Cyric studied me for a moment before shrugging. Kellan slid her arm free and quickly excused herself.
“I’ll be in the hall,” she told him, searching his face for any sign of emotion. He nodded and she turned away, dissapointment on her face.
He offered me an arm, but I ignored it, disgusted by him and his behavior. I led the way to the small library, my rage fueling me.
“Who do you think you are?” I hissed at him as she shut the door. “You have no right to treat Kellan like that. None at all.”
“What?” he asked, looking shocked by my outburst.
“You don’t speak to her, you try to avoid touching her, you look like you don’t care about what happens to her anymore,” I said. “I know that she’s had many miscarriages, but that is absolutely no reason to treat her like…. like refuse!” My voice had gone up in volume and pitch, and I was practically shrieking at him.
“Lady Morgan,” he said stiffly. “It is not your place to lecture me on how I treat my wife.”
“Don’t you see how she’s hurting?” I asked, livid by his lack of response. “When she needs you the most, you rejected her.”
“She had dissapointed me one time too many,” he said coldly, a hint of anger in his eyes. “She has failed me.”
“So you decided that it’d only be fair to dissapoint her?” I crossed my arms and glared at him. “It’s not like she purposely killed your children. Accidents happen. Not every baby will be carried to term. Life continues.” He glared at me, seemingly too angry to speak.
“Kellan has not changed much over the last fifteen years,” I told him. “In fact, the only change I see now, that wasn’t present before I left, is that she’s sadder. She yearns for your love and affection, and you refuse to give it to her. It’s not fair. Not when you promised to love her and cherich her until death seperates you.” He stood there, guilt and shame joining the look of rage on his face.
“Are you questioning my honor?” he asked as he turned his back on me, his hands balled into trembling fists. I suspected that is was so that he wasn’t tempted to hit me, but I can’t be too sure.
“I never said anything about your honor,” I said. “You thought that one up yourself.”
“Lady Morgan,” he said through tightly clenched teeth. “It’s not your place to tell me how I should or shouldn’t treat my wife. You, who have never married, would never be able to understand.”
“Understand what?” I asked. “Kellan has given you two healthy sons. What of them? You want many children when she’s already given you two heirs. Has it ever occured to you what she’s given up for you over the last seventeen years? She left her home and her family behind. She left everything that she knew. Her body has been ruined by childbirth, despite her good health, and she can no longer travel with you. She was always fond of adventure, and she’s had to give it all up.”
“Enough,” he snapped, turning towards the door. I watched him, unimpressed. My father’s temper had always been much, much worse in all of my memories.
“Do you remember the night before Leslie’s wedding?” I asked. He froze, his hand on the knob. “When you and Kellan came up to the tower that night, I knew that something had changed since your own wedding. Kellan told me that she had grown to love you. Where is that love now?”
He left the room, slamming the heavy door shut behind him. I sighed, and took a seat by the window. It was one of the few in the manor house with glass, and I never ceased to be amazed at how artfully it had been done.
A marriage is so much like the window, I thought my temper cooling off. A lot of small pieces, none perfect, put together, to make something lovely. I wonder if I made a mistake. If I’ve just made things worse for Kellan and Cyric. I just don’t want to see them suffering, especially not Kellan.
I sat there until I smelled the scents wafting up from the kitchen and heard the gong that my cousin had imported. I felt little for most of the evening, wondering if my meddling would ruin the already shaky remains of a marriage, allowing my eyes to drift around the room, though they spent a large portion of the evening on Gavin.
He looked so at home with my cousins, talking, joking and laughing. I suppose that he has had fifteen years to get to know them, I thought absently. When I finally excused myself from the festivities, I felt his gaze upon me.
I made my way to my chamber, wanting to just lay down. I was tired, and I could feel the beginnings of a headache. As I fumbled with the door, I heard someone call out my name.
I froze, recognizing the voice. A small smile played upon my lips as I turned to see Gavin jogging up to me.
