Ficawesome Gift Echange- TAKE 2
Title: The Maiden
Written for: ZenOneness
Written By: beegurl13
Summary/Prompt used: Servant/Hand Maid and Her Master (time piece)
A/N: I don't own this, we all know who does. What I do own is up to my procrastination habits. Yeah…I'm a slacker. This is not new news. :D
Thanks so much to my superbeta, MaggieMay14. I love her, and I know with her coloring she would have made a lovely Maiden Bella. :)
Thanks to my prereaders, Twilight44, Unchanged Affections, and EdwardsBloodType. I seriously don't know what I would do without them. From helping me plot this, to listening to me ramble, to reassuring me this is NOT crap, they always make my day. I love them humongous amounts. Thanks to the girls that WC'd with me for this. :D And to Mrs Robward, my bestie.
Thanks to ZenOneness for the awesome prompt and for letting me change it up just a bit. You have NO idea how grateful I am for that. :D I hope you enjoy the story. :)
Thanks to Dances with Wolves and The Substitute Wife, the two movies that I got some plot ideas from. I love those movies… :)
I think this is pretty self explanatory, but just in case –
Pale Swan = Bella
Little Wolf = Jacob
Growling Wolf = Billy
Flowering Lily = Leah
The warm spring wind blew through the grass on the open Texas plains, bending the long, tan strands every which way. Safely shielded behind a tree stood a boy that could no longer be defined as merely a boy—he was a man. He watched as the brown haired object of his affection carefully waded in the shallow side of the river, filling pouches with water before she began washing the hides she'd carried with her. As the sun shone down over head, her hair glimmered in the light. It was mesmerizing to him, especially the red highlights that flashed every few moments. Her pale skin was such a contrast to his own, that she reminded him of a spirit sent back from the afterlife. Sometimes he really believed she was, with the way she haunted his dreams each night. He loved her, and the nervous feelings in his stomach were overwhelming as he drew in a deep breath and stepped out into the open, waiting for her to notice him.
After several minutes, he could wait no longer, and he quickly walked to the water's edge, careful to keep his distance so that he wouldn't make her uncomfortable.
"Pale Swan?" he softly called. The girl turned quickly around, her light brown eyes wide with surprise.
"Little Wolf," she almost shouted. "You startle me so." She glanced around, looking for one of his brothers, or his younger sisters that she so often cared for. "Are you alone?"
"Yes, but do not worry, I come with news. I hope you find it pleasing."
"News? What kind of news?" she cautiously asked, wondering what he could possibly say to her now that he couldn't have told her just an hour before during their midday meal.
"My brother has delivered six horses to Running Bear, in your honor." Little Wolf waited for her reaction, watching for any showing of emotion that she might give him. Pale Swan was usually quite reserved, never saying much when she visited him in his tipi, but always being pleasant and cheerful. It was Comanche nature that young men act a bit shy when it came to courting, and Little Wolf was no exception. The only times he was able to approach his beloved was when she was about her duties at the river or helping one of his sisters that she regularly looked after. Today was such a day, and the news he'd just delivered seemed to finally be setting in for the young woman standing stone still in the crystal clear water.
"Six horses? For me?" she asked, her voice quiet, unbelieving.
He smiled brightly. "Yes, six. I know that Dawning Sky got four horses last winter, and six may seem a bit much, but you are worth more than any number I could ever pay. I tried to give ten, but Running Bear refused, saying six was enough. Do you accept my gift?" His hands nervously fisted at his sides as he waited for her to think over his proposal.
Pale Swan moved, stepping toward the dry dirt and the man her heart yearned for. She had watched him for years, always nervous when he left for a hunt, often crying when he rode out with a raiding party. Little Wolf was a strong man, a hard worker and fierce warrior, as well as a giving friend and always kind, loving, and gentle. She watched him with the children of their tribe, the way he stopped to greet them each time he arrived back at camp. He was a good man, and as she walked closer to him, she took in the markings on his young, muscled body. It was tradition for him to carry the colors and lines that had been carved into his skin, as well as the rings looped through his ear. His long black hair was silky and smooth, and she reached out to touch it as she approached him. For the first time, he did not retreat.
