Anticipating Beltane


Scotland: 1558.

The clouds and frequent chilly rain of winter not withstanding, Lise began to resume her tramps out of doors. Though not as indifferent to her security as she had once been, her need for air and exertion reasserted themselves.

Against any expectation she would have had if consulted, Lise had found heeling and renewal at Whithorn. Though not of a religious temperament, Lise had to concede that, somehow, Margarete had been right to insist on the long and arduous journey. Lise had always thought pilgrimage to be a pointless trial. Nevertheless, it was only since that long journey and the many things that had happened on the road, that Lise had truly begun to heel from the wound her spirit had received at the hands of three lawless rapists.

The men were each dead, and Lise was alive. Since the pilgrimage last autumn, she had been increasingly able to savor her life, and to feel grateful for it.

Sometimes, Owen would accompany her on her energetic walks through wood and over hill. Since Whithorn, they had grown more at ease together, though there was still a distance between them. They discussed it as freely as they could, both agreeing that, more than anything, time was what was needed.

Before the traumatic events that had sent her spiraling down into despair, Lise and Owen had been lovers. While their unconventional courtship had stretched tantalizingly over months, the expression of their passion had known only one day before catastrophe had robbed Lise of all joy in living and love.

At Whithorn, she and Margarete had at last come together once more in renewal of the bonds of loyalty and passion that had bound them to one another for three years. This, as much as anything else, had helped Lise to come back to herself.

Cautious but observant, Owen had long since deduced that Margarete and Lise were physically intimate in the ways which folk usually thought of as exclusive to man and woman. Sophisticated and wise in the ways of human nature, Owen had observed, wondered, but kept his own counsel.

Still, he often pondered the relationship between the two women; mistress and servant, noble-woman and attendant, guide and protégé, lover and lover, sworn companion and sworn companion. It was a riddle beyond his reading, but that did not trouble him. As a singer of songs and a teller of tales, he had no need to fit each person into one defined role, but had an infinite capacity for seeing uniqueness.

Margarete was young, married not yet one year, noble born of a landed French family. Lise was her Lady’s attendant, older, more experienced, of lower social rank. These were the roles folk saw publicly. Owen had spent no little time wondering about what went on in private.

Owen wondered how physical matters stood between her and Margarete since Lise’s renewal at Whithorn, but he did not ask.

Lise felt, often with a twisting sadness, that she and Owen were now engaged in a conventional courtship, very different from the one they had been engaged in during the months before Lamas; the festival of the first harvest when her assault had taken place.

Never having known any personal interest in propriety, she had not missed it during the vivid flirtation of their first courtship. As the winter progressed however, she found herself observing its edicts not out of modesty, but out of a need to guard herself. She was not afraid of Owen, but of how intimacy with him might make her feel. Margarete was one thing, but Owen was a man.

She began to long for him with growing intensity, but the last thing she wanted was for them to act before she was ready to do so with full ardor and receptivity.

As the spring began to make itself felt and seen, all experienced the deep sense of quickening in land and animal. The seasonal work of field and pasture turned in its inevitable cycle towards growth and verdancy.

As April waned, Margarete was acutely aware that soon, it would be a year since her arrival in Perthshire. With what seemed a wholly appropriate conjunction, the anniversary of her marriage would coincide closely with the celebration of Beltane in earliest May.

She had known a form of this festival in the countryside of Bordeaux, but it seemed to her that folk in Perthshire anticipated it with more relish. She reflected that this was, perhaps, an effect of the very different climates of the two places. She herself felt the coming of spring far more acutely than she had as a child.

She discussed it with Lise one night while Lise brushed out Margarete’s hair in preparation for braiding and sleep.

“They say there is more dancing than at any other of the festivals. Maggie has been Anadolu Yakası Escort working to teach me. Her little one is old enough that she looks forward to a good deal of dancing and festivity.”

“And to a trip or two with her husband into the darkness beyond the fires also I gather.”

