The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz

FanFiction => Evie's FanFic => Visionaries => Topic started by: Evie on February 17, 2012, 08:49:21 am

Title: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Evie on February 17, 2012, 08:49:21 am
   Chapter Fifteen

   The Conservatory, Rhemuth Castle Gardens
   October 15, 1136

   Ædwige shivered slightly as she snuggled a little closer to Earl Brendan.  "Oh, I wish I'd thought to bring my cloak!"

   He wrapped a fold of his around her, pulling her closer to him on the garden bench they shared, his arm around her waist.  "How's that?"

   "A bit better," she said, resting her cheek against his shoulder.  

   He chuckled.  "I warned you that you'd need a warmer gown, but would you listen?"

   She dropped her gaze demurely.  "You were right."  She sighed.  "I ought to have minded you.  Papa always said I need a keeper."  She gave him a sidelong glance, then ducked her head in a shy smile.

   Brendan made no answer to that leading statement, merely leaning forward a bit to poke a stick into the hot brazier before them, stirring up the blaze within it so it would shed more heat.  When he looked back at her, he found her watching him admiringly.

   "You're such a gentleman," she observed.

   "What makes you say that?"

   She smiled at him, then glanced away coyly.  "Oh, it's just…we're all alone in here, and…well…most men would have tried to steal a kiss by now…."  She peeked swiftly up at him then back down, blushing.

   Brendan looked around the conservatory, as if just now noticing how private their surroundings were at the moment.  "Why, so we are!"  He arched a brow at her, giving her a teasing smile.  "And are you hoping for a kiss, or am I likely to get slapped if I risk stealing one?"

   Ædwige giggled.  "Well, from you, I might not mind."  She gave him a coy smile.

   Brendan gave her a considering look, pondering her offer.   After what he’d overheard between her and Sivney nearly a fortnight earlier, he was hardly fool enough to think her affections were exclusively engaged by himself, but neither could she be too seriously attached to Sivney if she were willing to offer her kisses—and from the sounds he’d overheard, possibly a great deal more—to another man.  Well, hell, why not indulge in a little loveplay, then, since she was offering?  He might not be in the market for a wife yet, and he was growing steadily more convinced that even if he were, Ædwige would be a far from suitable choice, but on the other hand he was nineteen, and the lovely lass had made it quite clear with her recent flirtations that she was willing enough to offer him a few simple pleasures without requiring any matrimonial ties from him first.   That suited him just fine; while he wasn’t ready for a wife yet, he was extremely interested in getting kissed now and then—what man his age wasn't?   He pulled her closer to him, tilting his face towards hers.  "In that case, sweeting, I would hate to disappoint a lady."


   Storeroom, Rhemuth Castle southern gatehouse
   October 16, 1136

   “What kept you?” Ædwige murmured between impassioned kisses.  “You’re late!”

   Sivney pulled back slightly to meet her gaze, cupping her face in his hands.  “I’m sorry, lovely.   It’s my cousin Oswin’s birthday today, and the Queen held a small celebration for him, since this is his first birthday away from home and he’s a bit homesick.  I couldn’t get away any sooner.”  His hands dropped lower to caress her form through the layers of wool and linen she wore.  “I’m here now, though.”

   “Mm.  So you are.”  She gave a low, quiet laugh, tightening her arms around him.  She peered past his shoulder at the closed door behind him, then frowned, pulling back with a small moue of annoyance.  “Sivney, you forgot again!

   “Forgot what?” he asked.  Turning to follow her glare, he gave her a sheepish grin.  “Oh.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to.  Just a little impatient to be here with you.”  He walked over to the closed door and opened it a few inches, reaching through the gap to take the key out of the lock and lock the door from the inside.

   “Well, you mustn’t forget to lock the door behind you when we meet here!” Ædwige scolded.  “It’s bad enough you’ve had to bribe one of the guards to ‘not notice’ we’re using this storeroom.  What if he tells someone we’re trysting up here?”  He couldn’t, of course—Ædwige had seen to that by carefully blurring that part of the guard’s memory—but Sivney wasn’t aware of that.  “But if someone else were to walk in on us, that would compromise us entirely!”

