Oh. My. Gosh. I AM SO SORRY FOR TAKING SO LONG TO UPDATE. But when I tried a while back, the website was being all crazy and wouldn't let me update. So I decided to try again later...but never did. Please accept my apology :) I will try to update sooner next time! ALSO, keep in mind that this story is kind of old relative to my writing, so don't be too harsh with me haha. Anyway, I hope you guys didn't forget everything-those of you who have been reading this haha-and that you're still interested!
Chapter Six: Confession
There was complete darkness, and Tristan knew that it was the middle of the night, but his eyes remained wide open. His mind couldn't stop thinking about what Aurora said. What astounded him even more was the fact that what she said was absolutely true. Tristan thought about his mother and how she was going to pay taxes and get food without him there. Hopefully, other villagers such as Martin might be willing to help her; then again, they had their own families to take care of.
Horrible thoughts and images continued flooding into his brain. One good image remained: Aurora's smile. When he thought about her, he found himself grinning as well. However, for those few minutes she explained the situation to him, he had loathed her. He had wanted her to leave and never come back. When she finally did leave, he wanted her to come back. He had thought thoroughly about what she said, and the truth of her words cut through him like freshly sharpened knives.
Tristan ran his hand across his face and hugged his knees to his chest. Suddenly, footsteps echoed through the corridors. It couldn't be Aurora; it wasn't breakfast yet, and furthermore, what else would she want to say to him? Using his impulse and common sense, he pretended to be asleep as he sensed a shadow appear before him. The footsteps stopped. Silence returned. Tristan had trouble keeping still in his fake sleep. Finally, whoever was their sighed heavily, but he didn't hear any retreating footsteps. Confused he opened his eyes just a bit to find Aurora staring at him from outside the cell.
He suppressed a giggle as he pretended to wake up, stretching his arms and looking around without a clue.
"I'm sorry," she began, avoiding eye contact.
"I was waking up anyway," Tristan shrugged it off.
"No. I'm sorry about what I said. I had no right." She explained. Tristan widened his eyes and raised his eyebrows.
"Actually, I thought about it, and I think you're right," he replied, his position becoming more casual.
"I feel terrible…" Aurora continued. "I wasn't thinking."
"But you were right!" Tristan argued. She shook her head. "Don't worry. I'm sure my mother is fine. When I get out of here…" his voice trailed off.
"I wish I could help."
"You're helping enough already." Tristan couldn't stop those fateful words. The princess seemed taken aback, but a sheepish smile was on her face.
He grinned. She was so sweet and innocent. Instinctively, Tristan moved closer to the bars of the cell, putting less distance between him and Aurora.
"You're different than what I expected." He said. Aurora moved her face inches away from his. Shivers ran through his body, giving him sensational goose-bumps.
"Is that a good thing?" she asked, her white teeth revealed in a smile. Tristan could tell that she was nervous.
"Yes." He nodded. He could smell her sweet breath and its warmth on his face. Then, she blinked twice and backed away, as if coming to a cold reality.
"Um… I shall see you for breakfast." She stuttered. Tristan gave her the softest smile he could and his heart shouted in protest as she strolled away.
"I love you," he whispered. He knew that she was out of earshot. Fatigue suddenly began to overtake his senses, and he was finally able to fall into a light yet comfortable slumber.
Aurora's throat felt parched as she watched Tristan politely consume his breakfast. There were thoughts and words caught inside of her throat, threatening to choke her. Neither of them had yet said anything, and she found the silence haunting. Finally, Tristan washed down his meal with the glass of water. However, food remained on the tray as he pushed it back towards her.
"Why didn't you finish the food?" she asked. Tristan shrugged and sighed in contentment.
"Well, I can't work or stay fit in this cell, so if I eat a lot, my muscle will be replaced by fat." He explained, standing up and stretching his arms.
"Oh, right…" Aurora murmured. "I have another question. If the landlord alerted the village of his visit, why weren't you aware?" Why didn't you prepare yourself?" the question occurred to her as the small poster on the tree popped into her head.
Tristan hesitated, staring down at the ground. He had a humiliated expression on his red face. Aurora held her tongue, and simply waited patiently.
"Because…" he began quietly. "I can't read. Or write. I never learned." The princess felt a sympathy knot in her turning stomach, and his face was so resigned. "Maybe I can help." She said.
"How?" Hope was evident in his voice.
"I can teach you, every afternoon, starting today during lunch." Aurora offered generously.
