The lithe woman roused slowly, memories returning with the flutter of eyelids and as the light touched chocolate colored eyes, her whole body seemed to come alive as her lean frame rolled into a few stretches to ease the sleep out of her muscles. There was a certain soreness in some of those muscles that brought a devious smirk to her lips and her minds' eye envisioned the handsome visage that must be laying beside her. Isolde managed to wriggle a little closer to the warm body and pressed her back up against his chest, yet instead of embracing her, those arms pulled away and the man rolled to the other side of the bed. But, he never used to do that, she could always curl up in his arms again for a moment before waking, and now he was pulling away?
The grayhandler shifted, rolling over to face her bedmate and was taken aback at the locks of dirty blonde that rested on the pillow instead of the short brown hair that used to rest there. It all came back to her then, those brief moments of the past shattering away suddenly and pitching her back into the night before and how she'd acquired this young man after a few glasses of wine. An audible sigh escaped the woman as she rolled back to her side of the bed, locks of dark hair splayed across her pillow and she lay curled on her side for a moment. She'd been thinking about a certain bluerider again, even though she'd vowed to herself that there had been a last time already. What was it they said, 'old habits die hard'? Well these little habits were certainly taking their sweet time to fade away.
Isolde had gotten used to waking up in the mornings and feeling his arms around her, or the sight of him slumbering beside her. Which meant that sometimes in those early moments before the haze of sleep is fully burned away, she felt those familiar feelings again and remembered what it had been like to be with someone. Those feelings never lasted very long after waking though, for she knew what they had shared was lost now and the worst part was that it was her own deeds that had ended it all. Isolde knew she'd cut him where it hurt the deepest, as she'd done with many men before, but at the time, it wasn't only the bluerider that was hurting. Yet still, he didn't want to leave her and Isolde had to swallow down all her emotions and tell him there wasn't any other choice for them.
The dark haired woman could feel the edge of her eyes beginning to pucker and a glint of wetness appeared at the corners. Blinking away the tears before they could ever form properly, Isolde immediately broke off that trail of thought, lingering far too long for comfort. Instead, she sought out the physical pleasures to rid herself of the scars on the inside as the vixen had always done before. Her lips met the shoulder of her bed mate, feathering soft kisses along the blade to the nape of his neck and tickling upwards behind his ear to rouse him gently and enticingly from slumber. When he did rouse from sleep, it seemed that her taunting lips had done the trick and he seemed more than eager to wash away her pains with pleasure.
"Alright little miss, time to wash up and then bedtime." said the motherly voice of a dark skinned woman, who was picking up after the little girl and putting the toys back where they belonged.
"Just five more minutes Meri, pleeeeeaaase?" Isadella pleaded with her aunt, or the woman she'd always known as her aunt. It was long story the child knew nothing about, but Merilyn had certainly been more like a sister to Isolde than her own flesh and blood, so it was only right that Isadella grow up believing that too.
The maiden gave a pause and cast a quirky glance at the woman perched in her chair, curled up with a book in her lap. "Well Issy, what do you think? Five more minutes?" Merilyn asked, a sly quality to her tone.
Isolde made a scene of lingering over the page in her book, stalling dramatically for the child, and made a slow motion of marking the page before closing the book. She couldn't help the smirk that tugged at her lips though when she saw Della staring back at her wide eyed and hopeful, practically standing on her tiptoes with eagerness. "Hmmm...I don't know. You didn't eat your greens at dinner, but you still managed to weasel out some dessert. Maybe you should go to bed early instead." The woman started, pretending to scowl at the young girl, who was beginning to think maybe this wasn't a joke anymore.
"I think I have a better idea though." Isolde added, unfurling from the chair and the child glanced from her mother to her aunt but Merilyn's smile told her nothing, so she looked back to her mother again with an apprehensive curiosity. "How about...you go wash up now..." She could watch the little girls' face fall, thinking that she was probably just going to sent to bed now and the child even started to huff as if to argue, but the woman carried on before she could interrupt. "...and when you're in bed, I'll read you a bedtime story. How does that sound?" Isolde finished, a genuine smile working it's way to her lips as she watched Isadella's face begin to light up with joy instead of the disappointment that was creeping in.
"Okay!" The young girl spouted as she practically spun in place and dashed off down the hallway to the wash room to do as she was told. The two women shared a soft chuckle and glance to each other at the girl's antics before Isolde moved to put her book away and find one to read for her daughter instead.
