Normal, plain, average. The words that used to define her not a few weeks ago felt foreign. How quickly does time pass? Just yesterday she was with her family, eating and laughing, going out in the village to assist the physician, helping out. Now, she was stuck in the dark manor with people who won’t show their faces and things so unreal that she couldn’t even think of them in her wildest dreams.
Margaret had always thought, how would it be to be like the protagonist of a certain book? Fierce and courageous. Fighting for what’s right against demons of the night. Now she felt like in a plot line but she couldn’t gather the courage to be like those lead characters she admired. How could someone not lose their mind in the dark? How can they not feel depressed in this solitude? The only person she talked to was a kid who vanished and the man saying he would marry her can’t meet her without something going terribly wrong.
Margaret felt around the water. It was getting colder by the minute like the rest of the house. Winter was here and the daily trouble won’t let her sit beside a warm fire and enjoy the snow with a mug of hot tea. Just the day before her room had dead rats. The night before that the windows if the house were open letting in the light of the beautiful moon which enraged the Lord and had him breaking things. And of course a week before the incident with the soup.
With no sign of Toby and no other friendly maid she was left alone with only her book and the magic mirror. Every time she thought of a person something dreaded would be shown. Her father was getting sicker by the minute and her eldest brother had engrossed himself in fighting. Her mother was left to take care of her father and worrying about Giselle’s marriage. In everything, her other brother, Ash, had drowned himself in paperwork. Margaret felt more terrible than she should have because she knew she was the cause of their depression.
“What are you thinking?” An unexpected voice made Margaret jump.
“Lord Wellington, this is inappropriate. You can not just walk in on a bathing lady! Have the decency to knock and let the maid in to prepare the gown.” The lights in the bath room were dim. A fire was lit to keep the bath warm and Margaret could only think of letting the flame engulf her as she faced the embarrassing situation. She went neck deep into the rose petal filled water.
“I was never known for my decency Miss Edwards. Before you get enraged anymore, let me tell you that Becka came and knocked, she even tried to get you attention but you wouldn’t respond. She thought you may have gone into a shock of some sort. Believe me when I say I know she is not lying for even I tried to knock and have you listen for the past few minutes. For a moment even I thought you dead. ” The Lord replied in his raspy voice that made her cringe. Was she really so lost in her own thoughts? Since when did Lord Wellington start to care?
“Now that you have proven me alive my Lord, would you have the courtesy to leave? ” Margaret said to him politely but both of them knew it was an order. Margaret saw as he didn’t hesitate and held on to his cloak and turned around. From the dim light she saw as his tall figure navigated to the end of the huge room without a problem as if he had each step memorized.
Living in the manor she had often wondered what the lord looked like beneath the cloak he used to hide himself. It was like a physical barrier between him and the world and Margaret understood it as she herself used her work and books to hide away. Sadly how the Lord did it was way too unhealthy for his mental state but seeing the crazy things that have happened she didn’t doubt that there was a reason for the things that were going around.
“Miss Edwards?” Margaret jumped up startled not having expected the lord to stop at the and speak. She had gotten lost in thoughts in barely a second and she pledged to herself not to do that again.
“Yes, Lord Wellington?”
“I will be sending Becka in and she will help you to navigate to Mrs Weatherly’s work place.”
“Mrs. Weatherly?” Margaret questioned. In the few weeks she had been here she had never heard of any Mrs. Weatherly.
“Yes, the seamstress. You want a nice wedding gown don’t you?” And just when she thought he was becoming caring. Margaret sighed.
“Yes, of course.” Margaret muttered not liking the idea of dressing up for her forced wedding at all.
“What was that Miss Edwards?” Lord Wellington asked and Meg felt like he did that on purpose even after having heard the disdain in her voice.
“Nothing. I just said yes, Lord Wellington. ”
“That was what I had thought Miss. As I am feeling courteous, I will let you write to your family. Have the letter handed to Elber and he will see to it that they are delivered.” Margaret could not believe her ears. Write? To her family? She could not wait to be out ans start with it already. How would they react? Would it help them improve?
