Author: HowdyCowdy PM
Sophie and Elliot are madly in love and set to be married but are seperated. When they are finally reunited the king has laid special interest in Sophie and his idea of engagement threatens any chance they have of reclaiming the life they could have had.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,582 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-02-11 - Published: 02-25-11 - id: 2894391
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jessica ran the brush again and again through Sophie's long locks of hair, humming a small tune as she did. The smile on Sophie's lips hadn't disappeared since the proposal that afternoon and certainly wasn't going to disappear soon after tonight either. The light from the candle on the dresser lit her face gently, curving around her cheeks and tucking into the curls of her hair. Jessica couldn't help but smile at her wistful expression; eyes heavy lidded with exhaustion but still twinkling with delight. The door to the room opened slowly and Jessica turned to see her mistress's mother walking into the room. She immediately gave a small curtsy, Sophie's hair still laid across her left palm.
"Good evening, ma'am," she said softly.
Her mother's eyes were dull and emotionless as she took another step into the room, "Leave us Jessica."
Sophie looked up with defiance, "I'm not yet ready for bed mother, she can stay-"
"Hush Sophie." She said coldly.
Sophie's brow furrowed in anger and her ruby lips formed a juvenile pout. Jessica curtsied one last time and then swept herself from the room, closing the door softly behind her. The silence hung in the air like a deadly boulder ready to drop from the sky. She could sense the unwilling defeat seeping from her mother's entire body as she pulled a chair from against the wall to sit in. She would stop at nothing to see that I wasn't happy, Sophie hissed to herself as she turned away and reached for her brush.
"I know you think this marriage is a good idea," her mother started. Her voice droned from her throat as distastefully as her eyes had raked over Elliot in person earlier. Sophie said nothing in response. "But I don't think you're thinking everything through."
Sophie released a gulp of air angrily, "Will you stop at nothing mother?" She was furious. The ring was on her finger, what more did her mother need to stop being the incessant nagging hag she was acting like, "We are engaged-"
"I saw it happen Sophie, don't play me a fool."
Sophie pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes, "Then there is nothing to discuss. I hope to be married by the end of the month to Elliot."
"Sophie-" her mother's tone was warning and dangerous, "That man isn't a good choice for you."
"You have told me a million times before and I have all but listened to your madness."
"Don't you dare speak to me that way young lady."
"I'm tired of you speaking so ill of Elliot. He is a good man, with a valiant heart. He will do me no wrong-"
"Good men don't guarantee a future Sophie."
"Don't be ridiculous mother."
"What if he is called back to duty? The war is not yet over-"
"He won't. It is close to treaty, we will not have to worry about that-"
"What if you marry and he has to leave, who then will you rely on to support you?"
"I would live in a hole dug into the ground to be with that man mother."
Her mother was nearly shaking with the incompetence of her daughter, "I will not have my oldest daughter living like a savage because her husband cannot provide for her!"
"And I won't have my mother treat him like he is an insolent fool when he is the most gracious man I've ever met."
"He could die Sophie!"
After a moment of silence Sophie turned back to the mirror, unable to face her mother's burning green eyes. "Then I will be a widow."
"How do you expect to remarry then?"
"So you plan to live here until you die?"
"The day Elliot Averill dies will be the day I die, mother." She said coldly.
She let out a frustrated groan, unlike a lady of her morals would ever do and she raised herself from her chair, "I did not allow you to grow up as defiant as you are-"
"I'm stubborn, it is not a trait I had to go far to learn." Sophie raised her eyebrow at her mother whose face was turning unbearably red.
"Fine. If you want to choose a husband with no financial stability, and live with the pigs in the stables, that is what you shall do." She turned on her heels faster than a tornado whipping through a field and stormed out of the room, slamming the door with a resounding noise after her.
Sophie felt the tears she had been holding back fighting at her lids. They threatened her calm façade as she looked into the mirror in front of her. Of course she had thought about his duty to their country, and the war that was carrying on on their shores as they spoke, she was no fool. But she could not believe that they would not grow old together; that if he was sent away, he would return soon after and together their lives would carry out as normal. One salty bead dribbled onto her cheekbone and she brushed it away defiantly. Blinking furiously to keep the rest of her tears at bay she lifted herself from her chair onto legs that threatened to crumble.
