The wound never fully healed. An ugly scar formed across my upper arm that I would bear for life. I was back to doing most of my chores after only two weeks, but it took months for me to fully regain my health. Even after that my right arm remained weaker than my left. I wasn't allowed to do any real lifting for even a longer time because I kept dropping things early on. Once I accidentally broke one of the containers we used to carry goods back from the marketplace. Another time I messed up dinner when my arm gave out and I spilled the flour I was carrying into the kitchen all over the floor. The head cook put me on stirring duty for weeks for that. Which turned out to be more of a help than the punishment it was meant to be, because it forced me to work my arm back into some semblance of usefulness. It also strengthened my left arm as my right would get tired quickly and so I was forced to use my left instead. Thankfully everyone was convinced "the feinting sickness" was the cause for my problems and didn't press for another explanation.
When I went back to my nighttime practices I discovered I could no longer hold the sword with one hand. It was too heavy, again. It was disheartening, but I refused to give up just because of that. I had started out having to use two hands before and managed to work up to one hand. I would do so again. Doctor Limir also tried to help, giving me tips on what to do. Over the next several months my left arm became stronger than my right as I compensated for my injury by learning to use my left as my dominate arm instead. I was still able to do some things better with my right hand than my left, like sewing and writing, but when it came to use of the entire arm I favored my left. Eventually I realized my right arm would always be partially lame.
When the Brashers left this time, Elizabeth stayed behind. The Brashers went home without her to start preparations on their end. Elizabeth stayed to deal with preparations here with Lady Carver, and to begin learning from Lady Carver and Cornelia what she would need to know about our home for her new life. Because Luke is the heir to the Carvers' lands, Elizabeth has a brother so she's not an heir, and no lands were united, the two would live in this castle with Luke's parents until he and she assumed the inherited titles. On Luke's sixteenth birthday it was officially announced that he and Elizabeth would be wed the next year. After a great celebration in all the towns and villages, Elizabeth went home to her family to pack and wrap up her life there. For weeks afterwards I would still hear bits of gossip about the pending marriage when I went to market, mostly about Elizabeth herself. Everyone seemed to be happy, as many people claimed to somehow hear from the castle that the young Lady to be was kind in heart, and during the joint birthday and announcement celebrations they had all seen her when she was taken around the lands to be presented to the people and all deemed she was quite fair to look at, and everyone agreed that was just the kind of woman Luke deserved. I thought so too.
In the lull between the initial excitement over the great change that would be happening in everyone's lives the next year, and the lead up to actual event itself, life went mostly back to normal. There were always a few extra things that had to be done or looked after as the year long preparation wore on, which made every day just a bit more busy than usual, but even those became routine to me. Then came the second most wonderful event in my life: my thirteenth birthday.
I hadn't been expecting anything special, my eleventh birthday had taught me that lesson well. Which only made this day all that more amazing. Luke and Jason had woken up before everyone that day so they could give my gift in secret. I was very surprised to wake to find their faces the first thing I saw. They grinned and silenced me, then motioned for me to follow. I glanced briefly at Mother on my way out to make sure she had not been woken. On our way the boys were more giddy than I had seen them in a very long time, Jason almost couldn't contain himself! With each step I became more curious. Finally my growing anticipation was stunning still when they presented me with a sword as the first part of my gift. I was literally shocked. The boys then informed me that I was going to learn to fight proper.
First they made me test out the sword until they were satisfied. It had been made shorter than a standard sword with a slightly thinner blade as well, designed that way at the boy's request of the weapon smith for a lighter sword. Luke thought it was a good idea to get such a sword for me as an allowance for my minor handicap. He was right. The sword was just about perfect for me, I was able to wield it one handed with my right arm! And it was more maneuverable enough that my blocking and countering improved immensely.
