I was beginning to get curious as to what was taking Moira so long, not to mention why she had been summoned some hours ago. What could someone possibly want with my maid? Perhaps she had been summoned for information, and was at this very moment being tortured. After all, it was unlikely they were going to torture me and perhaps being my maid was not enough protection for Moira. It had seemed too good to be true that they would allow her to remain with me.
With every passing minute I grew more worried about the fate of my maid, imagining increasingly worse possibilities as to what was happening with her and feeling increasingly guilty. Moira had vocally protested this plan of mine, and yet I had refused to listen to her, instead rushing head first into things once again without a thought. It had been foolish of me, and I had not thought of the consequences and yet right now my maid might be living through those consequences.
Just when I thought it wasn't possible for my worry to increase any more, when the door opened, Moira stepping through, followed my a woman pushing a cart with what would surely be my dinner. I immediately rushed across the room, ignoring all social conventions to sweep my maid into a tight hug in my relief to see her. When I let her go I wasn't surprised to see a quick look of shock on her face.
"And what has brought on this display of affection?" she asked.
"I was so worried about you. I felt sure they had summoned you for questioning, torture or something just as bad," I replied, examining her with my eyes for any signs of ill treatment.
"Nothing of the sort," said Moira, a smile growing on her face. "Rather I was meeting with old friends," she said, indicating the other maid with her head.
It was only then that I noticed just who the other maid was. Letting out a squeal, I soon swept her into a hug. "Katrina. Oh it is so good to see you alive."
"And you Eliza. We were so worried for you when we heard you were still a prisoner," Katrina said.
"Well as you can see I am perfectly safe and looked after," I replied, indicating the room with my hand. "If it wasn't for the locks on the door, the bars on the window and the fact that I have not been able to leave this room you might forget this was a prison."
"It is certainly a better prison than I was in," Katrina admitted, glancing around at my luxurious surroundings.
"You must tell me everything," I said, pulling her to sit at the table, and gesturing for Moira to join us. However as there were only 2 chairs in my room, Moira resorted to her usual post, of standing beside me, and insisted that Katrina eat the meal that had been intended for her, as her freedom of movement would allow her to dine afterwards. As we dined, Katrina began to fill me in on everything that had happened since we had parted ways, how they had quickly been betrayed and captured, how Jon had freed them and they had been on the run ever since, how they had finally been captured again and the Queen herself had swept in to free them and the reunion in the tunnel. And then it was my turn, to tell of my adventures of court, of meeting James and incurring Rebecca's wrath, of what Alexandra and I had discovered, and of how I had eventually been captured by Rebecca herself, who had turned out to be the daughter of the spymaster of the King himself. There was so much to tell on both sides that much time had passed before we had finished getting caught up on each others actions.
"It's any wonder you both are alive," Moira finally said, once we had finished our collective stories. "You've both placed yourself in danger above your heads, danger which won't be over as long as you remain here." She seemed to shoot a look at Katrina.
"Well we all know my staying here is not exactly my choice Moira," I replied, nodding my head to the locked door, which was guarded at all hours.
"And as I already stated, I will remain as long as Jon does" added Katrina.
"I still find it strange that of all of those involved in our Masquerade, it is he that she has asked to remain," I said, considering the fact. Wouldn't it have made more sense for her to send him home, along with the others, instead of saddling herself with two Iberans to protect.
"Yes, well in the meantime, although I hate to say it, you have remained here long enough. The guards will grow suspicious if you delay any long," Moira replied, turning to Katrina. "Eliza, I hate to leave you alone again so soon. Katrina’s situation demands my attention. I will return as soon I have her safely tucked away."
Katrina nodded, and rose as Moira began to clear the plates from our meal away. The pair were heading to the door, when Moira paused, pulling am envelope from within her uniform. "I almost forgot about this. Mr Newberry asked that I deliver this to you," she said, handing over the envelope to me.
I greedily took the paper off her, waiting for the pair to exit the room before tearing it open. The letter was in a code all too familiar to me, and one that took me very little time to decipher. Sitting down on the bed, I began to read.
I was not sure at first what to write to you, but given the opportunity there was little chance I could pass it up. I have spent much time over the past few days worrying about you, and whether you were safe, whether any harm had befallen you, despite being concerned that your nobility would ensure you were unharmed, physically at least. There has been very few minutes when you have not been on my mind.
It is this worry that has caused me to examine my feelings of you, feelings which I suppose began that first time I set eyes on you, before I knew of the dangerous game you played. You intrigued me back then, and even now you still do, but there is more to my feelings now. I was aware that I had been growing fond of you the more I got to know you, a fondness that only grew when you revealed the truth of your identity and I came to realize that you were willing to risk everything for the sake of your countrymen. And I have never been so worried about someone as I was when I learned you were captured. A large part of me wished to rush to your aid, an act which surely would have only placed you in more danger. And yet, the very urge to do so seems to show that my feelings for you are stronger than I even suspected, feelings I hope that, at least in part, you return.
Alas though, although I would like to fill this letter with my changing feelings, there is news I must impart, least you hear it from someone else, news which might seem strange given what I have just revealed. I wish I could tell you this news in person, but while a maid might pass unnoticed into your prison, I believe my presence would be objected to. And so it is with a heavy heart that I must write that the King has proclaimed that I am to marry Rebecca Mays, in return for her capture of you and the others.
However, the Queen has promised me that she will ensure that this marriage will not take place. On her advice a date has been set for the summer, and while I have not been told of her plans I have been assured that they will ensure I am not trapped into matrimony with a woman who I could never be happy with, even if my heart did not belong to another. Do not be worried of the Queen's plans failing, for her plans always come through in the end. However, should the plan fail, know that I would run away from everything, from my duties and my position, in order to prevent this marriage and to be with you, should you desire it.
I wish I could write more, but I do not want to risk discovery by writing more than a page. A thing envelope is more the easier to hide. Know that I will write again soon, and that should you have the desire Moira will be able to find me with any letter you write. I dearly hope to hear from you before long. Stay safe and know that you are in my thoughts.
I finished the letter, then reread it again, savoring every word. My heart seemed to fill with warmth as I once again read of James' feelings for me, and yet despite his assurances the Queen would prevent it, I was worried by the marriage he had been ordered into. I didn't know if I could bear it should he be married to Rebecca, to the very person who had put me in this place.
I knew James would be anxious for a reply, and so I picked up a piece of paper, and the quill I had been granted. There I sat for some time, considering what to write in reply and my own feelings for James, feelings I had not fully examined before but which I was now suddenly very aware of. With a brief smile I began transcribing those feelings to paper, in the same code James had used to write to me.