The sun shone brightly down on the small courtyard of the De Noir castle. A modest sized carriage came to a stop. The driver stepped down from his perch, slowly walking to open the carriage door. Coeur de Noir was standing at attention, a large smile spread across his face. Robin was standing right beside him, not exactly in the same mood. His arms crossed and pressed against his chest. Lips formed a thin irritated line across his face. His muscles tensed together like they may never move.
As the door came open a womans hand reveled itself and the driver helped the young lady out of the carriage. Her dress was the first thing to come out. It was a large billowing gown of black. Across the front was a glistening metallic green fabric that matched with the bodice. When she finally stood you could see how the bodice fit her womanly curves beautifully and came to a rounded neck line. The black fabric continued again in her sleeves that fit her arms tightly all the way down to her elbows. Her skin was light and pure against the black fabric, flawless in its porcelain quality. Her figure was all together slender and fit her lady like posture perfectly. Her jet black hair framed her face elegantly and hung loose into large curls. Her face was beautiful to behold. Her large blue eyes could encapsulate anyone and as she looked upon the De Noir boy they seem to sparkle. Then she gave a smile, this made her cheeks perk up and it seemed her whole face beamed with the presence of her smile.
At the sight of her Robins demeanor changed. He loosened his tense look and dropped his arms to his sides. It was hard to ignore the look of shock that ran across his face.
A few days earlier…
The forest seemed dark as the sun started to fade. I looked up at the sky in mid laugh, slightly saddened that the day had already ended. My long green dress clinched tightly in my hands as I trudged along the forest floor. I stopped and looked down, then let it fall, giving up on my attempt to keep it clean. I looked up and notice Robin had stopped as well. He was several feet in front of me, smiling.
He has not changed much in the past three years. Still wears the same leathers, feathers, and bowler hat. He has grown so attached to his look I assume he feels no reason to change. Only his bitter disposition has lightened over time. I on the other hand have changed dramatically. Since saving Moonacre I have gotten a little taller, and a little fuller. Filling out my dresses with curves that I am not used to. I think this makes Mrs. Heliotrope excited about my blossoming and she used to put me in over the top dresses. Robin and the boys teased me endlessly about them. These I would quickly destroy in the forest and eventually she gave up. Loveday has made it her duty to supply me with dresses since then. She says it makes me look more like a princess to wear these long velvet dresses.
I came out of my thoughts and noticed Robin had titled his head to the side and was grinning at me, "Lost in thought?"
"Its getting late." I said looking up at the sky once more.
He shrugged, "Then we better go find the others." With that his smile faded and he looked around. Surely thinking about where they might be.
I couldn't help myself from smiling at him. We spend nearly every day together but somehow Robin and I always get separated. No one seems to mind, except the last couple of months we have been spending more and more time alone.
CA CAW! CA CAW!
Robin gave the signal and waited for the reply. The same call was made quite a ways from us. Because of the pattern of the calls this time we knew we had to go to them.
When we found our way to the clearing we saw the three boys playing around. Two of them rolling around on the forest floor while the third watched and laughed, then looked up at us. Jasper tipped his bowler hat, "Took you both long enough."
These were the boys that helped Robin try to imprison me. Things have certainly changed and between their duties at the castle they come in the woods and goof around with Robin. After the near destruction of Moonacre we all made nice and I slowly became friends with the boys as well.
Jasper is the more bold of the three. He will swing from trees and some days never wishes to come down. His bowler hat always sports a leather belt on top. His hat hides his pitch black hair that always gets caught in his face. He wears all black with the exception of a forest green duster. I questioned him about it at one time, he merely told me his father gave it to him.
The two other boys rolling around were Pascal and Tamer. Pascal didn't wear a bowler hat, slightly obsessed with his hair. His short, brown, curly hair sometimes looks a mess. Although, I always see him playing with it. He said to me one time, "Why keep it hidden when the ladies like to touch it?" I laughed and remembered the way he looked as he combed through his hair with his fingers, with a smug look on his face.
Tamer was a different story, he kept his bowler hat towards the back of his head. I don't think I have ever seen him simply put it on his head like a normal person would. His blonde hair always spiky on top of his head, this must be how he keeps his hat that way. He usually is the one to shy away from getting dirty. Although it wouldn't seem like it in this instance. Both Pascal and Tamer wore black from head to toe, in traditional De Noir manor.
Robin looked at Jasper not even paying attention to the boys on the ground. "Loveday is going to kill us if we don't get Maria back before night fall." Jasper looked at me, at least acknowledging I was here. "You should have thought about that before sunset. Where have you guys been?"
Robin and I got separated from the others early today. Robin has been trying to teach me all the plants in the forest. His late mother sparked an interest in learning about plants that he took and discovered more about. He can almost name everything in the forest, although he still brings along a small book his tutor had given him. Its almost like he has been learning at the same time I am learning. Although, we hardly did any of that. We were catching up with things happening at our homes. It has been a week since we last saw one another, for us that is a long time. So we just walked around and checked the traps, I only assumed the boys were told to do that today.
"We checked traps. I'm guessing you guys didn't get around to that today." A slight grin on my face as Jasper just gave me a huge smile.
Robin looked at me, then back at Jasper. "I better take her back to Loveday, you can do what you want."
By this time Pascal and Tamer had finished their scuffle and were on their feet, dusting off. Tamer laughed and picked up his hat, placing it crooked on his head before glancing at me. "Take the poor girl home, she will surely get lost without you. We could do without the walk to Merryweather manor."
With Tamer's words Jacob headed into the forest, no doubt headed towards De Noir castle. The other boys followed him, leaving Robin and I alone once again.
I put my hands on my hips and sighed, he was right. When we got deep in the woods like this I am never able to get my bearings, and I am practically useless in the dark. Although, I have always hated the thought that one of them had to escort me. I knew they would do it anyways just to be nice.
