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After a while, Stephan detected movement behind him and the sound of feet upon dried hay but he thought perhaps it was a stallion shifting their weight. As he turned to check, he noticed the figure of a woman who was just entering at the other side of the stable. He recognised the woman almost instantly as the king’s daughter. Stephan looked away, wondering if she had noticed him at all. He started to panic slightly wondering what would happen when she saw that a servant boy was alone in the stables with someone else’s horse. The horse he was petting hadn’t been out on the field and he was sure that was because she was petting a horse that belonged to someone who had not taken part in the tournament. Stephan was too occupied with wondering how the woman would react to seeing him and that was when she looked up towards him and his heart felt as though it was about to burst out of his chest and he looked away, not daring to meet her gaze with his own.
After a minute the King’s daughter spoke towards him, telling him the name of the horse he had taken to. The moment he realised that this was her horse he took a step back and hung his head. He really shouldn’t be here and that much was becoming more and more clear with every second that passed. This woman could so easily have his job taken away from him and he could be tossed out of the castle walls simply by being here without permission.
[b “My apologies, your majesty. Had I known that this was your horse I would not have...I would not have gone near her.”] Stephan tried hard to avoid watching her but the way that she greeted her horse was mesmerising. It was so clear that there was a strong bond between the two and he had found himself longing for a similar bond but he would never been permitted to own a horse of his own. He told himself to leave in that moment and he started to walk away, hoping that she would not question him for being here. Surely she would not remember his face in the morning so all he needed to do was get out of there.
As he began to walk away the woman spoke towards him again and if he was expecting a harsh tone he found himself to be surprised. There was a kindness in her tone and it told of hers fondness for the horses and he turned towards her, knowing that he would have been scolded for leaving part way through an attempted conversation. His position meant that he had to follow the wishes of others and at this moment in time, not really understanding why, the woman before him seemed to want to speak to him. He looked down at the floor as he contemplated his answer and eventually shook his head.
[b “No my lady. I work in the kitchens. I-I was just taking a walk. Please accept my deepest apologies. I know that this is not my place and I fully accept any consequences that might come.”] Stephan took in the woman’s appearance now that she could She her properly. The moonlight creeping through the gap between the stable door illuminated her skin perfectly. She was certainly one of the most beautiful maidens he had ever laid eyes upon and her smile could so easily light up the darkest of rooms. Even in her riding gear she was beautiful. He was sure that he would be put to death if anyone were able to see his thoughts in that moment. How he was looking at her lips and wondering what it might be like to taste them. His breath caught in his throat and he had to swallow and snap himself out of such thoughts quickly. Now he was awaiting whatever punishment might come for being somewhere he was not permitted to be.
Arms wrapped around her Father tight.
Cheek of her face pressed up against his chest and her eyes closed tight where in that moment, she took memory on what he felt like - breathing in deep - smelling.
The King always smelt like peppermint and pipe tobacco and Evangeline smiled as this is how ..she would remember her Dad. Not a man would ever smell this way. Not a man would ever take the place of her Father.
Smiling wide - Eva tilted her head up and stared at the King and he quickly stroked her face for a fraction of a moment before she turned - straightening up like Princess and the two began to place one foot infront of the other and began to trudge towards the sidelines to go back to the Castle that was their home.
It was wandering through the sand upon the ground that Evangeline looked around the crowd that cheered, only for her beautiful eyes to find a boy.
A man that was ever so captivating.
Out of a crowd of plenty, there he was - sitting there as if he was in color and the rest of the world was black and white.
He was beautiful but the only thing Evangeline could do was raise an eyebrow at the feeling her heart was making.
It was little pitty pats.
It was as if her heart grew wings and started to float up into the heavens.
It was a feeling she had never experienced and for a short moment, their two eyes connected, only for it to break as the Man looked away. Knowing his place.
Clearing her throat, Evangeline looked away and smiled - waving to the crowd until she shifted into the Carriage and went home.
Throughout the way home, her mind was on the boy.
Dinner, he was on her mind to where she pushed the peas on her plate in daydream, played with her food only to be told off by her Mother.
[+blue "A Princess does not play with her food. Or slouch. What's the matter?.."]
[b 'Nothing Mother. I just remembered, I did not take Rose out for a ride today. I went off schedule."]
[+green "Cant have a Princess go off schedule..."] the King spoke, looking at his daughter with a smile, as he was making a smart ass comment to his wife, as she was strict on her Daughter's duties.
