Eliza - In the absence of a mother.

Moira had been quick to return from ensuring Katrina was delivered to safety, and then quickly dispatched again, as I pressed the letter I had written into her hands before she had barely closed the door behind her. She had given me a brief look, before turning and exiting the room again, leaving me to my thoughts.

It didn't take her long to return. I stood eagerly when she entered, my eyes searching her hands, half expecting them to contain another letter although I knew not enough time would have passed for James to pen a reply. Moira seemed to notice this. 

"I will seek him out tomorrow my dear, and see if he has a reply for you. I am sure one won't be long coming," she reassured me, sitting down beside me. "But I think perhaps we should have a little talk first."

"If you it is the talk you are speaking of, then surely you recall that you already explained to me the intimacies that can occur between a man and a woman, intimacies which I believe I agreed should wait until marriage. And given that I am locked away, with few visitors I don't think that will be an issue," I replied, wondering just what my maid was thinking. 

"That isn't what I was planning to speak to you of and well you know it," Moira said, a slight smile tugging at her lips. "I just don't want to see you get hurt. The situation you and young Mr Newberry are in is far from ideal, and I'm not just referring to the fact that you are imprisoned, a captive to the King's mercy."

I opened my mouth to protest, but Moira held up a hand, silencing me. "No my dear, you need to hear me out. Sir Frances and I agreed that, in the absence of your mother, that I would advise you on any womanly matters, as well you know. And I believe that matters of the heart fall under that description."

"Please tell me you are not going to advise me against my feelings for James Moira," I said. "For they are far beyond my control."

Moira reached out a hand to hold mine briefly, as if to comfort me. "I know a lost cause when I see it my dear, and having watched you and Mr Newberry from the beginning, I am well aware that that would be a lost cause. You have to remember, I supported your decision to withdraw from court, and your decision that if you were to every marry, it would be for love and not some political alliance. And I am happy to see that you have found someone who seems to return your feelings"

"But..." I prompted, knowing Moira was coming up to one.

"But, I suppose I had always hoped that eventually you would have found a nice Iberan boy. You have to admit, it would be have been a much simpler situation."

"And when was I ever simple?" I asked. Moira smiled again quickly, before seriousness coated her features again.

"I just wanted you to consider the fact that, no matter how great your feelings are for each other, there is a high chance that you and Mr Newberry will not be able to be together, and that you may have to watch each other one day wed other people. Why James is already engaged to Rebecca Mays, as I hope he has informed you."

"Yes, he told me of this fact, and of his conviction that such a marriage will never occur," I told Moira. 

"And I believe he will do all within his power to prevent it. But you need to consider the fact that it might prove to be outside his ability to prevent, or the fact that while your fate lies in the hands of the King, he may decide the best way to silence those who believe that while you are alive and loyal to Ibera you are a threat, would be to have you wed to a Handrin. In fact, your own connection to the crown surely makes this a real possibility. Not to mention a thousand other things that could stand in the way of you and James."

I stood, my skirts swirling around my feet, as I began to pace the room, considering all this. "Why are you tell me this Moira?" I asked, as I continued my pacing. 

My maid watched me for some time, her eyes following my progress around the room before finally speaking. "Since the day you were entrusted to my care, your well being has been my primary responsibility. The last thing I want to see happen is for you to be hurt from circumstances that are far from your control. It would break my heart should anything ever happen to you my dear."

I paused my pacing to study my maid. "I thank you for bringing your concern to me, and I will reflect on all you have spoken," I said, carefully choosing my words. "And I know of the obstacles that stand in my paths, and the risks." I knelt down in front of where my maid was still sitting on the bed, taking her hands in mine. "But Moira, are not some things worth the risks, and the potential heartbreak? Did not my father risk much, when he chose to marry a commoner, to marry my mother? I never expected when I took on this masquerade that I would meet someone like James. But now that I have, I am willing to do all I can to hold onto to these feelings of mine, to hold onto him, even if all I can do at the moment is write a few short letters."

Moira stood, forcing my hands to drop from mine. "I had a strong feeling that this would be your response," she said. "And I am happy that you have found James. I just felt that I would not be doing my duty to you if I had not informed you of the risks. With everything that is happening, you need to be careful to not let your feelings cloud your judgement."

"I can assure you Moira, that I will not allow that to happen," I promised. Moira nodded, accepting this. 

"Then I believe we should prepare you for bed."

The End

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