Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any characters associated with the trademark. Plot and wording of this story is all mine though.
I'm back...! It's been awhile since I uploaded stories to fanfiction, but I finally found one worth at least a pilot chapter. This story is another period fic set in 17th century Scotland. I don't plan for this fic to be long. I want to say about ten chapters plus an epilogue, give or take. So, here goes nothing.
The plaid in the Cullen clan's flag of blue and green blew swiftly in the winds of the Highlands on the tallest peak of Cullen Castle. Change was coming, I could feel it in the air but whether it was good or bad, I cannot know for sure as I surveyed the men on my training grounds. I became Laird of my castle over two years ago when my father died from pneumonia in one of Scotland's frigid winters. We lost many clan members that year and many babes as well. My older brother, Emmett, was away in England when it happened and on his return, he declined his rightful lairdship saying that I was always more fit to become laird than him. So, it had remained that way.
In the middle of showing one of the younger lads the importance of using his shield as well as his sword, a commotion brought my attention to my burly brother as he drags a much smaller man straight in my direction. I immediately wonder what offense has been made and what punishment I must hand out. All activity on the training field died as they move closer, and I realize the man isn't one of our clan members but a stranger dressed in threadbare brown garbs.
"We found him stealing from our food stores in the wee hours of dawn, brother." Emmett shoves the trespasser in front of me who stumbles and lands on his hands and knees. Stealing in my castle was a crime punishable by whipping for the first offense. The criminal struggled to rise only to have Emmett's foot crushed against his spine to hold him immobile.
I don't believe I've ever laid eyes on such a tiny man before so it's no wonder he was stealing food, but it's a crime that cannot go unpunished. This man was going to be an example to my people today. If he survives, mayhap I will let him work for his keep.
"What is your name? What clan do you hail from?" I ask wanting more information.
Instead of answering, he lifts his head and spits on my boots. "None of your damn business."
The voice was even lacking in manliness and I had to chuckle at the audacity and misplaced courage. I figured he must've been a young lad for I haven't gotten a good look at his face since Emmett pinned him beneath his shoe. Nonetheless, a whipping might just be the thing to put him in his place.
"Fetch the whipping post!" I command to no one in particular but I know my order will be carried out swiftly.
The tiny lad begins to squirm beneath Emmett's foot to no avail. Scared now is he?
The whipping post comes and Emmett lifts the trespasser before shoving him against the wood as my men make quick work of tying him in place. Still, the young lad struggles clawing at the ropes holding him up. I'm handed my whip and I crack it against the ground. The tiny man's body tenses before it starts shaking. I round the post to see the trespasser's face out of curiosity. Grown men have been known to quiver beneath my feet before I kill them, yet, this sorry excuse of a man spat on my boots.
Brown eyes, the color of chocolate water mixed with a hint of burning amber stared at me through long, thick lashes. Skin so pale and free of blemish that I second guessed he was a boy at all. Some boys were handsome, but this one was disturbingly so. I cringed at the thought. I was analyzing this boy's looks like some perverted laird. I shook my head to dispel the thought and wondered if my long nights without a woman had finally driven me insane.
"Last chance, who are ye? Where do ye hail from? Are ye a spy?"
Emmett ground his teeth together. He hated spies and would gratefully gut them with his bare hands. It was because of a spy that he nearly lost the love of his life and his unborn child. To this day, I could never forget how that spy met his maker.
"If ye won't beat the words out of him, I will." Emmett stated firmly.
I don't know why I'm hesitating, maybe because I don't know if he can stand after one lash of my whip but I knew for sure he won't survive if Emmett decided to take matters into his own hands. I whirled the whip up and crack it against flesh this time. A cry rings out loud and clear. The end of my whip cuts through the back of the tunic bringing with it a few drops of blood. A breeze blows through causing the gap in the tunic to open wider revealing flesh too delicate for a man. Both Emmett and I stare at each other with the same question lingering in our eyes.
I drop my whip and yank the boy's cap off.
Wavy, long brown hair flows out and ends at the middle of her back. My hands remain frozen gripping her cap as I try to recover from shock.
Her hair, her eyes, her skin…I know who she is.
They call her "the gem of the Swan clan."
She passes out right before my eyes.
I have never been angrier at myself or at a woman in my life as I quickly carry her to my chambers shouting out instructions along the way for hot water, healing herbs, and my mother. A set of hands was pushing at my chest, murmuring and shaking her head. She was half conscious.
