Radiant Romance: The Lover.
Gran Year 757 – Castle Agustria.
The long castle corridor was lined with doors and between them torches lit with flames flickering in the draft tossing shadows randomly over the walls. From the stairwell leading up the tower came footsteps followed by two voices that echoed into the corridor.
“I will arrange it Sir Cuan.” The voice was that of the lance knight Fin. “Are you sure you need my assistance no further tonight?”
“No, I will enjoy a late dinner with Ethlin.” Sir Cuan replied. “Enjoy a little freedom.”
“I will sir.” Fin said and bowed as he stopped at the beginning of the corridor. “I wish you a good evening.”
His lord made a gesture that batted the knights words from the air then Cuan continued up the stairs.
Fin brought his hand through his blue hair then looked down on his outfit. He wore his blue battle attire and his long white boots were dirty and he seemed to have misplaced his mantle somewhere. Realised he better get changed before getting something to eat. As he turned around to head down the stairs, back to the knights sleeping quarter, when he almost bumped into her.
Lachesis had been deep in thoughts and her heart made a leap as she noticed him. “Oh.” She exclamied smiled and a blush came to her cheeks.
“Excuse me Princess.” Fin said and stepped aside allowing her to pass. He found her very beautiful and held his head low so that he was not to stare at her. She had changed from her battle dress to a orange dress with long sleeves and embroidery around the waist and chest and the frail cloth swayed around her legs.
“Dear Fin.” She said softly stopping beside him resting her hands in front of her. “Are you busy for the moment?”
Fin looked up slowly. “No, valued Princess.”
For a short moment their eyes met before she turned and gestured down the corridor. “May I occupy your time. I might need some aid. If it's not to much to ask.”
Fin bowed once more. “I will be glad to lend you my aid.”
She returned his bow. “You are most kind.” Then she began walking down the corridor trailed by him. He tried his hardest to keep his head down but finally allowed his eyes to caress her back. The movement of her shoulders beneath the cloth and her sparkling blond hair. He swallowed. He had fought alongside her two days ago and was now, as much as then, mesmerized by her beauty. He had allowed himself to think about her at night.
Lachesis stopped at the last wooden door to the right near the end of the corridor and turned towards him. “I am to deliver some textiles to Aideen, but I don't trust myself to carry them alone.” She opened the door while looking away from him.
“I will wait outside.” Fin said adding a bow. “It would be wrong of me to enter your chamber without being properly dressed.”
She regarded him from head to toe and did not find him unproperly dressed. More to the contrary, for some one so young she found Fin most handsome and knew that some girls were gossiping about him. She was not among them, she kept that thought to herself where it was safe from his knowledge. “Just wait here.”
She returned and handed him two rolls of textile, one deep red and another light blue. They had been brought here from Nodion together with some of Princess Lachesis other belongings. She disappeared into the room once more and returned with a basked stuffed with various sewing equipment. He took the two textile rolls under his right arm and extended the left towards her. “Allow me to carry the basket for you.”
She curtsied regarding him with her wide brown eyes. “I bid to carry it myself dear Fin.” She smiled. “I have burdened you enough.”
“I can't walk idly by and allow a princess to carry such a weight.” He bowed once more as he savoured her smile.
Lachesis followed him with her gaze and as his face was once again visible she spoke. “I am a princess intended to carry the burdens of a kingdom on my shoulders. I hope you would be kind and allow me this one basket?” She fluttered her lashes and he became embarrassed and only replied her with a short nod.
Her shoes tapped against the stone steps as she walked gracefully down the stairs, she knew he was watching her and twice had she tossed glances back at him. The first he met with surprise and the second with a calm as if he had expected it.
They reached the end of the stairs and headed down the straight corridor to where Aideen had the room she shared with Midayel. Lachesis knocked on the door and the priest opened it slowly. Fin was asked to place the textiles on the bed and did as told. The two ladies exchanged a few words as the Princess handed over the basket and when Fin was out the door Lachesis followed after and carefully closed the door behind her.
He lingered just to hear her speak to him once more.
“Dear Fin, have you eaten? I have been so busy.” She excused herself with a laughter only meant for him but made Beowulf rear his head from where he stood with Alec and Noish at the end of the corridor. “If you have, would you mind keeping me company?”
