Chapter 3 : Closed Gates and Secret Passageways
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Chapter 3. Closed Gates and Secret Passageways
Who does he think he is?! Gabriella raged in her mind. I am a Princess, he is a commoner; a famous, magic commoner, but a commoner nonetheless.
Her frustration made her wring her nightgown in her pale hands.
What a lying, cheating bastard, she continued, stabbing the floor she was pacing on with her heels. How dares he confuse me so?
Another voice in her head - a voice rarely heard from anymore - interrupted sneakily: He did nothing wrong.
Well, he may not have done anything wrong; in fact it was rather the total opposite! He was purely acting, putting on a show - all to convince the Princess of his innocence and good intentions.
And she'd almost fallen for it. The thought made her shiver.
Oh, dear Lord. Why did that silly girl always have to interrupt her inner rantings? Couldn't Gabriella have a mere hour to spend to herself?
Gabriella growled as she heard her servant approaching rapidly from the other room, and then the Princess lunged for the bed she'd vacated an hour ago. When she woke up panting and covered in sweat.
She'd had that nightmare again. Always the same, always as shuddering.
But she wouldn't think of it. Not now. Not ever; if she could avoid it.
With her body covered under the still-warm blankets of her bed, she closed her eyes and skillfully pretended to be fast asleep. She's be exposed of this sham if the plain servant girl could hear the booming of her heartbeats. But her heart was her own, and nobody but she had the ability to hear the erratic beatings.
"'Tis morning, Your Highness," Sarah, the servant, chirped as she pulled the drapes apart. "And what a lovely morning it is!"
Gabriella was annoyed; not just because of the prescence of her irksome servant, but the lie coming out of her mouth. It was not a lovely morning; it was dark and looming, and gave the promise of a day that would even surpass the horror of the night before.
"Doesn't the Princess agree? Why, I would think-"
"What on God's green earth makes you say that, child? All I can see are clouds; clouds as far as the end of the world, carrying vast masses of wretched rain with them."
"You don't enjoy the rain, Your Highness?"
The Princess merely looked at her servant for a moment: "Which person in their right mind enjoys the rain?"
"It doesn't allow for the prisoners of this damned place to breathe the fresh air, or to escape the confinement of these haunting walls," I argued.
"M-Master Gryffindor said-"
"I beg your pardon, but did you just say 'Master Gryffindor'?" the Princess whispered, her eyes wide.
"Y-Yes, Your Majesty," Sarah responded, her eyes fastened on her hands. "He was down in the kitchens this morning, Highness, a-and he talked about the rain being-"
"Well, he's lying. He's a man, and men are always lying. The earlier you learn that the better," Gabriella interrupted harshly. "Now, go get my linen dress."
"O-Of course, Your Maj-"
"I said; go."
With a curtsy, Sarah scurried out of the room. Gabriella's vicious grin faltered quickly, the pleasure of torturing her servant not entertaining now that she once again glanced out the window.
She cursed herself for being curious about what the wizard had said about the rain...
"Good morning, my child," the King greeted in his slippery way when Gabriella entered the bright Great Hall. That was the only positive outcome of them having visitors; they dined in her favourite room. The roof was so high above her she almost felt as if it was the sky itself, and the large windows added a fresh sense of light.
The Princess gave a nod to her father and his visitors; she refused to define them as her guests.
"Had a pleasant sleep?" Lord Marbury inquired as Gabriella sat down as far away possible. She quite refused to meet the wizard's eyes, even though she could feel him watching her.
She gave another curtly nod. "I did, thank you, Lord Marbury."
"As I was saying, Marbury," the King directed at his friend, "I need you to accompany me when I leave to sign the treaty, but with this weather I doubt we'd get there on time unless we leave as quickly as possible."
"I understand, my King," Lord Marbury agreed. "I'll tell my servant to ready my things at once."
"I much regret to drag you away thus quickly, but I'm afraid I-"
"You're leaving?" the Princess interrupted, finally looking up from her plate. "I-I mean, I'm disappointed, of course. I truly looked forward to learning more about Master Gryffindor-"
"I am pleased to inform you, dear daughter, that Master Gryffindor will not be accompanying us on our journey." The King was grinning, and it made his eyes emit an evil one could almost taste.
"I- Oh, I didn't- I'm glad to hear that," the Princess managed to press out between her frozen lips.
Master Gryffindor and Gabriella's eyes met across the table, and to her surprise he looked entertained. He was smiling in a kind, but teasing, way. And did she detect a bit of an apologetic gleam in his blue eyes?
No. Definitely not.
