From Hill to Sea: A Short Story
I sit on my window seat, observing the rolling hills and beautiful dells that I now call my own. It is such a lovely place, my Ireland. So green and lush and so very gentle is this place to my senses; almost as if it was made for me and me alone.
I watch the birds in the brilliant blue sky, fly in their formation and wonder for the millionth time how it would be to fly? Up and away in the air without a care in the world! Soaring so high that the sun touches your very soul, and diving so low that the fish can see your belly as you pull up at the last second. Oh how would it be to fly!
The shores of the nearby sea call to me and I would go, if I could. But I made a promise I must keep. I promised to stay within the house and I will honor my end of the bargain. As I have done since I first made it. Though it is quite boring to stay cooped up in-doors when it is such a lovely evening.
Just as I sigh in defeat, I hear someone clear their throat behind me. I turn, with a large smile covering my face, for I know who it is. It is my Master! He is home!
Mirthful light blue eyes meet mine and I feel my stomach flutter. My Master is truly a handsome man with fair skin, high cheek bones, and a distinguished profile. But nothing about him pleases me more than his voice. That silken, majestic baritone that makes the world turn upside down on itself. Oh, I could listen to him for hours and he needn't speak anything but gibberish, and I would be content for the remainder of my days!
My Master doesn't bother to keep the grin off his lips as he draws closer to where I sit at the window. He has noticed how I stare at him and his eyes show off his devious nature.
"What captures my lady's attention so?"
I shake my head and scoff, trying to hide my embarrassment at being caught watching him.
"As if thou didn't know, Milord," I cry indignantly.
"Indulge me, my dear," he prompts, that wicked grin of his undoing me as it always does.
I make a show of sighing loudly as I shift at the windowsill. "I was admiring the rolling hills and the waves of the sea shore . . . But thine appearance has distracted mine eyes and made me think of only thee."
He laughs then, a bubbly mixture of both chuckle and giggle that is so unique that I know I will never hear it from another. He sounds like a mischievous imp as he laughs and I find that I cannot help but join him. We laugh together and I marvel at the beautiful simplicity of the moment.
"A truer answer was ne'er spoken!" He claims happily as he crosses the room to kneel at my feet. His hands encase mine and I care for him more than ever as he looks into my eyes with love and concern.
"How does Milady fair this day," he asks quietly. "Is she comfortable? Is she content upon this eve?"
"My life is a happy one, my lord. And as such, I am a happy mistress."
His forehead wrinkles slightly in frustration. "You twist around my inquiry, Branna Malora."
I know what he is truly asking me, but I do so love to toy with him!
He takes his large hands and lays them gently on my swollen belly, his eyes never leaving mine. "How does my Lady fair?" He asks once more.
"I am well," I reply. "As is our child . . . She will surely be a strong maid! For her kicks grow stronger by the hour and she is forever restless in her movements!"
He studies me in wonder. "Why do you believe the child to be female?"
I look off to a spot only I can see, and tears cloud my eyes as I answer him.
"I just know, my love. There is no explanation or reason behind it . . . but I know it is a little lass that grows inside me."
He says nothing as he lays his head to rest against the prominent bump and closes his eyes. I love the feeling of having my loved ones so near me. And I tell him as much, to which he hums in appreciation.
I carry my husband's child . . . A child that we created out of love and adoration. When she is born, the babe will be living proof of our bond, and no one will ever question our kinship again. We will finally belong together.
My Master wedded me without the proper consent and I was forced to leave my family and heritage because of this; but I no longer care for companionship other than that my lord.
As my beloved holds onto me and our unborn child, I feel whole. And I know without a doubt that I am home.
I cry harder than ever before, my heart torn in two pieces that mock me mercilessly. I have never felt pain this acute, or desperation of this magnitude in my entire life! Oh, if only the agony would cease! Let it fade before I go mad from grief, I beg the heavens, but it seems that no one is listening.
My Master! My love . . . My sweet Tom is gone, and I am left alone in the house we have shared. And all I have to show is a broken heart and a conflicted mind.
My Master told me he had to check on our lands and without another word he had left, and still he has not returned. It has been two full days since I last saw him alive and well, and I fear the worst.
What am I to do? How will I survive in this strange place without my beloved by my side? How will our child know how much her father loved her, if he is not here to tell her?
I fight back the sorrow and put my courage to the grindstone. I must find him. I will go out and search for my husband until I he is at my side once more. If it means that I too am lost to the world or left lifeless in the moors, so be it!
I shoulder my heavy, winter shall and leave the place I have called home; walking into the lush green hills opposite the sea line and go farther inland. Today I pay the beautiful landscape no mind as I walk along the steep ridges into the slightly harsher marshes of my Master's lands. I have no time to sight-see. Not when everything I care about is missing. So I focus only on my footing, and the current direct I am taking.
I have never been this far into my Master's lands, and as such, I am wary of where I place my feet. One wrong step and I will sink into the misty sands and be swallowed up for all eternity. So I tread with care.
My child is surprisingly still as I move through the unfamiliar territory. For the first time in many months, she doesn't stir. It is almost as if she knows why we are out here. Almost as if my unborn child is urging me onward. I take strength from my little one and keep walking, not knowing where I'm going or why. I don't ask questions, for there is no one to ask. I merely let my senses guide me further into the untamed wilderness.