Elliot's death was not something she ever considered and in fact it had always been the object farthest from her thoughts. Her body acted as though it was being infiltrated by fear having been caught off guard by the thought of losing him. It took a few moments before Sophie could muster the strength to finally move. She twisted her body, making her way to the bed and collapsing on top of it with a heavy sigh. No. She said sternly in her head as she looked up at the wooden ceiling looming above her. No.
Sleep came to her even harder than it had come the previous night. She tossed and turned, hitting her fists into the feather pillows and burying her face into the coarse fabric to rid herself of her demons. Her dreams taunted her, flashing her images of war and death, bringing her abruptly to awaken with the foul image of Elliot bleeding and lifeless. Her eyes flew open and her mouth was agape as if to scream or gasp for air, neither of which she had the capability to do. She felt the tears again in her eyes hot on her skin and staining the cloth against her cheek. She choked on a sob, curling her fingers into the fabric of her comforter and pulling it about her as tight as she could. Letting the darkness of the night consume her she cried herself softly back into a dreamless sleep.
"I'll be walking in the gardens with Elliot today. His cousin and his wife will be joining us for lunch." Sophie said firmly as she took a sip from her small cup of tea.
Her mother's lips formed a hard line as she stared at the scone on her plate.
"Ah, I do hope the sun holds out for you." Her father commented.
In an instant her mother was on her feet, storming away from the table. Her footsteps faded fast into the hallway until the door to her room slammed abruptly.
Sophie sighed heavily and looked up at her father whose eyes were looking sadly towards the hall, "Why doesn't she understand that I am happy father?"
He turned his eyes to her and shook his head slowly, "There are a lot of reasons your mother is acting the way she is, Sophie."
"Yes, and none of them are understandable. She's being a child."
"Sophie," he said warningly.
She pinched her scone between her thumb and pointer finger and lifted it to her lips, "I'm sorry father." She bit a small corner of it and waited until she swallowed before continuing, "But she has been nothing but rude about Elliot since the day she met him."
"Your mother just wants to ensure that you will have a sound future. Elliot isn't well endowed with financial success-"
"But what does it matter if we are in love?"
He chuckled softly, "I am afraid you are talking to the wrong people about that my darling."
"What do you mean?" She set her scone back down on her plate.
He leaned forward in his chair, "Your mother and I married because it was an advantageous coupling. I could support her and any children we might have and her image to society would have been improved."
"But do you not love each other?"
He smiled wistfully, yet there was a hint of sadness behind the curve of his grey bearded lips, "We care about each other, and there is a fondness between us that grew with time and patience. But the love that I see in your eyes when that man comes around-" he smiled sweetly, "That is something I have never seen in your mother's eyes." He stood from his chair and slowly on old knees made his way around the table to place a sturdy hand on his daughter's shoulder, "Give her time. Love is something she never had Sophie. It is not something she understands."
Sophie watched as her father followed the footsteps of her mother. His broad frame although slightly crumpled with age was still strong and tall. The graying hair on his head was still dark with the black luster it used to hold and his eyes still glittered with grey blue luminosity. She rolled her scone around between her fingers slowly, contemplating what her father said. She had never imagined her parents had not been in love. They got along well, her mother always smiled at him when he walked into the room and kissed him when he returned from work. Her father would offer her his arm when they walked and lean over her as if protecting her from harm. Though, it was not the obvious affection Elliot would dare to show her even though they were unmarried. The kisses on her hand and occasionally against her temple. The way his thumb would stroke the back of her hand as it laid in his or how he would squeeze her delicately when in embrace.
She finished the last of her tea and left the unfinished scone on her plate as she rose from the table. Jessica bustled out from the kitchen, holding a pot of tea in her left hand and holding the bottom of it tenderly with her hand wrapped in her apron, "Would you like more tea miss?"
She shook her head, "No thank you Jessica. I have to get going, I told Elliot I would meet them at the gardens at noon."
