The raindrops created a melody of their own, with their heartbeats joining in a rhythmic harmony. With his forehead on hers, they gazed deeply into each other's eyes...feeling complete for the first time...as if a tiny piece of universe had shifted into place...a place where it was always supposed to be...and would be...for eternities together. He lifted his head and pressed his lips softly on her forehead. Aarti closed her eyes and slowly lowered her head and rested it in the crook of his neck..breathing in his essence, holding him to herself as tightly as her thin arms would allow. He encircled her in his arms with the right hand at the back of her head snuggling her into himself and the left at the back of her waist tightening its hold. His cheek rested on her head in pure bliss. A couple of teardrops escaped his eyes, mingling with the raindrops. Thus they remained for a long time...at complete peace with each other...neither wanting to step away. Somehow words seemed redundant then...as two souls merged into a glorious entity.
The music emanating from the Ball room changed rhythm and became more fast paced. As the notes travelled to the balcony and entered her mind, it pierced through the cozy serenity, and she stiffened. Her brain cleared and a stark image of herself and the dark one emerged, an image of him pulling her in a rough dance in that dingy room, while he and Maya sang loudly in a drunken merrymaking...singing the same song that filtered out of the Ballroom. She started to break away...but he wouldn't let her. He had known the instant her body changed mood that she was withdrawing...again. But this time he wouldn't let her...he wouldn't let her run away from him again...ever. She was his...he was hers...they were meant to be. And Lord Yash was never more clear in his heart. He would have to assure her...convey her his noble intent.
"No, no, My Lord...please don't say anything. I have to tell you something...about me...I..."
"Shshh...it's alright, my love...You don't have to explain yourself."
"But I do, My Lord. It's imperative that you know that...that...that I'm...I'm not a widow. My husband is alive."
Lady Kesha was bored...Dance after dance one or the other dim-witted, dense man came forward to claim her card and she could not say no, lest the propriety of the family protocol be slighted. She stood now, half hidden behind the corner pillar, apparently fanning herself, but in actuality hiding from the monkey-faced, red-headed crown prince of...of...what was that? Frowning, she raised one eyebrow in deep concentration as she tried to remember the name of the Godforsaken place...aha...suddenly she recalled..Du-lareshire. What a weird name, she thought, as she peeked again, only to find the reason of her duress...the man himself'coming straight toward the pillar. Very quietly and nimbly, Lady Kesha backed off and slipped away from the French window, which opened into the back gardens. Once there, she giggled in pure thrill at her escape and finding it raining pranced around with gay abandon. Suddenly, she heard voices, one of them belonged clearly to Aarti, the nursemaid, and the other of a strange man who seemed to be speaking roughly in response to her pleading. Slipping behind the hedge, she followed them.
A few seconds before:
Lord Yash stumbled, drawing her closer for support, as the rain began to return in earnest. His thoughts chattered ceaselessly as his mind tried to process what she had just voiced and the gross implication behind it: She was spoken for...she belonged to someone else. Realizing the situation, he stepped back, letting her go, turning away to look into the shadows. He couldn't bear to look into her eyes, lest she see the hurt and indignation that was beginning to grow there. It had felt so right...for a moment in time everything had fallen into place, as if she entered and finished the puzzle that lay inside his heart. It was not her fault that she had been callously pursued by a member of royalty who might have looked as if he were searching for a mistress...but to discover that she had lied to him? His fingers touched his chest where a strong ache had begun to spread out, making it difficult to breathe. Who knew losing hope could hurt so much? The cold rain beat against their skins, adding to the air of misery that had taken over the fairy tale. She looked at his back in abject melancholy. She couldn't see him like this...she had to relieve him from the guilt and anger that she knew would have engulfed him.
Wiping her tears with the palms of both hands, she straightened herself and spoke softly, "My Lord, it's not what you think! Just...please..."
Her words stuck in her throat when at that precise moment a voice...that dreaded voice from the past...rang out from behind them.
