The word ‘dance’ comes to mind, their own choreography of gazes exchanged across the room, brushes of hands and half-spoken confessions. They orbit around each other, destined never to collide it seems; Mercier is upper class, Betty is a governess. And he’s spying on the family whose children she swore to protect. But in this foreign land of spices and silk, of golden gods and lush forests, where cultural norms clash and wane, even destinies must yield to desire.
Rating: Mature Word count: 3.2k Beta: @fadewithfury <3 You don’t need to have seen either show.
Betty sat on a Persian rug in a corner of the makeshift classroom and read to her pupils, Victoria and Winifred (Oliver’s older sisters). A story from a book of Indian tales was their reward after a long morning of grammar and embroidery.
A breeze, increasingly warm with each gust, fluttered the curtains and the hand-drawn maps tacked to the walls. Fine dust shimmered in the air and alighted on the table and bookcase. Betty wiped the page and continued reading: “The beautiful Kailash mountains were a breathtaking sight and it never failed to impress Parvathi. And after her marriage with Shiva, living with Shiva, his Ganas and his sages, Parvathi loved the place more. She smiled as she looked around the snow-clad mountains and knew that this would be the case, always.” Betty paused. “Victoria, how do you spell ‘mountains’?”
“Very good. Do you want to read the next sentence?”
The nine-year-old took the book from her governess and read slowly, hesitating on the foreign names. “Jaya and Vijaya, the two guards of Goddess Parvathi were speaking with her. ‘How is Kailash?’ they asked her. Parvathi smiled unable to stop herself. Her smile saying a lot more than she ever could–”
“Pardon,” came a voice from the doorway.
Betty’s heart jumped at the sight of Mercier standing there. Since their first encounter last week, she’d convinced herself his handsomeness was but a trick of her mind, exaggerated by the fact he’d saved her– it wasn’t.