sâmbătă, 20 septembrie 2014

Endless Ambition

“But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”

Her father sent for her two months after the first attack, on an icy winter morning and in only a couple of hours, she threw away the fancy stitching her stepmother insisted her to work on and prepared herself a travelling chest. She had been expecting this moment ever since her father's departure. Nobody dared to ask why the Duke wasn't summoning his heir, instead of asking for his middle daughter, because while his sister was getting ready to fulfill his role in front of their father, her older brother, her father's heir, was kept to his bed, struck down by high fever, half conscious of the events that were taking place around him.
She was very much aware that if her father won this war, she may never become the crowned head, but she was determined to take over and rule from behind her unqualified brother's back. Her father practically raised her for to do exactly that.

Her arrival turned the scale in her father's favour and determined the war's outcome.
She still spent almost four years there, alongside her father and his men, acting as his advisor and his main ally.

She didn't hesitate any second when it came to giving up her beautiful, embroidered dresses for men's clothes and parting from her chambermaids, nor when she had to learn to pass quietly during chilly nights in order to clean herself of many days' grime.

Two years and a half after her arrival and exactly one year before her father's triumph, she carried on the first one of her many acts of defiance.
It was during a formal dinner in her father's pavilion, when she was introduced to a young and very promising Captain in the Duke's army, already very much admired by her father. And also very betrothed to her older sister, Maria. She recalled hearing his name casually mentioned among her family, but it wasn't until that evening that she decided to put to the test her personal charm. It certainly wasn't the first time she was flirting with someone, because what other guilt-free pastime could a noble young lady enjoy if not an innocent tease of charming courtiers? But she certainly never dared to foresee the outcome of her actions.

In only a few weeks, she was secretly leaving her tent in the middle of the winter nights only to meet him, far from prying eyes. And from there on, things could only move in one direction, even if she kept trying to convince herself that it was nothing more than harmless play.

"No, Albrecht ... It has to be the last time ..."
"You keep saying that. Every night. Yet you keep coming to me. Just one more night, right, Agnes?"
"That's Your Grace, for you, not Agnes..."
"I apologise for my recklessness, Your Grace ... Should I try to prove to you just how sorry I am ...?"
As their armies won more battles and the end of her father's campaign was closer, she came to the conclusion that there was only one way to settle the things between them, for having to put an end to whatever name they referred to this endless banter between them was simply not something she was ready to face.
"We could run away and get married, you know? The war is almost over and your father doesn't need your help anymore... "
"I'm not going to give up on everything that I have built up until now, Albrecht ... It is my birthright."
"Then I will simply go and marry Maria. That's what your father wants, right?"
He never got tired of provoking her in every possible way. Even if it always ended with her slaping him.
"Don't even dare mention her name in front of me!"
"As you wish, Your Grace ..."

"Don't you feel guilty sometime?"
"What should I feel guilty for?"
"Depriving your brother of his power? Hiding from your father? Stealing your sister's betrothed ...?"
"As if that would only be my accomplishment? I'm certain you might have had something to do with it too..."
The morning when her father informed her of their victory was marked by the first day of spring.
"What now, Agnes? You know that we will have to part, sooner or later. And the next time we will meet will probably be at your sister's wedding."
"Give me just one more day. I'll talk to my father."