"You have chosen me? Why? Please tell me." Her eyes pleaded with him for answers, if for nothing more than to calm her own fears of inadequacy. Pale Swan, while a fully accepted member of the tribe, was English by birth. She had been born to early white settlers after they'd crossed the plains, settling in the Texas Territory. Her parents, Charles and Renee Swan, established a small ranch just outside of a north Texas town, and often traded with the nearby Comanche tribe.
When smallpox claimed her parents, Chief Growling Wolf took in the little girl, who was no more than nine years old at the time. Having no other family, Charles had asked his friend to take his little Isabella, knowing that she would be loved and well cared for by the tribe. Another elder in the group, Running Bear, agreed to take her into his family and raise her, which was a relief to the Chief since he secretly longed for his first son, Little Wolf, to someday take the small beauty as a bride. What lovely children they would make, he thought, and to also be blessed with the markings of the Englishmen—that could only help them in their lives. Change was quickly coming to the little clan, and he hoped that even if he may someday soon lose his freedom, at least his grandchildren would be able to live the lives they desired.
Over the recent years, the U.S. Government had moved many Indian tribes onto reservations in Oklahoma, but Chief Growling Wolf had been able to keep his group from being captured. His tribe followed the buffalo as they roamed the open plains of North Texas, trading with white settlers only when necessity called for it. Growling Wolf tried to keep his braves peaceful, explaining to them the importance of maintaining amicable relationships with settlers. He knew his group would likely be assumed to be part of the more aggressive Comanche groups, but he did his best to keep his people free and taken care of.
As Little Wolf looked at Pale Swan, watching her long hair blow in the breeze, he spoke. "You are the maiden I see in my dreams. Your eyes will grace my children's faces. You are gentle with my sisters and I know you will make a caring mother and devoted wife." He lifted his hand to brush a strand of hair from her face. "I have longed for you since the day my father rode with me to your home, the first time our people traded with your white father. I knew at that day that I was meant for you."
Pale Swan looked deeply into the almost black eyes of her love and smiled. "Yes, I accept your gift. I will be your bride."
The smile that broke from Little Wolf's face was blinding as the sun. When he wrapped his arms around her, lifting her off the ground and spinning her as he whooped and cried out in joy, Pale Swan was surprised. She was happier than she had been in a very long time, and when his lips pressed against hers, she did not stop him. She had allowed him to steal a few kisses over the past many months, once she felt sure of his intentions toward her. Now that she was promised to him, she gave in a little more to her physical desire to have him near, letting his lips linger on hers as her arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
"My Pale Swan, I will make you a good husband, and we will have many children to share our lives with. You are my North Star, and I will always return to you, never doubt me. My heart is yours."
Pale Swan smiled, holding tightly to the man she intended to spend her life with. The sun shone down on them, blessing their fate, and Pale Swan looked up to the sky, hoping that her parents felt the same—wherever they might be.
A few hours later, as the sun began to fall in the sky, Pale Swan sat with Little Wolf's younger sisters, helping them make the evening meal. The distant sound of horse hooves perked Pale Swan's interest immediately, and she watched as Little Wolf and a few of the other young braves rode into camp. The way his body moved while atop his stallion was memorizing. It was as though horse and rider were one unit, their movements matching identically. Little Wolf was one of the best riders in the camp, and had taught Pale Swan many tricks during their youth. Having grown up as good friends, they knew much about each other and their union would be of no surprise to the other tribe members. She smiled at him as he approached, then squealed as he leaned down and scooped her up, cradling her in his large arms. They rode past several older members of the tribe, Pale Swan laughing and protesting the whole time. Little Wolf planned to speak with their fathers so that their intended union could be official. He wanted the other eligible men in the group to know that this beauty was spoken for, and by none other than a future tribe leader.
