Hi everyone. THANKS for the reviews. It's been a while since I worked on this fic, because I stumbled onto something I think might be a problem and I've been trying to figure things out for some time, but thought lets go ahead and just write. So here's the next chapter, hope you enjoy it and maybe leave a review. And don't forget to check out my new fic 180 Days of Donna. xx
Chapter 5: Duke Darby
Her arms fall around his neck instantly, pulling him closer until their chests are flush against the other. But before he gets the chance to wrap his arms around her waist in return, she realizes what she's doing. Her hands slipping from his shoulders she takes two steps back.
Her head hanging low, she looks up when her name leaves his lips at last. She swallows, trying to find her strength. "Why are you here?" she inquires then. "You came to me for help and I promised I'd help you," he reasons, a frown appearing on his face. She nods, pursing her lips together. "But.."
"But what?" he counters, unsure of why she's acting so stand-offish. Not even a hint of a smile on her face. "You never wrote me back," she reasons, her hands falling to her hips. She's trying to stand stronger. "Wrote?" he repeats, his head slowly shaking as he takes a step towards her. "Donna, what are you talking about?"
"Letters," she counters. "The letters I wrote you," she adds seeing the confusion grow on his face, her expression softens a little. "I … You never got them," the words sounding more like an statement than a question, but he shakes his head in return non the less. "No, I didn't," he apologizes, a small smile on his lips as he hopes she wrote him because she couldn't forget what happened between them. Because neither could he. "Donna, I.. "
"Why are you here?" she repeats then interrupting him. "Why did you pretend to be earl Tanner?" She looks him stern in the eyes and he swallows once. "It was an idea of my father," he starts, "to pretend to be someone else and it needed to be someone who wasn't in any way connected to my House. No way they would have let me in knowing who I am."
She nods in return. "That's what you did on my birthday," she states then and he smiles. "Yeah well, kind of. We pretended to be knights," he crooks his head smirking at her, "and it worked twice now, so maybe you should do something about the guards here."
She lets out a laugh, briefly looking away. "In that case I think the guards are just fine," she answers and he smiles, his eyes meeting hers once more. "The Duchess told me there might be another way to stop my wedding," she speaks then and his eyes darken for a second, nodding he signals for her to continue.
"My uncle and his right hand man are responsible for my parent's death," she whispers then and he sees her eyes well up a little. His hand lingering in the air, but he doesn't touch her. He's not supposed to touch her. "We just haven't been able to proof it," she sighs looking down as she thinks back to all the days she spend searching for a clue. A single paper trail.
"I'm sorry," he whispers and he smiles once more as she looks at him again. "I have something for you," he continues, his hand moving to his chest he pulls out a piece of paper. Her eyes widen as he holds it right in front of her. "What.. what's this?" she whispers, not wanting to get her hopes up.
"Proof." He smiles, "of our betrothal," he adds to clarify it's not related to her parent's death. She nods, looking down. Afraid of what might happen if she looks at him any longer. "But I thought that was called off," she counters, her hands fidgeting with her dress.
"It was, but we could still use it. Or at least try to use it, to fight your wedding," he answers. "We could talk to your uncle, the Lord you.. you're supposed to wed now and the minister," he tells her and she nods in agreement. "Do you think it will work?"
"Honestly," he shakes his head, "I don't know. But we have to try. We have to confront your uncle." She lets out a breath, taking a step back she turns around, trying to let all this news sink in a little. "No," she answers at last, "I should confront my uncle."
"Donna," he breathes, but she shakes her head turning to face him again. "No," she speaks again, "you can't come along. You're not even supposed to be here and going to face him, " she pauses for a second, "He… they don't know you are here and that's our advantage."
He swallows, but he understands it's for the best. "Are you sure?" he asks one last time, extending the papers towards her again. She smiles, her hands falling around the rolled up piece of papers. "I am."
Tapping the documents against her left hand she moves through the corridors. Practising her lines, she's deciding what she's going to say to the man that cared for her for the past six years. The man that had up until now never done her wrong, or at least that's what she had believed.
Now she's fuelled with a mixture of anger, fear and hatred to the only remaining member of her family. Pushing the door to the dining hall open she marches inside. Her gaze automatically searching for her uncle, it lands on the older man soon after. He's standing close to her betrothed, his arm wrapped around the other man's shoulder. Both of them laughing and amicably chatting away.
"Daniel," she orders loudly. Her words making the older man's hand slip over the Lords arm as he turns around. "What?" he barks back as he towers out above the eighteen year old and she's taken a back for a second by the echo of his voice in the room around them.
"You," she starts swallowing, "you can't make me wed him," she nods her head in the direction of the Lord. "And why's that?" King Hardman laughs, shaking his head, because he doesn't believe a word of what she's saying. "Because this," she raises her hand with the document, "proofs I was already betrothed and – "
"Show me," her uncle orders and Donna hesitates for a second. A second to long when his words are followed with a "Now," as he pulls them from her hand. The paper cutting through her delicate skin, she cringes on the spot. Her fist balding she waits for her uncle to comment.