“In truth, I have not yet eaten myself, fair Lachesis. And I can arrange for something to be brought to you room.” He was about to bow when her giggle detained him.
“Silly knight.” She said and he met her gaze. “If you won't comply of own free will I'll have Duke Cuan to order you.”
Fin felt his mouth dry. “If I am to dine with you I would like to change clothes first.”
“You do that. I will await you in the dinging hall.” She began walking. “Do not disappoint me.”
Fin made his way to his bed while removing his belt, the knights quarters where empty except for him and he was glad to be alone with his thoughts. To dine with her was a honour meant for no knight. He stopped by his bed and removed his jacket then his undershirt drenched in sweat. She had that affect on him. He fetched water in all haste and with his soap he washed himself, armpits, neck, arms and ears. Took his best casual suit, a pair of long dark trousers and a blazer with silver buttons and ornaments at the end of the sleeves with horses. His white boots was to dirty for use in Lachesis vicinity so instead he choose his second pair of low black shoes.
Lachesis smiled to herself when she saw him walking towards her at a steady phase dressed as if he was to court her and if that was his intention she would allow him to.
“I apologize for having you wait.” He said and halted beside her. “Be seated and I will arrange for food to be brought to you.”
“Us, you are not my waiter.” She smiled at him. “I'll have white whine.” He replied with a smile and a embarrassing blush surfaced above his collar.
She choose a table a little hidden behind a stone pillar, but not hidden enough to make it look suspicious. She sat down on one of the wooden chairs and regarded him while he was speaking to one of the kitchen maids. The little girl with a red ribbon in her hair nodded several times before leaving towards the kitchen and he turned heel and returned to her looking now a little calmer.
He sat down opposite her by the table, brushed a few crumbs from it with his hand while thinking. She remained silent just to tease him.
“I saw you on the battlefield the other day.” Fin began. “You have a certain presence.” He realised how that sounded when her cheeks grew with a cherry blossom.
“I didn't think you noticed me when I was right beside you.” Lachesis said lowering her eyes to the first silver button in his blazer. “But that was very kind of you.”
The kitchen maid with a red ribbon in her hair brought them wine in a metal carafe and two wooden mugs. Fin began nervously pouring the wine into the mug Lachesis held but he did not allow the feelings to tremble his hands. “I meant to say that you have a graceful fighting style Princess Lachesis. I beg forgiveness if I overspoke.”
She looked at him as he poured his own mug allowing him a chance to think before she spoke. “Then let us toast to my grace on the battlefield.” She raised her mug and his hesitated to meet it. The wine tickled her tongue with its sour taste and she licked her lips before smiling. “Are you free from Cuan's duties tonight?”
Fin nodded while taking the freedom of refilling her mug. “I have some matters to attend before we leave in three days. He has retreated to his chamber with Ethlin.”
“Leaving you to dine all alone.” Lachesis said releasing a yearning sigh. “I hope my company is not a bother.”
Fin scrambled all his calm to his face and raised his mug to drink and she did the same, kept his eyes on her while lowering his mug. “No Lachesis, It's just that your company is above me. Why allow a humble knight to dine at your table?”
She rotated her mug while regarding the liquid within. “Because the knight is very good-looking and I enjoy the company of beautiful men.” She raiser her eyes to him and found that he was starring at her. “But dear Fin, do not think I only like you for your looks, I have seen you on the battlefield, I know what kind of knight you are.” She sipped her wine. Gave him a chance to regain his foothold before she gave him another push. “Now I wonder what kind of man you are.”
“Please Lachesis, dear Princess.” Fin stuttered. “I.” He paused and lost his trail of thoughts in the twinkle of her eyes.
A kitchen maid appeared and placed a tray with hot steak with gravy-sauce, mixed vegetables and spiced corn bread. “Some more wine please.” Lachesis said and the maid curtsied before she left. He had began to serve her and acquainted with Ethlin's company he did not load her plate with food and neither his own. She had made him nervous and maybe it was wrong and she decided to rein herself. “Thank you.” She said receiving her plate, sat it down before her and took her fork and knife.
Even if he was starving he could not wolf down the food like he used to. Most of the time he found himself watching when she was eating and when she looked up at him he glanced down again so embarrassed she noticed. He had to make a excuse, it was rude of him eyeing her out like she was some kind of dancer. “Forgive my eyes precious Lachesis.” He began cutting a piece of steak. “I am so used to looking at you on the battlefield.” That just sounded terrible Fin realised. “Looking after you, I meant.”