After sliding off his horse, Little Wolf took hold of Pale Swan's hand and led her to the tipi of her Comanche father. Seeing this, Growling Wolf hurried to join them and within minutes, the match was set. Little Wolf saw no need in delaying the marriage, but his father was wise and counseled him to wait. There was much happening in the town about ten miles away from them, and the military groups had begun making their rounds again, looking for troublesome tribes to send to the newly created reservations. Little Wolf and several of the other young braves spent much of their time scouting out the surrounding areas, trying to keep their people safe. On occasion, they joined in on raiding parties, whenever wrongs had been committed against their native brother tribes, but those times were seldom and far between. Growling Wolf insisted upon civility and peaceful trade with their white neighbors whenever possible.
The celebration that night was long and joyous. The only sad note was when Pale Swan saw her friend Flowering Lily sitting silently alone. While she was happy for Pale Swan, she could not ignore the twinges in her chest at the thought of Little Wolf being married to someone else. Flowering Lily had long yearned for him, silent as she might have been. She knew he would be happy with Pale Swan, but the hurt was still great for her.
Over the next few weeks, Little Wolf was gone almost every day, and Pale Swan went about her normal daily duties. It wasn't until one afternoon when Little Wolf returned early that she knew something was wrong. Instead of stopping to greet her as was his custom, he rode past her and straight to his father's tipi, jumping off his horse and rushing inside the small enclosure. The camp was quickly silent and muffled voices speaking in panicked tones could be heard on the soft breeze that blew across the plains. When Growling Wolf and his son exited the tipi, their eyes fell on Pale Swan, and her heart stuttered.
"Pale Swan, new white men have moved to the ranch your parents built. We must ride out tomorrow and greet them. You will come along so that you might speak to them. I trust you remember your white man words?" Growling Wolf said to a stunned Pale Swan.
She had spoken and translated many times over the years when the tribe traded with white settlers, but not since her parents' deaths had she been back to the ranch. She wondered if it would look the same as her memories of it. She remembered such small, minute things that she didn't think it mattered, but all evening as she tried to practice her English, her stomach clenched. Change was coming, and though she was unaware of just what that might be, it frightened Pale Swan.
She pondered asking Little Wolf if she might sleep in his tipi with him, hoping that the comfort of his strong arms would calm her. She knew that nothing inappropriate would happen, as that was neither their custom, nor an accepted activity for people who were not married. Still, she ached for Little Wolf's strength and security. At the same time, she wondered if what she had experienced of it so far would quickly be coming to an end.
That was the main reason she wished to stay with him—she feared she would soon lose Little Wolf.
The next morning, the small group rode out early. It was nearly a half day journey to the ranch, over several hills and across much open land. Pale Swan clung tightly to Little Wolf as she rode with him on his horse. He had insisted that she did, so that he might protect her from any harm they encountered. During the journey, her hands roamed over his stomach, feeling the taut muscles there. As she laid her face against his back, in the dip between his shoulder blades, Little Wolf sighed and rubbed his hand over hers. Every so often his fingers would graze the bare skin of her thigh, and she felt a tingling in her body that was unfamiliar, but exciting. Wedding preparations were underway, and she waited anxiously for Growling Wolf to proclaim it time for them to be wed. It could not come fast enough for Pale Swan.
When the ranch was finally in view, Pale Swan noticed smoke rising into the air from the chimney in the house. There were animals in the yard, and she could see the dirt in the fields behind the barn had been recently turned over, most likely awaiting the planting of seeds. The group slowed to a stop, watching the settlement for a few minutes before Growling Wolf ordered them to proceed. The sound of horse hooves thumping down on the dry dirt was loud and as they approached the house, the door opened, revealing a rather surprised face before it quickly slammed shut.
As Kate stood stirring a pot that contained their lunch, she got excited about who might be coming to the ranch. She and Edward had moved in a few weeks prior, and having only been visited by a couple of nearby neighbors—who really didn't live nearby at all—she was anxious to have someone new to talk to. After leaving Chicago, where there were people at every turn, the open plains of Texas were quite an adjustment for the couple to get accustomed to.
She quickly wiped her hands on the apron tied around her waist, fretting over her swollen belly that seemed to grow by the hour, and walked toward the front door. After smoothing her hair back, then laughing at herself for the habit that lingered from her youth, she pulled the door open. The sight before her was nothing like what she expected, and as her brain registered the half dozen savages quickly approaching her home, she slammed the door shut. After latching the lock, she hurried to the other side of the cabin, opening the door and yelling to Edward, who was in the barn milking the cow. As her frightened voice reached him, he pushed away from the heifer, spilling the pail of milk he'd just gathered.
