FanFiction > AnnieUK's FanFic

A Leap of Faith - Chapter 17

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June 30th
Llyndruth Plain

What a relief it was when the day’s travelling was over and we could settle in our tent, expertly erected by my uncle’s men.  We were as comfortable as could be expected – the furnishings were past their prime, but adequate for our needs, and I would wager that we were far better off than most.

Brendan was exhausted – it had been well after his bedtime when we arrived, and after a day cooped up in a litter he was tearful and troubled, so our first efforts centred round getting him settled.

All around the camp there was activity: tents being set up, fires being built and men checking animals and equipment after a punishing day.  The last thing I expected at this hour of the night was a visitor, yet Sister Luke came to fetch me – the Duke of Corwyn was outside the tent with a message from the King, she said.

He seemed on edge, not looking at me as he bowed, and I gave an equally cautious curtsey.  “Please come in, Your Grace.  Your Deryni reputation will not be enhanced if you are seen standing outside my tent.”  I meant it to tell him that it mattered not to me what he was – that I was accepting of it.

I immediately excused myself to check on Brendan.  If I were to talk with Alaric Morgan in the outer chamber of my tent I wanted to be sure there would be no disturbances from a small boy in the inner.  Especially a tired and overwrought small boy.  Sister Luke was unpacking and sorting our trunks, so I sat by Brendan’s side and under the pretext of brushing some hair away from his face I gently nudged him into a deeper sleep.  It was unlikely now that he would wake before morning.

As ever, love and pride surged through me looking down at my sweet boy’s face.  A traitor’s heir he might be, but he was still my child – so precious to me.  Suddenly I wanted to see Morgan’s reaction to him.  Would there be any indication that he would hold the father’s treachery against the son?  For if he would, he was not the man I hoped him to be.

“He’s asleep now, Your Grace.  Would you care to look in on him?  He’s only four, you know, but I’m afraid I’m terribly proud of him.”

He followed me into the inner tent.  Sister Luke made to leave, but I signed for her to stay.  It was unusual to invite a man not one’s husband into the sleeping chamber and it were best she were present.  He took in every detail as Brendan lay peacefully, beautiful in his slumber.  A whirlwind when awake he may be, but my son has the ability to look like a cherub when he sleeps and some of that peacefulness seemed to transfer itself to Morgan, his face softening as he watched my child.

When we returned to the outer chamber the initial conversation was like the opening in a game of cardounet – cautious, feeling for the other’s style of play.  Our opening gambits were awkward – small talk about our homelands – talking for the sake of talking.  And once again he was on edge, pacing as he talked.  I watched him, seeing the easy movement that had betrayed him at Saint Torin's and wondering what it was about this man that had caused such hostility with Bran.  I considered for the first time that it might truly have been as one-sided as Bishop Arilan had hinted.

Bran : there was my problem.  Everything I said brought us back to Bran.  I was hurt and angered by what he had done, confused and guilty about my feelings for this man before me.  I had to get the conversation and my own thoughts away from Bran, before I revealed more of myself than I was prepared to show, so I asked Morgan outright what message he had brought from the King.  And that was when he asked me about the bodies found at Rengarth earlier, and I spoke without thinking first.

I had only been playing the traitor’s wife for a day and already the role was sitting heavily on my shoulders.  From the soldiers on the way from Dhassa to my own ladies, I was being isolated.  To think that I was being blamed by association, not only for the treachery but for the violation of the dead as well – that was too much to bear.

No, I did not know whether Bran had ordered this atrocity.  How could I?  I had been with the King’s party when they were discovered and I had not seen my husband for weeks.  I did not want to believe that Bran was responsible – I was sickened even by the thought that I could have shared my bed with a man who could do this.  How dare he suggest that I knew – did the King really think so little of me?

Ah, what was I saying?  Had I gone too far?  The Duke of Corwyn I had heard about from Bran would surely not tolerate me speaking in this way.