Then they took me to the Weapons' Master to begin my lessons! Again I was shocked to stillness by their gifts to me. But my elation, as well as theirs, was shattered when the Weapons' Master immediately and outright refused to teach me. No amount of rank or persuasion of any kind the boys could think of worked to change his mind. They spent a good half hour arguing with him before the truth behind his adamant stance was revealed. He did not believe a woman should be in battle because it would mean she was in harms way. A very sweet notion on his part, especially after he had admitted that a woman was capable of learning to fight. He just felt she shouldn't.
Jason was about to give up. Luke was grasping at straws for further argument. Suddenly I had a thought. Or rather remembered something that was more important to me than learning to fight (any more than I already knew). Archery. It didn't take long for me to convince the Weapons' Master to agree to teach me the bow, especially once the boys jumped in on my side with renewed arguments and the Weapons' Master could see how much I really wanted to learn this. My winning argument was that I wouldn't actually be in combat because the bow was a ranged weapon! My lessons began that afternoon. It was indescribable to actually get to hold and a bow for the first time. I had gained my first love.
The boys decided they would take it upon themselves to further my skill with the sword. They would hold lessons for me in secret. I told them about my night practices and revealed how I had learned all I already knew. Luke laughed. Jason nodded approvingly. The very next evening my night practices turned into night lessons. And with the addition of bow lessons to my schedule, my life was as busy as it had ever been. But this time I was happy.
Before I knew it, Luke and Elizabeth's wedding was upon us. Somehow, even with a year's preparation, we weren't ready! We servants began working around the clock for the three weeks beforehand. Luckily for me half of my additional "work" became tagging after Cornelia and helping her make sure everything was perfect to what Elizabeth and she wanted. Cornelia and I bonded more than we had ever been before during that time. We couldn't help staying up way into the late night chatting and giggling over the whole affair, and even starting to plan Cornelia's wedding. This event had shown her much of what she wanted or didn't want for her own eventual wedding, and she seemed to constantly want my opinion on things she was uncertain about. I was happy to dream and plan her wedding with her, for I didn't dare let myself start thinking of what I would want for a wedding in comparison to this one. I knew that as a commoner I would never be able to have things even near what Elizabeth and Cornelia would have.
Finally the day came. Elizabeth was more beautiful that I had ever seen a woman be. Even more than my Mother on her best day. Cornelia was her Maid of Honor and never left her side. So I ended up attending both on that morning, it was just easier and freed up another set of hands to help elsewhere. Watching Cornelia and Lady Brasher prepare Elizabeth was and experience I will never forget. The whole day was glorious, and seeing Elizabeth as she was made me want to make sure every big and little thing was perfect for her. And when she marched down the aisle, and everyone's breath was taken away, or at least should have been, I felt something odd. For reasons I didn't understand at the time, I began to cry. When I was later able to stop and think about my feelings, after all the celebrating was over and the new couple had been seen off, I found that I was exceedingly happy for Luke, and somewhat bitterly envious of Elizabeth.
When I poured my heart out to Doctor Limir about how I felt due to the wedding, he patted my head and stroked my hair slightly to comfort me. Then he told me not to worry or be dismayed, that there would be great things for me as well. I tried to laugh for him, and looked up and asked him when he had become a prophet as well. He just smiled and said he wasn't a prophet, but he knew as much because there was no way someone could hide what their eyes held. I asked him how he thought my eyes determined what was going to happen to me. After a silent knowing smile while he pondered his answer, he simply replied that mine were not the eyes he was referring to.
A few weeks later the new couple returned to stay. Quickly thereafter the people adopted calling Elizabeth "The Young Lady Carver", I would hear them every time I went to market. I thought that was a lovely title for her. Soon I realized the servants at the castle had picked up calling her that from me. I imagined it wasn't very ling before all of the Carvers' lands were using the new title.