She was chewing a piece of meat like her mind chewed on his words. He was probably doing both, she told herself smiling inside. “Sigurd said I needed a capable knight with me on the battlefield. It's a delight to hear you are doing your task.” The maid came with another carafe wine and took the liberty refilling the guests mugs before leaving.
“I have been given a honour and it is a honour I treasure, Sigurd thinks highly of me and I need to struggle to reach that hight.” He felt a surge of power and looked straight at her and by doing so surprised her and himself and once more he fell silent.
“You find watching over me being an honour.” She raised both her eyebrows. “And I feel safe being watched over by you.” She gave the last word a little extra pressure then glanced away at entrance to the dinging hall.
He considered following her gaze but instead gave her plate and mug a glance. She still had to eat and drink. He wondered if he could arrange for dessert. When he looked up from his plate her eyes was once again on him sending ripples of nervousness down his spine. “I value your words nice Lachesis.”
She leaned over the table and took a corn bread that she broke in two leaving the other half in the bread basket. “I beg for your pardon.” A embarrassing smile came to her lips and she stroked a coil of golden hair from her face. “I was so occupied thinking about food that I forgot to thank you earlier.”
Fin brought himself to look at her.
“But will my thanks be enough?” Her mind at once became full of thing unproper to say and she made a pause to regard her food. Dipped her piece of bread in the gravy.
“Your words are more then reward, Princess Lachesis.” Fin said then stuffed his mouth with a piece of steak to keep himself shut.
They ate and drank in silence awhile.
“Will you excuse me dear Fin.” The Princess said and rose from her chair. Caught her dress with two fingers and curtsied as he struggled to his feet and bowed. He followed her with his gaze as she left across the dining hall. When she was out of eyesight he made his way to the kitchen.
The lady chamber always had two maids on duty and they turned and greeted her with bows as she entered. They were there to tend to her every need and she needed to be alone so the wave of her hand made them leave. She splashed her face with cold water and focused on getting the bad thoughts from her head. She did not want this evening to slip through her fingers. She splashed her face with water once more before drying it with a wool cloth.
Fin had emptied two mugs of wine, made sure that they had gotten some new warm food and had her plate replaced with a new one and once Lachesis was satisfied the maids would bring them dessert. When he once more could hear her footsteps he got of his chair and bowed. She regarded first him then the table before sitting down.
“I see that you have been busy.” She smiled as he once more served her food, this time adding a bread to her plate. “Thank you.”
He ate just to keep her company in the task and found this new batch of steak better then the previous. But the vegetables were a little overcooked and the gravy-sauce a little to thin. He looked up at her and found that she had a little spot of gravy on the tip of her chin. They had no napkins and it would be wrong to allow her to soil her hands. “Lachesis, I beg you to be still for a moment.” Then he leaned forward realising that she did the same and as he stroked the spot from her chin she blushed on both neck and face.
“Oh!” Lachesis said almost dropping her fork and knife. “How very kind of you.” She said but did not manage to mask her disappointment. He noticed and she could see him thinking. Maybe she had got him all wrong. “I am most sorry dear Fin.” She began but he interrupted her.
“My bad, pure Lachesis.” His clothes became warm and uncomfortable and he wanted her to smile once more. “I am the one to beg pardon, all is to blame on me.”
His cute face was what to blame for her wanting to kiss him. But she was much to hasty. “We are both to blame.” She showed her plate away from her, had lost her appetite. “I misunderstood.”
Fin became afraid she was to leave and loaded a thousand excuses to his tongue. “I did not mean any disrespect to your lips.”
Lachesis took the word to heart when she saw the sorrow that filled his eyes. “Here is maybe not the proper location.” She smiled and lifted the sorrow from him. “I propose a little walk in the garden.”
The kitchen maid with a red ribbon in her hair had seen them two stop eating and joined by their table. “Are you satisfied?” She was replied by two nods and took the Princess plate first. “I will have the desserts brought to you.” The maid said and smiled as she left.
Lachesis felt her smile growing. “How adorable of you.” Her words embarrassed him and she continued. “Is see that you have charm, and a behaviour to match it.” She released a giggle while resting her hands on the table.
