Anya swept down the stairs, her heart beating faster than it ever had before when she caught sight of the royal guards moving steadily up to her home. Why were they here, what did they want? She made it to the door and looked over her shoulder to Faith and Tara who stood just out of sight.
“Get the girls, I want them to make an appearance.” She snapped before schooling her face into a perfect mask of joy, before opening the door and coming out.
“Oh! Your Highness, what a surprise.” Anya smiled and batted her own lashes at the regal man in front of her. “To what do we owe this great honor?”
William smiled politely and waved his guard forward with the stolen horse. “I’m returning your horse, Baroness.”
Anya seemed to still for a second before recovering with a smile. “Oh. Was it missing?”
William blinked and nodded. “Yes. I took the liberty of borrowing it earlier.” Scratching the back of his head, he smiled a little bitterly. “I’m afraid I scared your servant;” his smile turned humorous and he rubbed his head where one of the apples had hit his head. “A young man with a, quite a good arm, actually.”
“He is mute, my lord.” Anya said quickly a frown tightening around her mouth. That boy was going to get what was coming to him.
“Really?” The prince continued, blonde eyebrows rising. “He spoke quite forcefully.” Something was strange with the woman’s reply but William was willing to let it go, for what she did with her servants was her own business.
“Well, it comes and goes.” Anya tried to smooth away the curiosity that gleamed in the prince’s eyes. It would not do for him to find out that her servant was a stepson. With a gleaming smile Anya bowed slightly. “But as always Your Highness is welcome to anything he wishes.” Stepping forward slightly, her smiled changed. “Anything at all.”
From within the house there was running and the sounded of skirts twirling in a hurry, followed by a gasping call of, wait for me. Out of the ajar door flew Buffy and Willow. Anya looked slightly over to them and back at the prince.
“Oh ladies, here you are.” She quipped a little harshly.
At that the two curtsied and greeted him at the same time. “Your Highness.”
Anya stood straight and smiled slyly. “Your Highness, may I present Buffy Marguerite Francoise Louise of the House of Ghent,” Anya gestures beautifully at Buffy and then looked with a slight sneer at her other daughter. “And Willow.”
The two girls stood silently, Buffy pushing out her chest to show the overpriced brooch just under her cleavage and Willow was attempting to stand up to her sister’s looks and brooch with a simple white feather which she tucked behind her ear.
“You may indeed.” William said in a polite way looking over at the Baroness’ daughters he forced a smile. “Ladies, forgive me, but you seem to have blossomed overnight.” It was always awkward talking to your noble ladies, who were always pursuing him even with his engagement. But he looked back at he baroness when she moved forward to touch his horse’s neck.
“We’re so looking forward,” she stroked the horse and spoke lightly. “; to celebrating the engagement to your own Spanish rose.” The words came out tight and measured.
William’s mouth got tight and he nodded slightly. “Yes, well, there have been several new developments with regards to Spain.” Looking back to the daughters William’s gaze passed over the slightly larger girl and onto Buffy. Spotting the brooch he inwardly sighed. “I must say, Marguerite, that brooch is stunning.”
Buffy pressed around the brooch to look down at it suggestively. “This old thing? You’re too kind.” She tried to make her voice husky. At her side Willow looked down at her own breasts, grabbed the feather from her hair, and stuck it into the front of her dress. Kennedy smiled and covered it with her hand trying to disguise it as a cough.
Anya stepped away and curtsied. “These developments I trust are for the best?” she asked trying to get more information.
“Let us hope so.” William said with a charming smile and then looked at the assembled three. “Good day ladies.” He said before riding away down the road leaving the house of Ghent behind, without thinking again about the sisters or the servant.
Far from, the house Alex trotted towards court to win back Wesley with the money he held clenched in his hand. As he neared the guards they pushed the beggars out of the way.
“Make way for the barer.” One called as Alex walked through the gate and up towards the main gate. He did not know where the people sold to the Americas were kept but he was going to find them, no matter what.
When he reached the bridge he grabbed the supporting chain for a second, his heart fluttering like a trapped butterfly and looked down. There he could see Wesley in a large cage on a wagon. Narrowing his eyes a bit he made sure then took a large breath in.
“Lord, give me strength.” He murmured before rushing off to where the cart was rolling away. The gruff man on the front looked intimidating and scowled continually.
“Come on, come on!” he yelled growling at the ox that labored in front of him. Grabbing the reins Alex pulled them to a stop easily.
“I wish to address the issue of this gentleman.” He called to the driver whose eyes now glared at him angrily. “He is my servant and I am here to pay the debt against him.” He continued being undeterred.
The man sniffed and spit to the side. “You’re too late, he’s paid for.” He said with a growl.
“I can pay you twenty gold francs.” He stood his ground, his jaw tightening.
The man sneered at him. “You can have me for twenty gold francs.” He growled. “Drive on!” he snapped angrily.
