Summary: Love, madness and corruption...Cass/Raph. As usual, for Anysia.
And How The Silence
…But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men…
1. A Terrible World
In romantic novels, there is silence between lovers, for there are no words to say. Why speak? They know you under skin and through the marrow. You might as well speak to a mirror.
That is not why she is silent.
She is silent out of fear of what may happen if she speaks. Will he scold her? Leave her? Tell her to go back to her bakery? Kiss her? Fight her? Tear her clothes off and fling her on the bed?
Cassandra finds the silence stifling. Soon, she knows, she will have to speak.
And what a terrible world it will be when she does.
2. Thy Lord
Cassandra is not Catholic but her host is. She finds the concept strange: that Raphael might be religious, when everything he is seems so unholy.
"If I were not Catholic, how would I show devotion of my Lord? How would I acknowledge he exists?" he scolds. The crosses cause him pain, but Cassandra likes to think it is one of the few thing human he indulges in.
"And what of you, my darling?" and she can't quite tell if he is sneering. Raphael's face is as composed as marble.
"Oh, I worship in my own way," Cassandra replies, falsely flippant.
That dawn, when she leaves his bed, she dresses, sits on her bed, pulls her knees up to her face and whispers 'Amen'.
They say that fear of night and darkness is merely fear of the unknown, fear of what may lurk in what you cannot see.
Cassandra lights a candle, turning the black to shadow, casting echoes of the night on the cold floor.
Raphael, silent in the shadows, draws her by the elbows into a kiss.
They say that fear of light is fear of seeing what you dread, of lighting up the dark spots for all to see.
Perhaps this is why one day, Raphael knows, he will snuff out the candle, and watch his wretched beloved fade into shadow and, one day, into darkness.
4. The Ring
He pushes the ring onto her finger. It's a delicate thing, with gold woven like lace in swirls around it, diamonds glittering in patterns. On Cassandra's worn hands, callused from using a blade and from carrying flour, it looks bizarre to her, as if someone sewed lace onto canvas.
She wants to say something. Maybe 'Stop! Don't do this!' or 'I hate you! Get away from me!' or 'You can't do this to me! You can't you can't you can't!'
Mostly, what she wants to say is the word long forbidden to her. He never told it was taboo, but in her head and heart, the thought of it on her lips has always been something made of nightmares.
"I trust you like the ring," he says with his usual flair of arrogance.
"It's very…very nice, thank you," she says meekly. His eyes narrow.
"Is there something you want to say, Cassandra?" he asks silkily.
Silence descends between the two of them. The empty church echoes with words she shouldn't say.
"No," is all she says, looking at the beautiful, ugly ring, "No."
Cassandra occasionally toys with the notion of sending a letter home. What would it say?
'Dear Sophitia. Worry not, I am currently living with a vampiric nobleman who enjoys seducing me and biting my neck till it bleeds.'
'Dear Sophitia, Did you ever hate Rothion the way I hate Raphael?'
'Dear Sophitia, Was Hephaestus ever happy?'
It is hubris to compare oneself to the gods, but sometimes that's how Cassandra feels – crippled and ugly beside the polished marble of Raphael.
If one were to tell Cassandra he felt the same, she'd likely faint.
6. Like Fine Wine
Raphael has, at least once, mockingly compared Cassandra to wine. 'Cheeky with a good nose' 'indulgent' 'something to have with dinner'.
Cassandra brushes the comments off with a twist of her mouth. She doesn't know that Raphael watches every move she makes, and that he waits, like a winemaker, for her to mature, so that he may drink of her.
7. There Is Silence In Romania
"Papa?" Amy's soft voice cuts through Raphael's reverie. He turns to her, eyebrows furrowed.
"It's morning, Amy. You should be abed."
"I can't sleep," it's such a blatant lie that Raphael lets it go, "What are you doing?"
He's looking out of a window, carefully angled so that the hard rays of the sun do not touch his skin. While it is not enough to kill him, the sunrays do indeed burn away layers of skin until his heretical blood almost pools away.
Amy joins him at the window and pouts.
"You're watching her," she spits the last word out, as if it were some horrid medicine.
"Of course. I need to make sure she doesn't escape, after all."
It's another blatant lie. Like Raphael, Amy lets it go.
"Why do you like her?"
"Because she's everything we're not."
There is a long moment of silence.
Romania collects silence. It pools in the dark hallways, echoes through empty rooms like a lonely traveler and twines like weeds through the rotten gardens.
"You're going to turn her into someone like us, aren't you?" asks Amy coolly. Raphael nods, allowing the silence to gather around them.
Cassandra walks through the sunlight, glowing as usual. She looks up, suddenly, as if sensing Raphael's gaze, and smiles a heart-stopping smile.
"What will you do after that?"
The silence, lonely and cold, envelopes them.
"Kill her, in all likelihood."
Raphael does not look at his daughter. He does not need to see the malice that no doubt creeps along her face and into her eyes. She has no love of Cassandra, and the thought that Raphael might cause her pain delights her to an extent that would cause worry in blood kin, but causes only vague concern in her father.
"How will you do it?" she asks, and Raphael pretends not to hear the sickening joy in her voice.
"By loving her."
The Romanian silence fall heavily between the two, and while it may smother Cassandra, under the living sun, nothing may harm her.
"Run away, Cassandra," he whispers gently, like a lover, to the woman who cannot hear, "Flee. Remain untarnished. Remain beautiful."
And he knows that his beautiful, barely literate, stubborn, strong, glorious captive, the warrior who he has trapped within darkness and silence, the woman he loves…
…she will not flee. Like many humans, she believes she can tame the darkness, and that she is not susceptible to it. In Raphael's heart, he knows that she is wrong.
With one last look at the golden figure, he flees from the sun, in much the same way that he wishes she would flee the night.
…Ay they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backwards
Once the plunging hoofs were gone.
- 'The Listeners', Walter de la Mare