He had to struggle to remain looking at her and to not lower his eyes. He enjoyed it in that shameful way but she seemed not to mind. “Your words are most kind.” He blushed, smiled and like her rested his hands on the table. “Ethlin have taught me no poem that can convey your beauty Lachesis.” She made a movement as if to reach for his hands but stayed it as the maid returned with two small glass bowls.
“Thank you.” Lachesis said taking the bowl in her hand. At the bottom was a thick chocolate bread with sweetened berries and whipped cream on top. She used the tiny fork the maid handed her to catch a strawberry. She had regained her appetite. “I find your words flattering dear Fin, but no poem can rival my beauty but that written by your hand.” She brought the strawberry to her mouth and began chewing it releasing its sweet tastes. He was looking at her with wide blue eyes and she saw that he wanted to speak but had to much chocolate bread to chew.
He drank the last of wine from his mug before speaking. “Lash me for being rude, comely Lachesis. Was that a invitation to write you?” His eyes remained with hers and she shivered beneath the gaze.
“You may write when your return to Lenster. But when you are here, allow me to enjoy your company till that my heart burst.” She brought another berry to her mouth and tasted it keeping his eyes with hers.
“I am very grateful, both for permission to write you, but also for your company.” He nodded closing his eyes. “But allow me not to be the man to break your heart.”
She giggled and felt a urge to finish her dessert and leave with him. But better not be hasty she told herself. She needed to tread the grounds of their relation more careful.
“I will fetch some more wine.” Fin said and got of his chair. Made his way down to the kitchen entrance and the maid guessed his request as she saw the carafe in his hand, promised she would see to it directly.
With her fork she released a piece of chocolate bread, it was a tasty treat he had arranged and she was flattered. Both with how he acted and what he said, he held her in high regard but still had dislocated feelings for her. She wanted to spend more time with him here and now. She smiled as he sat down before her. The maid followed close behind him and their mugs was refilled.
“You find pleasure in drinking wine.” Lachesis said taking her mug.
Fin raised his mug a slight from the table. “I am used to Ethlin's company, she prefers wine over ale.” He leaned back on the chair. “Cuan has also made me keep many young ladies company during long meetings.” He sipped his wine and she did the same. “So I adapted.”
“So I am not the first lady you have courted like this? But then maybe I was a fool to think so.” Her eyes sparkled and she returned her fork to the remains of her dessert.
Fin smiled in hope of breaking the barrier his words had raised between them. “I am here of my own free will, not ordered by Cuan. I was only reluctant to join because I knew I would enjoy your company.” They smiled shyly at each other. “Excuse my words Princess Lachesis, but they are true.”
She kept his eyes and wanted them forever to be at her skin. “No need to excuse yourself, I share that feeling, and I am very grateful for the decision you made.” She inhaled and made distance to her emotions.
A high mountain anchored to the earth and surrounded by green plains with a blue sky above dotted with white clouds. The mountain was his emotion towards her and he had still to conquer it. Standing at its mighty foundation and staring up at the snow covered peak he felt his entire body tremble, he took another step. He was to close to turn away, the mountain was everything in his sight and once that grand emotion was conquered he could proudly say that he lover her. He had taken a few quaking first steps.
The castle garden was lit by the moon and a breeze ventured to and fro in the flowerbeds of roses and tulips. They walked down the stone walkway towards the outer wall where a guard was looking out over the plains outside. He glanced at her and saw her eyes lowered as if she was ashamed but on her lips a smile was brewing. Fin found her very beautiful and looked away.
“I would rather have you see my garden in Nodion dear Fin, my roses have a much brighter colour and the fragrance of the tulips is a thick hidden mist. I also had a avenue made along the path leading up to my gazebo.” She stopped and touched a rose with her slender fingers. “It is surrounded by black elder bushes and hidden from insight. I go there when I want to be alone.” Fin halted beside her and regarded her fingers as they caressed the rose. “I would like to bring you there, embarrass you, and never let you leave.” She found his hand reaching out for hers and gently he took it in his, a strong gust of wind made her dress flap around her legs and they looked at each other.
