Act II: Scene III
Chantelle had loved riding. It was so much better when you weren’t stuck behind someone or going at a slow walk, the fastest pace her mother allowed when she rode. The horse she was given was easy to manage and incredibly sweet. But after half an hour Chantelle was ready to collapse on her bed.
Marceline helped her up the stairs, keeping one arm around her waist as she had stumbled a few times on the way up.
Once in her room, Chantelle collapsed on her bed, snuggling into the pillow. This was much better. She turned towards the foot of her bed.
Marceline sat at the foot of the bed, leaning against the wall. She watched Chantelle in silence for a few moments and Chantelle felt the familiar chills run down her back. When would those go away? “What were you so embarrassed about when I found you in the library?” Marceline asked, reaching out to pull on a curl of Chantelle’s hair.
“Oh, that,” her voice trailed off as she hid her face in the pillow, “I saw Liem say goodbye to Arthur... he... uh... kissed him.”
Marceline chuckled, a rich and cool laugh, just like the one from her dream. “That was it? It was just a brief kiss. It’s not as if you saw them in bed.” She grinned just as warmth flooded into Chantelle’s cheeks. She would be so red that even her dark complexion wouldn’t hide it.
“It was still embarrassing.” She pursed her lips in a pout, but Marceline only laughed.
“You’re so adorable.” Marceline’s eyes glowed with mischievous warmth. She reached out to run a hand through Chantelle’s hair. “Far too cute.”
Marceline propped herself up in a window seat in the balcony. She peered at Chantelle, who sat a few feet away at a library table leaning over her sketchbook. She watched every slight movement, the rise of her chest, the curve of her lips when she made a mistake, her pencil strokes. She really was beautiful. “May I see what you’ve sketched?”
Chantelle looked up. “It’s nowhere near done. Why not look at the rest of my sketchbook?” She handed it over, hands shaking just slightly.
Marceline took the sketchbook, starting at the front. Most were landscapes, likely of scenes from around her home. A few were sketches of servants at work or animals in the fields. On sketch caught her eye. A young woman peered out of the page with piercing eyes and a mischievous smirk. “Is this me?”
Chantelle glanced at the page, embarrassment and uncertainty clouding her features. “I drew it before I met you. I saw this girl in a dream.”
Marceline nodded, turning the next page. “You’re wonderful.” And she didn’t just mean the art.
This morning Marceline was busy. So Chantelle had to entertain herself. What was usually an everyday occurrence at home was far more difficult here. She couldn’t sit still and so decided to explore the house. After a bit, she settled back in at the after selecting a book of poems.
Her hair as smooth as silk
Her lips a lovely red
Each line as she went only brought one person to mind. After a while she shut the book, replacing it on the shelf. Why was she feeling like this?
“Would you like to go into town?”
Chantelle glanced up at Marceline from her breakfast plate. She waited until she had swallowed her eggs before she replied. “Can we?”
“Of course, right mum?” Marceline glanced at Eliza. She ate her last piece of bacon, stopping after her third plate.
“Of course. Are you going to ride?”
Chantelle gripped tightly to Marceline’s waist. They had decided to take a single horse as it would be easier to drop off. Marceline had dressed in her usual suit, while Chantelle wore one of shorter sundresses with tights underneath.
Marceline smelled of apples and cinnamon. Her hair floated into Chantelle’s face throughout the ride. Once they arrived, Marceline dismounted by tossing her leg over the horse’s head. Once she had reached the ground she turned to offer Chantelle her hand. Chantelle shook her head, a smile creeping onto her lips. “You really are a gentleman.”
“I try.” Marceline helped her down, then placed her arm on the crook of her elbow. “Anywhere you’d like to go?”
“The paint shop.”
Marceline was quite patient. She let Chantelle browse to her heart’s content. Finally, Chantelle was finished looking, but continued to stare longingly at a watercolor set. It was far nicer than the ones she had at home.
“Do you want it?”
“I’d love it, but-” Marceline had already snatched it up, heading to the counter. Chantelle tried to protest, but Marceline had already bought it, passing the wrapped package to her. “You shouldn’t have!”
