A small honest smile graced Harrison lips, quite different from his other smiles that he seemed to shine towards her, for this smile was filled with honesty and no other motives. “is that so?” He questioned, “Strange, I did not hear that from the wind, it seems the wind only prefers to talk to gold.” It was a reference to her hair, and the nickname that he had crafted for her 'tesero. ’ in addition, Lady Osuna was truly golden.
Harrison could not help himself but to wonder, how life would have been like if things had played out differently. In an alternate universe, where when they were engaged with each other the previous courting season, and married. Would they have been happy then? Would Azucena still be the way she is? Or was it better to try now than then, when neither were ready for the commitment that was marriage. Marriage, it was a beautiful institution where a man is joined with a woman in love and companionship, for some marriage was like prison because they have married the wrong ones. For Harrison, who was a hopeless romantic, he had always wanted his marriage to be like heaven on earth. It would be blissful, because they would both love each other, and in return their children would love them as they love their children. It would be the best union because both the bride and groom shall be happy.
But Harrison had not thought at that time that Azucena would be happy with him, she had never seemed to be enjoying her time and at first Harrison had thought it was because she was simple, for him- who was young and stupid, that was the best thing for him to do- to assume that she was simple and she wanted a simpler man and of course Harrison could not be that nor could he be with a simple woman. He was unaware, and he knew it, unaware of the intricate layers that composed the very existent of Lady Osuna’s soul. But it would be a lie to say that it was the only reason he had ended things, he had also ended things because he did not want her stuck in a marriage with a man who was not ready to give her his full heart. At that time, Harrison had still been grieving his first love, he had still been obsessed and in love with a woman who had long departed him to her nation and was probably perhaps already married.
It was never good to marry when you were still completely in love with someone else, it was a disaster in waiting and thus he did not want bring disaster into Azucena’s simple life (as he had assumed), he had thought that she would of course be happier in her simple life that she was used to, filled with poetry that she wrote to keep herself busy. Now, as the sun bathed them in a warm sultry glow, he acknowledged the fallacy of such assumptions.
Life truly was unpredictable, because at that time Harrison had not thought that things could have truly turned out like this and as he listened to Azucena’s story, he was quite the attentive listener.
Her first love, as she called it, was Archibald Hashington, who Harrison was definitely not hoping for him to become his brother in law-Good friend yes but none of his brothers were acceptable for his sister and neither was he. Moreover, she continued, going on that at one point they were too marry, but had not because he had been foolish in thinking that she, Azucena was going to chose him over her father who she loved dearly. “It was foolish of him,” Harrison mumbled, "To think you would forsake your father and run away with him, he wanted you to run away?’ He questioned, because that seemed to be the only way they could have been married without the approval of her dear father.
It frustrated him a little, and the smile that was on Harrison face previously, had disappeared, replaced with a grim expression of disapproval, not towards her but Archibald , he could not believe that He- Archibald could have been so simple minded, so foolish to try to come between Azucena and her father. Harrison at that time never knew much about Azucena, they were still dealing with their differences but Harrison could not tell that Azucena cared greatly for her father and that she would do anything for him, it would be a sin to come between them and Archibald had done just that.
He was about to say more, to speak badly on his friend Archibald even more, but she had began to talk again and she sat up, Harrison followed suit. She shifted the conversation and Harrison again followed suit by asking different questions that was sure not to make her uncomfortable. Her comfort was all that mattered after all. He asked about the book, his hands on top of the so called book, and she began to speak about it. It was an extension of the story he had told her some minutes ago.
But what she told him, shocked him quite a lot. She did not seem to get along with her mother, in fact her mother seemed to despise her and Harrison couldn’t fathom why, considering that Azucena was Azucena what struck him even more, pierced through him, was the sadness in her voice and Harrison without a conscious thought, his arms encircled her, providing a comforting embrace. In that unscripted moment, he rubbed her back as she cried on him, feeling her tears against his shoulders. As she withdrew, his hands delicately cupped her face, a gesture meant to wipe away both the visible and invisible tears. “Shhh” He told her as she began to apologize, putting a finger on his lips. “Do not apologize to me, my lady, for you have done nothing wrong,” Harrison reassured her with a tenderness that went beyond their shared history. The weight of judgment he had unknowingly placed on her seemed to lift, replaced by a genuine understanding. He acknowledged his own shortcomings, recognizing the fallacy of his presumptions.