Only watched by the moon Fin leaned forward and so did she, their lips brushed at first before they joined and the kiss dragged on as both was unwilling to end it. She closed her wet brown eyes while her free hand reached for his waist, Fin's was at her shoulder bringing her closer. When the kiss ended she found herself in his embrace with her head against his chest and could hear his heart beating. But it lasted only a moment before they began to walk again.
“I beg forgiveness if I desecrated the grounds of your dignity.” Fin said still afraid she would scold him and put the case before Cuan. But he did not regret it, she was a fair lily on the battlefield, a fair rose in court and the tulip for his attraction. No one was like her. Lachesis taste lingered on his lips, her hand caught his and they looked at each other once again.
“My dignity is but strengthened by the bliss of your kiss. Permit me to say that I have in secret longed for it.” She blinked. “I believe that many feelings can grow on a battlefield, feelings that began to grow in me. Having you near was a comfort that made my blade easier to wield and blows easier to avoid. For a long time I have wanted to speak to you, alone, and it makes me warm that such a day has come.”
“I too have tried to conceal the emotions I have, at night I have embraced the vision of you and teased my thoughts that the royal Lachesis would share them. But no dream can replace these moments, no darkness shatter the light in our hearts.” She escaped into his embrace and he closed his arms around her. “You are most precious to me.”
“And you to me.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “A certain place you have within me, dear Fin, let us kiss once more and never allow this evening to fade.”
They shared a second kiss more passionate then the one before and Fin brought his hands to rest on her waist while hers pressed against his chest. The night was a calm around them, the sky a black canvas with sparkling stars presented as teardrops in her eyes.
They stared into each other eyes both smiling as silly young children before once more beginning to walk down the stone laid walkway hand in hand. Scaled the stone stairs and up to a section of wall from which they could see Nodion as a dim light in the distance. They stopped and again she took shelter in his allowing arms while looking of at her distant home.
“All other loves is a mirage compared to yours, my heart has never beaten like this before, my body never shuddered anticipating your embrace.” She felt his hand stroking her hair and so closed her eyes. “In your arms I am not a princess, but a woman. A woman who loves you.”
Fin leaned his head against hers and allowed moments to pass with only the sound of her to fill his mind. Before he knew they had kissed again, lips parting slowly as they shyly look at each other. “The night will soon grow cold, may I escort you back to your room?”
Lachesis nodded. “But I will miss the tenderness of thy embrace.”
Each step in the stairs needed all her effort to climb. A step closer to her room meant a step away from him. In her dream a evening such as this never saw an end, he was escorting her back to her chamber for a farewell and kiss on the cheek. All decency said that so was right, but her heart said otherwise. Treading the ground of love was a hazard and ask was the only thing she could do.
Lachesis stopped at her door and turned towards him. His face was red in the fire of a torch and his lips worn by her lips. “I invite you to stay, share a glass of wine with me.” His face became visibly calmer but his body more tense, for a moment she thought he would say no but he bowed.
“It is with an honour I accept your invitation kind Lachesis.” He looked at the smiling princess who turned and rested her hand on the handle.
“Allow me first a moment to refresh.” She said and opened the door. Fin saw her disappear and relaxed his posture. If Cuan saw him here at this hour there would be in trouble, but returning to the knight quarters was a even worse thought. There was no escape from his feelings. He was lost to her, Lachesis Princess on Nodion ruled his heart. His love was this morning but a seed to become a flower in the sunshine of her radiant heart. He was no longer a humble knight of Lenster but a knight of her love.
It was a test of patience Lachesis told herself as she sat down the bowl of water before the mirror table and was seated to regard her face, she had been kissed and her lips felt different from before, no longer lips of a child but those of a woman. She had been kissed by a man she had feelings for and only the thought made her heart leap, when thinking off being kissed once more she blushed. She moistened the piece of cloth and washed her face carefully, he could wait. He was a loyal knight of Lenster but she wondered if he was a loyal knight to her heart. Then she rinsed the cloth before washing her neck and ears. She had taken a bath this morning but did not trust her body to keep clean. Lachesis untied her dress and allowed it to slide down her shoulders to her elbows so she could wash her armpits, decided to change dress while she was at it. A few had been brought from Nodion and... She removed the cloth from her armpit when she realised it. She wanted him to stay the night, and she was preparing herself for such a occurrence. She had invited many men to her room but none of them had stayed past midnight, but she wanted him to stay until dawn. The honourable thing would be to send him away, she is a princess, he is a knight. But if no one saw him enter, and no one saw him leave. If their passion could be kept a secret. Lachesis rinsed the cloth and continued her cleaning; the line of love is a thin one that only the dedicated can walk. She took a vial of perfume and added a mark to each side of her neck.