Things did change for the Carver children and myself. Luke was almost a Lord now. Of course he had been before, but it was as if the wedding had made it official. Which changed when and how he interacted with Jason and Cornelia and I. He was still very much our oldest brother, but it felt to me like he was more distant and less present in my life. Our lives, I eventually found out from both Jason and Cornelia that they felt the same. It was partially that he was devoting time to his wife, but that wasn't all of it as Elizabeth had become very much a part of our lives as well. We had welcomed her as a sister, for she had proved herself worthy of such in the years we had known her before the wedding. It was as if Luke was now on a different level in life than the rest of us, and in some sense we supposed he was. But it was hard on Jason and I when Luke pulled out of our sword practices. A slightly sad tone touched all three of our lives for a while, until we finally adjusted to the partial loss of our oldest sibling.
The wedding put lots of ideas in other people's heads besides Cornelia's. Mother started hinting about not so subtlety that I needed to find myself a good man to marry. It was clear she was worried that without a father to supply my dowry I would end up an old spinster, or worse, having to marry whatever sinful man desired me. When I asked her about that one day, she told me not to worry, that she had been scraping together as much as she was able. But I could see she was very worried herself. When I found where she was hiding her savings, I saw why. There was barely enough for a week's worth of food for one person. We didn't own any land or live stock either. One night I returned from my secret lessons with Jason to find Mother crying by the window. Immediately I was afraid something bad had happened, or that I had scared her by being gone in the middle of the night. After a few minutes of letting her hold me and babble as she needed, I asked her what was so much the matter? She eventually revealed that she had gone to see my Father about possibly providing some small measure of a dowry, if only enough to make sure I could marry an honest hard-working man, and he had refused. I sat the rest of the night absentmindedly trying to console Mother, while inside I was stunned to know my Father was alive... and within local travel's reach... and in general I tried to come to grips with the fact that a person I had never given a second thought about, and for all intent in my life from my perspective was dead, actually existed. For the first time I had to personally deal with the fact that my father was not the same as my miscarried older sister. Some time when I had been young I had decided Winterfields, the man I shared a name with, had been my real father. And as I grew I had actually come to believe it eventhough I knew otherwise. Now I was suddenly a bastard child. And a second later I realized Mother's true reason for worry over my future. What decent man would want that for a wife?
Others affected by the "aftermath" of the wedding were Jason and Cornelia. Suddenly the hunt for Jason's wife was on the priority list again. Cornelia and I made sure we were right on top of that priority as well. Luke did what he could to watch out for his brother as well, but it ended up being Elizabeth who helped us keep things from working out between Jason and every girl he liked that the three of us felt wasn't right for him. There were a few he dismissed himself, one time at the surprise to us girls. One of them had been a very gentle and warm person, with enough of a mind to her and a good sense of humor that we knew Jason wouldn't get bored or annoyed. She was actually the only one the three of us all agreed was good enough for Jason. After she was gone, Cornelia confronted him on his "bad" decision. All he said was he wouldn't settle for good enough, he wanted just right. Cornelia later confided in Elizabeth and I that she believed Jason already knew exactly who that girl was who he thought was just right for him, but she couldn't get him to tell her the name of the girl. That sent us on a speculation and clue hunting frenzy for more than several days.
At right about the same time as Jason's search for a wife had been started for him, Cornelia began receiving suitors. She was nearing fourteen and, I overheard from the maids, she was currently England's most eligible girl. Noble blood, had grown into her mother's beauty, and was skilled at a matron's duties. A couple of them even went so far as to speculate in French when they thought no one else was around that if only Cornelia had a better reputation for her personality she would be receiving suitors from the Royal family as well! At first, though she was very flattered and excited at all the attention, Cornelia clung to her designs on Phillip. But the letters from him were becoming more and more scarce. Finally Elizabeth confirmed for me that her youngest brother had found interest elsewhere. I was worried about how Cornelia would take the news, if she hadn't already put the clues together herself. However, a couple choice other boys eventually turned her head and Cornelia was then saying how wonderful a first crush Phillip had been, but that it was best they both moved on.
