Story for the Day: Caught
The expedition to Karnwyl was called and Teague, Nerri, Connors and Mureadh were to attend the royal party with their respective regiments. They were all to convene at the main gate before sunrise and set out along the Southern Road toward Sethshire. They were expected to be in Karnwyl the following day, and as their destination was Mureadh’s home, the captain of the guard thought to ask his sister to travel with them.
He supposed Qwynlin would be just as desirous of seeing their many siblings as he was himself. She would be forced to close the toy shoppe for a few days but she was doing so well at her new business that he reckoned the few days she would be gone would not signify in the least. If her sales would not dampen then neither would her spirits, and she would be pleased to join the royal party and be surrounded by the armed forces for a day or two. With this assumption in mind, Mureadh traveled toward the residential quarter, ready to make the proposal to his sister. He was certain that she should like the scheme. There was everything to her advantage in it, but Mureadh’s musings of how he would present it to her and how it would all be were silenced when upon coming to the door of her home, he heard cries emanating from her window. He looked around to the side of the house to see the window to Qwynlin’s bedchamber ajar. The cries stopped for a moment. He listened for their countenance. They came again more strident than before. There were heartfelt woes of agony followed by the sound of a man’s voice and Mureadh was certain his sister was in terrible danger. He opened the first door with his key and hastened up the steps to the front door of her apartment. He heard the pained cries coming from beyond the door. Mureadh began to fear that a thief had come in through the open window, had seen his stunning sister and had decided to take more than possession from her.
Mureadh did not look for any more signs of infiltration or misconduct. He must save his sister, he must salvage her pride, and she would have to forgive him for destroying her front door. With all the courage and gallantry Mureadh could gather, he took his sword into his hand and slammed his massive shoulder against the door. The knuckles of the hinges bent and the pins had almost broken. Another slam into the door and the hinges collapsed. The door fell forward and Mureadh leapt into the house, prepared to strike the trespasser with a great roar and his sword held high over his head.
To Mureadh’s great astonishment, he found the intruder to be Teague. He was sitting on the ground with his arms and legs wrapped tightly around Qwynlin’s bare form, caressing and osculating her as though they had just ended a bout of something Mureadh preferred not to think of. She was flushed, they both were, and both were rapt in luxuriant bliss between the sheepskin pelts laid before the fire until Mureadh had broken down the door and barged in, ruining their states of exquisite pleasance. They stared at him in frozen horror and Mureadh stared at them with the same. They were all of them terror-stricken and agape, Mureadh for seeing his sister in so debased a manner and Teague and Qwynlin for regarding their invader standing over them with a sword in his hand. Teague began to think Mureadh had discovered his secret by some means and had come to kill him for it, but when he noted that Mureadh was just as struck with shock as himself, he became aware of the misunderstanding that had accrued.
Mureadh’s arms dropped to his sides and his body was immovable as his mind attempted to fathom what he was seeing. He realized now that the cries he had heard were cries of pleasure mistaken for those of anguish. He believed Qwynlin was being tormented when in truth she could not have been in a happier condition. “You . . .” he began to say, but nothing else would come. His eyes focused on Teague. He felt a wave of confusion and anger burst on him, but seeing his friend stare back at himself while holding Qwynlin in a protective manner as she shivered in fear and alarm recommended that there was some valiancy to be valued in the situation. Mureadh’s expression grew increasingly forlorn. He had realized the extent of the deception rather than the horror of his sister and his friend being involved with one another without his awareness. The conception of such a circumstance being before her marriage was one thing, but the notion of it being kept from him by the two people he held as dearest in the world was another. When Mureadh could move, the first motion he was able to make was to unclench his hand. His sword dropped to the ground and he stepped back. He turned his eyes away and looked at the ground. He could neither speak nor walk away. He must only think and feel wretched.
