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Chapter 5 : The Library
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"Salazar! You frightened me," she said, pressing a hand to her rapidly beating heart.
"I'm terribly sorry. Didn't you hear me come in?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
"No, I didn't."
"Where are the other princesses? You aren't here alone, are you?"†
"They didn't come. Did you come here to dance with us again?" she asked, hoping that he wasn't disappointed to learn that her sisters weren't here as well.
"I would rather just talk. If that's all right with you, of course,"†he said, leading her to a golden bench on the edge of the pavilion.
"That would be nice. I'd like a moment away from all of my sisters," she admitted, feeling a rush of relief at the chance to have some time to think, without all of her sisters coming at her from every direction.†
She could finally get a moment of peace and quiet, and talking with Salazar seemed like it would help her keep her mind off of the things that awaited her at home. Her hazel eyes locked with his yellow-green ones, and for a moment she couldn't blink, before finally tearing her eyes away, blushing.
"Then I'm lucky to have you all to myself," he said, laying one of his hands on top of hers.†
Dezzy saw that he was wearing a strange ring, one that looked like a snake. For some reason, it made her skin prickle with goosebumps. She looked up at Salazar, and was relieved to see that his kind smile didn't match his words. To think about what his words could have meant... A shiver went down her spine, and she tried not to focus on it too much. Instead, she looked out at the glittering columns and dance floor in front of her.
"It must be nice, getting to see this all the time," she mused.
"I suppose. Though it does grow tiresome when I have no one to share it with," Salazar said quietly.
She didn't respond right away, but after a moment, Dezzy looked over at him. "Could I ask you something?" she said hesitantly.
"Why don't you ever dance with my sisters? You always end up being my partner." She blushed despite her efforts not to.
"Well, your sisters seem to think that you possess the most grace, and are the strongest when it comes to dancing. And I have to agree with them," Salazar answered, giving her a small smile.
"I learned from my mother. It feels so nice to be able to dance without anyone telling us to stop that sometimes I just wish I could stay here, and not go back home," Dezzy said.
"You say that, but you don't mean it," Salazar said.
Dezzy wasn't sure how to respond, and was about to change the subject when she heard footsteps coming towards them, and turned to see Addie hurrying over. She had just crossed the bridge and was entering the pavilion, and looked less than pleased with the sight that met her eyes. Dezzy quickly pulled her hand out from under Salazar's and stood, not meeting her sister's eyes.
"It's time to go," Addie said sharply.
"Alright, I'm coming," Dezzy said quietly, hurrying past her sister and crossing the bridge.†Shame radiated through her at the thought of what she had done, and the fact that Addie had caught her sitting so intimately with Salazar.
Dezzy didn't look back, and a lump formed in her throat when she thought about how angry her sisters would be. Why had she run from them? Going to the pavilion alone didn't make any sense now that she thought about it, but Dezzy strangely didn't regret her decision. She didn't want to look at Addie, and even though she knew it would only be worse when she got back to her bedroom, Dezzy quickened her pace to get to the spiral staircase leading back to the castle. As she climbed the rest of the stairs, she took a deep breath before slipping through the opening in her bedroom wall, and saw Bea and Clara waiting for her. Her younger sisters were somewhere else in the castle. Her older sisters had probably told them not to come up to their bedroom.
"I think you should sit down," Clara said quietly, as Addie entered the room and pushed the loose panel closed behind her.
The disappointment in her voice nearly broke Dezzy's heart. Clara was always so gentle, and patient, and the idea of hurting her made Dezzy want to cry. She knew that what she had done upset her sisters, but even now she didn't regret it, even though she probably should have. Dezzy sat on her bed after it was pushed back against the wall, and finally met the eyes of her older sisters.
"How on earth could you be so stupid?" Bea asked angrily. Dezzy opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again when she saw the look on Bea's face. "I would really like to know why you thought it would be fine for you to go there alone."
"Why are you so angry? You're the one who is always begging for us to go back!" Dezzy shot back. It was rare that she fought with her sisters like this, but Bea's anger had made her feel the need to defend herself.
"I wanted all of you to be able to dance. I don't want to go because of Salazar," Bea said, sneering his name.
"Why don't you like him? He's being kind by letting us come to the pavilion," Dezzy argued.
"You are sixteen years old, Desiya!" Bea snapped.†"He could have taken advantage of you!"
"He- he wouldn't do that," Dezzy said quietly, taken aback at Bea's suggestion. The thought of Salazar doing something so horrible made her stomach turn.
"We barely know him. How do you know he wouldn't?" Bea pressed, her cheeks pink with anger.
