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Chapter 9: My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean
My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean
Beautiful Chapter Image by Ayita @ the dark arts
On the day that plans were made for travelling; Godric Gryffindor saw an opportunity. This feast night before their epic journey to Alba was much the same as any other night. Leif, the Jarl, still hopelessly besotted with Godric’s long dead mother gave her only son the seat usually reserved for the son and heir. Harald sat in the seat allocated for the “spare” and he wore his usual discontented expression to highlight how badly he thought he had been treated.
Before the feast started Godric went out to see his current flame. Kristiana, the daughter of the castle’s herald, could only be described as a woman with confidence. She was not as attractive as some of the other women who flitted around the castle like leaves; but she held herself with such dignity that she could not help but be alluring. She held her head very high and stuck her chin out making her appear proud and unyielding. Her flaxen hair fell in curls to her shoulders and she had a plump face with brilliantly rosy cheeks and pearly white teeth. Though she was slightly larger than the dainty women who traipsed around in all their finery, she had a potent allure that Godric could not ignore. He saw her on the battlements; her hair fluttering in the gentle evening breeze, her stolid body wrapped in a thick fur coat.
He marched defiantly towards her. She was truly beautiful, and he believed wholeheartedly that once he could leave Svalbard when his brother ascended the throne, he would take Kristiana with him and marry her. They would explore the world together, fulfilling their dreams that they had harboured for years. He placed a heavy hand on her shoulder and she turned round quickly, deigning to tempt him with one of her dazzling smiles. He kissed her immediately, taking in her sweet taste but in an all too swift moment they broke apart. “Well,” said Kristiana sadly, stroking strands of Godric’s red hair out of his face, “I suppose this is it.”
“What do you mean?” asked Godric, wrapping one arm around her waist and running the other hand through her hair.
She pushed him away gently before whispering, “you’re going to Alba tomorrow. I am staying here. How can we expect to continue like this when you are in a foreign land?” He looked at her incredulously as he let go of her, his heart hammering in his chest.
“Do you love me?” he asked gently, his heart screaming for her to say yes, “for you are my one true love and I can never forsake you.”
She gave him one of her familiar smiles, but this time it was overly sad, not filled with joy as it usually was, “but we must be practical. You will be gone for many months, and my father will no longer be happy with me being a spinster. That’s why I am getting married to Ari, the Steward’s son.”
Godric clasped her hands tightly in his own as his mind whirred. “No, you cannot get married to him!” thundered Godric, his temper rising, his mouth open in shock, “he is a simpleton; he will never be enough for you! He will never make you happy the way I can!”
Tears poured down Kristiana’s rosy cheeks as she stepped backwards away from Godric, almost stumbling on her feet, “I have to try Godric, and you cannot expect me to wait until your father dies for me to marry you. No matter much I love you I must have my own life. I am not a person willing to be devoted to you forever, not if I am to be nothing more than a mere mistress to you.” Godric could only now see the five years difference between him and Kristiana. She was a bold and mature twenty three year old, her mind constantly thinking about her future. Godric was an impetuous and spontaneous seventeen year old, thinking only of the moment.
“You are more than a mistress to me!” he said defiantly, taking her hand again, trying to convey all he felt for her in mere words, “no matter what anyone says I will marry you tomorrow if that is what you want!”
She gave a small laugh before stroking his cheek gently with the palm of her hand and then saying quietly, “Godric, you are so naive. One day you will see the world for what it is and I assure you, you will be truly disgusted.”
He could feel the tears prickling his eyes as he gazed at her. “I love you; please don’t do this to me. Don’t break my heart.”
Kristiana leant in and kissed him one last time and Godric savoured it for everything it was worth. “I sorry Godric, but sometimes, love just isn’t enough.”
Kissing him on the cheek she gave him one more, devastating, sad smile before turning away and heading away back into the warmth of the celebrating castle. Godric stood in the bitter cold weather for awhile wringing his hands in grief. His relationship with his first love had just ended and he did not know whether he could ever recover from it. He doubted he would ever forget Kristiana, for her beauty and intelligence. Godric was sure he would never find a woman like her ever again. Maybe it was just better for him to die now than to live through the pain of his heart slowly breaking in the coming months. With that thought fresh in his mind; he turned and followed the path that she had taken, ready to return to the life of feudal politics, with a glazed smile always present on his roguishly handsome face.
