Disclaimer: Uh-huh...yeah, I've been begging for Heath Ledger for years, and it's never gonna happen. Plus, if I owned A Knight's Tale, do you honestly think this would be listed under fanfiction? Oh, yes, and I'm the one who needs a mental checkup. Please. I may want A Knight's Tale, but it's a dream, not a reality.
Sometimes it seems unfair. Because she loves him, has loved him for a long time, even while he sought a more beautiful woman, of higher status and higher education. And because even though he thinks of her like a sister, it will never be enough.
Sometimes she lies awake at night and wonders what happened to make her life so damn unfair.
Now Will's a champion and Jocelyn's his lover but not his wife, and Kate's just there. She built a forge on the land Will bought with his winnings, and she sells armor to nearly every knight in the land because everyone wants William Thatcher's armor. Roland stayed with Will and married Christiana, which was really no surprise because the age difference isn't uncommon but the love they have for each other is. Wat stayed, and he's married to the ex-cook for the duchess of York, who found him, what, two years ago? And Geoff went off with Philippa, off to London, and last Kate heard he's there writing his newest book. About them. Except she knows she won't be mentioned because she was never all that important in the grand scheme of things. She just built the armor and taught him how to dance and fell in love with him while he sought out the lady Jocelyn.
And Will keeps on talking about marrying Jocelyn, but somehow Kate knows he won't, not for a long time, not until Jocelyn nags him into doing it. Because Jocelyn, despite making him nearly break his arm in that tournament, still wants some kind of damn finality about their relationship, and Will's too free-spirited for marriage. So when she finally gets him to say his vows, it'll change him. For the worse. Kate knows this because she knows Will better than anybody. Because he would sit there and talk to her while Wat dreamed of cakes with peppermint cream and Roland sewed and daydreamed about Christiana. Because in the days before Jocelyn stopped spurning him and started loving him, Will would sit there by the fireside and talk about his life because he trusted her with his secrets. And she would listen, and she would talk to him about her husband and about making armor and about how happy it made her to follow her dreams, and that would make him smile because it would restore his faith in his own dreams.
Except now everything's different. Jocelyn loves him now, at least as near to love as Jocelyn can feel, and Will thinks that that's enough. And Will still thinks that he can't show weakness to Jocelyn-not because he's a knight, though that's part of it, but because he thinks that he should be the stronger one in the relationship. Maybe he's right, because he's got a will of steel and that's more than Jocelyn has ever had, but Kate knows what sometimes that's just plain not true.
But even though she thinks that Will should be able to be weak around his lover (though she also thinks that lover should be her and not Jocelyn) she doesn't protest when Will comes to her forge at night, after an argument or after the day has just been too much, and he lets her hold him and sing to him and falls asleep in her arms in her straw bed. And even though there's nothing romantic in it (because he's too damn noble for that) it's enough to give her hope. It's the hope that gets her through the day, and sometimes even during the night. The hope that he might one day love her as she knows she loves him. But sometimes that hope is depressing because she knows that it's false hope.
Really, she fell in love with him the moment he danced with her. Because even though it was in a dirty, straw-filled room, and there was no music, and he was only dancing with her so he could dance with Jocelyn (and really, from what he told her of that night, he didn't even use the steps she taught him), it was enough to make her fall in love like a fool.
And the day he went riding in the rain? She was leaning against the doorway, watching him but also watching the rain. She was so sad and so lonely and so depressed. Because she'd seen Jocelyn go to his tent, and that had been enough to break her heart. In comparison with the years passed since then, she thinks wryly, it wasn't the first time. Her heart's been shattered a million times, all by him, but she still has room to joke about it because she's Kate and people expect nothing less.
So she builds and builds at her forge, and doesn't say anything when he comes to her bed and lets her hold him and sometimes even cries on her shoulder and leaves at dawn like a secret lover he's too ashamed to be in public, and she lies on her bed on the nights he doesn't come and wonders why she had to be so stupid as to fall for noble Will. Because even if he falls out of love with Jocelyn-if he was ever in love with the first place, because he's too innocent to know love from lust-he's too noble to get rid of her, to marry her off to somebody who won't care that she isn't a virgin and that she's a widow. And it hurts her to know that she isn't worth as much as Jocelyn, despite the fact that he trusts her with his secret tears.
So she says nothing and stays in love and wonders why she didn't take Wat when she had the chance. God knows he looked at her often enough, and he liked her cooking, and she could have built a little cottage for them next to the forge and they would have lived and maybe even loved each other. They couldn't have married, because then she'd lose her trade, but she could have had his children and grown old with him and maybe he might've healed her broken heart. Except he loves the ex-cook of the duchess of York or some such nonsense and Kate lost her chance and so that ship has sailed off into the sunset and hit a rock and broken into a thousand bloody pieces. And she drowned while Will waded to the shore, to Jocelyn, to what he thought was happiness. Except Will never asked for happiness's price. Maybe it was too much, and that's why he relies on her on those cold windy nights.