   Sivney lifted his hands in surrender.  “All right, all right, you’ve made your point,” he said, sounding a little cross.  “I won’t forget next time.”  Why she couldn't have just slipped the key out of the damned lock herself, he had no idea, but arguing the point with her would hardly result in sweetening her mood.  He reached for her again.  “Let’s make up, shall we, my sweet?”  He caught her up in his arms again, squeezing her waist, then drew back with a slight laugh.  “I can tell your return to Rhemuth is agreeing with you.”

   “Why do you say that?” Ædwige asked, puzzled.

   He gave her a teasing grin.  “There’s a little more of you to squeeze now than there used to be.  Did they not feed you enough at Eddington Manor?”

   Her mind frantically sought some appropriate response, though thankfully he required none, for moments later his lips descended hungrily upon hers, and she gratefully distracted him from any further inquiry along those lines.


   Abbot's Tower, St. Hilary's Basilica
   October 17, 1136

   Ædwige studied her reflection critically in the small polished brass disk that served as her mirror.  Angling it slightly to catch a better view of her form, she frowned.  Her pregnancy was finally beginning to show, her belly beginning to bulge just slightly and her waist starting to thicken.  Her breasts had grown more also; that change had come first, but she hadn't minded that so much.  She stifled a grin as the random thought struck her that Sivney hadn't seemed to mind that change either.

   But now…no, there was no avoiding the painful truth any longer.  She was starting to look a little fat.  That in itself wasn't so bad—a lot of men found a bit of plumpness pleasing—but soon she'd move beyond the 'fashionably fertile-looking' stage and there'd be no hiding the fact that she was, in fact, bearing.  And she still hadn't managed to work up to letting either Brendan or Sivney know about the child she was carrying.  She would have to approach it in just the right way, she knew, so that she wouldn't scare either suitor off.  Though what would be the best way to go about that?

   She pondered the matter a bit longer, considering what she knew of the two men.  As an idea dawned, a smile crossed her face.  Yes, that might work!  She put the mirror back in its case, whistling a merry tune as she finished dressing for the day.


   Rhemuth Castle Parklands
   October 18,  1136

   "You look awfully cheerful this evening," Earl Brendan commented as he encountered his childhood friend Lord Sivney on the pathway leading between the Basilica grounds and the Castle's southern gatehouse.  "Where have you been?"

   Sivney cast a quick look behind him to make sure no one else was in earshot, then moved slightly closer to his friend.  "Can you keep a secret?" he asked in a low, conspiratorial voice.  

   "I can probably manage that," Brendan said with a grin.

   "It's not where I've been tonight, but where I'm headed.  Or, rather, who I'm planning to meet with."

   "Ah."  Humor sparkled in the young Earl of Marley's eyes.  "Yet another of your conquests?  A little early for your usual…amusements, isn't it?"  Brendan glanced up at the sky. "Not quite dark yet."

   Sivney rolled his eyes, looking a trifle annoyed.  "Yes, unfortunately; late nights won't work for my lady.  She…ah…shares her chamber with someone who would take note of her absence if she stays out too long after dark."  He cast a glance upwards at the slowly darkening sky as well.  "And I'm losing valuable time as it is, so if you'll excuse me…."

   A hand on his sleeve stopped him.  "Your new amorata, Siv…she wouldn't happen to be a very appealing blonde widow who's newly returned to the Schola, would she?

   The Queen's half-brother gave Brendan a startled look.  "Um…why do you ask?"

   Brendan studied his friend's face intently.  "Just tell me this much before I answer that.  Are you serious about her?  As a possible wife, I mean?  Or are you just having a bit of fun?"

   Sivney gave a short laugh, flashing a grin at his friend.  "As a wife?  Hell, no!  I won't even be seventeen yet until the end of the month; why would I saddle myself with a wife before I have to?!"  He gave Brendan a curious look.  "And yes, it's Ædwige I've been dallying with.  Why, were you hoping to court her?"  Sivney looked dubious.  "I enjoy the lady's company, but…let's just say I don't think you'd find her a suitable Countess for Marley."

   "Court her?"  Brendan shook his head.  "No, definitely not, at least not with marriage in mind.  It's just…."  The amused look returned to his eyes.  "How do I say this, Siv?"  He clapped his friend on the shoulder.  "Try not to tire her out too badly tonight; I'm supposed to take her out riding in the morning."  The mirth in his eyes flashed through the rest of his features as he grinned.  "And yes, on a horse, lest your mind fall completely into the gutter.  I'd not recommend any other sort of riding with her, unless you've brought along a sausage casing or two for your protection."  He shook his head.  "If she's been playing with us both, there's no telling how many others she's been stringing along as well, and there are some ailments you do not want to have to ask Sister Therese for a cure for!"