Fin stood leaned against the wall and regarded the torch flickering before him while listening for noise. A step in the stair and he needed to find a excuse to be here at such a late hour. But the noise that came was not from steps but the door to Lachesis room as it slowly opened. She had changed into a sleeveless dress of a thin white textile and she had a light blue shawl resting over her bare shoulders and no protection to her feet. She smiled shyly as her gesture invited him. “I am sad for making you wait dear Fin, but I had to tend my appearance.”
He stepped into the room and looked out over it. It had a large bed with white sheets and a red cover, by the mirror table a few candles had been lit and two metal chalices was joined by a uncorked bottle of wine. In a corner was her battledress and by the bed a table were her royal tiara rested.
She took a step towards him and caught his hand in a sweeping motion and held with her two hands. “I would rather show you my room in Nodion, by we are not there.” She smiled as he touched her shoulders through the shawl. “In Nodion I have a much comfortable bed and a door with a look so we could be in peace.” She leaned against him and with eyes closed asked her question. “Will you spend the night with me?”
“Lachesis.” He said stroking her back. “You tear me to pieces with such a request. How can I leave without regrets, how can I remain without feeling fear. What if we are discovered? I am not to be here, and you are not to allow me here.”
She heard him take a deep breath, prepared herself to surrender his embrace to that of the lonely night.
“I will spend the night with you Lachesis, but I will leave before dawn.” She looked up at him and her brown eyes betrayed her happiness then she rested her forehead against his cheek. She was a woman in his embrace and he kissed her hair.
Lachesis handed him a chalice containing wine while keeping a reserved smile on her lips and she joined by his side holding her own chalice with frail fingers. “Promise to write when you return to Lenster, my heart is a gem that need caring to not crack. Through my actions I have confessed my love to you and trust that it is a bond you won't break. You might see me with other men, I might spend nights with other men. But you were the first, remember so. I am a princess and have duties to my country, and so do you. Allow not the words of others to darken your eyes, It is you I love, all other loves but a mirage.” She raised her chalice and his met it.
Fin took the chalice from her hand gently and saw her lips curl anticipating a kiss. “Not only your heart is a gem fragrant Lachesis, you are a pearl of Nodion. My love will linger for you as the taste of your lips on mine. I will write you and await you.” Then he leaned forward and kissed her but allowed it not to last long.
He placed the chalices beside the bottle but did not refill them, instead turned towards her, began to unbutton his blazer. Lachesis took a graceful step forward but begged him not to stop even if she was embarrassed. His skin was of a light colour and with a few scars, his face and neck had a blush and spots of red grew on his chest as his trousers dropped to the floor. She took a second step forward and rested her hand against the warm skin of his chest. A wall inside her collapsed and she kissed him as she shawl dropped from her shoulder to slowly float down to the floor where it laid to rest at her feet later joined by the dress.
Holding his hand she brought him over to the bed, folded the red cover away and then the quilt. He laid down and she joined beside him, looked at each other as two stray sheep in a wolves den before they kiss and brought caresses to their skin. He did not mind where she brought her hands as she did not mind him kissing her fragrant neck. The heat of their bodies were joined as she rested herself upon him and below the covers their bodies met and so did their lips. The tingle in her chest made her laugh before his embrace once more enveloped her and everything around was replaced by him. There was no longer a sun, he was the source of her heat. The sky was his dilated pupils and the stars were drops of sweat on his forehead and the touch of his fingertips a cold summers breeze to her waist.
Her hair tickled his skin as she rested her head against his chest, she was breathing calmly with a smile to her lips. Fin relaxed resting his head on the pillow and she snugged even closer to him. He could feel her chest moving as she inhaled and glancing at her he found her eyes closed.
His heart was throbbing, with her ear against his chest she heard it clearly. Beat after beat at same phase as her heart. She took his hand from her hip and brought it to her chest. “Our hearts are resonating.” She felt him kiss her hair and cradled by that touch she fell asleep.