"So what's her favorite been this week?" The mother asked as she looked over the titles on the shelf set aside just for Isadella.
"It's been the last month or more....She'll definitely want you to read 'The Lady in the Tower'." Merilyn responded, though there was an undertone that spoke of something she knew that Isolde would have to figure out on her own. The handmaiden gave her mistress a wry sort of grin as the dark haired woman pulled the book off the shelf. "I'll put a kettle on for tea while you read to little miss." She added, practically dismissing herself as the once slave hustled into the kitchen and leave her friend standing there with a quirk in her brow.
"I'm ready!" Came a call from the little girl and Isolde could hear the patter of little feet going down the hall and into her room. "Coming." She answered back, and moved toward the child's' room, with said book in hand wondering what Merilyn had meant.
As she began to read, she began to understand. Isadella was thrilled her mother had chosen this book and she listened eagerly, unable to fall asleep and her little face was constantly looking up at her to watch her features for a while. Isolde found it hard at times to keep herself from showing the emotions that ran through her mind as she read this children's book who's message was a little too close for comfort.
- 'The Lady in the Tower', was about a beautiful daughter of a lord and that Lord wanted his daughter to marry another Lords' son, but she didn't love the Lordling and she didn't want to marry him. The Father wouldn't hear of it though, and told the beautiful Lady that she would have to marry, or else! So the daughter tried to run away, but she was caught and the Father had her locked up in a tower where she could never run away again. She lived alone in that tower for many Turns, with no one to comfort or love her, and she grew very lonely and cynical of the outside world.
Well, a young man had heard the tale of this beautiful Lady, and he sympathized with her plight and didn't believe she needed to be locked away, so he vowed to rescue her from her prison. He rode on a white steed to the Lords' Hold and begged the man to see reason and release his daughter, but the Lord would not relent and told this man to be gone. The young man left the court, but he didn't go far and when night fell, he snuck back into the Hold and climbed to the top of the Ladys' tower to speak with her himself.
What he found in the Tower was a woman with a beauty like the stars themselves, yet her heart was touched by ice to the core, her tongue sharp as a sword and she lashed out at the young man. He was not afraid of her though, for he saw the truth underneath, the wounded soul that just needed to learn how to love again. He came to back to see her night after night, scaling the tower just to see her for a moment, no matter how much she may have cursed him or belittled him. It took almost a Turn before she let him close enough, close enough for the young man to steal a kiss from her, and in that kiss was the strength of True Love, powerful enough to cure the coldest of hearts.
When the young man kissed her, the beautiful Lady felt that old part of herself returning, the part of her that knew warmth and love before and needed it again. The young man had rescued her from the prison of her own making. Freed and whole again, she called out for her Lord Father, and he came at once asking if she'd decided to marry now and he would set her free of the Tower. The Lady agreed to marry, and when asked who was to be her Lord, she could think of none other than the young man who had saved her, the man she loved. Of course, there was a grand celebration, a glorious wedding and the beautiful Lady and her new Lord lived happily ever after.
Isolde was quiet for a moment after reading the last line and the book lay open in her lap for a little while longer. She didn't know what to say, and couldn't trust herself to speak or even to allow herself to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings this book dredged up within her. Isadella was watching her though, so there was forced smile on the woman face, closing the book finally and reaching up to brush the stray locks out of the child's' eyes. "That was....a good story." The grayhandler said, doing her best to keep up the smile.
"It was K's favorite. He used to read it to me all the time." The girl murmured innocently, finally starting to show signs of sleepiness now that the story was over. "Can he come over soon? I miss him..." Isadella asked with a yawn.
The woman felt like her heart had dropped into her stomach at the mention of even the man's nickname. Isa had always called him K, for it was much easier on a childs' tongue than even his honorific name, but this time it stung more than usual to hear it aloud. It was no wonder to Isolde, that this particular story would be his favorite to read, it was love story and one so tragically twined with their own. To know that her daughter had grown so accustomed to him as well to miss him now that he's not around, seemed to twist the knife of guilt a little bit further. She hadn't just taken away from herself, but in losing K'uavaen, Isadella had lost a friend too.
"Bedtime now misses..." The mother said, changing the subject quickly enough and wanting to get away from that tragic story and it's implications on her own love life. "That was the deal....Good night sweet heart." Isolde added with a soft smile as she leaned in to kiss the girl on the forehead and smooth down her hair once more.