Margarete heard the smile in Lise’s voice and rejoiced that Lise could speak so again. Margarete smiled too, a dreamy, inward smile. The feel of the brush through her long hair was soothing, and lise’s touch always brought a mixture of peace and stimulation.

“Folk do say that many babes are born in January, and not all are the children of their mother’s husbands.”

Margarete’s mischievous words brought appreciative Laughter from Lise. Encouraged, Margarete ventured to breech a reticence they had observed since Whithorn.

“I have more than once come upon Owen and yourself embraced in a secluded corner, seeming quite enraptured with one another. Perhaps Maggie will not be the only one to drift away into shadow for a time.”

At Lise’s silence, Margarete turned a little anxiously, but found only a small smile on Lise’s face. Margarete widened her eyes in a not all together frivolous question.

“Perhaps,” Lise replied softly. They say it is a time of great license.”

Her fingers were still gently wound in the strands of Margarete’s hair. She lifted the strands to her face, inhaled the familiar scent, and brushed the soft hair across her own cheek.

“That’s what folk said of Lamas also.” Her expression sobered.

Margarete laid a tentative hand on her arm and said carefully, “I think the time has come to cease looking backward.”

“I know. I know. I have for the most part. I long to be with him again as we were that one day, but I feel like such a different person that I fear it will not be the same. I fear that I will not be the same.”

They were alone. Margarete rose, took the hair brush from Lise’s hand, laid it aside, and took her in a gentle embrace.

“When you and I came together at Whithorn, it was not as it had been, you were not as you had been, and yet… It was no less powerful, no less loving. Since then, we have become less cautious with one another. It is not exactly as it was, but it is still true, and deeper for the waiting. Owen is good and kind. He loves you, and will feel as I do, I know this.”

Lise returned the embrace, and Margarete felt her tension. Concerned, she pulled back to see Lise’s face, but found there only a kind of excitement.

Margarete glanced toward the closed door. Beyond was the staircase down to the Great Hall where Margarete’s husband and Owen remained for a last cup of wine. Margarete drew Lise behind the hangings of the bed. She knew they could not count on prolonged privacy, but the curtains were sufficient to hide them for the seconds it would take the door to open.

Confidently, tenderly, Margarete drew Lise again into her arms and kissed her with slow sensuality. Without speaking, each woman was conscious of the memory of Lise dealing so with Margarete during their first days here almost one year ago. So often, Lise had deliberately drawn on and evoked their shared passion in order to strengthen or distract. Each time, it had replaced anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness with a vital force. If it had left Margarete deliberately unsatisfied, it had also fortified and energized her.

With a mild wonder, each realized that this was what Margarete was now giving back. With the same docility that this strategy had elicited in Margarete many months ago, Lise found herself surrendering to the deliberate rousing of desire that she knew could not be immediately satisfied.

She abandoned worry and caution. She trusted Margarete to keep half an ear open for intruders, to guard them, to guide her along the well known but never mundane path they had so often known together.

Margarete’s thought strayed briefly ahead to sharing the bed with her husband when he came, to the unrestrained passion they would know. She let her hands move freely over Lise’s body, delighting in the familiar curves, the feel of their bodies pressed together, the sound of Lise’s ragged breaths mingling with her own. She felt no compunction in rousing lust that would, in her case be satisfied, but that would leave Lise still aflame.

She moved her lips slowly down Lise’s throat to the place over her collar bone where Lise was most sensitive. She nuzzled there, kissing and flicking with her tongue, then moved her lips to Lise’s ear.

“Beltane is not far. It is the day for passions to be realized I have heard. Every night until then, I will kiss Anadolu Yakası Escort Bayan you thus, touch you, rouse you as thoroughly as I am able. Think of Owen, and when Beltane comes, you two will be the first to seek cover of the trees just as you were at the first harvest. If I acquit my task well, perhaps you will not even care about privacy, I have heard that some don’t.

