Title: i am such as that
Spoilers: All three eps.
Summary: Post ep 3, Sexby reflects.
Note: There's a mention of something Elizabeth Lilburn said. That's a reference to my other fic, not to something that happened in canon.
Drag your wagon and your plow
Over the bones of the dead
Out among the roses and the weeds
You can never go back
And the answer is no
And wishing for it only
Makes it bleed
-Tom Waits, "How's It Gonna End"
When Edward could no longer endure sitting upon that bed, he rose and took his place at the table. He hesitated, and then poured himself a glass of wine. There was no one else there, and he did not fear what he might do to himself.
He drank and stared at the disheveled bed. He did not have anywhere to be. He did not have anything of consequence to do. He could never again be a soldier. He was no husband. His one bond on this earth was to a wife to whom widowhood would be a kindness.
The mussed bed stared back at him, mocking the warm fantasies he had had of the happy ways a bed might be disarrayed by husband and wife. He knew a man couldn't be gutted yet live, but he felt he had been cleft open. He felt it so keenly he was surprised at his heart's beating thick in his chest.
When he had been no more than four years of age, he recalled, he had seen his mother used by force. His father dead, he and his mother were unprotected. She had hidden him beneath his blankets on the floor. He had heard her weeping, and the man's sounds. He had cowered and bit his fist to keep from crying aloud, tasting his own tears. The man had stayed all night, taking food, using his mother. Eventually, she had made no noise. Edward had fallen asleep laying against the snot and tear stained dirt floor, exhausted.
His mother had sung to him all his life until then. Her voice had been everything, peace and love everlasting. After that night, she had sung no more.
When he had begun killing for money as a young man, he had imagined the men he fought were like that men, and it had gone easier.
He had married Angelica to protect her from that. He had not thought to protect her from himself.
I am he who I have hated, his mind spoke, filling the silence of his small room. I am he. I am such as that.
For a moment, he had wanted her to weep and endure and endure until she could make no sound, until she was a broken thing. He had not done it, but he had done it in his heart.
Power had made the old king a tyrant, and power had done its wicked work in Oliver, and power too had driven him on. Didn't law make all wedded men tyrants of a single subject? He had never sought to command her, but he hadn't understood what it would mean to be given the right over her. To know that he was a respected man now, and she was his, and anything he took would be his due in the eyes of the world. . .
There was no other such feeling.
He could remember it now, the dark thrill of it. It burned tight in his chest. He wanted to cut it out from inside him.
He thought of the pistols amongst his things, but they did not appeal. He had trained himself to believe that his death would be in company, that he would go to hell slaying an enemy to take along with him. He could not write a suicide note in words, but he began to harbor thoughts of writing an epitaph in Oliver's blood.
When he commanded her here, he had not meant to. . . He hoped to speak to her of all the hard things he had learned in Ireland. How he had thought that it would be better to fight as an officer, and could not remember why now. There was no honor to be found in higher position. He had sold the respect his soldiers had for him to a tyrant, and he had sold that same man his hands for war, a mercenary in truth though a colonel in name.
He had seen men who wrote daily to their wives, taking strength from the union. He had seen how there may exist a trust between two so bound together surpassing all others, and wished.
He could call her a fool, but he had believed as she did, that love would save him. He felt that if he could only speak to her, if she would only listen, he would find again everything he had lost. A kind word from her, and he would be whole in spirit, if not in body. He looked upon her as she did on her precious, pure boy.
Elizabeth had been right after a fashion. Their hearts were half alike, equal in folly.
Angelica had rejected him, and he had proved her wisdom. He had thought himself different from the men who hated her because she belonged to herself, going as she willed, taking no man for master. Had thought himself strong and wise for loving a woman without needing to break her.
It was a cruel curse indeed, that women should labor to bring forth male children, nourishing their own sex's cruel masters.
When night fell, he did not light a candle. He stumbled across the room and took the bedding to make a pallet on the floor. He fell asleep thinking of a trip to hell with Oliver Cromwell for a companion.