Dezzy said nothing, and looked at the ground, tears pricking her eyes and a guilty blush heating her cheeks.
"We just want you to be safe, Dezzy," Clara said, laying a gentle hand on her sister's shoulder. "We're trying to make sure you don't get hurt. We can't look out for you if you go to the pavilion alone, that's all."
"Clara's right," Addie said, speaking for the first time since they had come back from the pavilion. She sounded so much like a mother lecturing her child that Dezzy's guilt nearly doubled. "I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if something happened to any of you. We just want to protect you."
Dezzy's eyes filled with tears she had tried to blink away and she suddenly burst out crying.
"Dez, what's wrong?" Bea asked, her tone considerably softer now. She sat down next to Dezzy on the bed, wrapping an arm around her little sister's shoulders.
"I'm s-so sorry! I d-don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to go there a-alone!" she sobbed. "I didn't know that it would upset you so much, and I didn't mean to make you worry! I wasn't thinking! I just wanted some time alone. But I should have thought of you, and how it would make you feel, and-"
"Shhhh. Shhh, Dez," Bea said, quieting Dezzy as she started to ramble. "It's okay. I should have controlled myself. You're young, you just made a mistake. Don't tear yourself up over it." She handed Dezzy a handkerchief and gave her a small, reassuring smile.
"Just promise us that you won't go there alone again," Addie said.
"Okay. I promise," Dezzy replied, dabbing at her eyes with the handkerchief, her sobs slowing down to sniffles.
There was a quiet knock and the door, and Lucetta entered, surprised when she saw Dezzy's puffy, red eyes. Addie stepped forward, blocking her sister from view.
"Pardon me for interrupting, but I'm 'ere for Desiya."
"I really don't think-" Addie started, but was cut off.
"Did you need me for something?" Dezzy said, clearing her throat lightly as she stepped around her sister.
"Godric Gryffindor is asking for you, princess. 'E says it's important."
"Oh," she said, avoiding her sister's looks as they turned to her, looking just as surprised as she felt. "I'll go and see him, then. I'll be right back." She hurried out of the room without looking back, not wanting to explain herself to her sisters just yet. She knew that once they started asking questions it would take ages to get them to let her go and talk to Godric.
She followed Lucetta down the stairs, and found Godric waiting for her in the library where Lucetta had left him. He was inspecting the books, and turned when Dezzy cleared her throat, announcing herself.
"Hello, Dezzy," he said brightly, grinning at her.
"Hello, Godric. Lucetta said that you were here to see me, and that you said it was important?"
"I have a letter from your father. You seemed anxious for it when we spoke, so I thought I'd deliver it personally, to make sure you got it," he said, handing it to her with a small bow. "Sebastian arrived fairly soon after you'd left, so I came right away."
"Thank you!" Dezzy said, taking it from him. "But you didn't have to do this. You could have just left it with Lucetta."
"I could have, but if I hadt, we wouldn't be talking again, would we?" he said, his warm brown eyes full of mirth.
Dezzy blushed, but smiled nonetheless. "No, I suppose not."
"Dezzy," he said, suddenly serious. "Have you been crying?"
"Oh, I-er..." She trailed off, knowing that there was no way to deny it. Her eyes were evidence enough.
"What's wrong?" he asked gently. He took a small step forward, but still kept a respectable amount of distance between them.
"N-nothing. I'm fine. Really," she added, when he didn't look convinced.
"You're sure," he said. She nodded, and couldn't help noticing the genuine concern in his eyes. "If something was really bothering you, you could tell me, you know."
She nodded again, but a bit more hesitantly this time. She didn't want to explain Salazar and the pavilion to Godric. It was too complicated.
"Thank you," she said quietly. "Thank you for being so kind to me, even though I've never done anything for you. I didn't even know your name until this afternoon."
"Dezzy, you're a princess. You've got better things to do than learn the names of your stable hands."
"Like what? Learn how to curtsy and have a proper conversation? Heed my father's every whim? Some days I wish I could just run away and keep running until my legs wouldn't carry me anymore," she admitted.
Godric took a breath before speaking, thinking about what he wanted to say. "I can't say I've ever been in the same situation, but I can say that your father cares about you."
"Everyone keeps telling me that, but I can't see how it can be true. He never has time for my sisters and I, and we're his daughters." Dezzy was surprised at herself for admitting these feelings to Godric. She knew that it wasn't proper for her to speak against her father so openly, but she couldn't help feeling that she could trust Godric with these things.
"Well it's got to be a big job, being King. I know I wouldn't be able to do it. Just know that when he's not here with you, he's helping the kingdom. He's helping people, Dezzy."