My next birthday came as usual, with a sunny smile and new dress from Mother, followed by a special small birthday bread from the head cook. After all that had happened in the last two years it was nice to have a simple, uneventful birthday. But then in the afternoon I was called upon to attend Jason on a sudden trip he had to go on, and was told I needed to wear something presentable before a very important person. It sounded to me like her was being sent after another Noble girl, and had managed to get permission to bring me along. I knew he'd want me there to help make things not work out if necessary. Cornelia agreed, and made sure I remembered everything on her list of being acceptable for Jason since she wouldn't be there to judge for herself. I was going to wear my new dress for the trip, as it was the cleanest, un-mended, and properly fitting thing I know had. But Cornelia decided I should wear better as I would be the only one representing this household to another Noble family, and lent me one of her plainest traveling outfits. It turned out that was perfect, as Jason and I were to travel on horseback.
I had never ridden a horse before. I wasn't scared of horses, I think they are wonderful creatures. I was afraid of falling off one while it was moving. Stories of how riders have been crushed by one falling came rushing back to my memory. Jason chuckled at my nervousness, which made me straighten up and brave my small fear. I was very careful as Cornelia directed me on how to sit and how to hold on. Jason was kind enough to move slowly and to guide my horse as well as his own on our way out. Once we were far enough away to not be seen by the castle, he stopped both horses and asked if I wanted to ride with him for a while. It would let us travel faster, and I could assure I wouldn't fall off by holding onto him. I agreed and off we went.
A few hours later he pulled off the road into the forest. It was starting to get dark. Jason said he knew a small area nearby where it would be safe to sleep for the night. It took only a couple minutes to get there. The woods formed a rough semi-circle around a clearing about large enough for six horses. The other side of the clearing was bordered by a set of large rock outcroppings jetting up fro the Earth. After a quick small meal, we bedded in a shallow and short cave formed under where two of the boulders met. Jason put me on the inside and slept at the opening himself, which felt backwards to me. Wasn't he the more important one here?
I had never slept outside the castle before. Nor had I ever slept in such a very small space. I found I was unable to fall asleep for some time. Jason fell asleep quickly. So I was left basically by myself in a very unfamiliar place at night with no way to go anywhere. After my eyes adjusted and the Moon rose high enough to light the clearing I started to see some interesting things. There was a stash of provisions tucked away just inside of the cave in what looked like a dug out hollow. There were symbols carved rudimentarily into the sides of the cave. And on the other side of the clearing was a neatly stacked pile of cut wood. One of the symbols I recognized was that of the Carver family. Soon I also found a date carved. After looking around at everything there was to see, I felt safe and familiar enough to sleep. It was clear Jason and Luke had been visiting this place for years. As I drifted off I wondered how much else about them I didn't know.
I was woken softly by Jason in the morning. He took my hand and smiled and helped me out. My eyes went wide at what I saw before me. He had decorated the clearing beautifully with vines and bells and flowers and various other things. And the sun was shining in that perfect way through the tress to cast visible rays into the clearing. In the center of the area it seemed the sun had chosen as special sat a small box. Jason continued to smile as he lead me to what was obviously my birthday gift. He stopped me inside the sun's rays, and knelt to pick up the box for me. He looked up at me, then sighed softly. "You look like an Angel, Faith." I chuckled slightly, though a moment later I understood the mood of this moment was very different from what I thought. Instead of handing me the box, he took his signet ring off. His words were simple. He told me he loved me, then asked if I would marry him. I was completely blind-sided. I must have stood there with my mouth hung open staring at him and the ring for several moments. His face changed from hope and expectation to hesitation and then worry. He used my named twice then asked me to say something, anything. I couldn't think of anything to say! I had never thought of Jason in that way. Not that I didn't love him, I knew I did, but like a sibling. He was nobility and I a commoner, I had never even considered the possibility of a future with him. I looked at him helplessly. He looked dismayed, and slowly pulled himself off his knee. He placed his ring in my palm, closed my hand around it, and told me to take as much time as I needed to think about my answer. Then handed me the box that held my birthday gift and walked away. I turned to watch him as he went and tended to the horses. After a few minutes I thought to open the box. It was a pair of gloves and new shoes for me.
