I knew she had a secret. She knew where the magic was and she refused to share it.
So, that night I crept outside and waited by her cottage. I knew in my heart that she'd go out tonight.
At midnight, when the moon shone at it's brightest, Lady Addeline, walked noiselessly out her front door and into the woods. I followed her. She used nothing but the light of the moon and at times the thick shadows made her disappear. I strained my eyes to find her again and thankfully she always reappeared. Her white dress appearing almost iridescent.
Then we were out of the woods. In a field I had never seen before. Dawn was breaking, but that was impossible. Morning was still hours away.
I hung back at the edge of the trees. Lady Addeline walked with purpose to a well that sat in the field. She lifted the bucket and turned it upside down. Satisfied it was empty, she placed it into the well and began letting the rope go through her hands. It took several minutes before the bucket must have hit the water and then her hands changed direction.
She leaned back slightly and pulled with effort on the rope. Hand over hand she brought the bucket back up. As it crested the side of the well I could see water splashing from it's rim.
Lady Addeline tied the rope to its hook and rested on the side. She appeared tired.
After several minutes she brought the bucket onto her lap and dipped her hands into the water and brought it to her face. She did it again and let the water slide down her neck and dampen her dress. Then she drank. She drank greedily. Her face was pressed into the bucket.
And when it came out, I saw the face of an old woman. Instead of long auburn hair, it was grey. Her face was wrinkled and her stunning beauty was erased. The green eyes that seduced so many men in our village glowed an eerie blue. She dipped her head back into the bucket. She grasped each side of it and turned it over her head. Then she removed it. It was the beautiful Lady Addeline standing in the morning light with her soaked dress.
I heard a soft whinny of a horse to my right and I scrambled behind a bush. A man rode a horse out to Lady Addeline. He rode up to her and dismounted. He kissed her passionately. As they broke apart Lady Addelinelooked at the exact spot I crouched.
My heart was pounding. I was terrified at what I'd seen but I was also curious. And ashamed.
I backed into the trees and when I felt her gaze leave me, I ran. I ran back as fast I could. The moonlight was strong. I burst out onto the road. It was still the wee hours of the night. Sweat ran down my face. My throat burned. But my legs were not going to stop. Fear was my motivator.
I saw Lady Addeline at church on Sunday. She looked lovely. Rumor had it that she had another suitor. An even richer man had come to steal her heart.
I kept my head down and stared at my hymn book. When she walked by a slip of paper fell from her hand and landed near my foot. I stared at it before wrapping my sweaty palm around it.
As I read it to myself I knew I had sealed my fate.