The Count and Rose–The In-Between Stuff

“Rose, you don’t have to do this!” Dr. Heywood protested.

Rose turned to look at her father, frowning slightly. “Why not? We already know that the Count lured us in–”

“But marrying him will be doing exactly what he wants!”

Rose sighed, trying hard to ignore the damp, dark cell wall her father was chained to. “Father, this is the only way to free you from this prison. You’ve been down here for a long time, and it’s starting to affect your health.”

“I am not going to let you marry a horrible man like the Count just so I can live an extra few years. That is out of the question!”

“Father, what is the Count going to gain by marrying me? You’re just a simple doctor with no large status. The Count obviously lured you here because you’re also the king’s physician. If you should die, King Leonard will have to find a new physician. He’s using you to hurt the king.”

“Rose,” Dr. Heywood began, “I don’t think you fully understand. I’m not just a doctor–our family is from a long line of nobles. If the Count married you, he will have more power.”

“To do what? The Count can’t do anything stuck in this marshland. He’s as far from the castle as you can get and–” Rose replied calmly.

“He also knows, Rose, that you’re engaged to Prince Henry, King Leonard’s son,” Dr. Heywood pointed out.

At this, Rose’s calm expression was tinted with worry. “So he figured that out?”

Dr. Heywood sighed. “Yes, the clever fiend. By forcing you to marry him, the Count can use you as bait. You know Henry would do anything for you–even charge into this marshland and get himself killed. You need to think this through a bit more, Rose.”

Her temper flared slightly. “You think I haven’t thought about it enough? I have tried everything I had in order to free you–this is the only way the Count will allow you to go home. If I marry him, the Count will set you free. Then you can go home and tell King Leonard that the Count is growing stronger so that he can be stopped.”

“But Rose…What about Henry?”

Rose looked pained, her confidence failing for the first time. “He’ll just…” She swallowed hard, unable to continue.

“Yes, Rose…Whatever will the brave Prince Henry do when he finds out about our little agreement?” a new voice drawled. Rose regained her composure at the sight of the Count’s gaunt frame blocking the door.

“Count! You won’t get away with this! I’m not going to marry my daughter off like a sack of flour to a snake like you!” Dr. Heywood shouted. “Rose, please reconsider!”

“Good evening, Count,” said Rose coldly. “This is unexpected.”

“Dr. Heywood, I’m astonished! You really ought to be more gracious to your host,” the Count said in mock sternness. “Rose is being more civil than you are right now. Shame on you.” He waggled a bony finger at the doctor.

“Leave him alone,” Rose said firmly.

Turning to Rose, the Count said, “Why, Rose! You didn’t tell your father that our marriage was your idea? That you offered yourself to me out of love for him?”

Rose pressed her lips tightly together, refusing to answer him.

The Count chuckled nastily, placing one thin arm around Rose’s shoulders. “Don’t worry, doctor. I’ll take good care of your precious daughter while you’re away.”

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~ by w1s3r on July 23, 2011.

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