Chapter Seven

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Chapter Seven
The revelation
For Lily, nothing was sacred.  She accepted me as her friend and told me her life story and the circumstances surrounding life in the Montacute family.  A complex story unfolded, that could hardly be called a fairytale.  Queen Farah was a lonely soul..

The King was and still isn’t exactly a caring, considerate husband and father.  The marriage was fairly loveless, being an arrangement like Hulda’s.  Farah was a very good mother and loved her four children deeply.  She showered them with affection and never distinguished between them.  King Dwennon dealt with them harshly, as was modeled to him by his father..

It was especially Aland who suffered, because the King thought it was necessary for a heir to be a man and own up to any obstacle in his way.  The manner in which it was carried out, was of no concern to him.  Farah intervened often, to protect their self-esteem and build at their souls. 
She was the one who took them on her lap alternately, reading from the Bible.  Lily distinctly remember her reading them numerous books as she often told them, “A child who reads, will be an adult who thinks.”  As her illness progressed, she turned into a hermit, especially towards the end.

She withdrew herself from the social gatherings.
“What was your mother suffering from?”
“A mental illness, she was taken to a sanctuary in Aspen.  As you know her sister lives there and it was a consolation to us that she would be visited often and had constant company.  Some days I miss her so badly that it seems hard even breathing…”  Her beautiful eyes became watery by the memory.
“You were only eleven, very young to lose one’s mother.” I put my arm around her shoulder.
“Yes, for me it felt too soon.  Laila and Aland were particularly supportive, while having to deal with their own loss.”
Laila was like a friend to my mother.  When mommy was still living in the castle, she would pray for her and spend countless hours with her in her room.  She was like a mental nurse, being a good listener.  Daddy paid her a pretty penny to look after mom, making her life bearable.
“And does Laila have a husband?”
“Yes,his name is Jeremy.  He is such a kind soul. Plays the harp like nothing I’ve ever heard!  Sometimes when daddy can’t sleep, Jeremy comes and plays the harp, it calms him.  He has the shop with the musical instruments?” She glanced at me, perplexed.   I was shaking my head  “You don’t get out much do you?”
“No I don’t, but I am sure you’ll keep me updated?”  She smiled chuffed.

We chatted a while longer and then, out of the blue, we saw Aldrich standing in the doorway.  We both gasped when we saw his face.  He looked pretty beaten up.
“Aldrich!”  I put my arms around his neck and hugged him tight.  He only stood there and made a feeble attempt at hugging me back.  I realized that he may have felt self-conscious or embarrassed.  I tried to salvage the situation and took him by the arm, leading him into the room.  I could sense his hesitation.
“Aldrich, have you met Lily, Aland’s youngest sister?” 
“No, I haven’t…” He came closer and stretched out his arm to shake her hand.  Lily doesn’t know much of such greetings and only nodded friendly.
“Hallo Aldrich, nice to meet you.”  He relaxed a bit after sensing her positive attitude. 
“Lily, would you mind if Aldrich and I took a little walk to talk a bit?”
“No of course not, I have been holding you captive long enough.  Enjoy your chat!” She called  out after us, as we started walking down the corridor. 
I linked my arm with his and we started walking back the way he came, both of us in utter silence.  I didn’t know how to approach the conversation after all that had happened.  Deep in my heart, I desired for him to end the silence.  Luckily he did.

“Stephanie, I can’t begin to say how sorry I am for everything that has happened.”  The only thought that came to mind was : Don’t preach Steph!
“I accept your apology, but what happened the other day?  Was it a misunderstanding?”
“No, if you mean that Hulda and I… I mean…” I nodded in acknowledgment.
“There was no misunderstanding.  That is what happened and if I were Carnell I would have done the same thing.”  Thank goodness, he came to his senses, I thought! 
“I came to tell you that I am sorry for embaressing you and in a way throwing away the good reputation I had in your eyes.  On the other hand, and you’re not going to like this:  I won’t stop seeing her….”  At first I thought that I misunderstood.  He saw my bewildered expression and repeated what he said.
“Aldrich?  They’ll banish you, they’ll kill you.  This is not like you, to be so impulsive!  How long have you known her?  A few days maybe?!”
“I want her, I want a future with her.  I’ve never been so sure of something in my life.  She feels the same way.”
“Aldrich, Lily knows her sister best and from what I’ve heard, Hulda doesn’t have a good reputation.  You weren’t the first guy you know.  Carnell really does love her and wants to marry her.”
“Well she doesn’t love him.  She was promised to him, he is twelve years her senior.  She saw how an arranged marriage looked like with her parents.  She doesn’t want that for herself.”
“Do you really believe that she will be true to you when she had so many men already?  I don’t want your heart broken.  You are my best friend.”
“I think you have a new best friend.  So, if you can’t give me your blessing and wish me the best, I think I’d rather leave now.” 

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