Chapter Five

Submitted by Riibu on Thu, 11/23/2006 - 13:30

Rosalie spent the following week anxiously fretting over Alexander, worrying about whether Jonathan would show up or not, and being utterly bored. She spend most of her time with Seraphine either crocheting or talking about politics. Rosalie had never been all too interested in politics, so usually it was just Seraphine voicing her opinions and Rosalie nodding passively every now and then. Rosalie missed her horse. She thought she should sent a letter to her father to ask for it soon. She couldn't even go for a walk, since there were not enough guards to accompany them. It was too dangerous to go out now, this close to border.

At times Rosalie realised she could be in danger and spent a moment feeling fear. She hoped nothing would happen to Alexander and she missed him already. Rosalie was staring into the distance moodily from her balcony. The sun was lovely and high, warming her almost too much. There weren't many woods near the castle. The road Rosalie and Theodore had travelled did go through a forest, but it was a long walk to get there from the castle.

There appeared a distant speck in the horizon and Rosalie frowned at it. She watched it, wondering to herself what it was. After a while Rosalie concluded that the speck had grown larger. Rosalie glanced at the guard tower. One man had just come up and was gazing carefully into the horizon. Then the man jumped back down inside the tower. Rosalie glanced at the speck again. Was it troops advancing towards the castle? Rosalie leaned to see one of the walkways which connected the walls to the castle. Soon a man hurried over it and into the castle.

Rosalie stared into the horizon. She noticed movement in the corner of her eye and looked at the watchtower. Two men had come up and were gesturing into the distance. Rosalie could see they were speaking, but she didn't hear anything this far. A group of guards hurried to the castleyard under her balcony. There came a knock on her door and Rosalie turned to go to the room. She was at the door when it was opened and Mary looked in.

“Milady, they want you to go join lady Seraphine. Says there's people advancing and they don't know if theyre hostile or friendly“, Mary said as Rosalie brushed past her. They hurried past the stairs and into the castle. They met Seraphine halfway and a few guards, and the whole group head quietly towards another set of stairs which lead steeply down. Seraphine lead the group.

They arrived in a musty hallway which had a few torches in their holds attached to the walls at long intervals. Seraphine grabbed an unlit torch from a pile beside the stairs and lit in from one from the wall. They proceeded further into the hallway, passing sturdy doors. Seraphine stopped at one, and drew a key she had kept hidden in a pocket. Seraphine opened the door, and everyone piled in.

The room looked comfortable, though it had no windows. There were chairs and a few tables in there. Three cabinets lined one wall. There was another door in the room, but Rosalie had no idea where it lead.

“Why are we here? What's this place?“ Rosalie turned to ask from Seraphine who was just closing the door. Seraphine handed the torch to one of the guards before answering.

“This is where we hide in case we're attacked. We can run away outside the castle if needs be“, Seraphine said grimly and paused to frown at Mary. Rosalie noticed her look and grabbed Mary's arm.

“She'll go with me“, Rosalie stated and looked defiantly at Seraphine.

“As you say“, Seraphine shrugged and walked past them to sit at a chair. “That door leads to a tunnel which can take us behind the castle walls“, she pointed at the other door. The guards were lighting candles with the torch and the room slowly came into much better focus. Rosalie noticed the walls of the room had a bit of moss growing on them, and she could feel the cool moist air that was so familiar in underground rooms. Mary hesitated, but drew a chair for Rosalie to sit on at the table where Seraphine already was. Seraphine watched impassively as the guards went to the cabinets and started checking on the equipment there.

Suddenly there was a bang at the door. Rosalie and Mary jumped, while Seraphine and the guards simply seemed to go completely still and focused. One of the guards looked at Seraphine who nodded minutely at him. The guard gestured at the others who raised their weapons. Rosalie took hold of Mary's arms frightened as the guards slowly walked to the door. The others backed against the wall and after a small moment the quard opened the door to a crack.

