amandajane17 (amandajane17) wrote in faerie_tales,

The Red Door........

I wrote this for a fic challenge on  the Armitage Army@Richard ArmitageCentral Forum  and Am rather chuffed with it .   Thanks to Calliope

Luke  was an orphan  and up until the age of 10  had  spent a miserable existence in a great grim orphanage.     There he had been unceremoniously dumped by his Mother at 2 days old  so she could go away with her newest lover  and he was not happy  to take on another man's child.

At 10 however the child's  luck took an upturn.   He was found a position as a  stable lad at the  royal palace.    Here he discovered an abiding love for and affinity with  horses. 

His interaction with them was like a miracle to see.    The wildest  stallion and most mettlesome colt  could be calmed and tamed by  his soft gentle voice.   And the  touch of his  long fingered hands,
almost laughably   elegant on one of such lowly stock  combined with the warmth of his hypnotically piercing blue eyes  had the power to  soothe and placate even when all else failed.

At the age of 14  he helped with a  very difficult birth from which it was though neither mare nor foal would survive.
The poor young mother to be  thrashed in panic and agony so that all the grooms were afraid to go  near.

Then  Luke approached.
He was already becoming  quite a sight to see   with his long legs,  wavy dark hair,   soft  gently smiling mouth  and those eyes  that had already unwittingly  charmed the hearts of   several  of the kitchen maids.

He approached the  writhing moaning  animal and spoke gently to her crooning softly  and moving his hands over her.
And the assembled watchers  gasped in amazement as she visibly calmed  and let the boy help her until her foal slid whole and well into the world.

The whole of the servants quarters buzzed with the gossip.  Girls flocked to to get to know more about this mysterious beautiful boy.    But he  so clearly preferred the company of  the horses that they just dismissed him as weird.

All except Aline, the 14 year old daughter of the  head cook who had begun to work in the kitchens with her Mother at the same time as Luke had arrived.

She didn't  try to flirt with him as the others did,   didn't pester him for  conversation.
She would simply wait until their paths crossed in the stable yard  as they often did   and simply greet him.
Gradually he plucked up courage to speak to her  and eventually she became the closest he had to a human friend.
Though like a wild animal he always  kept even her at arms length.   The ever patient Aline celebrated each brief tentative exchange and quietly bided her time.


The years passed  and their friendship made it's way in tiny  steps.   By 18  Luke was able to confide in Aline that he was  hopelessly in love with the King's daughter  Princess Filida.

Aline shook her head to herself as she pondered this whilst washing up .    In her opinion ( one she wisely kept to herself)  that spoiled  little Madam was entirely unworthy of  this adoration.
She saw the Princess  going for  her morning ride,   or off     with one of her admirers.  Luke took personal care of her chestnut mare  Persephone (Seffie for short) and he made the most of these chances to gaze silently at her.
And in return ?   Not so much as  a thank you.   He was an orphan and a servant,   barely promoted in all the time he'd  been here  so just part of the furniture,   an object,  a royal possession.  
Hardly a person and certainly not any man for a Princess to  take note of.    Though she was heard to remark loudly that  Seffie's Groom  was lush  and that she'd love to have him rub her down one day.


12 more years melted  away.    Princess Filida  was now  Queen  and as yet unmarried.
She had lovers  coming out of her delicate shell like ears  but couldn't be persuaded by the council to  choose one  of them.
And as  for her being a Queen.   It was almost as if she had never been crowned at all.     She let her  wise councillors do the work.
She would charm visitors,  sign documents  and do the dutiful  tours of the Kingdom to  'Meet the Riff Raff'   as she put it,   but she still regarded life as one long party.   It couldn't go on..............

“ Your Majesty I implore you !”  Her chief councillor  begged.   “ Tiresome as it may be for you I really do think it time you chose one of your Suitors to marry.
Please.......For your Kingdom. “
Filida  looked  bored.   “ Oh very well.    We'll let Fate decide.    Which ever man can come and tell  me what I do at nights.    I will marry”.

And so the gauntlet was down.   And there was no shortage of takers for the challenge.
But so far no one had come even close.    To Filida's  colossal  amusement.
First royalty,  then aristocracy,   then the new middle class businessmen tried and roared in failure.    ( What could it be that she did ?)
Then, for a laugh,   Filida agreed to let peasants have a  turn.    Confident that if a  Prince couldn't do it  then there was no hope for a shepherd.

“ Ooooh  don't I just hope some  'Son of the Soil'   does find her out”.   Aline spat as she  waited for  Luke and the other stable hands to finish lunch.
“ In fact”.    Her eyes twinkled.   “ Why not try it  yourself  Luke lovie  ?”   She thought of all the cruel comments the Queen had made about  Luke over the years. Whilst he still slavishly worshipped her.
He still cared for  her horse personally.  Now she was riding Persephone's  daughter jokingly named   Demeter *. 
The mare adored Luke as her Mother had.   And the Queen looked through him as  much as ever.
Aline  would have been delighted to see the look on that  beautiful face  if she suddenly found herself having  to marry a man she had ignored under her nose for years.
Well worth the  disappointment for herself.   For she had been in love with Luke  for as long as she could remember.


Luke couldn't sleep.   He was thinking  about Aline's idea.   Could he ?  Should he  try ?
Unable to rest.   He thought he might as well.   Passing through the stables.  He heard a  gentle wicker.
Demeter nudged him in the back as he passed.   “ Can't  you sleep either. darling?  He asked,  kissing her nose.    “Tell you what.   Let's see if we can find out  your  mistresses's secret  together.

