The Lady and The Merchant
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Twilight. Everything written is meant to be fiction, anything real is purely by chance.
Summary: 14th century London. An arranged marriage is set for Lady Bella Swan. She is furious and plans to bribe her buyer out of marrying her. However, the common merchant she's meant to marry is nothing how she had imagined him to be. And, though she still tries to get out of the originally unwanted marriage, Bella finds herself feeling odd emotions for the man who paid for her. Through the confusion of her feelings, she also finds out information of the merchant who isn't so common after all.
Hello, so I wanted to try something new. I've done the humorous fics, the sad/angsty fics... each fic had one thing in common: they were all meant for the 21st century. I want to try a fic based in the 14th century this time. Hopefully I don't completely suck at it. :)
I know that this idea has been used and used many times. But I really like it and I think I could turn this story into something more.
A full character's list is made. However, I will not post it until a few more chapters are written. I want readers to get the feel of the story first. Plus, I want to see if I should even continue. Continuance will show through the amount of reviews. I am not asking for a lot, just a few to let me know of your thoughts. :)
A small character's list/ all people in this chapter:
Jessica: Servant to the King
Angela Weber: Bella's Guardian
Isabella Swan: King's ward/cousin
Charlie and Renee Swan [deceased]: Bella's father and mother
Jacob: Knight of King James/ "brother" to Bella
Phillip: Knight of Queen Victoria/ friend to Bella and Jacob
Mike: Knight of King James
Edward II [Masen] Cullen: Merchant /son of Comte
Emmett: Friend of Edward
Tommy: Edward's apprentice
Yeah, half of that list will not make sense until later on in the story. Oh well, it'll be like a reference for now.
"It is not my business to pry, my lady, but I do trust you know what you are doing?" Phillip looked around the dark street, slightly veering his horse to the left.
The sky was black, the night moon casting a pale light against the brick walls. Every so often, a shadow would catch Bella's attention. She looked at Phillip and his sword which shone by his torch. No, she would not have to worry of the challenges of those hidden in the shadows after curfew. She was, after all, being assisted by a queen's knight.
"Aye, Phillip. I do know what I have set out to do. It is the question of whether my plan shall work or not." Bella allowed some venom to creep in her tone with the last words.
"Jacob will have my head if he is to find out."
Bella chuckled lightly. "Nay. My brother will not know." Her good friend, Jacob. They had grown up together so, naturally, it had only seemed right to look at him as her brother. Physically, there were no similarities. Emotionally, they were almost two halves of a whole. But if he were to find out Phillip had helped Bella sneak out of the castle, there would be Hell to pay. "He will not find out." Bella spoke to reassure not only Phillip, but herself as well.
They continued to ride, the silence avoidable yet seeming everlasting.
"I trust it is not a lover I take you to." Phillip stopped suddenly and tied his horse to a pole.
Bella followed suit. "Nay. Not a lover." She almost laughed at the thought. Almost. "Just someone I know." Know of. She corrected herself.
"This is a peculiar time to be meeting with someone. Someone might think of it as sly." Bella felt Phillip's gaze on her.
She refused to meet it. "Yes, well, I come during the night knowing it is the only time this person will for sure be in his home."
This someone was a merchant. Her soon-to-be merchant. How silly it seemed that it had been only yesterday she had talked with Queen Victoria about King James' plan to marry her off. An arranged marriage! And with a common merchant! Ever since Bella had learned of the arrangement, she had been through hellish moments and having anxiety attacks. She was positively outraged.
She was seventeen, an age which was considered to be past the usual "marrying age". Nay, Bella was not opposed to marriage. It was an arranged marriage she had trouble with. Besides, the offer had not come from any Mike Newton. The noble knight of the King whom she had given her heart to had not been the one to ask her hand in marriage. Nay. It hadn't been any other man befitted to Charlie Swan's daughter or the lines of nobility in the family.
Nay. King James married his ward to a common merchant, Edward Cullen.
Bella's guardian, Angela, had spoken of him. According to her, she remembered hearing of him when her mother bought silk from him. Dear Saints, Bella almost fainted when she heard of this. A common, old merchant. Imagine!