“All's well“, a voice came from the other side. The guard opened the door a little more after he'd seen to the hallway. He nodded at the others to lower their weapons as he pulled the door completely open. Another guard stepped in and bowed at Seraphine who'd risen up.

“There is a group of knights riding in for the castle. They carry lord Arcelus' colours“, the guard told them and when Rosalie heard this she sighed loudly in relief. Seraphine smirked at her before addressing the guards.

“Clean this place up some. You, escort us back up.“ The guard bowed as Seraphine turned to frown at Rosalie and Mary. Rosalie jumped up from the chair and let go of Mary's hand. She brushed her dress as she followed Seraphine and a guard back up again, Mary behind them.

“It seems my brother got the message to your father quite quickly. It is very fortunate that they arrive so soon. Not that we'd be in any danger, but this castle needs defenders“, Seraphine told Rosalie without looking at her as they climbed the stairs. Rosalie huffed as the reached the top and realised slightly dismally that neither Seraphine or Mary seemed to be out of breath at all.

They walked to the stairs that lead to the double doors and the guard before them. Mary excused herself and left to continue her work, whatever it was. To Rosalie's relief Seraphine lead their ascending slowly, enough for Rosalie to safely recover her breathing. The doors were already open when they reached the bottom of the stairs. A group of guards were standing at the castleyard. The gates were open and Rosalie could see the body of the riding knights approaching fast. Rosalie and Seraphine didn't have to wait long until the knights had slowed down and ridden in.

Rosalie was growing nervous again. The uncertain excitement that Jonathan might be with the knights bothered her. Yet, she looked carefully over every knight hoping unconsciously to see that dashing blond knight once more. She didn't him and to her endless chagrin some of the knights were wearing their helmets and she couldn't tell who they were.

Seraphine glanced at Rosalie and then narrowed her eyes when she noticed Rosalie's intent looking. Seraphine coughed to attract Rosalie's attention and gestured at the knights. One of the knights jumped off his horse and came before them. Rosalie remembered it was her duty to welcome the knights to the castle and she nodded at the knight as he bowed at her. The knight was still wearing a helmet, but took it off and Rosalie nearly bit her tongue as she realised it was Jonathan. He smiled at her. She was speechless. Her dream had come true. But was it a good dream or a nightmare? Something about Jonathan's seemingly innocent grin told her that the latter just might be more true.

Rosalie coughed and managed to greet the knights. She recognised most knights and concluded that Jonathan seemed to be the one in charge. Rosalie then gestured at Seraphine who stepped forward and started talking to the knights. She knew the castle and knew what to tell to the knights.

“You are all that lord Arcelus sent, then?“ she asked from Jonathan who shook his head.

“There are more men coming, mostly guardsmen. But they are on foot and will take more time before they arrive. I set a few knights to lead them. We hurried here as soon as we could, just in case, milady“, Jonathan explained.

“Very well“, Seraphine nodded satisfied. The knights started leading their horses to the stables and Jonathan gestured for one of the knight's to take his away also. Jonathan turned to Rosalie and stepped closer to her. Rosalie watched uncertainly as Jonathan smiled at her. He reached for her hand and kissed it in his usual sweet manner.

“Milady“, he breathed and glanced into Rosalie's eyes. Jonathan then reached into his cloak and pulled out a sealed envelope.

“A letter for you, milady. From your father“, Jonathan said as he handed the envelope to Rosalie who at first had looked at with apprehension. She took the envelope and mumbled thanks to Jonathan. Jonathan nodded at Seraphine and turned to walk to the other knights who were still trying to figure out how this castle worked.

Rosalie held the letter in her hands, but it wasn't on her mind. This was with Jonathan, she thought. Jonathan is here. I knew he'd be. He's here. He's here for me. Rosalie suddenly remembered she wasn't alone and she pressed the envelope against her chest as she turned to glance Seraphine uncertainly. Seraphine was watching her reactions with raised eyebrows, but the expression on her face was unreadable. Rosalie looked down, and hesitantly turned to walk up the stairs. She fastened her pace and left Seraphine to rise the stairs regally, but alone.

