|The Rain Stays The Same
Author: LilyHellsing PM
It is better to betroth distant lands to spread influence & power. That was what Lady Macintosh said before she died. Now widowed Macintosh is greeted by an English Duchess that is to marry his younger son. Alas, the couple-to-be couldn't hate each other more & Lord Macintosh is the one who comforts her. Overtime, she starts to believe she has been promised to the wrong Macintosh.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Lord Macintosh & Young Macintosh - Chapters: 13 - Words: 36,916 - Reviews: 34 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 02-26-13 - Published: 06-30-12 - id: 8272065
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Within the next two weeks, a handful of lessons took place but this time with a sword instead of a map. Her teacher was indeed Magnus Macintosh those few times, and when he was off dealing with the other clans or King, there were no sword lessons. It was a good balance, Evey decided, grateful to even be wielding the weapon in a foreign land.
And when she was unable to train with the oldest Macintosh, she tried her best to spend time with the younger one, her betroth. Most of the time it was watching him train or the like, something she kept noticing was that he never 'lost' against his teachers. If he was truly that good, she mused, why did he keep the teachers on? Or were they letting him win? She had heard the whispers of his rage...
Bit by bit though, she learned something new about him every day. For example, Vailean only liked to be alone when he was practicing a new skill, therefore messing up. Otherwise he always had to have an audience one way or another. Perhaps her watching him when he was 'alone' was still his way of having an audience whether he was aware of it or not.
All of his training, however, had a purpose though. One afternoon Evey was lead to a seat on a stage with the older Macintosh and a few others. She gave a small curtsey, as did her three servants behind her yet again forming the diamond shape, before taking her seat. "M'lord, good afternoon." She looked up to her right to the lord of the clan. Beside and behind her sat Jane and the others, all the girls looking over anxiously at the land covered with frost and snow. "I've yet to be informed about the nature of this event." In her own way, Evey objected to the surprise. How was she to learn the clan's customs if they told her nothing?
"Afternoon, Lady." Macintosh said with a hint of distraction; while the girls gaped at the snow, his eyes were trained on the spectacle of the entire show. "Aye, that's to be my fault. I had to move the fight early for it would have landed on the same day as yer weddin'!" He looked over at the young lady. "It's a yearly tournament to see who can best one another. My son has come out on top every time against the other lads!" Macintosh spoke the last part a bit louder, gloating with his teeth-bearing grin.
Evey glanced out to see the blue-covered finacee of hers and gave a small smile. "Oh, it's like the jousting torments in England!" She pulled her hankerchief from her sleeve but at realizing no man would come to take it or to wear her colors, she quickly pretended to dab at her eyes though the soft blush on her cheeks gave away her foolishness. "What do they do here?"
Magnus caught the excited action turned into a pause. He kept his smug little grin on as he looked over her, enjoying, perhaps too much, the blush that her cheeks warm. "Archery, log-throwin', sword fightin', and the like. Tell me lassy, how's your arm at shootin' arrows?" Although they had agreed to call one another by their first names, somehow doing so in public wasn unspoken off-limits thing.
The last time he had asked how her arm was at something, they had fought with swords. Almost tripping over her speech in haste, she responded, "N-not at all good, I mean, I couldn't...participate or...anything of the sort, if that's what you mean, m'lord."
The man gave a robust laugh while slapping his knee before speaking. "No, that wasn't what I meant at all! Only the clan men can try for this tournament! We train our boys and make sure they're up to the Macintosh standards every year so that, if we need to, we can destroy others - like the Dingwalls - with half as many as their men!" He turned back to the field where they would start with log throwing, the biggest feat to the smallest one in order. Evey gritted her teeth at the man's words and wondered if he had intentionally humiliated her then and there. Perhaps it was something to blame on culture differences.
First, the clan's flag was placed into the hard ground - or was attempted to be placed in the frozen ground. In the end, two men held the column. As Evey studied it, she noted there was a symbol in the mess of blue. "What is your clan's symbol, Lord Macintosh?"
"Hm?" His eyes flickered towards the flag before going back to the men at hand, some of which were struggling with the semi-frosted logs. "The lyre."
