With You, I'll Be Only Sibylla
Disclaimer: This is based on Sir Ridley Scott's brilliant film, Kingdom of Heaven. I don't own any of the characters.
Chapter 1: Meeting the Baron
The hooves of her horse thundered beneath her. She could feel the animal's powerful muscles bunching up. For a moment, she was free, one with the wind. Jerusalem loomed in the distance. Sibylla was reluctant to return. She had not had enough of her freedom, even if it was fleeting and pretensive. Her thoughts wandered back to the days when she'd been a naive girl; a stranger to the bitterness of this world. Oh, she'd been disappointed when her father had married her off to William de Montferrat, a man three times her age. Like any maid, she'd dreamed of a romantic marriage with a handsome young man who would love her and cherish her. William had been kind, but she'd viewed him as more of an uncle than a husband. And then, he'd died, leaving her five months pregnant with the potential heir to the throne.
For two years, she'd lived the lonely life of a widow, and she hadn't even been eighteen. Her son had taken some of her attention, but during those long nights of silent solitude, she had mulled over what could've been. Then Guy de Lusignan, that charming nobleman from France, had ridden into her life and bowled her over with his continental manners and his vitality. She'd been smitten with him, and her mother had been more than happy to marry her off to the Poitevin nobleman.
That had been then. She'd seen through the illusion. Guy was no more the charming knight than she was the warrior queen. Sibylla wished she had been wiser, but women in love were easy to fool. Who could've blamed her? Fifteen was too young an age for any girl to be widowed.
The gates of Jerusalem were open and welcoming, but to her, they seemed like the doors of a prison. She sighed. There was no choice. This was where she had been born, the place where God had placed her. It belonged to her, and she belonged to it.
"My lady," said her maid. Youmna was a sweet girl. She reminded Sibylla of her younger self. "I've heard that the baron of Ibelin has arrived."
"Godfrey's son?" said Sibylla. The corners of her mouth raised in a smile. She had been fond of the old baron, and she was curious as to what his son was like. Maybe she could pay him a visit. There was nothing which said she had to return to the palace immediately. At any rate, she did not want to risk the chance of bumping into Guy.
"Yes," said Youmna. "I've heard that his name is Balian."
"You would know wouldn't you?" said Sibylla. Youmna had many friends among the households of the noblemen. She made a perfect inconspicuous source of information. No matter how Guy tried, he could not keep her in the dark for long.
"They also say he's a blacksmith from France, and he's handsome," said the maid while suppressing a giggle.
"Now that is not in your place to say," said Sibylla, but she was smiling. "A maid cannot comment on her betters."
"Yes, milady," said Youmna, composing herself once more.
People parted on the streets to let Sibylla and her entourage through. Some of them dipped their heads in deference to the princess. They came before Godfrey's old city villa. It was a quaint little place, not rich, but warm. The guards at the door recognized her immediately. They bowed to her and then opened the doors. She rode through, straight into the courtyard. Her dogs ran before her, scattering chickens and geese.
A young man with sunburnt skin looked up from inspecting a horse. He frowned when he saw her, seemingly annoyed by this unexpected intrusion. She could see Godfrey in him immediately. Like father, like son, only the son had the rustic air of a peasant. Godfrey had been a soldier through and through. 'This will be interesting,' she thought as she scrutinized him. "Where is your master?" she demanded.
"I have none," he replied. Rustic though he might be, he had courage, and she found his blunt manner rather endearing. No nobleman had ever spoken to her in that way before. They'd all hidden their feelings beneath flowery nonsensical words. This man's frankness was a refreshing change. Honesty was something which one cherished, especially if one lived in court.
Sibylla lowered her veil. "Give me some water," she said. The man went over to one of the buckets of water, and lifted a tarnished silver ladle. He handed it to her. As she drank, she watched him. He stroked her horse's neck, murmuring words in the Langue d'Oile. The princess became mesmerized by his profile. His voice was husky, soothing. It washed over her like the purest of water, untainted by the corruption of aristocratic ambitions. She returned the ladle to him, and he took it without a word.
"Thank you for the drink," she said. "If you happen to see Balian the son of Godfrey, tell him that Sibylla called." Let him think that she didn't know who he was. She would surprise him later. It was obvious that he didn't know who she was, and she wanted to keep it that way just for a little longer. Would he still treat her the same way if he knew she was the king's sister?
"The rumours were right, milady," Youmna whispered to Sibylla once they were some distance away from the old villa. "The new baron is very handsome, if a bit rude."
"If he is truly a blacksmith, then he probably does not know the etiquette of noblemen," said Sibylla. "Now, Youmna, you talk far too much for a serving maid. If I had wanted a chatterbox, I would've bought a parrot. They are much more colourful."
"Forgive me, milady," said the maid, dipping her head. As she did so, she risked a glance up at Sibylla. The princess seemed to be in a very good mood, and she was sure it had something to do with that rustic baron of Ibelin.
Sibylla was not listening. She was thinking back to the way that young baron had looked at her. "Balian of Ibelin," she whispered softly. The name felt good on her lips.
A/N: So that was just a little something inspired by watching Kingdom of Heaven yet again. I will continue it if people like it. This first chapter might be a bit rough and it is a bit short because I just typed it out on a whim while in university.