After some minutes, Qwynlin was the first to move. She breathed her brother’s name in anxiety and then reached for the sheepskins to cover herself as quickly as she could. She struggled to explain but her words would not form into coherent phrases. She was too terrified of her brother’s reaction once he should regain his sensibilities. She was told by her protector told her not to worry, that he would claim the task of calming her brother, and that she should dress and conceal herself until he came to collect her. She obeyed Teague’s quiet proposal. She scampered into the bedchamber taking the skins with her and locked the door behind her, leaving Teague and Mureadh to themselves.
Teague stood from the ground with his back to Mureadh to hide the remnant of his endeavors. He stared at Mureadh from over his shoulder, his body screened by his long and lush hair unfurled, and he waited. He waited to see if Mureadh would have a delayed remonstrance or aggressive rejoinder but there was nothing to suggest he was in a sate fit for retaliation of any kind. He kept his eye on Mureadh while he gathered his leather britches at his feet and tied them up as he watched Mureadh slump over to the table near the kitchen. His friend sat with his head in his hands, his eyes unblinking for the awfulness of what had passed. Teague allowed Mureadh a few minutes to recollect himself from his miserable musings, and when he deemed it safe to approach, Teague sat in the chair beside him saying nothing and looking at his dejected friend with a firm but considerate glance.
Mureadh looked at him once but his gaze dropped again when the image of Teague in lustful rapture with his beloved sister returned to him. He winced, attempting to remove the vision from his mind, but his failure to do so resulted in more images plaguing him. He must look away from his friend if he wished to speak. He inhaled numerous times in preparation for his speech of disappointment and aversion, but the only thing he could say in a low voice and slow execution was, “How long has it been?”
Teague thought for a moment and leaned forward in his chair. “A while now,” he said.
“Since she came here?”
Teague cringed and averted his eyes. “She expressed interest before that,” he quietly admitted.
Mureadh responded with a heavy sigh and rubbed his closed eyes.
“She was afraid to tell you,” Teague said with firm politeness.
“And so I find out like this?” Mureadh rejoined, staring at his friend in growing ire.
“She hadn’t expected you until later.”
Mureadh’s body tensed and he shook his head in resentment for being left out in such a manner. “And just how long were you going to keep this a secret?”
“Until your sister felt that you had the right to know.”
“You agreed to this?” Mureadh scoffed in disbelief.
Teague paused and gave an unfortunate sigh. “Somewhat. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t want you to be angry with her for the choice she made.”
Mureadh’s simmering fury began to thaw. He realized by Teague’s answer that he harboured much sentiment on Qwynlin’s side and that he valued her feelings before those of his own. He studied Teague’s expression. There was some abashedness in his countenance but Mureadh believed it was not from what Teague had done with his sister but from the silence that was enforced upon him for the good of their attachment. His look pleaded with him not to be livid when Qwynlin had already undergone so much humiliation for the sake of their affection. Mureadh must concede on this account. To punish his sister for being enamored with his friend was a cruelty he would not express. The indignity of being caught was enough castigation for all of them, and Mureadh resigned himself to the consolation that Teague was a caring and intelligent person.
“Please,” Mureadh said, closing his eyes again, “Tell me you won’t have children without doing the honourable thing.”
Teague did his utmost not to laugh at Mureadh’s entreaty. He assumed Mureadh alluded to marriage as the honourable thing mentioned, but since his own parents had followed Lucentian custom by not taking vows, he hardly saw how marriage could be considered as respectable when they both knew of several marriages that could not be marked the same. He chose, however, not to pursue the argument and half-smiled at Mureadh in answer. He took a moment to consider the notion of children with his lover and he decided, “I have a brother and sister who are young enough to be our children. I think that’s enough for now.”
Mureadh was soothed by being reminded of Teague’s sense of responsibility, but even though he had more then proven himself with regard to caring for his family, Qwynlin was not a Hawarden. She was a Farhayden. Had they been closer or longer acquainted with one another as far as family connections were concerned, Mureadh would have given little thought to question forming in his mind. He knew he should not ask, but he must. “Do you love my sister, Teague?” he said in a dreadful whisper.
