The Count and Rose Recieve a Visitor

Dinner at the lone fortress-like castle in the Marshlands was always the same: very stiff, suffocatingly silent, and highly uncomfortable for everyone. Though the Count was at the head of the table and Rose was on his immediate right,  she could have easily been at the opposite end of the room. He had long ago given up on trying to get Rose to talk to him; it had become an unspoken agreement between the two that they would not talk to each other during mealtime.

The red-carpeted room was slightly dark, lit only by a fire. The table wasn’t very long, as it could only seat six. Rose faced the doors that were shut tightly. Mealtime was routine: a few minutes before the hour, servants would scuttle in and set the food and silverware on the table. Once they were done, they would leave. The Count and Rose would enter to room together. Rose sit at her normal spot and allowed the Count to push her chair in. Then he would sit, and the two would start to eat. Not a word was spoken between them that wasn’t necessary.

Tonight’s dinner was a bit different. It wasn’t the meal of a simple roast beef with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Rather, it was the silence that mastered the couple’s meal that was different–it was broken by Edwin timidly poking his thin head through the doors.

“Master?” he said nervously.

“What is it?” the Count drawled, glancing sideways at the weedy man. Rose paused for a moment, listening.

“Well, there’s a visitor who would like to see you,” Edwin said in a small voice.

“Visitor?”

“Yes, master.”

“How important is it? I’m sharing a meal with my Countess, Edwin, and–”

“We requested to be alone,” Rose finished icily, putting emphasis on the last word.. She raised her head to fix Edwin with a brown-eyed stare–Edwin had been the specific reason why Rose had decided to dine with her new husband alone. Dinner with the Count was much easier without Edwin’s fawning over him.

The Count cleared his throat uncomfortably. “That’s right, dear.”  Inside, however, he was secretly please that she had used the word we.

Edwin stared–they were agreeing on something? “Well, it’s Lord Brian.”

Rose dropped her silverware with a clatter. The expression on her heart-shaped face was hard to read in the dim lighting.

“Rose? Are you alright?” the Count asked, turning to regard her in alarm.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” Rose mumbled. “May I be excused?”

“No, you may not,” the Count said firmly. Without taking his eyes off Rose, he said to Edwin, “Send him in, if you must.”

Edwin nodded, and quickly scuttled out of the room. He rounded the corner, approaching a tall, powerful man with cheerful green eyes and light blond hair. “Lord Brian, if you would follow me. I will show you to the Count. He was just in the middle of dinner.”

The doors burst open. “Good evening, Count! I see that you’re…” Lord Brian gradually stopped talking, given the atmosphere of the room.

The fire was merry, but the icy hostility eminating from Rose was enough to give one goosebumps. She and the Count appeared to be in a stare-off, trying to get the other to talk through their glares.

Edwin cleared his throat loudly. Reluctantly, the Count was forced to forfeit his stare-down to turn his gaze on Lord Brian. “Lord Brian. What a surprise. I hope your visit was important. As you can see, I was in the middle of my supper.” His voice was cold.

Lord Brian’s cheerful demeanor returned. “King Leonard sent me in to check on you, as usu–Rose!” He walked over to Rose, taking her hand and pressing his lips to it. “I didn’t know you were here! Prince Henry has been worried sick about you. Why on earth are you all the way out here? Shouldn’t  you have returned home with your father?”

“Lord Brian, I…” Rose trailed off uncertainly, biting her lip.

“Allow me to introduce my wife, Rose” the Count said with an evil smile.

Lord Brian dropped Rose’s hand like one would drop a hot coal. “Your…wife?”

“Yes,” Rose said quietly. She looked at the Count.

“You may leave now, dear,” the Count said coolly. Rose quickly left.

“Prince Henry is not going to like this.” Lord Brian’s voice was shaking.

“Prince Henry will just have to deal with it,” the Count replied nastily.

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~ by w1s3r on August 7, 2011.

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