Rosalie had taken her time to reply to the letter her father had sent. The guardsmen had had time to arrive and start settling in in the castle. Rosalie had gone looking for a knight to command to deliver her letter on her own. She wanted to avoid Jonathan. Still, she kept meeting him around the castle.

“Milady“, Jonathan would smile delightedly, like it was a pleasant coincidence, as he passed her in the hallways. Once she had stopped him and demanded to know why he always seemed to be just around the corner.

“Why, I'm familiarising myself with the castle. I walk all around it every day!“ Jonathan had told her. She didn't have much to say to that.

Another time Jonathan was standing in front of a large tapestry depicting knights hunting for a bear, studying it closely. He'd greeted Rosalie and she'd nodded back, thinking that that was all as she was passing him. But Jonathan had suddenly grabbed her arm and stopped her by holding gently but firmly.

“Milady... You simply pass me by, without ever looking back“, he said with a serious face and pulled her slightly closer.

“And to think, the last time we spoke, we departed in such... unfortunate circumstances. I regret that now. I have always, always enjoyed your company so much. I miss you“, Jonathan whispered to her as he pulled her hand to his lips. Rosalie felt the warmth of his face, and the softness of his lips. How could she not yearn for those lips to be on hers, one more time?

“Oh, Jonathan“, she sighed and looked into his eyes. He looked so pleading, so sincere to just want to be close to her. Rosalie's heart pulled her to him and before she noticed doing so she was against Jonathan, closing her eyes, reaching for a kiss...

Rosalie jerked away.

“I- ... I'm married...! What do you think you're doing??“

“What I'm supposed to be doing“, was his quick answer.

“What?“ Rosalie asked, emptied of her annoyance when she did not understand what he meant.

“We were meant to be together, Rosie. But you were afraid to give yourself to someone like me. A mere knight, naught but a small title to my name. No lands, no riches. You want someone powerful rather than the one who loves you. You would turn down love for... for- lucre“, Jonathan finished disdainly and jabbed at the tapestry.

“I-“ Rosalie uttered and shook her head. She couldn't believe Jonathan was saying these things about her. How could she explain it wasn't true?

“Well, this all you have now. Is your life perfect yet?“ Jonathan snapped and turned to walk away. Rosalie wanted to call him back and make him understand, but she could hardly breathe, she was so wrought with emotions. She wasn't alltogether happy, no. She didn't marry Alexander because of his money or title or lands, afterall it was her father who'd picked him for her. She didn't think less of Jonathan because he was a knight, he was very talented. And... she did love him. And Rosalie knew she loved Alexander too, just... perhaps, a little less than Jonathan. For surely something that raised so much feeling in her, so much want and need could be nothing else than love?

If this isn't love, than what is? she asked herself and wasn't sure of the answer. But... Rosalie didn't know how to continue that thought. She turned to look at the tapestry. Alexander's grandfather had this made. It's been here ever since. It's good work.

And it's also mine... I'm married. I'm married to Alexander because of what Jonathan did! Am I forgetting that so soon? He- Rosalie paused while two thoughts fought for dominance. He spoke of love, Rosalie realised. But he doesn't act like he truly loves me.

Maybe he just doesn't know how... Nevertheless, I am married and I will not be an unfaithful wife! To- to hell with Jonathan! Rosalie shook her fist at the tapestry and nodded in defiance. She would stay strong. Jonathan wasn't worth it, knight or not.

Rosalie walked along musty hallways with a bunch of roses in her arms. She looked around herself, but there were no doors to walk through. The hallway continued and Rosalie's feet were cold. She noticed that she wasn't wearing anything else than a small nightie. The roses in her arms started withering and Rosalie hurried, knowing that she had to find water soon. Suddenly the roses started prick her and Rosalie droppen them out of fright. The roses broke as they hit the stone floor and Rosalie couldn't continue on anymore, or the shards of the roses would tear her bare feet up. Rosalie turned around, but all there was behind her was a hard wall.

