Title: Wooing Kate
Summary: Adhemar seduces a drunken Kate. She flees.
Disclaimer: 'A Knight's Tale' is the property of Columbia Pictures. I make no money from this work of fan fiction.
Feedback: Questions? Comments? Colorful metaphors?
Kate woke to a horrible pounding in her head, a sour taste in her mouth and the disturbing sensation of a naked man beside her. The disturbing part wasn't that she had a naked man beside her, but rather that she couldn't remember doing anything requiring a naked man. She scrunched her eyes shut even tighter, endeavoring to make sense of her memories from the previous night. There wasn't much. She remembered drinking with Wat and feeling rather friendly towards him. He hadn't noticed, too busy scarfing down any food within arms reach. They'd had a quarrel about his eating, but after that was a huge blur. She couldn't even remember leaving the tavern. Had they resolved their argument and he'd responded to her overtures?
An arm wrapped about her waist, pulling her intimately close to that male form, the hand on her stomach. Kate's eyes popped open, her disorientation clearing fast upon seeing a room instead of a tent before her eyes. She scanned the visible portion, almost afraid to turn over and see the man she was with. There were clothes in a jumble on the floor, saddlebags by the chair and a tray on the table, but nothing to give her an idea of this man. Gulping, she peered at the hand on her stomach. The fingers were lax, the crest on the ring one she recognized with a sinking sensation in her belly.
Adhemar. A tiny moan left her. This was even worse than Wat. At least with him she could go back to ignoring his attentions and handing him food to pacify him. Count Adhemar was another thing entirely. Already she could feel guilt rising within her. She'd gone to bed with Will's enemy.
"God help me," she whispered, easing herself out from under the heavy weight of his arm and pawing through the pile of clothes on the floor for her dress and shift. Her hands trembled and her breath came in shallow pants. Calm down, she thought. Breathe.
"Going so soon, Kate?" The voice was sleepy, tinged with the arrogance that defined the man.
She pulled on her shift, glancing over her shoulder, her dress gathered in her arms. Her own voice didn't want to work, her throat stubbornly closed. He ran a hand through his hair and sat up, casting an amused stare her way.
"It's not quite morning yet. At least stay for morning." His gaze seemed to burn through her, taking in her fear and the awkwardness of her pose, her crouch on the floor. His tongue slipped out to wet his lips. "What's a few more hours?" Satisfaction curled about his words in loving embrace. If she'd been dense enough to not realize what had gone in in this room before, she certainly knew now. He cocked a brow, raising one knee and resting his elbow on it as he considered her.
Kate had the sudden impression that if she stayed he would devour her and there would be nothing left of her to leave. If she didn't leave now, there was no way she'd ever be able to escape him. "N-no." Hurriedly, she pulled the dress on, her fingers fumbling with the task, clumsy on the familiar fastenings.
He shifted position, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and tossing the covers away. "And just where do you think you're going?" A patronizing smile tugged at his lips. Lips she now remembered traveling her body.
His cold stare was almost hypnotic, Kate shaking her head. Panic began to rise in a steady climb within her. The longer he was awake, the more dangerous he seemed. Run, her mind screamed at her. "Away," she whispered, more to prod herself into action than in answer of his question.
"Take that off and come back here. I've not given you leave to go."
Kate forced herself to stand and step on shaking legs to the door, ignoring his imperious command.
"You don't leave until I say you do." His tone was icy, angry.
She didn't see anything else of hers scattered on the floor, but she wasn't entirely sure she'd recognize anything of hers at this point. All she could think about was leaving this room. He wouldn't come after her naked would he? Kate didn't know and didn't care. All she wanted was to be away from him and the scene of her crime. "You can't order me," she whispered softly. "I'm a free woman."
He gave a snort, shoulders lifting and falling. "You're a peasant. Open that door, Kate and you will regret it." He didn't give idle threats, she knew that, but she couldn't stop herself from lifting the bar. There was no way she could force herself to remain there with him. No, Kate decided. She wasn't going to let him bully her. She wasn't going to willingly toss off her clothes and crawl back into bed with him. The shame of what she'd apparently done the previous night caused a burning flush to stain her cheeks, she could feel the scorching heat there.
"Kate." He stood, moving towards her with a speed that surprised her. It was as though he didn't realize he was naked. He doesn't care he is, her mind drawled. She was strangely disconnected, like a passive observer. Her hands found the handle of the door and she threw the panel wide. There was the barest tug of her dress back towards him before he lost his grip on her. She ran past the startled men that stood there in the hall, not glancing back to see if he followed. Kate ran like the devil himself was after her.