"What, Katie? What's wrong?" he called out as he ran toward his clearly panicked wife.
"Indians, Edward. Indians are coming here."
Edward saw the tears in Kate's eyes and gently pushed her back inside the house, turning to close and lock the door behind him.
"Go into the bedroom and don't come out," he told her with fierceness in his voice that she had never heard before. Kate's hand rubbed over her stomach, a natural reaction to the need to protect their unborn child. She stood frozen in the small kitchen, watching as Edward hurried to the mantle and pulled down his shot gun that hung there. After skillfully loading it and grabbing a few extra shells and shoving them into his pocket, he turned back around and looked at his wife. "Katie, go."
"I can't," she whispered.
Edward let out a short breath, moving toward her and wrapping an arm around her. After placing a kiss on her temple, he lifted her chin so that he could look into her eyes. "It will be fine, don't worry. If they meant us harm, I doubt they would have let us hear them coming. I'll talk to them, just be calm, okay? Go wait in the bedroom."
Kate grabbed Edward's shirt. "No, please. Let me be with you. We're in this together, right?" she said, reminding him of the promise they had made to one another when deciding to leave their overbearing families and head west.
"Katie..." he said, but gave up when he saw the resolve in her face. "Alright, but stay behind me, okay?"
Kate nodded, and the two of them turned toward the front door. The beating hooves were now loud enough that Edward knew the savages where within the cleared area of the ranch that surrounded the house. He cautiously opened the door and stepped out onto the porch. Kate clung to the back of his shirt, peeking around his side to see exactly what they were dealing with. She counted five horses, each with a bare chested young Indian brave, except for one that carried an older man that wore a buckskin tunic. His hair was gray and there were feathers woven into a few long braids. He rode in the center of the other horses, and she wondered for a moment if he was important.
As the group got closer, she saw something she never thought she would see. One of the horses carried a young man, and behind him sat a smaller woman, her hair so much lighter than all the men. In most company that Kate had kept in Chicago, this girl's hair would have been considered dark, but in comparison to the black locks of the savages, her hair was light. Kate wondered for a moment if the girl was an Indian as well, and her curiosity grew even more when she saw the girl's arms. They were wound around the man in front of her, and the difference in their skin tones was startling. Her heart rate picked up when she finally saw the girls face. Regardless of what Edward had said, Kate felt in her heart that these men were dangerous, or at least had the potential to be. The girl with them, dressed all in Indian apparel, was clearly white, and if they had taken her from her family, who was to stop them from taking Kate as well? In her mind, Edward, his friendly personality, and his shot gun, were the only things standing between Kate's life on the ranch and a life spent huddled over a fire on an open range.
She swallowed roughly and scooted back behind Edward as the horses came to a stop in front of them. She felt his muscles tense as he adjusted his hold on the shotgun. The silence that hung in the air was unnerving, and as the six pairs of eyes stared them down, Edward and Kate wondered if this was how their new life would finally end.
The older man watched them closely, and Edward was curious about whether or not he spoke any English. How would they communicate if the man didn't? After a few tense moments, the man turned to one of the young men at his side and gestured toward Edward, saying something in a language that Edward could not understand. The horse at the edge of the group carried the rider that was being spoken to, and it wasn't until that moment that Edward realized there was more than one person atop the stallion. From behind the wide shoulders of an Indian brave peeked a woman, her eyes a lighter brown than those of her companions.
"Hallo," she quietly said, uncertainty clear in her voice. As her eyes met Edward's, he was completely drawn in. She wasn't native at all, and the only thought in his head was what was she doing with these men? Had she been taken captive, and did she need help? The urge to protect her was powerful, and Edward was unsure why, but he cleared his throat and decided to find out just who these people were.
"Hello, can we help you?"
The girl turned to look at the older man, and he mumbled to her. "We tra-trade wi-wif white man. We no hur-hur-hurt you."
