What if he wants to do it today too? Siana wondered. Should I refuse him? Tomorrow is the trial day… Siana knew it was pointless, because whenever he kissed and touched her, she would give in willingly. She could never push him away.
Besides, if these proved to be their final moments together, she wanted to spend it with him rather than pushing him away. So, they spent their nights like this. After four days, the trial day was finally here again.
So, today it will be decided, she resolved. Siana was so nervous but she tried not to show it. Hugh arrived shortly and joined them. They greeted each other and were about to board the carriage to head to the courthouse when a voice called from behind.
“Officer!” it called.
They turned to see a man in uniform walking towards them. He had addressed Alan. That man… Siana had a vague memory of him but couldn’t say for sure where she had seen him before.
While Siana frowned and tried to remember him, Alan turned to him. “I have something to say,” said the man, “If you could just step this way with me, Sir.”
“Right now?” asked Alan, “Is it urgent?”
“Yes, sir,” said the man, “It’s about what he discussed before.”
Alan hesitated. What were they discussing before? Siana wondered. She was frowning when finally, she remembered where she had seen him before. Alan looked at her and gave a nod.
“Sia,” he said, “I am sorry about this, but you go along with Hugh and Yulia to the courthouse first, alright?”
“What about you?” she asked.
“Just something I need to take care of real fast,” he said, “I will be there soon.”
“But there isn’t much time left,” said Siana.
“Don’t worry,” said Alan, reassuringly, “I will be right on time.”
Siana hesitated then nodded. Alan took her face in his hand and placed a kiss on her forehead. “You trust me?” he asked.
‘Of course, I do,” said Siana, with a blush. “Just don’t be late.”
“I won’t,” said Alan and walked away with the soldier.
As Siana caught up with Hugh and Yulia a few steps away where they were waiting, Yulia frowned. “What was that about?” she asked. “Where is he going?”
“I don’t know,” said Siana.
“He didn’t tell you where he was going?” asked Yulia.
“No,” said Siana.
“Did he say anything else?” asked Yulia.
“he just said we should head in first,” said Siana, “And promised that he won’t be late. Something he needed to take care of.”
Yulia was still doubtful. “Then it would be better for us to do as he says,” said Hugh, “We must leave, otherwise we might be late.”
They both nodded and followed Hugh to the carriage which would take them to the courthouse. When they reached, they made their way to the courtroom at a brisk walk.
Viscount North and his lawyer had already arrived there first. Unlike last time, Siana could manage herself better because Hugh and Yulia were by her side. She wasn’t alone. He didn’t come close to them, but he did look straight at her and smirked before staring at Yulia, inappropriately.
“Every time I look at his vile face, I feel uncomfortable and disgusted,” whispered Siana, “I really want to get rid of him soon.”
Yulia leaned towards her. ‘Same here,” she whispered.
Siana nodded fiercely. “I am so very sorry Yulia,” she said.
“Why are you sorry?” asked Yulia.
“It is because of me that you got involved in everything,” said Siana, “It is because of me that you are here, and he is staring at you in that way.”
“How is that your fault?” said Yulia, “Regarding me getting involved, I did it willingly. If it is anyone who should be guilty it’s him. I really want to gouge out his eyes.”
Siana chuckled at that. Yulia truly was unapologetic. She pulled her chair closer to Siana as she sat.
“Your husband still isn’t here,” said Yulia, looking worried.
“I know,” said Siana, clenching her hands in her lap. She looked down at her hands.
Yulia felt bad for mentioning the obvious when Siana must be more worried than anybody in this room. She felt foolish and regretful. “I am sure he will be here before the trial starts. He loves you very much,” said Yulia, trying to cheer her friend up, “Don’t worry too much.”
Siana smiled and nodded, grateful for Yulia’s support. However, she was worried. Alan still hadn’t arrived after a few minutes. Siana glanced at the clock in the courtroom anxiously. The trail would start soon. She looked over at the door, wishing he would arrive quickly.
Why isn’t he here… thought Siana. He said he wouldn’t be late. Unable to bear it, she turned to Hugh impatiently.
“Hugh?” she called.
“Yes, Madam,” said Hugh.
“What happens if Alan is late?” asked Siana, “Will the trial start without him?”
“When a defendant doesn’t attend the trial,” explained Hugh, “The trial cannot commence, and he loses by default.”
Siana’s face fell at his words. “But don’t worry, Lady Legarde,” he said to assure her, “He will be here on time.”
“But…” Siana trailed off.
“He will come, madam,” said Hugh with conviction. “I trust him, and I know you do, too. Please don’t worry yourself.”
Siana was still doubtful, and she was surprised that Hugh could say that so resolutely. She nodded, grateful for his words and clenched her hands on her lap. The time for the trial’s commencement was gradually approaching, and Siana clasped her hands together and prayed for Alan to reach fast.
