Lady Peasant Ch. 09byGoldeniangel©
In the morning Gwendolyn was loaded into a carriage with her father and Brandy, sad brown face gazing wistfully at the meadow where she and Al had spent so much time together. As her amber eyes glinted sorrowfully in the sun, one tear rolled down her cheek.
"Ahh, there, there my dear," her father said, patting her hand, "You won't be so far away! There will be plenty of chances for you to come home for a visit, whenever you like." He smiled happily at his pride and joy and she forced a smile back, relieved that he didn't know the real cause of her distress.
The carriage bumped and rolled along, taking her further and further from the place where she had been so briefly happy. It felt as though her heart was slowly closing in her chest, and she wanted nothing more than to jump out of the carriage and run back home, back to the clearing and wait there until Al appeared once more… they could live together in the forest and be happy and nothing would ever bother them again.
Sighing, she turned her face away from the sun that had once shined warmly on their bodies as they loved, feeling cold and empty inside. How wrong was it that she should be forced to marry some man she'd never met, especially when she was in love with another? Useless to protest though, and by all accounts her father had done well by her. The prince was young, near her age, and said by all to be handsome and wonderfully charming. She could have done much worse… there were many noble ladies visiting the keep with husbands two or three times their age, fat and rude. Shuddering at the thought of having to bed a husband like that, she reflected glumly that perhaps she should consider herself most lucky to have escaped such a gruesome fate. Still, the fact that the prince was young had its drawbacks too - he'd want to bed often, especially since he would require a heir and a spare (as the saying went.). Well, he could have her body but never her heart.
No, her heart was flying somewhere free in a clearing with a brown haired peasant lad… if only her body didn't ache so to be there as well.
Upon their arrival their was much bustle in the courtyard, and the King and Queen themselves came out to greet them, making excuses for the prince who was away on much needed business. He would meet his bride tomorrow at court and the next day they would be wed. Planting a smile on her face, only Gwendolyn's eyes showed her sadness as she greeted her future parents, as they exclaimed over her beauty and manners, bestowing many compliments on her humble personage.
She was swept up into the Queen's chambers where she was surrounded by eager seamstresses, pinning long swathes of white fabric around her body. Wedding plans abounded as the Queen and her ladies chattered and tried to make her feel at home, Brandy was immediately caught up in the excitement and joined in as if one of their own. Trying not to make a face - or worse, burst into unhappy tears in front of the Queen - she suffered through the fittings, the gossip and the chattering. Heart heavy, she wandered around one of the rooms as everything bustled about her, eventually sitting at one of the window seats and resting her head on the sill of the open window.
Below her was a rosebush, and apparently underneath there was a bench, she could just barely see two heads of hair - one brown and one blonde - and make out two girls gossiping there. What she heard made her heart sink.
"Where be the prince?" the blonde one asked, "Tis fair strange that he be not here to meet his bride!"
"You just miss his charming face," giggled the brunette, "You silly wench… but truth be told his body servant told me this morning that he be in a terrible temper upon hearing that he's to be wed! His father told him naught, knowing the prince's liking for his hunting and hawking, he kept the news from him until it be too late to back out!"
The blonde laughed merrily, "Oh!! What a tizzy he must be in! I've never seen him in a temper before but I bet he looks right nice anyway."
"You light skirt!" her friend accused her, "I'm surprised you haven't put yourself in his bed before!"
"Aye, and now it be too late!" the two girls tittered, and Gwendolyn moved away feeling sick.
Bad enough that she must marry where she willed not, but apparently her husband-to-be had no wish to marry either, not wanting to lose his independence. But the maids were right, it was much too late to back out now… what if she were to just disappear… never to be found again… no disgrace could be had upon her father that way…
"Lady Gwendolyn, come here and look at these flowers," the Queen's commanding voice interrupted her thoughts and she obeyed.
That night it was mournful thoughts of what might had been that filled her head, her slight form silhouetted in the moonlight as she stood at the window. Sighing heavily, her amber eyes were dull as she looked over her new home… just how hard would it be to escape and run back to her and Al's special clearing… perhaps Brandy… No. Her maid didn't owe her that much, and she'd be in much more trouble for her mistress disappearing under her knows.
Looking back up at the twinkling stars and glowing moon she wondered if Al was somewhere out there doing the same.
The morning was tons of hustle and bustle, and she was carefully bedecked in a heavily embroidered gown of light blue, strands of pearls and diamonds set about her neck. Brown braids were wrapped carefully about her head and crowned with a tiara of silver and sapphires. Looking in the mirror she saw herself, Lady Gwendolyn… a woman not meant for a peasant bride… and she could almost see herself in peasant garb superimposed over this scene of elegance and finery.
"Come my Lady," Brandy was at her elbow, her maid dressed in silks for the occasion with a single strand of pearls about her neck.
Nodding, Lady Gwendolyn turned, her heart ice - as it would be forever more - and she followed her maid to court, to meet the man she would wed on the morrow