We rode in silence for most of the day; Jason keeping both horses in line and eyeing the road; I lost in thought, wonder, and worry. Suddenly Jason was off his horse, somehow, I hadn't been paying attention enough to see. My horse reared, nearly throwing me off, but I managed to keep my balance. When I was able to look around and see what was going on, I found Jason was being held by three gruff looking men. A boy a little younger than me was standing behind them looking as scared as I felt. The men demanded I give them all the money I was carrying. I told them I didn't have any. From their words it became clear they through I was some woman of minor wealth: having such fine horses, clothing and boots, and a trained guard -meaning Jason. They informed me if I did not give them money they would take it from us. I wasn't sure what to do, for I truly had none. Jason had all his on himself but I knew that wasn't much either, just enough for one more night at the inn. Jason said as much. They grabbed the money off him. Then they made some comments about having to take the rest of what they wanted out of me for I looked like I would be good. I didn't understand the reference at the time. Jason must have because he immediately tried to break free of his captors. I could see in his eyes that he was going to hurt them severely if they so much as touched me. I quickly looked around and saw his sword was too far away for him to be able to reach in time. But I saw something else too and had an idea. I told the men we did have a lot more money and I would give it to them if they just left us alone. They agreed, but refused to let Jason go first. They sent the boy to collect the money from me, and would release Jason when the boy had it. As the boy came my way I slid off my horse on the opposite side of the men and moved towards the saddle bag. Quickly I pulled out two bolts for the crossbow on my horse and loaded one of them. As the boy came around the horse, I ducked under its stomach and took aim as I stood up on the other side. Even though they saw what I was doing by that point I got my first shot off before the men could react. It hit its mark, embedding in one of the hands that held Jason. The man yelled in pain and let go of Jason, freeing one of Jason's arms. Jason immediately punched one of the other two, and managed to free himself. I saw the two of them draw knives. As I loaded my other bolt I remembered the boy and turned around just in time to see him about to grab me. The site of my crossbow aimed right at him stopped him in his tracks. Neither of us moved for a moment, until Jason called to me. I quickly moved to Jason's horse and pulled his sword, only half keeping an eye on the boy. I shot the man between Jason and I in the leg, then got Jason's sword to him. The fight ended quickly after that. Jason only showed that he was more than proficient with the sword and the three men fled as fast as they could with their various wounds.
Despite a painful looking wound in his leg, Jason ran over to me and gave me a big tight hug and then kept asking if I was alright. I assured him many times I was, though my whole body started to shake as what had just happened sank in. Suddenly I felt blood on my hand, and for a brief moment thought I wasn't. Then I realized it was Jason's. He was also surprised to discover he was bleeding and we quickly looked to see where from besides his leg, which had a long but not very deep cut. We found a gash behind his left ear that ran only a couple inches to the back of his neck. It wasn't much to see, but it was bleeding profusely. Seconds later Jason started to falter. I helped him lay down, then grabbed water and one of the blankets off the horses. I was surprised to see the boy still standing there, but I didn't have time to deal with him, and he wasn't doing anything so I returned to Jason. I made him drink some, slowly, while I quickly bound his leg. Then I carefully tried to tend to his other wound. I couldn't keep the blood cleaned off. As quickly as I wiped it up more would appear. I couldn't think of anything else to do but cover the whole thing with a cloth and tie it on as tight as possible going around his forehead. Jason told me he was beginning to feel lightheaded, and I knew he needed tending by someone with much more skill than I had. But the castle was half a day away and evening was very close. I tried to get Jason up, and was able with his help. He was starting to look bad, I knew I shouldn't be moving him. Still, I had no choice. I couldn't trust this boy to bring a doctor back, and I couldn't leave Jason alone to go find one myself. Jason and I managed to get him on his horse, but then I wasn't able to get on. I still didn't know how. The boy surprised me and helped me up behind Jason. I decided to ride straddle style this time to help make sure neither Jason nor I fell off. By reaching around Jason on both sides and pressing myself against him I figured I could keep him steady while holding onto the horse. Then the boy surprised me again by getting on the other horse and riding over to us. It was clear to him I didn't know how to ride properly. He told me to just hold on to Jason and he'd do the rest. As we rode he instructed me on how to ride with the horse's movements and for Jason's sake.
