It is the next morning and I am sat in a cold room thinking about everything.
How can I like Bastian? He is rude, cruel and abnoxious. How can I have any positive feelings towards him? Theoretically speaking, I should detest the very thought of him; the very sight of him and yet I cannot think in any way but that which is me liking him.
I do notknow when or how it happened, nor do I know why, only that I like him.
And that I turned down his proposal.
Now he will be married very soon, and I shall do nothing to interfere with that.
He is happy now. But today he said that he couldn't imagine life with anyone but me. I'm being ridiculous. I couldn't possibly marry Bastian, could I?
No I couldn't, he is engaged and to be married very soon.
My father walks into the room in which I am sat and takes the opposite chair. "We need to talk about your future." he says, no humour, no smirk. Cold, blank, serious.
"Please, father. Not today. Another time perhaps?"
"No," he says stopping me from leaving. "I need to tell you now, because you need to know now."
I sit back down in my seat, anxious to hear what he is about to say.
"You," he says. "are engaged to Mr. Loxley. You shall wed next week."
"Father! How could you? You know my thoughts on marriage! You know I didn't want this! You went behind my-"
"Ethelreda enough!" That was the first time I have ever heard him shout. "Please," his tone softens. "I need to make sure you are looked after when I'm...gone."
With everything that has happened, I just accept this. There is no way I can escape this, not if my father insists it is so.
"Alright, father." I say solemnly.
"Also," he says with a lighter tone. "We are going to dine with Lord Neville and his family tonight. You can tell your old friends the news yourself." he says before leaving.
We are sat down in a relaxing room after dinner. It's a large romm, quite dark with beautful furnishings. People have been asking if I'm alright throughout dinner due to my uncommon quietness. "Ethelreda?" my father asks. I look up to meet his eyes. Already I know that he is going to make me announce my engagement. "Do you not have some news to share with our friends?" I smile shyly.
"Yes-" My voice makes no sound, so I clear my throat and start again. "Yes, father." I turn to Lord Neville and Bastian. Elizabeth isn't with us today because of another arrangement. "I am to be married, to Mr. Loxley." I dare to look at Bastian and see his face paling.
He stands up "Excuse me." and leaves the room.
I wait five minutes, so as not to arouse suspician, before excusing myself and following him.
"Bastian, please." I say, breathless due to his longer legs and therefore quicker pace.
"Why? Why should I stop? You do not love me, you are to be married and so am I. There is no quarrel between us. Good bye."
"Please, Bastian, if you would just listen." And then it slips out. I have no control of it, yet I do not regret it. "I love you, Bastian. I do."
He turns very slowly towards me. Very slowly.
When I finally see his face, it displays a mixture of confusion, awe and joy. "You love me?" He says, barely able to get out the words. I nod, slowly. "And this is sincere, no mockery or scorn?" he asks. I nod again. He walks towards me carefully, as though I am a deer, and gently strokes my cheek with the back of his first two fingers. I raise my hand to hold his. He looks deep into my eyes and, for possibly the first time, he does not frown at all. "Yet, we are to be married to others?"
"Oh, do not remind me." I say, wanting to stay in that moment of bliss and silence for a little while more. He obeys my wish and now cups my face with both hands. He looks at me.
He is so handsome that it should be a crime for him not to smile. His eyes are set aflame and the blue shines like the river I so love.
He kisses me on the cheek and it is gentle and makes me want to weep with joy. He hovers near my ear before whispering quietly and sincerely "Marry me." I pull away and look into his eyes to search for humour. He remains truthful.
"You wish to marry me, despite my previous refusal to your offer? Despite your engagement to another?" he give an exasperated sigh.
"Still you remain ignorant." He says with a chuckle. A chuckle. "Still you refuse to hear me. Don't you get it? None of that matters, not when it comes to you. I feel as though I would conquer anything for you, to get to you. I would walk through the fires of Hell and slave away for the devil himself so long as you would be mine."
"In that case," I say with a smile and my heart flutters as I ready myself to answer him. "I will marry you."
And then he kisses me.
Not on the cheek.
It is very quick and is over before it has barely begun, but it means a lot.
He smiles at me once more, kisses my hand and says "You will excuse me, I have some matters to discuss with your father." He kisses my hand once more before turning and walking with a very quick pace down the corridor.
I am so happy, I do not have to marry Mr Loxley. I get to marry Bastian. The one I truly desire.
Around five minutes later, I hear the sound of footsteps increasing in volume indicating a nearing person.
I look down the corridor where I see my father walkin towards me, obviously having been spoken to by Bastian.
I see no trace of joy.
YOU ARE READING
A Tudor Girl named Ethelreda lives as a maid in a grand house. But things do not go to plan. The master's son- a spoiled, arrogant, rude man with no regard for anyone but himself- and two mischievous children make her life extraordinarily difficult...