[+blue "I know what you are doing, Henry. That is not polite. Evangeline, get dressed and go to Rose. An hour is all you get..."]
Dropping the fork, Eva excused herself and wandered out of the dining - running up the stairs in her dress only to trip twice - laughing - waving the maids away who came to help.
Quickly she changed into her riding gear.
Rose was her soul. Her best friend and every time she was with her, she felt free.
There was nothing like riding a horse.
Riding pants, boots - a blouse with a corset over the shirt - red hair down in loose curls - it was not long until she grabbed her riding cop and ran through the castle outside - her boots kissing gravel of the path, but she slowed - the moment her eyes witnessed light from the Stables.
A candle flickering.
Coming down to a walk, Evangeline came to the Wooden stables, her left hand touching a solid beam as she turned - stepping in, her eyes glancing at a boy with Rose.
The same boy that took her breath away earlier in the day.
Tilting her head to the side - she stared, looked at him up and down with a smile.
[b "Her name is Rose..."] she spoke softly, hiding her smile.
Evangeline stood there. Trying to be a hard ass as she was "brought" up to be, but she failed.
The smile spread across her face.
[b "She is my horse..."] again she spoke, taking a step forward. Rose moved her head up and down - greeting the Princess to which Evangeline raised a hand - palm down on the flat of the snout and rubbed gently, leaning in - kissing Rose's cheek... [b "Good Girl, hello..."]
Smiling - her eyes landed on the boy.
[b "Looking after the horses, is this your job? ... "]
Stephan was not an expert in love but he thought that the king and queen had a mutual respect for each other and that could be detected from just one look. He was able to detect the love that the king had displayed for the woman that he had chosen to take as his wife and spend his life with. It was curious but there was not much else to read into before a woman ran towards the king, throwing her arms around her in pride.
The woman was beautiful, long red hair flowing in the wind and a dress that fit the contours of her body perfectly. He had seen her before but he had never dared to speak to her. A man of his position would not have been permitted to do so unless it was in service of the woman. She was the daughter of the king and queen and one of the most beloved women in the courts. Tales of her beauty had travelled far and there had been many occasions where suitors would try to court her with little success. It seemed the princess was more interested in other conquests.
He drew his eyes away from her so that he was not caught looking over at someone of higher status than him, allowing his eyes to wonder to the horses being paraded around the small space as a victory walk and allowed that view to distract his mind for some time.
As soon as the King had removed himself from the scene, many others began to filter out, including the Queen. Stephan followed respectfully knowing that she would be expecting some him to be preparing for the evening of dining that she would partake in with her husband. He spent the best part of the next few hours ensuring that the food he prepared was of a high standard until he was eventually dismissed for the evening. His work had been completed now and there was no reason for him to remain in the kitchens. I was his job to prepare the food, not serve it.
Stephan dismissed himself into the hallway, thinking that he would perhaps have time to enjoy the twilight of day before he would be forced to retire to his own room that evening. He decided that he would explore the grounds and take a peek at the horses that they were keeping and though he would take the time to admire the horses that had played a pivotal role in the people's enjoying of jousting.
The stables that resided upon the grounds of the king’s home were abnormally large. Most stables could perhaps hold up to five horses but this was big enough to house the stallions of everyone who resided within the walls. Most of the men of the court had their own horse and they were all looked after well here. There was hired help that groomed and fed the horses daily and he sometimes wished that were his duty. At least then, he would be doing something he enjoyed rather than observing the lives of those who hardly even knew he existed. He knew that he should not be down here alone, especially since his position beyond the walls meant that he would not be treated with any kindness if he were to be seen among the horses belonging to those who were of higher lineage.
Stephan wondered how different his life would have been if he were born into a family who had status. He could hardly imagine it and he found himself laughing at the thought. There was no way that in a previous life or the next that he would have been someone of any importance. That did not mean that he was not grateful for the fact that he had been brought into a space where he was safer than out on the streets. Their life was so much more dangerous out there and there had been an occasion where he had almost lost his life to illness. If it weren’t for his father working his way into the king’s courts he wouldn’t have been alive now. The king’s doctors had treated him as a favour and repayment for his father’s loyalty and the rest was history.