We galloped as long as the horses would let us make them, well into the night. Ever so often I would talk to Jason, trying to check up on him as well as ease my own fears. Even after he passed out I kept talking, kept saying it would be alright, to hold on, and to please please please not die on me. Jason bled through the cloth after a while. I used myself to try and staunch the bleeding. It seemed to work some, but Cornelia's outfit turned quite red down the front. As the horses started to tire I started to recognize where we were. I told the boy that there was a town nearby we could go to and get help, closer than the castle. Soon we were there. We had little trouble getting past the night guard when they recognized Jason. I refused to let them hold us up, but told them were we would be. They immediately sent a man to take word to the castle that Jason was injured and refused to let us pass without at least one guard for Jason. Though I wanted to, I knew there was no time to argue the issue, so I quickly agreed but told them I wasn't going to wait, he had to keep up with us and then the boy and Jason and I took off again. The boy seemed quite surprised at learning our identities. As we rode through the town I directed the boy where to guide the horses. When we approached our destination I started yelling for Doctor Limir. Of course my yelling woke more than just my friend, but I could not have cared less. The boy and I were just starting to get Jason off the horse when Dr. Limir came out. I told him quickly about the about the fight several hours ago and what I had done to Jason's wounds. I spent the next however long it was assisting Dr. Limir in tending Jason. The boy stayed outside the door and kept all sorts of people from bothering us, somehow even the guards.
I knew it was Luke, Elizabeth and Cornelia even before they came in because of the sound of horses galloping in and stopping abruptly and then the hush that fell over the crowd outside. I wasn't surprised to see Lord and Lady Carver show up behind them. The two immediately pulled Dr. Limir away from Jason. Lady Carver to get a good look at her son. Lord Carver to speak with Dr. Limir about Jason's condition. Elizabeth and Cornelia were all over me at first. Hugs and sighs and exclamations. Turned out word has reached the castle that both Jason and I were severely injured. And from the blood down the front of the outfit I was wearing, it took quite a lot of assuring and proof that I was fine. The news that it was Jason's blood didn't make them feel too much better however.
Luke stood back away from everyone, looking and listening. I couldn't be sure if he was torn over who to be more worried about or if he was trying to distance himself from the potential emotional pain. When I finally managed to break free from the girls and all their questions, I approached him slowly. He barely looked at me. But when I was close enough he pulled me into a secure hug. He didn't let me go for a long time, until his father and mother came to talk to their children. For the first time since he had gotten married it felt like old times, when it had just been Luke, Jason and I who mattered the most in our worlds. I saw Cornelia look sadly to Elizabeth after looking at Luke and I and realizing she wasn't allowed in this moment. I wondered if this was the first time she realized Luke and Jason thought of me more as their sister than they did her. Elizabeth didn't seem as affected, she knew she was a different part of Luke's life and didn't doubt her importance to him. But she did seem to not like that I was in Luke's arms instead of Cornelia. Lord Carver gave us an odd look when he turned around to see Luke and I. I swear I saw the corners of his mouth turn up slightly, but then he was frowning. I slipped away from Luke to Dr. Limir, who did smile at me. He told me I had done well.
It was Lady Carver who gave Jason's prognosis to everyone. She state that he would have to stay just where he was for at least two days, but that since he had woken up recently he should eventually be fine with the proper care. The family took turns staying with Jason, both while he was at Dr. Limir's and after he was taken to the castle.