“But I did.” Marceline grinned, taking Chantelle’s hand and heading back outside.
“Marceline?” The redhead stopped just as she reached the door. Both girls were already in their pajamas and had talked for a while before deciding to go to bed.
“Yes?” Marceline’s expression was a bit sad, though Chantelle couldn’t say why.
“Would you want to stay here tonight? Or have me in your room?” Chantelle didn’t know what gave her the idea, but she really wanted to keep Marceline close.
Marceline’s grip tightened on the door handle, her face darkening slightly. “We can’t.”
Marceline bit her lip. She looked worried, uncertain. Far different from her usual confidence. “I’ll-” her voice trailed off and Chantelle could see that her lip was bleeding now, “I’ll tell you later. I promise.” She hurried from before the room before Chantelle could answer.
Did she really not want to stay with her? No. Her expression said otherwise. It was obvious she wanted to stay, so why couldn’t she?
The question followed her to sleep.
Marceline knocked lightly on Eliza’s door hoping her mother was still awake. Her mother’s reply was quiet, but enough to reassure her that she wasn’t being a nuisance. She pushed open the door, walking over to the bed, climbing onto it and sitting next to her mother.
“What is it darling?” Eliza pulled her daughter close, smiling as Marceline wrapped her arms around her.
“Chantelle wanted me to stay the night. But I can’t.”
“Why not?” Eliza asked. She rubbed gentle circles on Marceline back.
“I don’t want to hurt her.”
Seeing her daughter like this hurt deep down, but Eliza knew it would pass quickly. “No you won’t darling. You care too much.”
That night Chantelle had no dreams at all. And the next day she found that Marceline was once again busy, this time for the entire day. Her heart clenched in her chest. Was Marceline avoiding her? Had the question upset her that much?
In the end she couldn’t manage to do anything. She couldn’t focus on her art or any book she picked up, even books that had kept her enthralled from start to finish. So instead she wandered the gardens most of the day, taking occasional naps in the shade.
Marceline was not present at dinner. Eliza explained that she had gone out on an errand and wouldn’t be back until late.
Yes. She must have been avoiding her.
Now she lay in bed, unable to sleep, despite her efforts to slow her breathing to a restful pace. She lay there in silence thinking if nothing but the cherry red of a certain someone’s hair, the curve of their lips in a grin, and the cool tones of their voice.
She felt the bed sink behind her, but rather than bringing fear it brought comfort. An arm wrapped over her waist as familiar lips pressed against her back. However, this wasn’t a dream. The lips trailed to her neck and Chantelle waited for the prick at her neck. It brought the same warmth she had felt in her dream. The lips remained there for some time, before pulling away. The bed shifted.
Before she had a chance to think Chantelle turned to find Marceline staring at her wide eyed. Her pale skin was flushed a red almost as rich as her hair, even onto her neck. She moved to stand from the bed, but Chantelle snatched her arm holding her down.
“Marceline?” Chantelle’s heart sank at the fear in Marceline’s eyes.
“I’m sorry. I-”
Chantelle pulled her into her arms, running her hands through her hair. She kissed Marceline’s hair, pulling her as close as possible. “I love you.” The words slipped out before she even thought them, but she did not regret them. In fact she regretted not saying them sooner.
Marceline pulled away, but did not try to leave. She looked at Chantelle with obvious apprehension, her lips quivering. A bit of blood painted the edges of her lips. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t-”
Chantelle shook her head, leaning forward to press her lips to Marceline’s briefly. “You have nothing to apologize for. You didn’t hurt me.” It had come to her immediately upon seeing the blood on Marceline’s thin lips. Marceline was a Vampire, a being relegated to fantasy and lore, but which many still believed in.
“But I hid it from you.”
“I know now. That’s enough.”
Marceline shook. Her shoulders, her hands, everything. Chantelle pulled her close again, pushing her towards the bed. They lay there in silence, Marceline winding her arms around Chantelle’s waist and burying her face against her chest.
“I love you.” Though her words were muffled her meaning was clear enough.