Some nights she resolves to get past him. On those lonely nights when he's not there and hasn't been there nigh on a week and she has hope that he's stopped depending on her and so she can stop depending on him, she thinks she'll stop loving him over time and she'll find a good blacksmith for a husband and love him till she dies. Except then he comes the next night and buries his head in her shoulder and all she can do is run her fingers through his impossibly curly fair blond hair, and murmur sweet nothings to him, and hope against hope that this won't make her fall a little harder. But she falls so hard because he pushed her off the cliff and didn't even say goodbye. Nobody warned her that it hurt to fall this hard. It wasn't like this with her first husband. Now it's just…ethereal, like she's floating through space. There are no butterflies in her stomach. Just her head in the clouds. And then the slamming force brings her back as she realizes yet again that this is not a romance. It was always meant to be a tragedy for her. For her, happy endings are things to watch and clap at. Not to experience for herself.
Kate wonders what would have happened if she hadn't fallen for him in the first place. But she's always fallen for the hero. It's her fault, her flaw, her eternal mistake. She even loved him when he wouldn't run, because that just proved how much of a knight he was. And how much of a knight he still is.
Tonight she'll lie in bed and dream of him, and in a few nights she won't have to dream because he'll fall asleep in her arms and she won't sleep all night just because that would be a second without seeing him, and then she'll call herself stupid for loving a man that damn much when she can't have him. And in a few years-hell, maybe even in a few months-Jocelyn will make him marry her. Maybe he'll come to her more often because, even though he's married, he'll be more alone than ever. And maybe one day a man, a fellow blacksmith, will ask for her hand because she's pretty enough and also smart and not to mention she's famous, and she'll accept because she's not getting any younger. And maybe she'll fall for her husband, just a little, and stop loving Will so much.
Except Will's perfect. And even though he won't admit it, a part of him loves her too and wants her so badly that he can't even deny it for a full week without coming to her. And it all started when his father died, just a few months ago, and he came to her when Jocelyn couldn't offer enough consolation. So he came in the middle of the night, and she found him just sitting there at her forge, staring at the dying coals. And he didn't say anything when she hugged him, he just hugged her back until she couldn't breathe. Except she couldn't tell him to stop because that would cause him pain. And she didn't tell him to stop crying into her hair because he needed to cry. And she didn't tell him to leave in any of his visits since because that would be heartbreaking to both of them.
He may be with Jocelyn, and maybe he even loves her, but with Jocelyn it's so complicated because it's more lust than love. And maybe being with Kate wouldn't have been so risky, but it would have been comfortable, even while they were arguing-because Will and Kate are like two opposites that just have to fight-and they could've been like that forever, just living, loving, fighting, breathing, being. She would've married him and given up blacksmithing for him because he's worth it.
What hurts the most is that even though his heart tells him who to love, he can't because he's so damn noble-the quality that made her fall head over heels for him. It's his uplifting quality as well as his damning one. It damned him and her at the same time, and she's going to go to hell for loving a married man.
If not, then she's going to go to hell for hating Jocelyn. Or for letting her husband die of a simple fever. A high fever, an incurable one, but a fever nonetheless. How could God forgive her of that, even if He forgave her of hating William's woman?
Usually she just tells herself that it'll all get better someday. That Will can't deny his feelings forever. But if anyone can deny feelings, it's Will. He may be ruled by emotions but he's one of the most secreted, most complicated men she's ever known and he could go forever and a day without telling her he loved her, because he's Will.
She's the same way. So she'll stand there at his wedding and congratulate Jocelyn, and she might even be the midwife for their first child if Jocelyn lets her, and stand there in the midst of all those couples: William and Jocelyn, Wat and his wife, Geoff and Philippa, and Roland and Christiana. Maybe she'll even smile and pretend to be happy, just for them. It's these sleepless nights when she dreams about such things that she really is happy. Because in these dreams William tosses Jocelyn aside-graciously, of course-and tells Kate he loves her and wants to be with her. It's a stupid dream, a schoolgirl fantasy, a childish fancy, but she wants to dream and have fantasies because it's a hell of a lot more fun than life.
Reality is her prison because love locked the gate and threw away the key. Will is her prison guard: never letting her free because occasionally he needs her. It's like she's in the stocks, except no one's there to defend her with a hammer like she defended Will, and there's no Geoff to say some pretty speech about gold and iron and his terrible cook of a mother because Geoff's in bloody London. So the crowd just humiliates her without saying a word, and she can taste the rotten vegetables, the denied love, like it's bile in her throat. Sometimes she spends hours swallowing, imagining what he tastes like.
Love is complicated. She's heard this for all her life. She remembers what it felt like to love her husband because part of her loves him still. And the remaining part of her heart-the living part-is dedicated to loving a taken man.
So she lies on her bed and pretends to sleep. She goes through the motions of life because it's too damn complicated to actually go through with them without Will at her side. And Wat will still leer at her sometimes when he and his cook fight, and Roland will be with Christiana and won't have a care in the world if she's unhappy. And Will shall be the same way because, despite his denied but existent love for her, he doesn't really understand her like she understands him. He doesn't see the pain in her eyes because it's been there so long that it's faded in with the rest of the colors there. Sometimes it's black and sometimes it's green or blue or even brown. She likes it when her eyes seem brown because then she's closer to Will that way.
And despite how much she denies it, even to herself, she loves to be close to him. She clings to him and to being like him, and that's how much it hurts when he kisses her on the cheek in public and makes love with Jocelyn later that night. It hurts like she's walking on glass, like she's been hit with a tipped lance without any armor on. She's less protected than Will was.
So she falls, harder and harder and slower and slower, and pretends it doesn't do any damage.
She'll pretend until she hits the ground. She'll pretend until the world falls down.