Daniel moved onto the next stable, stopping to smile at Guaire as he picked up the brush. He always enjoyed the days he got the chance to brush out the proud buckskin stallion, hoping he would still be there if his rider happened to come walking through the door. Princess Jaclyn was as beautiful as her horse, as noble too; a fact that Daniel continued to remind himself. Most of the other hands and workers around the palace insisted that the princess was a little more proud than most, but Daniel could tell that wasn't so.
Ten years ago, he had been promoted to the royal stables at the mere age of ten. He had always enjoyed watching the horses, learning to understand their personalities and characteristics that made them each individually different from the next. A few years after that, he began to use that practice on people, particularly the royal family. King Eoghan turned out to be just as everyone described him; caring, charismatic, and very loving, particularly towards his new wife.
Queen Marie from France was a little more timid then her husband, but she had a heart full of kindness and sincere concern for those around her. That concern tripled when it came to the case of her two children.
Prince Brion was very much like his father, with an increase in his enthusiasm for life. The same age as Daniel himself, the boy prince had a desire and a talent for finding new adventures that usually got him into trouble.
As for Princess Jaclyn, he had watched her the most. Only two years younger than himself, he had definitely found the young princess attractive. It was true, at first she did come off somewhat proud, but as he got a closer look over the years he realized she was protecting herself.
It was quite obvious that Jaclyn at times seemed more French then Irish. It was also no secret that she had been teased and judged for it over the years amongst the other members of the royal court. So Daniel had looked at her closer, and underneath her protective shield he found someone that was as kind as her mother, as loving as her father, and someone who could get as enthusiastic as her brother. Yet mostly, he saw a young girl just trying to prove herself.
And he was crazy about her. Each day he brushed her horse, he silently hoped that it would be the day she would come in, walk up to the stall, and find him there. They would engage in casual conversation as he helped saddle her horse and raise her to her mount. As a token of thanks she would ask him to be his escort for the day, and he would get a closer look to watch her ride.
Having finished the brushing, losing the chance for his day dream to come true, Daniel left to go to the next stall. Just as he was closing the gate, a voice came from behind asking, "Has Guaire been brushed already?"
Turning in surprise, Daniel saw the Princess standing before him, awaiting a reply. "Yes, your majesty," he quickly answered as he lowered to a deep bow.
"Would you saddle him for me, please?" she questioned, glancing down to tug at her glove as he stood straight again.
"It would be my pleasure, milady." Daniel once again entered Guaire's stall and proceeded to place and adjust his bridle and saddle. As he worked, he noticed that Jaclyn had entered the stall as well, and was standing rather close as she brushed the stallion's long nose with her gloved hand.
Seeing her distracted, Daniel entered into his hold habit of just observing her while he worked. She was in a riding dress and jacket as usual, today's completely draped her in green. Poking out from beneath her skirt, he could see the tips of her black riding boots, a present from her father that had come with the matching gloves currently fastened on her delicate hands.
Her long blonde hair was pulled back into a braid that fell to the middle of her back. Looking into her eyes, he was anticipating the same sparkle, the spark of excitement that was usually there. Instead, he saw sadness, and that some of it was beginning to leak out. "Is something troubling you, Princess?" Daniel asked, the words leaving his mouth before he could stop them. It was not his place to pry into the personal life of such a noble lady.
Jaclyn had already lifted her head, and was now staring at him with those sad eyes. First shock crossed her face, but soon her face softened and a kind smile now graced her lips. "Just the same old thing," she waved her hand trying to push it aside as a small chuckle left her mouth. "The princess is nothing like the rest of the royals. The princess is too preoccupied with herself. The princess thinks it beneath her to speak to us."
At some point in her explanation, the lightness of her voice had left and all Daniel could hear was the hurt.
"What am I saying? You probably think the same of me," she scolded herself as she stepped around him to climb into the saddle.
Feeling a bit impulsive and the need to ease some of her hurt, Daniel gently grabbed her wrist and turned her to face him. "No, I don't." He exhaled, trying to gather courage. "I think you are a very kind and loving person. One who gets excited about horseback rides, the smell of books, and a summer storm. You are just looking for the chance to prove yourself, and when you do, all those gossipers will regret every word they said about you."