"My lord Adhemar! You cannot follow her."
Adhemar found his way after the maid barred by two of his men. With a snarl, he punched the nearest one. The farris wasn't going to get away from him so easily, not after he'd sampled her and found her to be sweet. "Out of my way." His hand curled in the other man's shirt, fist raising again to hit, when Germaine turned the corner, slowing his stride, his startled expression giving way to a placating one.
"My lord, perhaps you should dress before pursuing her."
Adhemar stared at the man, than nodded, releasing the man he had a grip on, shoving him back with such force that the man lost his footing and fell against the wall of the passage. "You know where to find her? Where she is staying? London is no tiny hamlet."
"She'll be easy to locate, my lord." Since Germaine's smile indicated he already knew that tidbit of information, Adhemar thought perhaps he'd dress before finding her after all.
"Then get on it. I want information in one hour."
Germaine's head bowed in acceptance of the order. Had Adhemar bothered to glance back, he would have seen intense dislike reflected upon his herald's face. He didn't though, entering his chamber and slamming the door with such force that dust fell from the braces at the ceiling.
Kate tossed her belongings into her bag, uncaring that they were in a jumble. She had no time to waste, giving Roland the barest of glances. "Aye."
"Why?" She could feel his stare upon her, searching. "You were all set to stay, to set up shop once Will and the Lady Jocelyn are married. What's changed your mind?"
Staying was impossible. She had a feeling Adhemar wouldn't let her slip away so easily. He'd been stayed, only barely, by the sense of propriety his men held. Likely, he was searching for her right now. No peasant dared to leave before he told him he could and Kate had done the stupidest thing imaginable by fleeing, though it had been sheer panic spurring her.
The remembrance of his body beside hers as she'd woken caused her belly to churn with sharp pains and a trembling to encase her entire body. In a sudden movement, Roland came forward, hands grasping her arms, turning her to face him. The guilt she felt must have been plain in her eyes, for he gave her a look of mock admonishment.
"What did you do, Kate? Sheer Lady Jocelyn's hair from her head while she slept? Lock Wat in a privy?"
She shook her head, lips parting, unable to look away from him. It crossed her mind that, out of all the group, Roland would be the most sympathetic. He was the voice of reason, of sense, tempered with gentle humor so that no reprimand hurt. "Much worse. I've done much, much worse."
His gaze turned concerned as he realized the full severity of the situation. She wasn't fleeing from the anger of a stupid prank. He understood that. She was fleeing from something that could effect them all. "How worse?"
Reaching up, she pulled the heavy mass of her long, still tangled hair from her neck and inched the shoulder of her dress down, revealing the telltale marks Adhemar had left on her pale skin.
"Tell me Will didn't make those."
"God's blood, Kate, I sincerely hope you didn't bed down with Geoff with his wife right here in London."
She shook her head. "No, not Geoff either."
"Then who are you talking about, because I know I didn't give you those."
Her chest tightened, breath a wheezing. "Adhemar. I woke in his bed not an hour ago."
There was silence for several heartbeats before Roland swallowed and asked in a whisper, "He didn't give you leave to go, did he, Kate?"
"No." She dropped her gaze from his. "So you see, I can't stay."
Roland released her. "But you'd run and leave us all to bear the brunt of his anger when he can't find you? You know he'll come here and start something with Will and that boy is in no shape to fight Adhemar again. You know that."
Kate flinched. "But I can't stay. I can't march back to his room and his bed, Roland."
"You did it once, didn't you? This'll bring more trouble on us and we don't need it right now."
"What am I supposed to do? What would you have me do? Play the whore with Adhemar?"
The man paused, head nodding, and Kate thought that perhaps she'd gone mad. Roland couldn't be telling her to go back to Adhemar, could he? But he was and a part of her could understand why. The fights between Will and Adhemar had gone on for months. Roland was sick of it and by leaving, Kate would be starting a new fight. Adhemar would take out his frustration on all of them before continuing after her. "Until he tires of you. He'll leave us alone."
"That won't be necessary." A voice from the doorway said and Kate and Roland both turned. Adhemar's herald stood there. "I can help you, if you like...Kate."
What sort of help was he offering, Kate wondered, curiosity piqued.
"Let me explain, and quickly. We've not much time." He closed the door, and Kate and Roland listened.