"Hush, lass. Save your strength."
I should've known a boy so beautiful was not a boy at all. Will she survive the lash I gave her or will she shake with fever and die? The gem of the Swan clan dead by my hands, I will not and cannot allow it. Still, she stubbornly pushes at my chest murmuring to be put down. I can feel the sticky blood from her back dripping down my arm. Dammit, did I have to hit so hard?
"Yer gonna be fine, lass. Let me take care of ye."
I laid her down gently on her stomach. She scrambles to get up, fear making her a bit stronger but the pain is evidently etched on her face and my stomach sinks a little further. I hold her down and rip the back of the tunic off in order to get to her wound. She lets out a strangled cry and swats at my arms but I ignore her feeble attempts at propriety.
The welt was bleeding and swollen, a contradiction to the creamy unmarred skin around it and I was the one who put it there. Guilt settled in over my chest like a heavy boulder robbing me of breath. I, Edward Cullen, have never put my hands on a woman unless it was to give her pleasure, have somehow managed to mar a jewel of a woman. She could die from infection by my hands. And right now she was trying to pull the gaping tunic together much to my irritation. Modesty while her life could be in danger. It must be the half English blood in her.
I pin her arms by her side, "I'm trying to save yer life, lassie. Let me help ye."
I think I helped her enough already, but I won't let her die now. The boulder on my chest feels heavier as the fight leaves her body and her breathing goes weak. Dammit!
"Edward!" My mother rushes in with several servants carrying hot water and a familiar medicinal bag.
My mother pulls me away from her and proceeds to shove me out the door taking over my bedchamber. I can't remember the last time any woman occupied my bedchamber.
"Mother!" I call when she shuts the door in my face. "Mother, please help her."
They work tirelessly cleaning and disinfecting as I sat outside the door hearing every cry that escaped from her lips. When my mother asked for the strongest whiskey in the castle, I quickly called for someone to fetch it.
"Yer going to pour that onto her wound?" I demanded gritting my teeth.
"Aye, after I have her drink some of it." My mother softens, losing her stoic healer expression that I've seen many times before when she catches a glimpse of my face. "I have to make sure the wound is clean, Edward. If it helps, go downstairs and wait."
I remember when an enemy's sword pierced through my flesh and my mother had to disinfect using the same method before sewing me back together. I didn't think I would survive the night. With a welt like that…
"Ye'll kill her."
"Would ye rather risk an infection killing her? At least with this, she'll have a chance."
My mother takes the whiskey bottle and disappeared behind the door again. I stare at it until I hear a piercing scream ring out. It brought me to my knees. That was how Emmett found me looking almost as grim as I did. For his girth and strength, he had always handled women with supreme tenderness. We shared the same trait as we were both our father's sons.
"How's the lass fairing?"
Another scream drifts through the door.
"Emmett, I need ye to find the laird of the Swan clan. Tell him his daughter is with us and what happened today. Tell him he is welcome to visit but she is in no condition to leave our home. Go, now."
I turn back to the door and hear motions downstairs as Emmett rounds up a few men before riding out.
A few hours later, my mother reappears with bloodstained linens in her hands. I wait for the worst. I wait for her to tell me that she didn't make it like the time she told me my father wouldn't make it through the night. I wait for her to tell me I killed a gem of a woman.
"She is weak, my son. I 'ave done my best but I fear she will burn with fever tonight. Ye should send someone for her father."
I nod in acknowledgement and enter my bedchamber which is now dimly lit by a small fire to keep the room warm. She is asleep on her stomach. Her small frame engulfed by my bed and the furs covering her from the waist down. Brown curls are swept out of her face and to one side. I move closer to see the angry wound now covered in a mush of healing herbs. It will leave a scar. As I stare at the consequences of my actions, I wonder what she was doing dressed like a boy. Did she run away? Gotten lost? What happened to her? How many days had she gone without food to desperately sneak into my storage?
It's the middle of the night when I jerk awake to her mumbling and shivers. I kick the furs off and rose from the floor to her side. Her lips and cheeks were red and when I touched her, she felt like fire beneath my palms yet she was shivering. I stripped the furs off of her thankful that my mother had covered her up in a shift with the back cut open.
I jarred the guard sleeping outside of my door awake and demanded ice and water with clean strips of linen. I rekindled the dying fire to a gentle blaze.
