Margaret froze on the spot. Everything happened all of a sudden. She could hear the whispers of people admiring how loving they both looked. Liliana and Caroline's glare shot daggers at her. Caroline had been watching them throughout the dance... her nails dug deep into her palms for a long time that left impressions on it.
Meanwhile, standing in a corner, Corbette smiled.
He watched the pair dance elegantly. Their moves were in perfect sync... and they complemented each other. It was rather surprising to see Lord Alexander's attentiveness to a female. There was a time when he had a devastating experience... the most painful thing one could ever experience. The pain, the torture and the being helpless to see your loved ones die in front of you, often leave you entangled in a complex web of emotions and reactions. Some may feel guilty about what they did, did not, could, or could not do to save the person who has died. You will ache for the person and yearn to be with them again. The death of loved ones affects a person in several different ways. It can be overwhelming for some while it can be frightening and painful for others. For the Lord, it was the latter. Everybody grieves in their own ways. Sadness, anger, despair, guilt, and loneliness all combined together, settled deep within him. It was not at all easy to cope after a loss. The great king of all time... was broken. Only a few knew about this. Corbette being a reliable councilman, was one of them, serving the Lord for over a century.
Moving towards Margaret,
"How was the dance?" his mischevious eyes teased her.
"What!" she spittled on her lips.
"Umm... I saw you dancing with Lord Alexander, Margaret," he winked "Or was I just hallucinating?"
"Father..." no more words came out of her mouth... she felt short of words at the very moment. Of course, this was something very new to her.
"Let's go home now." he motioned her to follow him.
"Okay" her voice was low... enough for both to hear.
Scanning the crowd for a while,
"We should get going Liliana," he spoke looking at the giant wall clock.
"Where's Caroline?" his eyes scanned the crowd.
"Does it matter anyway?" Liliana smirked... her eyes gave a sharp look.
"Where is she Liliana?" his voice commanded.
"She'll be coming soon. Oh there she is!" she pointed her finger towards the giant Christmas tree. Holding a glass of red wine in her hand, she walked towards them smiling.
"Caroline. We are leaving," he made no attempt to hide the disgust in his eyes.
"Now? This early? th--"
"We are leaving now Caroline." the command was strong.
Caroline looked at her mother, a flash of irritation crossed her face.
"Let's go dear," a slow smile worked its way across Liliana's face.
The family went to say goodbye to the Lord.
"Thank you, Milord, for inviting us to the party." Corbette bowed as he spoke to Lord Alexander.
Alexander's eyes fixed on the young beauty standing in front of him with her eyes cast down. She lifted her gaze to the Lord and gave a shy smile. She tried for a bold smile but utterly failed. The thoughts of her dancing with the Lord, made her face go all red.
"Pleasure," Alexander spoke, his eyes fixated on Margaret's smile.
He will miss this small girl and her shy smile for a hundred times a day.
"We'll be taking our leave. Merry Christmas Milord,"
"Merry Christmas" Alex's lips held a small smile.
The family of four left for the night. Her departure made his throat tighten, his heartache, and his lips pursed.
'Sixteen years old' these three words kept ringing in his mind the whole time.
Those eyes... those lips... those facial features... couldn't be a mere coincidence. The shy personality was something Alex was once deeply in love with. Many deep secrets were hidden... but for now, he needed his first answer. The answer which would finally reveal his true identity completely. For all these years, his identity was a secret... a mystery. His mother's death was a mystery. His parent's love was a mystery. His father's marriage to the queen was a mystery. His relation with the late queen was a lie and mystery.
The new year would bring calm to his storming mind.
On their way back home, Margaret opened the window to allow the cold breeze to caress her face. Closing her eyes, she reminisced about her time spent at the palace. She was scared for no reason. She enjoyed the party... the dance especially. Meeting Lord Alexander didn't feel like she met for the first time. He felt familiar.
'Margaret, you think a lot', her inner voice spoke, her cheeks flushed to the color of scarlet.
She opened her eyes. The trees sprinted... the moon shone brightly. But then amidst the dense forest, she saw someone sitting on a tree. The figure slowly vanished as the carriage moved further.