Hate is spitting out each other's mouths
but we're still sleeping like we're lovers
My nose tickles. That is the first thing that registers this morning as I wake, yet I find I can't move my arm at all when I try to fix whatever is bothering me. Something is on my way. My eyes, still heavy from sleep, open gingerly against the light, and I find the source of my discomfort.
Mary must have moved during the night; her head is now resting on my shoulder, her arm across my chest. Her hair is what tickles me. I use my free arm to move the offending curl back into place.
It's almost jarring how close she is to me. It's been two whole weeks since her brother's visit, since I kept her from going to Scotland by locking her in one of the castle towers, and things between us are still tense to say the least. She is seething with anger with no signs of it abating, and the days she doesn't scream at me I'm faced with a coldness that leaves me feeling empty. It's something I've never felt from her before, even back when I was trying to keep us apart with Olivia. Her hurt is nothing compared to those days, and I wish our problems now were so simple that I could fix them myself.
As it is I use this rare opportunity to study her closely for the first time in weeks. Her brow loses the frown that tightens it so often now when she's awake. Her breathing is easy as I gently run my hand over her shoulder and down her arm, cursing the long sleeved nightdress that obstructs me from feeling her skin. She sighs in her sleep and tightens her hold on me and I have to fight the urge to lay a kiss on her forehead, on her lips. I cover her hand where it lays on my chest. It's the first time since she's angry at me that we've woken up this intertwined, but it isn't a novelty to wake up with some part of us touching. Even when all she does during the day is push me away, often I've felt her delicate hand holding mine when I wake, having moved of its own volition during the night, as if our bodies needed each other's touch even in unconsciousness.
I crave the intimacy we used to share. It seems unbelievable that mere months ago I would have woken her peppering her face with kisses, or tickling her until she begged for mercy before making love under the early morning sunlight. But the easiness that ruled the first months of our marriage while we were away, those blissful days filled with laughter and sunlight, is now gone. Court is like a curse for us; ever since we came back happiness seems to elude us.
Our days now are filled with my guilt and her anger and our pride, and the half glances we sneak at each other. There is a breach between us now; growing larger the more time passes and it's my own fault. I hate what we've become. We never talk anymore. We speak, scream. We speak about strengthening the borders of Scotland and exchange pleasantries at parties like courtiers, and we never dance together at those anymore, except when it's expected. Whenever the topic shifts to us and our relationship she screams and I feel guilt gnaw at me even as I raise my voice back at her. We have become my mother and father, and I keep wondering if she'll ever forgive me and we could go back. I know we still love each other; that we still want one another, but I can't help but wonder if those things will be enough to let us push through the issues our nations present to us.
I caress her cheek with my thumb, smiling faintly at her sweet looking blush in the pale light. Her cheeks have only been red with anger lately. I ghost my thumb over her lips, tracing the shape of her upper one, and grazing the pout of her full lower one, wondering when was the last time we kissed. The fact that I have to think hard about that question to come up with the answer, alerts me to how serious this particular fight has been. I would expect nothing less.
The one thing that gives me hope is that we aren't obligated to share quarters with each other, and we still do. I have my own rooms in the castle; she could've kicked me out. Yet neither of us mentions this. We don't need to share a bed. But ever since we were wed we've slept together and she hasn't sought to change that, which she could. If she didn't want me besides her anymore I would comply and leave her be. It's a small comfort that she doesn't hate me enough to want me gone from her chambers, even if we lie on the same bed and it feels as thought we are in different countries.
I take a lock of her hair between my fingers. I miss the feel of sinking my hand into it, its scent. The lavender that she uses in her baths is something I've missed, as I no longer have the privilege of even being near her naked body, or holding her at night. In one of ours worst fights, the day her brother sent word of his arrival to Scotland and how he looked forward to welcoming her, she yelled at me the worst she's ever had after I told her I missed her, us… she said to take her if I wanted to, after all, I was her husband and it was my right, and clearly what she wanted or not was of no consequence to me. She covered her mouth after she said those words, as if surprised with herself, and muttered an "I'm sorry" as she left. That hurt me more than anything else she said, and I know she knows it because we didn't fight again, that week at least. She merely avoided me. I've forgotten nearly everything she says when she's so livid though, for I know she doesn't mean half of it.
I'm truly regretful that I've made her so angry. But she was so headstrong I couldn't find anything but a heavy, rusted metal latch to keep her here, safe. I wish I'd thought of some other way, as I think I underestimated her capacity for holding a grudge against me. Or that she might truly come to hate me. But my mind was clouded with images of her slight frame being thrown over board, her body falling into the sea, and me receiving a letter that my wife had died on some accident or another, or had succumbed to an illness while on board. Worry wouldn't let me think clearly; when it comes to her it seems I never can.
She starts to move suddenly and I decide to get out of bed less she wakes and finds me stealing this precious moment of calmness that so rarely presents itself to me now. I move out from underneath her, letting her resting on my pillow, and her hand comes up to rub at her tired eyes from all the movement. I stand up rapidly before she can notice my watching her. By the time she wakes up completely I am halfway out the door, and trying to remember how her eyes look when she wakes up in the morning.
I wake to a sense of peace I haven't felt in a while. The last tendrils of sleep fading, I register the reason why. A strong arm is draped over my waist, the warmth of another body nestled against my own. Francis must have moved in his sleep for he is now holding me close. It feels as though I'm still dreaming, the comfort of his arm around me one I haven't sensed in far too long, by my own choice. I haven't realized just how cold I am on my side of the bed until now, feeling the warmth of his body against my back . If we were on better terms I would press my cold feet to his legs, which would startle him into waking, and he'd find creative ways to ward off the winter morning chill. As it is, even with how I've acted the past few weeks, I'm strangely grateful that he still wants me close to him, even if it's only in sleep.