Yes, touch me and feel how I am roused also. Tonight I will lie in my husband’s arms, but you will wait till Beltane. By then, you will think only of the present and the future, of the spring and your lover.”

She took Lise’s ear lobe gently between her teeth and made small bighting movements. Lightly, she ran knowing fingertips down Lise’s back, raising goose bumps. She deliberately kept her hands over top the fine linen of Lise’s night robe.

As her lips moved back down to Lise’s throat, the pressure of her hands on Lise’s body grew more firm. She ran her hands down Lise’s sides, curving familiarly around ribs, waste, hips. Closing her hands around the curves of hip and thigh, she moved her lips on Lise’s flesh, giving small, light, feathery kisses that made Lise catch her breath.

Finally, Margarete pressed her lips to Lise’s. As they so often had done, they kissed with what looked like restraint, but was really intense sensitivity. Their lips moved with almost imperceptible pressures, increasing their gentle pull on one another with agonizing slowness.

Not removing her lips from Lise’s, Margarete shifted her body slightly away so that she could more easily reach Lise’s full breasts. She ran light fingers around their curves, carefully avoiding the pointed nipples. Over and over she traced gentle, intense semicircles around the outside and beneath.

Loving the power to arouse, she pulled her lips away and stepped back so that she could see the hard points pressing against Lise’s night robe. With a mischievous smile of pleasure, she traced light circles all around them, but still not touching the most sensitive flesh.

Lise stood with unaccustomed passivity. Her breath came in a short shallow rhythm. As the careful circles continued, she felt herself begin to feel a drifting haziness. She was filled with passion and roused longing, but felt no inclination to act or demand. Though vastly experienced in such matters, she knew the dizzying elusion of virginity. Margarete sensed this, and reveled in her power.

She lowered her face so that she could brush her cheek over the sensitized firmness of first one nipple, than the other. Muted by the linen, the touch was defuse and maddening. At the same time, Margarete’s hands massaged rhythmically from beneath Lise’s breasts, down her rib cage and belly, down her pelvis and thighs. Though her thumbs moved smoothly in fountain-like shapes, Margarete was most careful not to reach far enough to press labia or pubic mound.

When Lise’s panting breath had turned to low pleading moans, Margarete placed her lips over one nipple and exhaled a slow, hot breath. Then, as she had done before, she slowly began a gentle tugging pull. She moved her hands to Lise’s rounded bottom, cupping to hold her in place and to insight.

She shifted her mouth to the other nipple and allowed herself gentle bighting movements. Lise gasped.

There was the sound of steps on the stairs and the door opened. Swiftly and silently, Margarete pulled away and slid beneath the bed-clothes. She reached up and gave one of Lise’s breasts a firm squeeze, and smiled roguishly.

“Sleep well Lise,” she said in a convincingly weary and commonplace tone which utterly belied the look that only Lise could see.

When Colin came to bed, he remarked on the flush of Margarete’s cheek. She dismissed it as a result of too much wine, and pressed herself eagerly to him.

He was a skillful and attentive lover, but, being a man, he sometimes came to her urgent and unrefined in his need. Roused greatly herself, she encouraged him in a manner to elicit his most energetic attentions.

As he entered her, she pressed herself up to meet his thrust with a full-throated grunt of satisfaction. She cupped a soft breast in either hand and held them up wantonly to his lips. He matched her ardor, plunging powerfully inside her at each stroke, pulling fiercely on one nipple, then the other.

Kneeling up away from her, he reached down between her legs and touched her artfully until she cried out with the peak of pleasure. Then he pulled out and urged her onto her belly. Entering her powerfully, he felt his own completion approaching swiftly, and pored himself into her with a low gasping sound in her ear that Escort Anadolu Yakası filled her.

Margarete had spoken truth to Lise. She made good her intention. Each night became both a delight and a torment to Lise, one she both longed for and dreaded.