"The liars indeed!" What an appropriate name for these men! Their stories, as she had learned, were mostly built off hyperboles and great ones at that!
Macintosh froze much like the ice underneath their makeshift stage, his back straightening. He slowly turned to the English woman, his wild hair making his harsh gaze a bit more demented or angry - or the other way around.
While it took Evey a moment to realize what had just happened, Jane, the sharpest of them all, caught on instantly. She cleared her throat and muttered softly, "No, m'lady, he meant the instrument, lyre."
This one a flood of brilliant ruby hue went over her pale face. "OH!" She exclaimed loudly, covering her mouth a second too late. "Uh..." she searched quickly for a diplomatic recover for her mistake. "I-I have heard so much about your great fighting, I mean to say, that I should very much like to hear the musical abilities you and your people possess." Did she dare exhale? This must have been the face Magnus wore to battle, she decided, for it was quite intimidating if not frighten.
There was the first log tossing; he heard it since he couldn't see it thanks to the loud crack of ice and wood breaking. He leaned to the side, closer to Evey before speaking lowly, "It isn't wise, Lady Elward, to be callin' the clan that's hostin' your stay a pack of liars."
Ah, so her diplomatic answer hadn't worked. Lovely. She suddenly wished to switch places with Jane or Marian or anyone hiding far, far behind Macintosh. She had her eyes on the games but saw nothing, unable to look at the man next to her. She clasped her hands together, the fur-laced edges of her sleeves hiding them. Much like the man, she was rather rigid as well, hardly daring to breathe. "My sincerest apologies, Lord Macintosh. I meant nothing by it except the foolish misunderstanding of those ears that haven't seen a true battle, and therefore cannot judge a story's merit." It was unnerving to have the man, who up till now had been so kind and lively the past few weeks, turn so serious so swiftly.
Another log was tossed. A cheer from the crowd. Slowly Macintosh turned back rightfully in his seat before answering, "It's forgiven this once, Lady Elward." And only once, Evey heard the unspoken warning. She glanced at Jane who kept her head up and eyes forward, offering no sympathy. Marian, however, gave a small, sad smile before nodding for her to imitate Jane. Inhaling deeply, Evey turned back around, her black hair falling over her shoulder, braided with simple ribbons this time, as she watched the tournament take place.
So far, her betroth proved to be rather worthy in strength. She gave a grin to him when he looked over, noticing how he had only looked at the stage in his passing to watch his fan club scream with cheers. Had she not been on thin ice already, so to speak, Evey would have rolled her eyes. Yet to be in public, she merely ignored it, hoping it would stop soon enough.
The events went on, all the men proving to be quite the challenge. It was only when they reached archery did something go wrong. Vailean's arrow soared sharply through the cold air, but it hit just a few inches from the target. Instantly he flew into a rage, shouting a mourning wail as if his best man had been sliced in two. He slammed his bow into the ground, breaking it rather easily. Evey didn't notice how the crowd reacted, for her own response was too consuming. She recoiled at the sight, the sound, and found herself shrinking in her chair. One glance at her ladies, who also showed signs of shock and horror, slowly morphing into worry for their lady, proved she wasn't overreacting – like Vailean was.
So that was the famous temper she had heard about. Evey struggled to swallow, the struggle to sit up straight and proud as if nothing had happened even greater. Already she had turned her body away from the sight and god only knew how she looked. It was only when Jane pinched her arm and gave a sharp glance back at the field did she forced herself to move. Staring straight ahead, her face as emotionless as it got (though her green eyes were lit with great worry), she tried not to let the horrors of her mind get to her.
What if she bested him in something? Would he get this angry and...she shivered, hoping to blame it on the cold rather than fear. What if he lost to someone else or something else and took it out on her when they married, in their bedroom? Evey could feel her blood drain from her face; what if he didn't use his fists, but other ways, bed ways to express his rage?