I don't understand how I know where to go, but I do, and soon I reach a small clearing in the middle of the thick woodland. I have never seen this place before, and yet . . . I know it like I had lived here my entire life. It is a place of strong magic and mystery.
I walk further into the clearing, and my eyes land on an unknown figure that is standing in the center. I silently draw nearer, my gaze never leaving the being that currently has his back to me, and I wait for him to notice that he has company. Finally, he turns and large, light blue eyes meet mine. My stomach flutters anxiously as I realize it is my beloved.
After several moments I find my voice, and as I speak I can hear the pain and fear.
"Why did you leave me, husband," I ask in a quiet voice. "Have I displeased you, or done something to your disliking?"
He ignores me and says not a word, but bows his head in shame. And in that moment I realize why he had left. I know why he is here and the thought scares me more than anything. But I don't let on, for I know that my husband must be the one to make the first move. It is his decision after all.
"I cannot keep you locked away from the world forever," he spits out suddenly, his deep voice a low rumble of emotion, as his back stiffens. "But I could no sooner lose you."
He sounds nothing like the man I know. But I push back my fear and wait, though I am now certain of what is to come.
"What have you decided, my Lord?"
He looks at me in shock, before his anger surfaces.
"Does thou jest?"
"No, kind sir," I reply calmly. "I do not jest."
My beloved falls to the ground, his large hands grasping something so tight, that his knuckles turn an unhealthy shade of white. I know the object well, but I only focus on my Tom. I kneel down across from him and against every instinct I have, I tell him the truth.
"I let you find me that day . . ."
"I had watched you for some time before I made the decision to be yours. . . I wanted to make sure that you were the man you appeared to be. I needed to be sure that you were kind and true before I fully gave you my heart."
Tom's eyes grow wet with tears as understanding dawns on his handsome face. "You knew I would find the skin? You left it there hidden in the rocks, for me to claim?"
I nod, my ebony hair bouncing slightly in the light spring breeze. "I loved you before you ever set eyes upon me, dearest. . . I made the choice. . . Tom, I wanted you to find my skin."
My beloved cries out: a guttural sound that makes my soul falter. Never before have I heard such a sound, on land or sea. After a moment I realize that Tom is sobbing. Never before have I heard him cry, and I pray that I will never have to hear such a heartbroken sound er'r again.
I stay several feet away from him- not know what to expect- but from where I sit, I murmur soothing words. Though my husband doesn't understand the language that I speak, I believe it helps, for after a time his tears cease to fall.
As dusk begins to fall on the hills, my beloved finally makes his decision. Standing from the ground he approaches me, the oily seal skin in his calloused, yet gentle hands.
"I took your skin so that you would never be able to leave me," he admits. "But now that my love for you has grown, I realize that I cannot bear to see you unhappy. . ."
To my surprise, my husband holds out the skin to me, his eyes full of sincerity and love. "Take your skin, my fair Selkie and reclaim your freedom."
I slowly take my skin from him and hold it in my hands. I feel a magical warmth shift through my veins as I hold my true form in a loving grip. I would be lying if I said that I hadn't missed it. I had longed for the sea, this much was truth. But I had also never known that life could have so much meaning. I had never imagined that I could feel so much, or love so completely.
And as I hold my old skin to my heart, I make up my mind.
Kneeling down on the earthen ground, I slowly begin to dig a hole with my hands. Soon enough, I have created a hole big enough to lay my old skin to rest.
"Branna," Tom cautions, realizing what I'm about to do. "Dearest, you don't have to do this. . ."
"I want to do it, my Lord," I immediately reply, knowing that it is the most truthful and sincere thing I will ever say.
I place my Selkie skin into the hole and bury it. As the loose dirt covers it, I feel the magical warmth leave me, and the world is left to the regular coldness of the human realm. But I do not mind. How can I, when I have my beloved by my side once more?
The choice having been made, we slowly walk back to our home, hand in hand. It takes us some time to leave the wilderness, but time is meaningless to me as we share this moment. There is no more fear; only peace and contentment as we make the final march to our home located near the rocky shores.
As we finally reach the stoop of our homestead, my husband pulls me to him and we share a tender kiss.
We do not pull away from each other until it is absolutely necessary for us to partake in air. And as my Tom takes his lips from mine, he shows me that mischievous grin that I have become so fond and brushes my cheek with a forefinger.
With loving playfulness he whispers, "How does my Lady Selkie fair this day?"
I place my free hand on my stomach and reply without a moment's hesitation, "I am the merriest Selkie that ever lived, my love. And I will always be thus."
Tom chuckles deeply as he leans down to grace my forehead with a kiss. "Then we shall be happy until the end of our days, Branna Malora."
Together we enter our cottage, and I chance a look back- just once more- at the sea. The waves seemed to say a last farewell as I study the calm lapping of the shoreline. And I, in turn, give out one last call in my old language: that of the seals. Then I turn my back on the sea, for I have a husband to love and a family to look after.
Despite the small spark of sadness I feel, I know I will never regret my decision. For I know without question that I am home.
A/N: Selkies are a mythical type of Seal that have the ability to shed their seal skin and become human. If someone steals, hides, or destroys the skin, then the Selkie is trapped on land forever.
Also, if it wasn't obvious, the Tom in this story = Tom Hiddleston. And you must know that Tom Hiddleston + anything = an amazing, ovary exploding time.
See, I can do claculations! Take that math teachers! 8D