"I- I suppose I never thought of it that way," she said, smiling when she thought of her father helping people.
"And you're sure everything else is okay?" he asked gently.
"Yes," she said. "Thank you."
"So no more crying, all right?"
"This is a very nice library. Have you read many of the books?" he asked, sensing the need for a change in topic. He looked away from her, back towards the shelves of books around them.
"No, but my sister Clara has."
"I wish I could read some of them. Although if I were a princess, I wouldn't want one of my stable hands going through my library after he's been out with horses all day," Godric said as he turned back to her, brown eyes twinkling.
"Godric, I hope you know that I don't think of you as just a stable hand," Dezzy said softly.
"Oh? Then how do you think of me?" he said with a playful smirk.
"As a friend," she said, the word feeling sure and confident on her tongue.
"Then I am absolutely delighted to call you my friend, Princess Desiya!" he said, with a bring and a grand, exaggerated bow.
"And you as well, Sir Gryffindor," she said, curtsying. She couldn't stop herself from giggling, either.†
Just as Dezzy stood from her curtsy, the library door flew open, and her sisters came tumbling into the room. Bea, Ettie, Flora, and Gertie were sprawled on the ground, and Addie and Clara stood behind them. Addie was holding Lenora while Holly clung to her skirts. Julia peeked out from behind Clara, while Isabella and Kitty stood just inside the door, their eyes wide with embarrassment at being caught eavesdropping. How all eleven girls had been pressed up against a single door, Dezzy didn't know, but as soon as they fell into the library her laughter died in her throat and a blush burned at her cheeks.
"It seems your sisters are eager to speak with you, so I should be going," Godric said, eyeing the pile of princesses with amusement.
"O-okay. Thank you for delivering my father's letter, Godric," Dezzy said.
"Of course, Dezzy. I hope to see you soon."
As the princesses stood and smoothed their skirts, Godric waited patiently a few steps away from the door. When they were finally all inside the library, and the doorway was cleared, Godric bowed to them and left. Ettie peeked around the door, and when Godric was out of sight, she shut it, and turned to Dezzy, ready to burst with excitement.
"Dezzy, why didn't you tell us?" she squealed.
"Tell you what?"
"You and Godric Gryffindor! It's so tragically romantic! You being a princess, while he's a stable hand," Ettie sighed.
"Wait, you don't think that he and I..." Dezzy said. "Ettie, he's just a friend of mine! I met him this afternoon!"
"Are you sure?" Bea asked, looking just as excited as Ettie.†
"Yes! He just came to deliver a letter to me. Nothing else happened," Dezzy said, wondering how Bea could change moods so quickly. It seemed as if her sister had forgotten that she had been very angry just a few moments ago.
"Dezzy, it's fine that he brought you a letter, but I don't know how often you should see this man," Addie said, setting Lenora down.
"What?" Gertie and Flora cried.
"Why?" Dezzy asked, confused.
"You're a princess. You're expected to be in the company of lords and ladies, not stable hands," Addie replied.
"I just came of age! I don't know any lords and ladies yet!" Dezzy said.
"Nevertheless, I don't think you should be off at the stables all the time just so you can see... What was his name?"
"Godric. His name is Godric Gryffindor."
"Speaking of which, you two are suddenly on a first name basis? Already?" Bea asked, smirking and raising an eyebrow at her little sister.
"Listen to me," Dezzy said, sitting down. "I needed someone to be my friend, someone who wouldn't treat me as if I'm made of glass just because our father is a king. That's why I asked him to call me Dezzy. So you can stop letting your mind run away and dream up love stories about us, all right?"
"Addie, could I speak with you for a moment?" Clara asked quietly, and Bea and Ettie continued to tease Dezzy, who laughed at their antics in spite of herself.
"Of course," Addie said, following her sister out of the library.
"Please just listen and don't interrupt until I'm finished, all right?"
"I won't interrupt. What is it, Clara?"
"I really don't see why Dezzy can't be friends with this man. I know she's just come of age, and he's older than she is, but I also know why she needs him to be her friend. Listen to what she's trying to tell us, Addie. She needs an escape sometimes. And, frankly, I thought Godric Gryffindor seemed like a nice man, who wouldn't hurt our sister."
Addie thought about Clara's words for a moment before answering. "I know Mother's death was very hard on her, and what with Father not being here very often, I can see why this is important for Dezzy."
"So she can be friends with him?"
"I think it would be all right."
Author's Note: Hello! I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I'd really appreciate any feedback you have. Thanks for reading!
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