“You are not jesting. Are you? That is a terrible attempt at a jest.” The dark lord shook his head and stepped out of the room. Meg’s head ran wild and she called for Becka thinking of a million words she could write down.
“Pri-Prince Drake!” A servant stuttered with her eyes wide open in shock as she came in without a knock.
“What is it?” He asked annoyed at her stutter. Stuttering was one habit he could not handle. Especially when the person knew how to speak properly.
“Its a girl! At the footsteps!”
“Mrs Weatherly, meet our bride to be, Miss Margaret. I hope you were notified about why your services are required.” Becka said as they entered the a large room. In the dark manor, this was the first room that was lit so much apart from her own. Torches lined the walls and fabric cover the floor. In middle of it all stood a lady of a thin frame. She looked much like Becka, aged, but she handled herself in way that if she were to dress up Margaret did not doubt that the woman could make people mistake her for a queen.
“Yes! I was. But you should have brought her in weeks ago! We have no time!” Mrs Weatherly said and pulled her to the center of the room. The room was lively much like the seamstress. Dressed in a bright orange mixed with an array of colors the seamstress looked right at home in the room.
“Mayhaps we should have. Anyhow, I will leave her in your care now. ” Becka said to the seamstress and turned her fragile looking body towards Meg and smiled. “I hope you get just the design you like.”
Margaret gave a gentle nod in response and watched as the old maid disappeared in the darkness outside. Meg stood awkwardly in the room feeling on the edge as Mrs Weatherly came up to her and started examining every inch of her. She pushed both of Meg’s hands up and took a turn around her examining the waist.
“Hmm,” Mrs Weatherly started with a hand resting on her waist and head cocked to a side. “You have a beautiful figure darling, much better than the last one if I say so. Now tell me, what will it be? Tulle? Silk? Velvet? Cotton or georgette? Would you have it in color white like of brides or delicious red like of blood? Heavy on embroidery or heavy on the draping Mayhaps?”
How about none at all? Margaret thought hating the fact that she had to be here for this. This should have been a special moment; going with her sister and mother to a seamstress to design a beautiful white gown for her. If Meg hadn’t sworn to herself that she would stop with the self pity she would have went on to be frustrated about the situation.
“How about a little blue Mrs Weatherly?” Margaret said taking a deep breath. If she was going to have a gown anyway, she wanted the best.
“Blue? I would have thought you would say red or pink. Blue would do. A blue brides gown. Aha! Who has made such in the entire kingdom?” The seamstress clicked her fingers twice and gave herself a twirl. “What more young lady?”
“Um.. Drapping on the skirt?” Meg answered unsure. The seamstress looked at her eagerly with a shine of something in her eyes.
“Yes, yes. Go on.”
“Bare shoulders, shimmer, something like the dress you have hung on that window.” Margaret said pointing at a closed window on the other side of the the room. There hung a big yellow and white dress that sparkled better than anything ahe had ever seen before. She could imagine it being the center of attention. A dress like that of a queen with embroidery in gold.
“You like that gown?” The old seamstress asked. Meg nodded quickly,”That’s for your engagement ball next week! I could not take you measures so I do not know how i will fit you, but when you wear it, I will be there to fit it.”
“Pardon me. What ball?” Margaret was puzzled. No one had mentioned any ball to her. Not like anyone told her anything till a moment before the thing was to take place.
“Your engagement? Darling, how do you plan to marry if you do not have a ring on that finger and a celebration to go with it?” In a un-lady like manner the seamstress rolled her eyes. If Mrs.Weatherly’s body did not tell Meg her age she would have thought she was in her teens.
“It seems like no one told you. Worry not child, everyone here has lived so long that they have forgotten how to communicate. Anyhow, let us think of the dress now. Shall we? Becka would be coming back soon enough.” Mrs Weatherly said walking to a desk to grab her feather and parchment. Margaret frowned but soon started to discuss the dress unaware of everything going around her and mystery looming in the background.