"You two will have more than enough time to get better acquainted," Lord Marbury added, conspiring with the King. Gabriella had to avert her eyes to avoid scowling at him.
The Princess tok a large bite of a very red apple, which granted her an excuse not to respond. The other breakfast eaters went back to their own meals, and the King and Lord Marbury revisited the coversation of when to leave. They decided to start their journey the same day.
Which meant Gabriella would find herself alone with that confusing wizard that was more confusing now than ever.
Princess Gabriella's body almost convulsed in disgust when she allowed the King to kiss her cheek.
"Conduct yourself, girl," he muttered threateningly as he lingered with his lips near her ear. "Believe me, I will stand by my word and throw you to the werewolves if you don't."
He pulled away, and Gabriella's eyes were brimmed with angry tears. She feared she's chew her lip right off if she continued biting it.
"Farewell," Lord Marbury said as he nodded to his nephew and bowed to Gabriella. "We'll be back in less than a fortnight."
The two men climbed into the carriage, dragged by those eerie invisible horse-like creatures. Gabriella always thought it to be pulled by pure magic, but she'd heard the soldiers in the castle whisper secret conversations to one another about the true reasons the carriage moved forward.
But she never learned why only a few selected people were blessed with the sight.
Gabriella sighed as she watched her father leave, the gates opening to let him through. They'd never let her through. When the gates closed behind the carriage, she shuddered and closed her eyes.
She longed to walk out those gates.
"Marvellous creatures, Thestrals," Master Godric commented, giving her a start. She was far off in her own mind, drowning in dark thoughts. Thoughts even darker than the Black Lake, and twice as terrible. "Very misunderstood."
Gabriella glanced at him quickly, not sure what to make of his words.
"I've never seen them drag carriages before, but it's good that they have a purpose, I suppose," he continued, amd smiled bitterly.
The Princess refused to be intrigued by his words.
"Have Her Majesty ever travelled like that? I'm sure it must be-"
"Right, I suppose you prefer real horses?"
"I don't really know what I prefer," she mumbled against her will.
"If I may be so bold to ask... when was your highness last outside the castle grounds?" Master Gryffindor inquired after studying Gabriella's distressing features as she kept her eyes firmly on the gate.
"I wish you wouldn't address me with that useless title," she responded without looking at him.
"Your wish is my command," he said, and then added in a whisper: "Gabriella."
"Yes, Master Gryffindo-?"
"Please," he said, and his tone made her turn and look at him. "Godric."
She understood, and loathed the way she felt a tingle when their eyes met. "Godric."
"You didn't respond to my question, milady," Godric reminded her, now grinning at her. She swallowed hard.
"I have no recollection of ever being outside these walls," Gabriella admitted. A deep and longing sigh escaped her, and she snuck another glance at the closed gate. But her attention was dragged back at Godric when she noticed the mischievous grin threatening to rip his face apart.
"May I take your hand?" he asked her, holding out his own hand.
Gabriella was baffled; nobody had ever asked her that question before.
"Y-You may," she stuttered, and Godric didn't waste another moment. He grabbed her hand and began pulling her after him back into the castle.
The guards stationed by the entrance looked at the running pair in a state of shock before summoning themselves enough to run after them. By then Gabriella and Godric were already speeding up the first staircase, which made the guards call for assistance.
More guards arrived and began ascending the stairs as well, making Gabriella's heart tremble with both excitement and fear. They were crying out orders to stop, but all they got in return was Godric's booming laugh.
Out of nowhere, Godric stopped in his tracks on the second floor and looked down on the scurrying guards trying to catch up to them. A terribly mystifying grin made his eyes twinkle magically when he turned to Gabriella.
"Watch this," Godric whispered at her, winking conspiratorically. He then drew a wand up from the inner pockets of his bright red robes, and turned again to look at all the stairs below them.
For a moment, he closed his eyes in concentration, muttering a few intricate, foreign words under his breath.
Gabriella was utterly captivated with staring at his masculine profile, and didn't remove her eyes from him until she heard the guards let out surprised yelps.
Flabberghasted, Gabriella leaned over the railing and what she saw made her gasp in amazement.
All the stairs below were moving, floating about in mid-air, causing the guards to cry out in shock as they clung to the staircases for dear life.
"Come, Princess," Godric whispered in her ear, taking her hand and gently tugging it. "Follow me."
"Bu-But, what, how did..?"
He just grinned wickedly, his mesmerizing eyes sparkling. All the noise of the guards were drowned out in the moment their gaze met, her knees weakening a bit.
What was happening to her? Was she ill?
"Wizard," he explained, showing her his wand, "remember?"
