You watched, enraptured by the wave of grass that floated to and fro in the steady breeze that swept your hair from your forehead in dizzying patters. Small, fluffy pieces of pollen swerved past you, lurching out of your reaching hand’s way.
A soft laugh escaped your lips at your failed attempt to catch the things, a warm and pleasant feeling spreading throughout your body as you basked in the rare sunlight.
A shadow fell over you so you tilted your head back to see who it was. You smiled softly at the young blonde princeling, wondering why he’d come to where you were seating on the light incline of the hill. His brothers were bullying him again, no doubt he was seeking refuge from their teasing. You were surprised that young prince Arthur hadn’t snapped yet.
Something niggled the back of your mind now that you saw him and you tried to recall what it was. It was something to do with a promise Arthur had made, but you simply couldn’t remember what it was.
“So, ah, are you ready?” the youth asked you nervously, twiddling the hem of his travel-worn cloak between his pale fingers. You blinked in confusion, frowning slightly. Arthur wet his cracked lips and fiddled with the brooch holding his cloak together. “I-ah, I offered to well, teach you some archery….?” He stuttered, cursing his uncertain speech.
“Right!” You remembered now and without further ado, you sprung to your feet. “Let’s go then!” Arthur grinned widely, leading the way to the shooting grounds with a more confident spring in his step.
“Hold it a bit higher….” Arthur instructed, absentmindedly trying to correct your hold, but snatching his hand away just before he made contact with your skin.
“Like this…?” you asked, your voice strained with the effort it took you to keep the arrow notched. He nodded once and gestured towards the target, which was kept up by several bales of drying hay. “Just keep your eyes on the target. When you think you’re ready, take a deep breath and let go,” You muttered something nonsensical in affirmation, squinting at the target.
Your arms trembled, your muscles aching to let go. But until you were aiming at the centre of the red ring in the middle, you didn’t loose your projectile.
The arrow spiralled through the air, shooting straight at the red ring that was dauntingly showing its bright colour off. With a soft ‘thuck’ the metal tip hit the target, promptly dropping groundwards. Not unlike yourself actually.
The force of your releasing the arrow made you lose your balance, so you ended up in the dried mud that had surrounded your feet. The bow tumbled from your hands and landed with a barely audible sound.
At least it wasn’t wet, you thought to yourself grimly, trying to get preserving the least bit of dignity. You could just imagine the ultimatum your maid would give, your mother’s being even worse, you were sure of it. After all, what kind of self-respecting lady goes out of her way to learn how to use weapons and ends up in besmirched clothes?
A rapid ‘whoosh’ and familiar ‘thuck’ made you glance up. Embedded in the middle of the target you’d been aiming for was a long, black arrow fletched with brown and white striped feathers. A similar joined its brother’s side, sticking close to it.
Looking up to your left, you found a redhead carelessly side-stepping his way towards you, another one of his arrows ready to be shot. His loose tunic was bright green, not unlike his narrowed eyes. His trousers were mud stained from mucking about with his brothers and his leather boots that came to his knees had bronze buckles on them.
He loosed his arrow, just as he came to a halt beside you. A lock of his fiery hair briefly swayed to the side as the arrow flew off. A large hand presented itself in front of you, just as you heard the tell-tale ‘thuck’ of the last arrow meeting with his brethren.
“Ned’ som’ help there?” A deep voice sounded as you were pulled to your feet. “I-I did,” you murmured, glancing up at the redhead. He was close to you, really close. In fact, you were so close together your chests touched momentarily.
“Glad ah could be ah help,” he replied, the freckles strewn across his nose catching your attention. Scorching hotness seared its way across your face, as you blinked. The spell was broken and you took a step back to make sure it wouldn’t be cast again.
“Ye alraicht lass?” Embarrassed, you nodded to his question, your hands tightening around the bow Arthur had lent you. “What’re ye tryin’ tae do wi’ th’ baw? Strangle it?” You blushed again, having been caught out.
“N-nothing,” you stammered, staring intently at your feet. The man let out a husky laugh, accompanied by his hand ruffling his red hair. “Righ’.”
“What are you doing Allistor?” Arthur spat out the words with disdain, knowing his eldest, good-for-nothing brother was living up to his lady-killer reputation. Not that he was allowed to go out and break hearts, the king had decreed that he wasn’t to leave the castle grounds after an unfortunate incident with a youthful dairy girl, about which gossip travelled across the country in mere days.
Since then, Allistor was grounded quite literally. All he had to keep him company was his brothers’ bickering and the occasional hunt he was permitted to go on. Not that that stopped him from exploring the wide, outstretched forest; he’d roamed around it so many times now, it was like the back of his hand.
The fact that he was almost always hanging around, didn’t help your growing feelings for the eldest brother. On the contrary, the fleeting glimpses you caught of him in the castle and forest, only made your admiration for him increase with his mysteriousness. And somewhere along the line, your feelings of admiration had grown into something different and more heartfelt. A couple of months ago you’d realised you were hopelessly falling in love with him.
Allistor rolled his green eyes and sighed. “Jist bein’ polite an’ makin’ conversation.” He stated simply, scowling at his youngest brother. “Wha’ ware ye tryin’ tae do?”
Arthur scoffed at the arrogance that rung clear in his question. “I was actually trying to teach (Y/n) some archery. Then you but in, so if you please, I’d like to continue with her.”
“Archery?” He questioned, one of his eyebrows raised. “Was 'at whit ye waur daein'.?” He murmured thoughtfully, a slight quirk of his lips following when Arthur grit his teeth and fumed silently; he knew Allistor could easily take him in a fight. “Yes,” he answered tersely. “Come on,” he muttered, reaching to take hold of your arm and take you somewhere more peaceful.
However you were yanked back suddenly, pulled into a strong chest. “Hauld oan! lass, if ye want real archery lessons, maybeh it woods be better fur me tae teach ye.” You gulped as Allistor spun you around to face him, leaning down so your noses were mere inches apart.
Your cheeks burned crimson and all you could do was stutter in reply. It wasn’t your fault he had that kind of effect on you!
“See? Th' lass agrees wi' me!” Allistor said triumphantly, a grin spreading across his face. Arthur growled at him, shot you a pining look and then turned, disappearing up to the castle with a swish of his cloak.
“No ‘at he’s gon’,” Allistor started, reaching past you for the bow you’d dropped on the ground, his hand brushing past your side briefly, yet still eliciting a shiver down your spine. “Whit say we git’ started?” He murmured, cocking his head. For a moment, you were completely enraptured by him, his red hair and the tiny, yet visible glint of the earring in his pierced ear.
Then you came back down to Earth. Your blood rushed to your head and you gulped audibly. A smirk replaced the smile on his lips and he licked his lips almost unintentionally.
What had you gotten yourself into?