As he entered the stables, he noticed that only one horse had noticed his presence, looking up from the evening meal that had been prepared for them. He made his way towards that particular horse to pay his recognition with his kindness. This particular horse had not been out of the field today. He recognised most of them but this horse had no rider who had taken part in the jousting tournament that day and Stephan wondered if that was partly the reason why he had sensed his presence. Perhaps the other horses were more concerned with recouping their energy. His hand moved towards the snout and allowed him to take in the scent of it and make a decision about whether he could trust him or not first before nudging at his hand as if he craved the attention and he found himself smiling as he allowed his hand to run along the well-groomed coat of the horse.
One the night of November 1609, the 25th, at the Palais du Louvre a child was born. A child made with so much love that the moment she was brought into the world - they say; people heard the Angel's weep.
Evangeline Maria Bordeaux was the only daughter of King Henry III of Navarre) and his second wife, Marie de' Medici.
With the birth of the future Queen, a party was thrown. People danced in the streets, the wind blew colorful paper and white rice in the sky as the Kingdom's people sang in celebration of the young Evangeline.
Growing up, the Princess was awkward.
From being a girl so delicate, Evangeline in her low teens became self conscious the moment she hit puberty however all that changed the moment - which seemed over night that the 17 year old Princess became a swan.
The sweetest, long ...reddish auburn hair that hung in loose curls when she was alone, long hair that no one often saw as it was always up in pins and decoration.
Smooth skin, soft and supple with little freckles upon the bridge of her nose from the sun ..when it kissed her face.
Lips red...like a rose - full and pouty along with a pair of eyes that were the shade of emerald, big, sparkly that would make any boy fall onto their knees.
A body she grew into well.
Curves in all the right places and breasts that pushed up with the corset that was pulled tight, unable to let her breathe every morning.
[i "You look beautiful, my dear..."] Marie spoke as she greeted her daughter at the bottom of the stairs that led into a large foyer in-front of the entrance doors of the palace.
[b "You chose the dress. For once, why can't I? ..."] Evangeline spoke as she moved a hand behind her back and started to play with the laces of the dress as it was simply too tight which only made the Queen, reach out and grabbed the Princess's hands.
[i "Princesses do not fiddle with their clothes. And I pick your clothes, because I know...you will not and become frantic in the morning."]
[b "How do you know, if you wont let me?..."]
Marie turned her head and stared upon her daughter and raised a simple eyebrow which made Evangeline sigh before both wandering out of the Castle - down more steps and into the carriage that waited.
Today was a big day.
King Henry would be jousting to defend his honor.
Everyone knew that the King was the greatest jouster there was and really, he did this for fun.
Fun for Evangeline was to be stripped of all the clothes and to run free through the forest, climbing trees, getting dirty - meeting boys ...getting a kiss for the first time and not when she was 50 - due to her parents being strict.
All she wanted was one day ...to run and not look back until she really really had too..
Sitting in the carriage - bodies bounced due to the cobblestones under the wheels.
Horses hooved clicked as they kissed the ground and it wasn't long until the Royal family, minus the King arrived at the Jousting ground.
Marie stepped out first and wandered off with Guards while Evangeline followed suite however, stepping out, her dress got caught in the hinges of the door of the carriage and required assistance.
Sighing loud, she turned her head and her hands started to try to free the material which made the Queen turn back and watched her daughter carefully but knew she was in good hands, so she remained on her way, not wanting to be late.
[b "Great... just ...great.."] Evangeline muttered as the Footman came over and tried to pry the material free and with great success.
[b "Thank you Jean..."] she muttered softly as she too steps forwards, towards the canopy - the sheltered balcony in which she Mother sat, perched like a Queen, a Queen that was already viewed by a boy in the stands.
A boy that would steal her heart.
Walking up the steps, it was at the top one that the graceful princess, beautiful and alluring ... fell, making noise - being clumsy before standing back up- smoothing herself down and slowly - took a seat beside the Queen.
Marie turned her head and glanced at her daughter who tried to sit up straight, hoping for another lecture.
[i "What is the matter with you, today?...."] she whispered, with a low growl but still managed a smile.
[b "Its this dress...."] the Princess replied, shifting in her seat - smiling at the crowd, a slight blush in her cheeks.
Marie turned back just in time for the crowd to cheer as the King, rode out in to the arena of his noble steed.
A gorgeous white Arabian that Evangeline secretly rode at times, at night when she snuck out.
Disobeying her parents was the only way for someone sort of childhood fun.
Clapping her hands, she smiled as she witnessed her father again - claim honor and dignity.