The Princess slowly nodded her head before being tugged away and further up the stairs. When she cast a quick glance over her shoulder, she realised that the second they'd climbed the entire staircase, it began moving and was hovering in the air like the others. And when she lifted her gaze upwards, she found the staircases above them doing the same thing.
She finally dared speak when he lead her onto the third-floor platform, through one of the doors and had begun walking calmly in a wide corridor on the other side. It seemed he was looking for something. She didn't know what that would be, though, seeing as he'd never been to Romley Castle before.
"I've met large quantities of wizards and witches," she began in a pondering voice, and had to swallow when Godric slowed down his pace in order to get a better hold of her hand.
Nobody had ever held her hand like that before.
"But not one of them has ever practiced this sort of magic," she finished in a whisper. He turned to cast her a glimmering smile.
Did this man ever stop smiling?
"Why is that?" she inquired when he didn't respond.
"I'm different, I suppose," was his only answer, but a gleam in his eyes told her that this wasn't the sole reason. This man really was an enigma, and Gabriella knew he wouldn't tell her anything himself, and made a mental note to ask her servant.
"Where are we headed?" she asked as they continued walking peacefully down the hallway. Dark and ominous paintings seemed to be watching their every movement, and Gabriella felt a chill run down her spine. She felt their eyes on her, but shook her head at this impossible notion.
"I do not know, to be honest," Godric replied in a mutter, pulling his eyebrows down, this giving him a pensive look.
"Are you lost?"
Godric rolled his eyes at this, and didn't even bother to provide an answer.
"Godric, I don't think-"
"Ah, there we are!" he exclaimed, thrusting his hands in front of him with a rather pleased grin.
Gabriella furrowed her brows as she took in the sight before her.
It was that eerie statue that had given her nightmares as a child; an old, hunch-backed woman with a single eye. She had named it The One-Eyed Witch - when was a young girl, she'd found the supernatural frightening. Apparently The One-Eyed Witch had developed a cure for some disease, but Gabriella didn't know which one. Neither did she care to find out.
"The One-Eyed Witch?" she asked, furrowing her brows even more. Her green eyes almost glowing in the dimly lit corridor.
"She's perfect," Godric mumbled to himself before shooting Gabriella a bright and excited smile.
"You have a strange sense of perfection, Master Gryffindor."
"As do you, Princess," he retorted teasingly. Successfully forcing a quiet chuckle out of the icy Princess at his side.
Without another word, he licked his lips in concentration as he stepped determined up to the giant marble statue.
The Witch's eye seemed to cut right through Gabriella, and she quickly shifted her focus to studying how Godric's maroon robes ruffled as his feet moved.
When he was so close to the statue that he could have easily kissed the Witch's right knee, he closed his eyes, bowed his head and put one hand on the cool marble.
The Princess leaned to the side to get a better look, but dared not move any further in order to refrain from making any sounds that would disturb the golden-haired man.
He moved his lips - just as he'd done before the staircases began moving. Gabriella shuffled her feet nervously, fearing that the very floor she was standing on might suddenly disappear.
"Dissendium," Gabriella heard him mutter under his breath, and saw how he gently, almost lovingly, swept his wand over the Witch's figure.
"Well, I never!" she gasped in amazement, and stumbled backwards a few feet, staring wide eyed at the magic before her.
The One-Eyed Witch's back was somehow opening up, forming a small entrance which Gabriella would easily fit through if she attempted it.
"After you, Milady," Godric said cheerfully, turning around to assist her, his hand outstretched.
Gabriella was frozen. There had been too many changes in a much too short a time, and she swallowed to moisten her raw throat.
"You needn't be afraid, Gabriella," the man tenderly whispered as he slowly stepped closer to her. "I won't let anything happen to you."
"Bu-But what, what about v-vampires and... werewolves?" she stuttered, and despised herself for it. She prided herself in her fearlessness, and wasn't familiar with the uneasy feeling that resided in her at the moment.
"Trust me, Princess, when I say that I have fought and defeated worse things than vampires and werewolves," he replied with ease and offered her his hand once again.
Gabriella studied the hand that was hovering in the air in front of her and concluded that this was a strong and safe hand to hold, and so she gently lay her own - very pale - hand in his.
The warmth exuding from his skin comforted Gabriella, and made the last shreds of doubt relinquish their hold on her.
Once again, she felt nothing but curiosity, and grinned as Godric assisted her into the hole in The One-Eyed Witch's back.
I'd really appreciate any comments you have on this chapter/the entire story! :) How do you find Godric? Is he how you may have pictured him, or is he entirely different?
Thank you for reading, and I dearly hope you enjoyed it ^^