Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Knightley, Orb's Year 941-944


Orb's Year 941

Princess Daphne Knightley gave birth with no one but her sweet toddler, Florence. 
But she happily welcomed Bradshaw's heir, Gwain Knightley, into the world! 
It turned out that Daphne wasn't the only one pregnant...
Newly adopted Sassy cat delivered a sweet little kitten Eleanor named Fancy Pants.
Daphne was elated!  She loved all of her sweet cats very much!


Orb's Year 942
"Come on, we're going to play outside!" Eleanor said as she snuggled with Fancy Pants. 
Eleanor was quite surprised to see the well-dressed man standing by their back door.    "Who are you?" she demanded in the forthright manner of children.
The man executed a regal bow and smiled kindly at her.  "My name is Prince Scott Trottier.  I am a friend of your mother's."

Eleanor seemed to consider this.  "Then why haven't I ever met you before?" she asked.

The prince smiled another brilliant smile.  "We were friends a long time ago," he began.
Suddenly, a charming blonde little girl ran outside to join her sister.  "Eleanor, Mama says it's time to come inside!" she said.

Scott winningly.  He might have finally found the key to utterly destroy Bradshaw for his insults!  "And who is this young lady?" he asked.  "I see you favor the color pink, as well!"
"Girls!" Daphne said sharply, surprised to find them talking to Scott.  "Go inside immediately and see to your school work!"
Eleanor glanced between her mother's concerned face and the prince's glib smile and grabbed Florence's hand to hurry inside.  Something wasn't right, she thought.
"Ah, so good to see such an old friend!" Scott said happily, smiling at Daphne.

Daphne rolled her eyes.  "What do you want Scott?  I am happily married now and have no wish to provoke my husband's anger!"

Scott tsked with commiseration. "Yes, your husband does seem to have quite a sore spot when it comes to me! I think he would be ever more upset to discover his little golden-haired child is not his own!"
"What are you talking about?" Daphne snapped.  "We have never been intimate!  Florence is assuredly Bradshaw's daughter!"
Scott leaned forward to stroke Daphne's cheek.  "Aw, but doubt has crippled many a man!"

Daphne slapped his hand away.  "Bradshaw loves me!" she said boldly, wishing she had a sword to run the scoundrel through.  "He would never believe it!"

"I see your reasoning.  If Bradshaw truly loves you, then he will believe you.  If he doesn't... then..." Scott shrugged indelicately.

"Why are you doing this to me? I thought you were my friend!"

Scott's gaze hardened.  "You were to be my bride, but a lowly noble stole you.  I would have preferred to have ruined Bradshaw more quickly and married you, but you had to go an fall in love with the brute!  So, now you will have to suffer his punishment with him!"

"He will never believe you!" Daphne declared before turning around and running into the safety of her home. 

How could she have so thoroughly misjudged someone she thought was her friend?  She thought that he cared for her, but he'd only seen her as a way to humiliate and torment Bradshaw!  Bless the Orbs she'd never wound up with the deceitful man! she thought with a shiver of disgust.
Rushing through the house, she found her husband cradling little Gwain in his arms.
She threw herself into his arms and pressed close to his warmth. 

"What's wrong, Daphne?" Bradshaw said, shifting Gwain.  "Is everything okay?"

Daphne nodded with her head on his shoulder.  Glancing up, she smiled weakly.  "I just... I just missed you, that's all.  I love you so much!" she said with tears in her eyes.

"I love you, too," he said, kissing the top of her head.

Orb's Year 943

Daphne had needed a bit of a distraction from Prince Scott's threat.  She worried every day that he would contact Bradshaw and ruin their perfect life.  Part of her though that she should've said something the night Scott had approached her daughters...
Daphne realized she'd hardly been listening as her niece, Elyssa L'Adventurer, spoke of her sister joining the Abbey.  Just as she opened her mouth to ask Elyssa to repeat herself, she glanced at the door and gasped.  Bold as he pleased, Prince Scott Trottier waltzed through her front door and walked straight inside!

She girded herself for an argument with him, but he strolled right past her with a smug smile.
"Your majesty," Scott said with a flourishing bow.  "I have come to beseech you regarding a matter of custody!"

King Barron raised an eyebrow, "This is quite unusual!  As you can see, I am at my sister's home and not at court.  Come see me tomorrow for an audience."

Scott shook his head, "I'm sorry, your majesty, but this matter concerns your sister.  I have discovered that her young daughter, Florence, is actually my child.  She has attempted to pass off the half-class girl as her husband's child.  I am determined to win custody of my child!"
"No!" Daphne said, paling significantly. "It's not true!"  She glanced around as her sisters glanced her way, beseeching them. 

"Everyone out!" King Barron commanded, then motioned for Daphne to approach.  When she'd stopped before him, he asked sternly, "Is there any truth to this claim?"

Daphne was reeling with horror.  She had never expected so public an attack from Scott.  "Brother, you must believe me!  I have never strayed from my husband!"

Scott interjected, "Ah, but there are many servants that can testify that we spent many hours together, privately.  The child's hair is blonde as can be! Surely she must be mine!"

Daphne turned towards Scott and slapped him.  "Stop this! You know we were never intimate! Florence is Bradshaw's daughter and I will not allow you to threaten my family for some sort of warped vengeance."  Turning to Barron, she implored him, "Can't you see? He's always been jealous of Bradshaw and seeks to cause discord!"

Barron knew of his sister's stormy relationship with his brother-in-law.  It had seemed for a time that for every step they took forward, there was something else pushing them back.  It seemed possible that she might have betrayed their marriage vows during one of their off-periods. 

