Moira and I walked in silence, moving with the brisk haste of those all around us. I followed closely behind her in fear of being lost again. We both went unnoticed in the flow of servants and maids hurrying about their own business in the back corridors.
I glanced around, above the heads bobbling here and there. I thought back on that secret chamber, and the men probably still wondering over my ghostly presence. I had yet to tell anyone of my discovery, if such a discovery was not already known to the Queen and her undercover entourage. It surely seemed suspicious enough.
We finally stepped from the dusty shadow of the servant's halls into the clean light of the palace archways, shining with spotless glamour. Without pause, Moira continued with purposeful determination in her step, leaving me stumbling after her on the slick marble.
"Where are we going?" I asked. I looked all around us; the jeweled lights, exquisite murals, impressive statues. Never had I seen such a display of wealth. I also tried to make an effort to remember wherever we went so that I would never be lost again, though with Moira's speed and the similarity of each hall in appearance, it seemed futile.
Moira did not answer. A stray butler passed, nodding crisply as he hurried by. We made a sharp corner, a fresh hall clear of people, and she glanced back to me, throwing a whisper over her shoulder, "We're going to find James. No doubt Jon is somewhere nearby. Surely James will know where to have you both settled." She paused briefly, only to continue, "I forget ... did you say you two were ever married?"
I colored deeply, though she could not see, focused forward as we marched on. "Ah...no.”
“Oh,” she said simply, probing no further as we reached a single door. The maid knocked briskly, allowing for the brief time of stillness as we waited for any answer.
Marriage…the Queen had asked if Jon and I had been married yet, and now Moira. As of late, I had assumed its inevitability, if we both survived this mission. I frowned thoughtfully. Should we be married? Before … something happens, if such an unfortunate event as death strikes for one of us? I could not bear the thought. But it must be considered…
I didn’t have the time to ponder it further, as there were muffled footsteps in the room beyond the door, the click of a lock, and the soft squeal of hinges. James stood before us in the opened entryway, giving a silent welcome before he allowed us inside. He waved us into a sitting room, where Jon was waiting.
Jon stood and came to my side, relief obvious in his eyes. He greeted Moira warmly, and we proceeded to tell them of Eliza and my visit. Both men listened with intent curiosity. I was somewhat surprised to see something of an anxious impatience coloring James’ expression. After both of us had finished speaking, he inquired after a letter, which Moira said had been successfully delivered.
Moira departed with the same briskness in which she had brought me here, promising that we would all meet again very soon. James decided upon guiding us to our quarters, not far from his own chambers, where there was a warm fire, fresh food, and clean beds awaiting us.
James left us in a hurry, to read that letter, no doubt.
“Are you hungry?” asked Jon, as if unsure of what else to say.
“No. I had some food with Eliza … you can go ahead, though,” I answered, finding myself a seat. “So, where did you and the Queen run off to?”
“Oh, Katrina!” he exclaimed quite suddenly, standing before me with a great eagerness on his face. “The Queen, she knows of my family. My sister … she is here! And the Queen will arrange a meeting!”
I blinked, off-put by his outburst of excitement. “Really?” I remembered the time I had snooped around in Jon’s things and discovered his sister’s affectionate letter, unknowing of their relation. “How wonderful! When are you going to meet her?”
“I’m not sure,” he seemed to calm, thoughtful as he set himself next to me. “Whenever the Queen can see to it. She’s got a lot of business to tend to right now…,”
I put my hand on his, “I am sure she will arrange it as soon as she can.”
He looked up to me, smiling as he squeezed my own hand in return.
As I lay under my warm covers that night, I thought of Jon’s sister, which brought to mind my own family, my siblings … Ed. It also reminded me of my earlier thoughts - of Jon, of marriage, of death.
Was it not my place as a woman to ask Jon of marriage? Does such a tradition matter in this time, place, and circumstance, when both lives are daily on the line, when both hearts feel love's emotional tie?
And as I concerned myself over such traditions, my feminine status, I could only think of why I was here, and how Nellie, Eliza, Alex, and I had set out against the traditional womanly role, breaking the bounds placed on our gender in order to follow our hearts and help the best we could.
I shifted in my sheets, staring into the darkness. The topic would be discussed later, when there was a break in the flurry of activity. I tried closing my eyes. Sleep was probably the best idea. Who knew what tomorrow would bring?