I'm cold towards him; I turn my back to him more often than not. Even after my anger at his actions has long since gone cold, I find I can't stop acting like that and I hate it. I'm frustrated, I feel my longing for Scotland like a tangible thing, pulsing in my veins and calling for my homeland that I haven't seen since I was a child. I long to see the old stone castle in the countryside, surrounded by all those grassy hills, to be with the people who need me, their Queen, and Francis kept me from that nearly a month ago, all in the name of keeping me safe. I know the risk I was in but there are risks we need to take, and I thought he, of all people, would understand me. And instead he locked me in a humid tower like a criminal when I wouldn't do what he asked and wait.
I look a little over my shoulder, careful not to move too much less he wakes, and find only a mess of blond curls. Despite everything, it makes me want to smile; I have enjoyed teasing him about his morning hair far too many times. No matter the way I've spent the last weeks, fighting and pushing him away… my love for him has never waned. I think it's why I was –am- so mad at him in the first place. I love him more than I thought possible to feel for someone, more than it's probably sensible given my status as a ruler, and I thought he would always support me in whatever I chose. He'd done nothing but in all of our marriage, until then. He's told me countless times how he couldn't bear to lose me, how I probably would have died during that journey. But he didn't know that, it was a possibility, as it's a possibility either one of us will be struck by lightning one day, I told him once. Francis of course pointed out that the chances of those two happening were vastly different as he'd uncovered a plot to assassinate me , which made me fight him just for the sake of not keeping quiet like when I was a child, because I knew he was right, which in turn made me more angry. I guess that one wasn't his fault.
I know, deep in my heart, that I'm being stubborn in not letting go of my anger; that I'm too prideful to admit that he was afraid and I would have done the same thing. But then I remember my countrymen and how they trusted me, and how I can't let anything else happen to my people, and how he is the only reason I'm not there with them. I've said things I'm not proud of while we fought, as I just keep blasting off shot after shot intending to hit my target, my own husband, which later makes tears gather in my eyes. But in the moment all I see is red.
He reminded me once of what I'd done because of the prophecy, which stopped me in my tracks because –knowingly or not- we made it a point not to speak of it. He said that what I did would have been permanent and I'd only been in the tower for merely some hours, and he'd forgiven me the minute I ran to him, because he knew I was scared for him, that perhaps I just didn't love him enough to do the same. I'd continued my tirade with the argument that it was different, but when he left I cried, hard. I felt like I was going half insane when the only thing I wanted was his arms around me even as I'd just pushed him away. That was the last time I screamed at him.
Those strong arms are around me now, his warm breath against my neck. I wish I could stay here forever, his touch making me weak with him not even realizing it. I try to move without waking him but his head just falls on my shoulder, his beard prickling me through my thin nightgown. He's stopped shaving so often, seeing as I haven't let him kiss me for nearly a month. I'm punishing the both of us with that, I know; more than once now I've dreamed of us making love and have woken up frustrated and spent all day irritable. I know he misses it as well, but he's never pushed his needs on me as any lesser man would have. I walked in on him pleasuring himself once, and it took me longer than it should have to close the door again, but thankfully he didn't realize my presence. My cheeks were red for the rest of the evening, especially when I felt my body's reaction to what I'd witnessed. I want him even when I'm furious at him, and sometimes I'm just a little angry at him that I can't make myself feel as good as he does the time I tried. I can feel my cheeks warm even now, as I remember that day and feel his body behind me. At least it's not one of those mornings for him.
Our separation it's my doing, I know. I'm the one who's angry with him, although I suspect he resents me now for not forgiving him, so it shouldn't matter if he woke and realized the way he came to hold me at night. He would probably just move away and apologize, but I simply don't want to lose this moment. I missed his arms around me so. But from the position I'm in I can't see his face at all. So I move ever so carefully, pushing myself swiftly out of his embrace. His arm falls on my lap as I recline against the headboard, thrown over my thighs now instead of my waist. I feel incredibly selfish stealing this moment of comfort with him when he doesn't realize it. I take a good look at him, as I haven't in some time. And I don't see the man who so haughtily kept me from doing what I needed but the man who once told me he would die for me, leaving me trembling in fear that one day that would come to pass.
He truly looks like an angel when he is sleeping. His face is so peaceful as I look down at him, his fair hair unruly in the way that I love. My hands itch for me to run them through his curls, or to caress the golden lashes casting shadows over his cheeks. He stills seems to be deep in sleep, so I push away the tendrils of hair that fall over his face softly, and run my nails along his jaw line. My only grievance is that I can't see his eyes. They are the brightest blue, just a shade darker than the sky in spring; a color in its own right that has the power to be my undoing. Every single time he looks at me I want to forget about everything and run into his arms, but my pride won't let me. The memory of my brother telling me how I was a pawn of the French Court won't let me.
He twitches when my fingers caress his brow, and he turns on his back, removing his arm from me and freeing me from that sweet prison. I already mourn the loss of it, and steel myself for another day of not knowing how to move past things, even if I don't feel like screaming anymore. All I truly want is to wake him up with kisses and be as happy as I was after our wedding, but then I remember the way I screamed my voice raw calling after him and he ignored me, letting me trapped inside those stone walls, and I can't bring myself to it. He twitches again, and I know he is close to waking, so I seize the opportunity to slip out of bed still unnoticed, even as part of my heart still lies in it.