Rosalie startled awake. She blinked her eyes for a moment, but it was dark in the room. Then she remembered where she was. In her own bedroom. Rosalie yawned and noticed she could hear voices coming from somewhere. Rosalie pushed her covers backwards and put her feet on the floor, giving a start by the stone floor's coldness. Rosalie decided she wouldn't be up for very long and stood up. She wrapped her nightgown closer around herself and tried to deduce where the sounds were coming from. There was shouting going on at outside. Rosalie went to her balcony and looked down at the castleyard.

Guardsmen were running back and forth and shouting something. Some knights hurried close to them and they gestured towards the gate. Rosalie lifted her eyes and looked beyond the castlewall to the land. She didn't see anything special, just country covered with the night's darkness. The guardsmen had barred the castle's gates and Rosalie saw how one knight motioned for a group of guardsmen, so that they formed themselves in the castleyard. A quick glance at the watchtowers confirmed her growing alarm. The were two knights on top of both towers, with bows in their hands. The castle was being attacked.

Rosalie gasped, frightened and turned to hurry back to her room. What should she do now? She should go where they'd went with Seraphine and others when the knights had come. But she didn't remember the way. Perhaps she should wait until someone came to get her? But maybe no one would come, but she was expected to make her own way. Maybe they were waiting for her by the stairs? But where were the stairs that lead down? Rosalie didn't know what to do. Maybe she should just hide under the bed and hope for the best.

Rosalie went to her bed and light a candle with shaking hands. Even though it might be stupid to go wander around the castle's halls when it was under attack, she couldn't just stay there. She would find a place to hide in. But what if the attack wasn't particularly serious and there wasn't any greater threat, and someone would find her hiding behind a tapestry? They'd laugh at her. Maybe nobody had gone anywhere and that's why no one had come for her. But the castle was being attacked! And they'd run for the safety at a mere hint of danger! No, she should just go and find someone and then...

Rosalie placed the candle in a small lantern. She checked that it was sturdily in place and went to the door. She gave a start when the door was knocked on loudly before she'd even gotten to it. Rosalie's hands shook as she stood in spot quietly for a moment. There came another knock on the door, harder. Rosalie stepped closer and opened the door to a crack.

“Are you alright, milady?“ Rosalie saw Jonathan's worried face and opened the door a little more.

“Nervous. What's going on? Is the castle under attack?“ Jonathan frowned and glanced around himself.

“Yes, but not with great troops. The knights should be able to hold the attackers off. I believe you are quite safe.“

“But shouldn't we go somewhere where I would be a little bit more safe?“ Rosalie asked and backed so Jonathan could come in. Rosalie's feet had been feeling the cold of the floor nastily for a while now and they were starting to go numb. Rosalie went to her bed and dug out a pair of soft shoes from under the bed. After she'd gotten them on her feet she felt much better. Jonathan had meanwhile closed the door behind him and gone to the balcony to check the situation, while waiting for her. Rosalie came to the balcony door and looked at Jonathan.

Torches had been lit on the surrounding castlewalls and the castleyard was lit. You could hear faint sough in the air as the guardsmen and the knights shot arrows at the attackers.

“Who's attacking us?“ Rosalie asked in a small voice.

“The elves“, Jonathan said and turned to Rosalie.

“Shouldn't you be leading the others?“

“They'll manage fine“, Jonathan muttered and leaned to the balcony's balustrade looking at Rosalie with a strange look in his eyes. Rosalie felt she was blushing under his stare and turned a little.

“I really think we should go there... there- where... To that room under the castle that leads outside. We went there when you were coming. Me and Seraphine, and Mary and some guardsmen...“

“No, that won't be necessary. Everything is under control. You're perfectly safe“, Jonathan said and the side of his mouth curved to a small grin. Rosalie didn't know what to say. The lantern in her hand started feeling heavy, her other leg was aching from the chill night air, and yet she felt uncomfortable, too warm, but too cold. Rosalie coughed and turned to go back inside. Jonathan followed her.