Godric sloped into the Great Hall that was cheerfully brimming with overly excited people. There were people drinking heartily, the drink giving colour to their cheeks, musicians playing and couples eagerly dancing. Women, daughters of the nobility stood around the room trying to appear attractive and alluring to men who could stand up and be respectable husbands. Godric found himself very popular amongst the ladies as he supposed he appeared handsome and charming to the inexperienced debutantes and the aging courtiers. While they fluttered his eyelashes at him and pouted profusely, he ignored them and strolled up to the main table where his father, brother and step mother sat, each sitting watching the frivolities with bored expressions on their faces.
“Godric!” cried the Jarl, a beam cracking across his tired face. Godric gave his father a friendly smile as he came and took his seat next to him. Leif gave his son a clap on his back and began to talk about the festivities. Godric found himself gazing at his father, who now had streaks of grey in his dark hair and wrinkles around his eyes. His father had recovered from losing the life of his life, Godric’s mother, so why couldn’t his son? On his father’s left sat the Lady Mikayla, as haughty and domineering as ever. To Godric, she was the most despicable person he had ever met. She had no sense of loyalty as she would make anyone who got in her way “disappear”. One such example, other than Godric’s own mother, was that six years after that untimely event the Jarl had finally found another woman he had some sort of romantic attachment to. Mikayla ensured that relationship was brought to a swift end in the most brutal way possible.
Harald sat to Godric’s right. He was the polar opposite of his popular half brother. While Godric was tall, athletic and burly, Harald was relatively short, bookish and skinny. He was not what the general populace wanted in a future Jarl. He had a mop of dark curly hair and a beard had not yet formed on his chin, unlike Godric. He had dark eyes and an angular face that seemed to attract shadows, and he reminded Godric of Mikayla every time he looked at him. He was the son of the woman who murdered his mother and Godric could never forget that. He also could not forget the promise he had made when he was a boy of just ten to his mother. He would avenge her death and part of that revenge would be taken out on Harald.
“Godric,” asked the Lady Mikayla icily, sipping some wine from her goblet, “where have you been? We have all been missing you terribly.” Godric had to prevent himself from scoffing at Mikayla’s attempt at motherly interest.
“I have been walking outside,” he said, not wanting to think of Kristiana. As Godric thought this the door opened and Kristiana entered, she had changed into a floating sea blue dress and she looked simply divine, outshining every other woman in the room. Her long blonde hair had been curled into an extravagant hairstyle and she gave off a divinely elegant aura. It was at this moment that Godric regretted court etiquette above all others. Kristiana glided towards them a participated in a deep courtesy to the Jarl, showing every inch a respectful servant. Godric felt himself go a brilliant, shameful red at her humility and as he lifted his head he caught Harald giving him a curious look.
“Ah,” said Godric’s father, a smile on his face, “Kristiana, I have heard of your engagement to Ari. Congratulations!” She routinely gave him a smile, but this was not the type of smile that Godric was used to seeing. It was cracked and broken, and it faltered slightly.
“Thank you my Lord,” she said, her eyes flicking to Godric for a brief moment. Godric felt like screaming; he wanted to stand up and beg his father to let him marry Kristiana but he knew it would come to no avail. The Lady Mikayla would stop any chance of happiness that Godric had because she detested him so much. After all, he was the spitting image of his mother, his father’s one true love. He also took precedence over Harald in their father’s eyes and that had never sat very well with her. In revenge, he knew she would do something terrible to Kristiana and Godric could not bear that.
Kristiana turned away and gently floated across the room to where the blonde, handsome Ari had just appeared. Godric could not bear it, his heart hammered in his chest as he watched Ari take her hand and lead her behind a crowd of milling courtiers, making her disappear from Godric’s view. Harald’s eyes slid over Godric and an unpleasant grin of understanding flickered across his features; Godric tried his best to ignore him by downing a goblet of pumpkin juice in one. But it did nothing. It did not prevent his face from going red, or the make the horrible lump that had appeared disappear from his dry throat. All he could think of was her and how she had so willingly broken his heart.
At once, a nameless aristocratic lady passed before the table. She was like Kristiana, blonde, but she did not have the same warmth radiating from her. The woman was tall, stick thin and wore a haughty expression on her youthful face. She gave Godric a small smile and he reacted instantly. What better way to be rid of his blues than to enjoy a dance in good company? He leapt up, jumped over the table and took the hand of the woman who easily accepted a dance with the Jarl’s son.
The sky was cloudy that night; the way it often was in Svalbard. Godric did not know why but he had the feeling that this would be the last night in his native land for a very long time. Sometimes when he looked around he could not see anything worth staying here for. He was hated by Harald. The animosity between him and his brother had built up throughout the years. As Harald was the heir, Godric had always tried to avoid fighting him but their relationship was teetering on the edge of including physical violence.
