A Letter From the Past
Lena read through the note again, for about the twelfth time. She turned the paper over and over in her hands, still unsure of anything that she had decided to do. From where she was sitting in the Greens, she could see Alton Clothiers beneath her. She had been sitting on this hillside for over an hour now, reading and thinking, blending in with the various nobility that saw the hillside as a spot for a picnic or a lunch. “He said to leave her alone.” She muttered to herself, folding and unfolding the small envelope that she had been storing the letter in for a day now. That much was true, Corthos had said to let it be and to leave Maisie alone. But he had been miserable, worse than she had seen him be before. And Isabelle swore that he was just waiting for death, and she made a lot of points that were hard to refute. But Merrigold had seemed happy – even Maxwell had said that. And maybe Corthos was right, and she should just burn the letter let he thought she had, and let Merrigold become Maisie and have her own life. That was probably the right decision.
Except….except that Corthos was clearly miserable. And she felt a responsibility to him. She had helped get the first letter to Madame Charmaine, and she couldn’t help but feel that something had gotten misunderstood. And the letter was….well, it was kind of sweet at the end. Maybe a bit bitter and angry throughout, but he had been so unhappy lately, that was to be expected. She flipped the envelope again. If she handed this note over, Corthos would get mad once he found out. She was almost certain of that. But maybe he wouldn’t. With an aggravated sigh, she laid back in the grass and stared up at the sky. “Why do I get myself in these spots?” She closed her eyes, trying to think with a little more clarity. Yes, the note mentioned the Ravens by name, and that would anger Rexus – but they couldn’t hide forever, and Corthos was already in the public eye. In fact, just walking here she had heard gossip about him twice.
Corthos had wanted her to not interfere in Maisie’s life, and that was fine. She would normally never question it. But this….there was something that didn’t work. Something that wasn’t right. And based on what she knew, and the words he used….there was no way that he was over her. Yes, the elven was clunky and rough, but the sentiment….she sighed again. Maybe she was just being a foolish schoolgirl about it. She re-read it one more time, and this time she reached a decision. There was no way that she could just pretend it didn’t exist, but she couldn’t give it to Merry herself. Mentally cursing herself for wanting to do anything, she grabbed her knapsack and stood. She brushed grass off of the bag and started back down towards the Clothiers, muttering to herself. “You are a soft-hearted fool, Lena. One of these days it’s going to bite you.”
She opened the door to the Clothiers hesitantly, being greeted quickly by Vivian as the brunette came almost bounding across the room while greeting. “Welcome to Anton Clothiers, m’Lady! What service can I provide for you?” Lena almost laughed in spite of herself. She’d never been called “m’lady” before, and it almost seemed surreal. She opened her mouth to speak, her voice softer than normal. “My brother came by a few days ago to see your working conditions before purchasing a dress…” Vivian smiled, looking through a logbook at the desk before speaking. “Lady Laurent, I would guess?” Lena nodded and curtsied slightly. “One and the same. I just wanted to see the dressmakers room, he described it so poorly and I can only imagine it being so beautiful. If that isn’t a problem.” Vivian laughed. “Never a problem. Right this way.” Lena smiled and followed her closely, taking it all in.
The workshop was fascinating to her, so many delicate and imported fabrics that she had almost thought impossible to find in Kintargo. She trailed her fingers along several of the bolts before the door to the workroom was opened. Inside, she saw Maisie talking with Isadora herself as they worked together on an elaborate dress in the corner, Maisie looking like a rapt student. Isadora smiled at her as she worked, and Lena felt a small pang of regret. She really did look happy now. Maybe this was what was right, and who was she to bother interrupting any of it? She glanced back at Vivian as she continued through her clearly rehearsed script, introducing the girls and bowing to Isadora. Lena followed her lead, her mouth gushing out platitudes about the quality of the dresses even as her mind raced forward.
As they exited the room and started back down the hallway, Lena bit her lip hard. With concern in her eyes, her hand gripped the letter in her bag. As she bowed to Vivian, she made up her mind. If she was going to be damned, then at least she would be damned for doing what she thought needed done. Hopefully Corthos could forgive her in time. After all, hadn’t he said that asking for forgiveness was a better plan than waiting for permission? As she stood again, she left the letter behind her on the shelf. She had written on the front, a simple message in Elven. Lady Menard -For your eyes only, from a friend. She left it on the shelf and hurriedly let herself out, alternately nervous and cursing her own mind as she started to walk back into Kintargo.
Vivian had found the letter maybe an hour later, holding on to it in her pocket until Isadora had left for the day. Then, when it was just her and Maisie, she had produced it. She held it up in the workroom with a grin. “Somebody has an admirer. I think Lady Laurent left a message from her brother….you’ve got some noble’s attention, m’dear!” She laughed, and Merry grabbed the envelope with a growing dread as she continued. “Maisie? Are you okay?” Merry managed a small nod as she read the elven on the front. Opening the envelope, her eyes widened slightly. She knew that handwriting well. The color drained from her face as she spoke. “Vivi….I need a few minutes. Please. I just….please.” Vivians brown eyes filled with concern, and she placed her hand on Merry’s shoulder. “Take your time. I’ll watch the store. Just….is everything okay?” Merry didn’t respond, just standing and walking towards the back on shaky legs as she slowly began to unfold the letter out of view of Vivian.