Robin sighed and looked into the forest the direction they had left. "They have been angry at me for days. I think spending all day with you only made it worse."
I started to pick up my dress again, anticipating us leaving the clearing. "What have they been mad about?"
He started to head into the forest the opposite direction that the boys had left, I followed. "Father has been giving us more work to do. Telling us we need to grow up and start acting like men. They had been going to the pub almost every night, and I think that made father mad. I think he is ready for us to "grow up" as he puts it, but he wants it to happen over night."
He falls back to walk beside me, glancing around at the forest aimlessly. I know that he knows the way like the back of his hand, I just don't see the forest the same way he does.
"Your 20." I state, looking up at him as we walk. "How long did you expect all this freedom to last?"
"As long as possible." There was a slight disappointment in his voice, like he had lost something.
I only sigh at his response. Luckily for me no one expected me to grow up any faster. All the ladies in the Merryweather home were excited about the prospect of my maturity, but they are the only ones to mention it. "So he is trying to smoother you with chores until you grow up?"
"I doubt that is the extent of his plan."
Night was falling quickly and before we knew it we were surrounded by darkness. Slight bits of moonlight would hit the forest floor, but I could barely see. I stumbled around before Robin took my hand and lead me out of the forest. We had never been out this late, so I am sure there will not be a welcoming committee waiting for us. It did not take long before I could see the lights to my home and I breathed a sigh of relief. Even more so when the trees gave way to the clearing of my back yard.
Robins hand dropped from mine and it immediately felt cold. I put my hands together for warmth and we both stopped right after passing the tree line.
Robin's Point of View
I looked down at Maria as I dropped my hand from hers. Hoping that my face would not show the disappointment in this action. I screwed up this time and I do not want to face Loveday.
When Maria pointed out that it was almost night fall I couldn't believe it. I had let our good time get in the way of my duty to get her home safe. Loveday and her uncle depended on me to get her in and out of the forest safely. Loveday even told me one day that when saving Moonacre I have shown I am destined to protect her, and that will never end. I felt good about this prospect. From the moment I laid eyes on Maria I fancied her. But blinded by hatred for the Merryweathers I did as my father asked and tried to capture her.
When she proposed we joined forces to save Moonacre I was more than reluctant to follow her. Something inside we drove me to help her. It took years for me to admit to myself that I had feelings for her. Although, I am careful not to let her see these feelings. Loveday sees right through it, and I am glad she is the only one. When she sees us together she will sometimes give me a large grin. I think she believes we are an inevitable match and hopes I will tell her how I feel. For some reason I am having a hard time with that. I had planned to tell her during our trip today. Didn't surprise me that I couldn't do it.
Maria then looked up at me, she hadn't even noticed I was deep in thought and staring at her. She was probably worried about returning home this late. "Can we meet tomorrow?"
She smiled coyly at me, "Do you think your father would mind?"
I laughed, "I don't think he will miss me if I slip out before everyone else. I have something special to show you."
She gave me a sweet smile that made my heart jump. I waited a moment and then looked towards Merryweather castle. I did not want her seeing anything that would give myself away.
"Of course." She stated quite simply. She then started to walk towards the castle. I knew I did not have to go with her. I could have just turned back into the forest and avoided my sisters scorn, but I did not want the hurt to fall on Maria alone. I followed after her and soon saw a bouncing light headed towards us.
Maria's Point of View
Soon enough I could see that the light coming towards us was Uncle Benjamin holding a lantern. It wouldn't surprise me if he had suddenly decided to go look for us. Mrs. Heliotrope was right behind Uncle and Loveday followed a couple of foot steps behind, "See, I told you she was going to be alright. Robin is with her." Loveday sounded a little stern when she said that, probably trying to convince herself as well as the others of my safety.
"You never know what can happen in the forest my love." Uncle stopped in front of us and gave an angry look at Robin. "Did you just now come back from the forest?"
"Yes, we lost track of time and night came before we could make it back." Robin stated very plainly.
"We did not intend for this to happen." I stated, feeling like Robin was more in trouble than I was. I did not understand why.
"You successfully scared us all silly, we hardly knew what to do when you did not come back on time. Granted, this never happens, but is unacceptable none the less." Mrs. Heliotrope said, already out of breath.
Loveday stood beside my uncle, her expression a lot lighter than his. She must have known that we would be back eventually. "I think that what's done is done. Now both of you come this way. Robin, I think it is best if you stay the night."
Everyone's eyes grew wide with surprise. Loveday just continued on, "Robin should not have to trek through the darkness when finding the De Noir castle. It will be easier in the morning. Besides, we have plenty of space and Robin has never stayed in our home."
I knew she was trying to convince uncle that this was a good idea. He could not see the rationality, but he has a hard time saying no to Loveday. He turns towards Robin, "she is right, it can be dangerous in the forest at night. You should stay with us until tomorrow."
I knew Mrs. Heliotrope was holding back her opinion. Since her marriage to Digweed she has become a little less assertive. This did not happen too long ago. Unlike Loveday and Uncle who could hardly wait to get married, I think Mrs. Mrs. Heliotrope loved her independence. Even keeping her last name when she got married. I am not sure what was running through her head at the thought of Robin staying in the castle, but I hardly thought about it as Robin continued on.
"Father will be very angry when I return." Robin looked directly at Loveday. Intent on getting his words across.
"Father will have to deal with his son being safe rather than at home."
Robin signed and I could see his whole posture slouch with the thought of facing his angry father. "I suppose I have no choice."
Authors Note: Please understand I am setting up characters and plot right now. :D I'm sorry it's a little muddy. Hope to wade through that as time goes on. Leave Feedback! Thanks!