Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rowan smiles as she cleans up the mess in her kitchen from packaging the herbs she had been drying. Some put aside for grinding into various ointments and some in bags and labeled for later use. Rowan breathes deeply enjoying the various scents.

A noise outside grabs her attention and makes her pause in her work. She moves to the window and looks out thinking someone has come seeking her help. Her heart skips a beat when she sees Marcs horse and she races for the door to let him in.

As she steps out onto her porch she watches as he carefully and slowly gets off his horse.

“Sweet Goddess, are you hurt? Whats wrong?”

“Come here Priestess. I need you to hold something so I can take care of my horse...”

Rowan approaches slowly wondering what on earth Marc was talking about. Marc reaches into his cloak and removes the small bundle he has been caring for.

“Here.” He hands the baby over to Rowan. “Let me tend to the horse and I will explain everything...”

Rowan is stunned momentarily then her training takes over her actions. She carries the baby into the house and grabs a couch cushion placing it close to the warmth of the fireplace and the baby gently on the cushion. Unwrapping the little girl Rowan smiles. Marc had done his best to diaper and keep her warm. Rowan does a quick exam, changes her into a clean diaper and clothes and wraps her snugly in a soft baby blanket. She places her back on the cushion and goes into the kitchen to find the formula she kept on hand for the new moms and a clean bottle.

When Marc comes in he finds Rowan sitting on the floor near the fire cradling and feeding a hungry baby. He sits on the hearth and watches for a few moments.

“I am truly sorry to do this. I didnt know what else to do .. or who to turn to...” Marc goes on to explain the situation and how he could not leave the baby alone in the woods. Rowans face goes red, anger, shock, disbelief, all played across her expression.

“Poor thing. Well, she seems healthy, a bit on the small side maybe.” Rowan pauses and takes a deep breath before asking, “Is she yours?”

Marc shakes his head, “I dont really think so, but who knows? Her father could be any number of people, none of which would probably be willing to raise a child...or be very good at it. I thought maybe you knew of someone... someone who would care for her, maybe adopt her as their own...”

Rowan smiles softly, “Actually I do know of someone... Does this little scrap of a thing have a name?”

Smiling Marc says, “I have been calling her Nadia, after one of my sisters. I didnt want to keep calling her 'baby'.”

“Pretty name... Nadia it is then....”

Marc nods, but Rowan can sense the agitation, the anger tightly controlled and simmering just below the surface. She settles Nadia on her cushion and adds another blanket. Moving to the couch Rowan pulls off the cushions and gives a tug on the springs revealing a pull out bed.

“This okay for tonight? So we can keep her close to the fire..”

“Absolutely. I cant thank you enough..” Marc stands and starts to pace.

Rowan quickly makes up the bed and takes Marc by the hand leading him into the kitchen. She gets him a steaming hot cup of coffee and starts to set out pans, utensils, eggs.

“Talk to me while I make you something to eat. It does no good to hold it in. I know you're pissed me, you wont offend me in any way...”

Marc starts to pace again, his movements jerky, almost spastic. Rowan can practically see sparks flying from him, compassion warring with barely-suppressed rage.

“I just cant believe anyone could do such a thing. I mean find a different home for your child if thats what you need to do, but leave a baby to die? What the fuck is the matter with her? How could any woman possibly be so fucking cold and uncaring? I wanted to kill the bitch... Why didnt she just say something? We would have helped...and not left a little girl to be eaten by gods knows what in the fucking woods...” Marc kicks a stool and sends it to the far side of the room. “For fucks sake. I have seen men torn apart by beasts, I am no stranger to war with its suffering and death, horrible death at times, but this...this is an innocent..”

On the other side of the room, Rowan is seeing a different side of Marc... his capacity for violence, his compassion - and she realizes with a start that both are attractive to her. His capacity for violence makes him a warrior; his compassion makes him the kind of man who doesn't use it arbitrarily to solve every problem that comes to hand.

“No one noticed a change in her?”

“Not really. Addley said he thought Lily was just mad at the guys, someone made a crack about her getting pudgy and she has been avoiding everyone since. And heres a thought... is this the first time this has happened? Has she left other babes to die? Bloody Hell, this is unbelievable... I doubt if she will tell me, I seriously doubt if she is ever going to speak to me again. I left her confined to her tent, which is going to piss her off to no end. She wont even be able to sneak out of it. She wont dare with the man I left in charge...” Marc grins imagining Devlins fury should anyone attempt to defy a direct order.

Rowan takes a deep breath as she dishes up eggs and hash browns, “Well, I imagine she felt she had no other choice. I dont know what kind of upbringing she had, if any. When people know better, they do better. And apparently she doesnt know any better or just doesnt have any sense of empathy.”

“I dont know a lot about her actually. Her mother is human, her father, well...isnt. She seems to have some characteristics of some type of Imp, chaos maybe, I dont know. But she seems to thrive on it. The more confusion and chaos the happier she is. And her eyes, well they are kind of strange... the baby has them too, although not as pronounced as her mother..”

Rowan nods. “I noticed that. Pretty, I think. Like hot chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon.”

The pair eat in silence for a few minutes. When Marc is done he puts down his fork and sighs loudly. “I just dont know what to do with her. Gods help me I wanted to throttle her and drag her out into the woods. Let her spend the night there with no weapons and no protection. It would be a death sentence...”

“Dont be too hard on her. Not that its any of my business, but maybe this is the first time this has happened. And maybe she really never wants children...”

“I know she doesnt. She makes no secret of it.”

“Its a fairly easy operation... if she wants it done, bring her to me. I can take care of it. We can at least make sure this doesnt happen again.”

Marc nods, “I will speak to her...” He reaches for Rowan and pulls her close. “Enough talking about Lily. I have missed you Priestess. Lets go spend some time in front of the fire...”

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