"Ah, I'll have William fetch you the carriage then."
"Yes please." Sophie turned away from the table and made her way to the foyer just inside the front door.
She grabbed her shawl from the racks on the wall and threw it about her shoulders, tying the strings together at her collarbone. In her left hand she grabbed her parasol and in her right she grabbed her bonnet, deciding to throw it on in the carriage as it pulled up just outside the door. The air outside was chilly, yet the sun washed over the neighborhood with a brilliant hue of yellow. The garden flowers reflected the light brilliantly off their deep red and purple petals.
The black carriage door was being held open by William as she made her way forward across the gravel path. He nodded his head and offered his hand as she made her way up the steps into the cabin of the carriage. She sat against the back wall; after all it made her slightly light-headed to face backwards during a long carriage ride. William bid her a good day before shutting the door and giving the driver permission to take off. With a lurch the carriage started rolling. The wheels squeaked terribly during the first portion of their trip for they were in nearing need of replacement, but they were soon quieted as they pulled onto the smoother main road. She watched the houses pass by the window, smiling at the children playing beneath the laundry lines or the dogs resting on the doorsteps. Maids looked up from their sweeping, those who were walking along the road turned their heads; this town was small enough to fill instantly with curiosity at the sound of a carriage passing.
They passed by the tall iron gates at the front of the gardens and she could feel her body reacting accordingly. The heat was already rising into her cheeks without even having laid eyes on him and her stomach was aching something fierce at the thought of being close enough to him to smell the comforting smell of his subtle cologne. She watched the bright green of the grass and bushes whip past her window eagerly, looking frantically up the road for a figure she was most excited to see. Certainly, on time there he was, standing idly with his cousin and wife, his eyes cast out at the road watching the incoming carriages with anticipation.
She straightened the bonnet on her head and ran the tips of her fingers around the small curl that emerged over her forehead to make sure it was holding perfectly still. As the carriage pulled to a subtle halt she reached for the knob on the door but it was already swung open before her fingers could enclose around it. Elliot smiled up at her from the open door, eagerly holding out his hand for her to take as she helped her way out of the carriage. His fingers closed over hers and squeezed gently, making her heart skip a beat as she set the hem of her dress down on the ground.
"Good day Sophie," he said softly and she smiled broadly.
"You as well Elliot," she nodded her head politely.
"Oh my dear Sophie! Elliot has told us the wonderful news! I am so happy for you darling!" Sophie turned to see Elliot's cousin's chestnut haired wife as she reached out to grab her free hand with both of hers.
"Thank you Mary darling," she smiled enthusiastically.
"When are you to be married?" She asked anxiously.
"Oh, we haven't quite talked about it-" she turned to look up at Elliot who smiled sweetly.
"But I imagine before the month is out." He finished for her.
Her cheeks grew pink and Mary squeezed her hand, "How wonderful!"
"Shall we start to walk? I fear we are in the way of the incoming carriages where we stand now," Elliot's cousin said logically, his eyes watching the next carriage to creep up to the popular drop off point.
"Ah, yes I suppose we should," Elliot agreed, gently pulling Sophie along at his side so they may move off the gravel road and onto the smaller path between the knee high hedges. He leaned over towards Sophie so that he may lower his voice in her ear, "How are things in your household my love?"
Her heart fluttered at the feel of his breath on her ear but she felt her stomach grow heavy, "As they always are I'm afraid."
He sighed softly, "Is there anything I can do?"
She shook her head sadly, "I am not so sure there is anything you can do." She furrowed her brow, "Though it's not as if you should. You've been nothing but gracious and my mother is simply being rude."
"Sophie," his tone was not reprimanding but it was low and stern.
She brushed it off her shoulders, "You know it is true."
He looked up at his cousin as he walked with his wife wrapped on his arm, "I know that she worries about you. It is only natural she should want the best for you." He sighed softly, "I imagine she should lighten up once she is given a grandchild." The corner of his mouth rose in a slight grin and Sophie tightened her fingers around his hand.
"I imagine," she said softly.