Jonathan took the lantern off of Rosalie's hand from behind her. As Rosalie turned Jonathan stepped a little closer and leaned to put the lantern on a small table next to Rosalie. Jonathan was so close to Rosalie he could've touched her. All he had to do was to lean slightly down and he could have kissed her.

“What do you think you're doing?“ Rosalie gasped and stepped backwards.

“Protecting you... What else?“ Jonathan smiled and leaned closer to her. Rosalie nudged him and pushed past. She had decided she wouldn't let Jonathan even try anything, and she felt anger igniting inside herself.

“How dare you!“ Rosalie hissed at him. Jonathan snorted and shrugged. He smirked a little as he turned to watch Rosalie, who'd paused to glare at him angrily some way off.

“This was meant to happen, Rosie. When we've finally gotten our chance to be together, shouldn't we use it?“ Jonathan asked allusively and stepped closer to Rosalie.

“Absolutely not! How dare you even say such things!“ Rosalie turned away from him. “You can't just show up in my room in the middle of the night, like that! The castle is under attack, you should be doing your job! I'm married!“ Rosalie ranted strongly at the floor. Rosalie looked at the door and took a deep breath.

“As a matter of fact“, she growled and walked promptly to the door. “You may take your leave this instant-“ Rosalie started saying as she pulled the handle of the door, which to her great surprise did not budge. She went entirely silent. Rosalie stared unbelieving at the doorhandle, and tried to push it. Nothing. The door was locked. Rosalie let go of the handle, feeling her anger evaporating, replaced by uncertainty and a hint of fear.

Rosalie turned to look at Jonathan, but he wasn't in the room anymore. Rosalie turned and saw Jonathan standing on the balcony, leaning easily with his hand to the balustrade and watching down at the castleyard. Jonathan lifted his other hand at the level of his face and glanced at the big key he was holding. He leaned slightly over the balustrade, and dropped the key down. Then he glanced at Rosalie and chuckled as he saw her terrified expression. Jonathan breathed deeply satisfied with himself and walked relaxedly back into the room.

“What- you...“ Rosalie managed to utter.

“Whoops“, Jonathan grinned and shrugged happily to her.

“You locked the door...!“

“Yes...!“

“And- the key...!“ Rosalie cried quietly.

“Dropped by accident. It was quite clumsy of me. Such things happen! I'm sure the guardsmen will find the key in due time. Meanwhile we can keep company to each other during this long night...“

“I'd rather you jumped off the balcony yourself! Tell them to fetch the key here immediately!“

“Why not tell them that yourself? The balcony's that way“, Jonathan gestured behind him.

“You... You're closer... And you dropped it! On purpose!“

“Never! Anyway, if it really troubles you so much, milady, just go to the balcony and shout to the guardsmen to find a key in the middle of castleyard, in the middle of the night because someone dropped it there after locking the door. I'm sure they would only think you a fool for a little while. Or perhaps you would like me to explain it to them? Well, they would perhaps understand a little better, though your reputation may... vary, slightly.

“Or- you could wait until morning. After a good night's rest anyone mind will work sharper and perhaps you'll come with a plausible reason. Or maybe you'll just find something to break the door down. In any case, we'll be spending some time together, so might as well just go along with it, hmm?“

Rosalie stared at Jonathan with her mouth open, completely stupefied. Jonathan looked at Rosalie for a moment, measuring her up and then walked the short way to her. Rosalie snapped out of her trance and backed away, but her back hit the wall and she couldn't get away from him. Jonathan leaned on the wall and smirked self-assertively at her.

“It would be quite nice, Rosie. I honestly don't see why you're making such a big thing out of this. Surely you're over the fright already?“

“I'm married...!“ Rosalie hissed desperately.

