have a change of mind. "Well, that went surprisingly well," he sighed with relief as soon as they were out of hearsight. "For a moment there I was worried that they would harm you."
When she sat down at the bottom of the pillar he sat down beside her, waiting patiently for the things she wanted to talk to him about. He did not wish to push her or force information away from her, but was glad for the things she told him willingly.
He smiled and shook his head when she apologized for bringing attention down on them, caressing her cheek gently. "You did nothing wrong," he reassured her. "You walked around with me and admired the goods. It was the old woman at the market who started belting out, claiming that you are the princess. I do not think you could have reacted otherwise."
When she said he would hate her when he learned the truth, he smiled and shook his head, "I could never bring myself to hate you," he said softly. "I have no right to judge you when you were so kind and forgiving after what I put you through in the beginning of our date."
When she kissed his lips for the second time his heart raced in his chest, and he leaned in to respond to it. His kiss was soft and lingering, as he was afraid to scare her away if he became too forceful. He saw the regret in her eyes as she tugged at the cloth around her wrist, and for a moment he wondered why she seemed so sad. Then he saw the star shaped mark on her wrist - just as the old woman had said.
"So it is true then," he said softly. There was no sign of anger in his voice or his eyes, just a calm confirmation of what he had seen. "You really are the Princess..." A smile played around the corners of his mouth, and he continued just as calm. "I always thought you moved way too graceful to be an ordinary servant, so I can't really say I am surprised."
Holding her hand in his own, he lifted her arm, placing a soft kiss on the star shaped mark. "I think it is wrong to judge a child for what their parents have been," he said softly, knowing she waited for his reaction. "No matter what I feel for your father, I still think you are the same beautiful girl I fell in love with. My feelings for you will not change because of this. I hope you still wish to see me again, and allow me to take you out on other dates, in spite of all that happened on this first date."
Ailsa giggled a little when Eldarion told her that Figwit was tangled up with the blacksmith's daughter. “He is a lovely man,” she said, “yet I know he is very protective of his daughter. I hope your comrade does not foul up with that relationship. The tools in that shop give me the creeps and I would hate to see what they could do to people when used maliciously . . .”
The girl glanced at Eldarion as he spoke of his fears they would harm her. “The greatest harm may come sooner than you think,” she whispered, pulling him away as quickly as she could while still appearing natural. “You know the gossip in this part of town? I would not be surprised to find the news has traveled to your father's ears by the end of the day! Oh, I wish you had not been forced to kiss me . . . not that it wasn't unpleasant,” she added quickly, “but with out class differences, you know that people will talk. I fear I do have your sister to worry about now!”
As they sat down together, Ailsa could feel Eldarion's eyes on her. Though he didn't pressure her to speak, his presence was chipping away at her and she felt the urge to cry. What would happen when he learned the truth? She would loose a loyal friend (one of the few she could claim) and perhaps . . . more than that! Was it better to continue living the lie, only counting down the days until it was forced from her? The girl didn't know what to do, so she was relieved when the elf spoke first.
Her skin trembled as he touched her cheek, wanting to bury her face in his arms and hide from the world. “You have no right to blame her,” she said crossly. “That woman has been through so much in her life . . . you don't know her story like I . . .” she froze, realizing what she had brought herself into.
The girl's heart shattered a little more as he leaned into her kiss. She had meant it as a final thank you, a parting if things went wrong. Yet she knew that both of them were in this too far, there was no escape without two broken hearts.
She let out a soft breath as he looked at the mark on her wrist, nodding slowly when he spoke. She looked at him with wonder when he smiled, yet his words made her smile a little. “That was the one thing I could never hide,” she admitted. “I was trained since birth to move as a lady, quite different than the meekness of a servant girl.”
When he kissed her mark, her eyes sparkled with tears. His words of love began to heal her shattered heart and she smiled widely. “You-you still claim to love me?” she whispered. Taking hold of his shirt collar, she kissed him hard. Pulling away, she shook her head with an amazed smile on her face. “Either you are the most love-sick puppy in the world or you wish to drive your kinfolk mad? Do you not know what I am to them? My father is the cause of this war, the reason your people have suffered! How could anyone in this city find the will to speak with me, let alone love me?!”
Eldarion listened to Ailsa as she spoke of the blacksmith. "Yes, he is a great man," he agreed. "And quite skilled at his work. My father and I would never buy our weapons fron anyone else." The elf boy shook his head as Ailsa hoped Figwit wouldn't mess up his relationship with the blacksmith's daughter. "I fear that is exactly what he will do," he said. "Only yesterday I heard him brag to the other boys at the archery field that he was going to trick the blacksmith's daughter of her purity. Sadly I don't know the young woman well enough to expect she would listen if I warned her. Do you think I should talk to her father instead? I've never been in situations like that - and now I'm at loss for what to do. Perhaps you could talk to her?"