"What are you two lovebirds whispering about back there?" Mary turned her head to look over her shoulder, her almond shaped chocolate eyes glittering playfully.
"Only things unfit to say in front of chaperones my dear Mary," Sophie called out with a joking smile.
Mary feigned a gasp and whipped her hand out of her husband's grasp, "Sophie darling really, you should know better than to divulge such information to me. Now I have no choice but to banish Elliot to walk ahead with my husband Charles while I take you alongside myself."
Sophie laughed light heartedly as Elliot gave a small shrug and slipped away to join his cousin. Together they walked side by side, talking of things that their ladies had no interest in. Mary giggled at Sophie's side as they followed along behind. Mary was at least seven years Sophie's senior but still had the heart of a woman much younger. She was sophisticated and proper but amongst friends she could be the most devilishly fiendish woman with the words she spoke. Sophie remembered the first time they had met, they had become instant friends; Brought together by a shared interest in inventing stories for passing couples and divulging secrets of attraction for both of their love interests to each other.
"So, how did it happen? Elliot was terribly sparse with the details." Mary leaned into her as the two women linked arms.
"Well, he called upon the house and my parents and I took a walk with him through our gardens. My mother was in the most atrocious mood."
"Ah, yes. Charles had told me that Elliot mentioned she was not happy about the match."
"Charles told you?" Sophie could hardly be surprised.
"Oh darling, he tells me everything. We're quite the talkative couple. Anyway, so you took a walk through the gardens."
"Yes, and afterwards had some lunch at the house, nothing too fancy. My mother hardly expected to host it to be honest. And after we were finished eating, he got down on one knee before me-"
"Oh! A proper proposal! Oh I'm so happy he did that," Mary chattered excitedly.
"He asked me to be his wife and I said yes." It surprised her how simple the story had been when while she was actually taking place in it, it had seemed like such a huge deal.
"Oh darling, how exciting. Are you nervous?"
She shook her head fiercely, "I have no reason to be, I love him and he loves me. Quite the contrary, I cannot wait."
"I meant about the wedding night." Mary said nonchalantly.
Sophie giggled, "Mary you are quite bold."
"Oh come on darling I know you have to be a little nervous. I was."
"You? Nervous?" Sophie laughed.
"Well I was even a little older than you at twenty. I can just see you not knowing what to do with yourself."
"I imagine it won't be all that hard to figure out."
She giggled, "No, it is a very simple act indeed."
Sophie walked another couple of steps in silence, trying to bite her tongue from asking her next question, feeling as though it may be too bold but she could not help it, "Does it hurt Mary?"
Mary turned her head to look at her, "Hurt darling?"
"I overheard a woman at the millinery talking to a friend, she said that it hurt."
"Oh I suppose it did for the first couple of times." Mary said softly looking ahead at the back of her husband's head, "Though Charles is very gentle. And I would imagine Elliot to be the same."
Sophie smiled softly, thankful at least one person in this society wasn't so tight mouthed that she could ask such questions and receive straight answers. Mary had always been the older sister she never had and she was looking forward to becoming family with her. They could talk for hours whether sitting at picnics, walking idly or shopping about town. Mary had bought her the bonnet she was wearing today in fact. Sophie only hoped she could be half as good a wife to Elliot as she was to Charles.
The rest of the way carried on as lovely as it could have been. The sun came out for the general portion of the day, bathing the countryside in sunshine and the breeze was only chilly for the few seconds that it picked up. They enjoyed a light picnic that was stored in Elliot's carriage on the hillside and Mary and Sophie watched as Elliot and Charles threw a red disc around. They laughed as Charles almost rolled down the hill, catching himself before he actually hit the ground. The atmosphere was so peaceful around them there was no way any of them would have expected anything to threaten it. That was until Elliot stood up straight, his hand to his brow against the light of the sun as he stared off in the distance. Sophie turned her head slowly, following his gaze but unsure of what it was he was actually seeing. The air seemed quiet. Dangerously quiet all of sudden and Mary's eyes combed the gardens as spare few people turned to look behind them as well.
"Sophie," Elliot called, "Sophie get to your carriage now! Charles, Mary, get to the carriage!"