The next morning, Lila was awakened by Ulric banging the cell door with a metal bar. He was in a bad mood, and was taking out his frustrations on the cell door. Lila rubbed her eyes and stood up to face Ulric.
"Alright, alright, I'm up!", Lila yelled. Ulric responded by hitting the bars one last time. He then unlocked the door and roughly pulled Lila out of the cell.
"Come on you, the royalty will be expectin' their breakfast soon!", Ulric grumbled. As he dragged Lila out of her cell, he tripped over the remains of the food that Dimitrius had brought the day before.
"What is this? How did you get this food?", Ulric demanded, his face turning red. Lila sighed inwardly. This was the last thing that she needed.
"It was brought to me", Lila muttered.
"And who brought it to you? Was it that Karmella wench?", Ulric yelled, spit flying from his mouth. Lila narrowed her eyes.
"No, it wasn't Karmella, or any servant for that matter!", Lila retorted. Ulric clearly didn't believe her. He grabbed her tightly by the wrist and twisted her arm. Lila screamed in pain.
"Now tell me who brought you the food!", Ulric shouted. When she didn't respond, Ulric twisted Lila's arm further behind her back. She felt her eyes well up with tears from the pain. She opened her mouth to speak but only screams came out.
"Tell me who it was!", Ulric bellowed once more. He raised his hand above Lila's face, but as he was about to hit her, Lila finally gave an answer.
"Prince Dimitrius! It was Prince Dimtrius!", Lila sputtered. Instead of releasing his grasp on her arm, Ulric tightened it.
"You took advantage of royalty?", Ulric yelled. He pulled Lila's arm from behind her back, though he did not let go of her wrist. He stuck his face in front of her and began to speak very slowly.
"Don't you understand your place? You think too highly of yourself, slave!", Ulric said, emphasizing every word, "The next time something like this happens, I'll have your head!"
Ulric finally released Lila's wrist, and she immediately began to cradle her arm. Ulric pointed towards the stairs, and Lila quickly ran towards them, cursing Ulric under her breath.
Once Lila made it back up to the castle, she made her way into the dining hall where she saw the royal family and Prince Dimitrius sitting at the table. They were apparently half way done with breakfast. Lila cursed Ulric once again for making her late for her morning duties. She walked to her place next to Karmella, avoiding the stare of Prince Dimitrius. Karmella gave Lila a sympathetic look. As Lila took her place, the king took his chance to speak.
"I hope your stay in the dungeons straightened you out, Lila", he said before taking a sip of mead. Lila nodded her head. The king smiled and turned his attention back to his breakfast. The rest of the meal was spent in silence with the occasional sigh or cough. Lila avoided Dimitrius' eye even though he kept trying to catch hers. Although Lila didn't want to face him, nor did she want to speak to him, she still held his necklace tightly in her hand.
After breakfast, Lila was ordered to stay back and help clean the kitchen since she missed her morning's work. Lila happily obliged. The last thing that she wanted was to be anywhere near Dimitrius. She decided to focus on cleaning up the kitchen instead of dwelling on the prince. After a few minutes of cleaning, however, another older maid sent Lila out of the kitchen and into the orchards to pick apples for lunch later that day. Lila grabbed a basket and headed out of the kitchen.
As she walked towards the orchards, Lila finally felt a sense of happiness. After all that had happened since last night, she was happy to feel an ounce of freedom, if only for a little while. She swung the basket and began to hum a sweet tune. As Lila walked down the path that lead from the kitchen to the orchards, she smiled up at the sky. It was pure blue and full of fluffy clouds. Lila continued down the path, noting the songs of the birds and the cool wind that gently combed her hair. Lila always did love the outdoors and often wished she could spend more time outside.
Lila made her way to the orchards and the sweet scent of apples filled the air. Lila chuckled happily and did a small twirl to express her joy.
"Well, you certainly are cheerful today", came a teasing voice. Lila stopped cold. She turned around to see Prince Dimitrius laughing slightly. Lila scowled.
"Damn it all, what are you doing here?", Lila asked harshly.
"Oh my, what a mouth you have!", Dimitrius replied. Lila narrowed her eyes and turned around. She began to walk to the nearest apple tree.
"Yes, yes, you're hilarious. Now let me work", she said. The prince only smiled and walked towards Lila.
"For someone who seems to despise social hierarchy, you sure are avid when it comes to your work", Dimitrius commented. Lila turned back around to face him.
"Well, I wouldn't want to spend another night in the dungeons, now would I?", she replied. There was a brief silence where neither one knew what to say next. Finally, Lila spoke up.
"Why did you follow me? And for that matter, how did you know I was here?", she asked. The prince sighed playfully.
"Oh well, you know, the maids here can be rather helpful. You excluded, of course", he said. Lila stuck out her tongue at him which caused the prince to laugh. Lila felt a smile coming on, but she turned around to hide it from Dimitrius. Once Lila regained her straight face, she reached up to pick an apple. Her sleeve fell down exposing the bruise that Ulric gave her. Dimitrius frowned.
"What's that?", he asked. Lila turned to look at him, slightly confused.
"What's what?", she asked. Dimitrius walked up to Lila and reached for her arm. She instinctively pulled it back.
"I'm not going to bite. Let me see your arm", Dimitrius said in a calmer tone. He gently tugged her arm away from her side. Lila was surprised at her willingness to let the prince hold her arm. When she looked up at his face, Dimitrius' eyes were clouded and his expression had changed.
"Who did this to you?", he asked seriously. Lila tried to tug her arm away from him, but he held on.
"Nobody important", she responded shakily.
"Tell me, Lila", Dimitrius said softly. Lila gulped slightly.
"It was my overseer, Ulric", Lila said, surprised at her willingness to speak. Dimitrius sighed. He took one hand and lightly trailed it over the bruise. Lila could feel herself shaking, though she didn't know why. After a few seconds, Lila pulled her arm back to her side. She looked up at Dimitrius and felt a slight blush rush onto her face. She quickly turned around, attempting to hide her face.
"I...erm...I need to gather some apples for lunch today...", Lila trailed off.
"Let me help you", Dimitrius asked kindly. Lila bit her lip, but turned around and nodded her head. Dimitrius smirked.
"Besides, you're far too short to reach all of these apples", he said in a teasing tone. Lila rolled her eyes, but cracked a smile.
"Oh, yes, what would I ever do without tall brutes like yourself?", Lila responded, placing her hand on her forehead mockingly. Dimitrius laughed, picked an apple from the closest tree, and placed it in the basket. They continued to pick apples and make jokes about one another.
Sometimes strange events occur that can change any circumstance. In this instance, that event was a simple touch. Perhaps it was destiny, perhaps it was luck, but what both Lila and Dimitrius knew was that their ongoing feud was over, and that something new had begun.
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