Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Knightley, Orb's Year 929-932


Orb's Year 929
"What in Orb's name were you hoping to accomplish, flirting with him like that?" Bradshaw railed.  "I don't want you to see him again!"
"You don't want me to see him again?! Well! Let's talk about you! I know all about you and Deanna!  Was anyone planning on telling me that I would be step-mother to the serving girl's child?!" Princess Daphne Royale said as she poked his chest with her finger.
Bradshaw's jaw tightened.  "That is not up for discussion," he said tersely.  "It happened before you came here."

Daphne folded her arms across her chest and began to argue, but Bradshaw interrupted her, "Not another word!" he said hotly before he turned and slammed from the room.

***

Deanna sat before Bradshaw and his very disapproving parents.  She knew this day was coming soon.  Arthur and Breena Knightley wanted her gone before the baby was born.  But, she had nowhere to go!  Her mother would not let her return home! 

Bradshaw cleared his throat, bringing her attention to him.  Silently, she willed him not to say what his parents had coached him to say.

"We all agree that the Abbey is the best place..." he trailed on, but Deanna stopped listening.

Just then, Princess Daphne ran into the room, chest heaving and cheeks flushed with anger.  "I won't have it!" she shouted.  "I won't have her living here when I am to wed Bradshaw!  I won't raise a half-class child of his"
Bradshaw heard a buzzing filling his mind.  Betrothed to the Princess, but in love with the Servant.  Bradshaw glanced back and forth between his two different futures... trying to figure out which path to take..
"Well?" Princess Daphne asked, trembling with false bravado.
"Bradshaw?" Deanna's voice trembled with hope.  It was as though she was willing him, please.. pick me..

Bradshaw's gaze lingered on Deanna... perhaps...
"Why does everyone assume the child is Bradshaw's?" Camelot said as he casually entered the room.  "The child is mine!" he announced.

A gasp followed from everyone in the room.

Bradshaw looked at Deanna, jaw tightening, "Is that true? Could it be my brother's child?"

Deanna hedged, trying to figure out what Camelot was doing.  Apparently her silence was damning.
Bradshaw leaped over the table and pushed his brother.  "How could you?" he accused.

Camelot shrugged, "I love her, too."

The color drained from Bradshaw's face, seeing it as the truth.
Camelot turned to his parents.  "I apologize for the shame I have brought upon the house.  I will leave with Deanna immediately."
Sadness filled Arthur's eyes, "Don't do this, son," he said softly as he hugged him, already knowing there was no stopping the inevitable.  "You don't have to lie to save her."

Camelot smiled wistfully, "There's no other choice, Father."
Daphne watched as Camelot and Deanna left quietly.  She wasn't sure what had happened.  Why was everyone so upset?  Didn't they want Deanna to leave? 
Glancing back at her intended, she saw him gazing at the door where his brother and Deanna had just exited. 
Without a word to anyone, he turned and headed upstairs.
Well that went well, she thought sarcastically as she stared at the now empty room.

***

"You've got to do something!" Breena said as she hurried after her husband.  "You've got to stop him!  He's going to ruin his life!"

Arthur put his hands on his wife's shoulders.  "There's nothing we can do now.  He's made his decision."
She tried to put it behind her, but felt destroyed.  In the middle of a game with Bradshaw, she began to sob uncontrollably.  "We've lost him.  My little boy!"
"Pull yourself together," Bradshaw grated out as he got up from the table.  "He's not lost.  He's just run off with a heartless tart."
Alone in his room, Bradshaw sank to his bed.  All in the space of a moment, he'd lost everything - a child that would never be his... a love that was never his... and a brother that took them both...

He would marry Princess Daphne. He would just know better than to involve his heart...

Orb's Year 930
"Do you mind keeping it down, I'm trying to read!" Bradshaw snapped.

Daphne stuck her tongue out at the back of his head.  "Come on Thadius, let's go where we're appreciated!"
In the other room, Daphne played with Thadius until the cat grew bored and wandered away.  Now what was she to do?  
"Thanks for coming over," she told Scott.  "It's been so boring here!"

Scott stuck his nose in the air.  "I probably shouldn't be here at all.  Your intended is quite rough and low-class!"