She groaned when I pressed the cold compress to her forehead but quickly settled back down too weak to fight. I stayed awake changing the compress and hoped that her fever would break.
Two days later, Emmett brought back news and it wasn't good news.
I was sitting in the dining room breaking bread when my brother stormed through the hall. I look up as he sits down. His wife, Rosalie, notices his return and quickly prepares him breakfast. He kisses her hand but dismisses her by looking back at me.
"Ye look like hell, brother."
"Her fever won't break."
I patiently wait for whatever he had to say.
"Her clan…her father…they're all dead."
"What? How?" I drop my bread, no longer hungry not that I had much of an appetite to begin with.
"It was Black Wolf. He killed them all to get to her when her father refused his offer of marriage. Black Wolf decimated them in the middle of the night. How did the lass get away?"
That wasn't the most important thing. Every member of her clan was dead and so was her father. She was an orphan, unmarried, and nowhere to go. Black Wolf would follow her anywhere, it was no wonder she was on the run and in her disguise when we caught her. How long had she been running, a day, a week, more?
"Brother, what do we do now?"
I stare grimly ahead wondering what would become of her.
Our mother enters the dining chamber and grasped my hands. I shook my head refusing to believe that she was dead.
"She's awake, talking and hungry."
"I have to see her." I fly through my home and upstairs to my bedchamber which she has preoccupied for days now.
I find her in the midst of crawling out of bed. One long, slender leg stretched out beneath the furs and over the side of the bed before the other one followed. My breath was caught in my lungs at the sight of her bare legs which I barely noticed when she had been so deathly ill, but I can't help but stare now.
She uses her hands for leverage before pushing herself off the bed.
"AH!" She cries out wincing from the pain in her back.
I rushed forward and help her sit back down. She starts to thank me until she recognizes who I am. So lightening fast, I find my own dagger from its place on my drawer pressed firmly against my throat with a pair of hard brown eyes staring me down without a hint of fear. I move but she presses the blade harder possibly drawing blood.
"Come now, lassie. Ye don't want to hurt me."
"Why not? You're the reason why I can't even stand. So, why shouldn't I slit your throat now?"
I'm angered by the fact that a woman is holding my own weapon against my throat and frustrated that my loins find it incredibly exciting to the point where it's getting uncomfortable.
"I'm also the reason why yer alive now, lassie. It was me who changed yer compress throughout the night when ye were running a fever."
Those words did exactly what I wanted them to because she loosened her grip on my dagger. I grabbed her wrist and a jolt of electricity shocked us both causing her to drop the dagger. It landed against the wooden floor with a heavy thud.
"What other skills are ye capable of, little gem?" I smirked slamming my foot down on the dagger to prevent her from getting any further ideas.
She gasped, "You know who I am?"
"The Gem of the Swan Clan. Everyone knows who ye are. Yer beauty has been sang all across the Highlands." I study her features and for the first time she notices her state of undress. She tugs my furs up to cover the shift she was wearing. That did very little to the discomfort in my trousers because she was a vision in my bed. Ruffled brown curls cascaded down to her waist framing her doll-like face. A slight blush on her cheeks completed a picture of innocence with full pink lips to take a man to his grave.
She noticed I was staring with probably a lovesick look on my face. Quickly, I clear my throat and pretend that I wasn't affected by her beauty which was impossible.
"Now that I get to see ye in person and seen ye sick for days, I say yer beauty has been exaggerated."
I pull her into my arms careful not to touch her back and hurt her. She goes completely rigid as I hug her, shock causing her to become immobile. I use this chance to silently thank her for staying alive.
"I'm sorry fer causing ye harm. If I had known, the end of my whip would've never found yer back." Lord knows it was the truth.
"Oh, my!" I heard my mother gasp being the sensible, proper woman she was.
I felt guilty for taking advantage of a recently ill woman by allowing myself to hug her, but I simply couldn't resist. It was a mixture of elation and my close proximity to her in the past few days that caused my impulsiveness. I reluctantly let her go and she bowed her head in shame while blushing wildly.
My mother puts a protective arm around my little jewel who looked guilty as if she had been the one to blame for us getting caught.
"I would say I'm sorry but I'm not." Those were my parting words and I left while my mother clucked her tongue at my behavior.
So, how did plaid-wearing, Scottish Edward do? Like him? Hate him? Let me know down below!
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