A clip from Brundelwain.
Chapter 10, Gaelochaven.
© 2011, Eleanor Raif
When the chicken had met its end and lay neatly plucked on the counter and the other foul were seen to, Aldyn carefully washed his hands and motioned for Alana to follow him. He picked up a glowing stick from the fireplace and they left the warmth of the dining area and entered the cold and unused sitting room again where Colin and Marcas were stacking up more firewood. Aldyn picked up a few small pieces of kindling and Alana followed his broad shoulders through the door that led into the north wing of the house.
It was cold and dark until he lit a candle on a table in the corner. He set to work lighting the fire in the hearth, the smoke coiling up into the chimney that howled with the winter wind.
Alana looked around at the home he had shared with his wife. She had wondered if it had remained completely unchanged. A few pots sat on a shelf, one held dried heather flowers long left to the spiders, one a collection of pussy willow branches in a similar state. A little wooden box was displayed on a corner shelf next to a silver coil of metal which appeared to be a bracelet of sorts. There was evidence of a woman and it must have been Marion.
“I’m sorry about the dust and cobwebs.” Aldyn muttered as he bent over the hearth. “Hopefully it will be suitable enough for you.”
“’Tis fine.” Alana answered softly. “Ye aren’t here too often to care for it.”
“Aye, well. That’s not the problem, I suppose. Blaire, she…she has offered to clean it up for me but I…I haven’t wanted her to for so long. Things are…things are just as they were left.” Aldyn was different now, something happened to him, stepping into this place so full of ghosts.
Alana lit another candle she found and pushed open the door into the bedroom casting a glance back at him. He looked up at her, then nodded, giving her permission to tread there.
She stepped into the large bedroom and gazed in wonder at the intricate wooden bed before her. At the head and foot were two beautiful swans, necks bowed gracefully to each other, wings raised as if they were taking flight. She had never seen a more beautiful piece of furniture. She ran her fingers down the neck of the one nearest her and felt the smoothness of it, it was impeccably well made. The linens were clean it seemed, and the bed had been slept in recently. It must have been where he slept when he visited. She turned to find a large wardrobe beautifully made as well. She opened the door and the scent of mint twigs and lavender poured out of it. Marion’s clothes were still there, neatly placed. She closed the door gently, with reverence, and set the candle down on the hearth.
“What is it?” he asked, still arguing with the fireplace.
“Did ye want to light this fire too?”
“We’ll see if I can get this one going strong. May not need the both of them.”
She peeked out of the shutters and saw that the snow had begun to blow. The trees bent to the wind and flecks of white were dancing about wildly. She shut them again, shivering.
She returned to Aldyn and knelt next to him. He glanced back at her and she giggled.
“What?” he smiled.
“Ye’ve got a smudge on your nose.” She smiled.
“Oh,” he replied, rubbing it. “Is it there now?”
“Aye, it is.” She smiled, then reached out a finger and rubbed it herself. “There now, that’s better anyway.”
He sat back and drew his knees up. “I think I’ve got it started.”
“Looks that way.” She gazed into the fire that crackled before them, eating up all of the kindling and showering the logs beneath with burning embers.
“Thank ye for coming in here with me. I have a hard time facing this place alone. I thought if ye came I’d feel less…haunted.”
She took his hand. “Of course, Aldyn. Perhaps I could help ye tidy it?”
“Perhaps.” He answered her quietly.
“The furnishings are beautiful. Wherever did ye get them?”
“I bought them from a Norwegian nobleman. I had seen a bed like it on my travels and I had hoped that I would find another. Sure enough, the week before we were to be wed I met this man who was selling some things. He had brought it here for his wife, she was a Scot. She did’na much like it. I also bought the wardrobe from him. They were a surprise for Marion on our wedding day. She loved them.”
“I can see why. They are magnificent. Ye were good to her.”
He nodded. “Aye.”
“She was fortunate, Aldyn, to have you. Her life was short, and to…to be loved by someone like you, ye must have made her life something wonderful.”
“I suppose I have never thought of it that way.”
“Think how many people have lived and died without knowing a love like that.”
Aldyn’s eyes met hers again. “And some of us may even be lucky enough to know it twice in a lifetime.”