you speak in jokes and my love spouts in laughter,
you fall ill and i pack my love in pills
and pour my love in bowls of soup,
you talk about the things that matter
and my love listens because so do you,
you grow angry and my love waits
in the space you need to come back calm,
you feel sad and my love sounds like concern,
but it looks like hugs that wait
for you to pull back first.
but sometimes my love comes in banter
because loving you is making you laugh louder,
and sometimes my love sounds frail
because i get sick too, so it looks like a flicker
when i promise i carry it like a torch
and sometimes my love doesn't listen,
sometimes my words gush in your presence
like a waterfall in a beautiful place
- you are the beautiful place
and sometimes my love gets angry too
so it pouts in a room
trying to love you more discreetly
and sometimes my love weeps,
because it aches in thoughts
that suggest to love you is to be more,
to love you is to be better
and loving you when i'm less than
feels like loving you less than you deserve.
- "spectrum of love"
Hello darlings! Today's story was brought to you by Stella! Darling thank you so much for all your support!
Prompt: Pride of Place
Tilsie knew what she looked like.
She as a short, chubby cook, with hair that was fluffing out of her flour-dusted braid. Her shoes were sensible, and her dress was simple, with only a little embroidery around the hems to mark her position as the pastry cook of the whole castle. Her arms were thick with muscle, and her face was closer to round than it was to fine-featured.
When one was the chosen lover of the most beautiful woman in the world, such comparisons were inevitable, and while Atteila had made her opinion on Tilly’s body very clear, others were not so kind. Tilly knew she was a pretty woman, but she was the kind of pretty that married the miller down the road and put out a dozen children, not the kind that fell in love with a princess and spirited her and a prince out of a castle.
Now, however, it seemed that there was no time to indulge her own insecurities. Atteila and Hanver were counting on her. She couldn’t let them down.
So Tilly hastily pulled her hair free of her braid, shook as much of the flour out as she could, and shook out her skirts. There were some benefits to being clearly of the peasant stock. No one would mistake Tilly for a royal. She never thought she would be grateful for that.
The stables weren’t deserted. A pair of ragged men were rolling dice on a barrel, lazily guarding a handful of soldiers who sat in a line, bound and bruised from what had clearly been an attack they could not withstand. Tilly made eye contact with the nearest, a man named Nezza, who sometimes came to the kitchens when he had a free moment. Tilly slipped him the pastries that weren’t nice enough to serve the nobles, and in return, he went with her maids down to meet food deliveries for the kitchens.
His eyes went wide, but Tilly put a finger to her lips and eyed the two men, who hadn’t noticed her yet.
She wasn’t a fighter, but for Atteila, she would fight anyway.
Serving girls were never a threat. She didn’t walk like a soldier, or wear armor that would clank along as she walked. Skirts weren’t terribly convenient, but they were quiet.
The stove that warmed the stables was close to hand. The stove itself was cold, which was normal for summer, but there was always a small stack of firewood beside it. She took up a hefty branch, took to long steps out of hiding, and brought the branch down on the head of the nearest man. He dropped, unconscious in moments, and his friend staggered back, his eyes wide. He grabbed for his sword, but Tilly, armed and strong with terror, bashed him too. He tried to block, but bakers had strong arms, and he was off balance.
“Remind me never to annoy you, Miss Tilly,” Nezza said when she dropped her branch to untie him. “How did you get here? What are you doing here?”
“No time, are there more of them in the stables?” Tilly asked hurriedly and moved to the next soldier as soon as Nezza’s hands were free. He got to work on his feet and was soon raiding the two fallen men for their weapons. “How many came in the gates?”
“Close to fifty. A proper fighting force,” Nezza said grimly. He moved to the door and froze. “Get down; There’s someone in the bushes!”
“I know!” Tilly said and yanked him back inside before she hesitated. “You’re loyal, right? To His Majesty and the princess?”
Nezza narrowed his eyes at her but nodded slowly. Tilly waited another moment until the rest of the soldiers nodded too.
“Right,” she said, and whistled, three short notes that carried further than anyone expected. Perfect for catching the attention of a maid in a noisy kitchen. Or for calling two royals out of hiding. “I brought some friends from the kitchens.”
“Princess Atteila,” Nezza whispered, and knelt when Atteila and Hanver ducked into the stable. Atteila reached for Tilly’s hand and pulled her close when Tilly took it. “We feared you lost. How…?”
“We were in the kitchens when the attack came,” Atteila explained and pulled him to his feet with her free hand. Hanver joined the soldiers in getting everyone untied. “Tilly took us out through the scullery and into the gardens before we could be captured. Is there word of my father, the king?”
“None, your highness,” Nezza said, clearly uncomfortable but the highest-ranking soldier in the room. Two of his fellows dragged the men Tilly had knocked out into one of the stalls and tied them tightly. “We were taken before we could raise the alarm. Please accept our humblest apologies for our failure.”
“I would not expect any ten men to hold against fifty,” Atteila told him kindly, and squeezed Tilly’s hand. “We must retake the castle or escape, but I know nothing of war. Is the castle lost?”
“We outnumber the ragged lot a dozen to one if we can get to the barracks,” Hanver suggested, the only one of them who had actually been to war, and who had, despite his father’s opinion, a decent head for tactics. He shrugged one shoulder when Nezza looked at him questioningly. “The castle has a large number of soldiers assigned here on rotation. They must have been blocked into their barracks or they would have already taken the castle back. So where are the barracks?”
Her part done, Tilly wrapped her arms around Atteila and held on tight.
Perhaps it wasn’t so bad to be the one who faded into the background. Now, they might just have a chance to fight back.
Pride of Place :
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In Hot Water (Subscriber Only!)
Under Orange Blossoms
A Little Bitter
Cookie Cutter Friends
Out the Back
Rescuing Allies (New!)