Teague’s eyes passed over Mureadh’s worried appearance and looked behind him to the room in which he stunning creature now stood shivering in fear. He observed the crack in the bedchamber door where it hung ajar and he saw Qwynlin’s tremulous shadow standing in wait of an answer. He smiled at her when he reflected on her loveliness, her forbearance of his tastes, her depraved and yet sensible character. She was nothing less than marvelous to him. “Yes, I certainly do,” he proudly stated, nodding his head while thinking of what ecstasy they were in before Mureadh arrived.
Mureadh was forced to remember how many times he had found Teague near or within her home. He had allowed himself to suspect but had never before permitted himself to accuse. “So, when I came to visit her after she moved here . . . ?” he said, recalling the first time he had seen Teague sitting at the kitchen table with his hair unbound.
“Yes,” Teague quietly said.
Mureadh sighed. He did his utmost not to think of their relationship as a deception and reminded himself that Qwynlin though younger than Teague was old enough to make her own conclusions. “Well,” he exhaled, “If you say you love her, I believe you.” The idea of acceptance was prevailing over him, and he added, “I’m glad it’s you and not someone else. I know you’ll be good to her and treat her how she ought to be treated.” Mureadh gave Teague a diffident smile and both made a silent agreement to speak about the relationship with calmness and openness.
Teague relaxed in his chair and thought of what to say next that would keep Mureadh in a tolerably comfortable state. “Before you decided to break down the door,” he said with a slight laugh, “Qwynlin was asking me if I wanted my brother and sister to move in here with her. She felt it wasn’t right that I should be parted from them when there is a spare room that could be put to better use.” He paused. “These are her words.”
Mureadh nodded in silence and motioned for Teague to continue.
“I thought it was a fairly decent idea, but I told her that she would have to ask you since this house was bought for your family’s use and not for mine. I would pay you for the rent the room but with the understanding that I would be here quite often.”
Mureadh was tempted to remark that Teague was already in Qwynlin’s bed and therefore this sort of proximity could not be any more appalling, but he chose not to think about the subject to keep the visions of his sister in Teague’s arms from accosting him.
“I don’t need an answer, Mureadh,” Teague said after a few moments of silence. “It’s just something for you to consider.”
The plan was an agreeable one but not one Mureadh could ponder with any semblance of clarity at the moment. His mind though assuaged was still bemused and he thought it advisable not to make any decision on the matter until after their return from Karnwyl. He now believed it best that his sister should not join him on the expedition south. She would be afraid even to look at Teague in his presence and for her to travel in constant terror was not his aspiration. It was better for them to have some time apart, she to allow her sensibilities to refresh and he to allow the residual irritation to subside. He stood from the table, told Teague he would meet him at the capital’s front gate with the remainder of the troops, took his sword from the ground and left the apartment.
Teague watched his friend go and once he heard the front door close, he called Qwynlin out from her hiding place. She came to him, looking warily at the stairs, hoping her brother would not return with second thoughts. Teague kissed her softly and held her to him in the bend of his arm to assure her that the worst was over.
“You told him everything?” she said, gazing up at Teague with petrified features.
Teague looked over at the whips and straps against the wall of Qwynlin’s room and grinned. “Not everything,” he said with sparkling eyes.
Qwynlin praised the gods for Teague’s attentive prudence and sighed, resting her head against his bare chest. She suddenly felt her hair being pulled tightly from behind and her neck was forced to crane upward.
“No one has the right to know how much I enjoy torturing you,” Teague growled, grazing his pointed nose against her cheek. “And no one has the right to know how much you like your punishment.”
Qwynlin made a shy yet wicked smile and she invited Teague into her room where they could exorcize their rights together without the barrier of a closed door to shield them from disconsolate brothers.