But he seemed taken aback, rather than angry.  “Forgive me, my lady, but you misjudge both the King and myself.”  My outburst had clearly surprised him, but even after his smooth apology, and his assurance that Bran’s defection seemed to be on the spur of the moment rather than planned, I took some time to recover myself before risking going on.  This man could tie me up in knots – I would have to watch what I said to him.

Far from ending up on safer ground, I found myself talking about my relationship with Bran, and not knowing whether to condemn or to praise him – it hardly seemed fitting that a traitor should be allowed any redeeming features, yet he did, and he was devoted to Brendan if not to me.  And I felt sad again for my son, condemned for acts not of his own doing.

But it was not just our future that was uncertain.  Morgan himself had much to lose from the outcome of the coming battle.  I hardly knew anything of him beyond what Bran had told me and yet Morgan had spoken frankly to me, treating me as an equal rather than as a lady or as a traitor’s wife.  He was talking to me as I would have wished Bran to, sometimes.  So I threw the conversation back at him.  He was defined by many people by the plain fact of being Deryni – how comfortable was he with himself?  How had he kept going in the face of such overwhelming condemnation and what had it cost him?  What had it truly been like to live as a Deryni when the rest of us concealed our nature?

His use of his powers had certainly brought him troubles, and that was tinged with regret, but when I said that he had no cause for regret – that without him and his magic Kelson would have been dead long since he laughed, said, “Forgive me, my lady, but I so rarely encounter a sympathetic stranger that I scarcely know how to behave.”  How could he still not guess my secret, then?  I felt as if I had told him many times over with my words and with my gaze, yet he still could not see it.  

When I asked him outright if he was ashamed of what he had done he denied it and said he would do the same over again, and even without truth-reading I could see he meant what he said.  That was what I had been waiting for.  He had to be openly Deryni and proud of it for him to be what our people needed – a champion for our kind.  And it was at that moment that I decided to trust him as he had trusted me.

For this was it.  Tomorrow Gwynedd and Torenth would do battle, and either Bran or Morgan would not survive, for if Wencit prevailed it was certain that Morgan would not be allowed to live.  I thought I had read Morgan aright – that he had experienced the same attraction – so I had to take a chance.  This was possibly my one try at happiness - of being true to myself.  If I missed this opportunity I knew I would wonder about it and regret it for the rest of my life.  I searched carefully for the words that would take me one step closer to happiness, or dash my hopes forever.

“My lord, may I make a confession to you?”

“I’m not your priest, my lady.”  He seemed to have relaxed at last as he stood there, with that half-smile playing about his lips.  

Well thanks heavens for that, at least!  Bad enough for me to have fallen in love with a man not my husband, without him wearing a cassock as well.  

There was a connection between us – something I had not experienced before.  I felt it at Saint Torin’s and I thought he felt it too.   I was willing to stake everything on him feeling it too...

I took a breath and poured out what I needed to say.  Then as he stared in astonishment, I blurted out, “Please don’t look at me that way, my lord!”

For the first time, his composure wavered, and I got a quick impression of shock, amazement and maybe, hope, and then he was as self-possessed as before.  

“My lady, we must not.”

My love, I am not asking you to set your honour aside for me – I have honour of my own.  Just give me hope for the future, or I have no hope at all.

And then he reminded me that I was still married to Bran and had a son by him, and that he might have to kill Bran tomorrow.  Did he really think that wasn’t at the front of my mind, too?

I did not want to wish my son fatherless, but if Gwynedd prevailed as I truly prayed and hoped then my husband would die, and if Torenth then in all likelihood my son and I would die.  For would Wencit stop at killing conquered Deryni men or would Brendan and I suffer the same fate even if Bran was a trusted henchman now?  And would Wencit truly trust a man who had deserted his king so readily – I thought not.  Once a turncoat...

All these thoughts came tumbling out, and I told him that even if he killed Bran I would not, could not, hate him.  And then I heard myself say...