About an hour after the fitting Margaret stood next to the hearth trying to add to the dying fire. The cold that day seemed to be going beyond her imagination and she was sure this was the coldest winter she had endured till date. She wondered if it was snowing outside. Last year Asher had a huge snow ball fight with her that ended with them falling a little sick and her mother getting a sore throat from all the shouting about unlady like manner. Sweet memories they were.
“Your lunch Miss Edwards.” Becka said setting a tray on the table in the room.
“Thank you Becka but how many times do I have to tell you to call me Meg? Or Margaret?” Cool breeze came in through the chimney making the flames flicker. The small flame provided little to no protection against the cold and Margaret shivered.
“Cold day Miss?” Becka said seeing her shiver and coming next to her with a wood in her hand to add to the fire.
“‘Tis the darn snow Miss. Falling like the witch’s curse today.” Becka said in a manner that seemed like the words themselves were curses of a sailor. she seemed to dislike snow.
Snow? It took a moment for the word to register in her brain and she stood up suddenly. She needed to breathe some fresh air and being out in the Snow did not sound bad.
“Becka? Will you like to go out in the snow with me?” Margaret asked hopefully. Since the day she has stepped in the manor she was yet to go out. She has lost the count of days she was here for and it was probably around a month.
“Me in the snow miss? I can not.” Becka paused for a moment. “However when you finish with your food I can help put in a good word for you so that you could go out.”
Lets just say, Margaret had never eaten food so quickly.
By the time Meg was done with her food Becka had all that was required. A permission to go out and a warm coat. Meg could not have been more over joyed even though Becka told her that the Lord has said that she could go out even though she had to remain within the walls. Meg agreed and was lead to the main door. She didn’t fail to notice that the manor was not that dark anymore. Fire was lit to lighten up every few steps apart. A needed progress done in the past month.
“Just remember, inside the walls.” Becka warned and opened the doors.
Fresh cold wind greeted Margaret and she closed her eyes while taking a deep breath. She felt the air greet her and wrap her like a old friend. With a smile she stepped out feeling like a kid having her first experience of something new. Becka and her capture was forgotten as she looked at the glistening snow under that star light. Happy memories flooded her mind as she ran out of the manor and basked in the freedom.
“Who would have thought that a person shall yearn for the simplest of things like the feel of nature beneath their feet?” Margaret said to no one in particular as she entertained herself by admiring the snow clad trees and smiling as she would catch a bit of the white cold beauty in her hands.
“For that I am deeply apologetic.” A familiar voice came from behind Margaret breaking her haze. It took a moment for her to unfreeze and turn around.
“Lord Wellington, what a surprise. I was not expecting to see you out.” Meg said with the reality finally coming back to her. The lord stood in his usual cloak with head tilted as if studying the young lady.
“Ah yes. The inside was becoming stuffy and knowing that you were out here I hoped to check up on you.” To say Margaret was offended could not even summon up what she felt. Nevertheless she put it aside by taking in a deep breath like how her mother always asked her to.
“Very well then. I hope you are pleased to hear I am in excellent health at this moment, mentally and physically. I wish to spend some time out here and reminiscence about the past few winters.” Margaret said in the politest way she could say that and hoped the man in front of her had half a brain to understand that she wanted him gone from there.
“What happened these past winter?” The raspy voiced person asked. A smile lightened up Meg’s face as she started to think of all the fun time she had spent with her family and friends. She remembered Tod, the hen. Tod had come out of his pen and silently made his way to a sleeping carriage driver. Somehow he had found a way to climb up to the face of the driver and spook him. After that was a chain reaction. The man screamed. Then the hen. Then the horses neighed and stood up tall on two feet for a second before taking off while the owner screamed at the carriage to stop.
“Ash, my brother, and I went to this winter festival in the village. There was a huge fair and I still have the wooden doll he won for me in the archery competetion. After that he taught me archery over the summer.”
“Brothers, an annoying delight. Aren’t they?” The lord said making Margaret squirm. It was as if she was under his intense gaze.
“Yes.. Yes they are.” She said look the other way. The lord however was not willing to drop the first genuine conversation. “Tell me more,” he said and hence started the sweet conversation that stood a chance to lead to something.