“Yes, exactly. That's my point. No one needs to know, and there'd be no problems. It's not like you'd get pregnant or anything, you've already been with that lord of yours“, Jonathan smiled condescendingly at her.

“I have not! I'm still a virgin!“ Rosalie cried angrily. Jonathan blinked at her not understanding.

“What? Are you serious?“

“Yes, I'm serious! We didn't have time to be together, because he had to leave for war!“

What? He didn't- you mean to say, that your husband, the lord, did not consummate his marriage with you, because he had to leave – for war? What the hell kind of a man is he?“

“Don't talk about him in that way! And yes, that he did! He takes his duties seriously! He protects this country and the people from their enemies who would kill all of us if they got the chance! He's risking his life out there, while you're here trying to- trying to...! To- ruin- his... marriage!“

“Not at all! I've done this countless of times, mostly with married women. They've always welcomed it as a refreshing change, really. Nobody gets hurt.“

“Except me! I don't want to start expecting a child for another man!“ Rosalie screamed and pushed Jonathan.

“You might want to lower your voice, I don't think all the attackers out there heard you quite yet“, Jonathan snapped and stepped back. Rosalie gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. She had been gradually shouting louder and louder, and no doubt her last words had in fact carried outside. She hoped that everyone would be too busy with fighting to notice what she'd been screaming.

“Although, yes, that might be a little troublesome“, Jonathan muttered and frowned. He thought for a moment and shrugged. “Well, we'll just have to settle for some kissing. How's that?“ he asked cheerfully.

“Why you...!“ Rosalie growled and made to slap Jonathan, but he deftly caught her hand and smirked at her.

“Well, you're certainly feeling a little feisty tonight, hmm? I'm afraid I really can't give you more than just kisses, my dear, I'm sure your husband would be very cross to find out I'd taken your virginity as well. Not that I'd minded, had you not gotten married so soon...“

Rosalie tried to pull her hand back, but Jonathan held it even tighter. She tried to hit him with her hand, but he easily caught that too and laughed lightly at her as he struggled to get loose. Then Jonathan drew a breath, waited and suddenly let go. Rosalie stumbled backwards in surprise and hit the wall. Before she'd slided down, Jonathan had stepped closer and pushed her to balance against the wall with his body. Rosalie was neatly pinned against him and the wall and hadn't an inch to move.

“I really think-“ Jonathan started lowering his head closer to her face, when he was interrupted by hard knocking on the door to the room.

“Now what?“ he growled and glared at the door.

“What is it?!“ Rosalie cried quickly, hoping Jonathan would back off. A guardsman's muffled voice came from the other side of the door, asking is everything was alright.

“No, the door's locked and the key's gone! You have to go tell someone to find it!“

“Okay, milady, we'll do that... It's just that, we were looking for sir Hearthwell, and one of the knights said he had said he was going to go and warn you milady, and no one's seen him since and we was wondering- well... if- err... if he would be there with you, milady.“

Jonathan sighed and leaned off of Rosalie some way.

“Yes, I'm here. What is it?“ he shouted.

“The attackers have been driven off, milord. We had no losses at all.“

“The attack is over, sir Jonathan. Isn't that lucky? I do believe I will be quite safe for the rest of the night and the guardsmen will have plenty time to find the key“, Rosalie told Jonathan. “Get every man to go look for the key, it should be somewhere in the castleyard, near my balcony!“ she yelled at the door.

“Yes, milady“, came an uncertain answer from behind the door.

“Well... It seems our time is cut short afterall. Still, I'm sure they might have some trouble finding the key. I mean, it isn't quite that large or particularly shiny and it is dark outside...“ Jonathan said quietly and leaned back towards Rosale.

“I don't think so“, Rosalie snapped and nudged Jonathan.

“You really think we should waste this little time we've been given to be together?“

“It's hardly waste, if I'm protecting my purity.“ Jonathan snorted at Rosalie's answer.