Standing from the seat, Evangeline smiled that incredible smile and clapped loud to her Father before being spoken too by one of the Guards that allowed her to move from the seat.
Stepping down with the held of several hands, the Princess wandered passed the hill of seats and ran out onto the Jousting arena and into the arms of her Father who held her tight in a hug...just like she did every time King Henry had beaten his opponent.
Stephan’s father would anything to protect his from everything he possible could; from the life they once had on the streets; from the life that had claimed his mother. Being poor in such a world would not do, so his father worked hard and made sure he could work his way up and when he finally did so, he considered them to be safe. Stephan’s father was a member of the courts of the king which meant that in return for residence within the walls on the king’s home, Stephan’s was to become a servant of the royal family. Though his father had worked hard to be respected, he had yet to be rewarded with a title and land that might grant them any prestige in this world. At least here he was free to roam after his duties.
"There are cruel people within this world Stephan and I will not allow any one of them to take you from me like they did your mother. That is why you must work here. I know that this is the safest place for us." His justifications were somewhat irrational he never wanted to displease his father so it was not an issue that they often debated.
It was perhaps because of his own sheltered experience that he enjoyed watching the courts jousting tournaments. His senses were always heightened when he watched the men take part in a battle to fight for their honour of their houses and in some ways it made him realise how boring his life had been. Those who were the happiest from his experience were those who had faced some element of danger at some point within their lives. For weeks, he had been attending the same games to watch as the different men represented their houses. Today was different as the king himself would be upon a horse, ready to joust and defend his honour.
Stephan felt the buzz of excitement and the king’s wife sat a few above him was beaming with pride as the king appeared in the distance in full armour, ready to mount his horse. A member of the house that would be defending against him approached one of the ladies amongst the crowd, asking permission to wear her favours upon his lance for luck. It was brave of her to accept to do so as he would be jousting against the kind but it was tradition for women to show their support in their men by tying their ribbons around their lances. Stephan longed so much to be riding one of those horses, fighting with a favour from a special lady in his life but it was not something that he would ever see in his future. When the king approached his wife, he tried his hardest not to stare at him. His physique and the way he held himself intrigued him and he wondered how a man could hold himself in such stature that commanded attention the moment he walked into any room.
One might wonder how a man of his status might have found themselves at such event. It was not common for a man of weak lineage to be invited to enjoy the games of those born with a superior bloodline but his position within the home of royalty meant that he was to invited because his father had been, providing that he ensured that his duties had been taken of first and foremost.
Having thought that, it was a most certainly intriguing opportunity for him to observe such affairs and at least attempt to absorb even the slightest bit of excitement for the gathering crowd. Jousting had not been an event in which he had been permitted to observe before now so perhaps it was the idea of something new that excited him, watching the charge of the horses and the battery of men. It hardly made sense at all. How exactly did knocking a man from his horse with an over-sized metal pole defend the honour of their house? In fact, the very reflection upon this thought brought a smile to his lips and he continued to observe with his forever growing curiosity and confusion about the whole sport.
Stephan’s mind had wondered to many a place, but today it was focused upon the white horse that was acting as the King’s stallion, mesmerised by the beauty of her. The coat was clearly well groomed and the King’s coat of arms sat comfortably across the body of the horse, almost as though it was indeed a part of her. Her stance was almost as proud as her rider’s and as he begun to ready himself to meet his opponent, the stallion began to move forward as if to parade herself to the crowd before the festivities began and as she strode past Stephan he had to control himself not to reach out and touch the horse in admiration. He couldn’t remember ever being this close to such a beautiful beast as a child but then, there was not much that he could remember about being a child, yet he had a deeply set longing to be the rider of such a horse but in a completely different setting; leisurely parading down the river bank, taking in the sights of beauty that surrounded them. Stephan would not be permitted to do so by his father, nor would he acquire a horse for him to call his own.
The event neared its start and the crowd began to display their support for the King. He looked over towards his opponent and felt almost as though the tournament itself was rather pointless. The King would win as he always did and the opponent’s pride and perhaps parts of his body would end up becoming damaged from entering into the duel but men did not allow such things to deter them from proving themselves. Sometimes it was about the fight, not the outcome.
As predictable as the tournament had become, the excitement was not void, nor was the support and all eyes were upon the King has he climbed down from his horse and made his way towards him beaten opponent. He showed his respect for his participation and agreed with many that he was a well-suited match for the King, regardless of the fact that his skills were flawless.
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