I couldn't go back to sleep, so I lay in the darkness until the first light of early morning crept into our room which signalled the beginning of my day. I put on my plain blue cotton dress and plaited my hair. I was ready.
I walked silently down the cold stone corridors, head down trying not to be noticed. I didn't have to look up to know where I was going, I knew this castle like the back of my hand.
My parents had worked here since before I was born. My father was the stable master so when I was little I used to play with the horses. That was before my mother died giving birth to my little sister. Then I had to grow up, I had to work.
I started of as a maid-of-all-work, serving meals, cleaning rooms, laying fires, making beds, anything that none of the other servants wanted to do. Then at the age of fifteen I was moved to the kitchen where I cleaned dishes and pots after meals. It was hard work but the hours weren't as long.
Finally, my lady noticed me. I was playing with my sister in the courtyard when she approached me. I thought she had come to tell me off for making too much noise but as she drew closer I could se she was smiling. I curtsied.
'Good day my lady.' I looked at the floor and my sister, Luciana, did the same.
'Good day. You are the stable master's daughters are you not?'
'Yes my lady.' I still didn't look at her.
'Emeline and Luciana.' She said it as if the names were buried deep in the mists of her memory. 'And how old are you now Emeline?'
'I'm nineteen and my sister is fifteen.' I heard a small sigh.
'Has it really been fifteen years since she died.' It was more of a wondering than a question so I didn't say anything. 'I don't know if you knew but I was very fond of your mother, she was a very loyal servant and your father has served my husband for many years.'
'I am sure he would be honored to know you appreciate his service.' I could feel my throat becoming blocked and my eyes filling with tears. We didn't talk about my mother, it was too painful.
'What is it you do here Emeline?'
'I work in the kitchens my lady.'
'Well we can't have that. As of now you are one of my ladies-in-waiting, it's the least I can do for your dear parents.'
'Thank you my lady.' I curtsied again and she left. Then everything changed. I moved from the rooms I shared with my father to the large room shared by all of the ladies-in-waiting. It was scary. No-one there knew about my dreams and I couldn't tell anyone so I when they came I suffered alone.
That was three months ago, now I was fully trained and one of my ladies most trusted servants. She always said I reminded her of my mother, which I think is why she liked having me close to her. She says I have the same knowing blue eyes and long blonde hair. I calm her in the same way my mother used to.
I went to the kitchen to check that the food for my lady's breakfast was ready and carried it up to her bedchamber. I knocked and entered.
'Good moning Emeline.' My lady was already sitting up in bed waiting for me.
'Good morning my lady.' I put her breakfast on the dresser as I always did and went to the wardrobe to get her dress for the day. 'What would you like to wear my lady?'
'I'll wear the green one with the gold embroidery on the sleeves.' I laid the overdress and matching kirtle out on her bed as she moved to the seat by the dresser and began to eat. I stood behind her and began to brush her dark hair. 'I'll need my best dress ready for tonight, Lord Clement is coming to visit so we need to impress.'
I didn't know much about the nobility but I did know that my lord and lady were powerful but Lord Clement was clearly even more so.