"Oh, he is no such thing!" Daphne argued.  What a perfectly snobby thing to say!

"He nearly trounced me within an inch of my life!" Scott whined.
"Perhaps you need another lesson, then," Bradshaw said from behind the two young teenagers. 

Scott yelped and held his hands up in front of his face, "Don't hit me!"
Bradshaw rolled his eyes and glared at Daphne.  "I told you not to see him again."
"I hate you!" Daphne cried as she ran inside.

Bradshaw watched her go and felt a prick of guilt.  It wasn't her fault that their parents had struck a marriage bond.  Hell, it wasn't even her fault that he couldn't be with Deanna. 

But still...

Every now and then he wondered what could've been...

***

Dinner was a somber affair with nobody speaking over the food.  Oh, his mother had tried to spark up a conversation, but finally admitted defeat. 
Daphne helped bring the dishes to the kitchen and watched as Bradshaw tidied up.  Twisting her hands, she wondered how she could take back the horrid things she'd said earlier in the day. 

But, before she could open her mouth, Bradshaw had walked off with his shoulders slumping.
Thadius purred and rubbed against her ankle.  "At least I have you, right?" She asked as she rubbed her cheek against his soft fur.

Orb's Year 932
"I trust all the arrangements have been taken care of?" Bradshaw asked his mother.
"Oh yes, just wait until you see it all!" Breena said cheerfully.  "It's so beautiful!"

Bradshaw held up his hand to stop her rambling.  "That's all.  Let me know when it's time."

Breena shook her head.  She hated to see her eldest so torn up.  He'd lost a lot of weight since Deanna had left with Camelot and there were dark circles under his eyes.  She hadn't seen him smile or laugh in ages!

She wished she knew what to do to bring joy back to his life!

***

Princess Daphne stood in front of the wedding arch and tried to envision herself married to Bradshaw.  Feeling apprehension in the pit of her stomach, she worried that this was an awful mistake!
"You know, I was just like you the morning of my wedding," Breena said, walking up behind Daphne.   "My father arranged my marriage to Arthur and I fought tooth and nail against him.  And then, something magical happened."
"What?" Daphne asked hopefully.

"I fell in love!"  Breena smiled.  "To this day, I can't imagine a life without Arthur!"

Daphne sighed, crestfallen.  She'd been hoping for a fairy godmother or a magical potion that would make him love her... not Deanna...

***

Daphne nervously made her way up to the arch where Bradshaw stood, waiting for her.  She'd asked her sister-in-law, Princess Kea, to stand with her. 
When she stood beside him, Bradshaw kissed her hand politely and then she let her hand drop back down to the side. 

Shyly, she glanced up at him under her eyelashes.  He looked so handsome and charming.  She couldn't help but dream that he would finally see her and fall deeply in love with her!
Bradshaw squirmed uncomfortably.  He wasn't sure when, but Daphne had grown into a beautiful woman.  Standing next to her, he was struck with a fit of nervousness.
As Bradshaw searched for what to say, his father leaned forward and whispered, "Say your vows!"

The crowd chuckled in response.
All except the woman in the back...
"With this ring, I pledge to love," Bradshaw's voice hitched, "honor and protect you for as long as we both shall live."
It felt like the ceremony sped by to Daphne.  One minute she was pledging to love, honor and respect Bradshaw and then the next he pulled her close for the obligatory kiss.

Blushing, she pulled away as their friends and family cheered.  Blessed Orb, Bradshaw knew how to kiss!
"Welcome to the family," King Barron said happily, clasping Bradshaw's arm.
The day was full of fun and festivities as the nobles and royalty celebrated the union between the Royales and the Knightleys.

Breena smiled.  There was light and laughter in the Great Hall again!
Pleading a headache, Daphne headed upstairs to wait for Bradshaw.  In fact, she was so anxious about her wedding night, that she felt like she was going to burst!  She was partly excited and partly scared!

She wished Bradshaw would hurry up and get it over with!

***

"And then there was the time we had gone to Fischer's swimming hole and were swimming around until Old Man Fischer said there were barracudas in there.  We lit out of there like there were barracudas nipping at our heels!" Bradshaw laughed, remembering one of his wilder adventures with his brother, Camelot. 

