Introduction & Disclaimer
This is a sequel to another of my stories, “The Night Just Seems So Long.” Also, this storyline fits together with Paula’s story, “Freedom.”
All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended.
A Kiss for the Rose
– 1 –
The gentle tap, tapping at the door was the first thing Cobweb became aware of, followed by the sun shining directly into his eyes from the window by his bed. He groaned and pulled the quilt over his head. He didn’t want to get up – not yet. Nearly all the previous evening he had sat in a morose heap on the garden seat in the green-house, enjoying his misery. Now he wanted to sleep in…maybe stay in bed for the whole day – to dream. But there it was again, more insistent this time. He lifted his head from the pillow and called out.
“Go away.” But whoever it was didn’t. A soft voice issued from behind his bedroom door.
“Cobweb, please, it’s urgent.”
Cobweb forced his eyes open, gritted his teeth, sat up in the bed, flicked his hair off his face and called out.
“All right, come in Lias, but this had better be important.”
Lias opened the door quietly and entered the room, his head bowed. When he looked up there were tears in his eyes. “It’s Bryony, Cobweb. I think she’s dying.”
Cobweb almost fell out of the bed, grabbed his gown and followed Lias down the hall. Lias, his new personal servant was turning out better than Cobweb had hoped. He was considerate, discreet as well as very efficient. As a healer, he had also been nursing Bryony through her latest illness. For the past three or four years, Bryony had been in and out of bed with one problem after the other. Cobweb had hoped she would bounce back again this time as she had before…but Lias seemed certain she wouldn’t, when he took Cobweb’s hand now and looked gently into his face.
“She hasn’t long, Cobweb. This time the infliction has taken hold of her whole body and she is going down hill fast. None of my herbs or potions are making any difference. All I can do is make her comfortable.”
Cobweb picked up Lias’ hand and together they entered Bryony’s bedroom. It was filled with soft sunlight and flowers, and Bryony was propped up on several lily white pillows, seemingly asleep. Cobweb drew near to the bed and Bryony stirred, opened her eyes and smiled wanly at him. “Thanks for coming Cobweb.” Her voice was indistinct and husky, and the few words she had spoken tired her out. She sighed and shut her eyes again, momentarily.
Cobweb let go of Lias’ hand and took up one of Bryony’s. “I’m here for you my sweet friend.” Bryony opened her eyes and smiled at him.
“Thank you.” Was all she could manage before she slipped into a fitful sleep. Cobweb sat by her bedside for the rest of the day, giving her little slivers of ice to suck on and singing old lullabies to her. Several times she opened her eyes to look into his, but never spoke another word. As the light in the room began to wane, her life slipped away, and Cobweb laid his head on her chest and shed sorrowful tears.
Lias eventually pulled him away from her and led him back to his rooms. He was completely bereft, even more so than the night before. His whole body was shaking with emotion as Lias helped him to undress and brought him a cup of broth.
“I’ll send a message to Swift and Seel for you Cobweb. They should be able to get back here in time for a funeral.”
“It’s all right, Lias. I am in tune with my son. I will let him know in my own way what has happened. He was close to Bryony. They almost grew up together.”
Lias nodded and closed the curtains in the bedroom and turned on the bedside lamp.
“Can I get you anything else, Cobweb?” He asked quietly.
“What I need I don’t think you are capable of producing.” Cobweb answered, as he sucked in his lower lip.
Lias looked at him confused, but knew better than to question him any further. “I’ll leave you alone then. Just put your mug on the side table, I’ll see to it in the morning.”
Cobweb watched Lias leave, brought the mug of broth up to his lips, but put it down again straight away. He couldn’t drink it…his heart was leaden. With a long drawn out sigh, he pulled the quilt up over his head and tried to sleep.
Two days later, the morning of the funeral was bright and sunny, as Cobweb dressed slowly, looking out the window to the little garden Bryony tended. It had become a little overgrown lately, as she had been unwell most of the time. But there in the middle of the tangled herbs and drooping spring flowers, he saw it. A perfect red rose. He went into the garden himself and cut it carefully, taking in a whiff of its delicate perfume.
Swift and Seel had arrived the night before, along with a few servants who had worked in the house for a short time, including, Swithe and Ithiel, as well as an old friend of Swift’s, Leef. Cobweb was of course pleased to see them all, and fussed over everyone, making sure they were well fed and watered.
Swift approached him at one stage and took him aside. “Cobweb, stop fussing, we should be fussing over you – after all Bryony became one of your best friends, eventually, didn’t she?”
Cobweb just nodded and hugged Swift to him. “I didn’t send for Tyson, Swift. He has just ventured on his journey to be reunited with his hostling. I didn’t think it was fair to bother him. Do you think he will mind?”
Swift reassured Cobweb, and set about helping him to serve the drinks. Their servants looked on suspiciously, but Seel let them know that Cobweb and Swift were happy to be fussing, it kept their minds off the funeral that was being held that afternoon.
As the little entourage of mourners approached the small cemetery at the edge of town, Cobweb clutching the red rose, and his other hand holding his son’s, he noticed someone standing near the entrance gate. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the Har, with blonde hair, and an all too familiar stance. He looked suspiciously like Cal.