Bella wondered if this was punishment. Had the King learned of her and Mike? If so, he must have gone off in a wild rage. King James had taken Bella in when her parents died. She had stayed in the castle since a little girl, a quiet and dull place. It wasn't until she had met Mike a year ago had that place seemed so much more inviting. Mike. A knight of the King and the first to ever capture her heart.
Jacob threatened death to any man who dared to bed her before a betrothal. Mike had been the first to ever question his ways. Bella remembered the day perfectly. It was after learning of Mike's fascination with her did she allow him to lead her into an empty room. It was that day Angela had found them in bed. Still clothed, but embracing nonetheless.
Aye. Bella thought. This was punishment indeed.
"A mercer's shop?" Phillip questioned when Bella pulled him in another direction, and then recognition dawned on him. "You had me escort you to–"
"Aye, I did." Bella interrupted. "And I understand if you are angry. I just– I need to speak with him, Phillip." She stared at the knight, pleading him with her eyes.
Phillip gave a sigh. "I would be a fool to continue on." Bella cast her eyes downward in defeat. He would make her turn back. Phillip took her chin and turned her face up. "I would also be a fool to not sympathize."
Bella smiled and threw her arms around her friend. "Oh, Phillip, thank you."
He let out a deep laugh and grabbed her arm, leading her on. "Your merchant's shop is one level." He gestured to the building with his hand. "He is either very rich and sleeping someplace else or very poor and sleeping away on his trades." Phillip winked at Bella and knocked lightly on the wooden door. Aye, it was true. It was seldom that a merchant's shop was not two levels, the top level being the merchant's room to sleep.
Bella checked her surroundings, her eyes finally landing on the door again. It was carved nicely. She leaned forward a bit to inspect but it swung open. A boy of fourteen stood before them. He stared at them for a moment and Phillip cleared his throat.
"I sincerely hope I am not standing before the merchant, Edward Cullen."
The boy spoke. "Nay, sir. His apprentice."
Both Phillip and Bella let out a relieved sigh. "Would you please escort us to your master." It was not a question, but a demand. A knight did not ask to those younger than themselves.
"Aye." The boy grabbed his worn shoes and led them past walls, down a lane, and over a hill before reaching another nicely carved, wooden door. He rapped lightly on it twice and a large man appeared. His muscles were thick and rippling, his height intimidating. It was the first time Bella had ever known a man to have her fearful at first glance.
"Tommy, is that you?" The large man spoke finally. His smooth voice sounded odd with his rugged looks. "What the hell are you doing out past curfew?"
The boy, Tommy, gestured to Bella and Phillip. "Well, now, I had to show them two the way now hadn't I, Emmett?"
The large man moved his torch over to see the two in better light. His scrutiny stopped on Bella. "Aye." He spoke softly. His shoulders squared back and he shook his head. "Hell but ok." Emmett pointed to Tommy. "You go inside." He turned around.
Tommy skipped away and Phillip grabbed Bella's arm. "I will go with you."
"I do this alone. I must. Thank you, Phillip, for everything."
He sighed and rubbed his face. "Aye, fine. I will wait for you out here then. Yell if you need me."
Emmett led Bella down halls, through doors, and more rooms. She caught the sight of carvings throughout the building, and jewels worthy of comparison to the King's. Perhaps Phillip was right and the merchant was indeed very rich. Emmett stopped inside a large room and turned to Bella. In the light, she could make out his appearance better.
Yes, indeed he was very large. Mountainous even. But, despite his intimidating posture, his face was a beautiful one. Curly brown hair swept over his head, large brown eyes twinkled, and dimples appeared in his cheeks when he smiled. He reminded Bella of an stuffed teddy bear she had received when she was younger. Emmett was just a larger and bulkier version.
"I will go and fetch Master Cullen, now. You wait here."
Bella nodded and clasped her hands together. She did not want to wait. Waiting meant more thinking and she did not want to think more on what she was about to do.
