houses on the road.

   It was for this reason that Bjorn chose this location.
He let himself smile as he looked back over his shoulder into the house, beyond the gently fluttering net curtains.
He paid particular attention to the locked door of one of the bedrooms.

   “Your Highness.” Mrs Fitz said.
She was looking at him with a stern expression and held a tea tray.

   “Mrs Fitz.” Bjorn replied.

   When Bjorn had brought Erna to this town house, he immediately sent for his own doctor and for Mrs Fitz.
He knew he could trust these two above all else, even if the doctor grated against Mrs Fitz’s nerves.

   Mrs Fitz had scolded him for bringing the young Hardy family girl to the town house, but seeing her pale complexion, she soon changed her tune.
The doctor confirmed what Bjorn had suspected and now Miss Erna laid up in bed, sick.
Bjorn still owed Mrs Fitz an explanation.

   When he told Mrs Fitz all that had transpired that night, he felt like a child again, under her stern gaze.
He waited for the admonishment, but it seemed the old nanny felt sympathy for the young girl, more than feeling like Bjorn needed a telling off.

   At that moment, as Mrs Fitz stood by the balcony window, Bjorn felt like she was about to start up with telling him off again.
She looked like she wanted to punish him a thousand times over.
He knew what she was expecting and like a responsible prince, he intended to care after Miss Hardy.

   Bjorn strode from the balcony, back into the town house and knocked on the locked door.
There was the sound of hurried movement, before a soft voice finally answered.

   “Come in.”

   Bjorn went into the room, closely followed by Mrs Fitz with a full tea tray, she busied herself preparing the breakfast, while Erna sat on the edge of the bed and Bjorn propped himself against the window.

   They sat in silence for a long while, even after Mrs Greve left.
Erna stared down at her hands, which she had not stopped fidgeting with the entire time.
She became distinctly aware of the ticking of the clock.

   “Have some tea.” Bjorn said.

   Erna looked up at him with wide eyes, as he offered her a tea cup.
She did her best to hide the trembling as she took the cup.
It looked like a child’s doll house ornament in his hands.
He had rather large hands, she realised this when he held her cheek on the night of the storm, three days ago.
As Erna recalled the way he had held her, she blushed and looked down at the tea.

   She felt like she was outstaying her welcome and had spoken to the woman who had introduced herself as Mrs Fitz about leaving.
Mrs Fitz said Erna was being silly and she could not go any where until she was much better.
No matter what Erna said, the answer was always the same.

   Mrs Fitz was right, of course, even if Erna had thoughts of running away again, she couldn’t.
The sickness she caught out in the rain, firmly kept her confined to the bed.
She was only just starting to find the strength to get up and move about.

   “Thanks to you, your highness, I am well again.” Erna said, putting down the tea cup.

   Bjorn looked down at Erna, studying her rosy cheeks, pouty lips and the thin nape of her neck.
He stopped when he looked at the bow of her dress, that sat perfectly central on the neckline.
She did not look as sickly as she had done, but she was still pale.
Bjorn laughed as the memory of the night came to him.

   The bonnet and cloak had been removed, but Erna was soaked through to the skin.
She could not lay down in the wet cloths, so simply leaned against the couch.
She stood there, shivering with her eyes closed.

   “You need to change out of those wet clothes immediately.” Bjorn demanded.

   Erna was surprised at Bjorn’s forceful words and when she didn’t comply right away, he came over and roughly started pulling at her dress.

   “I, I can do it.
I can do it myself.” Erna said, feebly pushing the Prince away.

   Bjorn realised that she may think he was aiming to molest her in her weakened state, so he quickly stepped away and let Erna remove the wet clothes herself.
All he could do was bring her a towel and her trunk.

   He then left the room, but kept an ear to the door just in case Erna should collapse.
There was the sounds of thumping and scraping, groans and heavy sighs.
He could hear her rummaging through her trunk.

   Bjorn looked down at his pocket watch when things got a little too quiet for his liking.
It had been ten minutes.
Was it better to be accused of being a molester, than have a young girl’s life on his conscience? 

So, Bjorn let himself in.

   Erna was laid out on the couch in her pyjamas and soaking up the heat of the fire.
To his surprise, she had managed to get all her clothes on straight and all the buttons done up properly.
She had even managed to tie the ribbon of the night gown.

   Bjorn very softly walked up to Erna and gingerly picked her up and cradled the surprisingly light girl in his arms.
He took her to the guest bedroom and laid her under the warm blankets.

   “I…Your Highness?” Erna said softly, half asleep.
“Thank you,” was all she could manage.

   “It’s okay Miss Hardy, get some rest.”

   “No, I can not let you get involved…scandal.” She muttered.
“I have a friend, he…worried, looking for me.”

   “A friend, you mean Pavel Lore?” Bjorn said.

   Erna’s eyes shot open at the mention of the name and she looked at the Prince, confused.
Bjorn simply looked at her with a smile.

   “Right, Pavel Lore, the promising artist from the academy.
He tried to escape with you, didn’t he?”

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