Mayli took the paper but kept her eyes on Alden. He fidgeted, keeping his gaze distant. She watched him swallow nervously. Finally, she looked down at what he had given her and gasped. Unexpectedly, the thief had kept his word and sketched something. There were ink drops and messy chicken-scratch-like lines but each stroke seemed to have a purpose as it formed the image.
He’d drawn her leaning over the rail overlooking the water’s edge. She was bundled up in her cloak with the hood down and hands nursing a mug of tea. Her hair was dancing in the wind along with her scarf, even though she hadn’t been wearing it like that since they’d left Brimley. Her eyes were wide, conveying a sense of loss combined with hope. It moved her in a way she didn’t think possible.
Mayli looked back up at Alden and as she did a tear rolled down her cheek. “Thank you,” she said in a light whisper. His eyes shifted to meet hers but darted away as if embarrassed. She continued. “Every portrait that has been made of me has always been an idealized version; one that the world expected to see of a princess.” She looked back down at the drawing where a fresh tear had dotted the bottom of the page causing ink to spread. “But, you drew me.”
Art by me. Referenced model Fran Nardone