This is, in a way chapter two, but I’ve left out a bit from the end of chapter 1. Not sure if that is a permanent leaving out, or if I’ll go back and insert it later. We’ll see.
“This is it then?”
The voice roused Aidan from his memories. He grinned at Oscar, Captain of the Guard and Aidan’s oldest friend, then swept his eyes over the hall; everywhere flowers and banners competed for attention with the bright dresses of the women and the embroidered coats of the men. Their chatter and laughter filled the air, but Aidan was not interested in any of them. His eyes had fallen on Rahna, she was seated on the opposite side of the hall, surrounded by people. Yet as she gazed off into the distance Aidan got the impression that she wasn’t happy. He frowned at the thought; she seemed to feel his eyes and turned her head, her face brightening with a smile as she saw him watching her.
“Who would have thought it? Lord Aidan Tiercyl marrying a goatherder.”
Aidan ignored Oscar’s teasing, it wasn’t the first time this had been mentioned between them, and part of him couldn’t really believe that he was marrying her. His eyes remained on her, but her attention had been distracted by a well-wisher, she didnâ€™t see him smile. She was so beautiful, and more than lived up to her name, Rahna, the graceful one.
“Do you love her?”
Again Oscar disturbed Aidan’s thoughts, but on this occasion the serious tone in the Guardâ€™s voice made Aidan answer.
“I asked her that question myself, did she love me.” He paused, remembering. They had been in the forest, she seated side-saddle in front of him on the horse, leaning against his shoulder for support and balance. She couldn’t ride, had never had the chance despite her love of the animals themselves. She had remained silent after the question, for so long that he didn’t think she would answer. Eventaully she had opened her mouth, and as had happened before and since, surprised him with her honesty.
“She told me she didn’t know. That she had never felt for another man what she felt for me.” Aidan told Oscar quietly. She had kissed him then, her mouth so soft and gentle, and told him that she didn’t know what love was. â€œBut I know that I am yours, for as long as you want me.ï¿½? He didn’t tell Oscar that, he was still trying to figure out exactly what she had meant by that.
“But do you love her?” Oscar insisted, and this time Aidan looked him in the face as he shrugged. “I don’t know, I think so. I’ve never wanted anyone more… And at the same time-” He stopped suddenly, unwilling to tell his best friend that he knew he could have had her; if he had pushed her at all she would have been willing to lie with him. He didn’t know why he hadn’t even tried, hadnâ€™t forced the issue, the gods knew he wanted her. Part of the reason, he thought, was because he found her so different from the other women he had been with. She was open and honest, never trying to change him like the noblewomen he knew, or seduce him like many of the servants. His forehead creased as these thoughts raced through his head. “I don’t know if I love her,” he repeated, “but I want her to be my wife.”
“Well that is a good thing,” the teasing note had returned to Oscar’s voice, “Because here comes the priest now.
Aidan glanced up and saw Rahna getting to her feet. He swallowed, and watching him Oscar shook his head. â€œCold feet?ï¿½?
Aidan ignored him, of course he had doubts. He had only known Rahna a few short months. Did he really know her? Did she know him? And that was without even considering the fact that she was, as Oscar had pointed out, a goat herder. Still, as his eyes followed her, he turned to the Guard; â€œNot at all.ï¿½?
* * * * * * * * * *
The moonlight streamed through the window, it wasn’t summer, but the weather was mild enough to leave the shutters open all night. Sitting in the alcove by the window Rahna watched Aidan sleep. She had not meant for any of this to happen. Marraige! She almost snorted at the thought but clamped her jaw shut, not wanted to disturb her husband of several hours. Pulling the blanket around her she became aware of new sensations in her body, enjoyable changes.
She smiled, but the expression was slightly bitter. All she had wanted was a quick roll in the sack with him, but he had never even tried to take advantage of her injured little girl act. She scowled at him, she could still leave. She had recieved what she wanted, she could feel the change coursing through her body. There was nothing to stop her, “I can leave,” she whispered to herself.
And yet — she couldn’t. She had sworn to stay with him, to cleave to him, to be his and he hers. Never mind that it had been sworn in the name of a god she would never acknowledge. She had said those words, she had promised.
With a slight shiver she turned away from him, fixing her attention instead on the land. There was a full moon. Weddings always occured during the three days when the moon was full, and the light was almost as bright as day. It was a cold light, unforgiving, and even from this height in the keep she could see the harshness of the land below. The courtyard was normally kept in impeccable condition, but after the celebrations it was strewn both with rubbish and food as well as with people.
Placing her palms flat on the stone walls Rahna closed her eyes, her attention fixed on the land. It pulled on her. She was almost ready, almost. She could feel herself become who she truly was again. Her head arched backwards as she flowed to her feet. Whole again. The figure of Rahna was gone, replaced by the guardian. She had mantained the more human form, and as she examined her long pale fingers she turned back, away from the window. She took one step towards Aidan. Her golden eyes glowed suddenly. He had stabbed her. Tried to kill her. Her lips curled back, revealing sharp white teeth that resembled animal fangs more than anything than belonged in a human’s mouth.