“And how very pure you are, milady, after spending so many fevered moments with me back at your father's castle. And almost right under his very nose, too. You are such a good little girl, aren't you?“

“I...“ Rosalie shook her head pleadingly. She didn't want to hear this, and fortunately she was spared for there was another loud knock on the door.

“Milady, we've found the key. Someone had stumbled on it earlier and taken it with him, and he gave it to us as soon as he heard. At least, I think this might be the right key. He said he'd found it underneath your balcony, milady. Should we try it on the door?“

“Yes!“ Rosalie pushed Jonathan away and this time he backed off, seemingly realising he would not be getting anything more tonight. There was some noises at the door, as the guards tried to first turn the key in the wrong direction, but they managed to get it open and they peeked inside.

Rosalie was still her back to the wall, looking slightly flustered, and an angry looking Jonathan glared at the guardsmen.

“Everything alright, milady? Sir?“ they added a little sheepishly.

“Under control“, Jonathan muttered. The guardsman took the key off the door and leaned to put it back on the other side.

“I'll just leave this here...“ he mumbled and fumbled with the key.

“Yes, fine, thank you. You may go now“, Jonathan motioned to the guardsmen impatiently.

“You may all go“, Rosalie said and glared at Jonathan, who turned to look at her meaningfully. He consented though, and nodded. Jonathan turned to go, and Rosalie sagged a little from relief. The guardsmen had disappeared behind the door, when Jonathan quickly turned around, grabbed Rosalie and kissed her. Then he let go and marched out of the room, slamming the door closed behind him.

Rosalie gasped and leaned against the wall.

How dare he! How dare he! That- thief! How dare he! I'll, I'll damn well show him for that! I'll get back at him! This has gone far enough! Rosalie thought angrily and clenched her fists.

Rosalie was pacing in her rooms. She'd spent mostly a sleepless night fuming over the kiss Jonathan had stolen. She was frowning, trying to come up with a way to revenge the theft. She felt so annoyed, she kicked a chair as she was passin, but only managed to hurt her toes. Wincing, she made her way to her balcony. She leaned on the balustrade and sighed, looking out to the country.

Somewhere out there, a long way away, was Alexander. Rosalie wondered what he was doing right now? Was he alright? What was the warfront like? She leaned her chin on her hand and wished Alexander hadn't had to leave. Her anger slowly ebbed away as she thought of Alexander. Feeling melancholy she idly wondered what life would be like come the end of war and Alexander returning. Rosalie sighed and glanced down at the castleyard.

The castle was lightly abuzz with servants going about their work. A few guardsmen sat on a cart watching people as they went by. A knight in armor came from the way of the stables and when he got closer to the main doors Rosalie saw it was Jonathan. Jonathan seemed to sense she'd noticed him and he glanced up towards the balcony. He grinned saucily and waved at her just as he passed and went below the balcony into the castle.

In but a second Rosalie's anger was back and she slapped the balustrade before storming back to her room. There had to be a way to show him his place. Some way to prove there was no messing with her, I'm married! she thought and snorted.

But if I actually do punish him somehow, like I could being a marchioness, he'll just tell everyone why... I can't let people know. Seraphine already seems to suspect me of something... And I haven't even done anything! I haven't! That damn Jonathan! I must get him out of here, somehow!

Rosalie paused to think carefully of this line of thought. How could she get Jonathan moved away from the castle? Perhaps she could order him to return to her father's castle, claiming it wasn't necessary to keep him there. But then wouldn't people wonder why only one knight was sent away? She couldn't hardly send all of them away, they did need protection. So, a group of knight - no – guards, with Jonathan as their commander and...

And then what? Rosalie couldn't think of any plausible reason to kick a bunch of men out of the castle. She turned when she heard commotion from outside, and hurried to her balcony to see what was going on. A large group of knights had ridden into the castle and they were calming their horses down. They had large green flags with a thick yellow zigzaggin line in the middle, symbolising a mountain range. One man in the middle of the throng was wearing very shiny, silvery armor. Rosalie recognised him as a vassal lord of Alexander's she'd met at the wedding.

