“I’m just saying that…” the Fool grasped at the air for words to take form, “maybe we should see others.”
“And why is that?” Princess Elani had her chin held high as the slouching Fool tried his best to not fall into the hole he was digging himself.
“I just don’t-” the boy stopped and tried to phrase it a different way.
Good luck, Mr H thought. He watched the Princess Elani who remained emotionless as the Fool tried to separate himself from her. The Princess Elani was a famed beauty that another man, a brighter one perhaps, would have waged war for. She had paper white skin, high cheekbones and dazzling blue eyes. But she was so much more than that. She was a Lady, prim and proper with elegance. She was a great singer, dancer and –
Damn. He pressed his lips together. He was doing it again, waxing to himself like a poet.
The Fool was struggling for words again. “I just feel like we’re after different things, El’.”
Like more Land, maybe. Mr H shook his head. He needed to stop. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking such things, he was meant to be part of the restaurant like a chair or fork. He was Elani’s bodyguard, not her advisor…though…he had told her this would happen. She looked at him as if she heard him. But she looked away just as quickly, twirling her fork.
“I see,” she said, her jaw stiff. Angry perhaps but Mr H knew she was trying to keep her lip from quivering.
You’re here to protect them both, you’re here to protect them both. Just a part of the wall, just a part of the wall.
The cook and waiters entered, carrying the dessert. And like that the two sat straight, waiting for their food to be served as if nothing had past between them.
“Your final dish your Highness, Sir.”
Elani and the Fool nodded once and allowed it to put down in front of them. However, once the waiting staff had bowed their way out, Elani turned to Mr M beside him.
“Mr M take his Lordship back to his car and escort him home.”
“Yes your Highness.”
The Fool leant forward, “El’-”
“I think we are done here, don’t you?”
He closed his mouth, and after a beat of them stared each other down, he stood.
Mr H watched them go, the Fool didn’t turn back once. When Mr H looked back Elani was watching the door too. They looked at each other, though she soon looked away. She knew he was meant to be invisible to her as much as he did. But they were alone now.
“Did you just send the heir of Fife to bed without supper?”
She let herself smile, though still didn’t look at him yet. She first dabbed the corners of her eyes.
“Eat.” She gestured to the bowl opposite her.
“No thank you, your Highness.”
“No isn’t an option Mr H, I am your Princess, if you can tackle someone to the ground when I tell you to, I’m sure you can eat tiramisu as well.”
The corner of his mouth twitched and sat opposite her. She took a spoonful, laid the spoon down while she ate and then picked it up again to take another bite. Mr H did no such thing, scoffing the rich dessert down.
“You were right,” she said simply, she sounded defeated and tired.
“Your Highness, don’t be so hard on yourself. You like to see the good in everyone.”
“But is there any good in him?”
Before he could answer that no, of course there wasn’t, she continued.
“I think there is. Or was…I still can’t believe he just-” she stopped and stared off into the empty restaurant that had been cleared out for her tonight.
“You think his father told him to court me?” she asked, “That’s why you warned me?”
“And it’s true, of course it is but I don’t want to believe it. I suppose I’ll find out, if father doesn’t support the Lord’s case then it must be. But I love him, even now.” Her voice shook and quaked as she spoke until it came a whisper when she confessed her love.
He stared hard at his plate, ice settling in his heart. But he was used to the feeling.
“Of course I love him. I can’t hate him. I’m still expecting him to come marching back through that door to tell me he truly does love me and damn his father.”
She sniffed, making Mr H look back up, but her cheeks still remained white and dry as she dabbed the corners of her eyes with her handkerchief.
“It’s a curse I suppose, for rulers…that people see a means of power before a person.” She laughed bitterly, “I am a fool to believe I could have been loved for who I am.”
Their eyes met again and this time Mr H looked away, shovelling a spoonful of the melting ice cream into his mouth. When Elani laid her hand on his, he moved it away.
He swallowed and said, “Yes your Highness, we all have curses to bear.”