She looks at the Lord then. The way he's standing only a couple of meters away from them. The way he just looks at them, not a word leaving his lips and she can't even remember if the man she's supposed to wed has said more to her than just hello. She stares at him for a second, studying the look on his face. Wondering if he in any shape, way or form feels sorry for her.
"What proof?" Daniel counters and her head turns back instantly. Only to see the piece of paper fall from his hand and into the burning fire of the fire place. "No," she gasps, her bleeding hand extended, but she's too far away as she hears the paper cripple in the flames.
"No," she cries again. Her eyes closing as her uncle laughs louder than she's ever heard him before. Her arm falls around her chest and she turns around in pain. Her uncle's shoulder bumping into hers as he storms off, she loses her balance. Her knees giving in, she falls down on the cold stone floor.
The Lord swallows. His lips slowly parting, but he doesn't speak or act, not before he sees that King Hardman has left the two of them alone. Taking three steps towards the redhead, he kneels down beside her. Extending his hand for help she moves away from him.
"Why?" she mumbles, pulling her dress together as she looks at the man. "Why do you have to do this?" she asks, pushing herself back on her feet and he follows her lead. "Why are you making me do this?" she mumbles once more, her feet already taking steps away from him.
"I'm sorry," he speaks at last and she turns around then. "Why?" she asks one last time and he sighs. Looking away before he faces her again. "Because I'd do anything for the ones that I love," he gives her a small smile, turning around and leaving her alone before she can respond to his statement.
She waits a couple of minutes in the dining hall. Just her and her thoughts, before she pushes herself back on her feet. There's no time to waste, with only a few days left till her own wedding she needs to come up with a new plan as soon as possible.
Running out of the dining hall she bumps into an older man. His hand catching hers she lets out a small cry of pain. She withdraws herself, observing the person she ran into now. Another thing that's been happening too much these past few days. "Donna," the bald man smiles and her mouth drops in surprise before her lips turn into a big grin.
"Duke Darby," she mumbles, not able to believe her eyes she moves back. Embracing the man that used to live in the fortress. "What are you doing here?" she mumbles striding back again, taking the older man in. Still wearing the same brightly coloured ensembles she used to admire as a little girl.
"The Duchess asked me to come back," he grins and as he sees Donna's face change a little he continues. "Not just me, princess. Lady Katrina and Marques Marlow too," he answers. "Louis?" she answers astonished, "you all came back? Why?" she whispers.
"Because you need support," the older man smiles, turning her hand over in his. "Now let uncle Eddie look at your hand and tell me exactly what's going on." She nods fighting the tears as she lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
Winding the bandage around her hand he smiles at her once more. "So that fellow I've seen following your uncle wherever he goes is supposed to wed you?" he questions after she told him everything that had occurred in the past few days.
Donna presses her lips together, slowly nodding as she pulls her hand back from his grasp. The Duke gives her an understanding smile. "Such a shame," he smirks then.
She flips over another page in her book. Letting out a sigh as she's unable to focus on the words. Her head resting against the cold glass of the window behind her. Sighing once more, she lets her shoulders rest against the frame. Turning her head to the left she looks down at the court yard.
She sees the small party standing down there. The Duchess, Duke Darby, several ladies of chambers and him. Harvey, with next to him what she assumes to be his servant. Her hand touching the window next to her head, a tear runs down her cheek as another day passed by and another idea fired back.
He rocks back and forth on his feet. Listening to the words of both the Duke and the Duchess, he buries his hands in his pockets. Letting out a sigh as the older man and woman come to same conclusion he feared himself, there's little they can do now. Slowly lifting his head, he sees her then. Leaning against the window and their eyes meet as he looks at her.
A small smile on his lips he keeps looking at her, the pure sight of her making his heart starting to beat faster. "Excuse me," he mumbles then to his servant Michael, before he steps aside. Looking up once more before he disappears through the gate towards the entrance.
He walks through the corridors towards her chambers. Stopping in the doorway as he still sees her sitting in front of the window. He leans against the frame, pushing the curtain away he studies her face. The way the sun light hits her frame, the way she seems to be deep in thought. Probably thinking about the same things he had been until now, her beauty too distracting now.
She can sense his presence. His eyes lingering on her skin, but instead of saying she knows he's there she slowly lifts her head. Turning it to face him, her eyes meet his once again. A small smile on her lips she places the book down next to her, but before she can get on her feet he tells her to stay.
Her gaze following his every move as he walks towards her, turning around in front of her he kneels down beside her. Sitting on the ground at her feet, his arm rests on the window sill she's sitting on and all he can do is look at her.
Seeing the same worried feeling he feels inside mirrored in her eyes, his fingers brush past hers and his hand covers her. Letting his fingers trace the bandage around her hand, he brings her hand to his lips. Placing a kiss on top of it, before he smiles at her in reassurance. "We'll find a way, Donna," he whispers, "I promise."