"Good evening Your Highness Lord Yash, Prashant Dubey at your service. I apologize for intruding. Darling wife, I see you haven't missed me much. Perhaps I shall remind you why you should have." With a cursory bow in the lord's direction, Prashant turned toward a stunned Aarti and grabbed her by the arm, dragging her cruelly to the hidden staircase at the corner of the balcony. She was too numb to resist. In a matter of a few seconds her whole world had turned upside down...once again!! She tried to stall...reminding him about their son.
"Pareshan-T...wait! Our son! Let me get him please?"
"Son? Woman be quiet and come! And stop calling me that!"
She looked back at her Lord. Her desperate eyes, reflecting pain and agony, sought him...He trembled with rage at the scene he was caught in, but had to force himself to avert his eyes. Yet he took a step forward, wishing he had kept his sword on hand so that he could skewer that dratted devil for mistreating her while he stood by. While he stood by? What was wrong with him?!
Mentally cursing himself for his slow response, Lord Yash ran after their disappearing figures. She had been in distress, her eyes calling out to him as clearly as her sweet voice would...and instead of helping her he had been rubbing his wounded pride! He made it around the hedges, just as she was thrown into a waiting carriage. With a mocking nod of the head at the lord, Prashant closed the door of the carriage.
Aarti's despairing wail rent the stormy night air. No one noticed the lithe female figure catch hold of the carriage in all of the commotion of the wind, rain, and screaming.
Lord Yash dashed into the Ballroom, shoving the revellers aside brusquely. His eyes searched frantically for Sir P. Damnit! Where was his best friend! The stunned face of Sir P came into focus, as he began moving towards Lord Yash.
"What's wrong friend?"
"That damned blue- scarfed batman! Oh God Prakash, he's taken Aarti."
"Who? Which blue bat? What are you talking about?"
"Some blighted fellow called...Pareshan-T Dubai? Doesn't matter. No time to explain. Let's get to the horses! We might be able to catch up to him!"
Sir P blinked owlishly at his friend, "What sort of name is that? Sounds like some forest creature."
Lord Yash sped toward the stables, Sir P inches behind him. The young lord breathed harshly as they made the final turn down to the dimly lit path, Lord only knew why the castle had so many damn twisted paths. He ground his teeth in frustration. A hand fell on his shoulder, spinning him around.
"You?! Baron Kinshuk! I can't stop to talk now. I have urgent matters to attend to!" Lord Yash turned around to continue, halting as the Baron's next words arrested him.
"My lord, if you really trust me, let me help. I'm sure this is regarding my Sanju's sister, and I would never be able to face her if anything happened to her and I could have helped."
Without responding, Lord Yash turned away from the Baron, beckoning at Sir P to wait. He disappeared into the darkness of the path, rapidly completing the trek to the stables. Soon the jangle of stirrups and harness came through the night as Lord Yash approached the two men. The three horses, neighing quietly moved restlessly behind him.
"Thank you, Baron. Let's go."
The men mounted the horses, staring grimly at each other, and at Lord Yash's signal sped off into the night.
"Look! There's the carriage up ahead!"
Above the pounding of the horses hooves, Lord Yash called instructions. The black carriage weaved across the road, speeding erratically. The unpaved surface was muddy, and heavily rutted from the rainfall earlier in the night. He winced as they saw the carriage bounce frighteningly close to the edge of the road. A gully had been dug earlier in the season by the peasants, and it was filled with water. Falling in there while trapped in a carriage, could prove fatal. Mud splattered his face as he thought of that, struggling to keep his horse from stumbling in the thick mess which was getting deeper and deeper. Impatiently he goaded Banamanush-his horse- harder, forcing it to attempt an even faster gallop on the bad road.
"You! You there! Stop the carriage!"
Bringing Banamanush around to the door of the moving carriage, Lord Yash grasped the handle, yanking it open. Aarti stared blankly at him, recognition animating her face.