   Storeroom, Rhemuth Castle southern gatehouse
   October 18, 1136

   Ædwige gave a considering frown over Sivney's shoulder as he leaned forward to kiss her neck.  He'd been reasonably attentive tonight, yet she couldn't help but think he seemed oddly distracted.  Surely her hold on him couldn't be slipping so soon?  That would hardly do, not when she hadn't fully secured Earl Brendan yet, at any rate.  Perhaps once she'd gotten a declaration of love from Brendan, or at the very least, coaxed a betrothal out of him, she could afford to let Sivney's interest in her slip away.

   But why was it waning?  Perhaps Sivney was simply tired of being held back in his passions for so long, and was starting to wonder if his pursuit was worth the wait?  If that was the case, Ædwige could certainly give the man a little more of a reward for his pains.  By now, she'd certainly learned other effective ways to make their trysts pleasurable for Sivney as well as for herself without having to resort to giving in to everything he wanted, but he was growing more insistent in wanting more, and in truth she was tired of stopping him just at the most enjoyable moments of their shared game.  What was the point?  It wasn’t like she could get any more pregnant than she was already, after all, and if giving in to his entreaties would serve to secure his affections even more strongly….

   Yes, maybe it was time for her to allow him to have what he wanted.  But would he lose interest in her after that?  She doubted it, at least not if she played this right.   Maybe she should give in to him every once in a while, just often enough to keep him wanting more of her.   Now that her pursuit of Brendan was beginning to come along nicely, she’d not want to encourage Sivney too much, but  on the other hand she’d hate to lose him altogether before her betrothal to the young earl became a certainty.

   “I’m glad you were able to arrive a little earlier tonight,” she crooned, stepping away from him just slightly so she could reach a hand between them to tug at the lacings of her gown.  “But now that we’ve got a little time and privacy to ourselves for once, I think we’re both a little bit overdressed, don’t you?”  She gave him a teasing smile as she loosened the ties to her gown, allowing it to slip down to reveal creamy skin through her sheer chemise.  “I have a little confession to make, Sivney.  I’m afraid I’ve not been fully honest with you.”

   He raised a blond eyebrow at her.  “Have you not, sweeting?”  Sivney’s hand came up to land on her shoulder, gently pushing the fabric of her gown a bit lower as the growing gap in her bodice opened wider.  The young lord grinned as he admired the increasingly interesting view afforded by her déshabille.  “About what?”

   She cast her gaze downwards demurely as her gown slithered off her shoulders.  “I’ve been afraid to allow you my full favor because I was afraid you might…well…we might create a baby,” she murmured, “but now I’ve come to realize I needn’t have worried about that….”

   Sivney smiled indulgently as he began to tug on the lacing to her chemise.  “No, I know a few tricks to prevent that sort of thing from happening.  I wish you’d told me sooner; I’d gladly have reassured you much earlier, had I known that was the reason for your reluctance.”

   She raised a hand to lay it lightly upon his, stilling its motion.  “But there’s another reason you needn’t worry about that, darling.  You see….”   Ædwige smiled up at him nervously, hoping she hadn’t misjudged him.  “As it turns out, I’m carrying the Eddington heir.”  At his surprised look, she colored, dropping her gaze again and doing her best to look abashed.  “I…hope that doesn’t deter you.  I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure—and truth be told, I rather hoped that I wasn’t!—but since it now appears that I am, at least now I know I can give myself to you freely without any fear of…of us being caught in our secret by you giving me a child.”  She lifted her hand off his, shifting it downward slightly to tug at her chemise lacing herself.  “Do you mind terribly that I’m bearing, knowing that I’m freer to offer myself to you now?”