Daphne's heart sunk when she saw the doubt in her brother's eyes. 

"I'm sorry, Daphne. But I must investigate this claim," Barron said quietly.  "We enjoy trade-relations with the Trottiers and cannot risk angering them." 

Turning towards Prince Scott, Barron added grimly.  "I will take your petition under advisement and let you know of my decision when one is reached.  In the meantime, you will leave my sister alone and cease making any public accusations!"

Scott bowed humbly and took his leave. 

***

Bradshaw Knightley came home after a grueling day of work to find his wife weeping in her brother's arms.  He tensed, feeling some invisible threat still hovering in the household. 
"What is it? What's wrong?" Bradshaw asked, hurrying to his wife.  He tensed even further when King Barron made his excuses and left quickly. 

His suspicions were confirmed when Daphne said softly, "We should go sit down..."
Sadly, wiping away tears, Daphne told her husband about Scott's threat and resulting petition with her brother, the king.  She watched tearfully as the same look of doubt stole across her husband's face.

After sitting in silence for minutes, Bradshaw looked down at his hands and asked softly, "Is there any truth?  Could Florence be his child?"
Daphne jumped up and glared.  "How could you ask that? Of course there is no truth!"
"What am I to expect Daphne?  You snuck around with him for years, getting angry whenever I ordered him away!  And now I discover he's petitioning the king to claim Florence! So, I ask, is there any truth to his claim?"  Bradshaw yelled.
If Bradshaw truly loves you, then he will believe you."  Scott's taunting words echoed in her mind.   Daphne burst into tears and ran from the room.

***

Bradshaw watched Daphne run from the room and then headed to the bar to get a drink.  Cursed Orb, he thought, what a tangled mess.

He slammed back another drink, reeling with heartache and pain.

"I'm sorry, mi'lord," a woman said, approaching him with a platter of drinks.  "Is the party over then?"
"The party?" Bradshaw asked dumbly.

"Oh yes, your wife hired me for her family get together.  She said she wanted everyone to have a good time!"

Bradshaw reached out for another glass and tossed it back.  "No, stay.  It will be much nicer to have a pretty maid serving me drinks than getting it myself.  And I plan on getting very... very.... wasted tonight..."
After consuming more and more liquor, Bradshaw began chatting with the barmaid... and then casually flirting... and finally...
It did not take any flowery words or promises before Uma agreed to attend his rather personal needs.
Bradshaw stumbled from the closet filled with self-loathing.  He had never been disloyal to Daphne before and felt wretched to the tips of his soul.  Quickly, he over-paid the barmaid and sent her on her way.
Stumbling through the halls, he found Daphne asleep in their bed.  It would be so easy to crawl into their bed and pull her to him, ignoring this whole awful day.

But, his own infidelity taunted him and he stumbled from the room.

Orb's Year 944
"Happy Orb's Day Gwain!"  The cheerful family cried as Gwain attempted to blow the candles from his cake.
Bradshaw gazed with longing across the room towards Daphne. They were polite, but distant now.
He missed her like crazy.
Sometimes he thought that he wouldn't even care if Florence wound up being a half-class babe - he'd raised her and loved her!  But still, sometimes he found himself studying her face, trying to find a feature that belonged to him.

***

"You're being ridiculous, you know," Camelot said over drinks.  "There's no way Florence is not your daughter!"

Bradshaw shrugged, "King Barron hasn't made his decision yet."

Camelot rolled his eyes, "Please! I do not need to King to see the truth of it! Florence is your daughter! And Daphne is your wife! She never would have strayed from you!"

Bradshaw swirled the dregs of the drink in his glass. "How can you be so sure?" he asked wearily. 

Now it was Camelot's turn to shake his own head.  "You were happy with her and you can be happy with her again. It's as simple as that."

Could it be that simple, Bradshaw wondered.  Well, I'll never know if I never try...
Bradshaw waited until he found a moment alone with Daphne.  The children were tucked in and she was heading to bed.  As he stepped closer and stroked her cheek, he told her how sorry he was not to believe her.  Guiltily, he refrained from mentioning his infidelity with the barmaid. 

Thankfully, she'd thrown herself into his arms and said that she'd been waiting for him to forgive her.
All was forgiven...

***

"Lady Dolly, would you like to have some tea?" Florence said as she happily played with her beautiful dolly.  Her mother and father would be so angry if they knew she'd brought her outside.  They'd told her that she could get dirt or grass stains on her dolly.  But, Florence didn't care - it was such a beautiful day today!
"That's a beautiful little dolly," a man said, walking up the street.  Florence squinted at him, trying to remember where she had seen him before. He seemed familiar, but she wasn't sure why... 

***

Florence burst through the doors wailing loudly.  She ran straight for her older sister, Eleanor.
"Florence! What's the matter?" Eleanor asked, crouching down next to her sister.  "Tell me what's wrong?"

Eleanor sobbed and shook her head, covering her face with her hands.
Bradshaw and Daphne came running into the room.  "Eleanor? What's the matter?" Bradshaw asked, looking to her eldest daughter.

"I don't know, papa.  She won't say!"

Florence glanced at her father and burst into tears again.  "He said that you weren't my real father!" Florence wailed.  "He said that he was my papa! It's not true, is it, papa?"
Bradshaw stilled, brimming with anger.  Cursing under his breath, he pushed past Eleanor and Florence to see if the scoundrel was still outside.

Daphne watched Bradshaw storm from the house and worried. 

Gwain, in the back grinned and laughed, oblivious to the tension in the room.  "I always knew you weren't really my sister!" he teased.

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