Of Ash & Blood
Oh, how I loved her. The curve of her nose into her lips, the way her mouth curled as she awoke next to me. My arm dying beneath her head and that I don dare move in fear of waking her. I loved her only as they spoke about in poems and great novels. I loved the way she walked, as if the earth glowed beneath her every step as though it knew she was the very one to bring the light in for me. I spent the mornings watching the light fall in on her face, savoring the moments that I could before I had to get up and prepare.
Prepare to leave.
I shook my head of the thought and went back to admiring Amabel, wondering what she was dreaming about now. Im sure she would tell me once she woke, she always remembered every detail, always wanted to understand why or what it meant. To me, they were always just dreams. Crazy things our minds made up to make the time pass while our eyes closed for the night. Finally, once the sun was up enough to indicate I should prepare to leave, I gave her a stroke on her cheek. I leaned into her lips as she breathed out a goodmorning, and pressed my lips to hers gently. I hated to wake her from a deep sleep, to interrupt her from her dreams that she cherished.
Our love was not always, in fact, Amabel hated me at first. Our families joined together in expeditions, our fathers fighting side by side to defend our homes and citizens. Banquets were often held at each others castles, weddings shared and summers spent together while our fathers were away. Amabel was probably about ten when I first saw her. Back then, her legs wobbly and her smile crooked – although I would not tell her so now. She had long brown hair that fell like a vines around her face-twisting and curling every way. I was only twelve, following my father around like a lost puppy. I was his only son, and he had to ensure I was ready to take over once he was gone.
I laid eyes on her across the banquet hall. She was wearing a dark green dress that fell right above her ankles. She looked bored, sitting next to her mother who was speaking to one of the servants about the meal being served. I watched her carefully eyeing her mother and the rest of the banquet hall. She carefully snuck off the chair and walked slowly out of the large wooden doors. I was curious where she was going, I snuck a glance at my mother who was speaking to a friend, my father not in sight. I walked out the hall and looked both ways looking for her. I saw her taking a turn and I followed short. I made sure to stay behind, not wanting her to hear my steps echoing in the long hallways of the castle. I tiptoed around the corner and – she was gone. I looked around, walked swiftly down the hall. After I couldn find her I turned around and went to go back to the banquet.
”Why are you following me? ” I heard from behind. I jumped back to look, and there she was. Starring me down with her arms folded across her chest. ”I was wondering where you went, is all. I saw you leaving the banquet hall, ”
”Can I not take a walk in my own home? ” She frowned. I didn know what to say. Of course, she could, what else was I to say?
”Such a son of Bayard was easy to startle, ” She smiled. She was mocking me. ”It – it is dark. ” I defended. ”There are candles, ” She pointed. I frowned. ”What are you doing out here? ” I asked. ”Why should I sit in on a banquet when I have already finished eating? ”
”To celebrate the victory of our fathers! ” I exclaimed, ”I already gave praise to my father. Send it to yours as well, for me. Im bored and going to my room. ” I wondered if she had even let her maidservants know she was tired, of course the lord would be angered to know his youngest daughter was wondering the halls alone at night.
She turned to leave and I reached out, taking a step forward. ”What is your name? ” I asked, hoping for more conversation.
”Amabel. ” She said, her wide, blue eyes showing dimly through candle and moonlight from a window. She turned, and I let her leave.
I went back to the banquet that night, thinking about those eyes. Thinking about the next time my father would fight next to hers, and the next time our families would celebrate. I couldn shake the feeling that our meeting was not our last, or the tight squeeze in my chest when I sat down next to my mother wasn all the food, but from the look on her face when she said her name. Amabel. I remember my mother looking at me, worry lines apparent on her forehead. I knew my face was red. She asked me what was wrong and I shook my head, choosing not to tell her of our meeting. At only twelve years old I didn know what the skip of my heart meant.
I saw her again in two summers. She was twelve, and I, fourteen. I had gone there with my father to count inventory, and do training with the other knights. ”A man is only as good as the fight he gives, ” He would always tell me, always pushing me until I thought I might break.
I caught glimpses of her in the gardens, tending to the flowers and taking notes. Other times, singing, sometimes beautifully, sometimes…not so. Again, Id never tell her I thought so. Id sit outside the room and listen in, taking a small moment to just rest and listen as she was taking lessons and rushing away once shed finished. Sitting across the table from her at dinner, stealing glances as I could as she blankly stared at a half-eaten plate. Summers spent with my father turned into summers spent with soldiers, here at the castle of Cedric.
Amabel, however, never spent time to speak to me. Shed of course give me a hello when I would arrive, asked me how my day at training went, however she always seemed to occupied to have a conversation. Always spent her times down by the gardens and small streams that ran through the castle yards. One day, I decided to follow her again. Down through the gardens and around the woods to a small pasture near a lake. I watched as she ran her hands through the tall grass and threw rocks. I don know why, but my legs carried me out of my hiding in the trees and down a few steps away from her. My heart felt as though it was going to jump out of my chest as I swallowed and thought of my words.
”Should a lady be out here alone, throwing rocks? ” I blurted out. I hissed at my own words. You hardly get to speak to her, and this is what you say?
She jumped back from the pond and dropped the rock in her hand. She turned to see me, and her lips turned into a line. ”Is that any way to speak to a lady? Should I be frightened to walk through my own yards? ” Amabel asked.
”Of course not, but going so far away from the guards ears should. There could be animals out here, wolves. ” I tried to save myself from embarrassment. Of course, I knew that if she had screamed, someone would hear. She probably knew this too, but I doubted she knew of the real danger that lingered outside of these castle walls. ”The wolves have no want of me, otherwise, Id already be theirs. ” She smirked. She knew I was finding excuses for a conversation. Amabel was fifteen now, and spent most of her time learning things like sewing and how to run a castle and its servants. It was rare I saw her finding free time to wonder.
”Shouldn you be training, Lord Silas? ”
I broke from my thoughts and looked at her, suddenly seeing how much she had grown. Her brown hair fell down to her waist and was twisted around her shoulder, her eyes a bright blue under the sun. I felt a tightening in my chest and cleared my throat. ”I- um, I decided to take a break. I couldn let the Lords daughter wonder alone, ” I offered a smile.
”I suppose so, does that make you my personal guard, then? ” She asked. ”Only if youll have me, ” I said.
She gave me a smile. That smile, the one that forced me into falling in love with her. The kind of smile you would read about in great tales of beautiful women starting wars over their hand. Thats where this all started. In a pasture, the place we began to share daily after the long summer days.
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