Winter was always cold and gloomy. The daylight disappeared too soon, throwing everyone into darkness. Earlier that day, she ran through the town, to buy some more medicine for her father, nearly getting run over by some high and mighty on a horse but with a short apology and an even shorter curtsy just so she could get going, she left without a second glance back. The incident disappearing from her mind the moment she entered the shop and was welcomed with the soothing aroma of herbs. Little did the young woman know her life would take turn from cold winter darkness to flames of misery. The quiet night was set into chaos as flames licked the stone and everything that was confined within the walls, screams piercing the air. She only heard the butcher's wife franticly shouting down from her window at the street for anyone to gather water and go...no, run and help to put out the fire in the Porter's house. She was shocked, frozen in place just like her hot breath in front of her. Fire in her home? How? Only when the man next to her pulled on her hand to get her moving, she ran. She ran as fast as she could but she was not fast enough. By the time she arrived, the glass has all burst outwards from the heat, the painful shrieks of the people inside long gone, brave men have ventured in, trying to save whoever was still alive. The boy she has met by the church, for late night, secret almost innocent fondling, young love that would not last, had to hold her strongly in his arms as tragedy hit home and she collapsed into the snow, praying to the one God everyone survived. Alas, it was not so. The brave men were only able to save her father already weak from the illness he was battling for months now. In one night, she was robbed of the house she grew up in, her life and everything she knew. Her father and the girl were immediately transported to the Bassets' house who owned the herbal shop. She used to help there in summer, collecting plants they needed in the fields, or taking care of their garden at the back. Also, mister Basset was as close to rural doctor as one could get. "Rose," said the wife of mister Basset on the night of the fourth day. "Your father might not last long." She spoke straightforwardly but kindly. "We don't have the necessary medicine nor the finance and I know this will sound harsh but...I am not sure we will be able to have you around anymore." Genuine regret showed on the elder woman's face. She emphasized with the young woman more than anyone could know. She was a dear girl, intelligent and so caring. Her father was a worthy man, having accomplished so much in the town. "I understand, misses Basset." Rose replied, looking at her folded hands that rested on her lap. She could not rely on one family's good will for eternity, even if she slaved away in the house. "Child, trust me. I wish you could stay but with three children of our own..." "Do not worry, misses Basset." Rose quickly reassured the only friend she has found after the tragedy, cold hand reaching to join with her current patron. Gentle, yet tired smile settling on Rose's features. "I only ask you keep my father. I will go and seek the funds you need." She added, knowing there was one option she had left. The boy she was thinking she fell in love with has not come to see her since that night. He was of lower birth and now she understood what her mama meant when she said that the boy was with her only for the fortune her family had. Just the memory of her mother stabbed at her heart strongly, eyes quickly filling with tears as she averted her gaze. She cried so much over the past few days it was a wonder how she could still have any tears left. The next day, dressed in an old black dress from her patron, the other dress safely stored in a luggage also given to her out of charity, Rose bid goodbye to the good people of the Basset family as she went to sit on the front of the butcher's cart. He had a delivery to make for the nobles of this town. "A new maid is always needed there as far as I've heard." The man said as they bumped along the road towards the large mansion still a way away. Rose only nodded and offered a gentle smile. Not that many people in the town knew the story. Rose's beauty and somewhat aristocratic feature were always attributed to her mother's genes and their crystallization to perfection in Rose but she always believed some of the blue blood her mother had was passed down onto her. Yes, her grandmother has once had an affair with the previous head of the house of this noble family. That man went into great lengths to help her family along which was the reason why they were gradually lifted to middle class, able to afford two servants, to cement their status. Truth was, however, that Rose has never spoken to anyone from there. Even though money did not stop coming, only in smaller amounts, when the noble man got older, they were never visited nor did they visit them. Bastard children and their bloodlines were still largely ignored and sometimes still even shunned in the society so Rose's family took anything it received from their secret patrons. Jumping down from the front of the cart onto the slippery ground, Rose carefully walked around and approached the butler who was overseeing the delivery. "Sir, could I ask to see his lordship?" She asked as politely as she could not losing her refined and confident demeanour even though it was weathered by the recent hardship she has been through. "And why would the lord want to talk to you?" The butler asked with only a distant hint of curiosity as well as annoyance at being disrupted.. Why? That was a very worthy question. But her grandmother reassured Rose, whilst she was still alive, that whenever she'd need help, she could always go to these people and just say her name and they would know. After all, her surname was the taboo that represented her family, but of course she never said that to her grandmother. "My name is Charlotte Rose Porter and I am seeking refuge. My family is in dire need of his lordship's help." She said with a quiver at the end of her words, that she tried to hide in order not to appear weak, in order not to fall apart in front of a stranger. But as a magical spell, the butler flinched at first in just as hardly masked shock, measuring the young woman up thoughtfully before asking her to come inside with him and wait in the hall while he'd go and find out if his lordship would be willing to speak with her.