Serah watched the Princess smile and knew it had been a good idea to have her and John spend time together. It was completely unheard of to have a young girl of her stature spend time alone with a young man, especially some boy from a small village, but they were getting along well and Serah was always there keeping an eye on them.
They sat across from each other with a table in between them. They were near the open window and the Princess was looking outside at the setting sun.
"So what was your village like? Were there lots of trees and animals?" The Princess turned to look at John with big eyes.
John's eyes however darkened at the mention of his village and he didn't say anything for a moment. Serah felt for the poor boy. His was a truly tragic story. "I'm sorry, Wendy. I was thinking about something else. You were asking about trees and animals?"
"Yes. I was asking about your village. What was it like there?" The Princess's smile widened and she lay her hand upon his.
"I believe there's been enough excitement for today." Serah bustled toward them with a tray to collect their cups and the empty bowl of fruit she had put out for them earlier. "John, I think you'd better head back to your room and let the Princess rest for the night."
John slid his hand out from under the Princess's and blushed. Good. At least he knew his place. "Yes, of course, Serah. I'll go to my room and practice my letters before going to bed myself." He smiled at the Princess.
She grinned. "Oh, Serah. He has been making such wonderful progress. Soon he'll be able to read wonderful stories to me while we sit in the garden."
John seemed to know his place, but the Princess's fancies were starting to get out of hand. This friendship was arranged to keep her company. To keep her from being lonely. Not to have some village boy become her suitor. Maybe Serah had been wrong. Maybe a girl friend would have been better.
John stood and bowed. "Goodbye Wendy. Rest well and I shall see you tomorrow." He smiled, but Serah saw a touch of sadness in his eyes. "Goodbye Serah."
"Goodbye!" The Princess said graciously as John turned to leave the room.
"Now, now. Up with you my Princess and into bed." Serah closed the window and bustled over to the dresser to get a fresh nightgown. The Princess's little steps slowly brought her to her bed where Serah helped her change. She folded the covers and helped the Princess get under them.
"Oh, Small John is such a lovely man. He may only come from a tiny village from the outskirts of the kingdom, but he is still quite handsome."
"Oh my Princess, darling. These words you speak are so distressing. You speak of the boy as a man. While he himself insists on being called 'Small'. You are a Princess and like you said, he is just a village commoner. I must say these feelings you're displaying are quite unseemly."
"A boy? You've seen how tall he is. And those arms. He's one of the strongest looking men I've ever seen. I dream of him sometimes. He's a soldier in the army, fighting against horrible monsters. Orcs with sharp teeth and gruesome bloodied weapons. He strikes them down like flies and wins the battle. A true hero." The Princess grasped her blanket to her chest. "Oh, how wonderful he is."
"Those are just dreams, my Princess." Serah put a hand on hers to ease the blanket out of it. "Now calm down and think of less exciting things. You need your rest."
The young Princess sure had an imagination. She just wished she would use it for more appropriate things. She was right of course. John was quite strong and fair, but that changed nothing about his status. It just wouldn't be right and she had to do something about it before the King heard about her silly fancies.
"Goodnight, Serah." The Princess smiled and shut her eyes.
She looked so very pale and frail in the flickering torchlight. Maybe the young girl wanted to be a woman before she died. Would that really be such a horrible thing, even if the man wasn't of the right class?
Serah lit a big wax candle that served as a nightlight and removed the burning torch from its sconce. She went to the chamber door and wiped a tear from her eye.
"Goodnight, my Princess."