“In short, I was wrong, for judging you too harshly. You must pardon me for being quite pretentious,” he admitted with a self-deprecating chuckle, an attempt to lighten the heavy air with a touch of humor. “I am sorry you had to go through that, if I had known-” He cut himself short, he should not have been so harsh in judgment in the first place.
She sobered up, her eyes no longer clouded by the haze of intoxication, and gracefully handed him the book—the very book she had promised to the one who captured her heart just moments ago. Harrison accepted it with a gentle touch, his eyes reflecting a deep warmth that radiated from within. “Thank you,” he said sincerely, his voice carrying the same warmth. “I shall cherish it for a lifetime.” As he looked at her, time seemed to momentarily freeze, only to be broken by a blink that unveiled a playful smirk on his face.
“I suppose it’s time for me to share a story, one I’ve never told anyone before—a tale known only to you, me, and a mysterious third party,” he declared, beginning to reveal the secrets that lingered behind his enigmatic persona.
“I’m certain you’ve come across the Lady Whistledown papers,” he started, his gaze drifting towards the lake. “You’ve likely heard tales of my youth, my escapades across multiple nations, wooing and enchanting women as the quintessential rake is expected to do.” He paused, reflecting on the rumors and fabrications that had cloaked his true intentions. “Indeed, I traveled far and wide, but not to pursue romantic conquests or admire artworks as I led others to believe. The rumors and white lies were a shield to conceal my true destination.”
His eyes held a distant gaze as he delved into the heart of his narrative. “I own an orphanage,” Harrison confessed, his gaze now fixed on her hazel eyes. “Two, to be exact—one in England and the other in a distant land. When I ventured beyond England’s borders, it was always to visit the orphanage, to be with those children who are my true treasures, my universe.” His expression shifted, revealing a solemn sincerity. “I’ve never shared this openly; I don’t make light of it. These are not tales I tell with a smile or jest, for they involve the lives of my people.”
His voice softened as he continued to unravel the story. “I started the orphanage at the age of 15, compelled by the encounter with a young orphaned boy who made me question the world around me. Witnessing his struggles and and… and” Harrison voice turned lower, his chest got tighter as he said, “His death, I knew I had to do something to alleviate the suffering of others like him. So, I built an orphanage.”
Harrison paused, memories flooding his mind. “Before the age of 21, my interaction with the children was limited. I would observe them from a distance, ensuring their well-being through the windows. But gradually, I began to engage with them, to speak and spend time with them, until I became a part of their makeshift family.” And at the last part he smiled, “Have I ever told you the tale of my first love? Well, i’ll just say that after her- after Katrina and the lost of my father, I was devastated, I was always by myself, busying my self with work, and the only thing that kept me happy was them. I had to time for ladies as everyone so believed, or at least I couldn’t bring myself to have time for them for my mind was always occupied my Katrina and I had once believe I could never be with a lady that was not her, I needed time to heal and they- the orphans they were my heaven’s blessings and I knew I could never let anything happen to them.” He went on, “Thus, everytime I had to travel to see them, I would create chaos, allow rumors to fly so as not to be followed by Lady Whistledown people to find out where truly I was going because I did not want nobles to use the children for their own ulterior motives. I would flirt here and there, to live up to the name of Harrison, and also because it is deeply engraved in my nature.” He chuckled a little, “But, it just never meant nothing because it was for the children and none of them were Katrina.”
“Azucena, when I had judged you harshly, I had been unfair, I had been bitter and I had compared you to another lady you know nothing about. I had thought of Katrina and I was quite bitter that my mother had told me to move on so quickly and i was bitter that i was never to see her again, and believe me when I say i am truly and deeply sorry.”
Ok so this is dog water but here