When I woke up, I could see darkness blanketing the outside world. How long had I been asleep? And why hadn’t anyone woken me up?
It was after a few seconds that I realized that I was not wearing any clothes. Before confusion could settle in my mind, I was transported back to the morning when Lord Bancroft apologized and begged me for forgiveness. Though I wanted to stay angry with him, I could not bear to see him in such agony, even though I had every right to be considering all that he had done to me. But I did not want to be cruel, otherwise I would be just like him.
And then, he made love to me. I still found it difficult to believe that a mighty King begged me for forgiveness and sought my permission to make love to me which brought me pleasure like no other. Just the thought of him inside me had me aching for him once again, wanting more of him, and I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about Bancroft and my victory against him.
I had won. I did what I vowed to do and brought the King to his knees. I caused him pain just like he made me suffer. But the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that he confessed his love to me. He told me he loved me, which was something I never expected him to say. Did he really mean it? Could a King really fall in love with a lowly woman?
Speaking of the King, where was he? Why was he not in bed with me like he was when I fell asleep? I looked around the chamber, hoping he would be sitting somewhere but he was nowhere to be seen. Mayhap he had gone down to listen to his people some more; as a King, I doubt he ever got to live in peace.
Lying in bed for a few more minutes, I finally decided to get up and go see where Bancroft was. The fact that he ordered me to address him by his name still felt strange as I was not used to it. Mayhap with time I would become more comfortable with it.
After taking a long bath which felt heavenly on my sore body, I got out and put on a purple gown which had jewels and pearls embedded in lace. As soon as I saw Bancroft, I would take him to see the seamstress so I could show my gratitude to her. Mayhap I could take a gift for her, it would surely make her happy.
I eyed the jewels sitting on the vanity table and couldn’t help but think about the brooch I purchased for the King. At that time, I did not know why I was paying coins for something my captor would like, but now I wish I had it so I could give to him in person. But alas, it seemed it was not meant to be as that brooch had been left in Quopia when I fled.
With the brooch out of my mind, I thought about the jewels lying in front of me. Did I dare to wear something so precious? What if Bancroft got angry by seeing me wear his jewels? I did not wish to take such a risk, not after I got him to profess his love to me. I never wanted to see the old Bancroft again; I would not be able to handle it.
“Milady?” I jumped at the sound of a feminine voice. I turned to see one of the maids standing there, the one who was fond of Bancroft. Why was she here? And I still had to find out what her relationship with Bancroft was.
“Yes? How may I help you?” I asked with a soft smile. However, what I really wanted to ask was why she behaved in such a manner with the King? But seeing as I was not really the Queen of Sodora, I did not think I had any right to ask such questions.
The maid frowned, as if she did not understand my question. “Help? Milady, I do not need help, but came to offer my own.”
“Oh?” Why did she come to help me when I did not need any help? “I did not call for help.”
She smiled as if amused. I could not believe the maids found me amusing, I wonder how Bancroft felt about me; did he find me amusing as well?
“No, but the King sent me to help you if you require any. I can do your hair, if you like,” she said.
It was then that I noticed my hair and how plain it looked. I couldn’t help but think about Lady Sabina and how her hair was always perfect. How I wished to have hair like hers; but she was a Queen, she had to have beautiful hair. I did not think that I should ask this lady to help me with my hair.
“Umm, does my hair not look all right?” I questioned her. Was there any rule about having proper hair?
“Oh no, that is not what I meant, Milady. I was just asking if you’d like for me to tie your hair in a nice bun or something like that. But if you do not wish for me to do your hair, then it is completely all right for you can tell me to do something else,” she replied.
I bit my lip as I thought about what to do with her. I did not need any help with my hair because I was not a Queen, but there was something else I could have her do.
“What if I tell you that I don’t require any help?” I asked her, hoping she would not be offended and tell Bancroft. I did not know how the servants around here worked and whether or not they were allowed to complain to their King.
She shrugged, which had me wondering what was going on in her mind. “That is absolutely all right. I shall just wait outside until you call me for help.” She tuned to leave but I stopped her at the last moment.
“Uh, well if you don’t mind, can you tell me where is Lord Bancroft right now?” I did not understand why I was so eager to see him; I just knew that I was. Mayhap I wanted reassurance of all that transpired between us in the morning, and I wanted to know that Bancroft was no longer the cruel King who always threatened to kill me.
“The King is not here right now. He seems to be waiting for someone to come, though I have no information of who that person is,” she answered.
“But he is in the castle, right?” Why did the thought of him outside the castle fill me with dread? Mayhap I would feel better after seeing him and talking to him.
“Yes, but he is busy. He has ordered everybody not to disturb him until he is done meeting his guest,” the maid replied.
I frowned, puzzled as to why Bancroft would do something like this. Who was this important person who had his attention? Why was he not free for me? I know it had only been a few hours since Bancroft told me he loved me and begged me to forgive him so we could start our new lives together, but why did I have this urgent need for reassurance?
“Can you take me to him? I would like to see him,” I requested the maid, hoping she wouldn’t say no to me. Even if she did say no, I would just push her aside and search the entire castle until I found him. Whatever happened between Bancroft and I was not a dream, and I had to prove it to myself that it was not, otherwise my heart was going to fly out of my body.
