This is a short story I wrote last year... I don't write tragedy very often, it usually only happens when I feel like writing and I'm sad. :P
Adrienne brushed her bangs off of her pale face, and then dipped her bucket into the well. As a servant in King Arthur’s court, Adrienne worked hard cooking and cleaning. Ever since her mother and father had died of sickness five years before, Adrienne, now fifteen, had journeyed from place to place looking for work. When she found a job serving King Arthur, she couldn’t say no.
Before Adrienne went back to the castle, she glanced down at her reflection in the water. Long, thick eyelashes surrounded her blue-grey eyes. Her waist-length blonde hair was pulled back into a braid, and thin wisps of hair were coming out.
“Adrienne, love,” Mandy, the cook and Adrienne’s guardian, would say, “We haven’t got the time to dilly-dally. Especially with the banquet tonight. Remember, all of King Arthur’s knights of the will be there.”
Adrienne sighed and picked up her bucket, turning to head back to the castle. As she walked back, Sean, one of the many squires, waved and came over to her.
“Here, let me help you with that.” He offered.
“No, I got it, really.” Adrienne answered.
“I can tell you do, the way you’re sort of hobbling slowly along, sloshing water everywhere. I felt a drop of it on my nose.”
Adrienne’s face turned red. Sean’s favorite pastime of late had been teasing her.
“If you’re so set on taking it, go ahead, but don’t you have lessons?”
Sean made a disgusted face. “Thanks for reminding me. I’m really looking forward to them as much as I am the banquet tonight.”
“Mandy needs me in the kitchen.”
“So I won’t see you tonight?”
“Well, see you around.”
Well that was strange. Adrienne thought as she entered the kitchen. It sounded like he wanted me at the banquet. I thought he didn’t like me.
“I’m back, Mandy.” Adrienne called.
“Just set the bucket on the table, love. Then get started on the bread, will you?”
“Yes, Mandy. I will. But I still have to wash the floor of the Great Hall before dinner.”
“Well then, I’ll take care of the bread. You go get started on the floor that’ll take you a while.”
“Guess I’m back at the well then. I’ll be back in for dinner.”
Shortly after dinner, Adrienne and Mandy finished the food for the banquet.
“Mandy, will you need me tonight?”
“Probably, love. But if it’s the banquet you want to see, go right ahead. I can do the dishes to night for you if you want.”
“Thank you Mandy! Thank you so much!’
The banquet that night was wonderful, according to Adrienne. All except for one thing.
“I want to thank you all for coming tonight.” King Arthur began. “The reason I wanted you all here was to bid farewell to Sir Tristan and his squire, Sean as they leave to save a desolate land from a dragon.”
Adrienne gasped and glanced at Sean, who was sitting, quite relaxed, between Sir Tristan and one of his friends. He grinned when the King broke the news. Adrienne turned and ran out of the room. Sean glimpsed a movement and stood up, excusing himself.
“Hold on, I’ll be back in a minute.” Sean ran out of the hall and caught up with Adrienne. “Adrienne!”
“Sean! What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be in the hall?”
“It’s okay; I can be out here for a few minutes.”
“Yeah. What’s the matter, Adrienne?”
“You’re – you’re – you’re leaving.”
“I know I am. I’ll be back soon, though.”
“How do you know? What if you get killed?”
“I won’t get killed. It’s just a dragon. Let’s go for a walk. I have a few minutes.”
“If you’re sure.”
Adrienne and Sean began walking in the gardens.
“Sean, have you ever been near a dragon before?”
“Then how can you be so sure?”
“I can’t. But I have a feeling...”
“Whoa!” Adrienne tripped and reached out to steady herself on the branch of a tree. The branch snapped and Adrienne fell into the pond. “Sean! I can’t swim!”
“Hold on, Adrienne.” Sean reached out and grabbed Adrienne’s outstretched arm.
“Thank you.” Adrienne whispered once she was on shore.
“Yes, I think so.”
“You look a little cold.”
Adrienne began coughing. “No, no, I’m fine.”
“Here.” Sean draped his cloak over Adrienne’s shoulders. “We’d better get you inside.”
“Wait, Sean – one quick thing.”
“Every knight needs a lady.” Adrienne smiled and took off her headband. “Here. Put this on your arm.”
“But I’m no knight yet.”
“And I’m not a lady.”
Sean smiled and gently took the headband, then wound it around his arm. “I’ll return as soon as possible, my lady Adrienne.”
“I know you will, Sean.”
“Adrienne!” Mandy called from the open kitchen window.
“Mandy’s calling me. I have to go. Goodbye, Sean.”
“Goodbye, Adrienne.” Sean watched as Adrienne ran back into the kitchen.
“Adrienne, love, can you take these out to the king?” Mandy asked, holding out a platter of tarts.
“Sorry, Mandy. I’m a bit wet. I have to go change, and then I can.”
“Never mind, dear. I’ll take them. You go change.”
“Thank you Mandy!”
Adrienne hurried to the servant’s quarters and into her room where she quickly changed into another dress. It was then she realized she still had Sean’s cloak. I’ll return it to him in the morning. She thought, and headed back to the kitchen.
