The castle battlements were filthy. Their bare toes gouged their way through the sodden moss, revealing cockroaches and glistening slugs on the crenelations and turrets. He would occasionally grimace, grow startled, quivering from side to side.
She would reach towards him, ready to save him should he fall. The sound of the crows chirping and wind ricocheting through the barbed branches up above was the very essence of childhood for the duke and duchess.
But this was adulthood. Things were not so quaint as before.
The battlements were slippery. Tracing their way past drowned corpses of rats and lacewings, they did not care for the rotten carcasses crushed underfoot.
She walked behind him, as always. Watching him trace his way along to the western arch. When he slipped and tumbled, she would no longer hold her arms out, she did not even flinch, and nor did he.
This was why they were here, after all.
As they climbed the jagged stonework, the twilight moon rose in the sky, and rain fell in blistering sheets. Her ivory nightdress, now sullied with dirt and grime, grew caught on loose ironwork. It tore, leaving her open to the elements.
Crow caws signalled their progress. They were almost there.
He paused, turned around and stared at his sister. He reached out for her bruised hand.
They traced the final steps together, silently, assuredly.
Brother and sister had arrived. Upon the parapet, they were in a place they had never dared approach, even as adventurous children.
Her emotionless eyes conveyed just one message.
And they jumped.
She awoke with a throbbing pain in her side, her right leg swollen and crushed.
A shrill, unpleasant voice rang in her ear. The household doctor, and the local surgeon. Chattering at top speed, asking her a million and one questions, which she didn’t dare answer.
Her ears were cloudy and waterlogged. Instead, she looked to her right.
His bed was empty.
A miracle… a sheer miracle, she heard from above the water.
She sighed, feeling familiar eyes digging into her.
I will have to try again later.
How very cheerful.
Want to read more depressing tales? My Gothic tag is absolutely full of them!
Or if you’d like to read more from my musically-inspired series, A Tendency for Bitterness, you can do so here!
Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Sherratt