"Really? You would do that?" Tristan's face lit up excitedly, and a large smile spread from ear to ear. "That would be amazing, Aurora!"
She caught her breath. It was the first time he had said her name in that sweet, charming voice of his. A nod was all she could manage.
"Thank you so much. I can't even express my gratitude to you." He continued with a heavy voice. Nervously, Aurora grasped the tray and stood up, reluctant to leave.
"You're welcome, Tristan." she replied concisely before walking away. After all, she needed to prepare for the first lesson.
Excitement bubbled up inside Tristan's stomach as the sun rose higher in the sky. After years of hoping, he was finally going to learn how to read and write. And from the girl he loved. However, it seemed that the recent morning had been less promising. Aurora had changed: her face had a somber expression and her voice was extremely platitudinous. The light that she shed on the room had dimmed slightly, and there had been guilt written all over her face and actions. There was something holding her back. She was less friendly and open with him, and he didn't like her changes.
When she appeared in front of his cell with a tray of lunch (of smaller portions than before) Tristan's brow was furrowed and he was pacing pensively in his cell.
"Um, is something wrong?" she asked worriedly. Her voice was much more serious and firm than when they first met. It was cold instead of warm and welcoming.
"Well, I was about to ask you the same question." He replied softly, pausing. He didn't look up at her. Instead of defending herself as he had expected, she sighed heavily but didn't respond. That action confirmed Tristan's thoughts. Then there was awkward silence, and he sat and ate his lunch in cold resentment. Unlike all the other times, Aurora stayed standing. Tristan felt low, sitting under her long shadow. He could feel the color leaving his face, and he took an involuntarily pained expression as he pushed away the half-eaten plate.
"I'll finish it later." He said before Aurora had the chance to ask. She was truly acting like a snobby, spoiled, stuck-up princess.
"What is bothering you? Aren't you happy to be learning the art of reading and writing?" she asked. Tristan turned away.
"Of course I am, your Highness." He replied bitterly, trying to make an angry point. He felt absolutely no guilt when he noticed that she looked as if he had slapped her across the face. He might as well have. Aurora's shocked expression turned to one of sadness and regret. Tristan saw her fidgeting uncomfortably with the supplies she had brought for the lesson. He refused to let himself feel culpable.
"I don't have to teach you! I just felt bad for you!" she suddenly shouted, rage in her voice. Tristan felt his stomach turn uncomfortably and he avoided her burning eyes.
"I know." He stated simply.
"Then why must you be so cruel to me?" she dropped the book as she accused him.
"Why must you be so heartless!" he screamed as he turned on her furiously. She didn't even flinch.
"You were sweet and charming at first, and then you become the snooty princess I expected you be in the first place!" By now, Tristan was right up against the bars. Narrowing her eyes, Aurora lifter her hand to slap him. Tristan prepared himself for the blow by closing his eyes and turning his head to the side. It never came.
When he opened his yes, she was slowly lowering her arm with an anguished expression.
"I can't do it. I'm in over my head." She whispered, more to herself than to Tristan. "You're overwhelming, Tristan." She slid down the wall beside the cell.
"I want to know why you changed so suddenly." He calmed himself and sat down more or less beside her. The bars of the cell stood between them.
"I am a princess. This isn't right." She mumbled. Tristan furrowed his brow in confusion.
"Aurora, what are you talking about? What isn't right?" he said.
"Tristan, I love you!" She cried looking straight into his wide eyes. Tristan's mouth was open, but nothing came out. Her words rang like clear, pure bells in his scrambled mind. Aurora's eyes were glistening, and they were frantically examining Tristan's face for a reply.
He understood everything: why she had acted so reserved and cautious, why she had been so charming when she first met him, why she saved him from the torture chamber. It came together like a jigsaw puzzle in his head.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't respond. Tristan felt as if two harsh, cold hands were clasped around his throat, preventing him from saying anything. In his mind, he cursed himself for being so anxious. Aurora's beautiful, brown eyes did not waver from his, and Tristan could see tears accumulating at the verge of her eyelid.
Finally, Aurora closed her eyes tightly and looked away. She seemed unnecessarily humiliated, and he wished he could reach out a hand for her and comfort her. While his conscience screamed at him, Aurora briskly walked away. Once she was out of earshot, Tristan moaned in frustration and ran his hand along his face. He wondered if maybe he wouldn't be receiving dinner that night.
There's chapter six! This time, I mean it when I say I'll update chapter seven soon! Thanks guys, don't forget to leave your reviews :)