Alex’s eye’s narrowed at the man his mouth setting in a grim line. “I demand you release him at once, or I shall take this matter to the King.” Alex said hotly not willing to lose this battle.
The larger man smiled bitterly. “The King’s the one who sold ‘im. He’s now the property of Cartier.”
Alex’s cheeks flushed as anger flooded him. “He is not property at all, you ill-mannered tub of guts.” He snapped. “Do you think it right to chain people like chattel?” Alex held tight to the reins. “I demand you release him at once!”
“Get out of my way!” The man bellowed. However, he was cut off by a clear, cutting voice from behind Alex.
“You dare raise your voice to a barer, sir?”
Alex turned slowly and curtsied gracefully. “Your Highness.”
The man was sputtering red with embarrassment. “ F-forgive me, Sire.” He looked between the Prince and Alex. “I meant no disrespect.” He continued swallowing loudly. “It’s just uh, I’m following orders.” motioning behind him. “It’s my job to take these thieves to the coast.”
Alex frowned and looked up at the prince and then to the large man. “A servant is not a thief, Your Highness, and those who are cannot help themselves.” He said earnestly.
William turned to look at the barer that spoke with so much passion. “Really?” he quipped, thinking for sure he would stutter nothing of real value. “Well, then. By all means enlighten us.”
Standing straight Alex set his jaw and began to speak clearly. “If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them.” Alex said trying to read the prince’s face. “What else is to be concluded, Sire but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”
William blinked slowly, and the silence seemed to rein over the people surrounded, many of the woman were smiling behind their hands and nodding.
“Well, there you have it.” William did not look away from Alex’s slight form.
“But, Sire…” the man began only to be silenced by a harsh look from the prince.
“I said release him!” William said a bit louder.
The large man stumbled from his seat. “Yes, Sire.” He mumbled and opened the iron door allowing Wesley to hop out.
The servant smiled at Alex and whispered. “I thought I was looking at your mother.”
Alex smiled and winked before whispering. “Meet me at the bridge.” Then stood away and smiled brightly. “Prepare the horses! We will leave at once!” The large man took the small sack of gold from Alex glowering. Behind him, Ethan looked the barer up and down and smiled to himself at the commoner shoes which were on his feet.
Wesley hurried away as a servant should while Alex turned towards William. “I thank you, Your Highness.” He said politely, curtsied and walked happily towards the entrance practically elated at the fact he had succeeded. But unknown to him, William had hopped off his horse and was striding behind him.
“Have we met?” the blond prince asked coming to walk next to Alex.
Looking up slightly and then back down to keep walking forward. “I do not believe so, Your Highness.”
William smiled and trotted backwards in front of him. “I could have sworn I knew every courtier in the province.”
Alex bit him lip and spoke again. “Well…” he thought for a second. “I’m visiting a cousin.”
The prince smiled. “Who?
“My cousin.” Alex answered.
“Yes, you said that. Which one?”
“The only one I have, Sire.” At his answer William stepped in front of him.
“Are you coy on purpose, or so you honestly refuse to tell me your name?” William was intrigued by this barer and was trying to figure out ways to get his name.
“No! And yes.” Alex said moving around the prince with a blush.
Grinning William moved with him. “Then, pray, tell me your cousin’s name so I might call upon her to learn who you are.” An idea popped into his head. “Anyone who can quote Thomas More is well worth the effort.”
Alex turned a smile on his face. “The Prince had read Utopia?”
“I found it sentimental and dull.” He said simply not noticing Alex’s put off expression. “I confess, the plight of the everyday rustic bores me.”
Walking on Alex frowned. “I gather you do not converse with many peasants.”
William smiled and chuckled lightly. “Certainly not, no! Naturally. “
The frown deepened on Alex’s face. “Excuse me, Sire, but there is nothing natural about it.” Anger flushed his cheeks slightly. “A country’s character is defined by its everyday rustics, as you call them.” Alex’s pace picked up a bit. “They are the legs you stand on. That position demands respect, not…”
William cut him off, and stood in front of him again. “Am I to understand that you find me arrogant?” he was smiling when he said it.
Looking at the angular, handsome face Alex sighed. “Well, you gave one man back his life, but did you even glance at the others?”
William grabbed his hands and looked at Alex’s face. “Please, I beg of you a name. Any name.”
Smiling at him demurely Alex answered. “I fear that the only name to leave you with is Comtesse Nicolas De Lancret.” He blushed.
“There now.” Said the prince. “That wasn’t so hard.”
From the hedges to the left the Queen emerged. “Oh, William! You’re Back.”
William looked over to his mother, and Alex slipped away. “Hello, Mother.”
“The King would like a word with you. Several, in fact.” She said seriously, looking at the Barer who had slipped away.
“He usually does. I shall be right in.” William turned back to see Alex gone and sighed. At least he had a name.