“I am not sure, because Lord Bancroft was quite firm in his words,” she said.
“Please, it’s urgent. I need to see him right now.” I told her, hoping it was enough for her to take me to him. It was strange how the maids knew much more about Bancroft’s whereabouts than I did. Mayhap it was time I kept an eye on him as well. I mean, he had been doing it to me all my life, so why couldn’t I?
The lady looked as if she was battling with herself regarding what to do, which was understandable. If I were in her place, I would be wondering whether to listen to my King or the woman who was about become the Queen.
“All right, I guess there is no harm in taking you to him. But, if he does not like it, I will be severely punished,” she said, an expression of pain crossing her face. Had she been punished before? But she was so friendly with the King, I was sure Bancroft would never punish her.
“You should not worry about being punished, for I will tell Lord Bancroft that I ordered you to take me to him. He will not punish you.” Mayhap I was trusting Bancroft to be kind to me a bit too much. What if I went there and he punished me by locking me in that cold room? Even though these worries were on my mind, my heart was certain that Bancroft would not be angry and this time, I chose to go with my heart.
The maid bowed deeply. “Thank you, Milady. I shall take you to him now. Please, follow me.”
With a soft smile, I begun following the woman out of the bed chambers, which had me coming face to face with the guards that were stationed outside the door. They bowed when they saw me, but it didn’t stop the shudder that went through my body upon seeing the large spears in their hands. Why were there so many guards outside the chamber? Was Bancroft attacked often by his enemies or what?
“There are so many guards here,” I remarked as I followed the maid up the stairs. I was curious to know her name but I was even more curious to know about her easy familiarity with Bancroft. I should not be giving into the green-eyed snake which was inviting me over, but I could not help it. Bancroft was being kind and friendly with her when he was threatening to punish me.
“Yes, it’s for the King’s protection. Even though he often complains that there is no need for so many guards standing outside the door of his chambers, but we servants are loyal to our King and are ready to put down our lives for him, so we insist that the guards stand outside,” she explained as we took a left turn, which had us entering a narrow pathway.
“Is he meeting with his guest in a private room?” I asked, after taking notice of the dim lighting and the dark stone.
“Yes. For some reason, he insisted on meeting his guest in a more private setting,” she said.
“Has this happened before as well?” The more she told about Bancroft, the more I understood that fact that whoever was with Bancroft was of considerable importance, otherwise he wouldn’t have ordered everyone not to disturb him.
“Only twice before. And both of those times, they were Kings from other Kingdoms coming to meet with the King in order to form alliances,” she responded as if it was nothing of importance and one should never worry about such things.
“So, the person with the King right now…is it a man?” I didn’t know what I would do if it was a woman. Bancroft had done so much to me that now, for some unknown reason, I felt like I had some sort of ownership over him. For so long, he had given me his time and attention, regardless of how he wielded that attention and used the time, that now I wanted to do the same. I wanted him to stay with me so I could make new memories with him, which would help me let go of the old ones.
Maybe you shouldn’t have forgiven him so soon.
I did not know if forgiving him right now was a wise decision or not, but it had been made because I was tired of the pain and fear which had been surrounding me since Lord Bancroft came into my life. If I was destined to be with him, then I wanted to be happy with him. Feeding on dark thoughts and emotions was not going to get me anything.
“Well, here we are, Milady.” I jumped at the sound of her voice, hating myself for being too absorbed in my own mind.
Looking at the arched double doors standing proudly before me, I could tell that it would not be easy for the enemy to break through this. Not only did they look to be made of the strongest wood, there were steel rivets dotting the surface, making me think that this was where Bancroft planned for war.
“Should we knock?” I asked, having mixed feelings in my heart. On one hand, I was eager to see who Bancroft’s guest was, but on the other hand I was apprehensive of his reaction to seeing me when he clearly told everybody not to disturb him.
“We have no choice but to knock.” With a soft smile, the maid raised her hand which was curled into a fist and knocked a few times.
The doors opened to reveal two guards standing, clearly there to make sure no one entered without permission.
“We are here to see the King,” the woman said.
“He is busy with his guest. He has ordered everyone to leave him alone.” The guard on the left said. He was broad with a black mustache.
“This is the future Queen and she wishes to see the King. Please, go and tell him that she is here to see him.” However, there was no need for the guard to go anywhere, because as soon as she finished speaking, Bancroft himself came to the door. My heart settled into a calm rhythm as soon as I saw him and experienced the warmth in his green eyes.
“Oh, my beautiful rose, you came to see me?” Bancroft smiled, holding out his arm. “Come. I have a surprise for you.”
I should’ve asked him what the surprise was and who was the guest he was busy with. But I did none of that, instead I placed my hand in his and allowed him to lead me inside.
“The maid told me you were meeting with a guest of yours. Who is he?” I asked.
He smiled. “It’s not a man, but a woman.”
Envy pricked my heart but I forced myself to remain calm. “Who is she?”
“Turn around and see for yourself, my beautiful nymph.”
I did as he said and when I saw who it was, I couldn’t help the tears of happiness filling my eyes, as I thought I would never see her again and lost her forever.