"Miss," Emmett halted and turned back around to face her. Bella met him with anxious eyes. "It may be awhile. Master Cullen is still abed and I must wake him."
Bella raised her hand in front of her. "I'm sorry to intrude. I can return at a more appropriate time." Foolish talk! You will do no such thing! You will not leave until you talk to the man!And yet the words had escaped her mouth.
"Don't be silly. He's been expecting you."
Bella frowned. "But you just said he'd be asleep. How can he be...?" She let the unfinished question hang in the air.
"I was told to get him if you were to arrive. And here you are. He's been expecting you." Emmett repeated, a strange glint in his eye.
Bella's frown deepened. It sounded almost as if they had known she would come. That didn't sound right... "I don't quite understand. I think you are mistaken. Or perhaps I am." But it was no use talking to a wall. Emmett had already left the room.
This merchant had collected many valuables. Many items worth money even she, someone who had been raised around learning the worth and value of a jewel, could not set a price on. Edward Cullen had done well for himself over the years. Bella wasn't entirely surprised. It was not unheard of for a merchant to be just as rich as lords. Sometimes, their wealth even made them lords.
Emmett returned and lit the fire, candling the room as well. Bella watched him from the chair she sat on. "He should be here shortly."
Bella nodded and looked out the windows.
She heard Emmett leave and then the door shut. At the noise, she turned back around. He did not close the door last time...
She stood as she saw a man's form appear. The words Bella planned for this man died away as soon as his face moved from the shadows. He was a tall man, lean and muscular. He had the oddest shade of color for hair. Almost a reddish-brown. His bright green eyes assessed her with interest. She continued to study him. His jaw was prominent, his nose straight... an overall handsome face.
Bella flushed in embarrassment, horrified. She made Phillip escort her to meet her merchant only to find they had come to the wrong place!
"My lady?" The man's voice was low. A quiet baritone, beautiful. She felt weak at the knees.
"I fear I have come to the wrong place." Bella cursed her shaky voice. How mortifying this was indeed.
"Oh? Whom do you seek?"
"I seek Master Edward the mercer."
"I am he."
"Impossible." Bella breathed out.
"How so?" Amusement colored his tone.
"Is their another Edward?"
This time the man laughed aloud. Oh, what a beautiful laugh. "I fear not, my lady. I am the only Master Edward the mercer in London."
Bella narrowed her eyes. Aye, this would be difficult now. How could she argue her case on not wanting to marry when the one she was supposed to marry was handsome beyond words? The man was almost beautiful, but the wicked glint in his eye and the arrogant set of his chin kept her from thinking too much about it. The man– this Edward Cullen– the merchant was not what she had imagined.
"I was told you were older."
At this he sighed. "Aye. Perhaps I was mistaken with my master. He was a merchant before I and has retired. Many say we share physical appearances though we are not related by blood. This was his business before it became mine."
"Hmm." Bella's mouth set in a hard line. She would kill Angela! The man was no more than twenty-five at the most!
Still, she would fight for her right to marry whom she loved. Handsome as this man was, she did not love him. Not as she loved her knight.
"Might I ask who you are?" Edward sat down by the fire and watched the girl with caution. Of course he knew who she was. What he wanted to know was why she was here at this time of night. He wondered where her escorter was, but her lovely voice broke his thoughts.
"I am Isabella Swan. You paid the King for me."
Edward watched her square her shoulders, defiance in her posture. "I did."
Bella dove right in. There was no point in beating around the bush. "Master Edward, I think you might find it in your best interests to withdraw your offer of the marriage." She watched his eyes flash and a tremor of fear shot through her.
"And why, my lady, would I find that in my best interests?"
Bella took a deep breath before continuing. Perhaps she should have allowed Phillip to accompany her. "I am in love with another man." She waited, watching the merchant's face carefully.
He made no move. His expression stayed unreadable. "And?"
Bella blinked. "The offer was made without me knowing." She was confused. What more reason to want to withdraw?
Edward stretched his legs out in front of him and Bella couldn't help but notice how muscular they were. She snapped her eyes back up when he spoke. "That would be a very valid reason for you to withdraw, my lady, but not me. You could share your concerns with the King."