“Sir Gavin,” I said, pleased that he was there. “What can I do for you?”
“There’s no need for such formality,” he said as he finally halted, mere centimeters away from me. “I’ve missed you so much, Morgan.” Before I knew it he closed the distance and scooped me into a tight hug.
It felt so natural to be in his arms. My hands rested on his hips, and my face was buried in his chest.
“I’ve missed you too, Gavin,” I said warmly, not wanting him to let go of me.
“I was so afraid that I would never see you again,” he murmured, caressing my hair. “Or, if I did, that you would no longer care for me.”
“I still care,” I said, looking up into his eyes. He was looking at me with such tenderness, and my heart was trying to break free of my chest as the emotions I’d buried for fifteen years ripped free of where I’d put them.
“I can pursue you now,” he said, still not releasing me. “May I?”
“Of course,” I said, a smile crossing my face. We stood there, still embracing, until we heard people coming. He reluctantly released me, and I my smile widened.
“Good evening, Sir Gavin,” I said, reaching for the door behind me.
“Good evening, Lady Morgan,” he responded, taking a step back as one of the cousins rounded the corner. “I presume that I will see you tomorrow?”
“Of course,” I said, pushing the door open. He smiled again, studying my face before bowing and walking away.
As I closed the door behind me I fought the urge to laugh. I was giddy with delight, but I knew that Mordred was already asleep, and that he was a light sleeper- too much noise would wake him
Instead, I hugged myself tightly. He wants to pursue me, I thought, smiling blissfully. He wants to court me.
With that happy thought I put myself to bed. It seemed like the world had righted itself, and like everything was falling into place.
My dreams were sweet that night, and every night, while Gavin was staying with us. The days stretched before me like each one was an eternity, like they did when I was a child, and every chance I got, I spent time with Gavin. Mordred was happy enough, as he had children his own age to play with, and I was certain that if he misbehaved not a single one of the adults in the castle would permit it.
Gavin wooed me gently, usually staying within the bounds of what propriety deemed acceptable, although there were times when we ignored that. I treasured every moment with him, and as his stay drew to a close, I became saddened.
“Must you leave?” I asked him one evening. We had been sitting in the library alone, talking and touching, for the last several hours and I was sitting on his lap and carressing his hair.
He looked up at me, and I leaned down to steal a kiss from him as his hands slid around from where they had been on my back and stomach, one to my hip and the other on my knees. He smiled and gently pulled me closer.
“My lands can’t run themselves, can they?” he asked mildly. “And what of my children? They need to have a home of their own before marriage.”
“I know,” I said heavily, wrapping my arms around his neck. “I’ll miss you so much, though.”
“What if it didn’t need to be like that?” he asked. “You wouldn’t miss me so much if you were with me.”
“But that’s not possible,” I said. “You won’t stay any longer.”
“I’ve already extended my stay by a week and a half,” he said. “I can’t be away from home any longer-”
“So you say,” I muttered, hushing him with another kiss. He smiled, but continued on.
“What I meant was, would you like to come to live on my lands? I would make sure that you had only the best. Mordred will be kept safe, and you will both be treated just as well, if not better, than you would be if you stayed here,” he said, searching my face. Shock filled me.
“But what of our reputations?” I asked, unsure of what to feel or think of this offer of his. “People will talk-”
“People always talk,” he said dismissively. “So let them.” His hand slid up my thigh from my knee, and I placed one of my own hands on it, halting it.
“Would it appear proper?” I asked. He groaned.
“I don’t suppose it does,” he said reluctantly. A silence fell between us. “We could get married shortly, but you and Morded could have a wing of your own until the wedding?”
I bit my lip, considering it. I really wanted to be near him, to continue to get to know him, but I didn’t want to ruin either his good name or mine, and I most certainly didn’t want to get married until I was sure that I would be able to bear spending the rest of my life with him. Besides, I had to think of what was good for Mordred.
“I’ll think about it,” I said finally. “And give you an answer before the week is up.”