Also, Godric had never felt safe around his stepmother. He could see in her eyes how much she hated him. For her, Godric realised, it must have been like staring at her greatest rival every time she saw him. He knew she wanted nothing more than to see him dead, but the love for her flighty, inattentive husband prevented her from acting on these feelings. Godric knew it was not good for him to be around these volatile and destructive relationships anymore, especially as they were with people he should love and cherish. Despite the fact that he had promised he would avenge his mother’s death, he felt he would have to do it in some other way.
He had lost Kristiana; not through their lack of love for each other, but because of their social standing. All that time he pretended they could be together as he was young and saw an idyllic world. She was headstrong and mature, and these conditions prevented her from dreaming that they could really be man and wife. Kristiana was not stupid; she did not want to end up like Alfhild Gryffindor. That broke Godric’s heart. In the end, she had loved her life more than she had loved him while he was willing to die for her. He did not know whether he could stay watching her marry Ari, live with him, have his children and grow old together while he spent his life fighting in battles and marrying a woman he did not care about. It would ruin him. Maybe if he could get away from her, be isolated from his passion for her for a long time he could learn to live without her.
Then there was his father, the father who he idolised with every bone in his body. He was the one blood relative left in the world who truly loved him. But that was where the problem lay. The old Jarl’s love for his bastard son was clouding his vision, stopping him from seeing what was really important. The succession was not secure. The old adage “the heir and the spare” had not been put into practice. Due to the Jarl’s love of Godric’s mother, he had never had any more children by Mikayla. If anything happened to Harald, Svalbard would fall into chaos. The Jarl favoured his childhood loves child, leaving Harald out in the cold. Combined with Harald’s jealous and possessive nature this was sure to lead to something terrible. Godric reasoned that if he was out of the picture the Jarl could love his other son more and Svalbard would be a much safer place.
The idea struck him under that grey sky. Tomorrow, he would go, with his father and brother and huge entourage, to the nearest magical kingdom. There, Harald would meet a girl who, it was hoped, would agree to be his wife. While Harald and the Jarl were preoccupied with the thoughts of grandeur for their dynasty, Godric would sneak away into the night and become just another nameless face. There, he would start his new life. He would never have to see Kristiana and Ari or think of his father and brother again. He would be free to do whatever he wanted. He would hear from afar of the news of Harald and the Princess Rowena’s marriage and would be content in the knowledge that he would never be involved in court intrigues ever again. It was a pleasant thought.
He was walking down beside the Great Hall, planning to go down to the stables to see his beloved horses one last time. This thought was abruptly cut short by the sound of a woman’s voice coming from round the corner. He recognised it instantly; it was Kristiana. She sounded panicked and nervous, but her voice was quiet, forcing Godric to hold his breath to hear her properly. “What do you want with me?” The voice that replied sent shivers up Godric’s back – it was Harald.
“Oh, nothing much,” he said mockingly, “just, you are so very pretty. I heard you are marrying the steward’s son. He’s not good enough for you.” Then Harald paused for a moment before laughing, “well, he’s better for you than my bastard brother!”
Kristiana gasped in shock before mumbling, “how did you know?” Shushing her gently, Harald said malevolently, “it does not matter how I know, just that I do know. If you want me to keep it a secret, I need something in return.” Godric had had enough as he quickly unsheathed his sword and shouted, “don’t you dare!”
The sight that met his face shocked him. Harald seemed to have his hands on Kristiana’s waist and she was attempting to push him off. This made Godric see red. At least she was willing to receive Ari. Every hateful thought he had ever felt for his brother clouded his mind as he lunged at his brother. While Godric was strong and powerful, Harald was agile and quick and he easily dodged Godric’s move, forcing Godric to fly right past him. Harald had unsheathed his own sword. Godric gave a merciless laugh; he knew how much Harald hated his sword.
While Godric had been bestowed his father’s sword, Harald had to buy his own sword, while it was expensive it did not hold the sentimental value that Godric’s did. Godric took another powerful swipe with his sword, but Harald met his blow and there was a deafening clang as metal and metal collided. Godric withdrew briefly allowing Harald to stab his sword forward aiming for Godric’s chest. He missed as Godric managed to swerve out of the way in time. In that moment it had become crystal clear that Harald was aiming to kill.
Godric knew he shouldn’t but he could not help himself. He had always had a violent temper and this just heightened his magic when it was awoken. With his free hand he aimed a ball of fire directly at his brother, but Harald again managed to avoid it. However, this allowed Godric to take another swipe at Harald and this time the sword met his brother.