"The King is the one who spoke for me. How on Earth could I...?"
"The church will not marry an unwilling woman."
"I– it is not that simple!"
"Nay, it is not. But my position will not change. I gave my consent and I do not plan to withdraw it. I understand that you love another man. I suppose many marriages come to be this way. In London, especially. In the long run, it won't matter so much."
Ah, hell. A man who believed in a practical marriage. Of all the rotten luck!
"You plan on marrying a woman who is in love with another?"
Edward sighed. "These emotions will pass, my lady. They are short-term. A marriage is not. It is longer and you will find it in your best interests to accept such." He threw her words back in her face. If possible, Bella flushed more. The man irked her! Edward took interest in her previous statement. "This man you speak of, what does he do?"
"He is a knight of the King." Even through clenched teeth, she managed to sound proud.
"Ah. And has this knight offered to court you?"
Bella bit her tongue. Nay, he had not. Mike had left before the chance had time to present itself. But, he had promised to return. He promised he would court her. That was enough for Bella and she would still hold him to his word. Yet, shall she lie to the merchant? It could mean public humiliation if caught in the lie, punishment even. Nay, she was not that brave. "Not exactly. Though, when he hears of this betrothal, I am most positive he will return."
The merchant's lips twitched. "Are you now?"
Bella fought the urge to glare in his direction. "Aye."
"So," Edward stood and walked around a bit, touching random items in the room. Bella stayed put. "This knight of yours wants to marry you but hasn't staked his claim on you."
The way he said it, as if she were a piece of mean rather than a human being! How calmly this man could talk, how much expression he lacked when his words were like steel. He was arrogant and yet he drew Bella in. Despite her resistance, there was something about him that made her cautious and curious all at once.
"Aye." Edward poked at the fire before turning back to her. "My answer remains the same. I will not withdraw. You may, however, still speak with the bishop."
Anger flashed through Bella's eyes and Edward found himself dazed a bit. Such a remarkable woman. He found her beautiful with her auburn hair and full lips. It was her eyes that drew him in, though. They were the richest of browns, expressive in their depth.
"You will be made a fool when he returns for me."
"We shall see." Edward took a step closer to her but Bella held her ground. "My lady, if he shall return, I will speak with the King and step aside. But, girl, I know the ways of men and do not think he will come."
"Mike is different."
Edward smiled and took her chin in his hand. Bella met his eyes unwillingly. His touch was warm and his fingers strong. This unsettled her. "So the knight has a name."
"Also my heart."
The merchant narrowed his eyes and stepped back, releasing her chin. Bella missed the touch. "Perhaps it is your stubbornness that confuses your feelings, my lady."
"Perhaps you are confusing me with yourself!" Bella snapped and then let out a small gasp. To speak to the man in such a way was out of line, no matter how much she wanted to hate him. She watched his stance carefully, fearfully.
Edward moved to the door and opened it. "I will come see you soon."
Bella secured her cloak around her and grimaced. "There will be no point."
"Of course there will be. I do not do things without reason, my lady. That, I assure you." There were hidden meanings behind his words.
Bella walked to the door, stopping before she passed through it. She looked at Edward. "He will come for me." Bella spoke with conviction. She walked away before she caught sight of Edward's small frown.
She was led out by Emmett and returned to Phillip. They went to retrieve their horses.
"Did you accomplish what you set out to do?" Phillip gauged her reaction.
Bella's hands twitched. "Aye." She lied. "Somewhat."
"Somewhat." Phillip repeated softly. He did not dare question Lady Bella on it more. He knew when a woman's temperament had no patience for a man's concern.
Bella rode her horse back to the castle, appreciating Phillip's quiet.
Aye. So she finally met the old, common merchant.
Old, he was not.
And something about his cool demeanor told Bella Master Edward the mercer was not so common either.
First chapter is out. Yay. Also, a beta is totally appreciated if you're up to it. If I get one, I will be following a schedule depending on what's best for the both of us.
So, tell me what you think... please?