So today I thought I’d choose a picture and write a story around it. It’s a picture I found on Pinterest; the original source is TJ Drysdale at 500px.com. Feel free to come up with your own story for her in the comments below.
The soon-to-be Duchess had asked for a break in their journey in a shy, soft-spoken voice. And, after a moment’s hesitation, Walter had given her the smallest nod. The Duke had demanded they come straight to his castle, an order Walter was more than willing to carry out. Except the dainty soon-to-be-Duchess Elysande had politely begged for a quick break.
She stood on the grassy path, looking as regal as any other high-born. Although, he could imagine Heleyne in her pretty dress tripping over little rocks and twigs. The thought made him smile. And then grimace, because Heleyne was no longer just Heleyne. She was soon-to-be Lady Heleyne, and maybe the Duke’s daughter could run around with the Duke’s servant, but the Lady Heleyne was now too far away and too above him in station.
Walter looked out of the window, suppressing the urge to snap at Elysande about how much of a hurry they were in. As if reading his mind, however, Elysande picked up her skirts just enough to glide across the dirt path, back to their carriage. He opened the door for her. She murmured a thank you, and the carriage started rolling again.
For several moments, the silence was only filled by the creaking of the carriage and the grinding of the wheels on the path and the clip clop clip clop of the horses pulling them along. Walter settled in for a long, quiet ride.
And then Elysande spoke. “Walter, is that right?”
He nodded, mildly surprised that she even remembered his name.
“Do you travel a lot, for the Duke?”
Walter blinked. “No,” he said after a moment. “This is actually the first time I’ve been off of the Duke’s land, my lady.”
She looked away, her long lashes obscuring her startling green eyes. “It’s the same for me. Mylla – my friend, one of the cook’s helpers – used to run around the hills with me. I know them like I know my own room. I could walk through them in my mind and remember them perfectly.”
Walter didn’t know what to say to that. “I’m sure you’ll come to love the Duke’s land just as much as this place,” he said after a moment, finding it harder and harder to dislike the soon-to-be Duchess. “There aren’t any hills there, but the forests are just as green, just as pretty, my lady.”
She didn’t look convinced, but Elysande let the matter drop. “What’s the Duke like?”
Walter turned his eyes out, to the hills they were slowly rolling past. “He’s a good man,” he said after a moment. “He treats his people fairly. He made a good match for his daughter, too.”
There was a brief pause, and for a moment, Walter wondered if he’d betrayed his feelings for Lady Heleyne. But a quick glance at Elysande told him he didn’t have to worry. She stared at her white-gloved hands. “Does his daughter agree that it’s a good match?”
No. Walter wanted to say. She doesn’t. But he didn’t. “She does, my lady. As I’m sure you’ll find the Duke to be for you.”
“If only we could marry whomever we wish,” she said, so quietly he almost didn’t hear. “And stay in the place where we grew up.”
Yes. If only. But Walter only said, “He’s a good man, Lady Elysande. An honorable one. I’m sure he’ll let you visit your home sometime.”
Elysande’s cheeks turned red; Walter wondered if it was because of his words or because she was mortified that she’d been overheard. He was about to tell her she didn’t have to worry about him telling anyone how she felt, except she beat him to it.
“Thank you, Walter,” she said quietly.
Then she looked out at the passing sea of hills, and they resumed their journey in silence.