She was looking around the courtroom when her eyes met Viscount North’s. When she saw him smirk at her, only one thing crossed her mind. Did he…, she thought anxiously. Did he do something to delay Alan? No… no, no, no. No matter how badly he wishes to win this case, he couldn’t have…
But Siana knew Viscount North could go to any extent to get what he wanted. He would stoop very low. He seemed capable of the vilest thing imaginable. And he was wealthy and powerful enough to do just that. He had put her into a situation where she couldn’t find a job or come up with any alternative to pay the debt except being forced into marriage to him. He had threatened her before. Even though he couldn’t stand against Alan, he could have done anything to delay him.
“When a defendant doesn’t attend the trial… trial cannot commence, and he loses by default.”
Hugh’s words kept repeating in her mind. No, please, no. Alan, come on, please…. Siana desperately hoped and prayed for it not to be true when the courtroom door opened with a click. Siana turned at an instant to look at the door. She could see Alan there, at the threshold.
His blond hair, which had been neatly combed in the morning, was messily swept aside. His chest was heaving as he tried to catch his breath. He entered the court as every eye turned to him. Behind him followed a middle-aged man Siana had never seen before in her life.
Siana saw Viscount North exclaim and get up from his seat. He looked flustered, nervous and angry. He mumbled something at his lawyer pointing at the man who had entered the courtroom behind Alan. Unlike the Viscount, both Alan and the man were calmly walking towards them.
Who is that man? Siana wondered. Who can make Viscount North react in such a way? Alan took a seat next to her. “Worried?” he asked, with a smile.
“Where were you?!” said Siana, “I was out of my mind thinking you would definitely be late.”
“But I wasn’t late,” he said with grin. “I arrive right on time.”
“Wipe that grin off your face,” she said, “Don’t do that to me again. My heart almost gave out. Besides, you were almost late.”
Alan chuckled but Hugh came to her rescue. “Madam is right, sir,” he said, “You only got here by the skin of your teeth. If you were a second late, we would have lost the trial by default.”
“I apologize,” he said to Hugh and Siana. “You both are right, of course. I was almost late since I had to find him and bring him with me.”
“Who is he?” asked Siana, staring at the man who was seated near Yulia.
“Let’s say he is our secret weapon,” said Alan, “He could very well turn this case around.”
“Why?” asked Siana.
Alan smiled mischievously. “You will find out soon.”
Siana really was in no mood for Alan side stepping her question. She was curious about the man, but she couldn’t protest. The judge was walking through the courtroom door to take his seat.
“The trial commences,” announced the guard.
Trial started as soon as the judge sat on his seat. The judge announced that the letter Siana had sent to Yulia was legitimate. He then instructed the lawyers to continue with their case. Viscount North’s lawyer was the first to speak. He repeated that Siana had tried to escape in order to not pay the debt and argued that she must have married Alan Legarde for money.
“Lord Legarde is suffering from a curse from the war,” said Viscount North’s lawyer.
Siana felt the blood rush to her head. She hadn’t expected the curse to be mentioned at the trial. How does he know about that? She tried to recall who else knew about the curse. The Priest who performed the treatment, Yulia, Primo, the servants, the maids…. Siana realised that more people than she had assumed knew about Alan’s curse.
“Siana Lagarde is a person with slight but divine powers,” continued Viscount North’s lawyer, “Such powers slow the progression of the curse. Lord Lagarde proposed to her because of his curse and offered to pay Siana’s Legarde’s debt.”
The bastard! Siana cursed, inwardly. She had felt uneasy when the lawyer had started speaking. She hadn’t expected him to say such things. She almost got up from her seat without realizing it. She probably would have done it if Alan hadn’t placed his hands on top of hers.
“It’s alright, Sia,” he said, “Calm yourself.”
“It’s okay,” he said with a comforting smile.
Siana nodded and straightened her back. Meanwhile, Viscount North’s lawyer still prattled on with papers in his hands. “As evidence, I submit these documents. This is the examination form that Siana Legarde filled when being tested for divine powers, a medical certificate from her doctor is also enclosed here and a receipt from the store where Siana Legarde last purchased magical items for treatment.”
It became to Siana how they had learned about Alan’s curse. Viscount North was a man of many connections. He used people like they were his puppets. It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to track down which shops she went to, seeing the merchants were under his control. It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to get to the priest as well.
It was disappointing to know that the priest had given information to the Viscount. She had expected him to be at least better than that, being a priest and all.
Viscount North Lawyer wasn’t finished. “No matter how desperate one is, complete treatment of such a curse is impossible,” he said, “Obviously the curse is still progressing, albeit slowly for Lord Legarde.”
“Your Honor, the plaintiff’s lawyer is bringing up something irrelevant to this case. Also, he is intentionally speculating about the defendant’s personal life,” argued Hugh.
“I will allow it,” said the judge, “In my judgment, it seems that the defendant’s condition is indeed related to this lawsuit.”
Viscount North and his lawyer grinned at the judge’s stern voice. Siana, seeing them, clenched her hands together. The trial wasn’t going well today as well. What will we do now?
As her anxiety rose, the judge spoke.