Prashant pushed her further into the carriage, positioning himself to block her from his view. "Al! Drive faster! As for you Aarti, you're a little too familiar with that damned lord. Calling him by name now, eh?" He raised his hand to slap her but was promptly pulled out of the carriage. Barely grabbing on to the open door, Prashant kicked at Lord Yash. His aim fell short, landing squarely on the horse's nose. Banamanush neighed loudly in pain, rising on his strong hind legs. Already mired in the deep mud, the animal lost its balance throwing Lord Yash and falling against Baron Kinshuk's horse. The four fell into the gully beside the road. As the carriage sped off, Lord Yash heard the wicked laughter of Prashant mix with the sloshing of the dirty water.
"Baron! Baron! Are you alright?" Lord Yash leaned over his new friend, shaking him lightly. Nearby, Sir P held the reins of the horses, his left hand rubbing the back of the now lame Banamanush.
"Prakash, he's not waking up, and with the roads in this condition, the horses cannot take more than one person. I don't know how that carriage managed to make it so easily. Must have been one of those new carriages that runs on air...You ride on ahead, and take him on the other horse. I'll walk beside Bmush until I make it back to the castle."
"Yash! What in the name of the good Lord is this?! How can you just flee from the ball without saying anything?! Look at the condition of your mother! No one knew where you were, why you left or what was going on. To add insult to our injury, you blatantly danced with your children's nursemaid!"
Lord Yash stood silently in the presence of his family. They were all in the Ballroom, where King Casanova had forced everyone to wait for the return of the young lord. The guests had all left, and only the royals were in the room. Before joining them, the lord had ensured that the Baron had been well take care of. No one was sure what exactly was wrong with him, and he still had not woken up. He curled his fists tightly, feeling the guilt and rage build at carelessly putting two people in harm's way. Even worse, he had still not been able to rescue Aarti from that vile bat's clutches. Now he was cold, wet, itchy from having mud in uncomfortable places, and his father was angry.
"Do not stand their quietly! Answer me! What made you leave?!"
"Father, Aarti has been taken by her husband."
Queen Gayatri raised her eyebrows, speaking for the first time."The widow's husband took her? My prince, are you alright? Did you drink during the ball? Husband why don't you just let Sir Prakash take Yash up to his room? He looks sick. Have you begun seeing Duchess Arpita again too, Yash?"
The King looked at his wife worriedly. "Gayatri, why don't you take lady Kesha with you while I speak with the rest of the family."
Everyone turned to stare at Lord Yash again. "Oh no! Father, she's with them. I saw her... at the back of the carriage."
"Sir Prakash take Yash to his room."
"Father, I am not sick. I was so occupied with saving Aarti, I didn't realise until a few moments ago, but she was there." The thunderous expression on his father's face stilled the rest of his words. Saying more now could make things more difficult.
"What is going on in this kingdom! Aarti, Aarti, Aarti. Yash, I've been ignoring this, but I have had enough! The whole of the DCian Antiquities is filled with talk of your affair with that..that...that mistress! I can walk no where in Conland without hanging my head in shame because a son of Scindia is blatantly flaunting his mistress. Tonight, you crossed all limits! You placed a daughter of our family in danger. I don't care if that witch is a widow or your paid mistress, but I will do nothing to save her, and you will not either. That is a command! Someone call the House into session. I'm making this an official decree. You will not help with the search for lady Kesha. You will NOT search for that Aarti. You will not leave this castle."
"Father, I'll do anything you ask me to, but please do bring Aarti back. Think of her son--"
"Send him to an orphanage. Make him a house servant, I don't care!"
"Anything, father. You're my king, just help her too. You didn't see the evil in that man that took her."
"Anything? Good. Sir Prakash, prepare your sister for her wedding. She's marrying Yash in five days."
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Edited by Kittya_Cullen - 16 June 2013 at 1:25pm