On one night, Margarete said that she would brush out Lise’s hair for her. She did so with slow, even strokes that soothed and comforted. After a few minutes however, she began occasionally to sweep the long black hair aside, and place light, slow kisses on the back of Lise’s neck. Wordless and unruffled, she would return to the rhythmic, even brush strokes. Then again, she would delicately lift the mass of hair and move her lips sensually on Lise’s warm flesh.

After some time of this, she separated the hair into three, and braided it for sleep. She gave Lise a light kiss on the top of her head and said mildly, “Rest well,” and departed for her bed.

On another night, Margarete remarked casually that she was glad to see that Lise had resumed her long tramps about the countryside. They were again alone behind the hangings of Margarete’s bed, and Lise had begun to think that there would be no seductive wiles that night, and felt both relieved and disappointed.

“I have always admired your athletic legs,” Margarete said with elaborate casualness.

“Pray lift your robe and place your foot on the bed that I might see them again. In this cold weather, we change our garments so quickly that I am seldom able to enjoy looking at your body as I love to do.

Inwardly reveling in her new docility, Lise did as Margarete had instructed.

At first, Margarete only looked, her eyes bright with appreciation.

“Ah you are indeed lovely,” she said with an easy, confident smile.

She reached out her hand and ran it slowly from Lise’s ankle to her inner thigh. With patient movements, she caressed the strong muscle of calf and outer thigh, the soft flesh of the inner thigh. She was most careful to ensure that Lise’s robe covered her sex, exposing only her leg.

She spent long, silent minutes at this, then said mildly, “And now your other leg.”

When the caresses had been repeated, Margarete carefully lowered Lise’s robe, kissed her gently on the lips, and bade her good night.

On the next night, tales of hunting and battle in the Great Hall drove Margarete and Lise early up the spiral staircase to Margarete’s chamber. Though Margarete had little taste for chess, she agreed to a game. Before many moves had been made however, Lise saw a familiar light kindle in Margarete’s eyes, and the younger woman sat back from the chessboard. Lise sat still, waiting.

When Margarete began to talk, it was in a low, intimate, husky tone that raised goose bumps on Lise’s flesh. As she spoke, she did not move, but held Lise’s eyes in a gaze Lise could not brake.

“On the night of Beltane, Owen will lead you gently away from the fires into the sheltering darkness of the wood. He will do so long after you are ready to go with him, but you will be patient. He will bring you among the trees and kiss you there. He will hold you in his arms with great care, but great desire. He will feel large, strong and comforting. He will smell like out-doors, like wood smoke, like wine, like a man.

You will have heard his songs at the fires, but there among the trees, he will sing only for you, a soft, quiet love song. Then he will kiss you again.

You will press yourself against him, longing for him to move more quickly, but he will not. He will touch you, your back, your bottom, your breast, and finally, between your legs. You will open your legs to him and he will find that you are moist and ready for him.

He will spread your cloaks on the ground and lay you down. He will be hard and potent with desire for you, but gentle and more cautious than you.

He will enter you with great care and slowness, murmuring welsh endearments in your ear all the while. You will cry out softly with pleasure so great that you can almost not bare it, but you can bare it.

When he is fully inside you, you will know that all is well. You will know that it is right, and you will move with him, as all the others taking shelter in the trees are doing. You will love one another, and then you will love one another again.”

Margarete rose, yawned and stretched as though they had concluded a tiresome chess game.

“Ah I had an exhausting day in the dairy today, perhaps you will play the lute for me while I lie down to sleep.

On the night of Beltane, it was as Margarete had prophesied. Like the verdant trees and plants around them, Lise and Owen knew succulence bursting forth, and the flame of life renewed. It was not the heedless coming together of last year’s first harvest. Rather, like an established tree, it was a flowering that issued forth from a secure root, perhaps less surprising, but even more satisfying, because more a matter of the spirit than it had been before.

So, the wheel of the year was begun again.

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