Arryn Harcourt always did her best to try and ignore the accusing (and if she was honest with herself, mostly simply curious) stares that followed her around her home village of Maymount. Clutching the heavy bucket to her chest and ducking her head down, she hurried on with her chores, trying to finish as quickly as possible so she could retire to the sanctuary of her father's little shack on the outskirts of the small village.
She rushed up the steps of her Master's house, bowing her head to some other nobleman that was making his way out of the house, and into the wash room towards the back of the huge manor that stood proudly on a hill overlooking the entire village. Arryn's master was Dalton de Clare, the Earl of the Fall Realm, which spanned across the entire east corner of the Kingdom. He took charge of three counties, and countless villages, but for some reason, unknown to many of the vilagers, decided to set up home
in the grubby village of Maymount.
Arryn plonked herself down on a wooden stool and began to wash her charges socks, wrinkling her nose at the unpleasant and rather famliliar sweaty stench that came with young boys. However, she was so used to doing this by now that she simply learned how to breath without inhaling the nauseating stench. Once she was finished with the socks, she began on his underdrawers, tunics and casual leggings. It seemed like no time at all until she was done, and she gathered the clothes excitedly, half sprinting out the door in order to finish her days work and get home.
She climbed the servants spiral staircase with haste, and pushed rudely into Rhett's room, almost dropping the fresh pile of clothes when she saw him lounging on his bed with an open book, and looking disgustingly angry at her.
"Haven't you heard of knocking, girl?" he spat in a deliciously deep voice, but one that was dripping in venom.
"I do a-apologize, sir, it certainly w-won't happen ag-again," Arryn stammered, her heart beating wildly, terrified that he would -
The next thing she knew, she was sprawled on the ground, and Rhett was standing over her, his hand raised and his chest rising and falling as though he had just run a marathon. Which showed how much force he put into the slap, thought Arryn bitterly, as she felt the tears spring to her eyes. She clutched her cheek and bit back those
tears, determined not to cry in front of him, and get tossed around even more.
"It had better not happen again! Now pick these clothes up and get out of my sight!" he spat, and Arryn hastened to obey, scooting around on her hands and knees, gathering the clothes and stacking them as neatly as she could upon the wooden dresser. With one last scoff of contempt, Rhett pushed her from his room and slammed
the door in her face.
With the wooden barrier in between the two, Arryn felt that it wouldn't matter if she let her tears of pain fall now. Rhett had a very short temper, and he got frustrated with her very easily. She knew it was silly of her to think, but she always felt that Rhett treated her the worst of all his servants, and she didn't want to believe it true, but she couldn't help feel that it was because she was the only girl servant in the house.
Gathering herself together, Arryn stood up slowly, wiping her face and beginning to make her way back to her father's home.
Her father was a poor, but respected cobbler who made just enough money to keep himself alive, and his business running. That was the reason she started work at the Earl's house; she could eat for nothing, and often the kind cook gave her table scraps to take home. The Earl was kind, and much more gentle than his son was, but that
didn't mean he wasn't strict. He cared for his son a lot, and always happened to turn a blind eye to the tales of bullying that often reached his ears from the complaining townspeople.
Arryn was glad that her home was only a few more paces away, and when she reached the front door, a loud cry (a noise that her father often called a 'dook') welcomed her back. Her pet ferret, Argos, greeted her with an affectionate nip to her bare ankle. She squealed, and the sound must have alerted her father, she thought, because next minute, he was standing by the broken door of their run down cottage, a wide smile on his face.
"Hello, father," Arryn said, putting Argos down and hugging her parent close. He smelt of leather and boot polish, and no matter what, Arryn always felt safe when she was surrounded by that scent. Argos was screeching impatiently at her heels, and her father laughed.
"Hello, my child. It seems that you have one more chore before you can relax," he chuckled cheerfully, and Arryn laughed with him. It was so good to hear him laugh.
"I suppose that's true," Arryn said, and took out her table scraps wrapped in paper. She handed half to her father, and put the other half on the floor in front of Argos, who tucked into his meal immediately. When she had sat down at the rickety old table in front of the fireplace, her father patted her on the shoulder.
"Good girl," he murmured, and he too began to eat the scraps. Dark had fallen quickly by the time Arryn's father finished his meal, and Arryn was dozing on the stool beside the fire, and started when she felt her father's rough hands stroking her cheek.
"What happened?" he asked Arryn quietly, and she didn't understand what he meant until she looked in the filthy mirror and saw that her left cheek was bright red, and a dark purply bruise had begun to blossom under her eye. She touched it gingerly and gasped at the sharp stab of pain that pierced her face.
"It was just Rhett losing his temper with me again, father, I should have been more careful," Arryn said, and her father sighed and handed her a cold, damp piece of rag. She smiled gratefully and put it over the left side of her face.
Her father sighed and lowered himself onto the other stool opposite Arryn. "He's still young and doesn't understand his responsibilities yet. Some day soon he'll begin to change for the better. People change, my daughter, and that we should be thankful." He stood up, stretched his age bent frame and sighed again wearily. "And now, I shall
retire to bed for the night. You should get some rest for the morning too, child."
Arryn kissed her father goodnight, watched as he disappeared behind his bedroom door, and within no time at all, his ground shaking snoring began. Smiling to herself, Arryn made her way to her own bed, which was located the corner of the main room. While her father had the best room, Arryn had the better blankets, even though she always protested when the winter came.
Rolling her eyes fondly at her father's ability to always put others before him, she curled up on the hard mattress and squeaked in fright when Argos jumped up beside her. Scolding him quietly, she lay her head down on the right hand side of her face and closed her eyes, hoping that tonight, her dreams would be uninterrupted.