Cedwyn peeked out of the stable, his deep brown eyes surveying the bailey courtyard. His hair, once blond, now took on the color of dying coals blended in with the weathered wood streaked by the sun’s rays. A couple of young’uns played tag near the kitchen. One mother stepped outside to check on them and then went back inside, probably getting the mid-day meal ready. To his right, Sauder the blacksmith, wearing his worn leather apron, disappeared out the back of the smithy, presumably to get more wood. Keeping the coals hot for the day’s work required a constant feeding of wood and coal. He’d done that chore plenty of times.
In the middle of the bailey stood the keep, a tall wooden tower where the king and Guinevere lived on the third level. From the ground floor window, Cedwyn heard his ma humming off key as she cleaned the throne room. He’d helped her straighten their rooms on the second level right after breakfast.
He looked up to the top window facing the stable, his forehead drawn tight as he squinted into the sun. He and Guinevere went separate ways after breakfast. He to his chores, while she finished her studies. They’d decided meeting at the stable would be safer than at the keep. His ma had a surprising ability to catch them in the act of doing precisely what they shouldn’t be.
Taking another look around the bailey, Cedwyn left the shadow of the stable, stooped down, picked up a small grey pebble, and cocked his right arm to launch it through the window into Guinevere’s room. The moment he let it fly, her head popped out.
Cedwyn ducked back into the shadows like a dog caught chewing on a stolen bone cowers in a corner, hoping not to be seen.
Deciding to play innocent, Cedwyn moved out from the stable. Shading his eyes once more from the sun, he looked up at the window unable to keep the grin off his face. Guinevere stood framed in the window like a picture, hand holding her forehead, eyes boring into him. He raised his arms above his head, signaling he had no idea why she was glaring at him. She shook her fist in the air and disappeared.
A few minutes later, the girl stormed out of the keep making a beeline for the stable. She wore black trousers and a long sleeve tunic knotted at the waist with a jewel-encrusted leather belt. The sleeves of her green tunic sparkled in the sunlight with similar embroidered stones. She looked like every princess he’d ever known, except she was the only princess he knew.
His attire, while similar, showed more use than hers. The brown trousers were clean, but worn around the knees. The faded brown tunic, tucked into his trousers and held in place by a thick leather belt, boasted no stones, but neither did it have any holes. He knew better than to wear his decent clothes, as his ma called them, when going on an adventure with Guinevere. One never knew if they would run into a wild boar and have to scramble up trees, or be nearly trampled by a painted dragon. Both had happened over two years ago, but thinking about their flight from the boar still sent shivers down his body. He bent down to touch the knife secure in its sheath inside his leather boot. In his eleven years of friendship with Guinevere, he’d learned to come prepared for anything.
As Guinevere came to a stop in front of him, Cedwyn covered his mouth to hide a widening grin. In the center of her forehead, a bright red bulge bloomed, emphasized by the long thick braid holding her hair back.
“Bull’s eye,” he said, and then ducked, but not soon enough. Guinevere’s fist caught him on the left ear. His head jerked sideways throwing a lock of his untrimmed hair over his eyes.
“Ow, Guin’ver. That hurt.” His face bunched up in pain as he covered the ear. His other hand pushed the hair out of his eyes.
“You think this didn’t?” Her finger jabbed the bulge on her forehead. She winced and muttered unprincess-like words.
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