He saddled the mare and out they walked into the moon light yard.   The chestnut mare with a tall  dark handsome man sitting  beautifully in the saddle were a  fine sight had anyone been around to see them.
With barely a sound  they walked from the yard and onto the softer garden paths.
In the still night air the merest sound could be heard  so Luke had no problem hearing the rustle of fabric as some one approached and he quickly dismounted and hid.   Though how to hide Demeter !?.....................
On swift light.  merry feet  the Queen passed by.    Not in her night gown as expected,   but dressed as for a party.
Her beauty easily outshone the moon and  Luke was almost to  caught up in admiration to follow her.   
But Demeter nudged  him and he got up.    “ That was a  miracle.   She never saw you Angel “ .   He whispered as he  took the mare's reins and led her forwards.
He saw  the Queen  reach the Garden wall  and was amazed to see a  door as shiningly red as a  ruby  appear through the  ivy.
She murmured some words he couldn't  catch,   it opened and through it she went.
The door not closing behind her.  It vanished.

The next morning.   She came to the stable  and took Demeter for her ride completely unaware that Luke had seen her.
For 2 more nights he followed again and tried to see how she got through the door.  With no more success.

On the third night  as he as    was on the point of giving up.  He saw Demeter approach him.  
She put her lovely head on his shoulder and............Spoke softly into his ear.
“ The door your Queen enters nightly leads to the Other world,   the Faery Realm.
There she  dances and sings  for she is under a spell.   This will only be broken if  someone from her world finds out where she goes. 
And if it is not broken by the next full Moon.   Tomorrow night  then she will be forced to marry  the youngest son of King Oberon.
Follow me  and I will help you to both  to enter there and leave unmolested. For we will both be invisible.”

In silent wonder Luke let the horse lead him to the door which had  appeared again  only minutes after the Queen and used it.
Demeter uttered some  words in her horse language and the door opened. 
“ Hold my reins Luke and you will not be seen.”   She whispered.

Luke had never seen  such a beautiful shining world  inhabited by such exquisite beings.    And Queen  Filida seemed to fit right in as  she joined their revels.
Yet it felt all wrong.   Terribly  wrong and he was  glad to have Demeter whisper.   “ Time to be off.   Pluck a branch from  this apple tree to  serve as your proof “.
So Luke did.    And they made their way back to the door and into the Palace gardens again.

 At breakfast next morning  Aline saw a  twinkle in Luke's  sapphire eyes that had not been there  before  and somehow she knew.
“ Oh Luke I'm so happy for you “ .   And as she hugged him he realised that she was truly glad.   And a warmth spread over him at her nearness.
“ Come to the audience chamber and hear what I have to say.”   He told her with a grin.

The whole court was amazed when the handsome yet odd stable hand came forwards announcing in a clear voice that he  knew the Queens secret.

Kneeling to her he took out the  branch  covered in glowing apple blossom and told all he knew about the Faery Realm.
 The Queen clasped a  hand over her mouth with a gasp.   “ He's correct”.  She admitted.   “ I cannot deny it.    And the spell has been broken.   Nowt the door will no longer open for me  and we will not now have a  Faery King.
In response to her words,   the apple branch  melted away into mist.   And somehow some of the Queen's unearthly beauty also  had faded.

“ It seems I must eat  my words “.   She said  uncomfortably.   “ I  vowed before the court to wed whoever found  me out.   So it seems I must  make My Horse's Groom into a King. “

She clearly expected this to have been  source of delight to Luke.  And he had always thought that this would have been a dream come true.
But his own spell seemed to have broken too.    His infatuation with the Queen had finally faded.
Another face was now imprinted on his  pounding heart and his eyes searched the crowd hoping to find her.
As he did his  face  split into a breathtaking smile.   “ Thank you Your Majesty”.
He bowed,   “ but no thank you.  I would be a terrible King.   All I know about is horses.    I want nothing more than the stay working in your stables.
Though I  hope that I may have need of  some married quarters........”

And he waked towards Aline.    The young woman looking  both amazed and enchanted by  the warmth in his eyes directed at her.
He took  her hand and kissed it.    “ I've been dreaming of the wrong woman all this time fool that I am”.
He spoke softly  so only she could hear  and it was as though no one else  existed in the world  but them selves.  
“ I love you Aline.”  He said softly.  “ And I suppose I always have but I've been blind to it......Now I'm seeing clearly at last  will you marry me ?”
He heard her emotion choked   “ Oh  Luke darling........Yes please”.  And felt her arms surround him in love  as their lips met with joy.
Neither of them noticed the cheers as the Queen chose of of her royal suitors to be her King.

The royal wedding took place with much pomp and ceremony a  week later.

Luke and Aline did n't join in the party in the servants hall  that evening.
They had become  man and wife themselves that very morning  in a simple ceremony at the little church in a nearby village.

Demeter  pulled a little cart  to take them there and back.  And she  even stood  guard  whilst the soft straw of her stable  became their first  ecstatic marriage bed.
She never  spoke again.   Though Aline believed her husband when he told her about the horse showing him the  secrets of the red door.
But for the rest  of her days  she gently watched over her best human friend and his beloved wife.
Dying at a great age in the happy knowledge that her daughter was continuing her good work.

* Sorry this is me trying to be clever.    Demeter the goddess of the harvest was  the mother of  Persephone.

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