Revised SUMMER 2003 and taken off hiatus. Expect updates.
Revision notes: Have changed original insert characters into characters from the anime. Have taken out all references of Pokémon themselves. Changed timeline of events. I suggest you re-read the eight revised parts before the updates! Thank you!
Southern England, 1449
Risborough Manor, 55 miles from London
It was one of those perfect, deliciously warm Saturday mornings in June, when you feel you'll burst from pure energy and want to stay outside forever. Misty's face broke through the cool stream water, as she heard rapid footsteps approaching. Quickly, she scrambled up the muddy riverbank and yanked her white cotton shift on over her still damp body.
"Misty?"A voice rang through the humid stillness of the orchard, and Misty breathed a sigh of relief.
"I'm over here Violet!"Violet Waterflower laughed as the red-head of her younger sister appeared sheepishly over the muddy rise by the water.
"Misty! Oh you haven't been swimming in that filthy water again? If Dame Tatham catches you again, she may tell father!"Misty grimaced, at both the mention of her strict nurse, and her boorish stepfather, Sir Thomas.
"Dame Tatham won't know!"she laughed gaily. "The sun will dry my hair, and unless you tell her…" Misty laughed as her younger sister pulled a face. "Come, help me up sister." As Violet helped her up, Misty tugged impishly at her navy braided hair.
"Oh, why do you insist on calling that man our father?"Misty suddenly asked, her tone condescending. "He is nothing but an impious fraud. He posed as a friend of our father, but surely that did not entitled him to the remains of his life and livelihood? Do you really think he cares for Mama? He just loves to brag about her relations - My cousin, the Duke of Aylesbury he brawls! It sickens me!" Misty stopped abruptly, partly for breath, partly because she noticed her eldest sister Daisy approaching. At 12 years of age, she had already been 'matured' by her stepfather's friends, but still managed to carry herself as a lady - the daughter of a lady, and a gallant knight. Misty wished she had such dignity left. Daisy smiled warmly at her sisters.
"Speaking of our cousins? What timing! Mama and Sir Thomas have just informed me we are to spend the summer with them!"Misty and Violet grinned conspiratorially one another. Their stepfather was too frightened of displeasing Lord Aylesbury, who doted on his children, and those of his wife's first cousin, Lady Waterflower-Boddington, that he didn't dare beat or mistreat them in any way!
"I heard that their stable boy was promoted to full fledged Squire!"continued Daisy, pushing a rogue tendril of honey blonde hair behind her ear. "Can you imagine our stable-hand Jack serving tea for Mama or in actual combat!?" she laughed, grinning slightly at her lapse in propriety. Violet joined her in tittering lady-like laughter. Misty did not. She was already fuming with childish rage.
The last time she had had the inconvenience of being in the presence of her uncle's stable-boy had been two summers ago – the month she had turned seven years old. It had seemed to her that the boy had intentionally spent the entire trip making her life a misery! Continuously poking her, short-sheeting her bed, pulling her braids, putting custard in her shoes…every stupid immature trick you could think of - he did it at one point or another.
As she silently followed her elder sisters along the dirt path etched in the green of the manor house, Misty kept her eyes to the ground and tried her hardest to rhythm her footsteps with Daisy's.
The day of their journey dawned as a bright, verdant English summer morning, and Lady Rose regally led her daughters, lined by age, into their large, gilded family carriage. Dame Tatham brought up the rear, fussing over Violet's braids, and the state of the back of Lily's dress. Misty was away in a dream world – would it be appropriate for her to indulge in some form of revenge? She could still remember every rivet of his young features. Scruffy dark hair that badly needed combing, laughing dark eyes and cheeks that were perpetually dirty. They all provoked a most unlady-like reaction in her.
The Waterflower-Boddington carriage pulled up to the Aylesbury manor sometime later. Duke Albert and Duchess Emilia came out to greet their cousins, flanked either side with children from their large family. As soon as she vacated the carriage, Misty felt herself involuntarily look around for the stable lad. As a strange youth took their horses away, it dawned on her that if he were training as a squire she wouldn't really see him. She smiled to herself.