The blade slashed through the expensive silk of his shirt and drew a long, bloody gash on his arm. Harald screeched in anger and pain and swung his sword viciously towards Godric. This caught Godric off guard for a moment as he had been celebrating finally getting Harald. The good timing and strength of the blow forced Godric’s sword to fly out of his hand and over his shoulder. Godric was livid. How could he let himself be disarmed by Harald? “Got you now!” taunted Harald, “you’re going to wish you had never been born!”
Then Godric did something incredibly stupid. Using all the force he could muster, he launched himself off the floor and he flew towards Harald. Harald was taken aback by this so did nothing as his sword was pushed from his hand. The future Jarl ended up sprawled on his back with Godric on top of him. Then, yet again, every hateful thought for his brother rose in Godric’s mind and he reacted by sinking his heavy fist into Harald’s nose. He hardly saw Harald as he punched again and again, his anger coming out in new bursts as he punched again and again. His brother’s blood was now covering his fist but he didn’t stop. He hated Harald and he loved Kristiana, and Harald had tried to strike him where it would hurt the most. Then, everything happened so fast.
“Harald!” came a shrill voice. Godric looked up to find himself staring at half the royal court. At the front stood the person who had shouted Harald’s name. The Lady Mikayla looked horror struck as she looked at Godric and Harald and she put out a hand onto her husband’s shoulder to support herself. Kristiana stood there also. She had evidently ran off once the scuffle started to fetch someone to help. There were tears in her eyes and she looked almost disappointed. The Jarl looked sad also, but he did not say anything as it was the Lady Mikayla who spoke first.
“This is treason!” she shrieked, “he has tried to murder the heir to the throne. He needs to be executed! That is the only fit punishment for an attempted murderer like him!” The crowd did not say anything. They did not seem to agree with Mikayla which was an encouraging sign. Godric stood up and moved away from his brother as he gazed at his father. He did not say anything, but watched his wife as she scurried over to Harald and scooped his head in her arms.
“Leif!” she thundered, “are you not going to do anything? Our son is leaving to meet his future wife tomorrow; he can’t leave in this state! He cannot go with that oaf either!” she screamed, pointing one finger wildly at Godric.
The Jarl walked towards Mikayla and lifted her gently from the floor, “Harald can be fixed,” he said gently, “and you’re blowing this all out of proportion!”
Her hair seemed to crackle slightly with rage as she bellowed, “once again you take his side over your legitimate son!” She snapped her fingers viciously and several of her attendants scurried over and began to pick Harald up and returning him inside. “Get out of here!” she screamed at everyone, “I must talk to him alone!” She was looking angrily at Godric and the court complied, quickly hurrying away as if nothing ever happened. Godric’s father hovered for a moment before Mikayla said softly, “that includes you Leif.” Giving his son a pained expression, the Jarl turned and headed back inside leaving him totally on his own with his mother’s murderer.
“You have a choice,” she whispered quietly, her eyes scanning his face intensely, “when you get yourself on that ship tomorrow to go to Alba you can make your plans to leave. I never want you to step foot in my kingdom again.”
Godric countered her words quickly, “good, that’s what I was planning to do.” Mikayla gave him an angry look, “you will never come back. You will never darken our doorstep again!” Godric thought briefly of his father but then remembered how much happier his father would be without him before growling, “On two conditions.” Mikayla gave an agreeing nod before Godric continued, “you never come looking for me, you never send your men after me to kill me and you never touch Kristiana or my father.”
Mikayla nodded, “that is only on agreement that you never come here again. If you do I will not be afraid to bring you and Kristiana together in death.” Godric understood plainly as he stared at her. Lady Mikayla, once the jewel in the Jarl’s crown was now an aging, unattractive, vindictive lady. Once the physical beauty disappeared the rotten insides were on display.
“Goodbye my lady,” Godric said, staring at her with the emerald green eyes that reminded her so vividly of his father, “I hope to see you in the next life.”
Mikayla gave a gentle, mirthless laugh before whispering, “even that will be too soon my boy, even that will be too soon.” She quickly turned on her heel and marched back into the Great Hall leaving Godric perfectly alone.
That was the first chance he had to feel excited about the adventures he had in store. He was sure it would be tough to begin with, but he could not wait to prove that he was a much better person than his half brother was; even if there was no one there to prove it to. Then, after taking a deep breath of cold night air he turned on his heel and followed the Lady Mikayla’s path back into the Castle to celebrate the last night of his old life.
So they are finally adults and this is probably my favourite chapter! Please review as it is the first chapter of this "era" and hopefully you love it as much as I do. Next Time...Rowena falls in love on the night she meets her fiancee, but is it to the wrong man?