 “You are my heart.”

There, I had said it, and the words hung in the air between us.  But still he refused to see what was so clear to me.

“Oh Jesú, you must not say these things.  We must not, we dare not...”

“Oh, must I spell it out?”

I felt as if I stood on the edge of a precipice.  I could not see what lay below me – a safe landing or to be dashed on rocks below – and yet I had to take that leap of faith.  I had to step off that cliff and find out if my feelings were truly returned or if I had misread all that had gone before.  This was the moment when I would put my trust in this man and reveal my family as Deryni.  I had to share my secret with him and see if he was truly the man I hoped and thought him to be.  

I took one of his hands in mine - his was so tanned next to the fairness of mine - and gently kissed its back, my lips just grazing his skin.  He flinched with surprise but made no move to pull away, watching me intently.  I took his other hand – his sword hand, I realised from the harder skin on the palm - and opened myself to rapport, dropping my shields and reaching out to make contact with him in a way more intimate than words could ever be.  He hesitated for a moment and then his shields fell away too.

My thoughts wound joyously into his, showing him my true self in a way I had never shared with any man, and every nerve tingled with the excitement of it.  And he reciprocated, hesitantly at first, then with a joy and wonder to match my own.  Mere moments could have passed, or hours, but we might as well have been the only people in the world.  And as we joined in that wonderful sharing of thoughts and feelings, we both knew that we had found our match – the one we had truly wished for.  Our hearts soared with the joy of it, getting to know each other more completely in those few heartbeats than humans could manage in years.

I have been waiting all my life for you, I sent to him.

And I you, he replied.  

Just as I thought I would weep as the joy became almost too much to bear, he released my hands and stepped away, looking at me in astonishment at what had just passed between us.  Then his gaze left mine, and he spoke of his responsibilities, and of Bran, and of the chance that my husband could die at his hand tomorrow.  But I knew that I loved him, and that he loved me and that was all that mattered.

And heaven help me, but I knew that when he rode off the following morning I would be praying for him to prevail, even if it meant Bran’s death.  For him to return to me it must mean Bran’s death, either on the battlefield or a traitor’s death afterwards.  So if by chance Alaric should meet Bran face to face on that battlefield, however unlikely that might be, I could not blame him if he did what he had to do.

But if the unthinkable happened – if it were Bran Coris who rode back to me across Llyndruth Plain – I would have had these wonderful few moments, but I would spend the rest of my life loving and grieving for Alaric Morgan.  And even the thought of that brought my heart close to breaking.

The sound of guards saluting interrupted us and Alaric stepped into the doorway to greet his cousin Father McLain.  I was glad he blocked me from view for I was still shaken and trembling from the intensity of our mind link.  I could only marvel at how calm he was to be, his emotions back under control already, outwardly at least.  He was needed already – his responsibilities called him.  He looked back at me and sent a silent farewell in his glance, then bowed and turned to leave.

I almost fell into one of the camp chairs, reliving over and over what had just happened, and wondering how much Sister Luke had heard or understood.  And as I sat, I prayed – for Alaric, and for Brendan and for me – and stored the memory of those few precious moments in a special place in my heart.  Chapter 18

Thanks to Alkari for an emergency beta read and a cassock reference, just for Evie. ;)

Well, she stepped off that cliff - and one parachute has opened successfully.   Now for the final battle ... :(


--- Quote ---Bad enough for me to have fallen in love with a man not my husband, without him wearing a cassock as well. 
--- End quote ---
* Evie thinks of Duncan McLain and sighs.... 


--- Quote from: Evie on January 05, 2011, 03:49:56 PM ---
--- Quote ---Bad enough for me to have fallen in love with a man not my husband, without him wearing a cassock as well.  
--- End quote ---
* Evie thinks of Duncan McLain and sighs....  

--- End quote ---
Breathe in...Breathe out...Breathe in...Breathe out. ;D

Very emotional chapter.


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