Bright and early the next morning, Sean and Sir Tristan prepared for their departure. Adrienne waited patiently by the castle drawbridge, holding Sean’s cloak. As he turned to ride away, she stepped out of the shadows.
“You left your cloak with me last night.”
“Put it in the saddle bag, will you?”
Adrienne stuffed the cloak into the saddle bag. Sean bent down to whisper in her ear.
“I dreamed about you last night, Adrienne. I dreamed that you and I were together in the gardens again. It was spring, the birds were singing and flowers were blooming. It was wonderful.”
“When you get back we’ll go for a walk and you’ll tell me about your adventure. Goodbye.”
“Farewell, Adrienne. God be with you.”
Tears came into Adrienne’s eyes as she watched Sean ride away. The night before she had realized that Sean wasn’t really teasing her, but he loved her, though he didn’t know how to say it. In that moment, Adrienne felt that she truly loved him back.
Weeks passed without news of Sir Tristan’s quest. Adrienne began to worry, as did King Arthur and the other knights.
“Tristan is never gone this long on a quest. It’s just a single dragon.” Sir Galahad began.
“Just a dragon is right. He’s killed dragons before.” Sir Kay agreed.
“The most we can do for now is just hope and pray, my good knights.” King Arthur suggested.
“Aye, he’s right.” Sir Gawain admitted.
“So there’s nothing we can do?” Adrienne asked, then clapped a hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry. It was not my place to speak.”
“Come here, child.” King Arthur beckoned. Willingly, Adrienne walked over to him. “There is nothing we can do for them unless we know their whereabouts. I could send out a search party, but that would probably not help, for if they were taken by the dragon, they would be dead, and if they are on their way back, they will be here soon.”
Adrienne nodded. Suddenly, a trumpet sounded. A squire scrambled down the stairs into the hall where the knights were gathered.
“We’ve sighted two riders. We think it may be Sir Tristan and his squire.”
“Really?” Adrienne’s face lit up and she lifted her skirts to run out to meet them as the drawbridge was lowered.
“Sean, Sean!” She shouted, still running, then stopped. One of the horses was being led, and Sean sat in front of Sir Tristan. Adrienne broke into a run again, slowing when she neared the horses. “Sir Tristan!” The knight turned his head and looked at Adrienne.
“Get Sean to the castle. He needs medicine.”
“How bad is he wounded?”
“Very badly, I’m afraid. Are you able to get him in?”
Adrienne bobbed her head. “Yes.”
“Take him straightaway to the infirmary, then get Mandy. She’ll know what to do.”
Adrienne helped Sir Tristan get Sean off of the horse. “I got him.”
Before long, Sean was in a bed with Mandy looking over him.
“Adrienne, I need bandages, hot water, and soap. Go quickly!”
“Yes, Mandy.” Adrienne rushed around the castle preparing whatever Mandy needed.
“Adrienne, sit here and watch Sean for me. I have to go put supper on the table.”
Adrienne nodded quietly and sat by Sean’s side.
“Sean, please wake up for me!” A few minutes later, Sean’s eyes blinked.
“Who are you?”
“It’s me, Sean, Adrienne.”
“Adrienne? I knew an Adrienne once. She was beautiful.”
Adrienne was quiet. “You’re going to get better, Sean, I just know you are.”
Mandy returned to the room an hour later, carrying two bowls of soup. “Here, Adrienne. Eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Come now, love, he’s not wounded that bad.”
“The wound may not be bad, but it’s not only that.”
“What is it, then?”
“I’m scared for him, Mandy. Really and truly scared. More afraid than I’ve ever been in my life before. He’s not himself.”
“Don’t worry, he’ll get better.”
For a few days Sean seemed improve. Next his condition stayed the same. A fortnight later, he took a turn for the worse.
“Mandy!” Adrienne yelled. “Sean’s worse! He’s coughing, feverish and he’s sweating.”
“Dear Lord, no!” Mandy whispered.
“Adrienne, I don’t think he’s going to make it.”
“You don’t mean it.”
“I’m afraid I do. The wound got infected again. I don’t know how, but it did.”
Mandy stood and left the room. Adrienne stayed behind, seated at Sean’s side.
“Sean, don’t leave me, please!”
Sean’s eyelids fluttered and his mouth moved. “I’m being called, Adrienne… He’s calling me. I’m going home.”
“You can’t leave me! Please, Sean, please stay here!”
“I’m going home…”
The following day, a funeral was held for Sean. Sir Tristan stood near Adrienne, his arm around her shoulder.
“Sean often spoke of you, Adrienne. He told me of his love for you and how someday he wanted to marry you.”
“I loved him too. I don’t see why he had to die.”
“He died bravely, Adrienne. The dragon attacked me and he was right behind me, sword drawn. If it weren’t for him, neither of us would have returned. He was worthy of knighthood.”
Adrienne gently stepped away from Sir Tristan and took a flower from her belt. She knelt down near the grave and placed the flower at the foot of the tombstone.
“Goodbye, Sean.” She whispered.