   Sivney’s gaze was irresistibly drawn to the shadowed cleft in the opening which appeared in the fine white cambric shift, and the tantalizing glimpse was nearly tempting enough to distract him from her words, but then his conversation with Brendan earlier in the evening returned to his mind.  He supposed it didn’t matter too much to him one way or another if the wench was breeding, since he’d never planned on offering for her in any case.  Knowing in advance that she was carrying another man’s child at least saved him the worry of thinking the child was his, and her revelation of that fact now meant that she could hardly use her pregnancy against him later in an effort to force him into marriage.  No, that’s not what made him hesitate just as he was on the brink of accepting her offer.  Was this child actually Sir Gilrae of Eddington’s, as she claimed?  Or had she been playing him false with other men as well, and now that she was filling with child, she hoped to pass it off as a posthumous heir?   He hadn’t met Ædwige’s late husband, but he’d met the late knight’s heir apparent a time or two at Court events, and the man hardly deserved to be deprived of his inheritance by such a deception, if indeed it were a deception.  He hoped it wasn’t; Sivney found the possibility troubling.

   That, and the sudden deep certainty that the young widow had been toying with him all along.  True, he had been toying with her as well, but now it dawned on him that he really didn’t like the idea of being played with.  He frowned slightly.  What was wrong with him?  Now that what he’d been working up to was well within his grasp, why did he suddenly not want her?

   Well, no, that wasn’t entirely true.  Part of him still did want her, just…these weren’t the terms he’d envisioned.  He needed more time to think.

   He looked back up at her face and realized that she was still waiting for his answer.  Sivney made himself smile in assumed nonchalance as he lifted her fingertips to his lips.

   “No, sweeting, I’m hardly in a position to mind if you’re bearing Sir Gilrae’s heir, and as you say, it will make our dalliance much less risky.  But I certainly wouldn’t want to risk causing any harm to the baby.  Perhaps you should check with a healer first to make sure it’s all right for us to…you know…?”  He favored her with a teasing wink and a smile.

   Ædwige looked startled.  “Oh, I’m sure it’s all right!  And anyway, who am I supposed to ask?  Sister Therese?  If I did, she’d only want to know why, and I can hardly tell her I mean to let you bed me!”

   He began lacing up her chemise again, relieved to have found a way to put her off long enough to buy himself more time so he could think this situation through.  “Oh, I’m certain you’ll come up with some solution, my sweet.  You’re such a clever lass.”   


   Sheltered grove beside the Via Romana, just south of Rhemuth
   October 25, 1136

   The young widow seated in the Earl of Marley's lap had been responding quite ardently to his kisses, but now she leaned away slightly with a quiet sigh.   “When is it that you have to return to Marley again?” she asked.

   “The end of next week,” Brendan replied.  “Why?”

   “Oh…I just wish I could go with you, that’s all.”  She trailed her fingertips down his chest.  “I know I can’t, of course—Bishop McLain would hardly allow it.  Just think of the scandal!”  She dimpled up at him briefly before sobering again.  “But you’re going back to take care of your estate, and I wish…."  Ædwige allowed her voice to trail off wistfully.

   Brendan leaned against an old oak tree, cuddling with Ædwige under the shelter of his shared cloak.  "Wish what, my lady?" he asked gently.

   She cast her gaze down modestly.  "Oh, I just wish I knew more about how to manage my late husband's lands, that's all.  You were raised to be Earl of Marley, after all, so at least when you came into your inheritance, I'm sure you already knew what to do, right?  But I never expected to have to…."  She turned her face away from him slightly, calling up big tears to shimmer becomingly in her sky-blue eyes before turning back towards him, dabbing ineffectually at them with one finger.  "How was I to know I'd be a widow so soon after becoming a wife?"  She carefully inserted just the right note of plaintiveness into the question.  It wouldn't do at all to sound petulant—that was entirely the wrong effect.  "I just…I'm not sure I know how to handle such a big responsibility.  Not by myself, anyway."  She shrugged, doing her best to look forlorn and vulnerable.  "If only I had someone to help me learn, or…or to manage my estate for me…."

   Brendan gave her a questioning look.  "Are you referring to your dower lands?  I thought Eddington had passed down to your brother-in-law?"

   She looked back up at him, feigning surprise at the question.  "No…Oh wait, hasn't Briony mentioned it to you?"  Looking flustered, she shook her head.  "No, of course she wouldn't have; I'm not sure I've even told her yet!  The Eddington inheritance is still unsettled."  She bit her lip, not needing to feign looking anxious, since she was genuinely nervous about how the young Earl might react to her next statement. Sivney's reaction, after all, had not exactly gone as she'd hoped it would. "Brendan…I have reason to believe I might be with child."  She laid her hand on his arm, gazing up at him with a look of appeal.  "And…and I'm terrified!  It's just all so much and so soon, and I have no one to share it all with!"