He hadn't expected his brother, but it hurt nonetheless that he didn't come.
Raising his glass and downing another glass of ale, Bradshaw led the remaining guests in a rousing song, stumbling around.

Prince Barron laughed until he fell to the floor.  "Oh, Cursed Orb," he said, staring at the ceiling.  "Daphne is going to kill us!" 

"Most assuredly!" Bradshaw agreed, grinning.  Wobbling he made his way up to his room where she was sure to be waiting for him....
...but got waylaid by a comfy looking bench...

***

Daphne woke up alone, eyes puffy from crying herself to sleep.  Her husband had not come to share the marital bed with her.  And since he did not come to the master bed... where did he sleep?
Tentatively, she knocked on his door.  "Bradshaw?" she asked, poking her head in.  No, he didn't sleep here last night, she thought, glancing around. 
Her eyes landed on a bouquet that had collected dust sitting on the shelf.  Self-consciously, she traced the dried petals.  It was obvious that he still cared for Deanna very much... he kept a reminder right here where he slept. 

What a fool she was thinking that he would feel anything for her other than obligation!

***

"Get up!" a voice called him from his slumber.
Wincing at the light, Bradshaw struggled to sit upright, groaning when his head threatened to fall from his shoulders.  "Wha?" he asked with a tongue that felt plastered to the roof of his mouth.  Cursed Orb, this is why he never drank!

With his body tilted down, he clearly saw Daphne's foot tapping with irritation.

Glancing up, he clearly saw her face twisted with anger.

Oh Cursed Orb, he thought, he'd gotten so blitzed he'd missed their wedding night!
Jumping up as fast as his body would allow, Bradshaw attempted to apologize.  "I'm so sorry, Daphne.  I was drinking with..."
"I don't want to hear it!" Daphne yelled, not caring when Bradshaw reached for his throbbing head.  "I just wanted you to know that you need not debase your love by sharing a bed with me!"
Bradshaw wracked his brain trying to figure out what she was talking about.  "Debase my love? What?"

"Oh shut it!" Daphne said, stomping.  "It's obvious you're still in love with Deanna! And until you're over her, you can't love me!"

Bradshaw held out his hand, "Now wait, I never said anything about loving..."

Daphne laughed angrily.  "Oh isn't that the truth! You don't have to remind me!  You never said anything about loving me!  This is a marriage of convenience!  Why pretend it's anything other than that!"
Turning, she rushed to the wedding arch that mocked her.  Feeling as though tears would spill any minute, she took a deep breath.
As she brushed past him, she said flatly, "I want it all gone immediately.  I want no trace remaining."
Bradshaw watched her go, still trying to figure out what he had done.  She was obviously extremely angry about something... but what?

She'd yelled about him being in love with Deanna.  Which couldn't be further from the truth now!  Too many years had gone by for him to still be mooning over his brother's woman!
Back in her room, Daphne let the tears fall as she sobbed uncontrollably.  She'd bought into the happily-ever-after-fairy-tale and all she'd gotten was the frog with warts.

But he's my warty frog! she thought sadly with a fresh burst of tears.

***

It was a long, lonely night...
...for both of them...

***

In the morning light, Bradshaw attempted to talk to Daphne, but she was giving him the silent treatment. 

He figured that she would come to him when she was ready to talk.

***

But life is ever-changing.
Bradshaw let out a hoarse cry when he found his father, collapsed in the study that he loved so dear. 
Daphne raced down the stairs when she'd heard Bradshaw's cry.  Standing awkwardly beside him, she knew nothing she could say would help.  Words fell hollow when faced with the death of a loved one.  She knew that all too well from when her father had passed away.
So, she did the only thing she knew.  She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her and let him rest his head on her shoulder.

***

Prince Scott Trottier stared walked by the Knightley's castle and fought the urge to storm the doors to demand satisfaction from the muscle-bound Bradshaw.

No, he would never win against the brute using strength.  He had to beat him using his brains.

Crossing his arms, he smiled, imaging Bradshaw out of the picture and Princess Daphne on his arm...

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