Misty was startled out of her thoughts as two of her giggling cousins, Cecily and Emilia appeared, and dragged the four sisters away to their rooms.
Misty lightly frowned. You would have never thought that damask slippers and a simple cotton shift would make so much noise. Although it had been two years since she walked these halls, she remembered the quick ways, the secret ways, the safe ways that led to the courtyards. Despite the extensive grounds of the building, it took mere minutes until Misty was lying on the hay piles in the stable, cocooned safely in the scratchy material.
She loved it here. She assumed that there must be subconscious memories of a younger her, snuggled securely in the stables of her manor. But since her father died, only the livestock that were absolutely essential had been spared. The rest had been sold. Now the stables of the Risborough manor would hold little pleasure, even if she were permitted to be in there. When I am a lady, I shall make sure my children can sleep in the hay. The gentle snorts and whinneys of the horses in the stalls, lulled Misty to a doze.
As she was about to fall into deeper sleep, she became aware of a presence beside her and stiffened. She knew instantly it wasn't Sir Thomas, for he would have already grabbed her and pulled her up by her hair. Plus he had an unmistakable odour of garlic and rotting meat.
Gently, she felt something trail up her cheek, so gently, she was unsure at first of whether it was just wind. As the pressure continued along her skin it became more recognisable as a fingertip, moving a lock of orange hair from her closed eyes . As they shot open, the figure jumped up from its crouching position beside her and moved back in alarm.
"I-I-I'm sorry miss, I-I just wanted to c-check that you were alright!"The figure had now backed nervously into a beam of moonlight that had sneaked through a crack in the stable roof and Misty immediately recognised who it was. She tried to stand up regally, but it was difficult to look authoritative covered in hay. She decided to play it safe by pretending not to remember his name.
"Who are you?"she demanded.
"I'm Ash - erm, Ashton Ketchum from the town of Palletonshire Lady Misty. Look, I'm really sorry I woke you, please don't tell Master Aylesbury - hey…waitasec!"Misty glowered at the ex-stable hand, who stood cockily in front of her, glowering right back. "What are you doing out alone in the stables at this time? From what I've heard about your father, he'll beat you black and blue if he finds out you've been here!"
"He's not my father!"Misty snapped, immediately.
"I know,"said Ash quietly. The two children silently surveyed each other.
"Please don't tell Sir Thomas,"pleaded Misty, her fear of her stepfather enough to override her pride. "He'll beat me again; he would take joy in it." Ash could hear the ringing emotion in her voice, and smiled at her awkwardly.
"I-I won't tell him miss, but there are other servants 'round here that won't be so nice. You'd better go back to your room."Misty nodded sleepily, and with one last polite smile, she ran quietly down the gravel path, her frame still shaking slightly with fear at the thought of being discovered by Sir Thomas.
Turning with a sigh, Ash began to rake the pile of hay back into its former position. Even though it wasn't his job anymore, he loved working in the stables.
He had been serving at the Aylesbury Manor so long, he could barely remember his mother. His father had died of consumption before Ash had seen his first summer and his mother had been strong-willed enough to continue to run the agricultural estate he had left behind. Her son, her heir and only child had been so precious to her that she had even denied herself his help, and sent him to the Aylesbury manor so he could grow to be a fine man under the patronage of Duke Aylesbury. She only existed for him in soft-pastel memories, and the letters that came through with the merchants from the Northeast twice a year.
Ash thoughts lingered to little Lady Misty. He didn't know what to do with her. Propriety demanded he treat her as the lady she was by name and birth, but nature always persuaded him to treat her like a male friend. He imagined his mother much like her – a strong woman in a world of weak men. He pictured an older Misty sitting in the blurred parlour from his memories, simpler clothes, simpler life, simple smile.
With this shyly satisfying image held tight in his mind, he satisfactorily poked the last strands in place with the end of his pitchfork, returned it to its place and walked into the summer night.