"Good night mommy." Isa muttered, snuggling further into her blankets gratefully and within mere moments it seemed that she was snoring. The woman slowly closed the door behind her, and then stood just outside, staring down at the book in her hands. Were her troubles really so cliche, that they'd already written a tragic romance about it...for children?
"Apparently Harpers these days are running out of material." Isolde mumbled as she put the book back on the shelf, hopefully to never be heard of again.
"I don't know...I think they are on to something with that one." Said her friend, sitting down at the table with a steaming cup of tea in her hands, and another sitting just across from her.
The dark haired woman slid into the vacant seat, though she sat with one leg tucked under her to sit up a little straighter. "I know you did that on purpose." Isolde said calmly as she took up the cup of tea and brought it closer for a sniff, to which she could smell the slight bitterness of something extra added for a little kick to end the evening. A slight smile was given, before she took a careful sip of the hot tea.
"I would do no such thing. You asked which one had been her favorite, and I told you." Merilyn replied with a cheeky smile for her mistress as she settled back to enjoy her tea as well. "Practically every night since he's been gone you know..." The dark skinned woman added, a rather pointed look at her friend.
Isolde gave a bit of a her usual huff, but it was half-hearted for she couldn't really argue with that, since she knew just how Isadella felt. "Well, she will just have to learn to live without him...Because he's not coming back. Besides, she's young enough that in a Turn she'll barely remember him." The woman said with the slightest indifferent shrug of her shoulders, though she knew it was forced indifference.
"Sounds like your trying to convince yourself too..." The handmaiden said, bringing her cup to her lips to stifle saying anything else unwanted to her mistress, but she knew she of all people could get away with the truth around Isolde.
"Maybe I am...And why shouldn't I? I burnt that bridge, remember? I have to learn to live without him too." The dark haired woman said with a bit of that fire burning in her tone, but there was no fuel to keep it burning for long and she slumped back into her chair and took another sip of her tea, a longer sip this time until she could taste the brandy.
Merilyn, for all her teasing glory, knew what she hit a little too close for comfort, so instead of tossing another quip back, the handmaiden fell silent and took another sip as well. The two ladies sat in that silence for a while, neither of them willing to break into the thoughts of the other. It wasn't until Isolde put down an empty cup that Merilyn spoke up, offering to refill it, to which the answer was yes, but hold the tea.
The handmaiden poured the brandy for each of them, and there was a little bit of small talk over the last drink, though it was getting late. When they reached the bottom of the glass, each of them said their good nights, and parted ways, where Isolde lay in her bed for a while longer, wondering about that Lady in the Tower...and if K'uavaen was the young man who set her free.
When rest days came around, the journeywoman found herself with more free time than before, so she had begun to frequent the craft halls often enough. The tailor rather enjoyed being able to work on her projects again, and had even finished two dresses since...well since she'd had more free time. Isolde had even contemplated taking commissions once more, but for now she spent time on personal projects that she could sell later. Perhaps there was at least this one upside to her decision, and for a while the woman smiled while she worked, carefully sewing the first seam on this new project. It was all memory from here, for she knew exactly where to place every stitch along the length of the gown and when and where to tuck the fabric.
So naturally, the woman allowed her mind to wander as she let nimble fingers do all the work. More often than not lately, she thought about her daughter, a little girl nearing six turns old and Isolde looked back on that young life and what had happened to her during those six turns as well. She still kept in touch with Silas from time to time, and anytime he wanted to visit with Isadella he was more than welcome to, she held no resentment toward what happened anymore. In those six turns, Isolde had come to love her daughter, feel responsible for her health and more importantly her happiness, so if she wanted to see her father, the whitehandler was a welcome sight.
She had met Cassian, a man who had teased at the emotions of love and desire within her, but they were never meant to be anything more than friends. It had proved better for each of them after all, while Cas got his true love, Isolde had found K'uavaen and...
"Ow!" She looked down at her hands and felt the throb in her thumb from where she'd pricked herself with the needle. It was not the first time she had slipped though, so she could ignore the pain, once the initial surprise had worn off. She'd just been careless, that's all, and nimble hands went back to work as the tailor relaxed again into thought.
There was also been Impressing to Reshelde, the absolute love of her life, and even just thinking about the gray day wher made it feel like her heart pounded faster. It had taken her some time to accept the bond, but once she had it was the more rewarding than anything she'd ever experienced before. The day wher knew her inside and out and loved her regardless of any perceived flaws, Reshi made her want to be a better person for him, to take care of him in ways she couldn't even understand sometimes. He had taught her how to feel alive again, to feel whole and have a purpose, and she would forever love the wher like no other.