"You want to trade with us? What do you want to trade?" Edward asked, curious as to what they might want and if he had it. The journey from Chicago to Texas had been long and expensive, so Edward knew he didn't have much, but he certainly didn't want to start off on the wrong side of a group of people that were most likely dangerous.
The woman looked back to the old man, and after they exchanged more words in their language, she turned back to Edward. "We live ha-half day ride west, o-over two hill and wide p-p-plain. We want gr-greet you, friend."
Edward thought about what she was saying and her slow, stilted words made him even more curious about her. He knew he shouldn't be, that he was a married man, but he couldn't help the attraction he was beginning to feel for her.
"I'm Edward Masen, this is my wife, Katherine Masen. We're from Chicago." He turned and looked at Kate, who was looking out from behind him. She didn't look as afraid as she had before, so he continued talking. "We've been here a few weeks, and haven't had many visitors. We're glad to meet you." He smiled at the girl before turning and making eye contact with each of the other men in the group.
The old man spoke to the young woman again, and when she replied to him there was a growl in her voice, and Edward got the impression she was not happy with the words that had been said to her. After pausing and then being spoken to again in a rather clipped tone, she looked at Edward.
"Why this ho-home? You farmer, you plow fields?"
"Yes, I plan to farm for our family." He reached behind him and pulled Kate to his side, noticing her arms securely wrapped around her belly. Each of the men looked to her, taking in her condition, and the young woman's eyes lingered on Kate's hands. Edward wondered if she was admiring the pretty, sparkling wedding ring that Kate wore, the sunlight catching it and making it shine.
The older man smiled, pointing to Kate and saying something with a chuckle. The other men smiled and laughed a little before the man continued to speaking to the woman. He gestured to Kate as he spoke, and the look in the girl's eyes quickly turned from awe to rage as she spitefully spat something back to him. Her tone made her sound as though she was upset by whatever he had suggested, but with another quick chastisement from him, she let out a long breath before speaking again.
"Wife have babe, baby. I help her. Doctor far, one day ri-ride town." She paused, closing her eyes before she spoke. "I help, I happy help her."
"You know how to deliver babies? You're so young," Edward said, the surprise obvious in his voice.
"Yes, many babies, I help. I help her. You tr-trade us. Come two days."
"Wait, will you come here in two days or do I go to you? How does that work?" Edward asked, not wanting to offend his new acquaintances, but also not wanting to venture out across the plains on his own.
After speaking with the man again, the woman continued. "We come back. Trade for s-spice, wheat. We give horse for guns."
Edward quickly wondered what he had that he could readily part with, and after taking mental stock of what they had left, and the fact that he and Kate would be going into town the next week, he quickly agreed to make the trade. There was plenty of spices and wheat they could spare, but he wondered what they might get in return.
Even though he knew the government discouraged settlers from trading with savages, Edward didn't see any harm in it, especially if it endeared his family to them. The horses they were riding were beautiful and appeared to be well trained. He hoped he could buy some fire arms in town and maybe trade for a horse in another month or two.
"We will be ready. We have wheat and spices, but I don't have weapons to trade just yet. Maybe next month? If you'd like to come back. I would be interested in a horse. These animals you have today are remarkable." He smiled, hoping to show that he was sincere.
"Yes, two days. We b-be back. Tank you." With that, the older man gave a slight wave, and the group was gone. Edward and Kate stood on the porch until they were out of sight, still startled by the encounter. It was only then that Kate realized the meal she'd been preparing was most likely burned. She worried she would have to start on something else, and with a quick turn, she returned to the house and her kitchen, hoping to find some way to salvage the meal.
Edward remained on the porch, staring off into the distance. He hadn't really acknowledged just how vulnerable he and Kate were on the ranch in the middle of no where, but after the brief meeting, he was beginning to worry. Not only that, but the savages would be back in the space of two days, and the young woman would most likely be with them. He only hoped he could keep his eyes away from her, especially since he got the distinct impression she belonged to the man she rode with. The thing that really worried him was the thrill that shot through his body when, as they were riding away, the girl turned to look at him, letting her eyes unite with his for a few seconds. Edward was a married man, and no good could come from the thoughts running through his mind in regards to this strange, but beautiful girl.