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Joined: 10 October 2011
"Sanju? Whatever are you doing here? I thought you were out with Kinshuk?"
Aarti rose to her feet with a startled exclamation. Her eyes roamed over the blushing face of her friend, and noted the flying strands of hair. The neckerchief she usually wore when going out was missing. Before Aarti could comment any further on what might have brought her friend to her hide-a-way, she noted who stood behind her. Not Kinshuk as she had thought, but the lord of the castle. Her eyes widened in surprise and instantly she dropped to a curtsey. Her lowered eyes noted as Sanju did the same before fleeing the area. From a far off grassy knoll she heard a horse that could not have been lord Yash's. Her mouth twitched into a knowing smile. Lord and maiden glanced at each other simultaneously sharing a quiet laugh, and for a moment time stood still. The clouds parted, revealing the freshly risen moon. Its rays bathed their skin in radiance, adding an ethereal afterglow to their visages. A hushed silence pervaded the pond, interrupted only by the "thwap-thwap" of its gently moving water. Their gazes, enraptured by whatever bewitchment the moon had created, drew the pair closer to each other.
Aarti breathed lightly, refraining from movement for fear that his closeness would in actuality be an apparition. How gorgeous he looked in the moonlight. Her fingers rose unconsciously, as if reaching for him.
"Dreamum wakeupum?" she mumbled under breath.
"My God...Critical conditionum", lord Yash whispered to himself.
Both looked at each other in shock. Aarti instantly dropped her eyes in fear. What had she done? No commoner was supposed to learn or know the ancient language of the DCian Antiquities, and yet she had uttered the words before lord Yash Scindia! How had she even remembered those words?
"My lord? I... I don't know where that came from." Her worried voice stole the beauty of the moment, and lord Yash instantly regained his composure.
"Silence maiden! Why are you speaking the forbidden language?"
The intensity of his eyes and voice forced her to glance up, and once again the atmosphere changed around them. Her mind struggled to formulate the right words as her eyes lingered on the curves of his "m" shaped lips. Unthinkingly more of the forbidden language left her mouth.
"Heatum seatum, my lord."
As soon as the words left her mouth, Aarti froze in horror. Had she truly just uttered such an indecent thing? That too in the presence of the lord of the castle? Warily, her eyes gauged his expression. She hoped that he would not consider her some loose wench. If he did, lord or dog, the man had another thing coming his way. Why was he even back? How was she supposed to manage her feelings for him, and her fear of the Dark One's return? Lord...uurgh! God help her!
Lord Yash looked at the emotions flitting across her face. First the ancient words had flitted out of her mouth, and unwittingly he had responded in kind. Even worse was not the actual use of the language itself, but... but... the meaning. How was a man like himself to remain in control when the vixen uttered such wicked implications? He was determined to broach the topic of decency once and for all. He would remind her of her duties as nursemaid to the children. Though why he had decided to do so at this strange hour of the eve did not occur to him...so he told himself as he backed away, creating a respectable distance between them.
A wild wind whirled around them, lifting the loose strands of her hair, and causing her clothing to flutter. The strawberry scent of her bathwater arrested the words of chastisement lingering on the tip of his tongue. Instantly his eyes jumped to the delicacy the scent reminded him of. Those strawberry lips...they were magnetic. Lord Yash took a couple of involuntary steps toward her before arresting his forward march. "Focus, Yash, focus...Stop staring at the tempting duo that create the thirst of a desert traveler in you..so much so that you want to drown in their sweet depths. You have words to convey...words that'll show this maiden her rightful place." With a loud, deep sigh, Lord Yash tore his eyes away from the beautiful countenance that was looking up at him in mute expectancy, wondering as to what decree he was going to bestow upon her at these odd hours: All the ancient theatrics forgotten, as if the exchange never took place. Her fingers twisted in nervousness, her entire being taut, ready to make a run for it if he came a step closer than he already had.
"My Lord, are you hungry?"
"What?" He almost shouted. For a moment he wondered if she had read his mind. Or perhaps his body? He glanced down at himself, searching for any obvious signs of his attraction.
"Oops!! I meant angry..yes...angry..that's what I meant. Not hungry like the other night...I mean hungry for the soup, the soup that you never had. Come to think of it, neither did I. That's so sad. I went to bed hungry...and you went away hungry...I mean angry. Are you angry with me, my Lord? Why did you go away without saying anything?"
She knew she was talking utter nonsense, yet the last queries were in all earnest, questions she would never have asked if his sudden presence had not affected her so. She suddenly realised that everything had gone silent...even the wind that was so wildly blowing earlier had stilled. She braved an oblique glance at him and wished she hadn't. He was looking at her as if she had grown horns in his absence, yet his eyes glinted in the moonlight of an emotion that was both tender and passionate. Aarti's heart flipped...and she felt herself sway, closing her eyes in anticipation... Of what? She herself didn't know . She heard a deep-throated groan and felt him move...away. When she dared to open her eyes...he was gone. Was he really here...or was it all her mind conjuring him up? Oh what was she thinking? He was here alright...the flag was up on the Castle tower, the sign of the Lord being home. Aarti made her way up slowly. Unknown to her, a figure stood silently at the window of the dark room above till she had entered the castle safely, only then did it step back.
Aarti awoke to a splitting headache. She had hardly slept. On going back to the room, she had seen the dropped letter, and all the caliginous thoughts of the dark one had come rushing back. What if he comes for me? What about Ansh? There was no way she was going to let him lay his hands on her little boy. She had decisions to make, but before that she had to ensure she kept away from My Lord's presence. She needed a cup of tea; Sanju's special tea always cleared her head..."Where was she? Oh dear Lord...I mean God...I forgot all about dear Sanju. She wanted to tell me something last night about Kinshuk...before he turned up. What a mean friend am I turning out to be!" The very thought made her lift her gown and hasten to find her friend...and in the very next instant she had banged into a hard wall.
"Ooohh... my poor head! Can't you see where you are going, you blind bat?" Aarti called out angrily.
"What? Say that for yourself! Running around the corridors like a child! You are supposed to be looking after the children, not behaving like them! What have you to say to that young lady?" responded the equally angry lord Yash.
"I would if you let go of me, My Lord," gritted Aarti through clenched teeth, her head throbbing with the beats of his drumming heart.
He suddenly realised he was holding her to himself.
"Oh dear God...Why me?", she whispered to the Almighty and braced herself to explain.
Ram the butler coughed from behind. "Err...My Lord...There's a gentleman to see you...Says he was at wars under you."
Lord Yash looked at Ram frowning, slightly annoyed at the untimely interjection. "Alright, I am coming. You make sure the gentleman is comfortable...and you...", turning toward the nursemaid; he found he was talking to thin air. All he saw was her running back, mass of hair tumbling down, take the turn to the kitchen. He sighed, "What am I going to do with her?" He went down to the hall and came to halt at the sight of the person who had come to visit him...and the lady entering the room behind him...
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