One thing among many other things that she did not appreciate was an overabundance of company when trying to concentrate on work. By work, that really meant her art. Swirls of crimson, and navy, and ivory -- they all melted together to form a grotesque abstract take on the window before her, a breeze bringing the frayed, greyish curtain to life.
Dust mites floated in the sunlight, and in her peripheral vision, she counted them like sheep.
When she counted, she surely never called.
Dainty footsteps and the disjointed arm of a doll. A kneelength red dress, hair done in pins, curls. Ruddy cheeks and pale skin.
A girl named Mercy opened the door and stepped into her kingdom come.
"Margaret," the younger girl intoned, pale eyes all asmile. "My lovely baroness."
Just-as-pale, nearly lifeless, eyes skirted off the piece on the table, a stormy grey set of irises empty like a bottomless pit. But in a hushed sweep of an emerald skirt, the baroness of sleepless nights, of the watchful eye, she stood, and dropped into a gracious, friendly curtsey.
"My princess," greeted a smooth-as-marble voice behind the parted curtain of blonde locks. "'tis a surprise."
The Princess of the Blood Rose accepted that sacrifice-- that emerald affection-- and bowed her head, holding up a hand to set her baroness at well-deserved ease. "That nasty beggar girl was in the music room. I couldn't stand the sight of her long enough to even dismiss her from my presense." The haughty redhead took a seat next to her blonde compatriot and canted her head to look at her picture.
Seated once again, Margaret brushed pallid fingertips across the bottom of the painting. "Were it more lively and of much brighter colors, I would offer it to you, if you would take it." She thumbed her paintbrush, tucked her hair back. "I have naught the place along my walls anymore."
She was silent, momentarily, then faced her princess. "We must send for someone to clean the room after she leaves. She will dirty the room with her filth."
"We should punish her for her lack of foresight." Mercy examined the painting closer. "I like the colours, Margaret-- this crimson is my favourite colour, you know." The prettiest smile crossed the girl's pink features as she dropped her doll next to the chair, quite content without its presence in her arms. "I could paint you a picture too. It would be our exchange-- of all things beautiful and lovely in the face of the girls who belong in the filth room, right?"
"Yes," the baroness agreed, a very faint and almost unnoticeable smile curving her rosy lips. "A marvelous idea. Although I must admit, I much liked the music room... the instruments were beautiful. I'd imagine she is plucking their strings as we speak," she mourned, her ethereal features nearly creased in disappointment.
"The room will be cleaned," the princess nodded, muted and maliced with the curling of her smile. "But for now-- my gift to you."
Stepping down from her chair, dainty foot coming down across her doll's ribcage, the Princess of the Blood Rose went to fetch crayons and paper.
"I'll draw you a bird-- the bird that the baby bird that we recieve this week will become!"
"May the bird will grow to be as beautiful as your drawing, princess." Margaret dipped her brush in the darkened glass of water to wet the paint. "Would you like a bird in your picture, as well? Perhaps in the windsill..."
"I would like it very much, my Margaret," the little princess said softly, looking at her page and starting to lay down a layer of scarlet-- it was the scarlet canopy of a red toned forest, of course. The better to camouflage a cardinal. "Shall I tell Miss Dixon that Natasha is ill?"
"Natasha...? That is, the beggar girl?" The tip of the brush stroked the dark blue paint in her palette. "Yes, that would be a wise plan... don't know what diseases she might spread." Blonde cascaded over one sparrow-boned shoulder. "Your bird, what colour would you prefer it to be?"
"Any colour your heart desires." It was a sing-song now as the red haired girl turned her head this way and that, taking in all the angles of her autumnal forest scene. "What colour is your heart, Margaret?"
The question posed halted the baroness' actions, before her brush touched the painting. "Green." Her response was simply, but she expanded. "Like vines, like a neverending labyrinth that you can't find your way out of. Something to get lost in." Her chin tilted up, as she eyed her princess' wonderful drawing.
Reds and oranges and browns and violet hues had come to coexist rather peacefully on the page-- and in the foreground was the beginnings of a bird. A wondrous, ruby quetzacoatl waiting for a weary traveller to destroy.
"Your heart's green must be a beautiful shade."
"It's debatable," Margaret merely replied, now lacing the coarse paper with navy streams of nightshade. "What colour is yours, princess?"
"Gunmetal grey." The princess held up her completed drawing to regard it. "Impervious to attack and impossible to escape from once inside."
The page was turned and a note written on the back: To Margaret, the loveliest baroness to grace the earth. With love-- Mercy: Princess of the Blood Rose.
Something that resembled the beginning of a bird perched upon the sill of the blonde girl's paper window, eyes as pale as snow, plumage as midnight black as ebony. It seemed to be bowing its small head. Margaret once again wordlessly eyed the drawing neath her highness' small hands, as though surveying a rare and exotic flower.
"Oooh, it's beautiful," the younger girl purred, eyeing that beautiful bird with the pale eyes. "And don't worry about that nasty, filthy girl. I'm sure the Prince will take great pleasure in dealing with her on his own." A sigh. "You draw such pretty things, Maggie."
"They're nothing in comparison to your work," protested the eldest of the two, as she set aside the brush for a moment. "May I ask that you hold your painting while I sign the back? I would be devastated if the wet paint was to smear. It would be quick." Her stormy eyes fluttered up, to catch the pair of lighter ones.
"Mmm~ Of course!" A cooperative princess was a docile one and she offered her hands to hold and to touch, taking the corners of the paper she was given when the time did come.
Delicately, scripted words were inked into the backside of the painting, reading: To the only one who has pierced my heart with her elegance and strength, may you attain greater beauty in the near future. Forever yours, your Maggie. The baroness pulled away, to drop the paintbrush into the lukewarm waters of the dirtied glass. "Finished," she softly announced.
As prim and proper as she fauxly was, the princess was an easily excitable one-- a kiss to the cheek was the reward for such a lovely present and the girl with her crimson skirt aswirl like a glass of blood on a vampire's veranda cherished it.
"I'll hang it on my dormatory wall," she promised in a sort of secrecy; between two girls and no others. "You'll do the same with mine, won't you, my Maggie?"
"Beside my pillow," agreed the baroness, retrieving her wonderful gift and admiring it for a moment, "so that I can glimpse at it all hours of the day." Certainly something so precious could only be marvelled at as such.
And the princess trusted the baroness on her word, because the trust of the royal court was there in aces and hearts and spades.
"I have to see the Prince," the redhead said with a light hearted giggle, stepping on her doll before seeing fit to pick it up again. "About the problem with the filth roaming the halls."
With a mane of blonde framing her face, Margaret bent to clear her area of the table. "The Prince will surely see to it. I have faith that the nasty mongrel will be taken care of."
"Mm, your faith is encouraging." The crayons were taken and put away and the princess, half broken doll in one hand and masterpiece painting in the other, curtseyed. "I'll take my leave, now. Good day, my Maggie."
A curtsey was daintily offered in return. "It was a pleasure to spend time with you, princess," cooed the icy pale girl. "Please enjoy the rest of your day."
The girl and her crimson dress took their dainty footsteps to the door and, with a wave, closed it silently behind them.