The next night Mother found me crying at the window of our room. She tried to comfort me, telling me Jason would be fine and that was because of me. I told her it wasn't that. There had just been too much in the last couple days for me to deal with. I told her Jason had proposed marriage to me but I hadn't given him answer, and all bout the fight, and the ride, and that I really needed advice. She became really quiet and didn't say much. I didn't notice at the time because I was still being overwhelmed by everything. The next day I went to see Dr. Limir, hoping to get Fatherly advice from him where I hadn't from Mother. It was then I realized that the boy who had helped us had disappeared two nights before. I had never even learned his name. Dr. Limir wasn't much more forthcoming with advice than Mother was. But he did help me sort through things and then figure out my feelings. I discovered Jason's proposal was what Dr. Limir had hinted to a long time ago about my future. He warned me now that pursuing the proposal would be very hard, but hinted I shouldn't give up, though he wouldn't say why.
The next week I told Jason I loved him, and we were officially engaged! Our engagement lasted only a few hours. He was so happy he got out of bed for the first time and got dressed because he wanted to immediately tell his parents. Lady Carver lit up when she heard Jason say he had found the woman he wanted and had asked her to marry him. "Finally!" was her excited response. Lord Carver didn't share her enthusiasm. His eyes darkened and he looked at me. He knew who Jason was about to announce was the girl, and he started to panic slightly. He was already on his feet yelling "No!" when Jason said my name. Both Jason and Lady Carver were surprised, for different reasons. It was abruptly agreed upon by the Lord and Lady that Jason would not be allowed to marry me. For I was a commoner. AND a servant in the castle. AND...
I stopped listening as Jason argued with his parents. I wanted to yell back at Lord Carver, but I knew better than to risk that. I also knew he wasn't going to be swayed by Jason. Eventually, when he realized he wasn't going to sway his mother either, Jason gave up and started to stalk away, pulling me along. Lord Carver grabbed me away from Jason and then gently pushed me behind himself. In a dangerously low voice he made Jason repeat that he understood he and I would not be married. Furious, Jason stormed off after that. Lord Carver turned briefly to look at his wife before leaving himself. Lady Carver looked at me for a moment. She then asked me if I understood everything as well, that Jason needed to marry better. I only nodded. Then asked permission to leave.
I ran right to Mother with a wound only a mother can tend: a broken heart. She did her best, but of course couldn't mend it. Once I was settled she supported the Carver's about my marrying Jason not being possible. I wanted to think it was because she had to agree with them for her and my sakes, but it was obvious she believed Jason and I shouldn't marry.
Weeks later when it was "safe" for Jason and I to start spending time together again, he told me in secret that he would find a way somehow for us to marry. He gave me a long thin chain and told me to wear the ring he had given me on the chain around my neck. I promised, and we sealed our secret engagement with a kiss. Our first. To this day I can't describe what it was like, I don't know the words to do it justice. But I knew at that moment that I wasn't just some in the meantime girl, he truly did love me.
Nothing could damper my spirits for weeks after that. Even the change in attitude Elizabeth had openly displayed towards me since the night of the attack on Jason and I didn't bother me. It was an interesting turn around. Elizabeth had originally accepted me and befriended me, because of my importance in Luke's life, but still. Cornelia had originally disliked me and tried all she could to make sure we all knew I was not a member of their family. Now Cornelia and I were good friends, and getting closer with each passing week. And it was Elizabeth who was doing all she could to remind everyone I was just a commoner. Finally I did ask her about her change. Surprisingly she told me that she still very much liked me, and I believe she was telling the truth. She was also telling what she believed was the truth when she said "You are too close to this family" and she felt that was not a good thing. When I told Cornelia, she disagreed. I knew Jason disagreed. And whether or not Luke disagreed, I knew he still thought of me like a little sister. So I didn't care what Elizabeth felt.
Thankfully life took a break from out of the ordinary events for a long while. Months passed with standard days full of chores, suitors for Cornelia, secret night practices and alone time with Jason, errands to the town which meant also visiting Dr. Limir, Jason being sent as a suitor Without me, and Mother's mission to find me a husband. She managed to recruit the maids in her search and a couple of the cooks. All wanted to see me with the best possible given my "situation". I was touched by how much they cared, though I'm sure some of them mainly just liked the challenge, it gave them something new and different in their lives to do and think about. But it all meant I had to put up with them trying to figure out the rest of my life for me.
---This story is continued here.---