What a horrible day this was so far! She had either witnessed or faced the Macintosh men's tempers, both frightening. But to stand and leave suddenly, playing the ill card or not, would bring negative, unwanted attention to...well, to everything. Instead, she pressed herself against the chair as much as possible and resisted the urge to both hug her legs and look over at her servants for distraction.
By the time they moved on with the next contestant, Magnus glanced back at Evey and realized that she, unlike the rest of them, wasn't desensitized to his son's fits every now and again. He watched her for a moment longer before giving an inward sight, wanting to run a hand through his hair. Another mess he'd have to clean up after.
Once the tournament was over, with Vailean being the winner no surprise there, Evey stood on unstable legs. Clearing her throat, she tried her best to give a winning smile to her betroth, who luckily only look briefly at her, before turning to Macintosh. "Magnus, might I retire for the night? I don't feel well; my head is starting to hurt again." Not really a lie, the headache slowly starting up.
The man stood as he applauded for his boy, the woman's shaky voice catching his attention. He turned to face her, really studying her this time. She looked as if she had been the one beaten and broken instead of Vailean's bow. "Aye, let me escort you to your room, Evey." With the attention no longer on them, he offered her his arm.
Glancing over at her servants, she nodded. "Prepare a hot bath and tea for me, please." When the three left on a head start, the Duchess took his arm and walked off the stage with him. As they sorted through the guards and towards the castle, she noticed suddenly how frosty the grass was. She wanted to lean forward and touch it; hope that it would melt in her hand…but that wouldn't be the same as rain. "Magnus," she finally spoke after the silence got to be too much, "I…I'm not sure what to say." Her green eyes kept to the ground as they walked with one hand on his forearm and the other on the inside of his elbow. "Today has been…so draining." At that, her shoulders slumped now that they were out of the public eye.
"Vailean isn't always like that, lass." He spoke about what he suspected what was bothering her. "When he gets in his…moods…he very rarely ever takes it out on another person."
Evey had trouble swallowing once more. With her grip tightening a bit, she looked over at the man and said a bit harshly, choked up really, "If he ever lays a hand on me or treats me in an unjust manner, I will pack my things and sail right back to England! All of the money and land in the dowry will be gone with me. It's in the contract." When she managed to calm down, she added quietly, "I won't accept even a hand raised to me. It is barbaric, the practice of striking a woman. Or anyone, for that matter."
Instead of entering the castle, however, Magnus pulled her to the side, his hands on her shoulders. She looked startled, her breath coming out in a cloud form. His hand brushed against her braid, something to catch his attention as a distraction briefly. "I know that, Lady. I was the one to suggest a thing like that. You must trust me to…"
"That isn't really helpful, m'lord!" Evey broke the polite rules of speech and grabbed his wrists, staring up earnestly. "I was told of how much you loved your wife, how you courted and respected her…and even now, your widowhood of a decade is testament to that. Perhaps I was foolish for hoping that Vailean would follow in your footsteps, but surely I shouldn't be expected to handle the possibility of the very opposite, of violence!"
This was where Macintosh stopped all together. He slowly pulled his hands away from her, her own hands falling from the grasp. As if in a dream, he stared at her, replaying her words. Ah, his wife…he closed his eyes briefly, the image of her smiling face flashing in his mind.
Evey grimaced, biting her bottom lip briefly. "Magnus…please forgive me for a second time today…I spoke without thinking yet again. I did not mean to cause you any pain or…"
Magnus held his hand up, silencing the girl. When he opened his eyes, he sighed and shook his head. "Don't apologize for bringing up the memory of a great woman, Evey." A pause. "I'll…talk to my son about his little display today. It won't be acceptable anymore." Still, his expression, his eyes, his tone…all were softer, down now. "In the meanwhile lassy, you need that hot tea and bath more than ever. You look half frozen where ya stand."
Evey swallowed before nodding, taking his arm once more. As they walked into the castle that was full of the heat from many fires, she still felt that coldness from outside creep into her bones. No, not from outside…from the tournament.
Preview: When Magnus is out on business, Evey gets restless and decides to ride a horse through the area. All would have been fine and dandy had said horse not tossed her rather viciously into a wall. Vailean proves to be a savior and healer – of sorts.