Tybalt could not understand why he remembered the particular incident, especially now, but he was glad he did. It was the first time he saw her. Not exactly, for he was sure they must have crossed paths as children, but it was only now that he acknowledged her.
It was little more than a few months ago, perhaps four, or six, and the beginning of spring. It was always warm, but even in an Italian winter, things seem duller, and everyone was grateful for the warmth on their faces. The mood was such that even Tybalt had turned the blind eye to a couple of Montague servants wandering in the crowd. He had stayed near the fountain with some friends of his, if you could call them that. Acquaintances, family, comrades, perhaps, but maybe not friends.
All of a sudden, in the mist of loose hair and caps held and not worn, emerged a lithe hooded figure, clutching a bag. Tybalt and the others wondered who the newcomer was, when the Prince broke through the crowd. He looked as puzzled as the people were, and his attendants muttered between themselves. The cloaked figure looked up, but otherwise did not move.
"Forgive me, madam, for I have never seen you before. Might I inquire who you are?" The figure dropped her bag, pushed back her hood, swept the ground in a curtsey and exclaimed apologetically, with a hint of amusement, "Of course dear coz, for this hood is a rather useless contraption in the heat of spring. It has come early this year, I am sure, and my travels in Valencia were rather cold." The Prince did a double take, and so did most of the crowd, for under the heavy hood was a young and pretty girl's face, with big calm green eyes and a mouth betraying a smile.
"Little Serena, why, thou gave no reference of your arrival. A pretty welcome thou could have had!" the Prince ordered one of his men to give up his horse so the girl could sit on it. She thanked the man profusely, and then a shadow crossed her face.
"How is my father? Is he well? Since the new year no word from him has come," she inquired. The Prince assured her he was well, and they all rode off.
A few seconds later, everything was back to normal. Tybalt could not get his head round it.
"Who was she?" he asked, "This girl who refers to the Prince as her 'coz'." But the men had no answer.
"We'll find out soon enough, I'm sure. With a face like that, a royal suitor can't be far behind!" smirked Antonio, who reckoned himself as a womaniser. Tybalt rolled his eyes, thought about it, and promptly forgot the whole incident after a fencing lesson.
The next time he saw her, the whole occurrence went straight to memory. It was less than a month after her arrival, and he still knew nothing of her; Tybalt hated gossip, and stayed away from any current affairs completely since, most of the time, he was the main story himself, and had no intention to hear himself being criticised.
He was sitting in a rapier shop, head against the wall. It was not a good day. For once his energy failed him, and the aftermath of rigorous training caught up with him; he was tired and his muscles ached like hell, and to top it all off, it was one of the humid days he'd ever lived through. Sweat and moisture hung in the air like clouds, and though it was not that hot, it felt like it.
"A moment more, good sire, and my boy shall finish off the polishing," old Julius assured him, but Tybalt wasn't listening. He kept his eyes closed, concentrating on the tiny gust of air blowing across his nose. Then it all snapped as the door opened. He lifted his head to look at the person, and after a few seconds, recognised it as the mysterious girl. He could see why Antonio was so excited now, for 'pretty' was not even a word Tybalt could think of for her.
Her hair was blonde; all shades of golden and tawny curling over her shoulders, her eyes were even darker and hypnotic up close, she had thick, long eyelashes and high cheekbones. Altogether, it looked sweet yet enigmatic, and Tybalt didn't like what he was thinking at all.
She didn't notice the shadow in the corner, and sashayed straight to the counter, and the old shop-keeper nearly went into hysterics.
"Dearest Lady Serafina, why, 'tis you! Here was I, thinking upon myself that the Duke hath not remembered me, and no longer wishes my workmanship, and by my hairs twas a saddening thought, but you are here, even if just a visit to give, and a right bonny lass thou is!"
The girl laughed, and said "Forget you, Signor Julius? Why, tis impossible, for my father hath so many of your swords that he know not what to do with them, being a peaceful man of mind, and rents them out to young fashionable men, and we all get a good penny out of it."
The old man roared with laughter, but on a more annoyed note, the girl added, "Do not refer to me as a 'lass' no longer Signor, for I am none, being almost ten and seven, and as for 'bonny', I am not that either, and you don't have to feel obliged to say that out of affection for me."
The man laughed at that too, and said "We shall see, Serena, when suitors pour themselves at your feet, for you have gone well past marriageable age." The girl busied herself with handling a fine, new welded rapier, and Tybalt noted the balance that was so instinctive to a swordsman in her hand.
Has she held one before? This is an odd father, who lets a nubile young girl travel and skip marriage by a good four years, and handle swords and rapiers.
"Talking of you and men, why are you alone?" Julius inquired, to which she replied, "My coz Mercutio offered to accompany me, but in a battle of wits he soon did enter with a Montague, Benvolio, and for fear I would join in, I walked off."
She sighed, and looked out of the window. "Some say Mercutio is to close allied with the Montagues, other say the same for my kinsman Paris and the Capulets. How can the good sir Prince direct a city where his own family is split over a little feud? I don't understand the brawl at all. There are some in the family who care not for this feud; others join even if their blood is not the same. Like…Capulet's nephew Tybalt!" In his corner, the named culprit sat up in his seat, and Julius's eyes darted nervously.
"He is no blood kin, yet for his aunt he fights. No, he makes a fight, so he might prove himself time over again. Mercutio tells me when I ask of the feud; for he is a good as a woman when gossip is concerned, and he scorns the 'Prince of Cats', but no reason can I find that some young man wants to die, over a fight he knows not of, not of origins, not his."
Tybalt found himself get up, and walk over. She saw him, but evidently did not recognise him, for she said "Good den, Signor!" rather cheerily, and went out of the door.
"Apologies on my dear Lady's behalf, good Sir!" Julius cried, hands in the air. Tybalt narrowed his eyes.
"I don't accept apologies by proxy. If the girl thinks so, she may apologise herself. Doth she not give them out?"
"No, for she believes what is says, and is stubborn as a mule, and even if she knew your identity, she would not back down." The old man was shaking now.
Is that the effect I have on those who think they wrong me?
He walked out. His rapier could wait. He went straight home to his quarters, but all he could think of were unnamed Dukes, the heavenly creatures called Seraphs, and eyes the colour of emeralds and snakes, eyes that belonged to one who wondered why he fought with the Capulets against the Montagues. However, he was not angry, just confused, for the question found no answer in his mind.
Please R&R! I'm in a bit of a romantic mood, but I don't really have much experience writing them, so criticism *constructive!* is always welcome.
You've got to love Romeo and Juliet, and Tybalt's my favorite character. Michael York 1965 :)