Corinne grew visibly in confidence as time passed. In fact, the very evening that he had bought her the dress, she embraced him before retiring for the night. The next morning, he found her in the kitchen, looking for ingredients to make him breakfast.
After this particular event, Eric decided to start realising his daydreams. He cooked Corinne amazing desserts after meals: often involving hot, oozing, melted chocolate and sweet, fluffy cream; he sewed for her a handkerchief with the design of crimson rose petals and the crescent moon, wrote poetry about her and painted her portrait, entitling the piece ‘Beauty’. She flushed each time she received a present for him and thanked him sincerely, looking truly enchanted by the gesture. When she tasted the dessert, she looked at Eric as if to say ‘What in the world are you doing to my sorry small heart?’, as though the food served to make her fall in love with him instead of to savour the experience that her tongue underwent.
When he was not supplying contentment for Corinne and his wild, enamoured heart, Corinne read. Eric possessed many novels - most tales of knights rescuing princesses with endings that suited the desires of the lovestruck pair (the type incidentally which had inspired Eric to always strive for justice and indirectly inspired him to rescue Corinne) - and Corinne adored sitting upon a rug and immersing herself in these fantasy worlds. Often Eric was merely content to lie and watch her (though she never noticed) though on occasion he prepared the meals or worked on another present.
On the third evening after the rescue, Eric brought out his wooden flute. Corinne glanced up from a novel and watched with amusement as he began to play. But soon her expression changed: she sighed and looked as though she found the gentle and rather simple melody calming and lovely. When the music ended, she moved nearer to Eric and hugged him, burying her head into his shoulder.
Eric thought it was the right moment to show the lady more of his affection for her. He laid the flute down carefully, put one arm around her body (which rose and fell rhythmically, soothing his nerves) and kissed her hair. When she made no move to withdraw, he lightly caressed her hair and whispered her name. When she lifted her head, he gazed into her eyes (almost losing himself in the delicate circles) and kissed her on the lips.
Corinne closed her eyes but opened them a second later, not having responded. Gently she pushed him away, looking as confused as Eric felt and rose to her feet.
“It has been a long day,” she murmured, running her fingers through Eric’s hair, confusing him further, before walking away from him and closing herself in the bedroom.
Eric felt incomplete and hollow. The puzzlement did not aid him with these sensations. Still, he stood up and went to the door of the bedroom, knocked lightly on the door and apologised, feeling it the right thing to do after such a reaction from his lady Corinne. He feared that she may have only stroked his hair in an effort she felt obliged to give to bring him contentment after not reciprocating the kiss.
“I am sorry, my lady,” he murmured through the wood, although she had not responded. “It was wrong of me to be so forward. I will not kiss you again if you do not wish it. Please forgive a foolish man.”
There came no reply from within. Eric sorely desired to open the door and go to her, but he knew that this would be an invasion of Corinne’s privacy and so walked back to the rug and hummed a melancholy tune he had heard his mother sing in the days when he was a young child and she thought he could not hear from where he lay on his bed of rugs.
A little later, he put out the fire, undressed himself and wrapped the rugs around him. Despite his fatigue, he found it difficult to find sleep. Perhaps it was the thought of upsetting Corinne or perhaps it was the haunting nature of her silence when the door had formed a barrier between him and the warmth of her company but he found himself moving restlessly trying to find more comfortable positions yet never actually falling asleep until late in the night when dreamless slumber eventually overcame him.