I wonder what his name was...? They must be going to the war too, only stopping here... Wonder what reason- what reason? Not getting more men, are they? Rosalie slowly grinned. Looking for some stray knights, maybe...

“Convenient, though“, she remarked quietly to herself, before dashing back to her room. A quick check in the mirror that her clothes were fine and she looked presentable, and she left her rooms. Somehow she was soon terribly excited and she took a few deep calming breaths before welcoming the lord to the castle.

“We will not be staying here long, milady. Lord Maluard has asked me to bring my troops to the front, and he recommened I detour through here, to see if everything is okay and bring him news of your well-being“, the lord explained to Rosalie.

“You may tell my husband we are quite safe and sound here. There was, though, an attack on the castle. Last night as a matter of fact, but the knights and guards drove them away quite quickly. We owe it all to one knight who very courageously organised the men here. Without him the knights would surely have had more trouble.“

“Indeed? Then your father has certainly sent his best to protect you, milady. So, a group of elves attacked the castle last night? That is bad news... They should not have gotten this far into our lands. We must hurry to replenish the troops there“, the lord muttered, frowning.

“You could take a few men from here as well. I doubt the elves could manage another attack this far anymore. We will be safe even with sligthly less men, and if worst comes, there's always the passageway out.“

“I suppose that sounds good enough, milady... You have someone special in mind?“

“Well, you could take a group of guards and a few knights, I'm sure. I recommend sir Hearthwell, particularly.“

“Sir Hearthwell? Jonathan Hearthwell?“

“You know of him? He was the knight who saved us last night.“

“Really?“ the lord asked, looking very surprised. “I do know the name, but I was under the impression that sir Jonathan has never done more than jousting... I did not know he could actually fight“, he said skeptically.

“Oh, no, he's very good at jousting, but he knows his fighting too. It seems he has had skills just waiting for a chance to be revealed and proved. I think he would be an excellent asset to you and my husband, lord Alexander, at the warfront“, Rosalie said and smiled innocently.

“Well, it wouldn't hurt, certainly. I will have one of my men choose some guardsmen, if you do not mind, milady.“

“Not at all, pick who you want. You there“, Rosalie turned to address a guardsmen standing near them and told to him: “Go find sir Hearthwell and inform him he is going to go with them. Tell him to pack lightly“, Rosalie waved the guardsman off, who bowed and retreated.

“I'm afraid though, that we must leave as soon as he has come and we've packed ours ready.“

“I understand completely, milord. Do as you must“, Rosalie smiled. They shook hands and parted. The lord started shouting orders at his men, and Rosalie headed back into the castle, walking leisurely to her rooms.

And that's how you do it, she thought smugly. He would certainly think twice now, if he even bothered to return back... Rosalie rubbed her hands together in glee and paced her room again, this time waiting impatiently to hear the men leaving.

Eventually she heard the noise of horses snorting outside and she went to her balcony to look out. She waved politely to the lord, who'd turned back and had noticed her. Rosalie glanced through the crowd and stopped to sneer when she saw Jonathan. He looked distant somehow, and moody. As all the men started slowly moving out of the castle Jonathan glanced back and up. He stared at Rosalie incredulously, hardly believing she would do such a thing. It was just a kiss! he thought, but the knights near him were starting to give him some meaningful looks and he had to urge his horse to follow the crowd.

Rosalie leaned on the balustrade and watched as the men rode out, saying goodbye to Jonathan in her mind.

When the dust had settled down in the horizon she didn't feel so glad anymore. Just when it was too late, she realised just what she had done. She'd sent Jonathan to war, and he honestly didn't know anything about real fighting. He might get killed. And it was all Rosalie's fault. She felt a little sick and decided to spend to rest of the day in her bed, brooding over her actions.