   The Earl of Marley gave her a considering look.  "With child?  Are you, now?"  A faint smile lurked at the corners of his lips.  "How fortunate for you!  Is it Sir Gilrae's baby or Lord Sivney's?"

   "Is it…."  Her jaw dropped as she stared at him, outraged color flying into her cheeks.  "My Earl of Marley!" she exclaimed.

   "No, it's most definitely not the Earl of Marley's, I'm afraid, because I've never been that drunk or foolish," he countered, a gleam entering his cornflower blue eyes.  "And I'm not at all blind, Lady Ædwige.  Or at least not deaf."  He gently deposited her from his lap and stood to leave.  "If I might offer a word of advice, lovely?  When you're sporting with more than one man, and you don't wish them to know about each other, it's best not to arrange your dalliances in a public park.  And better yet if the men you've set your sights on aren't even acquainted with each other, much less friends from early childhood."  He took her hand as she gaped up at him, giving the air above her fingertips a courtly kiss.  "If you need help with learning about estate management, I'll be happy to refer you to several helpful resources at the Royal Library.  But if you're hoping for someone besides your steward to help you manage your lands, I'm afraid you're chasing after the wrong man.  Happy hunting, lady fair!"

Chapter Sixteen-- (
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Jerusha on February 17, 2012, 09:42:10 am
Well done Brendan!  Such a shame; things aren't going quite the way Ædwige planned. Oh happy day! :D
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: AnnieUK on February 17, 2012, 11:26:47 am
Oh Sivney, you may be a charmer but you really need to learn *not* to tell a woman she has put on weight. It doesn't go down at all well, usually!
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Elkhound on February 17, 2012, 05:42:31 pm
I can see the steam coming out of Aedwige's ears.   The little [insert appropriate ephithet--the most appropriate ones the Moderators wouldn't let me use] has finally over-reached herself!

Oh, and Aedwige--guys TALK.  This is going to be all over whatever the equivalent of the locker room before the week's out. 
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: derynifanatic64 on February 17, 2012, 07:26:42 pm
Our little pregnant widow is not having a good night.  It's a good start for her downfall.
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Evie on February 17, 2012, 11:49:44 pm
Yes, I'm afraid this might be just the beginning of that downward spiral for poor little Ædwige.  Everyone in unison now...."Awwwwww....."

Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Elkhound on February 18, 2012, 02:59:12 pm
Even if it it can never be proved that she did her husband in, her reputation will be MUD.  No way will any decent man of rank touch her with a bardgepole.

The best she can hope for is to find a wealthy merchant who wouldn't mind marrying into the tail-end of the aristocracy.  Kelson might be even enduced to give him a title on the condition that he and his new bit of baggage go far, far away and never come back.
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Shiral on February 19, 2012, 05:58:00 pm
Yes, I'm afraid this might be just the beginning of that downward spiral for poor little Ædwige.  Everyone in unison now...."Awwwwww....."


Pooooor wittle lamb! Brendan handled her nicely.  He managed to stay a gentleman even while informing Aedwige she's been incredibly stupid about wooing two young men who have been good friends since boyhood.  =o) His mother would be proud. And I have a feeling Aedwige is the kind of girl who hates knowing she's been a fool.

Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Elkhound on February 19, 2012, 07:37:58 pm
And it couldn't happen to a nicer person, could it?
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Alkari on February 20, 2012, 01:42:07 am
And I have a feeling Aedwige is the kind of girl who hates knowing she's been a fool.

No-one likes being made to look a fool.  But what worries me is that a person like Aedwige will often try to take it out on the person who showed her up.  No matter how deserved that would be - in Aedwige's mind, SHE is never to blame for anything.  Anything at all ...

Brendan certainly handled it well and didn't shame her in public, but now Aedwige knows that she's certainly lost any chance she may possibly have had with either young man in terms of marriage.  So Sivney, I'd start taking a lot of care.  And Brendan, if I were you, I'd make sure that very urgent business calls you to Marley, or at least that you leave on time next week!
Title: Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Fifteen
Post by: Elkhound on February 20, 2012, 02:27:07 pm
No-one likes being made to look a fool.  But what worries me is that a person like Aedwige will often try to take it out on the person who showed her up.  No matter how deserved that would be - in Aedwige's mind, SHE is never to blame for anything.  Anything at all ...

People like her never are.  Believe me, I've met more than a few.
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