There was another who came close though... came the soft voice of her bonded, piercing through the veil was what she was trying to avoid thinking about. At the interruption and the thoughts the poured into her mind, she felt her hand slip and the needle pricked her once more. A moment of pain was all she gave it, before pushing it aside once more including what it was the day wher was hinting at.
Don't start with that again... The journeyman replied, taking a deep breath before she went back to her work once more, doing her best to keep busy instead of thinking about a certain bluerider she swore she wouldn't think about. She could feel Reshelde inching back that curtain though, tugging gently on her mind to allow itself to venture there, but she pulled back. I said stop! The woman snapped and dropped her needlework into her lap as she closed off her thoughts, effectively shutting out the day wher.
Several moments passed that way in silence, and she could almost feel Reshelde shuffling nervously on his bed of straw and leaves in the other room. Why do you have to pry? To open those wounds again? She asked quietly of him finally.
The day wher took a moment to reply, before deciding to just come out and say what she needed to hear. Because...you were happier with him than you are now, and I want you to be happy. Reshi said, rousing from his nest now and giving a languid stretch.
The dark haired woman gave a soft resigned sigh and shook her head even if he couldn't see it. It can never go back to way things were...not after what I did. You know that Reshi... She knew now though that she wasn't going to get very much done on the new dress, so the tailor pinned the needle where she had stopped and settled the fabric back onto her desk.
The gray day wher padded gently into the room behind her then, a soft rumble like a purr in his throat as he neared the woman. I think you are too hard on yourself. You told him the truth, and still he loved you...If you just went to him... The gray bespoke, settling back onto his haunches as his mistress turned in her chair to face him as well.
"I wish it was as easy as that...But what I did...even I can't forgive myself now, so how could I expect him to?" The woman said aloud, leaning in closer to place her forehead against the day whers darkened muzzle. "I took away the thing he wanted most, and I knew that while it was happening...How could I do that to him, and why he would still forgive me?" She had convinced herself that K'uavaen had been inwardly furious with her over the premature loss of fatherhood, when outwardly he was practically begging her to stay with him. Now that time had passed, surely that anger had festered and the bluerider wouldn't want anything to do with her, a woman who chose not to provide what he wanted most from a relationship.
You did what you had to do at the time...You've never regretted it before, but this time was different...and I know, that if you're in the same situation again, you'd choose differently too. The gray rumbled, nuzzling his head closer against her chest and feeling her hands move to his neck. He knew her better than she knew herself and knew how many arguments she'd had with herself after making the decision to end things with K'uavaen. He'd seen how quick she was to turn back into her normal, cynical self again, but Reshi knew better and could still feel the hole that was left behind.
Isolde held closely to her bonded for a lingering moment before she pulled away again and reached up with a slender hand to wipe at the corners of her eyes. "I guess we'll never find out now." The woman chided slightly and sat up in her seat a little straighter again. "I told him he was better off without me, that he deserved someone who could give him a family and a real life, not the tainted version I call my own. And I meant it...so I hope he did move on, found someone else..." The grayhandler was saying, though as she thought about K'uavaen with someone else already, she felt a little pang of jealousy...a sentiment she knew she had no right in feeling so she pushed it clear aside and out of mind.
There, see? You do still have feelings for him, and regrets. Go find him, talk to him again, and maybe you'll find out you're right, or maybe you'll find out that I'm right. The day wher rumbled once again, an amused sort of feeling finding it's way into his tone.
"I'm not going anywhere...Just let it be Reshi, please...It's hard enough without you prying just when I think I have a handle on it." The woman's voice was tired, exhausted of arguing the same points to Reshi as she does to herself, it's an argument replayed in her mind every day. Isolde turned around in her chair then, her back to the gray hunter as she looked down on the fabrics of the new dress. "Just...let me work, okay?" Isolde said quietly over her shoulder and the subject was dismissed.
Reshelde sat there a little longer, watching his mistress as she picked up the needle and thread again, determinedly making herself busy to avoid any more talking. The gray gave another soft rumble and glance at the head of dark waves, before he roused up to his feet once more. The day wher didn't go far though, moving instead just to a corner of the room where there was enough space for him to lay down on the floor and watch his bonded for a while before succumbing to the pleasantness of a nap while his mistress worked quietly a few paces away.