He listened as Ailsa asked if he knew the gossip in this part of town and his eyes widened. Did news really traven that fast? He was not much of a gossip himself, much like his father who prefered to tend to his duties and keep his eyes and ears open for enemy attacks. He knew his sister was quite a gossip though, talking about things like love and romance and who was going to marry who. He always found a way to excuse himself from the room when he heard her footsteps, just so he wouldn't be forced to listen to her endless chattering about things that did not interest him. Whoever ended up marrying his older sister had his deepest sympathy.
A warm blush colored his cheeks as he thought of the kiss at the marketplace, and a dazed look appeared on his face, followed by a mischievious grin when he thought of how his sister would react to the news that he was in love with Ailsa. His instincts told him that his sister would be against it whether it was Princess Ailsa or the servant Ailsa he fell in love with. But he had a feeling his father would understand - and support him after the first shock of surprise had worn off.
"I hope my father will hear of it before my sister does," he smiled. "My mother will react much stronger if she hears the news from a somewhat hysterical sister than from my father. He is stern, but he is also fair and do not judge people without a good cause. But my dear, sweet Ailsa, in my eyes there is no class differences between you and me. I see us as equals - and I will always treat you like an equal. Do not worry for my sister. I will deal with her if she tries to treat you unkind."
As they sat down together, Eldarion felt her skin tremble as he touched her cheek. He wanted to hold her in his arms and assure her that everything would be fine and that nothing could ever harm her again, but he had to hear her story first. He nodded when she defended her old nanny, touched by her loyalty in spite that her nanny had revealed who she was at the marketplace. "I was not blaming anyone, my sweet," he replied softly. "I merely stated the fact that she was the one calling on your attention first. I am sorry she had to suffer so much in her life, and perhaps later on we might try to find some way to help her."
He listened with a smile as she spoke of having difficulties with hiding the way she moved. "I noticed you already on your first day as the Queen's maid," he said softly as he sent her an admiring gaze. "And after that, I never looked at any other girl. You are far more beautiful than all the rest of them put together."
As she took hold of his shirt collar and kissed him hard, he wrapped his arms tightly around her and deepened the kiss, his hands buried in her long hair as he kissed her with all his love and passion. Her lips felt wonderful against his own and he never wanted it to end. "I love you, Ailsa," he whispered in her ear as he held her tight. "I love you more than words can ever tell. Do you feel the same for me?"
As she pulled away he reluctantly released her, already longing to feel her lips against his again. He grinned as she described him as a love-sick puppy or wanting to drive his kinfolk mad. "Maybe I am a little bit of both," he grinned, a mischievous gleam in his eyes. He listened as she spoke of her father as the cause of this war, the reason the people had suffered. "But that was your father, my angel," he said softly as he took her into his arms again, caressing her tenderly as if his embrace could protect her from all the hatred of the world. "Your father has to carry the burden of his sins alone - nobody can punish you for his crimes against the people. You are innocent here - and I think you have suffered just as much as the rest of us. When I see you I see a sweet girl blaming herself for what her parents did and thinking she has no right to friendship and love - am I right? And yet, no other girl in this world can take your place in my heart. The only girl I want to be with, is you."
Still holding his arms around her he looked into her eyes, his own eyes sparkling with the love he felt for her. "I know that both you and I are too young for marriage just yet," he said softly. "But my feelings for you runs deep in my heart. Do you think that one day - when you become of age - could love me enough to want to be my wife?"
Gilraen: Hi Jack. Tossing in a random post when there is something to post back to. But I am afraid the fortress is falling.
Aug 31, 2015 3:07:54 GMT -5
Bélethorn Creuss: Dear Members. Due to lack of activity we, the remaining admins and members of Freedom, have decided to move to a new board. The new board can be found here: freedomunleashed.proboards.com/
Sept 3, 2015 13:23:55 GMT -5
englishive: plz unban me my name is Toniix_PvP i will not grief again primise
Jun 24, 2016 10:31:00 GMT -5
englishive: plz i will not! im not gonna play other server cuz i love that server
Jun 24, 2016 10:31:41 GMT -5
englishive: plzz unban me now im soo sad i cant play any server i want to play this server
Jun 27, 2016 0:26:17 GMT -5
englishive: plz plz plz essam ur awesome! but unban me its the time to unban me! BCUZ I LIVEE IN PH !!!! SO ITS MONDAY HERE!
Jun 27, 2016 0:28:57 GMT -5
englishive: hi thx for unban plz make me a admin! i will not grief again! THX!
Jun 27, 2016 23:19:14 GMT -5
englishive: plz make me admin! my name is toniix_PVP in minecraft freedom! so im decided to make me admin!
Jun 27, 2016 23:22:21 GMT -5
englishive: hi im crazynippi make me admin im applying for telnet admin! PLZ!
Jun 30, 2016 0:25:06 GMT -5