Lord Reynard's Fancy Ch. 08byrosamundi©
I realize that this chapter is short, but I need to move past it to develop the story because it's been stalling me. Such are the vicissitudes of reading amateur work on the web, I suppose! I hope you all enjoy the feast of 2 chapters after a famine, sorry my disability has been kicking my ass lately!
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Lilac's knees and shins burned in agony on the stone floor as she woke, groaning to find herself still in the world and not heaven, which seemed her only refuge now. She had stayed at her prayers past Matins and far into the night to keep herself from despair or her lord's bed. Nay, they were one and the same.
Prayer did not serve.
Mother Genevieve allowed such asceticism not, calling it only self love in guise, and as ever she proved in the right. Lilac needed such guidance now, but could not face the abbess who had reared her as tenderly as any true mother. She felt confounded in a web of chaos and sin, one wrong besetting another upon her. Lust led to carnal actions, carnal actions showed she kept not to her duty as she had struggled to do since arriving, defying the order of the world yielded only despair, and pride kept her from penitence and its comfort. Just as well Lent would soon be upon the world, all her joy had vanished.
She had thought herself lusting on Lord Reynard long, as it appeared now he did on her, and they seemed on the point of bedding each other and driving it from their minds anon when she realized her heart had betrayed her and she could not. She did wish him near her for the rest of her days. Lust would have burned itself out, she knew, and still would on his part. Mayhap before last evening she could have sported together with him and moved on to another with dowry at hand, but not now. He wished for her body, she wished for his heart.
She smiled wanly to herself, "And his body."
Indeed, even as she prayed, Lilac seemed to feel Sir Reynard's hands and lips and tongue on her still. Her body burned for him. She never guessed how much better a skilled lover's touch would feel than her own, or Willie's, for they had been equally ignorant. At least this day's confession was like to wake Father Talbot up wide enough.
She might ply her body to gain Sir Reynard's heart, but even if their feelings became mutual, love could not change the world outside themselves. He would have to wed for alliance or wealth and to get an heir at some time. Lord Reynard had no more choice in his rank than she did in hers. How would she look on without jealousy rotting her heart and soul when that did come to pass? How would she bear to see herself replaced?
Now she functioned as lady of the manor, and knew that she and Lord Reynard together had made the his domain what it ought to be. She and Willie had looked to wed and run the inn together, running the manor was much the same in terms of tasks and easier in terms of resources, for their lord was in truth a just and generous man. Absorbed in acting the part, she had forgotten herself and grown to see Lord Reynard as she saw Willie once.
She wished herself in a ballad where a lord might wed a common lass, or where at least her broken heart might kill her. Yet she had sense to know legends from life. Neither would happen, and she would have to face things as they were.
Before the Compline bell rang down, Lord Reynard realized his error. Lilac had been right to flee, she was formed for the Church, not for him. He loved her in particular, and she loved everyone without ranking one over another. It seemed clear to him now that she ought to be Mother Genevieve's successor. If she could run a manor she could run a small abbey. And it was not just in capability of management, her grasp of their faith astonished him. He admired her wit and abilities, but her philosophy outshone them.
Never had he heard as moving a description of the way the Blessed Virgin watched over all. He hoped Lilac was in the right, and his parents could look upon him. After three men hacked his father apart before his eyes, he had stepped up to lead the campaign, brought his men home and fled for his mother's arms at the manor only to find her grave in the churchyard. He had imagined he looked on Lilac and saw her loneliness, but selfishness had blinded him and he had really seen his own. Everyone else seemed to love her if her father did not. Mother Genevieve treated her as a daughter, the other nuns as a true sister. He had thought to give her a family, but she possessed one already.